The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2022: The Shortlist

These are the six books up for this year's coveted literary prize.

The 2022 Shortlist

by Hanna Woodside |

Now in its 27th year, the Women's Prize For Fiction celebrates outstanding original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world. From the 16 books on this year's longlist, six novels have been selected for the final shortlist.

This year's judging panel, chaired by author Mary Ann Sieghart, includes journalist and editor Lorraine Candy, novelist and podcaster Dorothy Koomson, author and literary journalist Anita Sethi, and writer and broadcaster Pandora Sykes.

The winner of the Prize will be announced on Wednesday 15 June 2022. Following this, the Virtual Shortlist Festival will be held on Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 June, 7pm, featuring Live Q&As with the shortlisted authors. These events will be hosted by author Kate Mosse, Founder Director of the Prize, and will present readings from well-known actors.

In the mean time, here's what you need to know about the six shortlisted novels...

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Women's Prize For Fiction 2022 Shortlist

THE BREAD THE DEVIL KNEAD by  Lisa Allen-Agostini
1 of 6

Alethea Lopez is about to turn 40. Fiercely independent, she manages a boutique in Port of Spain, Trinidad but behind closed doors she's coping with an abusive relationship and seeking solace in an affair with her boss. When she witnesses a woman murdered by a jealous lover, the reality of her own future comes a little too close to home. A novel that explores gender violence, racism and female liberation, set against a Trinidadian backdrop.

THE SENTENCE by Louise Erdrich
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A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer, Flora, who simply won't leave. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time navigating a year of grief, astonishment and isolation. A layered novel that explores identity, exploitation, and how the burdens of history still shape our lives today.

SORROW AND BLISS by Meg Mason
3 of 6

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. So why is everything broken? Why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave? Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents, Martha has one last chance to find out whether a life is ever too broken to fix. A novel about modern love up and the confusion of mental illness.

THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS by Ruth Ozeki
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After the death of his father, 13-year-old Benny begins to hear the voices of objects around him: a broken ornament, a piece of lettuce, a pair of scissors. When his mother – struggling with grief and life as a single parent – develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow ever louder. Benny retreats to his local library, where the books at least speak in whispers. There he meets others on the fringes of society, including a teenage performance artist and a homeless, alcoholic philosopher – as well as encountering a rather special book: his book, the story of his life. An inventive novel about loss, growing up and our relationship with the things that surround us.

THE ISLAND OF MISSING TREES by Elif Shafak
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It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet in secret. It's a place to forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its sorrows. In the centre of the tavern, growing through a hole in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart. Decades later in north London, 16-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden...

GREAT CIRCLE by Maggie Shipstead
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From the night she is rescued as a baby from the flames of a sinking ship to the day she joins a pair of daredevil pilots, the life of Marian Graves has always been marked by a lust for freedom and danger. In 1950, she embarks on a Great Circle flight, circumnavigating the globe. It is Marian's life dream and her final journey: she crash lands into the Antarctic ice and is never seen again. Half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a traumatised actor beset by scandal, is drawn to play Marian Graves in her biopic, a role that will lead her to probe the mysteries of the vanished pilot's life. Great Circle is a drama about lives lived on the edge: two defiant women in search of an undefinable freedom.

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