2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist announced

Women's Prize for Fiction
The shortlisted titles for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Photo Women’s Prize for Fiction

The Women’s Prize Trust – the UK charity which creates equitable opportunities for women in the world of books – recently announced the shortlist for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Now in its 29th year and sponsored by Audible and Baileys, the Women’s Prize for Fiction shines a spotlight on outstanding, ambitious, original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world.

The shortlisted titles for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction are as follows (alphabetical by author surname):

  • The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright, published by Jonathan Cape
  • Brotherless Night by V V Ganeshananthan, published by Viking
  • Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Grenville, published by Canongate Books
  • Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad, published by Jonathan Cape
  • Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy, published by Faber & Faber
  • River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure, published by Duckworth

The 2024 shortlist features three established novelists (Anne Enright, Kate Grenville and Claire Kilroy), two authors who have one previous novel to their name (V V Ganeshananthan and Isabella Hammad), and one debut writer (Aube Rey Lescure). Three of the authors have previously been nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction –  V V Ganeshananthan was longlisted in 2009; Anne Enright has been longlisted twice in 2008 and 2020 and shortlisted twice in 2012 and 2016; and Kate Grenville won in 2001 for The Idea of Perfection.

Monica Ali, Chair of Judges said, “This year’s shortlist features six brilliant, thought-provoking and spellbinding novels that between them capture an enormous breadth of the human experience. Readers will be captivated by the characters, the luminous writing and the exquisite storytelling. Each book is gloriously compelling and inventive and lingers in the heart and mind long after the final page.’

Monica Ali is joined on the judging panel by author Ayọb̀ ámi Adébáyọ; author and illustrator Laura Dockrill; actor Indira Varma; and presenter and author Anna Whitehouse.

Many of the books depict characters who are navigating seismic changes in their identity, undergoing a process of self-reckoning and self-acceptance, with several also dealing with the inheritance of trauma and the resilience of women in overcoming the weight of the past. Half of the books in this year’s fiction shortlist also explore the migrant experience through different lenses, offering deeply moving, yet distinct, explorations of race, identity and family, of the West’s false promise and the magnetism of home. 

The shortlist encompasses stories that both focus on intimate family relationships, as well as those that convey a sweep of history, always with an eye on the particularity of women’s experience, whether in the home or in the context of war and political upheaval.

Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy explores the emotional terrain of becoming a new mother in all its visceral panic, raising pertinent questions about female autonomy, creativity and motherhood. 

TheWren, The Wren by Anne Enright traces the impact of a traumatic childhood, and the long shadow of memory for the generations that follow. Fractured family relations also feature in V V Ganeshananthan’s Brotherless Night, set against the shocking violence of the Sri Lankan civil war.

Isabella Hammad’s Enter Ghost delves into the experience of modern day Palestine, exploring a tale of self-discovery against a backdrop of erasure and disempowerment. Similarly, River East, River West takes the traditional immigrant narrative and reverses it. Set amidst China’s economic boom in the latter half of the 21st century, this novel examines how Western media influences, distorts, and often harms, the expectations of young people living in China. 

Pioneering aspirations also dominate the narrative of Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Grenville. A tale that begins in the 1880s in rural Australia, it follows one woman’s attempt to live a bigger, more independent life than the one that she’s been granted. Despite a world of obstacles, she is able – albeit with significant personal cost – to make a life she can really call her own.

The winner of the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on Thursday 13 June 2024 at the Women’s Prize Trust’s summer party in central London, along with the inaugural winner of the 2024 Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction. The winner will receive a cheque for £30,000, anonymously endowed, along with a limited-edition bronze statuette known as the ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.

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