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The 2021 Women’s Prize episode • #99

It’s here. After weeks of reading, tons of post-it notes and a smokin’ WhatsApp group busy with thoughts flying back and forth we proudly present our 2021 Women’s Prize episode. We’re joined by returning podcast guests Elizabeth Morris and Sarah Oliver to review all six shortlisted titles. You’re in safe book club hands so expect the full range of opinions, find out what we loved, and what we didn’t, but we’ve also worked hard to keep the spoilers away so you can enjoy the show and still enjoy the books.

How do you feel about the Women’s Prize? Does it feel relevant to you? We look back into how the Women’s Prize got started and consider the current literary landscape. Which books on the shortlist are your favourites? Listen in and see if you agree with us as we attempt to pick a winner.


Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

No-One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood


Listen via our media player above or your own podcast app here.

Find out everything you need to know about The Women’s Prize on their website, including links to their excellent events programme and podcast.

Don’t miss Crib Notes, the newsletter by Elizabeth Morris for new and busy mothers – an essential monthly run-down of the very best books from the practical to the poetic. She includes just the right information about each, and offers different suggestions according to whether you want something to sink into, or you only have time to scroll.

If you enjoyed this show, why not try our Booker Prize episode.

And for more from Elizabeth, we interviewed her in episode 64. Listen in for some fantastic book recommendations – for all readers, not only mums – and some great practical tips for how to fit in reading when all you have are stolen moments.

Over to you

Comment below and let us know your favourites from the shortlist. Which book do you think should win? Also we’d love to hear about any favourite past-winners for an additional show we’re putting together for when the prize is announced. Let us know and be a part of it.

List of Previous Women’s Prizewinners

1996, Helen Dunmore, A Spell of Winter

1997, Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

1998, Carol Shields, Larry’s Party

1999, Suzanne Berne, A Crime in the Neighborhood

2000, Linda Grant, When I Lived in Modern Times

2001, Kate Grenville, The Idea of Perfection

2002, Ann Patchett, Bel Canto

2003, Valerie Martin, Property

2004, Andrea Levy, Small Island

2005, Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

2006, Zadie Smith, On Beauty

2007, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

2008, Rose Tremain, The Road Home

2009, Marilynne Robinson, Home

2010, Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna

2011, Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife

2012, Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

2013, A. M. Homes, May We Be Forgiven

2014, Eimear McBride, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

2015, Ali Smith, How to Be Both

2016, Lisa McInerney, The Glorious Heresies

2017, Naomi Alderman, The Power

2018, Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire

2019, Tayari Jones, An American Marriage

2020, Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet




  • Ishanee
    July 4, 2021 at 7:02 pm  - Reply

    Hey! I really enjoyed this episode. Fun hearing you all chat about these books.
    Piranesi was my top read, closely followed by Transcendent Kingdom. I must admit though all the six were very well written, I had so much to think about. I will carry these books with me for a long time.

    • brc-admin
      July 25, 2021 at 10:31 am  - Reply

      It’s interesting that Transcendent Kingdom seems to be building real momentum now, being tipped as a Booker longlist title. I’m curious to see what happens. Lovely Piranesi – I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying that book, but of course our friend Sarah didn’t get on with it, and do listen to The Bookcast Club podcast on it (their Women’s Prize shortlist episode) if you want to be entertained by their very different points of view. I enjoyed it a lot.

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