In a landmark first, a feminist science-fiction novel just won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Author Naomi Alderman will take home the £30,000 prize for her 2016 novel The Power: the first sci-fi novel to win the prestigious award for women's literature.
The Power imagines what life would be like if teen girls and women suddenly developed the power to kill men with a touch. Alderman's novel follows four characters — a mayor, an independent reporter, a religious figure, and a mob boss' daughter — living in a new stage of human evolution. Researchers have discovered the skein, a previously undetected organ in women, that allows them to produce electric shocks powerful enough to kill. The Power explores how this development reverses the gender dynamic and leaves men fearing women's touch.
Alderman's novel was in tough competition. The feminist sci-fi book beat out the five other highly acclaimed novels on the Baileys Prize shortlist for 2017: Stay with Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò, The Dark Circle by Linda Grant, The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, First Love by Gwendoline Riley, and Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. Notable picks for the 16-book longlist included The Mare by Mary Gaitskill and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.
The panel of judges awarded £30,000 — about $38,000 — and a bronze statue to Alderman on Wednesday, June 7.