Arundhati, activist in race for prize

Arundhati Roy (top) and Meena Kandasamy

London: The sixteen nominees for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction have just been named with something old, something new from the Indian point of view.

Old in terms of being established, that is.

Arundhati Roy, 56, is in the running for the £30,000 prize for her second novel, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness. This was on the Booker longlist last year but did not make it on to the shortlist.

The new is represented by Meena Kandasamy, 33, a poet, fiction writer and activist based in Chennai on such causes as caste, corruption, violence and women's rights.

She has attracted attention for her tale of a violent marriage, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife - just the sort of book that might be a contender in the year of Time's Up.

The British Pakistani author, Kamila Shamsie - like Roy, she did not progress from the Booker longlist to the shortlist last year - is nominated for Home Fire. The Women's Prize for Fiction is described as "the UK's most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman".

Founded in 1996, the prize - previously known as the Baileys Prize after its sponsor - was set up to celebrate excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world.

This year's prize is awarded for the best full-length novel published in the UK between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018.

The shortlist will be announced on April 23 and the winner on June 6.

The panel of five judges includes BBC journalist Anita Anand, who has been vocal about equal pay at the corporation.

She has written non-fiction books about Princess Sophia, Maharajah Duleep Singh's rebel daughter who was an unlikely figure in the suffragette movement, and also about the Koh-i-Noor diamond, co-authored with William Dalrymple.

The other judges are Sarah Sand, editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme; actress Imogen Stubbs, comedian Katie Brand and Women's Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer. Sand is the head of the panel.


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