The Women's Book prizes for non-fiction and fiction winning books, Doppelganger by Naomi Klein and Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan, along with the statuettes for the two prizes.

Women’s Prize Winners 2024

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 26 June 2024 > What's On

Britain’s Women’s Prizes for 2024 have been awarded. The prize for fiction goes to American author V. V. Ganeshananthan for Brotherless Love, set during the Sri Lankan civil war. And the non-fiction prize, awarded at the same time this year, goes to Canadian author Naomi Klein for Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World, about how being regularly mistaken for another, very different writer taught her about our polarised societies, conspiracy theories and social media. 

Brotherless Love, follows the life of a Tamil teenager Sashi. In 1981, she is 16, lives in a family of four brothers, and dreams of being a doctor. But she gets caught up in the civil war which opposed the country’s Tamil minority to the Singhalese-dominated government from the early 1980s until 2009.

By 2009, when the prologue is set, Sashi has become a doctor, but in New York, and is getting in touch with a man she knew at school.

“We were civilians first. You must understand: that word, terrorist, is too simple for the history we have lived— too simple for me, too simple even for this man. How could one word be enough? But I am going to say it anyway, because it is the language you know, and it will help you to understand who we were, what we were called, and who we have truly become.

We begin with this word. But I promise that you will come to see that it cannot contain everything that has happened. Someday the story will begin with the word civilian, the word home.”

V.V. Ganeshananthan receiving her prize.

This is V.V. Ganeshananthan’s second novel. Love Marriage, also set in Sri Lanka, was also longlisted for the Women’s Prize. She is a widely published journalist and teaches creative writing at the University of Minnesota.

You can read or listen to an extract of Brotherless Love.

These are the other books shortlisted for the fiction prize:

The shortlisted books for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2024.

Naomi Klein receiving her prize.

Naomi Klein has been writing articles and best-selling books about capitalism and climate justice since her 1999 book No Logo became a worldwide hit. She’s an activist and Professor of Climate Justice at the University of British Columbia. But in 2011, she first realised she was being confused with American journalist and author Naomi Wolf, whose 1990 feminist book The Beauty Myth launched her career.

This wasn’t such a big problem until the age of social media and the COVID lockdowns, when the confusion was much more widespread and Wolf had taken to espousing conspiracy theories. Like a scab you can’t help scratching, Klein kept reading the theories that were being attributed to her, but which came from the woman she began to think of her Doppelganger.

“Doppelgangers are not the only way we can lose control over ourselves, of course. The carefully constructed self can be undone in any number of ways and in an instant— by a disabling accident, by a psychotic break, or, these days, by a hacked account or a deep fake. This is the perennial appeal of doppelgangers in novels and films: the idea that two strangers can be indistinguishable from each other taps into the precariousness at the core of identity— the painful truth that, no matter how deliberately we tend to our personal lives and public personas, the person we think we are is fundamentally vulnerable to forces outside of our control.”

You can read or listen to an extract of Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World.

These are the other books shortlisted for the non-fiction prize:

The shortlisted books for the Women's Prize for Non-Fiction 2024.