the Walter Scott shortlist & my TBR

June 8, 2010 at 12:06 am (Current Events) (, )

I bookmarked this article to share back on April first, but was still too despondent over Kitty Girl to be a good and dutiful little blogger and actually post it. So APRIL FOOLS! HA HA HA! I know, that wasn’t funny in the slightest.

Basically, three (count ’em, THREE!) of the novels shortlisted for the Booker Prize have also been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize (coming on up on June 18th), which is for historical fiction, of course. (I feel so bad that I haven’t finished Waverly, because it was really getting to be rather funny when I put it down. And it’s such a good, literary babyname–not for me, though, not right now; my sister’s having one soon.)

Historical fiction, according to Moffat, is enjoying an unprecedented boom. “Historical fiction may have become more popular because at a time when the future seems terrifying to us, we need to refer back to and understand the past more fully,” he said.

I’m not sure I necessarily agree with Mr Moffat, however. Historical fiction, more than anything else, reflects the present and its attitudes and perspectives. By using the past as a vehicle, historical fiction brings greater understanding of our own times. We don’t study history simply to understand the past, but also to understand ourselves. You think?

Regardless, most of the books sound pretty interesting (and I did just read and enjoy Wolf Hall), so I may just have to add them to my TBR.

The shortlist
Hodd by Adam Thorpe
Lustrum by Robert Harris
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel



  1. Jenny said,

    I’ve never heard of this prize before – Mark Twain would not be pleased. :p

    I have nothing intelligent to contribute to the question of why we read history, although I think it’s part understanding the past and part understanding ourselves now. I think what Moffat’s trying to say is that it’s easier to know where we’re going if we know where we’re coming from.

    • Schatzi said,


      Honestly, I think we read historical fiction for two main reasons: nostalgia (aww, it was so rad then!) and schadenfreude (man, we sucked then! we are so much better now!).

      Sure, we can say we’re trying to understand it objectively, but we’re always filtering it through our own era. There’s no escaping it. Ethno .. . . blah, I shouldn’t comment drunk.

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