Kevin Jared Hosein wins £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

Caribbean writer Kevin Jared Hosein has won the 2024 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel Hungry Ghosts.

The novel tells the story of 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 included broadcasters Kirsty Wark and James Naughtie and was chaired by writer Elizabeth Laird, described the tale as “richly imaginative, urgent and compelling”.

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.

The writer said ahead of attending a prizegiving ceremony in the Scottish Borders it was “truly a privilege” to be shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize.

Jared Hosein was awarded the £25,000 prize at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose on Thursday by Walter Scott’s great-great-great-great grandson Matthew Maxwell Scott.

Mr Maxwell Scott is a trustee of his ancestor’s residence, Abbotsford, which also 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.

He 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.