Announcing the 2021 Women’s Prize shortlist

Photo of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 judges with the Women's Prize for fiction 2021 shortlist

We are delighted to reveal this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, which this year features six writers who have never previously been shortlisted for the Prize.

This year’s shortlist includes two British authors, two American, one Barbadian, and one Ghanaian/ American author. The six books have been selected by the Chair of judges Bernardine Evaristo and her judging panel: podcaster, author and journalist, Elizabeth Day; TV and radio presenter, journalist and writer, Vick Hope; print columnist and writer, Nesrine Malik; and news presenter and broadcaster, Sarah-Jane Mee.

“’With this shortlist, we are excited to present a gloriously varied and thematically rich exploration of women’s fiction at its finest’”

Chair of judges and novelist Bernardine Evaristo, says: ‘Coming up with a longlist of sixteen books for this prize was relatively easy compared to whittling the selection down to six novels, which by necessity demands more consensus. Sadly, we had to lose so many exceptional books that we loved. However, with this shortlist, we are excited to present a gloriously varied and thematically rich exploration of women’s fiction at its finest. These novels will take the reader from a rural Britain left behind to the underbelly of a community in Barbados; from inside the hectic performance of social media to inside a family beset by addiction and oppression; from a tale of racial hierarchy in America to a mind-expanding tale of altered perceptions. Fiction by women defies easy categorisation or stereotyping, and all of these novels grapple with society’s big issues expressed through thrilling storytelling. We feel passionate about them, and we hope readers do too.’

The six shortlisted books are as follows:

The Vanishing Half

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and…

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Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and…

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Unsettled Ground

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to…

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Transcendent Kingdom

As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking…

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How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens…

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No One is Talking About This

A woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans, her entire existence…

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The 26th winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on Wednesday 8th September at an Awards Ceremony in London.

Join all six of shortlisted authors, hosted by Kate Mosse, at our 2021 Virtual Shortlist Festival. Get your tickets now >

Watch the virtual announcement below with our brilliant judges and listen to them read from the shortlisted books:

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into Yomi Adegoke and a host of inspiring guests on our weekly podcast full of book recommendations