The Encore Award

The Encore Award was first presented in 1990 to celebrate the achievement of outstanding second novels. The Award fills a niche in the catalogue of literary prizes. The RSL has administrated the award since 2016.

The Encore Award 2022

We are now taking entries for the 2022 RSL Encore Award. This year’s judges are Sian Cain, Paul Muldoon and Nikesh Shukla.

Please ensure you have read and understood the eligibility and guidelines prior to entering. Should you require assistance after having read these, or have any issues with the form, please email [email protected]. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday 14 January 2022.

The Encore Award 2021

 Caoilinn Hughes won the 2021 Encore Award with The Wild Laughter (Oneworld).

‘The judges found Caoilinn Hughes’ The Wild Laughter to be a grand feat of comic ingenuity, mischievous and insightful, and full of resonance for the way we live now. The voice of Caoilinn’s doomed narrator, Doharty ‘Hart’ Black, is so original and vibrant, with a very particular poetic vernacular. This is a story of modern Ireland, set in the crash post Celtic Tiger, but it also feels timeless in many ways, with Biblical myth simmering under the surface. The Wild Laughter is a real page-turner, in spite of its literary heart, and a joy to read. We all look forward to reading more from Caoilinn Hughes in the years to come.’
– Encore Award Judges Nikita Lalwani, Paul Muldoon and Sian Cain.

‘The trail between the first and second novel is rough terrain. But the readership a writer finds through her second novel is the more enduring readership. The Encore Award is a crucial recognition of its stakes. This Award helped to bring Irish writer heroes like Dermot Healy, Anne Enright and Colm Tóibín to the fore, not to mention Sally Rooney and Lisa McInerney more recently. UK writers I so admire like Ali Smith and A L Kennedy were also championed early on by this award. To be following this lineage is strange and glorious.’
– Caoilinn Hughes, Winner of the Encore Award 2021

Watch our announcement video here: 

Read the press release for more information.

Other books on the 2021 shortlist

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
  • Should We Fall Behind by Sharon Duggal (Bluemoose Books)
  • The Blind Light by Stuart Evers (Picador)
  • The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (One World)

Please read the press release for more information.

For press enquiries relating to the Encore Award please contact Clair Chamberlain at Bread and Butter PR: [email protected]

For questions about awards and prizes, please contact Martha Stenhouse, General Manager, [email protected].

The Encore Award 2020

The winner of the 2020 Encore Award was Patrick McGuinness with Throw Me to the Wolves (Jonathan Cape). This was the 30th year of the Award. The judges were Edmund Gordon, Nikita Lalwani and Eley Williams.

Please read the press release for further information.

Watch the 2020 winner announcement below:


In celebration of the 30th year of the Award previous winners share their reflections on winning best second novel:

Past Awards
*Joint winners

2020 Patrick McGuinness Throw Me to the Wolves
2019 Sally Rooney  Normal People
2018* Andrew Michael Hurley
Lisa McInerney
Devil’s Day
The Blood Miracles
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* John Burnside
Claire Messud
Matt Thorne
Phil Whitaker
The Mercy Boys
The Last Life
Eight Minutes Idle
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