RSL Encore Award

The £10,000 Encore Award for the best second novel of the year was first awarded in 1990 and is sponsored 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.

I am delighted by this affiliation between the Encore Award and the RSL. It will undoubtedly raise the profile of the prize but, more importantly, of its winners. Lucy Astor, founder and sponsor of the Encore Award.

The 2018 Award

We are now open for submissions for the RSL Encore Award 2018. For full application details please download an Application Form. Please also complete and return an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form, the information on which will be treated in the strictest confidence and not linked to submissions. Books may be entered by publishers based in the United Kingdom or authors
who meet eligibility criteria (please see application form for details).

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 closing date for entries is Thursday 30 November 2017.

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

2017 Ian McGuire The North Water
2015 Sunjeev Sahota The Year of the Runaways
2014 Neel Mukherjee The Lives of Others
2013 Evie Wyld All the Birds, Singing
2012 Ned Beauman The Teleportation Accident
2011 Joe Dunthorne Wild Abandon
2010 Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze
2009 Julia Leigh Disquiet
2007 M.J. Hyland Carry Me Down
2005 Nadeem Aslam Maps for Lost Lovers
2004 Michelle de Kretser The Hamilton Case
2003 Jeremy Gavron The Book of Israel
2002 Ali Smith Hotel World
2001 Anne Enright What Are You Like?
2000 Claire Messud The Last Life
1999 Christina Koning Undiscovered Country
1998* Alan Warner
Timothy O’Grady
These Demented Lands
I could Read the Sky
1997 David Flusfeder Like Plastic
1996 A.L. Kennedy So I Am Glad
1995 Dermot Healy A Goat’s Song
1994 Amit Chaudhuri Afternoon Raag
1993 Colm Tóibín The Heather Blazing
1992 Iain Sinclair Downriver
1991 Carey Harrison Richard’s Feet
1990* Paul Watkins
Peter Benson
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn
A Lesser Dependency

*Joint winners