THE novels in the running to win the 2024 Walter Scott Prize have been revealed.

First awarded in 2010, the winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction takes home £25,000.

It is among the richest fiction prizes in the UK, with the 12 novels being whittled down to a shortlist set to be announced in May.

The novels in contention for the £25,000 prize are:

  • The New Life by Tom Crewe
  • A Better Place by Stephen Daisley
  • Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein
  • For Thy Great Pain, Have Mercy On My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie
  • Music in the Dark by Sally Magnusson
  • Cuddy by Benjamin Myers
  • My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor
  • The Fraud by Zadie Smith
  • Mister Timeless Blyth by Alan Spence
  • The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng
  • In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas
  • Absolutely and Forever by Rose Tremain

Books must have been written in English, set more than 60 years ago, and published during 2023 in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.  

Longlisted authors this year encompass a range of nationalities including Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, Malaysian and Trinidadian.

Chair of judges Katie Grant said: “This year’s longlist sweeps us from one end of the world to the other, and from the Dark Ages to the twentieth century - almost a millennium-and-a-half. Along the way we hear tales of fifteenth-century Norwich and of the Highland Clearances of the 1800s; of the secret railroad through the Americas during the mid-nineteenth century and of forbidden love in London at the turn of the twentieth; from tropical Jamaica to Japan and Korea in the late 1800s, and to sultry Penang as the twentieth century dawns; onwards to Trinidad, to Rome, to Crete and to New Zealand during the Second World War years; and to London and Paris in the swinging 1960s when anything seems possible.

“From the epic to the intimate, from the philosophical to the swashbuckling, from the traditional to the experimental, in each book emotions run deep. If you read the whole list, just like the panel of judges, you'll never be short of conversation.”

This year also sees the prize moving to what might be considered its natural spiritual home, Abbotsford. 

From February 2024 the Prize will be managed by The Abbotsford Trust, the independent charity responsible for Sir Walter Scott’s extraordinary Borders home. 

The Duke of Buccleuch, founder of the Walter Scott Prize and Patron of The Abbotsford Trust said: “For some time it was the dream of my late wife and myself that the Walter Scott Prize should take root in the great writer’s own home and creation at Abbotsford. 

“Now that the prize, 15 years on, is firmly established in the literary calendar I am utterly delighted that this is being realised and am deeply grateful to the Abbotsford Trustees for taking over the baton and to Hawthornden Foundation for making it possible.”

A shortlist will be announced in May, and the winner announcement and prize-giving event will take place at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose in June.