WOMEN'S Prize Winners in Fiction

I did the Research so you don't have to!

The Women's Prize (originally the Orange Prize) is one of the United Kingdom's most prestigious awards. Begun in 1996, it is awarded annually to a female author of any nationality for a full length novel written the previous year. The prize has gone through a variety of sponsorships and is currently supported by a family of sponsors. It has suffered from many criticisms over the years, most frequently that is "sexist" and exclusionary.  Winners are usually announced early June.  This list is complete, with the first award being given in 1996. 

** Books I've read are bold and reviewed books are bold and purple.

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2022 - The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, 548 pages

Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds. A fascinating book with only two characters.

piranesi

2021 - Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke, 245 pages

Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds. A fascinating book with only two characters.

hamnet

2020 - Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell, 372 pages

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

american marriage

2019 - An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, 308 pages

A young newly married black couple has their lives derailed when the husband is wrongly convicted of rape and imprisoned. What follows is a heartbreaking story of a marriage struggling to survive.

home fire

2018 - Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie, 276 pages

Heartbreaking story of an immigrant family driven to it love against loyalty with devastating consequences.

the power book cover

2017 - The Power, by Naomi Alderman, 341 pages

A disparate group of characters' lives converge with devastating effect as women become immensely physically strong. An exploration of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women.

the glorious heresies book cover

2016 - The Glorious Heresies #1, by Lisa McInerney, 384 pages

Debut novel of a messy murder than affects the lives of five misfits who live on the edges of Ireland society. Biting, moving and darkly funny.

how to be both book cover

2015 - How To Be Both, by Ali Smith, 376 pages

This novel is an original literary double-take, a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.

a girl is a half formed thing book cover

2014 - A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, by Eimear McBride, 376 pages

 

Debut novel of a young woman's relationship with her brother who has a brain tumor, with an intimate look into her thoughts and feelings as she struggles to overcome abuse and intense trauma.

may we be forgiven book cover

2013 - May We Be Forgiven, by A.M. Homes, 480 pages

 

A darkly comic novel of 21st century domestic life and personal transformation as events conspire to help a man create a family of choice rather than biology.

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2012 - The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, 352 pages

 

A telling of the Trojan War in Greece in the time of heroes as a young boy is sent to the court of King Peleus and his young son Achilles.

the tigers wife book cover

2011 - The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht, 338 pages

 

A young doctor helps at an orphanage in a Balkan country mending from war and finds herself surrounded by secrets and superstitions while she is also trying to resolve the mystery of her grandfather's recent death; a story of family legend, loss and love.

the lacuna book review

2010 - The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver, 508 pages

 

An epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor and J Edgar Hoover as one man grows up between countries and searches for his own voice.

home #2 book cover

2009 - Home #2 (Gilead) by Marilynne Robinson, 325 pages

 

It is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith.

the road home book cover

2008 - The Road Home by Rose Tremain, 365 pages

 

Her 14th novel is about a man who moves to England to make money to send home; it follows his struggles with all things "English".

half a yellow sun book cover

2007 - Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 433 pages

 

Five characters' stories twine together to evocatively illustrate Biafra's struggle to establish their independence.

on beauty book cover

2006 - On Beauty by Zadie Smith, 445 pages

 

Set on both sides of the Atlantic, this novel is an exploration of family life, marriage, and the intersection of personal and political goals.

we need to talk about kevin

2005 - We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, 445 pages

Written as letters to an estranged husband, a woman tries to come to terms with career, family, parenthood, and the horrific shooting rampage of her 16 year old son.

small island book cover

2004 - Small Island by Andrea Levy, 448 pages

Told in 4 voices, this is an immigrant story as a woman moves from Jamaica to London in 1948 and the difficulties as her husband returns from war to an unexpected reception as a black man in London.

property book review

2003 - Property by Valerie Martin, 212 pages

Property is theft, so they say, and in this novel, the property is both an abundant sugar plantation and the former slave who is now the owner's mistress and the mother of his only child. (from GR)

bel canto book review

2002 - Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, 318 pages

South American VP hosts a lavish party which is crashed and the guests taken hostage for months - relationships develop, situations change, and the danger is almost forgotten but can't be stopped.

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2001 - The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, 416 pages

Two plain, socially awkward, middle-aged people end up in a small Australian town and tiptoe around each other as attraction develops.

when i lived in modern times

2000 - When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant, 272 pages

1946 Palestine: the coming of age story of a young woman who makes friends and falls in love during the struggles of a nation fighting to be born.

a crime in the neighborhood

1999 - A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne, 304 pages

This debut is a little bit of a mystery about the murder of a young boy, but more a tale of suburbia and how a neighborhood reacts when there's a tragic crime in its midst. Told by a 10 year old girl as she writes a journal, she touches on the disintegration of her own family, country events (Watergate), as well as her amateur sleuthing to solve the murder.

larrys party book cover

1998 - Larry's Party by Carol Shields, 352 pages

The story of the life of a man from 1977 to 1997 as he tries to recreate himself and find himself through the decades.

fugitive pieces

1997 - Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, 294 pages

Set at the beginning of WWII, this debut is about a young boy who is rescued by a professor and taken to Greece, then to Toronto where he grows up but is still tormented by the loss of his sister; evocative of both character and time.

a spell of winter book cover

1996 - A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore, 313 pages  (the inaugural award)

 

A brother and sister are abandoned to a rambling old mansion and a grandfather's neglectful care. As they grow up, their affection develops into something forbidden which sets off a tragic set of events that spread into the early years of WWI.