Marguerite Poland’s novel A Sin of Omission longlisted for prestigious Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction
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Marguerite Poland’s latest novel A Sin of Omission has been longlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction!

First awarded in 2010, the Walter Scott Prize honours the inventor of the historical fiction genre, Sir Walter Scott, and is sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Previous winners include Hilary Mantel, Andrea Levy, Sebastian Barry, Tan Twan Eng, Robert Harris, John Spurling, Simon Mawer, Benjamin Myers and Robin Robertson.

The majority of the novel’s storyline must have taken place at least 60 years ago, reflecting the prize’s subtitle ‘Sixty Years Since’ of Scott’s famous work Waverley. It is open to novels published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.

The winner receives £25,000, and this year each shortlisted author will receive £1,500, making the Walter Scott Prize among the richest fiction prizes in the United Kingdom.

Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, A Sin of Omission tells the story of Stephen Mzamane, a young Xhosa boy who was taken in by the Anglican Church during the great famine. Upon his return from Canterbury, where Steven has started his education to become a priest, he is sent to a remote mission station and has to confront his role within the Church and society. He also has to deal with his Xhosa heritage and the way his upbringing has estranged him from the culture into which he was born. The story was inspired by true events, as told to Ms Poland by a great-uncle.

The judges said:

‘In its 11th year, with more submissions than ever before, the 2020 Walter Scott Prize longlist reflects the energy and dynamism of modern historical fiction, a genre presenting authors with very particular challenges and delights.

‘As always with our longlist, readers will find themselves in all kinds of places in all kinds of centuries, both in the company of familiar authors and hearing newer voices. It’s a privilege to bring these books to wider attention through the prize. So much to savour, so much to think about and, most importantly, so much to enjoy.’

 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction longlist

  • The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Atlantic)
  • The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape)
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee (Oneworld)
  • To Calais, In Ordinary Time by James Meek (Canongate)
  • The Offing by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury)
  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker)
  • The Redeemed by Tim Pears (Bloomsbury)
  • A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland (Penguin)
  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (Doubleday)
  • This Is Happiness by Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)
  • The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood (Picador)

The shortlist will be announced in early April. The winner is announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland, on 12 June 2020. The winner receives £25,000.

Categories Fiction International South Africa

Tags A Sin of Omission Awards Marguerite Poland News Penguin Random House SA Walter Scott Prize Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

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