The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has unveiled this year’s longlist after “lively debates” among the judges.
Now in its 11th year and with more submissions than ever before according to the judges, 12 works of historical fiction are competing for the £25,000 prize. This is Happiness, published by Bloomsbury in September 2019, is nominated for the Historical Fiction prize.
This is Happiness – Niall Williams
The most enchanting novel you’ll read this year, from the acclaimed author of Man Booker-longlisted History of the Rain
Change is coming to Faha, a small Irish parish unaltered in a thousand years.
For one thing, the rain is stopping. Nobody remembers when it started; rain on the western seaboard is a condition of living. But now – just as Father Coffey proclaims the coming of the electricity – the rain clouds are lifting. Seventeen-year-old Noel Crowe is idling in the unexpected sunshine when Christy makes his first entrance into Faha, bringing secrets for which he needs to atone. Though he can’t explain it, Noel knows right then: something has changed.
As the people of Faha anticipate the endlessly procrastinated advent of the electricity, and Noel navigates his own coming-of-age and his fallings in and out of love, Christy’s past gradually comes to light, casting a new glow on a small world.
Harking back to a simpler time, This Is Happiness is a tender portrait of a community – its idiosyncrasies and traditions, its paradoxes and kindnesses, its failures and triumphs – and a coming-of-age tale like no other. Luminous and lyrical, yet anchored by roots running deep into the earthy and everyday, it is about the power of stories: their invisible currents that run through all we do, writing and rewriting us, and the transforming light that they throw onto our world.
“Admirers of Niall Williams’s Booker-longlisted History of the Rain will not be disappointed to learn that his latest novel is possibly even better . What makes this so compelling and enjoyable is Williams’s transparent love of his characters and delight in his setting” – Alexander Larman, Observer
“Charming is one word for Williams’ prose. It is also life-affirming and written with a turn of phrase that makes the reader want to underline something on every page. I suggest we all buy his books, pushing him into that realm of globally fashionable Irish writers, but more importantly, sharing with a vast audience his humane and poetic world view” – Isabel Berwick, Financial Times
See the full longlist here.