Winner of the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

Following the revelation of the shortlist for this year’s Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in March, the winner was announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose on Saturday. As some of you will know, I am currently attempting to work my way through all of the shortlisted titles since 2010, so I have a particular interest in following this particular prize.

The seven titles on the 2017 shortlist were:

A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson
The Good People by Hannah Kent
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

And the winner is…

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry!

This is the second time Sebastian Barry has won this prize (On Canaan’s Side in 2012 was the first). I haven’t yet managed to read all of the titles on this year’s shortlist, but Days Without End is one of the four that I have read and although it wasn’t my personal favourite, I did predict that it would probably win. I think it has a lot of the elements judges look for in a prize winner and, like all of Barry’s novels, it is beautifully written. In the words of the judging panel, “Eventually, Days Without End took the lead, for the glorious and unusual story; the seamlessly interwoven period research; and above all for the unfaltering power and authenticity of the narrative voice, a voice no reader is likely to forget.”

Have you read Days Without End? What did you think of it?

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9 thoughts on “Winner of the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction”

  1. Oh, I *adored* Days Without End and I’m very glad it’s won. It felt in many places like a less obnoxious Cormac McCarthy – that same richness of language without ever becoming overripe – and I agree with the prize committee about his integration of historical research. Hurrah!

    1. Sebastian Barry’s writing is beautiful, isn’t it? Of the four books I’ve read from the shortlist, I preferred Golden Hill and The Good People, but I’m not sorry that Days Without End won.

  2. It is always exciting when an award is given. I have been meaning to read Barry for a long time. Are you going to read the rest of the short list? I think The Essex Serpent was on the long list and one of my reading groups will be discussing that in July. I am looking forward to reading it.

    1. Yes, I’m sure I’ll be reading the rest of the shortlist eventually. I have a copy of The Essex Serpent on my library pile and am hoping to read it soon – I’ll look forward to your thoughts on it too.

    1. I liked On Canaan’s Side too and didn’t think Days Without End was as good, but most people seem to have loved it so it’s probably just me! I’ll look forward to your review of The Gustav Sonata.

  3. I haven’t read it yet, but will be doing so over the summer, so I’m hoping the fact that it won is a good omen! It’s not a prize I’ve ever paid attention to before, but there are some interesting titles on it this year, so thanks for highlighting it. Hope you enjoy the ones you’ve still to read…

    1. I’ve discovered a lot of great new books and authors through this prize – the quality of the longlists and shortlists is always very high. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Days Without End!

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