Set in New York in 1746, a young stranger arrives fresh off the boat from England. He has an order for a thousand pounds in his pocket he wishes to cash – but can he be trusted? The story is about a young man with a fast tongue who can invent himself afresh in a city that has only just begun.
The judges called the book a “captivating and original tale”.
The other novel award winner was Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, a story set in the American Civil Wars.
Other winners include Brian Conaghan. Born in Coatbridge but now living in Dublin, Conaghan’s children’s book The Bombs That Brought Us Together is about two boys living on opposite sides.
Conaghan left school at 16, taking up an apprenticeship as a painter and decorator with his local authority before returning to college to gain school qualifications. He went on to university and discovered a passion for books, writing and drama. He taught English in schools and starting writing managing to amass some 217 rejection letters before finding an agent and publisher.
The judges called his book “timely yet also hilariously funny”.
The biography prize was awarded to Keggie Carew for Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory, a book about her father, while the poetry prize went to Alice Oswald for Falling Awake, a book the judges urged everyone to read.