The 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist is here to give you your summer reading inspiration

Clear some space on your shelves – the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist has been announced, and it’s seriously good.

If you’re on the hunt for a new book to enjoy over the May bank holiday weekend, you’re in luck. 

Over a month since the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist was announced, we now know which of the 16 titles have made the shortlist – and it’s seriously exciting stuff.

Selected by a panel of judges including Bernardine Evaristo, Elizabeth Day, Vick Hope, Nesrine Malik and Sarah-Jane Mee, this year’s shortlist boasts an impressively varied selection of stories, all of which you’ll want to add straight to your summer reading list. 

So, without further ado, here’s the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 shortlist:

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  • How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
  • No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood 

Speaking about the work that went into selecting the final six books for the shortlist, Evaristo, who led the judging panel, said the group were sad to cut “so many exceptional books,” but were proud to present the final selection.

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

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021: Narrowing down the 16-strong longlist was a challenge for the judges.

Evaristo continued: “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.”

Next up in the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction timeline is the awards ceremony itself on Wednesday 7 July, where the winner of the award will take home the £30,000 prize.

Last year, the incredible Maggie O’Farrell took home the award for her outstanding eighth novel Hamnet, which tells the story of William Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son as he hunts for someone to look after his sick twin sister, Judith. And in 2019, Tayari Jones took home the prize for An American Marriage, an exploration of a Black couple in modern-day America.  

For now, then, we’ll just have to wait and see which of the six shortlisted books take home the prize in just over two months time. Exciting, right?

To find out more about this year’s prize, and get involved with the Virtual Shortlist Festival taking place from 14-16 June, you can visit the Women’s Prize For Fiction website.  

Images: Sam Holden Agency for the Women’s Prize for Fiction

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