The 2019 Longlist

The tenth Walter Scott Prize Longlist was announced on 6th March 2019. It comprised twelve great books published in 2018 and set in the past – at least 60 years ago, according to Prize rules. The judges said:

“Our tenth longlist features wonderful stories from both the recent and distant past, with diverse settings; from jostling cities and insular villages to vast open spaces and wild oceans. We meet some unforgettable characters – an Australian long-distance rally driver; a diminutive Swiss orphan who becomes Madame Tussaud; a middle-class English housewife caught up in Oswald Mosley’s fascist movement; a young man ‘freed’ from slavery on a journey across the globe.  Choosing a shortlist from these corkers is going to be a tough task for the judges.”

More about the longlisted books

Littleby Edward Carey (Gallic Books)

Narrated in the naïve and modest voice of tiny Anne-Marie Grosholtz, later to be known as Mme Tussaud,this is the unforgettable story of how a ‘bloodstained crumb of a girl’ went on to shape the world.  From the gutters of pre-revolutionary France and the luxury of the Palace of Versailles, to casting the still-warm heads of The Terror, ‘Little’ finds something very like love.

A Long Way From Homeby Peter Carey (Faber)

Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in rural south eastern Australia. Together they embark upon the Redex Trial, a brutal car race around the continent, over roads no car can ever quite survive.Set during the 1950s in the dying embers of the British Empire, A Long Way from Home is a thrilling high-speed story, illuminating a country’s relationship with its own ancient culture, and the love made and hurt caused along the way.

After The Partyby Cressida Connolly (Viking)

It is the summer of 1938 and Phyllis Forrester has returned to England after years abroad. Moving into her sister’s grand country house, she soon finds herself entangled in a new world of idealistic beliefs and seemingly innocent friendships. Fevered talk of another war infiltrates their small, privileged circle, giving way to a thrilling solution: a great and charismatic leader, who will restore England to its former glory.

Washington Blackby Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail)

A young slave on a Barbados sugar plantation is befriended by a strange and conflicted abolitionist known as Titch who has constructed a flying machine. The two of them make their escape from the plantation and take off on adventures that take young ‘Wash’ across the globe, from the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, to the mud-drowned streets of London and the eerie deserts of Morocco.

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape)

15th century Oakham, in Somerset; a tiny village cut off by a big river with no bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found: accident, suicide or murder? The village priest, John Reve, is privy to many secrets in his role as confessor. But will he be able to unravel what happened to the victim? 

Dark Waterby Elizabeth Lowry (riverrun)

Boston, 1833:aboard the USS Orbis as it embarks from Boston and surges south to round Cape Horn, Hiram Carver takes up his first position as ship’s doctor. Callow and anxious among the seasoned sailors, he struggles in this brutal floating world – until he meets William Borden, hero of The Providenceand a legend among sailors.

Now We Shall Be Entirely Freeby Andrew Miller (Sceptre)

One rainswept winter’s night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain’s disastrous campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Spain. Lacroix will not – cannot – talk about the war or face the memory of what took place on the retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he lights out instead for the Hebrides, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje(Jonathan Cape)

A mesmerizing novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II, through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters, and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.

The Wanderersby Tim Pears (Bloomsbury)

The second novel in the West Country trilogy follows Leo Sercombe as he walks westward to Penzance, and falls in with people on the margins of society.  But the real subject of the book is the countryside, the seasons, the natural world, the habits of animals and country people.  A mesmerising and lyrical paean of praise to the old England which vanished as the 20th century progressed. 

The Long Takeby Robin Robertson (Picador)

A powerful genre-defying work written in a mixture of verse and prose, which follows a D-Day veteran as he goes in search of freedom and repair in post-war America. Three cities, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, form the scarred and tattered backdrop of this epic narrative.

All The Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy (Maclehose Press)

An artist’s escape from a stultifying marriage is set against India’s fight for independence and a world war, in a sweeping novel which takes freedom, in all its messy complexity, as its theme.  The author masterfully blends historical fact and remarkable real-life characters into her tale.

Tomblandby C J Sansom (Mantle)

The seventh novel in the Shardlake series is set in 1549. It is two years after the death of Henry VIII, and England is sliding into chaos.  Matthew Shardlake has to decide where his ultimate loyalties lie, as government forces in London prepare to march north and destroy the peasant rebellion led by Robert Kett.