RSL Encore Award

The £10,000 Encore Award for the best second novel of the year was first awarded in 1990 and was founded by Lucy Astor. The award fills a niche in the catalogue of literary prizes by celebrating the achievement of outstanding second novels. The RSL has administrated of the award since 2016.

Literary lore as well as practice tells us that second novels are ever the most daunting. They even have a syndrome named after them. That’s why I’ve always been particularly fond of the Encore Award, the brilliant prize that acknowledges the difficulties of the second novel.  I’m thrilled that the RSL will now be a partner in its running. Lisa Appignanesi, RSL Chair.

The 2018 Award

We are now closed for submissions. The winner will be announced in spring 2018.

The judges for 2018 are the literary journalist Alex Clark (Chair), poet and children’s writer Julia Copus, and Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer for Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre.

The 2017 Award

The winner of the RSL Encore Award 2017 is Ian McGuire for The North Water (Scribner). Please download the press release for more information.

Other books on the shortlist: Jenni Fagan The Sunlight Pilgrims (William Heinemann), Paul Kingsnorth Beast (Faber & Faber), Eimear McBride The Lesser Bohemians (Faber & Faber), Sarah Perry The Essex Serpent (Serpent’s Tail), Sara Taylor The Lauras (William Heinemann) Shortlist press release.

The 2017 judges are Alex Clark, Julia Copus and Ted Hodgkinson.

Comment from the 2017 judges:

We are absolutely delighted with this year’s shortlist, which is filled with bold, imaginative and hugely enjoyable writing. We were nonetheless disappointed to receive so few submissions from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers, especially as many writers of colour have featured in the award’s shortlists and roster of winners in previous years. As a prize for a second novel, submissions are necessarily limited, and it may be that this is simply a blip; we very much hope so, and urge publishers simply to take note of our concerns.

Comment from the Royal Society of Literature:

In our first year running the RSL Encore Award, we, too, are delighted with the brilliant shortlist. For future years, we will do all we can to encourage diversity of entries.


Past Awards

2017Ian McGuireThe North Water
2015Sunjeev SahotaThe Year of the Runaways
2014Neel MukherjeeThe Lives of Others
2013Evie WyldAll the Birds, Singing
2012Ned BeaumanThe Teleportation Accident
2011Joe DunthorneWild Abandon
2010Adam FouldsThe Quickening Maze
2009Julia LeighDisquiet
2007M.J. HylandCarry Me Down
2005Nadeem AslamMaps for Lost Lovers
2004Michelle de KretserThe Hamilton Case
2003Jeremy GavronThe Book of Israel
2002Ali SmithHotel World
2001Anne EnrightWhat Are You Like?
2000Claire MessudThe Last Life
1999Christina KoningUndiscovered Country
1998*Alan Warner
Timothy O’Grady
These Demented Lands
I could Read the Sky
1997David FlusfederLike Plastic
1996A.L. KennedySo I Am Glad
1995Dermot HealyA Goat’s Song
1994Amit ChaudhuriAfternoon Raag
1993Colm TóibínThe Heather Blazing
1992Iain SinclairDownriver
1991Carey HarrisonRichard’s Feet
1990*Paul Watkins
Peter Benson
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn
A Lesser Dependency

*Joint winners