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Author of the year with an interesting take on feminism. Uncompromising but funny: Kirstin Innes on Pragya Agarwal

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They are women who have enjoyed a landmark 12 months that has helped shape Scotland and the world.

We asked our women of the year to name theirs.


Award-winning novelist and journalist Kirstin Innes picks Dr Pragya Agarwal, who released two acclaimed books in the space of two months, as her woman of the year.

Innes, whose novel Scabby Queen, a favourite of the First Minister, was Waterstones’ Scottish book of the month in May after its release in paperback was blown away when behavioural scientist Agarwal swiftly followed (M)otherhood: On The Choices Of Being A Woman with a children’s book, called Standing Up To Racism.

“(M)otherhood was a phenomenal and honest book about her own experiences of being a mother,” said Innes. “The book ties together her lived motherhood experiences with the way we as a society think of the bodies that actually do the mothering, and the way that not all bodies are equal, whether that’s through race or gender intersections.”

Innes, whose debut novel, Fishnet, won The Guardian’s Not The Booker prize in 2015 and was praised by The New York Times for its depiction of sex workers as “women with rich inner lives and interests”, praised Agarwal’s smart approach.

“I like her because she has a lot of anger and a lot of thought and she’s a very intelligent, well-thought-out voice, with a really interesting take on feminism,” she added.

Of Standing Up To Racism, Innes, who was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s National Book Awards for Scabby Queen, said: “It’s a very simple, lift-the-flap book but it’s really helped me, as my kids are at that age, three and five, where they are starting to notice differences in other people.

“It’s a great tool to helping children to think about racism from quite an early age and it’s pitched really well and cleverly.

“I love her online presence as well. She’s very uncompromising but really funny with it.”