Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction

Stylist Prize For Feminist Fiction: the shortlist announced

Our search for the brightest and best new talent in women’s fiction is almost at an end as we announce the shortlist of Stylist’s inaugural Prize for Feminist Fiction.     

When we launched our first writing prize earlier this year with Rachel Mills Literary agency, we weren’t sure what to expect. 450 entries later and we’ve been blown away by the ambition, imagination and sheer talent of the next generation of aspiring writers. “From comedy and sci-fi through to domestic dystopia and historical fiction, the richness of ideas and writing has been thrilling from start to finish,” says Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski.

Last week, our judges gathered for the unenviable task of whittling down our longlist to just six manuscripts. Joining Lisa was Literary Agent of the Year Nelle Andrew from our partner RML, Costa award-winning author Sara Collins (The Confessions Of Frannie Langton) and Harriet Bourton, acting publisher at Viking Books. The winner will receive £1,000 and guaranteed representation with RML, while all shortlisters will receive one-to-one feedback from Nelle, in the hope of nudging each of them closer to publication. In addition, Harriet Bourton is kindly giving up her time to send feedback to everyone who made the longlist.

So without further ado, here’s a run-through of the shortlisted entries, and what our judges admired most about them. Congratulations to all, and to our longlisters and everyone else who entered, huge thanks and please keep writing. Next year, it could be you.

The Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction Shortlist 2021

More Than A Creeping Thing by Jo Hemmings

What happens when a young lawyer’s body is found in a prestigious City firm? This novel follows the interwoven lives and secrets of her colleagues as they each give their version of events. According to our panel, it was “Funny, fascinating –a voice that hooked us immediately and which we wanted more of.”

The Stories We Told Ourselves by Suad Kamardeen

This is a story about twin sisters Bisi and Bola, whose lives have taken radically different paths. When they’re summoned home due to their father’s ill-health, the sisters are forced to confront their traumatic past, and in doing so, reclaim their own narrative. The judges described it as “incredibly compelling” with “great characterisation and a fantastic sense of atmosphere”.

Warrah Place by Kate Kemp

A suburban Canberra cul-de-sac is the location for this tale of female rage and reinvention, which our judges found to be “incredibly filmic”. Described as “deliciously dark”, the story centres around a murder that leads the cast of characters to butt up against issues of class, race and sexuality.

The Little Shell Collector by Rachel Marangozov

Set against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s civil war, this “emotive and transportive” book promises to explore maternal love, belonging and how to escape the stories of the past. Our judges said it made them “reflect on our parenting choices and the sacrifices of the characters in a high-stakes environment”.

Synthia 2.0 by Bryony Stubbs

Dark sci-fi meets women’s fiction in this bold story about a sex-bot called Pamela who has been built to the specification of her owner, Will. Exploring desire, unrequited love and selfhood, this story follows Pamela’s journey of self-discovery and was described by our judges as “brave, innovative and really clever”.

The Gelder by C.A. Sutcliffe

Inspired by the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, this entry was praised by the judges for being “like a feminist Line of Duty but with feminist dystopic vibes”. Set in an imagined matriarchal society in 1970s West Yorkshire, men are treated as violent animals and the police’s hunt for a serial killer is a hugely thought-provoking take on themes that haunt us today.

The winner will be announced in the 10 November issue of Stylist, download or subscribe to get your copy.