One of the UK's most highly respected fiction prize has just announced the six authors that could be in with a chance of winning a £30,000 cheque. The 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist includes one of the most diverse author and book listings. A debut author appears along with some who have written numerous books over the years.
The award was set up in 1996 with the aim of celebrating "excellence, originality, and accessibility in writing by women in English throughout the world." It is now in its 24th year.
A few themes have cropped up in the 2019 shortlist. Greek feature more than once with Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller's Circe making ideal reads for any mythology-obsessed individuals. Then there's the incredible My Sister, the Serial Killer. It's author Oyinkan Braithwaite's first book and is a truly riveting read that will leave you in deep thought for days. Other novels examine the everyday reality of relationships, race, and family, uncovering home truths that are often hard to confront.
Each and every one of the six authors chosen deserve a place on the list. As chair of the judges, Professor Kate Williams, said in a statement: “It’s a fantastic shortlist; exciting, vibrant, adventurous. We fell totally in love with these books and the amazing worlds they created. These books are fiction at its best — brilliant, courageous, and utterly captivating.”
Here's a rundown of all the shortlisted books for you to swot up on this summer.
Ever had a fascination with Troy? (And no, I don't just mean the film starring a muscly Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom.) If the answer's yes, you will be heavily into Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls. Instead of focusing on the main battle, the novel focuses on Briseis; a queen trapped by the Greeks in their very own camp. She is kept by the mighty Achilles but has much more to tell than the history books give her credit for. Barker hails from Yorkshire and has so far published 15 novels.
If your sister was a murderer and you knew about it, how would you react? Especially if she'd killed not just one, but three people. Oh, and they were all her ex-boyfriends. In her debut novel, Oyinkan Braithwaite tries to answer this exact question. Written from the perspective of Korede (serial killer Ayoola's sister), it's a masterpiece in testing familial loyalty.
Diana Evans' third novel hones in on two London couples who are experiencing something akin to an identity crisis. One person has just given birth; another's father has just passed away. As Waterstones states, Ordinary People is a navigation of "the landscape of black and mixed race middle class domesticity, parenthood, and the unravelling confines of the settled-for life."
Tayari Jones is a bold author known for drawing attention to the issues that society would rather shove under the carpet. In An American Marriage, Celestial and Roy are looking forward to the future. But one day, Roy is sentenced to over a decade in prison for a crime that his wife knows he didn't commit. When his conviction is overturned, the couple must deal with changed feelings and learn to rebuild their lives.
Circe is the second Greek history-inspired novel to appear on the shortlist. The daughter of sun god Helios, Circe lives life in the murky place between gods and humans. When her witchy side is exposed, she is banished to an island where she meets a human named Odysseus. And for him, she will do anything.
The overall winner will be chosen on June 5 at a London-based awards ceremony. That should give you plenty of time to crown your favourite.