The 2021 Women’s Prize longlist honours both new and well-established writers and a range of genres and themes – family (twins and siblings, mother-daughter relationships); motherhood; rural poverty and isolation; addiction; identity and belonging; race and class; grief and happiness; coming-of-age and later life. The novels span a range of different global settings, from South London to Deep South; Ghana, Hong Kong, Barbados, Brooklyn and a fantasy realm.
Founded in 1996, it’s one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, showcasing the remarkable originality, accessibility and excellence of novels written by women from around the world. So the longlist offers an exciting opportunity to discover a range of ambitious and outstanding literature.
The 16 books on the longlist – novels written by women and published in the UK between 01 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 – were selected by a panel of five judges: Bernardine Evaristo (chair of the judges), novelist; Elizabeth Day, podcaster, author and journalist; Vick Hope, TV and radio presenter, journalist and writer; Nesrine Malik, print columnist and writer; and Sarah-Jane Mee, news presenter and broadcaster.
Included on the list are six dazzling debut novels, as well as a previously longlisted author and a former winner and two-time shortlist, Ali Smith.
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller is a gorgeously written celebration of the natural world as well as a moving portrait of a family struggling against time
Transcendent Kingdom is a searing story of love, loss and redemption, and the myriad ways we try to rebuild our lives from the rubble of our collective pasts.
Amanda Craig is a state-of-the-nation writer, and there is plenty to chew on in her tirelessly socially engaged 10th book, The Golden Rule.
The unmissable finale to Ali Smith’s dazzling literary tour de force: the Seasonal quartet concludes in 2020 with Summer.
Centring on Jean Swinney, a woman approaching 40 whose prospects of fulfilment have begun to fade, there is compassion, and quiet humour, to be found in this tale of a putative virgin birth in postwar Britain.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is the spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Nothing But Blue Sky is a precise and tender story of love in marriage – a gripping examination of what binds couples together and of what keeps them apart.
Irreverent and sincere, poignant and delightfully profane, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the infinite scroll and a meditation on love, language and human connection from one of the most original voices of our time.
Razorsharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.
A powerful, intense story of three marriages. And of a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence, and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive.
When you leave Ireland aged 22 to spend your parents’ money, it’s called a gap year. When Ava leaves Ireland aged 22 to make her own money, she’s not sure what to call it.
A tremendously funny, voraciously knowing, compulsively readable first great trans realist novel.