Barry Unsworth’s The Quality of Mercy has been shortlisted for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, the largest annual UK prize to be judged outside London, which honors the legacy and achievements of Sir Walter Scott, founder of the historical novel. The judges’ criteria include originality and innovation, quality of writing, and the ability of a book to shed light on the present as well as the past. The judging panel described making a very difficult choice from “the strongest longlist for the Prize so far,” and described Unsworth’s novel as, “A terrific story which successfully knits political, historical and personal strands.”
The award will be presented by former prizewinner Hilary Mantel in a ceremony on June 16th. The other contenders are: On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt, Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst, and Pure by Andrew Miller.