Daisy Hildyard Wins The 2023 Encore Award

By Olivia Emily

1 year ago

Hildyard bagged the prize for her sophomore novel, Emergency

The Royal Society of Literature has announced Daisy Hildyard as the winner of the 2023 Encore Award for her novel, Emergency. The prestigious literary prize awards £10,000 to the writer of the best second novel of the year.

Daisy Hildyard and her novel, Emergency

© Barney Jones/Fitzcarraldo

The news was announced at a live ceremony on 15 June 2023 and, though she was unable to attend, Hildyard commented: ‘An award for a second attempt is a kind-hearted award and I am happy and grateful to have been a part of it this year. The other authors on the shortlist are all writers whose work I respect, and I like that the award makes us into a cohort: we’ve written our different books about different things, but we’re together on our second novels at the same moment (even though I reckon I’m the oldest, which means they’re actually one step ahead of me). When we are very, very old, on our seventy-fifth novels, I hope we’ll still be seeing and reading each other.

‘I’m grateful to my agent David Godwin and to my publishers Fitzcarraldo, who made this book – I just wrote a Word doc – and they’ve cared for it so thoughtfully and generously, before and since its release,’ Hildyard added. ‘The prize money will give me time at my desk – it makes a big and real difference. Speaking personally, it meant a lot to me that the judges described Emergency as a celebration of life, an experience of being in the thick of life – thank you for reading the novel and thinking about it like this. And it’s good to think of people feeling that, inside or outside the book.’

This year’s judges, Maura Dooley, Daljit Nagra and Nikesh Shukla added: ‘Emergency is a work of great style and substance; contemplative, clever and seductive. Lyrically unfolding its story slowly and delicately through the compelling voice of a narrator brought to a standstill in lockdown, this work reflects on rural life at a point of great change.

‘In contemplating childhood, in her evocation of her schooldays, in the natural world seen through the eyes of a child, Hildyard summons a world just pre-internet, a place in which the edgelands of a rural community struggle as employment slips away,’ they added. ‘In her finely-observed and precise descriptions of the environment Hildyard elides the easy distinctions between the man-made and the natural world, asking the reader to look harder. The reader is invited to consider what the destruction of this interrelated world might mean for us all. This is a powerful pastoral novel written with a watchful, unsparing eye, both praising and exposing the beauty, the ugliness, and the essential interconnectedness of life.’

The 2023 Encore Award Shortlist 2023

What Is The Encore Award?

The RSL Encore Award recognises the best second novel of the year – that is, the second novel published by a writer, filling a niche in the literary award scene. First awarded in 1990, the annual award bestows the winner with a £10,000 – plus, all shortlisted authors are awarded £500. Previous winners include Sally Rooney (for Normal People), Colm Tóibín (for The Heather Blazing), and Ali Smith (for Hotel World). 

This year, the judging panel is Maura Dooley, Daljit Nagra and Nikesh Shukla.

The Shortlist

The shortlisted books for the 2023 Encore Award are:

  • Milk Teeth by Jessica Andrews
  • Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen
  • Emergency by Daisy Hildyard
  • Complicit by Winnie M Li 
  • Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu

Milk Teeth by Jessica Andrews

The winner will be revealed on 15 June 2023.