Martha Lane Fox, chair of the judging panel, said: “We are all living in challenging, sad and complex times so incredible stories provide hope, a moment of escape and a point of connection now more than ever. Choosing the shortlist was tough – we went slowly and carefully and passions ran high – just as you would want in such a process. But we are all so proud of these books – all readers will find solace if they pick one up.”
Dominicana is inspired by Cruz’s mother who, as a teenager, emigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York City. The novel offers a gritty insight into the sacrifices people make to get US citizenship and the hard-nosed choices forced on them. Having a baby is framed as an economic wager, “gold in the bank”, because it comes with a blue passport. Still, the harsh reality of immigration is balanced with a refreshing dose of humour — “No sex tonight. What a relief” — and honesty. Ana just wants a new coat with fur around the collar; she wants to flaunt some dollars and dress like a movie star.