The Women’s Prize for Fiction, said to be the greatest celebration of women’s creativity, recently announces its 2022 shortlist. Now in its 27th year, the Prize honors outstanding, ambitious, original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world. This year’s shortlist incorporates a range of themes including belonging and identity; the power of nature; the burden of history; personal freedom; sisterhood; mental illness; ghosts; gender violence; and the opportunity for renewal. The novels also offer globe-spanning settings, from Antarctica to Montana, Cyprus to Trinidad.
The shortlist includes:
- The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini, Myriad Editions. Nationality: Trinidadian
- The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, Corsair, Nationality: American
- Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Nationality: New
- The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, Canongate Books, Nationality: American-Canadian
- The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, Viking, Nationality: Turkish-British
- Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, Doubleday, Nationality: American
None of the selected authors have been previously shortlisted for the Prize. Elif Shafak has previously been longlisted twice (in 2008 and in 2013). She again features among the most prolific authors on the shortlist with 12 published books. Louise Erdrich with 23 published novels comes a close second.
This year’s shortlist has been selected by the Chair of Judges Mary Ann Sieghart and her judging panel – Lorraine Candy, award-winning journalist and editor; Dorothy Koomson, global bestselling novelist, journalist, and podcaster; Anita Sethi, award-winning author, and literary journalist; and Pandora Sykes, journalist, broadcaster and author.
Chair of judges and bestselling writer Mary Ann Sieghart says, “We were blessed with an extraordinarily high quality of submissions this year, which made whittling down the longlist from sixteen 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.”
Susanna Clarke won the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel Piranesi while Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell was the winner in the pandemic year 2020. Tayari Jones won the coveted award in 2019 for her novel An American Marriage.
The winner of the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction will be awarded on Wednesday 15 June 2022 at an evening awards ceremony in central London. She will receive an anonymously endowed cheque for GBP 30,000 (approximately Rs 29 lakh) and a limited-edition bronze figurine known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.
Set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction by women to the widest range of readers possible, the Women’s Prize for Fiction is awarded for the best full-length novel of the year written by a woman and published in the UK between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022. Any woman writing in English – whatever her nationality, country of residence, age, or novel’s subject matter – is eligible.
The Women’s Prize will be hosting a Virtual Shortlist Festival on Monday 23, Tuesday 24, and Wednesday 25 June, at 7 pm, featuring live Q&As with the shortlisted authors. These events will be hosted by Kate Mosse, founder-director of the Prize, and will present readings from well-known actors. Tickets can be bought via Eventbrite.