May said the prize was especially important to him as it was the first prize for the English language version of the book. The book has won several major literature awards in France, where it was first published and where it was hailed as "a masterpiece"
In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, May recounted the story which has now become a legend in the publishing industry, about how "The Blackhouse" was was turned down by every major publisher in the UK. He set the book aside and went on to write other works, until one day, the author, who lives in France, mentioned the book in passing to his French publisher who demanded to read it. She read and loved the book and immediately offered to buy world rights.
May acknowledged a special debt of gratitude to his French editor Danielle Dastugue of Editions Rouergue, whom he credited with "saving the book from oblivion". The book was translated into French and took the Frankfurt book festival by storm, with publishers from all over Europe bidding for the rights.
The award-winning young publishing house Quercus - which had not even existed when the book was first offered to publishers in the UK - immediately stepped in to buy the English language rights for "The Blackhouse" and commission a further two books to create what has become known as The Lewis Trilogy. Quercus' belief in the book was endorsed by the Richard and Judy Book Club who picked it for their Autumn 2011 selection. UK readers shared their enthusiasm, voting it their "Best Read" and turning the book into a major best-seller.
Books 2 and 3 in The Lewis Trilogy, "The Lewis Man" and "The Chessmen" have already become bestsellers in the UK.
"The Blackhouse was first published in the USA at the end of 2012. The paperback will be published in Spring of 2014 by Quercus with "The Lewis Man" coming out in hard cover in October 2014.