Dolores

2020 - Shortlisted

Shortlisted

Judges' comments

Dolores is a taut and moody novella about desire, female power and religion. A young woman arrives at a convent at the height of a European summer and collapses at the gates. After the nuns take her in, they discover she is pregnant. 

Curtis skilfully narrates the eight months that follow. In beautifully distilled scenes we move between life with the eccentric and tender nuns and Dolores’ childhood. We see Dolores transfixed by a statue of the Virgin in a Spanish basilica; we watch her imposing father transfigured by habitual ‘whisper prayers’. As Dolores revels in a newfound sexual power, she confides these ‘sins’ to her cousin Liliana, testing their precarious bond. In burnished prose, Curtis raises potent questions about how women control their bodies and destinies when subject to institutional forces.