Hungry Ghosts wins 2024 Walter Scott Prize

13th June 2024

Hungry Ghosts wins 2024 Walter Scott Prize

The Caribbean writer Kevin Jared Hosein has won the 2024 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel Hungry Ghosts, which tells the story qof marginalised Hindu communities in Trinidad during the 1940s when, in the words of the author, ‘British colonial rule was loosening’ and ‘Trinidad was starting to be reborn’.

The judging panel, which includes Kirsty Wark, James Naughtie, Elizabeth Laird, Saira Shah and James Holloway, and is chaired by writer Katie Grant, said: 

‘Richly imaginative, urgent and compelling, Hungry Ghosts plunges us into the turbulence of precarious lives struggling to flourish amid the vivid natural lushness of 1940s Trinidad. For the 2024 Walter Scott Prize Kevin Jared Hosein has triumphed with a many-layered tale woven with the dexterity and alchemy of the true story-teller.’

Kevin Jared Hosein lives in Trinidad and Tobago, where he worked as a secondary school biology teacher for over a decade.  He is the author of two previous novels and won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2018.  Travelling to the Scottish Borders to attend the Prizegiving ceremony, he said:

‘Truly a privilege to be shortlisted and to have Trinidad and Tobago be represented on such an impressive stage. Moreover, I feel like I am accomplishing the dreams of my ancestors when they first crossed those dark seas from India almost two centuries ago.’

Kevin was awarded the £25,000 prize at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose on 13th June by Walter Scott’s great-great-great-great grandson and Abbotsford Trustee, Matthew Maxwell Scott.  Abbotsford now manages the Prize, with support from Hawthornden Foundation, the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust, and the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry in honour of Elizabeth Buccleuch. Matthew Maxwell Scott said:

‘As Scott was the inspiration for the genre of historical fiction, we hope this year's nominees and winner can inspire many more authors in their writing careers. Those of us involved in preserving Abbotsford and Scott's legacy could not be prouder to associate ourselves with this wonderful prize and its supremely gifted recipients."

The Walter Scott Prize is one of the UK’s major literary awards, with previous winners including Sebastian Barry, Robert Harris, Andrea Levy and Hilary Mantel.  It is open to novels published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth, and set at least 60 years ago.