The 2023 Fiction Shortlist


NoViolet Bulawayo

Chatto & Windus

A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animal denizens lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals – along with a new leader. Glory tells the story of a country seemingly trapped in a cycle as old as time. And yet, as it unveils the myriad tricks required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, it reminds us that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it.

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Scary Monsters

Michelle de Kretser

Allen & Unwin

Lyle works for a sinister government department in near-future Australia. An Asian migrant, he fears repatriation and embraces ‘Australian values’. Lili’s family migrated to Australia from Asia when she was a teenager. Now, in the 1980s, she’s teaching in the south of France.

Three scary monsters – racism, misogyny and ageism – roam through the novel, its reversible format enacting the disorientation that migrants experience when changing countries.

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Pure Colour

Sheila Heti

Harvill Secker

A woman named Mira leaves home to study. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira’s chest like a portal – to what, she doesn’t know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and she enters that strange and dizzying dimension that true loss opens up. Pure Colour tells the story of a life, from beginning to end.

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Daisy Hildyard

Fitzcarraldo Editions

Stuck at home alone under lockdown, a woman recounts her 1990s childhood in rural Yorkshire. She watches a kestrel hunting, helps a farmer with a renegade bull, and plays outside with her best friend, Clare. Around her in the village her neighbours are arguing, keeping secrets, caring for one another, trying to hold down jobs. In the woods and quarry there are fox cubs fighting, plants competing for space, ageing machines, and a three-legged deer who likes cake. Emergency reinvents the pastoral novel for the climate change era.

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Lucy By the Sea

Elizabeth Strout

Lucy, the indomitable heroine of My Name is Lucy Barton and Oh, William!, is uprooted from her life in New York City and reluctantly goes into lockdown with her ex-husband William in a house on the coast of Maine.

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