This New Award Honors Thrillers That Don’t Rely on Violence Against Women
There’s honestly no way to sugar coat this: violence against women in fiction is at “a ridiculous high.” So much so that there’s a new literary prize being given out for the best thriller “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.”
Founded by author and screenwriter Bridget Lawless, the Staunch book prize will start accepting entries next month, with the winner announced on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Lawless is funding the £2,000 prize herself because she’s passionate about women and ending violence against them, even/especially in the literary world. The author said she was moved to launch the prize after seeing the number of films featuring rape as a plot device at last year’s British Academy Film (BAFTA) awards. Despite having a vote in the awards, she abstained. To The Guardian, Lawless said:
I thought, I can do one small thing. I thought I’d start with books. They are a source for so much material, and if I can have a tiny bit of influence there, it will help. There are so many books in which women are raped or murdered for an investigator or hero to show off his skills … This is about writers coming up with stories that don’t need to rely on sexual violence. Is there no other story?
Lawless further clarified her purpose on the prize’s website, writing:
It’s way past time for something more original. As violence against women in fiction reaches a ridiculous high, the Staunch book prize invites thriller writers to keep us on the edge of our seats without resorting to the same old cliches – particularly female characters who are sexually assaulted (however ‘necessary to the plot’), or done away with (however ingeniously).
The Staunch book prize will disqualify work that does not meet its standard of no women in the story being “beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered,” and is open to stories across the thriller genre, including crime, psychological, comedy, and mystery.