Six in line for top book award

Six critically acclaimed authors of the past 100 years are in the running to be named the best ever winner of Britain’s oldest literary award.

Student reader and former president of the literature society Daniel Davies with the shortlist for the best of the best of the James Tait Black Prizes

Novels by Angela Carter, Graham Greene, James Kelman, Cormac McCarthy, Caryl Phillips and Muriel Spark makeup the shortlist for a one-off award of the James Tait Black Prizes.

The Best of the Best of the James Tait Black Prizes will honour the best novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded in 1919.

Anniversary Celebrations

The award is being made to celebrate the 250th anniversary of English literature study at the University.

The six books competing for the accolade are:

  • Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
  • The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
  • A Disaffection by James Kelman
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips
  • The Mandlebaum Gate by Muriel Spark

Judging process

The winning book, which will be announced in December, will be selected by a distinguished judging panel including broadcaster Kirsty Wark and award-winning author and writer in residence at the University, Alan Warner.

This best of the best award is a wonderful opportunity to revisit some of the best writers in the literary canon. It is fitting in the year of celebration of 250 years of study of English literature at the University of Edinburgh that we recognise the wonderful contribution this prize makes to honouring great literature.

Regius Professor Greg WalkerChair of the James Tait Black Prizes

The shortlist was selected by scholars and students of literature at the University.

History of prize

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her deceased husband’s love of reading. They are the only major British book awards judged by scholars and postgraduate literature students.

Each year, more than 300 books are read by professors of literature and postgraduate readers prior to the conferment of the prizes.

The annual awards are for the best work of fiction and the best biography published during the previous 12 months.

Photo credit: Sally Jubb