London: Women’s Prize Winners Ganeshananthan and Klein

In News by Porter Anderson

The Women’s Prize program in London for the first time announces a nonfiction winner as well as a fiction laureate.

Two cover designs for V.V. Ganeshananthan’s ‘Brotherless Night’ and Naomi Klein’s ‘Doppelganger,’ as used in releases of the 2024 Women’s Prize fiction and nonfiction winners in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada

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

Both Fiction and Nonfiction Wins Have Political Components
In an event at London’s Bedford Square Gardens this evening (June 13), the Women’s Prize Trust has announced the 2024 winners of its 29th Women’s Prize for Fiction and its first Women’s Prize for Nonfiction.

If some might see the Ganeshananthan-Klein wins as good for the North American markets, they’re also good for Penguin Random House, which publishes Ganeshananthan in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, and publishes Klein in the UK and Canada. Klein’s Doppelganger in the States is published by Macmillan.

Each of these authors wins a purse of £30,000 (US$38,229), which is anonymously endowed in the case of the fiction award and by England’s Charlotte Aitken Trust for the nonfiction honor. Ganeshananthan also receives a copy of the bronze statuette, the Bessie, by Grizel Niven. Klein receives a copy of the limited edition Charlotte figurine from the Aitken Trust.

Monica Ali

The fiction jury chair Monica Ali, in commenting on the win for Ganeshananthan, is quoted, saying, “Brotherless Night is a brilliant, compelling, and deeply moving novel that bears witness to the intimate and epic-scale tragedies of the Sri Lankan civil war. In rich, evocative prose, Ganeshananthan creates a vivid sense of time and place and an indelible cast of characters.

Her commitment to complexity and clear-eyed moral scrutiny combines with spellbinding storytelling to render Brotherless Night a masterpiece of historical fiction.”

Suzannah Lipscomb

And Suzannah Lipscomb, who has chaired the nonfiction jury, speaks to Klein’s Doppelganger, saying, “‘This brilliant and layered analysis demonstrates humor, insight and expertise. Klein’s writing is both deeply personal and impressively expansive.

Doppelganger is a courageous, humane, and optimistic call-to-arms that moves us beyond black and white, beyond Right and Left, inviting us instead to embrace the spaces in between.”

Kate Mosse

You’ll recall that these two contests are open to any woman writing in English, regardless of nationality, country of residence, age, or subject matter.

Each books eligible for this year’s prize cycles had to be the work of a single author published in the United Kingdom between April 1 of last year and March 31.

The event tonight was hosted by the founding director of the trust, Kate Mosse.

Entering the ‘Golden Sticker’ Stage

It will be interesting to see if the Women’s Prize(s) program will this year join the £50,000 Booker Prizes (for fiction and international translation), the £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction, and the £25,000 British Academy Book Prize for Cultural Understanding in reporting some of the market sales impact that a win can have for a novel, its author, and publisher.

Without knowing the effects seen by booksellers, publishers, and authors following award winners’ announcements, the world publishing industry must simply take it on faith that the “golden sticker” on a cover in a bookstore can increase the likelihood of a sale. With each year of such deep and faithful investments in funds, hard work, and attention being poured into so many awards contests in world book markets—most prominently in the UK—the question of demonstrable marketing and bookselling impact grows only more pressing.

More on the Baillie Gifford Prize administration’s decision to take this step is here.

Reviewing the Shortlists

The Women’s Prize for Fiction

Shortlistees in the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction are, from left, Claire Kilroy; Isabella Hammond; Anne Enright; Aube Rey Lescure; and V.V. Ganeshananthan. Not pictured: Kate Grenville. Image: The Women’s Prize, Matt Crossick, PA Media Assignments

Jurors in the fiction prize this year are Monica Ali; Indira Varma; Anna Whitehouse; Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ; and Laura Dockrill. This prize is sponsored this year by Audible and Baileys.

Name of Author Title of Novel Publishing Imprint Nationality
Anne Enright The Wren, The Wren Penguin Random House / Jonathan Cape Irish
V.V. Ganeshananthan Brotherless Night Penguin Random House / Viking American
Kate Grenville Restless Dolly Maunder Canongate Australian
Isabella Hammad Enter Ghost Penguin Random House / Jonathan Cape British
Claire Kilroy Soldier Sailor Faber & Faber Irish
Aube Rey Lescure River East, River West Duckworth American-French

The Women’s Prize for Nonfiction

Shortlistees in the 2024 inaugural Women’s Prize for Noniction are, from left, Safiya Sinclair; Naomi Klein; Tiya Miles; Madhumita Murgia; Noreen Masud; Laura Cumming. Image: The Women’s Prize, Matt Crossick, PA Media Assignments

Jurors in the nonfiction prize this year are Suzannah Lipscomb; Venetia La Manna; Nicola Rollock; Anne Sebba; and Kamila Shamsie. This prize is sponsored by Findmypast and a one-time donation from Jason Bartholomew.

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

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 Women’s Prize for Nonfiction is here, more on the United Kingdom’s book and publishing market is here, more on fiction overall 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.com, 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.