Torrey Peters has been nominated for the £30,000 prize for fiction, making her the first trans woman ever to be put forward for the award.
American author Torrey’s debut novel Detransition, Baby has been described by reviewers and judges as “witty, elegant and rigorously plotted”, “a visceral, funny exploration of sex and gender”, and a “modern comedy of errors”.
The story follows Reese, a trans woman, and her ex-partner Ames who went through the process of detransitioning, and has an affair with a cis woman Katrina who becomes pregnant.
The welcome addition of Torrey Peters comes after prize organisers clarified rules last year that the nominations will include “cis woman, a transgender woman, or anyone who is legally defined as a woman or of the female sex”.
“It’s a prize for women, and trans women are women, so …” said Bernardine Evaristo, author and chair of judges.
“The women’s prize is for women’s fiction. It doesn’t say it’s for literary fiction. People sometimes assume that’s what the prize is about, but actually, it’s not, and there are brilliant writers out there who wouldn’t necessarily be classed as literary writers, but they’re really good storytellers. I love the fact that we have Dawn French and Ali Smith, and they both do something very different with their work.”
The blurb reads:
“Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese–and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby–and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it–Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family–and raise the baby together?
This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.“