Portico Prize Shortlist 2019

Here is the shortlist for the Portico Prize 2019

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Under the Rock: The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers (Elliott and Thompson)

Under the Rock: The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers (Elliott and Thompson)

Carved from the land above Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, Scout Rock is a steep crag overlooking wooded slopes and weed-tangled plateaus. To many it is unremarkable; to others it is a doomed place where 18th-century thieves hid out, where the town tip once sat, and where suicides leapt to their deaths. Its brooding form presided over the early years of Ted Hughes, who called Scout Rock ‘my spiritual midwife . . . both the curtain and backdrop to existence’.

The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney (Picador)

The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney (Picador)

Graham Caveney was born in 1964 in Accrington: a town in the north of England, formerly known for its cotton mills, now mainly for its football team. Armed with his generic Northern accent and a record collection including the likes of the Buzzcocks and Joy Division, Caveney spent a portion of his youth pretending he was from Manchester. That is, until confronted by someone from Manchester (or anyone who had been to Manchester or anyone who knew anything at all about Manchester) at which point he would give up and admitted the truth.

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe (Fleet)

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe (Fleet)

Best known for her classic black comedy Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Andrea Dunbar wrote three plays before dying at a tragically young age. This new literary portrayal features a cast of real and imagined characters set against the backdrop of the infamous Buttershaw estate during the Thatcher era.

The Mating Habit of Stags by Ray Robinson (Lightning Books)

The Mating Habit of Stags by Ray Robinson (Lightning Books)

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence.

Ironopolis by Glen James Brown (Parthian)

Ironopolis by Glen James Brown (Parthian)

Ironopolis is a warren of streets, memories and people with secrets.
Glen James Brown orchestrates a remarkable novel across these streets as Ironopolis tells its own story across three generations. Jean unveils a secret on her deathbed.
Alan unravels the truth of his father, who has haunted the Burn Council Estate for a lifetime. Corina is trying to get through one last day at the hairdressers before closing it for good.
And then there is the ageless Peg Powler, part myth, part reality and her reason for stalking them all.

Saltwater by Jessica Andrews (Sceptre)

Saltwater by Jessica Andrews (Sceptre)

When Lucy wins a place at university, she thinks London will unlock her future. It is a city alive with pop up bars, cool girls and neon lights illuminating the Thames at night. At least this is what Lucy expects, having grown up seemingly a world away in working-class Sunderland, amid legendary family stories of Irish immigrants and boarding houses, now defunct ice rinks and an engagement ring at a fish market.

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