Novels that explore forgotten and neglected communities in Britain, the U.S. and the Caribbean were named finalists on Wednesday for the 30,000 pound ($42,000) Women’s Prize for fiction.
The six-book shortlist includes Barbadian writer Cherie Jones’ story of gritty life on a beautiful island, “How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House,”. American author Brit Bennett’s tale of twins who take different paths, “The Vanishing Half,” U.S. writer Patricia Lockwood’s social media satire “No One is Talking About This” and “Transcendent Kingdom,” a story of African immigrants in Alabama by Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Gyasi.
Also in the running are two books by British writers: Susanna Clarke’s literary fantasy “Piranesi” and Claire Fuller’s rural family saga “Unsettled Ground.”
Booker Prize-winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo, who is chairing the judging panel, said several of the novels depicted “communities that aren’t really written about in fiction” and tough subjects such as domestic violence, addiction and depression.
“But they’re not miserable books,” she said. “They’re all really beautifully crafted stories. … They’re not lightweight, but they are a thrilling read.”
Evaristo said the five judges “weren’t looking at whether they were debut novels. We weren’t even looking at the authors. It was the books, and whether the books spoke to us.”
“I think it might speak to the fact that perhaps there aren’t as many older women writers who have had long careers getting published,” said Evaristo, who won the Booker Prize in 2019 with her eighth novel, “Girl, Woman, Other.”
The winner of the 2021 Women’s Prize will be announced July 7 at a ceremony in London.