Nia DaCosta: ‘I love being a black female director. I love the label’

In this week’s episode of the Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast, award winning Director and Screenwriter Nia DaCosta reveals her five favourite books by women and tells host Zawe Ashton how ‘having a very rich book shelf’ informed her love of rom-coms and the stories she wants to tell through cinema. Da Costa’s latest film Candyman made her the first black female director to hit number one in the US box office charts, and she is the first black woman to direct a Marvel film (2022’s The Marvels).

Listen to the episode here to hear Nia’s five brilliant choices.

Circle of Magic

Set in a different universe than Tortall, this quartet centers around four unusual young mages. Sandry, a noble whose parents…

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‘When I was 11 or 12 I loved the idea of girls and magic in stories. The idea of a  community was very appealing, I wanted to be a part of the circle of magic. I loved having that place to escape to in the book.’

Front cover of Mrs Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway

In this vivid portrait of one day in a woman’s life, Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of…

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‘I was really struck by the craft of the prose and watching the characters to find their purpose and happiness, and I found that so tragic, fascinating and heartbreaking. What is so interesting about this book is that it cracks open the quotidian of happiness.’


Of all Jane Austen’s great and delightful novels, Persuasion is widely regarded as the most moving. It is the story of a…

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‘I love a rom-com! I came to romantic comedy through Jane Austen. All of Austen’s books have a romantic “will they, wont they?” this one in particular we just want Anne to be happy. I love that she sees him write the letter, it is so great.’


The Bread Givers

Bread Givers is a coming of age story set in the 1920s. As the novel begins Sara Smolinsky is a…

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‘I was immediately drawn in to this story and to Sara. The tyranny of patriarchy she faces in her father is so suffocating.

Yezierska’s portrayal of 20th century New York is really beautiful’

White Teeth

Zadie Smith’s White Teeth is a classic international bestseller and an unforgettable portrait of London One of the most talked…

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‘I am obsessed with Zadie Smith, I think she is an absolute genius. I just loved this book so much, the scope is so huge but it is also so intimate.

It’s always striking to read something like this that expresses humanity.’

If you enjoyed this re-cap of Nia’s favourite books by women, listen to the episode in full here.

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The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.