Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021: Shortlist reaction

The shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction was just announced and I briefly wanted to share my thoughts. I haven’t read all that many books of the longlist (worst reading slump plus a lot less time) but I still love following along. I correctly guessed four out of the six shortlisted books, so I am pleased with that:

Here are the six shortlisted books:

I am particularly excited to see Piranesi by Susanna Clarke on this list which I thought was excellent and timely in its depiction of loneliness. I am also happy to see both The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi on the list, as I have heard good things about both of them. I am planning on at least trying to read those two. I am currently in the middle of No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood which I expected to love but am not enjoying at all so far. I have no interest in reading How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones although I have heard good things – but it is also apparently bleak and I cannot deal with bleak in my fiction right now. I am not sure if I will read Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller which I expected to see on the list – the reviews have been mixed and I enjoyed but didn’t love her earlier book Swimming Lessons.

Overall, I am happy with the shortlist. I would have loved to see Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters of the shortlist – I find its discussion on motherhood nuanced and very very resonating. I am also sad that Luster isn’t the book of the crop of “disaster women” books that made the list but I also did not think it was as strong as it could have been. But I feel that this year’s longlist was overall very strong and it must have been near impossible to narrow it down to six books. The resulting shortlist is varied in style and genre (or at least as varied in genre as literary fiction prizes get) and author identity. I would bet that either Transcendent Kingdom or The Vanishing Half will win but for myself, I am definitely #TeamPiranesi.

2 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021: Shortlist reaction

  1. Our feelings on the shortlist are very similar! I am so happy that Piranesi made it and I would be delighted if it won. I personally did not get on with the Lockwood at all and would have been so much happier if Detransition, Baby had taken its place. That being said, I sort of suspected that the Lockwood would make it because there is a camp of people who absolutely adore it. So, it’s a mixed bag for me, which is better than last year when I was rather disappointed with the shortlist.

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  2. Good point about the list being so good that it was hard to narrow down – Luster was not on there (I really loved it) but I guess there were so many strong shortlist contenders that they had a really hard choice to make.

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