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Do We Still Need a Women’s Prize for Fiction?


On March 7th, the longlist for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced. This prize was created in 1996 partly to respond to the 1991 Booker Prize in which no women made it onto the shortlist. This was indicative of biases that still exist in the literary world, despite an increase in female editors and authors in the 1990s. While some prominent figures expressed reservations about the prize it was widely celebrated as an important platform to accelerate gender equality.

It is not possible to pinpoint the exact date when gender equality was achieved through publishing. However, it was accomplished and was accomplished faster than anyone could’ve imagined, even in 1996. I was born a year after the first Women’s Prize for Fiction (or the Orange Prize, as it was then known), and I’ve since witnessed the transformation of the literary landscape from a conglomerate of chain-smoking mad men into an Amazonian empire of enterprising young women. It must have seemed especially rapid to the older generations, who recall the last few decades vividly.

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