Women's Prize shortlist ranges from books on plague in Shakespeare's time to modern-day climate anxiety

Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet (left) and Hilary Mantel's The Mirror And The Light are among the novels up for the Women's Prize for Fiction. PHOTOS: HEADLINE, 4TH ESTATE

Maggie O'Farrell's novel Hamnet, an eerily timely tale named for William Shakespeare's son who died amid a bubonic plague outbreak, is up for the Women's Prize for Fiction against Hilary Mantel's historical heavyweight The Mirror And The Light and Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo's polyphonic Girl, Woman, Other.

The shortlist for the prestigious British award, which was released on Wednesday (April 22), also includes Jenny Offill's Weather, about a woman with rising climate anxiety; Angie Cruz's Dominicana, about an immigrant child bride; and Natalie Haynes's A Thousand Ships, a feminist retelling of the Trojan war.

The £30,000 (S$52,700) prize, previously known as the Orange Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote international fiction by women throughout the world.

It will be awarded to the best full-length novel of the year, written in English by a woman and published in the United Kingdom between April 1 last year and March 31 this year.

How We Disappeared by Lee Jing-Jing, the first Singaporean to be long-listed for the award, did not make the shortlist. Neither did other much-lauded titles such as The Dutch House by former Women's Prize winner Ann Patchett or Jacqueline Woodson's Red At The Bone.

The winner's ceremony, originally on June 3, has been postponed to Sept 9 due to the coronavirus.

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