The 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist has been announced

Posted by
Lauren Geall
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
A pile of books from the Women's Prize For Fiction 2021 shortlist

Clear some space on your shelves – the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist has been announced, and it’s seriously good.

If you’re on the hunt for a new book to enjoy over the May bank holiday weekend, you’re in luck. 

Over a month since the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist was announced, we now know which of the 16 titles have made the shortlist – and it’s seriously exciting stuff.

Selected by a panel of judges including Bernardine Evaristo, Elizabeth Day, Vick Hope, Nesrine Malik and Sarah-Jane Mee, this year’s shortlist boasts an impressively varied selection of stories, all of which you’ll want to add straight to your summer reading list. 

You may also like

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021: the longlist for this year’s award has been revealed

So, without further ado, here’s the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 shortlist:

Speaking about the work that went into selecting the final six books for the shortlist, Evaristo, who led the judging panel, said the group were sad to cut “so many exceptional books,” but were proud to present the final selection.

“With this shortlist, we are excited to present a gloriously varied and thematically rich exploration of women’s fiction at its finest,” she said. “These novels will take the reader from a rural Britain left behind to the underbelly of a community in Barbados; from inside the hectic performance of social media to inside a family beset by addiction and oppression; from a tale of racial hierarchy in America to a mind-expanding tale of altered perceptions.” 

The Women's Prize for Fiction panel, minus Nesrine Malik. From left to right, Vick Hope, Elizabeth Day, Bernardine Evaristo and Sarah Jane-Mee
Women's Prize for Fiction 2021: Narrowing down the 16-strong longlist was a challenge for the judges.

Evaristo continued: “Fiction by women defies easy categorisation or stereotyping, and all of these novels grapple with society’s big issues expressed through thrilling storytelling. We feel passionate about them, and we hope readers do too.”

Next up in the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction timeline is the awards ceremony itself on 8 September, where the winner of the award will take home the £30,000 prize.

Last year, the incredible Maggie O’Farrell took home the award for her outstanding eighth novel Hamnet, which tells the story of William Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son as he hunts for someone to look after his sick twin sister, Judith. And in 2019, Tayari Jones took home the prize for An American Marriage, an exploration of a Black couple in modern-day America.  

You may also like

Summer reads: the best paperback books of 2021 to take to the park

For now, then, we’ll just have to wait and see which of the six shortlisted books take home the prize. Exciting, right?

To find out more about this year’s prize you can visit the Women’s Prize For Fiction website.  

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Sam Holden Agency for the Women’s Prize for Fiction


Share this article


Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.