Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist has been announced and bookworms are in for a serious treat

The Women's Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist is packed with inspiring and emotional reads sure to challenge your perceptions...

The Women's Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist has been announced, here are Vintage old hardback books on a wooden shelf
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The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist has finally been announced and the judges are facing a difficult decision in the weeks to come as they attempt to whittle down these magnificent reads to a single winner.  

Anyone who’s already avidly working their way through the best best books of 2022 and has treasured copies of the 28 books everyone should read at least once will likely have been on tenterhooks the past few months. Following the announcement of the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist for this year, the judges have been deliberating which six titles would be left in the running to succeed the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 winner as the latest victor.

Now the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist has been unveiled and they’re sure to be considered some of the best books of all time. This year’s Chair of Judges was Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap and she was joined by award-winning journalist and editor Lorraine Candy, bestselling novelist Dorothy Koomson, author and literary journalist Anita Sethi, and broadcaster Pandora Sykes.

Women's Prize for Fiction 2022 judges

(Image credit: Women's Prize for Fiction)

“We were blessed with an extraordinarily high quality of submissions this year, which made whittling down the longlist from 16 to six particularly difficult,” Mary Ann explained. “But the shortlist contains a wonderfully diverse range of stories, subjects, settings, and authors, from the experience of a Native American woman in a haunted bookshop to an early female aviator in the Antarctic. One novel is narrated by a tree; another by a book. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, others tearful, and sometimes the two are combined in the same book."

She continued, “We judges have loved reading them all and we commend them to you as the best fiction written by women and published in the past year. Our only problem now will be to identify the winner out of these six brilliant novels.”

The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist  

1. The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

This powerful novel explores sensitive themes, from an abusive love affair to female liberation and racism as Port of Spain boutique manager Alethea comes to terms with who she really wants to be. After witnessing a horrific murder the parallels between the dead woman's life and her own are thrown into stark relief, leading Alethea to face the past to determine her future. Described as "full of warmth and humanity, humor and sadness" by judge Mary Ann Sieghart this is a truly unmissable read.

2. The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 judge Lorraine Candy has remarked upon the multi-layered nature of this part-ghost-story, part-heritage tale, dubbing it, “really smart, funny and witty”. Coming from prolific novel and poetry writer Louise Erdrich, when annoying customer Flora dies on All Souls’ Day this isn’t the last a small Minneapolis bookstore sees of her. Haunting the store from 2019 to 2020, only employee Tookie might be able to solve the mystery behind Flora’s lingering presence. 

3. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

At 40 years old Martha Friel feels like she should have it all figured out, but with her husband Patrick gone, friendless, and with work hard to come by, she’s come to the realization that something needs to be done. Whether or not her old life is broken beyond repair, however, remains to be seen as she returns to her childhood home and her parents to figure out what lies ahead for her. Written by journalist and novelist Meg Mason, judge Pandora Sykes particularly admired Sorrow and Bliss’ “compassionate look at long-term mental illness” and its “brilliantly spiky” narrative.

4. The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

As an award-winning author of four novels as well as a filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest, it’s perhaps no surprise to book lovers that Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness has made the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 shortlist. This inventive tale follows 13-year-old Benny Oh who, in the depths of his grief for his late father, begins to hear the voices of the objects that surround him. These only increase as his mother encounters her own problems at this difficult time and he retreats to the local library where he finds a very special book indeed.

5. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Prepare to be taken on an emotional journey back in time to 1970s Cyprus in this story of belonging and identity as two teenagers from completely different cultures in a divided land, Defne, and Kostas, meet in secret at a local tavern. For those precious hours together they can forget the sorrows and painful world outside and just *be*. Written by British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, judge Dorothy Koomson has praised the way the “hauntingly beautiful” tale handles themes such as loss, love, and redemption through the “unusual connection” a young girl from London has with ancient Cyprus. 

6. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Bringing together the lives of orphan Marian Graves and Hadley Baxter, the Hollywood star set to play her in a brand new biopic, this epic and ambitious tale won the hearts of the judges. So much so that it got Anita Sethi declaring, “I'm not sure I've read anything so filled with the evocation of wanderlust”. After vanishing without a trace when she was circumnavigating the globe, 1950s aviator Marian is surrounded by myth and rumor. But Hadley isn’t about to play her without trying to get to the bottom of what really happened all those decades before as she delves into the long-buried secrets of the pilot’s life. 

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to pay tribute to and promote fiction by women. It’s awarded to the best full-length novel written by any woman and the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 books were published between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. 

This year’s winner will be awarded on June 15 and the writer will receive a £30,000 cheque and a limited-edition bronze figurine, a Bessie, created and donated by Grizel Niven.

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.