Manchester Writing School partner in relaunched prize
The longlist for The Portico Prize for Literature – the UK’s only award for outstanding literature that best evokes the spirit of the North – has been announced today (September 30).
Once described as ‘the Booker of the North’, the £10,000 Prize is open to literature across the formats of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
The longlist of 17 books explores the myriad themes of identity, belonging, gender, class.
The Portico Prize for Literature has returned in a partnership between The Portico Library and The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The biennial prize is the UK’s only award for outstanding literature that 'best evokes the spirit of the North'.
The Portico Prize was established in 1985 to celebrate the strong regional and literary identity of the North, with the aim of raising awareness of the diversity of its cultural, literary and historical heritage, and the meaning of place – all connected by the spirit of the North
Of the eight fiction titles on the list, four are debut novels. The longlist includes two astonishing memoirs and there is also one graphic memoir on the list. Two debut collections of poetry feature on the longlist, from poets both based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.
Independent publishers are strongly represented on the list: Parthian, Myriad Editions, Nine Arches Press, Faber & Faber, Elliott & Thompson, Lightning Books, Atlantic, Xylem Books, Serpent’s Tale and Saraband.
The longlist of 17 books was selected by the Portico Prize’s newly formed Society of Readers and Writers.
A shortlist of six books – to be announced on Tuesday, November 26 – will be selected by a panel of judges, chaired by journalist and broadcaster Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads. He is joined by: Holliday Grainger, stage and screen actor; Kate Fox, stand-up poet; Zahid Hussain, author of The Curry Mile and Jean Sprackland, Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The Portico Prize was established in 1985 to celebrate the strong regional and literary identity of the North with the aim of raising awareness of its historical, cultural and literary heritage. This year it announced a new partnership with the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Simon Savidge, Chair of Judges, said: “What a fantastic and varied list! A huge thank you to The Society of Readers and Writers for giving myself and the other judges such an intriguing selection of reading ahead. I’m really looking forward to getting lost in all things northern; reading and discussing these books over the coming months and seeing how they each evoke ‘the spirit of the north’. I already have a feeling that making a shortlist is going to be a tough job.”
Lynne Allan, Chair of The Portico Library, added: “Their eclectic selection includes an exciting mix of formats and genres, ranging across fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, poetry, place writing, biography, a graphic history and travel writing. We are especially thrilled that so many regional, independent publishers are represented this year. Established and first-time writers will now compete for a place on the shortlist.”
James Draper, Manager of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We’ve enjoyed exploring the cultural heritage of the region through our series of ‘Rewriting the North’ events in partnership between the University’s Centre for Place Writing and The Portico Library – and we’re looking forward to celebrating this further with the announcement of the Prize shortlist and winners next year.”
The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, November 26. Each of the shortlisted authors will be gifted with honorary membership of The Portico Library in 2020.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony at The Portico Library in Manchester on Thursday, January 23, 2020.