Belfast writer Lucy Caldwell winner of Walter Scott Prize 2023

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Belfast Author Lucy Caldwell has won the 2023 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction at the Borders Book Festival to be held in Melrose.

She won the £25,000 prize for her novel In Days, a story of loss and love set during the aerial bombing of her home town during World War II.

His win was announced on Thursday at a public event celebrating the short list, which was attended by some writers from as far away as Australia.

The judges described her novel as “pitch-perfect, gripping fiction ringing with emotional truth” and praised the story for its “great tenderness” amid “great violence”.

It didn’t feel like ‘history’ at all, it didn’t even feel like it happened, it felt like I wrote it

lucy caldwell

The award-winning author immersed herself in eyewitness accounts of the Belfast Blitz as she wrote the novel, interviewing survivors and mining Mass Observation Archive diaries from the 1940s and 1950s.

She said: “These days felt so alive to me as I was writing it, so vital – it didn’t feel like ‘history’ at all, it didn’t even feel like it had happened, it felt like it was Well, I wrote it.”

Established in 2009, the Walter Scott Prize is one of Britain’s most important literary prizes, with Sebastian Barrie, robert harrisAndrea Levy and Hilary Mantel.

The 2023 Walter Scott Prize judging panel, chaired by Katie Grant, included Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, james knottySaira Shah and Kirsty Wark.

Other selected stories include The Geometer Lobachevsky by Adrian Duncan, Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris, Chosen by Elizabeth Laurie, The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane, Ancestry by Simon Mavor and I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam.

The prize is open to novels published in the UK in the previous year, Ireland Or commonwealth And set at least 60 years in the past.