[The JRB Daily] ‘A glorious celebration of the boundless imagination and creative ambition of women writers’—2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist announced, including Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo

The longlist for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced, including Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo.

The Women’s Prize, worth £30,000 (about R660,700) is one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious literary awards, given annually to a woman author of any nationality for the best original full-length novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom in the preceding year.

Bulawayo has been longlisted for her novel Glory, a satiric fable set in the fictional nation of Jidada, inspired by the 2017 coup that ousted Robert Mugabe.

Glory, the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed follow-up Bulawayo’s award-winning 2013 debut We Need New Names, was also shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize and recently longlisted for the 2023 Dublin Literary Award, the ‘world’s richest annual literary prize’.

When We Need New Names was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Bulawayo became the first Black African woman and first Zimbabwean to reach the final round, and with Glory became the first woman to have her first two novels shortlisted for the Booker.

This is Bulawayo’s first Women’s Prize nomination. She and Jamaican-born British writer Jacqueline Crooks are the only authors from outside Europe or North America to make the longlist.

Now in its twenty-eighth year, the Women’s Prize for Fiction ‘shines a spotlight on outstanding, ambitious, original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world’.

The 2023 longlist is made up of sixteen books, including former Women’s Prize winners as well as nine debut novelists, covering locations that range from ‘Renaissance Italy, rural India, the Siege of Sarajevo, Northern Ireland during The Troubles and opioid-infested Virginia, to an imaginary kingdom ruled by animals, a hallucinatory old cinema and an underwater world populated with extraordinary creatures’.

This year, debuts including Trespasses by Louise Kennedy and I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel are up against previous Women’s Prize winners Maggie O’Farrell, who won in 2020 for Hamnet, and Barbara Kingsolver, who won in 2010 for The Lacuna.

Chair of judges, broadcaster and writer Louise Minchin said:

‘This year’s longlist is a glorious celebration of the boundless imagination and creative ambition of women writers over the past year.

‘Every one of these sixteen books is excellent and original in its own individual way; they all offer fresh perspectives on history and humanity, exploring hard truths with empathy, sensitivity, directness, and sometimes infectious humour. There is something here for all readers!

‘It has truly been a life-enhancing experience to judge the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist this year, and we are looking forward to celebrating these voices that need to be heard.’

Minchin is joined on this year’s judging panel by novelist Rachel Joyce; journalist, podcaster and writer Bella Mackie; novelist and short story writer Irenosen Okojie; and Tulip Siddiq, Member of Parliament.

2023 Women’s Prize longlist

  • Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris
  • Children of Paradise by Camilla Grudova
  • Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh
  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
  • Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • Homesick by Jennifer Croft
  • I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel
  • Memphis by Tara M Stringfellow
  • Pod by Laline Paull
  • Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes
  • The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
  • The Dog of the North by Elizabeth McKenzie
  • The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
  • Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin

A shortlist of six novels will be announced on 26 April, and the winner on 14 June.

Last year’s Women’s Prize winner was American–Canadian author, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki, for her fourth novel The Book of Form and Emptiness.

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