Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist revealed
Louise Erdrich, Elif Shafak, Maggie Shipstead are among the novelists shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.
The six shortlisted novels explore a range of themes including identity, personal freedom, sisterhood, mental illness, ghosts, gender violence and more, from Antarctica to Trinidad.
Now in its 27th year, the prestigious prize is open to original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world.
The shortlist was selected by a panel including writer and chair of judges Mary Ann Sieghart, journalist Lorraine Candy, novelist Dorothy Koomson, award-winning author Anita Sethi and broadcaster Pandora Sykes.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Erdrich has made the list with her 23rd novel The Sentence which explores identity, exploitation and how the burdens of history still shape our lives today.
Candy described it as a “really unusual read; it’s a ghost story but it’s also about heritage. It’s really smart, funny and witty.”
British-Turkish novelist Shafak has also been shortlisted for her novel The Island Of Missing Trees.
Koomson praised it as a “hauntingly beautiful tale of loss and identity, love and redemption told via the unusual connection a young girl from London has with ancient Cyprus via a fig tree. Gently told; clever and poignant.”
None of the selected authors have been previously shortlisted for the prize but Shafak has previously been longlisted in 2008 and 2013.
Shipstead’s third novel Great Circle also features, having previously been shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize.
Sethi called it an “absolutely wonderful read”, adding: “It’s the story of Marian and her adventure around the globe and I’m not sure I’ve read anything so filled with the evocation of wanderlust.”
Trinidadian author Lisa Allen-Agostini’s debut novel The Bread the Devil Knead has also made the list, with Sieghart saying it was the “most immersive book”.
Also shortlisted is The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki which explores loss, growing up and our relationship with the things that surround us.
Meg Mason’s novel Sorrow And Bliss, about modern love up against the sad aches of mental illness, rounds off the shortlist.
The winner will receive a cheque for £30,000 and a bronze figurine known as a Bessie, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.
Reflecting on the shortlist, Sieghart said: “We were blessed with an extraordinarily high quality of submissions this year, which made whittling down the longlist from 16 to six particularly difficult.
“But the shortlist contains a wonderfully diverse range of stories, subjects, settings and authors, from the experience of a Native American woman in a haunted bookshop to an early female aviator in the Antarctic.
“One novel is narrated by a tree; another by a book. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, others tearful, and sometimes the two are combined in the same book.
“We judges have loved reading them all and we commend them to you as the best fiction written by women and published in the past year.
“Our only problem now will be to identify the winner out of these six brilliant novels.”
The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on June 15 at an evening awards ceremony in central London.
- Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees;
- Lisa Allen-Agostini, The Bread the Devil Knead;
- Louise Erdrich, The Sentence;
- Maggie Shipstead, Great Circle;
- Meg Mason, Sorrow and Bliss;
- Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness.