Judge Andrew Holgate tried to explain the inaugural recognition, saying: “I’ve been a judge for all six awards and it is fitting, after seeing so many outstanding female authors on the shortlist each year, to see a woman writer picking up this award. The entrants are read anonymously in the early stages and we have discovered some really fresh new talent over the years, including this year the newcomer Rebecca F John.”
The Bookseller points out that Li has been shortlisted for the prize before. In 2011, her story “The Science of Flight” earned the Sunday Times’ notice. She has also been laureled with the MacArthur Foundation Award in 2010, and the 2005 Guardian First Book Award for her first short story collection A Thousand Years of Good Prayers which was adapted into a film. Also a PEN/Hemingway Award winner, Li was named to Granta‘s list of the 21 Best Young American Novelists under 35 and the New Yorker’s ’20 under 40’ names to watch. She was a Man Booker International Prize judge in 2013.