The 2018 Prize

The six books on the 2018 Walter Scott Prize shortlist are:

Manhattan Beach  Jennifer Egan (Corsair)

Sugar Money  Jane Harris (Faber)

Grace Paul Lynch (Oneworld)

The Wardrobe Mistress Patrick McGrath (Hutchinson)

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves  Rachel Malik (Fig Tree)

The Gallows Pole  Benjamin Myers (Bluemoose Books)

The Judges said:

“Every year the Walter Scott Prize attracts more entries, and again this year we have had some terrific books on the table. It has been a real treat to explore quite dazzlingly different periods in history, and to discover new talent in first-timeauthors. This year’s shortlist encompasses the rural and the urban, the exotic and the everyday, the epic and the intimate. The narrative drive in each of our shortlisted books is compelling and on the pages are universal truths with which we can identify. The judges are relishing the challenge of alighting on a winner!”

Here is what the Judges said about each of the six books.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan 

“This is a novel from a writer at the top of her form. Jennifer Egan handles her glittering cast of characters with subtlety and ease, leading them with confidence into the dark underbelly of wartime New York. A city of mobsters and con-men, gamblers and jazz men springs to life with such energy that you can hear the streets, and in the cacophony she weaves a rich story that is part thriller and part family drama. Her feeling for time and place is pitch-perfect, and Egan demonstrates that she is solidly established in the first rank of contemporary authors.”

Sugar Money by Jane Harris 

Sugar Money by Jane Harris is a thrilling adventure story with a warm, human heart. Set in the world of slavery in eighteenth century Martinique and Grenada, there is no turning away from cruelty and horror, but the voice of the narrator Lucien, still little more than a child, is so spirited and innocent that the reader is swept along on the tide of his enthusiasm, even though the venture he and his brother must undertake is fraught with hideous danger. Jane Harris has created an unforgettable character in Lucien, and the lilt of his English, French and Creole speech gives a marvellous vibrancy to this superb novel.”

 Grace by Paul Lynch  

“Paul Lynch’s novel Grace is a work of great lyricism. Its beautiful prose is put to devastating effect in his vivid story of the Irish potato famine which killed at least a million people. From the opening page we travel with fourteen year old Grace as she is sent out from Donegal, seemingly banished by her mother, but actually in a desperate attempt to save her life. We never leave her side as starving Grace navigates her way south, encountering myriad dangers on the desolate roads. Lynch’s narrative gripped us from the start and never let us go. It haunted the judges long after the final line. “              

The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath

“The Wardrobe Mistress is, above all, a novel of voices: the echo of the actor ‘Gricey’ whose funeral we attend; the snipsnap of his wife Joan, hair pulled back ‘the better … to come at the world like a scythe’; and the chatty omniscience of ‘we ladies of the Chorus’. McGrath’s stage is London’s theatreland where 1947’s bitter winter is compounded by the revelation that for some, the war continues in unpleasant form. With fictional characters playing fictional characters, McGrath slyly plays with his reader in a novel which, whilst superbly evoking post-war theatrical life, pulses with contemporary disquiet.”
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is a quietly beautiful and brilliant novel that captures the heart and essence of a love story in the years during and after the Second World War. Astonishingly, it is Rachel Malik’s debut, and her handling of the richness and simplicity of this story of farming life suggests that she is on the brink of a distinguished literary career.  And this is no bucolic idyll but an unfolding of a plot that constantly twists and turns and surprises.  A truly wonderful, memorable novel.”

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers 

“Imagine the wild moors of Calderdale in Yorkshire in the 18thcentury where stealing a loaf of bread could result in hanging. The only profit to be made was in the manufacture of fake money from melted down clippings of fake coins. Under the ‘protection’ of King David Hartley, the tough folk of that harsh valley had at least some hope of sustenance. As Hartley said, ‘we live as clans ….protection was our purpose especially from any incomers’. But historical progress was one incomer that could not be halted. The writing is brutal but lyrical and deeply affecting.  This is an important book.”                     

The eight-strong judging panel comprises Alistair Moffat (chair), Elizabeth Buccleuch, Kate Figes, Katharine Grant, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie and Kirsty Wark.  They will meet to decide the winner just ahead of its announcement at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival on Saturday 16thJune.

The timetable for the 2018 Prize is as follows:

September 2017 : Prize opened for entries from publishers

31st January 2018: Prize closed for entries

1st March 2018: Longlist announced

end March 2018: Academy Recommends list announced

17th April 2018:  Shortlist announced

16th June 2018: Winner of Walter Scott Prize 2018 announced and presented at Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival, Melrose.

If you’d like to know more about the entry terms and conditions, you can find our Rules 2018 here.