The Women’s Prize for Fiction, the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by a woman, today announces the 2013 shortlist.

Now in its eighteenth year – and known from 1996 to 2012 as the Orange Prize for Fiction – the Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women from throughout the world.

Kate Atkinson: Life After Life
A.M Homes: May We Be Forgiven
Barbara Kingsolver: Flight Behaviour
Hilary Mantel: Bring Up the Bodies
Maria Semple: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Zadie Smith: NW

For the first time, this year’s shortlist includes two previous winners of the Orange Prize; Barbara Kingsolver who won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010 for The Lacuna, and Zadie Smith who won in 2006 for On Beauty.

After an exhilarating meeting, all the judges were in agreement that this is an exceptional year for women’s fiction,” commented Miranda Richardson, Chair of judges. “The shortlist for 2013 represents six tremendous writers at the top of their game. Their individual novels are flawlessly presented, they contain a heady mix of ideas and without exception take the reader on a unique and deeply satisfying journey.”

Set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote international fiction by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible, the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 is awarded for the best novel of the year written by a woman. Any woman writing in English – whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter – is eligible.

The winner will be presented with a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze statue known as ‘the Bessie’, created by artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.

The award ceremony will take place in The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, on 5 June 2013.