Today is International Women’s Day, this year the theme is #PledgeForParity and the Baileys Women’s Prize certainly does a lot to advance that challenge, with their ambition to bring the best women’s writing and female storytellers to ever-wider audiences.
In selecting the following 20 titles for the longlist the Chair of Judges Margaret Mountford shared that:
“We had a hugely enjoyable and stimulating meeting, as there were a great many strong novels in contention. We are delighted with the quality, the imaginative scope and the ambition of our chosen books, a longlist which reflects the judges’ interests and tastes. We hope readers will enjoy the variety of outstanding work on offer.”
Half the longlist are debuts, they represent seven nationalities, four previous shortlisted authors and the first Zimbabwean author to be longlisted for the prize.
The longlisted books are as follows:
Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins – Teddy, would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather, whom we met in her previous book Life after Life navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century.
Shirley Barrett: Rush Oh! – Australia 1908, Mary supports her father’s boisterous whaling crews during a harsh season, while caring for five brothers and sisters in the wake of their mother’s death.
Cynthia Bond: Ruby – Heart-breaking tragedy and graphic abuse in lyrical prose, Ruby escapes her past only to have to return and it doesn’t sound as pretty as she is.
Geraldine Brooks: The Secret Chord – a retelling of the story of King David, one I’ve read and reviewed.
Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – the first in a sci-fi series, a martian woman, an alien pilot and a pacifist captain, humanity a minor player in this fun and sometimes dangerous adventure.
Jackie Copleton: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding – A woman opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, who perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki, with a collection of sealed private letters…
Rachel Elliott: Whispers Through a Megaphone – Miriam, who whispers, hasn’t left the house in 3 years, and today has had enough, she will venture out. Ralph discovers his wife doesn’t love him and runs away. They meet.
Anne Enright: The Green Road – the story of Rosaleen, Irish matriarch of the Madigan family, and her four children, spanning 30 years and three generations. The battles we wage for family, faith, and love.
Petina Gappah: The Book of Memory – Memory, an albino woman imprisoned in Harare, Zimbabwe, has been convicted of the murder of her adopted father. A tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, the treachery of memory.
Vesna Goldsworthy: Gorsky – A modern Gatsby set amongst contemporary London’s über-rich Russians.
Clio Gray: The Anatomist’s Dream – Born with a defect, abandoned by parents, he joins a carnival, finding friendship among an assortment of ‘freak show’ artists, magicians and entertainers, then meets someone who recommends a cure.
Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time – four lives, the importance of community, our relationship to nature, belonging and the freedom of the unknown, contemplative, for fans of compelling nature writing.
Attica Locke: Pleasantville – legal thriller set during a dangerous game of shadowy politics, a missing girl, election night, a tussle for power, sounds like a TV series, oh yes, she writes those too.
Lisa McInerney: The Glorious Heresies – a messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Dark humour explores Irish 20th C attitudes to sex, family.
Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen – Set in Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old values, amid the threat of looming wars. Humorous, contemporary family saga with a cute squirrel cover!
Sara Nović: Girl at War – Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana is a carefree tomboy playing in the streets of Croatia, civil war breaks out, tragedy, guerilla warfare, the world child soldiers, a daring escape plan.
Julia Rochester: The House at the Edge of the World – Father of teenage twins falls off a cliff,drunk, soon after their lives separate, they return, delving into the past, their grandfather’s mysterious, painted family record created over an ordnance chart, a lyrical journey through character ad mystery of family.
Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability of Love – A character getting over a broken heart, the discovery and mystery of an old painting, a lost masterpiece by an 18th C French artist, a melange of entertaining stories, voices, characters, points of view.
Elizabeth Strout: My Name is Lucy Barton – Lucy is visited by her mother, whom she hasn’t spoken to in years, while recovering from an operation, a story of family, damaged relationships, unspoken childhood events, coming to terms with the past, navigating the future, keenly observant, deeply human, unforgettable.
Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life – follows the complicated relationships of four men over decades in NYC, their joys and burdens, Jude’s journey to stability, scarred by a horrific childhood with its prolonged physical and emotional effects.
Voila! The final list of 20 novels, I have only read one and it wasn’t my cup of tea, there are lots of new names in the list for me, as well as the familiar. Elizabeth Strout’s new novel looks promising, At Hawthorn Time looks like my kind of book, I’m intrigued by The Book of Memory and Anne Enright’s is bound to be great reading and writing and I’m definitely going to read Kate Atkinson’s follow-up novel eventually.
For a more comprehensive short review of al these titles, check out the link to The Irish Times article below:
No idea who will win but this is the gems are!
Which book(s) appeals to you from the list?
Article in Irish Times: Lisa McInerney and Anne Enright on Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist
Purchase A Book:
If you wish to buy one of the above books, you can do so via the Book Depository link below, with who I have become affiliated.