The Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist and the books you need to read now

There’s no better time to pick up The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett’s Women's Prize for Fiction shortlisted hit about black twin sisters

Culture

Looking to add some hit novels to your bookshelf? The Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist has just been announced and there are some brilliant books vying for title. This year includes a crop of excellent black writers, who if you didn’t know before, you better get to know now!

The Women's Prize for Fiction
Feature image from L to R: Vick Hope, Elizabeth Day, Bernardine Evaristo and Sarah-Jane Mee

The shortlist includes:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Published by brilliant diverse press, Dialogue Books, this is the story of black twin sisters, one of whom chooses to pass as white. It’s universally loved, even recommended by Barack Obama himself.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

If you loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell or just love fantastical fiction, then make this your first stop. Susanna Clarke is a master at this genre and she’s used her superpowers to tell the story of a boy living in an isolated, wondrous world when cracks appear.  

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Another tale about twins. This time it’s about a family drama following sisters Jeanie and Julius who are dealing with the death of their mother. For beautiful, meaningful prose look no further than Claire Fuller, whose works always take on new topics and settings.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Read and adored Homegoing? This is Yaa Gyasi’s follow up and it’s just as good, believe us. This novel focuses on Gifty, a girl from a family of Ghanaian immigrants to the US. Will they find the American Dream?

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

Set in Barbados, this is a debut novel from native Cherie Jones. It’s a multi-generational tale, told amongst the beautiful white sandy beaches and gleaming waters – yet tells a darker side of island life.  

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

A novel for the internet age, Patricia Lockwood writes about a young woman who builds up a big social media following. Fans of Patricia will know she’s great on the internet herself and her book is a sharp observation of a life lived online.

Author Bernardine Evaristo, who wrote the Booker winner Girl, Woman, Other, chaired the judging panel. She said: “With this shortlist, we are excited to present a gloriously varied and thematically rich exploration of women’s fiction at its finest. These novels will take the reader from a rural Britain left behind to the underbelly of a community in Barbados; from inside the hectic performance of social media to inside a family beset by addiction and oppression; from a tale of racial hierarchy in America to a mind-expanding tale of altered perceptions.”

She continued: “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.”

The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday 7 July, where the winner will receive the £30,000 prize.

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