2021 Women's Prize for Fiction: A longlist lowdown

Maud Webster reports on the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction longlist

Maud Webster
16th March 2021
Credit: Women's Prize for Fiction, via Facebook
During a week where sexism has been shown to be just as pertinent as ever, and within Women's History Month, the Women's Prize for Fiction's shortlist 2021 has been revealed. It features a diverse range of sixteen books, including the first novel by a trans author, six debut novels, and a huge range of themes and settings. The award was established in 1996 and offers £30,000 to the winner.

Five judges narrowed the competition: novelist Bernardine Evaristo, journalist Elizabeth Day, writer Vick Hope, columnist Nesrine Malik and broadcaster Sarah-Jane Mee. Chair of the judges, Evaristo, commented on the selection process:

“We read so many brilliant novels for this year’s prize and had an energetic judging session where we discussed our passions, opinions and preferences.”

Torrey Peters has been the first trans woman to make the longlist, for her acclaimed debut novel Detransition, Baby. This follows the clarification asserted by organisers in 2020 that the Prize was open for entries from any "cis woman, a transgender woman or anyone who is legally defined as a woman or of the female sex". Reaction to this statement at the time included criticism that the request for legal verification of sex was problematic.

The long-list includes five other debut novels, as well as spanning a plethora of settings, from "South London to Deep South; Ghana, Hong Kong, Barbados, Brooklyn and a fantasy realm". All books were published between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, and nominations were open globally.

The same panel now whittles these sixteen down to just six, with this shortlist to be announced on April 28th, and the overall winner being declared on the 7th July. Find the full line up on the Prize's website here.

You can also sign up to their newsletter, for the chance to win all sixteen books.

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
she/they | third year architecture & urban planning student @ newcastle | co-head of culture for the 21/22 academic year

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