Sebastian Barry wins Walter Scott Prize for second time

Irish author Sebastian Barry has won the Walter Scott Prize worth £25,000(€28,475) for the second time for his novel Days Without End. Mr Moffat said Barry’s novel “eventually took the lead” among the seven-strong shortlist due to the “glorious and unusual story, the seamlessly interwoven period research and, above all, for the unfaltering power and authenticity of the narrative voice, a voice no reader is likely to forget”. The judges included Elizabeth Buccleuch, journalists James Naughtie and Kate Figes, writers Katharine Grant and Elizabeth Laird, the Abbotsford Trust’s James Holloway and Bordes Festival director Alistair Moffat. Barry’s previous novel, On Canaan’s Side, was a winner in 2012, while he picked up the Costa Book prize earlier this year for Days Without End. “It’s difficult to itemise my simple childish joy at receiving this prize; that the judges did all this work to make a 61-year-old man feel 12 again,” Barry said. The prize is awarded to the best UK, Irish or Commonwealth novel of the previous year, which is set more than 60 years ago. It was founded to honour the achievements of Sir Walter Scott, considered to be the inventor of the historical novel. “Our decision to award Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End was one of the hardest the Walter Scott Prize has ever had to make,” Mr Moffat said. Barry returned to the Borders Book Festival in Melrose in Scotland over the weekend to receive the prize from the Duke of Buccleuch.