2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize Longlist: The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith

HNSA, in partnerships with ARA Group, recently announced the eight talented authors, and their outstanding novels, selected in the 2020 longlist for the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize. The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith was one of the novels featured in the longlist. We chat with Dominic below about the value of historical fiction and what being longlisted for the inaugural prize means to him. You can also enjoy Dominic reading an excerpt from his book via the HNSA Youtube channel. Subscribe to hear more book readings from the longlist authors in the coming weeks.

“From the Lumiere Brothers first demonstrations of moving pictures in Paris to early American movie houses and the battlefields of World War I, this is a prodigiously researched journey through the birth of cinema and one man’s doomed obsession with his muse.” ~ Colin Falconer

What does being longlisted mean to you?

“It’s a real honour to be recognised as part of the longlist, especially at a time when history feels more important than ever. I’m delighted to know my work has been appreciated within a genre full of so many promising and accomplished voices.”

Why did you enter the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize?

“I’ve been publishing historical fiction for more than a decade, so I was very excited to hear about a new prize that recognises the contributions that this genre makes to broader literature and storytelling. I certainly wanted to throw my hat into the ring!”

Why do you think awards like this are important?

“There aren’t many awards that are specific to historical fiction, despite the genre’s enduring popularity. A prize like this brings attention to the ways in which the historical novel can shed light on both the past and the present. I think it’s especially important that the award is a celebration of Australian and New Zealand writers and writing.”

What is the value of historical fiction?

Historical fiction gives us a sense of the lives that came before us and allows us to empathise with our ancestors, and understand the forces that shaped the present.

About Dominic Smith

Dominic grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of four novels, including The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, which was a New York Times Bestseller and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Sold into more than a dozen countries, the novel was chosen as a best book of 2016 by Amazon, Slate, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Kirkus Reviews. 

In Australia, the novel won the Fiction Indie Book of the Year Award from the Independent Booksellers Association and was named the Literary Fiction Book of the Year as part of the Australian Book Industry Awards. 

His other novels include: The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre, The Beautiful Miscellaneous, and Bright and Distant Shores

Dominic serves on the fiction faculty in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, and Rice University.

For further information:

About The Electric Hotel

The Electric Hotel winds through the nascent days of cinema in Paris and Fort Lee, New Jersey— America’s first movie town—and on the battlefields of Belgium during World War I. A sweeping work of historical fiction, it shimmers between past and present as it tells the story of the rise and fall of a prodigious film studio and one man’s doomed obsession with all that passes in front of the viewfinder. 

Buy your copy of The Electric Hotel.

The ARA Historical Novel Prize shortlist will be announced on Wednesday, 28 October, with the prize winner to be announced by both video broadcast and live stream in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday, 10 November 2020.

Latest news & interviews


Join the HNSA Community

Our foundation partner

Our Sponsors

HNSA Newsletter Updates

Subscribe to our newsletter for interviews, reviews, news and more!