Knopf’s THE LONG TAKE by Robin Robertson Wins Walter Scott Prize
Robin Robertson’s THE LONG TAKE, published by Alfred A. Knopf, has won the £25,000 (about $31,470) 2019 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which “celebrates quality, and innovation of writing in the English language, and is open to books published in the previous year in the U.K., Ireland or the Commonwealth… the majority of the storyline must have taken place at least 60 years ago.” Robertson is the first Scot and first poet to win the prize in its 10-year history.
The judges said, in part: “THE LONG TAKE recounts the inner journey of Canadian veteran Walker as he travels from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco attempting to rebuild his life after living through the horrors of war in Europe. 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.”
Set in the great American cities after the Second World War, the book features a combination of verse and prose the judges likened to that of Sir Walter Scott. Upon accepting his award, Robertson, originally from the north-east coast but now living in London, said he had started as a poet and then moved into narrative fiction “by accident.”
According to the judges, “The prize was founded both to acknowledge the part historical fiction plays in our literary landscape and to broaden and deepen the meaning of the term ‘historical fiction’ itself. Since then, many of the finest writers in English have explored historical themes in increasingly original ways, making the task of choosing a winner ever more difficult. It seems right that in our 10th anniversary year we should celebrate this originality by awarding the prize to a novel written in compelling narrative verse.”
Our warm congratulations to Mr. Robertson and everyone at Knopf.