Our judges on their favourite books by women

The fantastic line-up for our 2017 judging panel has been announced; Chair Tessa Ross, CEO of House Productions, will be joined by journalist, author and co-founder of The Pool Sam Baker, presenter and broadcaster Katie Derham, Aminatta Forna, award-winning novelist, memoirist and essayist and Sara Pascoe, comic and author.

We asked this inspirational panel of women about their favourite books by women; read on to see what they picked. Psst! Scroll down for a chance to win all eight of their brilliant choices.


Tessa Ross

One of my favourite novels by a woman is Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye. I love all of her work, but this has a special place in my heart. Of course it’s full of her beautiful and precise prose and in it she writes about the politics of childhood and its betrayals with exceptional wisdom. Her main character Elaine’s reminiscences are powerful and realistic to the point where this reader felt that she’d lived them.


Katie Derham

I’d have to choose The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I love how vividly she writes about nature, and there’s a gentle desperation about environmental issues that I find incredibly hard hitting.

Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety would be my other choice, and yes, of course, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. I devoured historical fiction as a child, mainly reading Jean Plaidy and Anya Seton, Elizabeth Goudge, Alison Uttley … but discovering Hilary Mantel’s book about the French Revolution was a revelation. The depth of research, the startling liveliness and modernity of the characters; I was completely gripped. You enter a world with her you can practically smell.


Sam Baker

If I’m allowed I’d like a tie between Margaret Atwood’s Edible Woman and Angela Carter’s Night’s At The Circus. Both incredible, radical writers who showed me a way at a difficult time in my life, who remain in my top ten to this day


Sara Pascoe

I chose the Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. She writes about the female body in terms of function, feeling and womanliness as a concept. The book is academic and poetic simultaneously and explores sexuality and art in an utterly thought provoking way.


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Aminatta Forna

The God of Small Things, Arundhiti Roy – For its lyrical and richly textured language married to an uncompromising narrative.

Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys – Beautiful and subversive, Rhys took Bronte’s Jane Eyre and wrote from the margins and away from the centre.

Plus! Here’s your chance to win all eight. Simply head to our Instagram and like this post to win.

The Women's Prize Podcast

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