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Check Out the Shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022

Womens prize 2022

The Women's Prize for Fiction is an award I look forward to every year, and I usually discover at least one or two really good books among its long and shortlists. Here's a quick preview of the six titles that made this year's cut - you can click on the titles for catalogue information.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
This coming-of-age novel has thirteen-year-old Benny Oh up against it. It’s only a year since his beloved father died and now Benny’s hearing voices. But they aren’t the voices of ghosts or even other people. These voices belong to ordinary domestic objects – a broken ornament, a sneaker. They get even worse when his mother develops a hoarding problem. What can Benny do? Where can Benny go? It’s obvious really – he goes to the library. A wise, playful and poignant novel.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
One of the novels on my to-read list, Great Circle follows the story of Marian Graves, rescued as a baby from a sinking ship to lead a life of danger, flying Spitfires during the war, finally vanishing on a flight around the world in 1950. The story flips in time to follow Hollywood starlet, Hadley Baxter, drawn to play the part of Marian and the mystery of her disappearance. A big, epic read that delivers in so many ways.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
This is one of those across the barricades stories, following two teenagers in Cyprus in 1974 – Greek Christian Kostas and Turkish Muslim Defne who meet in a tavern. Then, decades later we have London teenager Ada who has never been to Cyprus, the birthplace of her parents. Ada is desperate to uncover the secrets of her family. You’ll learn about a turbulent period of Cyprus history and also see fig trees in a whole new light. This imaginative and evocative book has turned up on the Costa Novel Award shortlist too.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
Possibly my favourite read of 2021, this novel’s written by a New Zealand born writer, now living in Australia. Although the book is set in England, where Martha is struggling to understand the illness that has plagued her since her teenage years. But her husband Patrick, a busy hospital doctor, thinks she’s fine. After all her family are all a little eccentric, aren’t they? By turns heartbreakingly moving and achingly funny, this is a hugely readable and insightful novel about mental illness.

The Sentence by Louise Erdich
Novels set in bookshops are a boon for any booklover but the shop in this novel is also haunted. When a Minneapolis bookshop’s most annoying customer dies, she refuses to leave the store. It’s up to Tookie, recently employed at the store after years of incarceration to solve the mystery around the haunting. The plot stretches from one All Souls Day to the next, with a city during a pandemic and political unrest forming a backdrop. Throughout is Tookie’s love of books, finishing with a booklist to take away with you.

The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini*
Here we have the story of fashionable, feisty Alethea Lopez who is soon to turn 40. Witnessing the murder of a woman by her lover shocks Alethea into acknowledging the reality of her own dysfunctional relationship. The book has a page-turning plot as well as a strong feminist message all against the backdrop of a national festival in Trinidad. Trigger warnings: scenes of violence against both women and children.

 *Not yet available in Hastings Libraries

Posted by JAM

3 May 2022

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