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Women's Prize for Fiction: The Short List

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • May 09, 2023

This year's shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction is made up of three first-time novelists, alongside an equal number of novels by past winners and previously shortlisted authors. The prize, worth £30,000, is awarded for the best full-length novel of the year written by a woman and published in the UK.

The six globe-spanning titles on the list are described as "ambitious, eclectic, and hard-hitting" by Louise Minchin, chair of the judging panel. Of the veteran authors on the list, Barbara Kingsolver won the prize in 2010 for The Lacuna, Maggie O'Farrell won the prize in 2020 for Hamnet, and Laline Paull was previously shortlisted for the prize in 2015 for The Bees.

Minchin's fellow judges are the novelist Rachel Joyce, journalist, podcaster and writer Bella Mackie, novelist and short story writer Irenosen Okojie, and Labour MP Tulip Siddiq.

Fire Rush

This debut from Jacqueline Crooks is a mesmerizing story of love, loss, and self-discovery set amid the Jamaican diaspora in London at the dawn of the 1980s. Yamaye is a young woman who embarks on a dramatic journey of transformation, animated by a ferocity of vision, electrifying music, and the Jamaican spiritual imagination.


Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Louise Kennedy's debut novel is the story of a woman caught between community and passion. Cushla is a young teacher who gets involved with an older man, a barrister. As tender as it is unflinching, this novel is a heart-pounding, heart-rending drama of thwarted love and irreconcilable loyalties.

Demon Copperhead

From acclaimed author Barbara Kingsolver comes this brilliant retelling of David Copperfield. Born to a teen mom in the mountains of Appalachia amidst the nineties opioid crisis, Demon has nothing to his name beyond his dead father's good looks, a razor-sharp wit, and a fierce talent for survival. He speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places.

Black Butterflies

Sarajevo, spring 1992: When ethnic divisions erupt into violence, Zora sends her husband and elderly mother to safety with her daughter in England. Reluctant to believe the hostilities will last, she stays behind as the city falls under siege in this breathtaking story of resilience and hope. Unfortunately, we do not currently have Priscilla Morris's debut in stock.

The Marriage Portrait

Like Hamnet, Maggie O'Farrell's previous winner, this captivating historical novel set in 1550s Florence weaves a richly imagined tapestry from scant threads of historical detail. When her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding, Lucrezia, the precocious third daughter of the grand duke, is offered in her place. Barely out of girlhood, she finds herself caught up in treachery.


In her terrifying, propulsive new novel, Laline Paull explores the true meaning of family, belonging, and sacrifice from the perspective of a spinner dolphin who has recently come of age. Ea is now expected to join in the elaborate rituals that unite her pod. But Ea has always felt like an outsider and when her differences result in catastrophe, she decides to leave the pod.

This distinguished award celebrates women's creativity in the world and empowers women of all walks of life to raise their voices. The 2022 prize was won by Ruth Ozeki for The Book of Form and Emptiness. The winner of this year's prize will be announced on June 14. We wish all of the excellent candidates the best of luck!

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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