This year’s shortlist incorporates a range of themes including belonging and identity; the power of nature; the burden of history; personal freedom; sisterhood; mental illness; ghosts; gender violence; and the opportunity for renewal. The novels also offer globe-spanning settings, from Antarctica to Montana, Cyprus to Trinidad.
This year’s shortlist has been selected by the Chair of Judges Mary Ann Sieghart and her judging panel: Lorraine Candy, award-winning journalist and editor; Dorothy Koomson, global bestselling novelist, journalist and podcaster; Anita Sethi, award-winning author and literary journalist; and Pandora Sykes, journalist, broadcaster and author.
Chair of judges and bestselling writer Mary Ann Sieghart said: “We were blessed with an extraordinarily high quality of submissions this year, which made whittling down the longlist from 16 to six particularly difficult. But the shortlist contains a wonderfully diverse range of stories, subjects, settings and authors, from the experience of a Native American woman in a haunted bookshop to an early female aviator in the Antarctic. One novel is narrated by a tree; another by a book. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, others tearful, and sometimes the two are combined in the same book. We judges have loved reading them all and we commend them to you as the best fiction written by women and published in the past year. Our only problem now will be to identify the winner out of these six brilliant novels.’
The six shortlisted books are as follows: