Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist announced

·3-min read
 (Women’s Prize for Fiction)
(Women’s Prize for Fiction)

Book lovers rejoice: the Women’s Prize for Fiction has announced its shortlist, giving you plenty of reading inspiration for the summer months.

With judges including Mary Ann Sieghart, Pandora Sykes and Lorraine Candy, it’s a must if you’re on the hunt for great titles – and Sieghart herself has praised the “extraordinarily high quality of submissions” in this year’s list.

“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,” she said. “Our only problem now will be to identify the winner out of these six brilliant novels.”

Set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote women’s fiction, the prize accepts submissions from any woman writing in English, regardless of nationality or country of residence.

The winner, who will be announced on 15th June 2022, will receive a £30,000 cheque and a bronze “Bessie” figurine, which was created and donated by artist Grizel Niven.

Read on to find out more about the books and authors in the running.

The Shortlist

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

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American-Canadian author Ruth Ozeki’s fourth novel is all about love, loss and grief.

The Book of Form and Emptiness follows the life of fourteen year-old Benny Oh as he starts to hear voices after the death of his musician father. The voices belong to the things in his house, and as his mother Annabelle develops a hoarding problem, they start to grow louder – until he seeks refuge in his local library.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

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Perennial favourite Elif Shafak hits it out of the park yet again with her latest novel. Set on the island of Cyprus, the book is told from the perspective of a fig tree that grows in the centre of a local taverna. Witnessing love stories, war, abandonment and immigration, Shafak’s tale is a unique take on the resilence of nature - and of humanity.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

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All on board for a story about girl power. Great Circle maps out the life of a fearless female aviator, Marian Graves, and the Hollywood star who seeks to portray her in film decades later, Hadley Baxter. After Graves mysteriously disappears, presumed dead, Baxter feels a mysterious connection to the woman she’s planning to portray - and questions if her death was real at all.

The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

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This book from first-time Trinidadian author Lisa Allen-Agostini is a tale of inter-generational trauma, poverty and resilience. Telling the story of boutique owner Alethea Lopez, Allen-Agostini examines the life of a woman who is being abused by her jealous partner and seeking refuge in an affair with her boss. However, when she sees a woman murdered by her lover, she starts to question her own life, to determine the kind of person she wants to be.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

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At the start of Erdrich’s new book (her 23rd), her protagonist, Tookie, has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for attempting to help steal her friend’slover’s body in a heist gone wrong. Stuck behind bars, the Native American Tookie finds solace in books, and when she is released in 2015, starts working in a Minnesota bookshop.

Inspired by the life of Erdrich’s own grandfather, this book continues her examination of the Chippewa nation and follows on from her prize-winning book The Night Watchman.

Sorrow and Bliss, by Meg Mason

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In this sharply funny love story, Kiwi author Mason tackles the subject of mental illness through her protagonist Martha. Flipping back and forwards in time, it examines her relationship with husband Patrick, through them recognising their love for each other to their eventual separation (and her move back in with her parents). Winningly told, the book is warm and insightful - as well as more than a little tragic.

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