The Portico Prize for “literature that best evokes the spirit of the north” has gone to Jessica Andrews for her debut novel Saltwater.

The book is a story of self-discovery by a girl from Sunderland who moves to London and takes her northern roots with her.

Andrews grew up in Sunderland herself and has also spent time living in London.

Portico prize 2019
The works shortlisted for the prize (The Portico Prize/PA)

Simon Savidge, who is chair of judges for the prize, said Andrews’s novel “shows the ‘spirit of the north’ is diverse and multifaceted”.

Saltwater sees its main character Lucy struggle to adjust to her new lifestyle of working long shifts and attending chaotic parties in warehouses in east London and mansions in South Kensington.

Saltwater was announced as the prize winner at an awards ceremony at the Portico Library in Manchester.

Lynne Allan, chair of the Portico Library, said: “We are more than proud to award this year’s prize to Jessica Andrews, whose remarkable debut is full of optimism.

“It is a tender tribute to women across generations and an important exploration of women’s lives today.”

British Independent Film Awards 2019 – London
Actress Holliday Grainger was on the judging panel (Matt Crossick/PA)

She added: “The Portico Prize aims to shine a spotlight on the very best writing about the north and the voices that deserve to be heard.”

Andrews takes home £10,000 in prize money after receiving the award.

Actress Holliday Grainger, poet Kate Fox and author Zahid Hussain were also on the judging panel.

Saltwater beat five other shortlisted works to secure the award.

They were Ironopolis by Glen James Brown, The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney, Under The Rock: The Poetry Of A Place by Benjamin Myers, The Mating Habit Of Stags by Ray Robinson and Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe.

The Portico Prize was established in 1985 by the Portico Library in Manchester to celebrate literature from the north.