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Christine Dwyer Hickey and Joseph O’Connor Shortlisted for Walter Scott Prize

Congratulations to Dublin authors Christine Dwyer Hickey and Joseph O’Connor who have been shortlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize. They were shortlisted for their novels The Narrow Land and Shadowlands. Christine Dwyer Hickey is our 2020 Dublin One City One Book author for Tatty, while Joseph O’Connor’s book Ghost Light was our 2011 Dublin One City One Book choice.

The other books shortlisted are A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland, The Redeemed by Tim Pears, To Calais in Ordinary Time by James Meek and The Parisian by Isabella Hammad. The winner will be announced in June.


The 2020 Shortlist

The eleventh Walter Scott Prize Shortlist was announced on 31st March 2020. The judges said:

‘In times of crisis, historical fiction is both reassurance (nothing is completely new) – and escape, so it’s with almost medicinal pleasure that we unveil the eleventh Walter Scott Prize shortlist which offers, we hope, a measure of both. Set aside your anxieties and smell greasepaint with Bram Stoker. Share Leo Sercombe’s incredulity as the German fleet scuttles at Scapa Flow. Lament, for Stephen Mzamane, the injustices in the nineteenth century Anglican church. With Thomas, Will and the Lady Bernadine, delight in a fourteenth century linguistic tour-de-force. Linger inside the minds of the artist Edward Hopper and his wife. And savour a glorious twentieth century epic of the Middle East written with such sparkling immediacy you’re more witness than reader. Six books from writers as varied as they are talented. Six books to absorb. Six books to fortify. Enjoy them all!’


The Judges said:

 THE NARROW LAND by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Atlantic)

‘The Narrow Land is a quiet tour-de-force placing art at the heart of historical fiction. By framing her portrait of the marriage of Edward and Josephine Hopper in one hot summer, 1950, at their house in Cape Cod, Christine Dwyer Hickey captures the intensity and sometime destructiveness of the relationship, and the impact on it when Michael, a child of a concentration camp, comes to stay nearby. The author manages a rare thing: she reveals the impetus of Hopper’s art, writing beautifully about light, angles and shade in an effortless way so that we only gradually, and thrillingly, become aware that we are seeing things as Hopper did.‘

SHADOWPLAY by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker)

‘Joseph O’Connor’s deep dive into late Victorian theatreland is a glittering portrait of characters as luminous in their tumultuous private lives as they are on stage. The story explores the turbulent emotions of three souls pulled together in the unforgiving glare of that limelight – those of Ellen Terry, her lover Henry Irving and Dublin-clerk-turned-theatrical-manager Bram Stoker – in which the passions and torments of the two most celebrated actors of their day are reflected through the imagination of the author who would later create Dracula, the gothic novel to end them all and the father of a million nightmares. O’Connor’s mastery of dialogue and character, his effortless recreation of time and place, make this an exhilarating journey through dark streets, theatre dressing rooms and bright stages, in which walk-on parts for the likes of Oscar Wilde and W.B.Yeats seem only natural. The characters spring from his pages, fully-dressed for performance. A historical novel to stir the senses, and perhaps the blood.’


Details about all the shortlisted books here: