Discoveries

The 2022 Discoveries shortlist!

Discoveries 2022 shortlist

We are delighted to introduce you to the writers on the Discoveries 2022 shortlist.

The Discoveries programme, run by the Women’s Prize Trust in partnership with Curtis Brown literary agency, the Curtis Brown Creative writing school (both part of The Curtis Brown Group) and Audible, aims to find aspiring female writing talent from across the UK and Ireland. 

Six authors at the start of their writing journey have been selected for this year’s shortlist. Drawn from across the UK and Ireland, the six distinctive new voices include an Irish PhD student researching Gaelic mythology, a former film art director of Sri Lankan heritage and a copywriter from Suffolk inspired by the stories of her British West Indian grandfather. Also on the list is an artist and art historian, an Irish journalist and a communications director from London. Their shortlisted novels-in-progress span a diverse and exciting range of genres and themes, from family drama to folklore, and experiments with form.

The six writers were shortlisted by a judging panel chaired by Kate Mosse, bestselling novelist, playwright and Founder-Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction; Lucy Morris, Curtis Brown literary agent; Anna Davis, Founder and Managing Director of Curtis Brown Creative writing school; and esteemed writers, Ayisha Malik and Irenosen Okojie.

Kate Mosse, Chair of the Discoveries Judging Panel, said:  

“Imaginative and challenging, from diverse voices and written in many different genres”

We were blown away by the breadth and range of new writing submitted this year – confident and ambitious storytelling, imaginative and challenging, from diverse voices and written in many different genres. Submissions have arrived from all over the country and beyond, from women of all ages, showing us that Discoveries is creating a platform for emerging authors of all backgrounds, enabling them to discover their potential with the support that they need. We can’t wait to see how each of these novels develops in the months, and years, to come.”

All six writers will be offered a mentoring session with a Curtis Brown agent plus free enrolment on a Curtis Brown Creative six-week online course. The shortlisted writers will also take part in a studio session on writing and recording for audio with Audible.

Sui Annekka

How does it feel to be shortlisted for Discoveries 2022?

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such pure and unfettered joy. It’s like being lit up. It’s like the volume being turned up on life. And I want to share the feeling with everyone. Thank you so much for shortlisting me. I can’t wait to meet all the other writers at the workshops with Charlotte Mendelson. I am so excited to see how my writing develops with feedback and input from industry experts. This is such a privilege, and a phenomenal opportunity, so it’s also a little overwhelming. I am praying for the humility and courage to fully embrace the experience with an open heart. I hope that whatever results from this journey brings joy to many readers and makes my family, friends and teachers proud.

Where do you like to write?

I tend to favour different spaces for different parts of the writing process. I like being out and about on my own, ideally exploring somewhere I am not familiar with, when generating ideas. When I am writing, I need to be alone and quiet. I like editing in cafés, with life going on around me. I have specific tables and seats in particular cafes that I am very territorial about, and I am practically on first name terms with the baristas.

Which woman writer inspires you most?

That’s impossible to answer, there are so many but . . . I love Jennifer Makumbi’s mission to unapologetically centre the African reader in her body of work.

How does it feel to be shortlisted for Discoveries 2022?

Wow! I’m so incredibly astonished and truly honoured for my work to be shortlisted! Huge congratulations to the other shortlistees as well.

Where do you like to write?

Nothing beats a good café where I can disappear for hours into my writing.

Which woman writer inspires you most?

I am continually inspired by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Her writing leaves me in awe. I am enamoured by her ability to bring poetry and prose together, infusing her stories with such rhythm and lyrical depth. She is truly amazing.

How does it feel to be shortlisted for Discoveries 2022?

It feels like a dream! I have planned this novel for years and thrown away multiple drafts. The story means a lot to me personally, so it’s the first time I’ve plucked up the courage to share it with anyone because I really wanted to do it justice. I realise I have a long way to go with it, but having such an incredible panel of judges believe in my writing has given me a massive confidence boost. It’s such a huge honour to be on the shortlist and I’m so grateful for the support that comes with it to help me complete my novel.

Where do you like to write?

I am lucky enough to have a mezzanine office space in our bedroom, which is my little writer’s retreat. It’s accessed via a ladder that my children still accept is too unsafe for them to climb (I’m not sure how much longer I can get away with this though!). 

Which woman writer inspires you most?

Louisa May Alcott will always be a big source of inspiration for me in many ways. I, of course, love Little Women, in particular her character, Jo March, but I equally admire her as an author for exposing, and empowering, radical beliefs at a time when women’s views remained silent. Her writing was honest, inspired by her own family life, with characters who were real, flawed and relatable. She is such a strong example of how women writers have shaped the contemporary world.

How does it feel to be shortlisted for Discoveries 2022?

I’m thrilled to be on the shortlist, particularly when there were so many talented and energetic writers on the longlist. I can’t wait to read their books.

Where do you like to write?

In the corner of the spare bedroom. My desk is right by the window and a cast of raucous local cats do their best to distract me.

Which woman writer inspires you most?

Toni Morrison. I go back to her work when I need a reminder of how vast the possibilities of language and imagination can be.

How does it feel to be shortlisted for Discoveries 2022?

Being longlisted had already given me so much more confidence and motivation to keep writing and had changed the way I looked at my work. 

Being shortlisted feels a bit like living in a parallel universe to be honest, where I’m the sort of person who might actually become a writer. So it means an enormous amount, thank you! 

Where do you like to write?

One day I hope to have a den, attic, shed or room of my own, with post-it notes mapping my plot and inspirational quotes on the wall. But at the moment I mostly write lying down on the sofa with a hipster French radio station on in the background. (At the risk of being too meta, this is what I’m doing right now). 

Which woman writer inspires you most?

I saw a live conversation with Judith Kerr shortly before she died and was left awed by her warmth, humour and writing industriousness. Of course her picture books (Mog!) are classics, but the Out of the Hitler Time trilogy was particularly important to me. I read them aged about 10 while staying at my grandmother’s house who, like Judith, was a Jewish refugee with similar reservoirs of curiosity and irreverent wit.  

How does it feel to be shortlisted for Discoveries 2022?

I am still reeling with the news and utterly besides myself with surprise and delight. I had to reread the email several times; not telling absolutely anyone is the hardest part! It is thrilling and a little bit overwhelming to know that my words (and the world they are building in tiny moveable parts) has passed muster with this fantastic judging panel.

Where do you like to write?

I write notes (notebook, app) all the time, but when I’m writing purposefully and with focus, it has to be on my desktop computer in my study, which is that perfect room of light and silence and industry. 

Which woman writer inspires you most?

At the moment it’s a toss-up between Annie Ernaux and Lydia Davis. Ernaux for her sustained adherence to her own life as the source from  which all narrative issues. She has been writing that way long before the term autofiction existed. Her use of language is spare, incisive and exquisitely precise even in translation … She is brilliant writing about a woman’s body and her desire at any age (I’m now rather interested in reading and writing about sexuality in later life) but more than this, she is brilliant at embedding personal narratives in broader social and political contexts. Lydia Davis for wit, concision, cleverness, the way she will take something and hold onto it and turn it round and round, all with utmost brevity.


Please join us in congratulating all the shortlisted authors. Subscribe to the Women’s Prize newsletter for all the news first and we will be revealing the Discoveries winner on Thursday 1 June.

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