In this episode, Andrea and Annabelle go on a quick pit-stop tour of the six novels on the Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist - you can expect everything from a mystery story in an ocean-filled mansion to cautionary tales in Barbados, with a side helping of fun facts about authors, and a weird story about what watching The Exorcist 72 times does to a man.
Piranesi lives in a house so vast it has weather systems and tides, with one other nameless person, aptly titled 'The Other'. It's weird, and wonderful, and full of intrigue and Annabelle might start a fan club for the book, which also featured on our Best Books of the Year episode with Mark Fiddes.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Andrea's favourite on the list is a multigenerational fiction tale about the ramifications of pretending to be something that you're not, which explores the lives of two twin sisters in the US from the 1950s to 1990s - one who lives life as a black woman, and one who 'passes' for white. This also featured on 'And the Award for the Best Supporting Character Goes To' episode with Jasper Fforde.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
A PhD student navigates scientific research into the opioid addiction that took her brother's life while grappling with the fraught relationship she has with her Ghanian Mum who feels out of place in Huntsville, Alabama.
No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
A tale of two halves with an experimental first act that reads in the style of a twitter thread with plenty of wit and internet-savvy humour. It jerks you in a completely different narrative direction in the second half when tragedy strikes the title character IRL.
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
Two impoverished twins barely scrape together an existence in their crumbling home until the death of their mum reveals secrets that make them question everything they've ever known.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
There is trouble in paradise in this Barbados-set story of three marriages, a cautionary tale, and the sacrifices that some women make to survive.
Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.
Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.