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    Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

    Published on 10/03/2014 by David Birkett

    The household names in the world of book awards are the tip of a large and very diverse iceberg.  In the course of one regular book trade newsletter, for example, we read announcements regarding the Petrona Award for the best Scandinavian crime novel of the year, the Scottish Children's Book Awards and the Blue Peter Award.  The longlist for one of the most high-profile and prestigious awards, namely the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously known as The Orange Prize) was announced on Friday March 7th, on the eve of International Women’s Day.

     

    The 20-strong longlist provides a vast array of fictional territories and periods through which readers may wander, from 19th century India (The Strangler Vine) through Germany in World War II (The Undertaking) to an un-named British island in the present day (All the Birds Singing). This content is reflected in the highly cosmopolitan nature of the author list, in which there is a majority of Americans and Brits, but which also offers Irish, Antipodean, African and Pakistani women.  The subject-matter of the novels weighs heavily towards the historical (of various periods), while there are also several explorations of families and of secrets in various forms, and of the processes and psychological and emotional consequences involved in unexpected physical transitions.

    Cheeringly, independent publishers - some very definitely at the smaller end of the spectrum (including the two-year old, fabulously named Galley Beggar Press) - represent over one third of the list, which in turn means there is a healthy sprinkling of relatively unknown authors among the household names.  The latter include the famously un-prolific Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch) and (we would hazard to guess) most people’s favourite Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood (the palindromic Maddaddam, which concludes her splendid dystopian trilogy on genetics and human identity).  The current Man Booker Prize-winner (The Luminaries) is highly-tipped to scoop a double.

    The longlist will be skilfully whittled down to six during the next phase of judging, before the winner is announced on June 4th.  In the meantime, may we mention that you can order these books (and many more) from The Great British Bookshop.

     

    The 2014 longlist

    Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood

    The Dogs of Littlefield - Suzanne Berne

    The Shadow of the Crescent Moon - Fatima Bhutto

    The Bear - Claire Cameron

    Eleven Days - Lea Carpenter

    The Strangler Vine - M.J. Carter

    The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton

    Reasons She Goes to the Woods - Deborah Kay Davies

    The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert

    Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

    The Flamethrowers - Rachel Kushner

    The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri

    The Undertaking - Audrey Magee

    A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing - Eimear McBride

    Almost English - Charlotte Mendelson

    Still Life with Bread Crumbs - Anna Quindlen

    The Burgess Boys - Elizabeth Strout

    The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

    All The Birds, Singing - Evie Wyld

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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