UK: The Women’s Prize for Nonfiction’s First Shortlist

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

New this year, the Women’s Prize for Nonfiction issues its first six-title shortlist of books that explore art, history, technology, and more.

Image: Women’s Prize Trust

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

Profile Books Is the One Independent House on the List
The springtime deluge of book and publishing contest news continues, today (March 27) with the announcement of the Women’s Prize for Nonfiction, and, as Publishing Perspectives readers know, this is the first cycle of this new sister competition to the long-running Women’s Prize for Fiction.

You’ll recall that in our February 15 coverage of the 16-title longlist for this award, writers honored were from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, India, Jamaica, and the Philippines. Even more interesting, those longlisted works included nine writers’ first publications “for a general, non-academic readership,” an admirable level of debut material. What’s more, there were five journalists with work represented on the longlist.

The ultimate winner of this new accolade from England—the international epicenter-market for book and publishing awards—is to receive a purse of £30,000 (US$37,889) and a copy of The Charlotte, a sculptural figure by Ann Christopher. The Charlotte Aitken Trust is the sponsor making both the cash and the figurine available. Additional sponsorship this year comes from FindMyPast, a genealogy program based in the UK, and what the program describes as “a one-off anonymous donation.”

Books eligible for this year’s prize must be the work of a single author and be published in the United Kingdom between April 1, 2023, and March 31.

The winner is to be named on June 13.

Surviving to the shortlist stage is Tiya Miles’ All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake from Penguin Random House. Miles, a Harvard professor, has been praised for the innovative research and writerly effort behind this book, which has become one of the honored title in the English language in recent years. Miles, for example, won the 2021 National Book Award in nonfiction for All That She Carried, and won Canada’s 2022 US$75,000 Cundill History Prize for that title, as well. It was also longlisted for the 2023 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction.

And we now can turn to the six shortlisted works for this prize, a far more manageable tranche of titles than the 16-book longlist, of course: fewer eyes glaze over when a prize program reaches its shortlisting stage.

Our international publishing-professional readership will  note that Penguin Random House is the publisher of half of the shortlist. The rest of the list is made up of one book each from Pan Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Profile Books—Profile being the only independent publisher among the six.

Women’s Prize for Nonfiction, 2024 Shortlist
Laura Cumming Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life and Sudden Death Penguin Random House / Chatto & Windus British
Naomi Klein Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World Penguin Random House / Allen Lane Canadian
Noreen Masud A Flat Place Penguin Random House / Hamilton Hamish British
Tiya Miles All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake Profile Books American
Madhumita Murgia Code-Dependent: Living in the Shadow of AI Pan Macmillan / Picador British
Safiya Sinclair How To Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir HarperCollins / 4th Estate Jamaican
Jurors for the First Nonfiction Prize

Four of the five jurors for the 2024 inaugural cycle of the Women’s Prize for Nonfiction 2024 are, from left. Kamila Shamsie; Nicola Rollock; Susannah Lipscomb; and Venetia La Manna. Image: Women’s Prize Trust

The jury for this first year of the Women’s Prize for Nonfiction comprises:

  • Suzannah Lipscomb (jury chair)
  • Venetia La Manna
  • Nicola Rollock
  • Anne Sebba
  • Kamila Shamsie

In a comment on the shortlist, the jury chair, Susannah Lipscomb, is quoted today, saying that the shortlist “is made up of six powerful, impressive books that are characterized by the brilliance and beauty of their writing … Each offers a unique, original perspective. The readers of these books will never see the world—be it through art, history, landscape, politics, religion or technology—the same way again.”

The executive director of the Women’s Prize Trust is Claire Shanahan, and Anna Rafferty is chair of the board. Kate Mosse is the founding director of both this prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

More from Publishing Perspectives on international book and publishing awards programs is here. More from us on the Women’s Prize for Fiction is here, more on the United Kingdom’s book and publishing market is here, and more on nonfiction is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 (Fellow, 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.