Women’s Prize for Fiction, or what constitutes women’s fiction


The longlist has been drawn up, the judges assembled, the reading begins…….

Formerly known as The Orange Prize for Fiction, this year it is named Women’s Prize for Fiction, which is pretty wonderful since it places women back there in the forefront, where they should always have been. Just my humble opinion!

While I have been eagerly awaiting the disclosure of who made it to the 2013 longlist, in the end I have to thank my dear blogging friend, Claire, over on her blog Word by Word (if you haven’t found her yet, then scuttle over there asap, you’re in for a real treat…….after you’ve read this post of course! J)

According to the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 web site the prize is “one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world” celebrating “excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world”. And the prize is quite considerable too, £30,000 along with a bronze statue created by artist Grizel Niven. The Prize is awarded annually, and is the most exciting event in the world of women’s fiction writing as far as I’m concerned.

The Bessie

There are five judges this year: actress Miranda Richardson who is Chair of this year’s judging panel; author Jojo Moyes; feminist activist and writer Natasha Walter; author and journalist Rachel Johnson; and BBC broadcaster and journalist Razia Iqbal. Find out more about them all here.

The criteria for the Prize are “accessibility, originality and excellence in writing by women”. The judges are asked to choose “on the basis of novels that inspire them, move them, make them think – and that they admire and enjoy!” These are precisely the qualities I hope to find when I read, and what I most enjoy about reading much women’s fiction.

So on to the longlist, which was announced today:


A Trick I Learned from Dead Men, Kitty Aldridge (Jonathan Cape)

Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson (Corvus Books)

Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)

Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber)

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Honour, Elif Shafak (Viking)

How Should a Person Be?, Sheila Heti (Harvill Secker)

Ignorance, Michele Roberts (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Lamb, Bonnie Nadzam (Hutchinson)

Life after Life, Kate Atkinson (Doubleday )life after life

Mateship with Birds, Carrie Tiffany (Picador)

May We Be Forgiven, A.M. Homes (Granta Books)

NW, Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

The Forrests, Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury Circus)

The Innocents, Francesca Segal (Chatto & Windus)

The Light Between Oceans, M L Stedman (Doubleday )

The Marlowe Papers, Ros Barber (Sceptre)

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, Shani Boianjiu (Hogarth)The-People-of-Forever-Are-Not-Afraid

The Red Book, Deborah Copaken Kogan (Virago)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

For more information about Women’s Prize for Fiction, including the history of the prize (it was initially set up in 1992 as a response to the lack of female authors nominated for the Booker Prize that year), rules, details about sponsorship of the Prize, lists of previous winners and a whole lot more, check out the web site http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/ You can also sign up online for updates.


So which one are you going to read first? Based on Claire’s review, my choice is The Light Between Oceans, M L Stedman.