The Women's Prize for Fiction award ceremony has been postponed until September, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement that the easing of Covid-19 restrictions has been pushed back.
The in-person awards evening was supposed to take place at a ceremony in Bedford Square, central London, on 7th July, but will now be postponed until 8th September, from 6pm to 10pm. The winner will be announced at 7.10pm that evening.
Organisers are still hosting a "Virtual Shortlist Festival" on 15th and 16th June featuring the shortlisted authors with readings from actors, hosted by prize founder and director Kate Mosse.
Mosse told The Bookseller: "Although we're obviously disappointed to have to postpone our WPFF 2021 awards ceremony, we had planned for such an eventuality. The WPFF is a celebration of women's voices and women's creativity and we felt that this year, after the past 15 months, we wanted to all be together in a shared space and to honour the authors, readers and publishers properly.
"The advantage is that this gives us a further two months to promote our incredible shortlist and help these six exceptional novels find their way into the hands of readers who'll love them. All of our additional events - the live podcast announcement, the 'mistressclass' and the live shortlist readings on the eve of the award will all also move until the 7th September. We're really grateful to our supporters, our sponsors, our partners and our donors for their support and understanding and can't wait to see everyone in September."
The annual £30,000 prize's judging panel will be chaired by Booker-winning author Bernardine Evaristo. The 2021 shortlist features two British writers, two American, one Barbadian and one Ghanaian-American author, none of whom have been shortlisted before. Brit Bennett, Susanna Clarke and Yaa Gyasi are amongst those shortlisted with Patricia Lockwood, Claire Fuller and Cherie Jones completing the list.
Bennett is nominated for her second novel, The Vanishing Half (Dialogue Books), which follows twin sisters. It was described by judges as “a beautifully written novel and psychologically very complex”.
Fellow American Patricia Lockwood has also made the cut for her debut No One is Talking About This (Bloomsbury Circus), a novel about the clash of real life and online personas described as “very moving and profoundly insightful into human nature”. Bloomsbury has another nod for Piranesi, Clarke’s long-awaited second novel about a watery labyrinth, which came 16 years after her bestselling debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Bloomsbury). Piranesi was described by judges as an “utterly transporting” novel which introduces “a fascinating universe”.
The other British offering on the six-strong shortlist comes from Claire Fuller for Unsettled Ground (Fig Tree), her fourth novel, about twins recovering from their mother’s unexpected death. Judges deemed it “a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power”.
Also shortlisted is Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi with Transcendent Kingdom (Penguin), about one woman's exploration of her family's experience of immigration from Ghana to Alabama “through continents and generations that take her deep into the dark heart of modern America”.
Finally Cherie Jones completes the list for How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House (Tinder Press). Judges described the novel as “a tale of violence, loss and love in Barbados, seen through four very vivid voices”.
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