Six Debut Novelists Are on the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist

In News by Porter Anderson

Two previously longlisted authors and one twice-shortlisted writer, Kamila Shamsie, are on this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. The winner takes home £30,000 and a bronze figurine, the ‘Bessie.’

The 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist includes six debut novelists. Image: Women’s Prize for Fiction

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Women Writers Refuse To Be Pigeon-Holed’

In one of many events set on Thursday (March 8) for International Women’s Day, 16 novels have been named to the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 shortlist.

As Publishing Perspectives has reported, this is the first year in recent memory in which the prize has not been named for its sponsor. Orange was the title sponsor of the prize between 1996 and 2012, and Baileys was the program’s title sponsor from 2013 to 2017.

In 2018, the organizers have embarked on a new tack, operating with a trio of sponsors—Baileys again, as well as NatWest and Deloitte—and thus retaining its own name for the award. The 23-year-old award program honors work by women writing in English. Novels from any part of the world are eligible, as are books about any subject matter by female writers of any age, nationality, and country of residence.

This year’s longlist comprises eight British authors, four American authors, two Indian authors, one Australian author, and one Pakistani/British author. Kamila Shamsie may be the most familiar Women’s Prize nominee, having been shortlisted twice, in 2015 and 2009.

Jennifer Egan—just named president of PEN America—was longlisted in 2011 and 2008, and Rachel Seiffert was longlisted in 2015, 2007, and 2002.

And the longlist this time includes six debut novelists:

  • Elif Batuman
  • Jessie Greengrass
  • Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • Gail Honeyman
  • Fiona Mozley
  • Sarah Schmidt

The winner receives an anonymously endowed cash award of £30,000 (US$41,300) and a limited edition bronze figurine known as a “Bessie,” created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.

Jurors for the prize this year are:

  • Sarah Sands, chair, editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today
  • Anita Anand, radio and television journalist
  • Katy Brand, writer, comedian and actor
  • Catherine Mayer, journalist, author and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party
  • Imogen Stubbs, actress

In a prepared statement, Sands is quoted, saying, “The longlist came out of a Chequers-style meeting where different views were accommodated and peace reigned, at least for now.

“What is striking about the list, apart from the wealth of talent, is that women writers refuse to be pigeon-holed. We have searing social realism, adventure, comedy, poetic truths, ingenious plots and unforgettable characters. Women of the world are a literary force to be reckoned with.”

The 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction and their longlisted titles. From left: Anita Anand, Sarah Sands, Imogen Stubbs, Katy Brand, and Catherine Meyer. Image: Women’s Prize for Fiction

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 Longlisted Authors
  • Nicola Barker, British, H(A)PPY, her 12th novel (William Heinemann)
  • Elif Batuman, American, The Idiot, her first novel (Jonathan Cape)
  • Joanna Cannon, British, Three Things About Elsie, her second novel (The Borough Press)
  • Charmaine Craig, American, Miss Burma, her second novel (Grove Press)
  • Jennifer Egan, American, Manhattan Beach, fifth novel (Corair)
  • Imogen Hermes Gowar, British, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, her first novel (Harvill Secker)
  • Jessie Greengrass, British, Sight, her first novel (John Murray)
  • Gail Honeyman, British, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, her first novel (HarperCollins)
  • Meena Kandasamy, Indian, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife, her second novel (Atlantic Books)
  • Fiona Mozley, British, Elmet, her first novel (JM Originals)
  • Arundhati Roy, Indian, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, her second novel (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Sarah Schmidt, Australian, See What I Have Done, her first novel (Tinder Press)
  • Rachel Seiffert, British, A Boy in Winter, her fourth novel (Virago)
  • Kamila Shamsie, Pakistani/British, Home Fire, her seventh novel (Bloomsbury Circus)
  • Kit de Waal, British, The Trick to Time, her second novel (Viking)
  • Jesmyn Ward, American Sing, Unburied, Sing, third novel, (Boomsbury Circus)

The shortlist is to be announced on April 23.

The Women’s Prize for Fiction winner this year is to be announced on June 6.

More coverage from Publishing Perspectives of the Women’s Prize for Fiction is here. More on awards programs is here. And more from us on International Women’s Day is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.