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Feb 14, 2023

The Geometer Lobachevksy longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

Adrian Duncan’s

The longlist for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced and features novels including The Geometer Lobachevksy.

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In total, 12 novels are in contention for the £25,000 prize.

First awarded in 2010, and founded by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction aims to “honour the inventor of the historical fiction genre, Sir Walter Scott”. The prize’s judging panel comprises Grant, Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark and new judge for 2023, investigative journalist, writer and documentary maker Saira Shah.

Each shortlisted author is awarded £1,500. The shortlist – which usually features six books — will be announced in April, and a winner announced in mid June at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland.

Novelist and columnist Katie Grant, chair of judges, said: “This year’s submissions to the Walter Scott Prize offered, as ever, many hours of globe-trotting, centuries-spanning pleasure, and our longlist is reflective of the breadth of literary talent, research and imagination displayed by many fine entries. Our longlist also reflects the development of historical fiction from a relatively straightforward depiction of times past to something more complex and ambitious.

“It’s still true that the past is a ‘foreign country’, but as our 12 longlisted novels illustrate, however ‘foreign’ it seems, the past helps us address the big questions of the present: is art its own justification? What do we leave behind when we die? What is freedom? As well as posing these and many other questions, in the 2023 WSP longlist you’ll find comfort and discomfort, the familiar and the unfamiliar, the heights of love and the depths of obsession, and perhaps a few surprises — in other words, a longlist to read, enjoy, debate and share."

The Geometer Lobachevsky was published in April 2022 as a condition between the Lilliput Press and Profile Books.

Praise for The Geometer Lobachevsky

The Geometer Lobachevsky is filled with simple yet lyrical descriptions of landscape. In a literary world hurtling towards the multiverse, there's something grounding about narratives rooted in nature and infrastructure”

Mia Levitin,The Irish Times

“Lugubrious laconicism... Broad overarching themes - the idea of infrastructure as a building block of nationhood; the loneliness of exile - are subtly teased out”

Houman Barekat, The Guardian

“Mathematics - the realm of the geometrician - is precise and orderly; there is, as our teachers used to tell us, only the one right answer. Language is a different, more porous, and more deceptive thing altogether. The Geometer Lobachevsky is quite the literary trick, delivered with precision engineering”

Pat Carty, Hot Press

“A beautifully crafted synthesis of intellectual athleticism and aesthetic originality...”

Pádraig Nolan,Totally Dublin

“Many have seen the tendency among Irish writers, from Joyce and Beckett up to Eimear McBride, towards experimentation as originating in this sense of foundational linguistic dispossession. With this novel, Duncan proves himself to be one of the most subtle explorers of this condition writing today. Lobachevsky’s fate reveals the universal failure of the stories we want to believe to map onto the world in which we are condemned to live”.

Kevin Brazil, Literary Review

Adrian Duncan writes with emotional accuracy and what seems like effortless precision about work and exile, about buildings and cities. To his narratives, he brings a mixture of the exact and the visionary. He is a writer who has come to recreate the world on his own terms.’

Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician and Laureate for Irish Fiction

‘Adrian Duncan is that rare thing, a writer with an original vision and with a visionary prose style to match. The Geometer Lobachevsky will haunt you, move you, and persuade you that you are in the presence of a real artist’

Kevin Power, author of White City and Bad Day in Blackrock

‘Adrian Duncan has a sensibility and a course of investigation utterly his own, and The Geometer Lobachevsky is his best novel yet: a darkly ruminative tale of exile and endeavour, under whose surface move the tectonic plates of the twentieth century.’

Rob Doyle, author of Autobibliography and Threshold

“Of course, if you’re as good a writer as Duncan, part of the [publishing] industry may come to reshape itself around you. Long may he continue to write about his obsessions”

John Self

‘A haunting and beautiful novel that revisions the natural world and our attempts to control it through the eyes of a fugitive Soviet mathematician. By turns comic and tragic, and enthralling in its imaginative reach, Duncan’s layered narrative offers riches on every page’

Jo Lloyd, author of The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies and winner of the BBC Short Story Prize

‘One of the most important, original, and intriguing writers working now. This book is starkly moving, beautiful, sensual, and the way he writes landscape is so phenomenologically precise it makes every writer I know wish they could write like him.’

Niamh Campbell, author of We Were Young and This Happy

‘In crackling prose that is somehow precise, mathematical, and exuberant all at once, Duncan captures the poetry of mapmaking and the richness of small lives. This ode to infrastructure is a luminous achievement.’

Cóilín Parsons, author of The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature

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