Scots author James Robertson wins Sir Walter Scott prize

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Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
James Robertson won the prize with his book News of the Dead

Scots author James Robertson has won the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction with his work News of the Dead.

He saw off Rose Nicolson by Andrew Greig, Fortune by Amanda Smyth and The Magician by Colm Toibin to take the prize.

The winner was announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose.

Judges said it was something of a "homecoming" with a book set in Scotland winning for the first time.

News of the Dead tells three different stories, set in Pictish times, the early 19th Century and the modern day, yet linked by a common location, the fictional Glen Conach in the north east.

Mr Robertson is the second Scottish winner of the award after poet Robin Robertson with The Long Take in 2019.

"The novel fulfils in abundance the prize's key criteria of ambition, originality, innovation, enduring appeal and quality of writing," the judges said.

Image source, Water Scott Prize for Historical Fiction
Image caption,
The winning book was selected from a shortlist of four titles

They said they hoped readers would enjoy not just the fictional glen where the story was based but also the cast of characters the author had assembled "always with a twinkle in his eye".

The prize was announced and presented by the Duke of Buccleuch at the Borders Book Festival.

Mr Robertson said it was an honour to receive a prize named after one of Scottish literature's greats.

"Scott's life and work have had an influence on my own writing," he said.

"I don't think of myself as a historical novelist, but as a writer with a deep interest in history and time."

The Young Walter Scott Prize was also awarded as part of the Borders Book Festival with its two category winners - Leo Wilson and Oliver Dhir - presented with travel grants and printed anthologies of their work.