The Women’s Prize for Fiction has said that it is working on and to clarify its policy around gender fluid, transgender, and non-binary writers after featuring non-binary author Akwaeke Emezi on its latest longlist for their novel Freshwater.
Chair of Trustees Joanna Prior was keen to stress that the Trust was comfortable that all sixteen authors on this year’s longlist were eligible but noted the need to clarify the criteria for the future.
Prior stated to the Bookseller this week that “Like many organisations, the Women’s Prize Trust is now working to formulate a policy around gender fluid/transgender/ transgender non-binary writers to provide clarity for the Prize in the future.”
Emezi is the first non-binary trans person to be nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the prize’s history and is nominated for their debut novel, Freshwater. After the nomination a number of media outlets focused on the author’s gender and background with The Times newspaper in the UK running a piece about Emezi and questioning the criteria for the prize. The report in the Times stated that Emezi had criticised the jury after one of the judges wrote in The Guardian newspaper that the author had identified as a woman, however, Faber’s editorial director Louisa Joyner has said that is not the case.
In an interview with Brittlepaper, Emezi confirmed that rather than being a man in a woman’s body, they feel like neither and had their uterus removed five years ago.
Joyner shared an open letter to the Times stating “The Women’s Prize set out to directly address gender bias and has done so with genuine political and cultural force to give a platform (and a microphone) to those who, prior to its foundation, were hugely under-represented in a mainstream media that failed to identify its own gender bias. What could be more in keeping with this than for the Women’s Prize to accept a submission from a novelist who self-identifies in a way that rejects normative gender paradigms? The claim that Emezi identified as a woman at the time of the novel’s publication, as referenced in the [Times] article, is false.”
One of the judges, Professor Kate Williams previously told the Guardian that the judges were not aware of Emezi’s gender identity when they selected Freshwater but they did check that Emezi was happy to be longlisted before they made the announcement.
Freshwater is Emezi’s debut novel, and is fairly new to the literary scene. The author was born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria. Emezi is also a video artist and received an MPA from New York University and won the 2015 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship as well as the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa.
The main literature prize this year goes to Richard Powers for his novel, The Overstory, described as “an ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them.”
Here’s that and the other Pulitzer Prize winners for literature 2019.
This week, the 2019 Man Booker International Shortlist was announced and we have those six books here for you now.
The award seeks to recognise and celebrate Australian women’s writer’s contribution to literature, bring more readers to books by woman, equip young readers with the skills to question gender disparities and challenge stereotypes in publishing. Each year one female writer receives a $50,000 prize and the 2019 winner has been announced.
The award is supported by Amazon, and the National Literacy Trust and searches for the best children’s stories that Oscar would have loved. This year’s winner will be announced on 9th May but the shortlist for the 2019 prize has just been announced and we have that for you here.
The prize was created in 1918 when Janet Tait Black née Coats, part of the renowned threadmaking family J & P Coats, made provision in her will for the creation of two book prizes, to be awarded annually in memory to her husband, James Tait Black. Read More
On the two previous occasions the prize has been cancelled, a double award has been issues on the following year, and now that the Nobel Academy has reformed after the scandal it’s announced that there will be two Nobel Prizes for Literature awarded this year.