Great Fiction Reads: “Women’s Prize for Fiction” 2022 Shortlist and Past Winners

Looking for a summer reading list or just some great books to read anytime?

Why not look for titles from the Women’s Prize for Fiction  that showcases the very best writing by women for everyone and is one of the most respected, celebrated and successful literary awards in the world? The purpose of the prize is to “champion women writers on a global stage” and the winning books over the years are an exciting collection of compelling fiction, sure to make a great addition to your summer reading list!

Now in its 27th year, the Prize announced on April 27th, the titles that have made the shortlist to contend for the 2022 award. Winners will be announced on June 15th.

Here are 5 of the shortlisted titles, available with your Livingston Public Library card.

The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

A brilliantly inventive new novel about loss, growing up, and our relationship with things. After the tragic death of his father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house and sound variously pleasant, angry or sad. Then his mother develops a hoarding problem, and the voices grow more clamorous. When ignoring them doesn’t work, Benny seeks refuge in the silence of a large public library. There he meets a mesmerising street artist with a smug pet ferret; a homeless philosopher- poet who encourages him to find his own voice amongst the many; and his very own Book, who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter. Blending unforgettable characters with everything from jazz to climate change to our attachment to material possessions

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Through the lightly interwoven stories of impetuous flyer Marian Graves and flavor-of-the-month actress Hadley Baxter, Shipstead (Astonish Me, 2014) ponders the motivating forces behind acts of daring and defiance, self-fulfillment and self-destruction. Marian’s sprawling life story forms the bulk of this rolling, roiling epic, from the improbability of her survival as an infant rescued from a sinking ocean liner to her tempestuous marriage to a Prohibition-era bootlegger to her days as a thrill-seeking WWII air transport pilot to her Earhartesque disappearance during a pole-to-pole flight. Tapped to play Marian in a biopic about her doomed aerial expedition, Hadley hopes to find in Marian’s story the inspiration to help her course-correct her own turbulent life. An ambitious, soaring saga, Shipstead’s transcendent tale takes her characters to dizzying heights, drawing readers into lives of courage and mystery.

The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Following the travails of one fictional family from late-20th-century Cyprus to present-day London, Shafak explores the physical, psychological, and moral cost of the long conflict between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the island’s citizens and their environment.While the novel is framed around London high school student Ada’s attempts to learn about her parents’ past on Cyprus and what drove them to emigrate, much of the novel is narrated by a fig tree. The loquacious, well-traveled tree fills in parts of the plot unknown to the human protagonists and offers rambling treatises on Cyprian history, plants, and animals.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading with murderous attention, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.

Sorrow And Bliss : A Novel by Meg Mason

Martha hasn’t had an easy time with love, or with much of anything, really: a nebulous career, a failed “starter” marriage, and a long history of depressive moods that seem to be getting worse instead of better. Now in a second marriage, to Patrick, a friend of her cousin’s that had orbited Martha’s life since she was a teenager, she’s convinced that with her husband’s support, she can make it through her darkest days. Until those days become weeks, causing her to lash out and create a rift in her marriage she’s certain can’t be fixed. Exploring the multifaceted hardships of mental illness and the frustrating inaccuracy of diagnoses, medications, and treatments, this novel is darkly comic and deeply heartfelt.

Here are the winning titles of the past 5 years–

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.

Hamnet : A Novel Of The Plague by Maggie O’Farrell

 A short, piercing, deeply moving novel about the death of Shakespeare’s 11 year old son Hamnet–a name interchangeable with Hamlet in 15th century Britain–and the years leading up to the production of his great play. 

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

 The suspenseful and heartbreaking story of a family ripped apart by secrets and driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences. 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Living in a labyrinthine house of endless corridors, flooded staircases and thousands of statues, Piranesi assists the dreamlike dwelling’s only other resident throughout a mysterious research project before evidence emerges of an astonishing alternate world.

The Power : A Novel by Naomi Alderman

A rich Nigerian boy; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. When a vital new force takes root and flourishes, their lives converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls and women now have immense physical power– they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And everything changes.

 Or you can also pick your next read from one of  these past 26 phenomenal winners.

-Archana, Adult Services and Acquisitions Librarian

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