Robin Robertson has been awarded the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the first Scot and poet winner in the award’s ten-year history. His book, The Long Take (Picador), is a combination of verse and prose which follows Canadian veteran Walker as he travels through America’s great cities, rebuilding his life after the horrors of the Second World War.
The Long Take was also shortlisted for last year’s Booker, won the Goldsmiths prize, and was a PBS Spring Recommendation 2018. The Scottish poet, like Walter Scott himself, moved into narrative fiction “by accident”, as The Long Take began as a poem but developed into something longer.
The judges said:
“It seems right that in our tenth anniversary year we should celebrate this originality by awarding the prize to a novel written in compelling narrative verse. The prize is always hard-fought and this year was no exception, but this novel exerted a very particular magnetic force, drawing us back again and again, each time marvelling anew.
“In poetry of the utmost beauty, Robin Robertson interweaves themes from the great age of black and white films, the destruction of communities as cities destroy the old to build the new, the horrors of McCarthyism and the terrible psychological wounds left by war.
“Robertson shows us things we’d rather not see and asks us to face things we’d rather not face.
“But with the pulsing narrative drive of classic film noir, the vision of a poet, and the craft of a novelist, The Long Take courageously and magnificently boosts the Walter Scott Prize into its next decade.”