The shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, formerly the Bailey’s Prize, was announced last week. This prize is one of the foremost competitions for women writers and it’s one of those where every year the shortlist list looks like a box of precious jewels (unlike the Man Booker which always manages a curve ball or two, in my view!) There is NOTHING on the list this year that I don’t want to read at some point! So many books, so little time, especially as I’m giving over more of my reading time to children’s literature these days.
If you’re looking for something to read yourself, I have heard great things about all of these books, and I suspect you won’t go wrong if you pick any one of them.
The novels on the shortlist are:
Sight by Jessie Greengrass – a woman recounts her journey to motherhood and reflects on the relationships she had with her mother and grandmother.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie – Isma is studying in America, having spent years raising her two younger siblings following their mother’s death. The family becomes embroiled in London with Eamonn, the son of a high-profile Muslim politician. It’s a novel about destiny, choices and love.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – a story about race, drug abuse, broken masculinity and poverty in the US seen through the eyes of thirteen year old Jojo and his mother Leonie.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman – a story about language and culture set in Harvard, Massachusetts, where Selin, a Turkish-American, is studying and meets others like her, of mixed race and mixed cultures.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – a story about the power and mythology of mermaids. set in 18th century London, where the merchant Jonah Hancock learns one of his captains has sold a ship in exchange for a mermaid. News spreads and Hancock finds himself the centre of London society.
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy – a novel about domestic abuse and control, and the crushing of a young woman’s hopes and ambitions by a domineering husband.
I haven’t read any of these and doubt I will manage to get through this list by the time the winner is announced on 6 June. The first and the last on this list appeal to me most, although Sing, Unburied, Sing also looks like a must-read.
I’d love to hear from you if you have read any of these – what do you recommend?
If you have enjoyed this post, do subscribe to the blog, by clicking on the Follow button, and let’s connect on social media.