Feminist retellings of history dominate 2019 Women's prize shortlistHistorians in the News
tags: womens history, women in history, book prize
Novels reassessing the stories of women in history, from Pat Barker’s retelling of the Iliad to Anna Burns’s Booker-winning story of a teenage girl during the Troubles, dominate this year’s Women’s prize for fiction shortlist.
Barker, the British Booker prize-winning author famous for her Regeneration trilogy, is in the running for the £30,000 award with The Silence of the Girls, which tells the story of Briseis, a princess who is made a slave to Achilles, the man who killed her husband and brothers. Greek myth and legend are also retold by previous winner Madeline Miller in Circe, a twist on the story of the witch who seduces Homer’s Odysseus.
“The two tropes perpetually given to us in myths and stories are the beautiful, captive princess, and the evil witch who is too ugly for a man and therefore sits around trying to kill men. Here, you get those completely turned on their heard and see they are living women, that the patriarchal system has written their stories for them, and what the truth could be,” said chair of the judges Kate Williams.
“Suddenly we’re asking where are the women, what do the women think about this, which was ignored to a degree even 20 years ago. Anna Burns’s Milkman is doing it, too – the Troubles have been heavily covered but no one really talked about what the women were doing. We all know that history is written by the victors. These authors are pointing out these victors are men, even if women are on the winning side, because their stories have been written for them.”
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