The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is a wonderful annual competition that recognises the best in women’s writing.
Every year, it has to fend off claims it’s not needed and that its positive discrimination towards female writers does nothing to help the feminist cause. I’d argue exactly the opposite. When the majority of books published are still written by men, we need a prize dedicated to raising the profile of female authors.
Plus, I will always have a soft spot for this prize as it turned me into the book blogger I am today after our book club shadowed it last year for The Ready Agency. We’re not official shadow judges this year, but I can still get completely obsessed by the prize, right?
This year’s longlist has 16 wonderful books on it. It’s great to see a real mixture of talent – from stalwarts like Margaret Atwood, previous winners like Eimear McBride and debut authors like Emma Flint.
It’s an eclectic bunch of books and a fascinating gaggle of writers. (Apparently, there is no official collective noun for authors. What a missed opportunity. Leave your suggestions in the comments below!).
Let’s see who’s on the list:
Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
Little Deaths, Emma Flint
The Mare, Mary Gaitskill
The Dark Circle, Linda Grant
The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride
Midwinter, Fiona Melrose
The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso
The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
Barkskins, Annie Proulx
First Love, Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien
The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain
Crickey! I told you it was good.
The six books to reach the shortlist will be announced on Monday 3 April. I can’t wait, and I intend to read and review them all before the prize is announced on 7 June.
There’s also a fantastic opportunity to hear the six shortlisted authors talk about their books at the shortlist readings in London on 5 June. Unfortunately, I’ll be in Morocco on honeymoon so I can’t attend (don’t tell my fiance I wrote that). Although if my attempts to get there last year are anything to go by, perhaps it’s for the best.
It’ll be really interesting to see who the judges pick for the shortlist.
I hope Emma Flint gets on there as her book Little Deaths is one of my favourites of the year so far. For me, The Essex Serpent is very overrated and I’d prefer it not to make the top six.
Do you have any favourites? Let me know your shortlist predictions in the comments below.
I’m so excited for Monday’s announcement – which is going to dictate my reading life for the next few weeks. I’ll be in London on Monday when it’s announced and I’m going to treat myself to a little trip to the Baileys Book Bar in Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road to celebrate. It’s the last year Baileys is sponsoring the prize so it would be rude not to.
Come back next week so the full lowdown on the six books that made the shortlist for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.