Books which “defy the rumour that it’s grim up North” are up for a £10,000 prize.
The Portico Prize For Literature awards fiction and non-fiction that “evoke the spirit of the North”.
Judges for the prize, set up more than 30 years ago, include Strike actress Holliday Grainger.
This year’s shortlist features three debut novels, including Saltwater by Jessica Andrews, a story of self-discovery by a girl from Sunderland who moves to London and takes her northern roots with her.
Ironopolis is “a haunting novel” by Glen James Brown, set on a fictional council estate in post-industrial Middlesbrough.
Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe is inspired by the life of Rita, Sue And Bob Too playwright Andrea Dunbar.
Other works of fiction include Ray Robinson’s novel The Mating Habit Of Stags, set on the moors of North Yorkshire, which judges called “the perfect northern noir”.
In non-fiction, Benjamin Myers’s Under The Rock: The Poetry Of A Place looks at nature, literature, history, memory and the meaning of place in modern Britain.
Graham Caveney’s book The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness describes growing up obsessed by music in the North of England during the 1970s and his experience of sexual abuse.
Broadcaster Simon Savidge, chair of the judges, said: “This list defies the rumour that it’s grim up North.
“Yes, it can be gritty up North; yes, it can be gothic up North; but more than anything it’s glorious and great up North.”
The winner will be announced on January 23.
Saltwater by Jessica Andrews
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
Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe