The Portico Prize at The Portico Library online

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Author Andrew O'Hagan. Photo by Jon Tonks
Author Andrew O'Hagan. Photo by Jon Tonks.

The Portico Prize Giving, online, 19–20 January 2022, from £5 - Book now

Six books that explore the spirit of the North are on the shortlist for The Portico Prize 2022, with live online readings on 19 January and the overall winner announced at a ceremony beamed live from Manchester’s hidden gem The Portico Library the following night.

The Portico Library is host to the famous writing prize, given biennially to a new work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, and once described as “the Booker of the North”.

Our favourite place for indulging in a bit of “polite literature” (their words, written on the wall, as they are), The Portico Library is host to the famous writing prize, given biennially to a new work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, and once described as “the Booker of the North”. This month, on 19 January, the eve of the winner announcement, you can hear all six shortlisted authors give exclusive readings from their books – five novels, including four debuts, and one memoir – and put any questions you have to them during a live Q&A at the online event. The six authors on the shortlist include exciting new voices sitting alongside established writers, and each will be gifted with honorary membership of the wood-panelled and glass-domed Portico Library in 2022, with the overall winner receiving £10,000.

The six books that made the shortlist, in alphabetical order by author, are: Ghosted by Jenn Ashworth (Sceptre), The Outsiders by James Corbett (Lightning Books), The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain (HQ, Harper Collins), Sea State by Tabitha Lasley (4th Estate), Toto Among the Murderers by Sally J Morgan (JM Originals, Hachette) and Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan (Faber).

On 20 January, the judges will head online to discuss the shortlisted selection and announce the winner. The 2022 judging panel is broadcaster Melanie Sykes, poet Momtaza Mehri and arts editor for The Daily Telegraph Anita Singh, with author and journalist Gary Young as chair of judges. He says: “The list illustrates the degree to which there is not one North but many, rooted not just in place but time, gender, race and religion: all moulded into elegant prose and conveyed with engaging storytelling.”

The Portico Prize was established in 1985, and previous winning and shortlisted authors have included Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Anthony Burgess, AS Byatt, Sarah Hall, Hilary Mantel, “Queen of Tartan Noir” Val McDermid and Benjamin Myers, in 2015, with Beastings. Its resurrection in 2019, after a hiatus of three years,  was announced as part of a new partnership with the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2020, Jessica Andrews became the youngest author to win The Portico Prize with her debut novel Saltwater, which follows a Sunderland lass to London.

Ticket-holders to the readings are entitled to an exclusive offer to purchase signed books with a special Portico Prize 2022 bookplate. Buy individually or all six together for 20 per cent off. Please note, this Zoom webinar event will be recorded.

If you fancy seeing that “Polite Literature” motto with your own eyes, and finding out more about it, visit the library for their new exhibition, Sit Down And Get Out! – more here. And don’t forget to tune into the Rewriting the North podcast, the Portico’s site-specific series showcasing stories and voices from across the North of England.

Portico Prize shortlist books
Portico Prize shortlist books

Tickets for the shortlist readings are £5. Tickets for the prize-giving ceremony are free.

The Portico Prize Giving, online

19–20 January 2022
From £5