womens prize for fiction

The shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced last month, and ever since literary fans have been wondering who will emerge victorious on one of the most important nights of the British literary calendar.

The Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously better known as “the Orange Prize for Fiction”) was established in 1996 and is one of the UK’s more prestigious literary awards. Open to female authors writing in English, previous winners include Andrea Levy, for Small Island, and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty.

The strong favourite this year is Milkman, by Anna Burns, which is being offered by William Hill at 6/4. The novel also won last year’s Booker Prize, so Burns could be in line for a rare double. Set during the Troubles in Northern Island, Milkman was described by Ron Charles in the Washington Post as “one of the most challenging novels of the year”, but also as “one of the most rewarding.”

Ordinary People by Diana Evans is currently at 6/2, with Circe by Madeline Miller at 4/1.

Potential value in Pat Barker?

Of the shortlisted authors, Pat Barker is probably the most established. Best known for her Regeneration Trilogy, set during the First World War, Barker offers potential value at 6/1. Her novel The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of epic poem the Iliad, this time from the perspective of Briseis, a woman kept enslaved by Achilles. Emily Wilson in The Guardian called it “an important, powerful, memorable book that invites us to look differently not only at The Iliad but at our own ways of telling stories about the past and the present.

As Barker is now 76 years old, the judging panel may choose to take the opportunity to reward her, not just for this novel, but for a lifetime of impressive work.