UK: Women’s Prize for Fiction 2024 Longlist: Eight Debuts

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Eight of the 16 longlisted novels in the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction are their authors’ debut publications, now in competition.

Image: Women’s Prize for Fiction

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

A Shortlist Is Due Out on April 24
Now in its 29th year, the United Kingdom’s Women’s Prize for Fiction has overnight (March 5) released its 2024 longlist, having recently put forward its inaugural Women’s Prize for Nonfiction longlist, as Publishing Perspectives readers will remember.

The timing of the announcement of course draws attention to it shortly before this year’s March 8 International Women’s Day.

A shortlist of six titles is expected to be announced on April 24. The winner of the 2024 contest is to be announced on June 13.

The winner of the 2024 competition is to receive an anonymously endowed £30,000 (US$38,100) and a copy of the Bessie, the bronze statuette by Grizel Niven.

As in the case of its new sister award in nonfiction, the fiction prize’s organizers take the implication of longlist seriously: Both the fiction and nonfiction lists are a hefty 16 titles long. Nevertheless, there’s a good international breadth is this cohort.

In this year’s longlist, a rich cohort of seven independent publishers are represented here. They are Canongate, Duckworth, Époque, Faber & Faber, Legend,
Oneworld, and Pushkin Press. Among the major publishers, Penguin Random House has three nods, Hachette has two.

Of the 16 writers in this award’s longlist, five are British; three are American; three are Irish; one is Barbadian; one is South Korean; one is Australian; one is Ghanaian; and one is French-American.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this new longlist is that eight of its titles, half the list, are debut publications.  (It’s good to remember that an author’s “debut” frequently is not that author’s first book, but the first to come to the consumers’ attention thanks to publication. The book publishing industry generally uses the word debut to mean a title is the author’s first published work.)

Those writers who have debut publications on the longlist are:

  • Maya Binyam
  • Effie Black
  • Alicia Elliott
  • Kate Foster
  • Mirinae Lee
  • Chetna Maroo
  • Aube Rey Lescure
  • Pam Williams

In addition, four of the 16 longlisted writers have published only one book in advance of the title that’s on consideration for this prize, leaving just four “old hands” who have multiple publications to their names. Previous attention from this contest has gone to:

  • Kate Grenville, who won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2001 (The Idea of Perfection, Penguin Random House UK)
  • Booker winner Anne Enright, who was longlisted in 2008 (The Gathering, Penguin Random House UK) and longlisted again in 2020 (Actress, Penguin Random House UK), then shortlisted in 2012 (The Forgotten Waltz, Penguin Random House UK, and shortlisted again in 2016 (The Green Road, Penguin Random House UK)
  • V.V. Ganeshananthan, who was longlisted in 2009 (Love Marriage, Hachette / Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Women’s Prize for Fiction 2024 Longlist

Jurors in the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction are, from left, Anna Whitehouse, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ, Monica Ali, Laura Dockrill, and Indira Varma. Image: Women’s Prize Trust

Name of Author Title of Novel Publishing Imprint Nationality Novels Published
Maya Binyam Hangman Pushkin / One American 0
Effie Black In Defense of the Act Époque Press British 0
Alicia Elliott And Then She Fell Atlantic / Allen & Unwin American 0
Anne Enright The Wren, The Wren Penguin Random House / Jonathan Cape Irish Seven
Kate Foster The Maiden Pan Macmillan / Mantle British 0
V.V. Ganeshananthan Brotherless Night Penguin Random House / Viking American One
Kate Grenville Restless Dolly Maunder Canongate Australian One
Isabella Hammad Enter Ghost Penguin Random House / Jonathan Cape British One
Claire Kilroy Soldier Soldier Faber & Faber Irish Four
Mirinae Lee 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster Hachette UK / Virago South  Korean 0
Karen Lord The Blue, Beautiful World Hachette UK / Gollancz Barbadian Three
Chetna Maroo Western Lane Pan Macmillan / Picador British 0
Peace Adzo Medie Nightbloom Oneworld Ghanian One
Megan Nolan Ordinary Human Failings Penguin Random House / Jonathan Cape Irish One
Aube Rey Lescure River East, River West Duckworth American-French 0
Pam Williams A Trace of Sun Legend Press British 0
‘Utterly Unputdownable’

In a comment of rationale for the jury’s selections, the panel’s chair, Monica Ali, is quoted, saying, “With the strength and vitality of contemporary women’s fiction very much in evidence, reading the entries for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction has been a joyful experience.

“Of course this made it all the more difficult to select the longlist, but after much lively discussion among the jurors we’re delighted with the 16 titles selected.

“Each one of these books is brilliant, original and utterly unputdownable. Collectively, they offer a wide array of compelling narratives from around the world, written with verve, wit, passion and compassion. They are books that will engage readers’ hearts and minds, they are filled with indelible characters, and they do what stories can do so powerfully: unsettle and disturb as well as surprise and delight.’

The Women’s Prize for Fiction program was launched 29 years ago by its founding director, Kate Mosse.

A video announcement of the longlist has been prepared by the company and is embedded here.

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, and more on the United Kingdom’s awards-heavy book and publishing market is here. More on International Women’s Day 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.