After a year’s hiatus, the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, Best Published Novel award has returned. The Prize is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English, and was open to any adventure fiction published between 1st May 2020 and 30th April 2021.  

The 12-strong longlist, with the 12 authors all in the running for the £10,000 prize, is:

Ayesha Harruna Attah THE DEEP BLUE BETWEEN (Pushkin Press)

D.V. Bishop CITY OF VENGEANCE (Pan Macmillan)


Ali Bryan THE HILL (Dottir Press)

Niall Edworthy OTTO ECKHART’S ORDEAL (Universe, Unicorn Publishing)

David Gilman THE ENGLISHMAN (Head of Zeus)

Kim Hughes OPERATION CERTAIN DEATH (Simon & Schuster UK)

Rachel Joyce MISS BENSON’S BEETLE (Doubleday)

Lawrence Osborne THE GLASS KINGDOM (Hogarth)


James Swallow ROGUE (Bonnier Books UK)

Jess Walter THE COLD MILLIONS (Viking)

The Foundation encourages readers to select the one that appeals to them most, then read, share and recommend. Download the longlist poster to spread the word. 

The Prize celebrates adventure fiction in all its forms. In your local bookshop, your favourite adventure novel might be found with the historical fiction, tucked in amongst the crime novels, or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the latest thrillers. Adventure is a broad genre and the Prize welcomes this diversity, looking for the novels which both honour the traditions of adventure and are unafraid to try something new.

The Prize received 127 entries from publishers and literary agents by authors from across the world, including those from Australia, Canada, Ghana, Ireland, South Africa, India, New Zealand and the UK. The longest was selected from these entries by a panel of librarians and library staff.

Niso Smith, Founder of The Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation, commented:

‘Books are a lifeline for many people and have been more so than ever over the past year. While we have not been able to travel, to experience other places and cultures, to meet the people who make our world so colourful, we have relied on books to take us there. This longlist truly has an adventure for everyone.’ 

From the longlist, six titles will be selected by the same panel to progress to the shortlist, after which the titles progress to the expert judging panel. The Prize will also include a public vote over the summer with the reader’s choice equating to one seat on the judging panel. 

Shortlist Announced: 20th May 2021

Winner Announced: 8th September 2021

Have you read any of these novels? Tell us what you think on twitter @Wilbur_Niso_Fdn or why not go a get a copy from your local library or bookshop?