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2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction Winner Announced

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Pierce Alquist

Senior Contributor

Pierce Alquist is a transplanted New Yorker living and working in the publishing scene in Boston. Don’t worry if she fooled you, the red hair is misleading. She’s a literature in translation devotee and reviewer and lover of small, independent presses. A voracious traveler and foodie, you can find her in her kitchen making borscht or covered in red pepper paste as she perfects her kimchi recipe.

Celebrating excellence, originality, and accessibility in writing by women in English from across the world and now in its 25th year, the Women’s Prize for Fiction has announced its 2020 winner: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. In a virtual ceremony, the Women’s Prize for Fiction paid homage to every past winner in its 25 years, celebrated the shortlist, and—after the announcement—interviewed Maggie O’Farrell with questions from a virtual audience.

Acclaimed writer Maggie O’Farrell’s latest novel Hamnet is set in England in the 16th century and was inspired by the life and death of Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet. Historians believe that Hamnet died from the plague, and O’Farrell’s poignant and timely novel explores family, grief, and loss. In her announcement, Chair of the Judges Martha Lane Fox said that “Hamnet, while set long ago, like all truly great novels expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring.”

Hamnet was chosen from a powerhouse shortlist that included Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, Dominicana by Angie Cruz, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, and Weather by Jenny Offill.

The 2020 judging panel includes chair Martha Lane Fox; writer and activist Scarlett Curtis; writer and activist Melanie Eusebe; co-founder of the Black British Business Awards, author, and comedian Viv Groskop; and Paula Hawkins, international bestselling author of The Girl on the Train.

Want even more recommendations for incredible books by contemporary women writers? Check out the complete longlist:

2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist Announced