The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013, known up until now as the Orange Prize for Fiction, has announced this year’s six shortlisted authors.
Now in its eighteenth year, the shortlist for the first time includes two previous prize winners, Barbara Kingsolver and Zadie Smith, in what has been described by judges as ‘an exceptional year for women’s fiction‘.
American author Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour contemplates the pertinent theme of climate change and the political and economic power dynamics surrounding the issue through the transformative life experience of a woman trapped in a suffocating marriage on a Tennessee farm. British writer Zadie Smith – recently included on Granta’s list of Britain’s 20 brightest writers under 40 – on the other hand, returns to favour with a skillful exploration of the contrasting lives of residents in a North West suburb of London.
This year’s Man Booker and Costa Book Awards prize winner Hilary Mantel, has also been nominated once again for her historical fiction Bring Up the Bodies, and is surely the one to beat. The second instalment in her trilogy centres on the life of Thomas Cromwell, bringing key figures from our Tudor past to life. Although some critics have questioned her use of grammar, she has been widely praised for the book’s incredible detail. If Mantel were to win the prize, she would be the first person to ever have won all three of the UK’s major book prizes.
But, strong competition comes from American writer A.M. Holmes, contributing editor to Vanity Fair and an arts and culture writer for numerous newspaper and magazine publications, who has been hotly tipped to win with her darkly comic portrait of nostalgic America in May We Be Forgiven.
Hugely popular novelist Kate Atkinson has also received her first shortlist nomination for Life After Life, in which life’s what-ifs are explored in a reoccuring narrative, alongside American TV writer Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette that examines an intimate mother/daughter relationship through emails, letters and official documents.
Fans of the phenomenally popular Gone Girl will be disappointed Gillian Flynn’s fascinating thriller didn’t make the shortlist, as will those hoping for a non-British or American winner.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate excellence, originality and accessibility in the writing of women from around the world. It is the only annual book award that celebrates and promotes female-written fiction, with any woman writing in English eligible for the prize. Previous winners have included Madeline Miller for The Song of Achilles, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Half of a Yellow Sun, Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin and Andrea Levy for Small Island.
This year’s winner will be announced at the Women’s Prize for Fiction Awards Ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall on 5 June.
The full shortlist for 2013 is as follows:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple NW by Zadie Smith
See our top books for 2013 here