The Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist 2021
The shortlist for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced!
The Women’s Prize for Fiction celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. This year’s shortlist features six writers who have never before been shortlisted for the prize.
Chair of the 2021 judges, Bernardine Evaristo, says of the shortlist: ‘Fiction by women defies easy categorisation or stereotyping, and all of these novels grapple with society’s big issues expressed through thrilling storytelling. We feel passionate about them, and we hope readers do too.’
Below are the six shortlisted books for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
A woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans, her entire existence overwhelmed by the internet - or what she terms ‘the portal’. Are we in hell? the people of the portal ask themselves. Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die?
Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: ‘Something has gone wrong,’ and ‘How soon can you get here?’ As real life and its stakes collide with the the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.
This is at once a love letter to the infinite scroll and a meditation on love, language and human connection.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.
Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?
Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing.
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
What if the life you’ve always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back? Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary.
Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Gifty is the younger child in a family of four who have emigrated from Ghana to the American South. While her gorgeous brother is a sports hero, her father longs to return home and her mother is desperate to hold this family of four together. When Gifty’s brother’s glorious success on the basketball court falters, addiction strikes and the mother turns inward, and to religion, to find a cure.
Each one of the characters tries to find a way to heal the heartbreak- for the mother it is God, for Gifty’s father it is escape and for Gifty, our narrator - it is science. But can family love survive when the family itself feels like it is on the edge of disappearing?
An extraordinarily acute and resonant novel about a contemporary family.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
Lala is eight months pregnant when her waters break unexpectedly during the night. Her husband is nowhere to be found, so she flees the house in search of him. Adan has been out doing a burglary that has gone horribly wrong, and now he’s killed a white man.
Mira Whalen has only recently married Peter, the husband who now lies dead, sprawled across their bed. He loved her, his second wife and she loved him. But last night they had a row, and she wishes they hadn’t. Just as she wishes that she hadn’t confronted her husband’s murderer and pulled the stocking off his face. For now he knows who exactly who she is.
This is the story of two marriages, and of a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence and a desire among the women to speak out and survive.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has?
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell transported over four million readers into its mysterious world. It became an instant classic and has been hailed as one of the finest works of fiction of the twenty-first century.
Fifteen years later, it is finally time to enter the House and meet Piranesi.
May your Paths be safe, your Floors unbroken and may the House fill your eyes with Beauty.
Please note: additional stock of the shortlisted titles will be coming via our international supply channels and may experience some delays.
The 26th winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on Wednesday 7 July. Find out more about the prize here.
No One Is Talking About This
Irreverent and sincere, poignant and delightfully profane, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the infinite scroll and a meditation on love, language and human connection from one of the most original voices...
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What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?
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From the bestselling author of Homegoing comes a novel from the heart of contemporary America- a story of family love and addiction, of heartbreak and redemption.
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