The Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist was announced very early this morning on BBC Radio 4 after the list was leaked. On it are three debut novels, although only The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is a first book. Elif Batuman previously published a non-fiction book The Possessed and Jessie Greengrass published an excellent short story collection, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk According to One Who Saw It, which won The Edge Hill Prize and was shortlisted for Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer Award (winning the shadow panel prize for which I was a judge).
Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I am a huge fan of Meena Kandasamy and her second novel When I Hit You in particular. It was my book of the year last year and my favourite to win the prize.
The more established novelists who complete the shortlist are Kamila Shamsie for Home Fire and Jesmyn Ward for Sing, Unburied, Sing which has already taken the National Book Award in the USA. I loved Home Fire, it’s gripping, nuanced and utterly relevant. Sing, Unburied, Sing is beautifully told and completely heart-breaking. I sobbed through the last three chapters.
The list shares four titles with our shadow panel shortlist and four with my own personal list. The title missing that the shadow panel and I expected to see is Elmet. I hope it’s inclusion on a number of prize lists in the past few months means that people do read it.
The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 will be announced on June 6th.