The final shortlist for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction has been unveiled. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Milkman by Anna Burns, Ordinary People by Diana Evans, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Circe by Madeline Miller are all in the running for one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards.
Chair of the judges Professor Kate Williams, an author, historian, and professor of history at the University of Reading, said of the finalists: “It’s a fantastic shortlist; exciting, vibrant, adventurous. We fell totally in love with these books and the amazing worlds they created. These books are fiction at its best – brilliant, courageous and utterly captivating.”
The judges whittled down a 16-strong longlist announced in March to just six finalists. The shortlist includes one debut author, Braithwaite, and one previous Women’s Prize nominee, Burns, who was nominated in 2002 for her debut, No Bones, but was pipped to the prize by Ann Patchett, who won for Bel Canto. Sally Rooney, the 27-year-old Irish writer who has been touted as the “first great millennial author”, was longlisted for Normal People, her second book, but did not make the final cut. The longlist also included a non-binary transgender author for the first time, Brooklyn-based Akwaeke Emezi, who was nominated for Freshwater, but missed out on a spot in the shortlist.
The winner, who will be announced on June 5 at an awards ceremony in London, will receive £30,000 in prize money.
Professor Williams was joined on the panel – made up of judges passionate about highlighting writing by women – by journalist and critic Arifa Akbar, author and columnist Dolly Alderton, campaigner Leyla Hussein, and digital entrepreneur Sarah Wood.