The 2021 Women’s Prize Shortlist was announced yesterday, and I’m so impressed by this list! I’ve read three of the titles on the shortlist (Piranesi, The Vanishing Half and Transcendent Kingdom) and thought they were all terrific books. It always makes me excited to see great books being recommended, so I was delighted to see this list.
I’m definitely going to look into the other titles on their shortlist, since clearly these judges have good taste! I’m especially interested in Unsettled Ground, since Claire Fuller is an author I’ve been meaning to check out. So, perhaps you’ll see that review here eventually (though my reading list is pretty lengthy right now).
The full shortlist is here (and you can find more details about these titles at the end of this post):
Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half
Susanna Clarke, Piranesi
Claire Fuller, Unsettled Ground
Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom
Cherie Jones, How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This
The rest of the longlist (all the titles that didn’t make the cut) are here:
Clare Chambers, Small Pleasures
Amanda Craig, The Golden Rule
Naoise Dolan, Exciting Times
Avni Doshi, Burnt Sugar
Dawn French, Because Of You
Raven Leilani, Luster
Annabel Lyon, Consent
Kathleen McMahon, Nothing But Blue Sky
Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby
Ali Smith, Summer
Bernardine Evaristo led the panel of judges and “is joined on the judging panel by podcaster, author and journalist, Elizabeth Day; TV and radio presenter, journalist and writer, Vick Hope; print columnist and writer, Nesrine Malik; and news presenter and broadcaster, Sarah-Jane Mee.” And in case it’s not obvious from the title, the Women’s Prize is awarded to the best books written by women that are published in a given year.
What It's About: Twins, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds: one black and one white.
The Vignes 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, including their racial identities...Publication Date: June 2, 2020
What It's About: Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant...Publication Date: September 15, 2020
What It's About: Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.
Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction...Publication Date: August 31, 2020
What It's About: What if the life you have 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 from other people. 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...Publication Date: January 28, 2021
What It's About: As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms "the portal," where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts...Publication Date: February 16, 2021
What It's About: A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called "paradise."
In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs...Publication Date: January 21, 2021