Naomi Klein and Laura Cumming shortlisted for inaugural Women’s prize for nonfiction | Books

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Online conspiracy theories and AI are tackled in two of the six books on the inaugural Women’s prize for non-fiction shortlist.

Doppelganger by Guardian US columnist Naomi Klein, which explores conspiracies and far-right politics, and Code Dependent by Madhumita Murgia, about the impact of emerging AI technologies on society, were both shortlisted for the prize.

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Women’s prize for nonfiction shortlist 2024

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“Our magnificent shortlist is made up of six powerful, impressive books that are characterised by the brilliance and beauty of their writing and which each offer a unique, original perspective,” said judging chair and historian Suzannah Lipscomb. “The readers of these books will never see the world – be it through art, history, landscape, politics, religion or technology – the same again.”

Observer art critic Laura Cumming made the shortlist for Thunderclap, which looks at the early deaths of the artist Carel Fabritius and her painter father. “Cumming writes with the sureness of carefully laid paint,” wrote Kathryn Hughes in her Guardian review of the book. “This is not art historical scholarship of the academic kind – there are no footnotes or references to sources beyond her own feelings and intuition. It is an emotionally informed approach to art.”

The prize was launched last February in response to research which found that only 35% of books awarded a nonfiction prize over the past 10 years were written by women, across seven UK nonfiction prizes. The winner will be announced on Thursday 13 June and will receive £30,000.

Harvard historian Tiya Miles was also shortlisted for All That She Carried, which traces the history of a cloth sack passed from an enslaved woman to her daughter. Miles “finds a way to give voice to the wordless by using a mundane, domestic object – a cloth sack and its contents – to thread an extraordinary tale through the generations,” wrote Colin Grant in his Guardian review of the book. “Like a literary detective or lawyer, Miles sets out to trace the narrative of the women whose lives were bound by the sack.”

Noreen Masud was shortlisted for A Flat Place, which links Britain’s landscapes to her childhood trauma. “I love this for its originality and its intelligence,” said judge and writer Kamila Shamsie. “It is revelatory about both people and places.”

Completing the shortlist is How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair, about the poet’s rigid Rastafarian upbringing and her struggle to break free. The book is “an electrifying memoir that embraces not only the role of women within Rastafari culture, but also what it means to grow up poor in a ‘paradise’ scarred by slavery and colonialism,” wrote Hephzibah Anderson in the Guardian.

Joining Lipscomb and Shamsie on the judging panel were fair fashion campaigner Venetia La Manna, writer and academic Nicola Rollock and biographer Anne Sebba.

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The shortlist was chosen from a longlist of 16 titles. Longlisted titles that did not make the shortlist were The Britannias by Alice Albinia, Vulture Capitalism by Grace Blakeley, Eve by Cat Bohannon, Intervals by Marianne Brooker, Shadows at Noon by Joya Chatterji, Some People Need Killing by Patricia Evangelista, Wifedom by Anna Funder, Matrescence by Lucy Jones, The Dictionary People by Sarah Ogilvie and Young Queens by Leah Redmond Chang.

To browse all of the books on the shortlist visit guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.



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