With five Jewish writers nominated for the annual Women’s Prize for Fiction, sheer probability alone would have meant at least one would make the shortlist.
In the event, only A M Homes remains a contender for the £30,000 award— formerly called the Orange Prize — after Francesca Segal, Shani Boianjiu, Deborah Copaken Kogan and Sheila Heti failed to make the cut this week.
Ms Homes, in contention for her novel May We Be Forgiven, faces stiff competition from multi-award winner Hilary Mantel and other nominees. She will find out if she has won at a Royal Festival Hall ceremony on June 5.
The American writer, who has seven novels to her name, was adopted by a Jewish family. Unusually for her work, May We Be Forgiven, has an explicitly Jewish subject matter, including a Jewish protagonist, who faces questions of religion. Ms Homes has compared it to the Coen Brothers film A Serious Man, which was in part inspired by the biblical story of Job.
In a recent interview, she revealed that she has been considering “the notion of faith or the belief or need for some kind of spiritual or communal life” for several years.
“In this book, there is a Jewish theme that I hadn’t ever risked exploring before. In some ways I was afraid to do it because I thought this will be my Jewish book and people will be upset by that. But the truth, is that I’m incredibly happy about it.”