Monday, 30 March 2015

Monday Musings: The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist

The shortlist has been announced, and it's as follows:

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

In The Wolf's Mouth by Adam Foulds

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie

The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling

I'm sorry to say, after seeing the wonderful longlist, that this shortlist has somewhat dampened my enthusiasm to read along with this prize. Which is silly, really, because I was actively planning to read three of the shortlisted novels anyway - Foulds, Galgut and Shamsie. It's very unfortunate that none of the novels I've already read have been shortlisted, especially the Sarah Waters, which definitely deserved to be. I'm also dismayed by the inclusion of Dunmore and Amis. I've never read any of Martin Amis's novels (shock!) but the review of The Zone of Interest in the LRB  didn't convince me that it's the place to start. And I've continuously struggled with Helen Dunmore - I couldn't get on with either The Siege or House of Orphans. I find her writing overly affected, and her historical research too heavily-worn. As for the rest, I know nothing about Eyre as a writer, but Viper Wine does sound intriguing, if I can get past the awful cover. It's nice to see a novel set in seventeenth-century Britain that's not about the civil wars or the Restoration. Spurling's novel, set in fourteenth-century China, also sounds like one to try. We'll see if I get through the whole list or not.

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