The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2017 has been announced, and there are some amazing books and authors listed.
We were promised 12 books but have been given 16, which just goes to show how good the past 12 months have been for women writers.
Making the list is Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, which has to be one of the most popular books of last year; it seems to have been everywhere. Great that it gets recognition here too.
Margaret Atwood, Eimear McBride, Annie Proulx, and Linda Grant are also on the longlist, as is Naomi Alderman, for her novel The Power.
Here’s the list in full:
- 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
As the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women from throughout the world, it’s great that today’s announcement coincides with International Women’s Day 2017.
Recently I’ve met a few male published writers who say they don’t read books written by women.
‘It’s not deliberate,’ one said. ‘I just read what interests me. I look at what’s influenced the writers I like. They’re usually men.’
‘Books by women don’t appeal to me,’ another said. ‘They’re not really that … good.’
Another asked me, ‘You don’t write … women’s fiction do you?’
If some men still have this attitude then it’s more important than ever that we celebrate writing by women. The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction does just that. I’m delighted that the shortlist for this year’s prize has now been revealed.
I will be reading and reviewing the six shortlisted books and celebrating fiction written by women. I’m looking forward to getting started!
Since its launch in 1996 the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has been celebrating the very best full length fiction written by women. With previous winners including A.M. Homes, Rose Tremain, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy and Carol Shields the prize has become one of the most respected and successful literary awards throughout the world. It celebrates excellence and originality in women’s writing.
It’s a prize that makes the publishing and literary world take notice, which is ironic really given publishers spent ten years ignoring the 2014 winner Eimear McBride. Had it not been for a chance meeting with a bookshop owner in Norwich, McBride’s debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing may never have been published, let alone win any prestigious awards. McBride, who grew up in Ireland before moving to the UK, wrote the novel when she was 27 and then spent more than a decade trying to get it published. It wasn’t until she met Norwich-based Galley Beggar Press that she found someone willing to take it on.
The novel is a fast-paced stream of consciousness that is better read in a few sittings to fully experience the intensity of the prose. The reader is plunged into the world of a young unnamed narrator who is trying to make sense of a life under the shadow of sexual abuse and illness. It’s not comfortable reading. In fact, there are moments that are so uncomfortable you may want to look away, but there is something so captivating and enthralling about the novel that you stay with it. You may emerge startled but the experience is worth it. It’s rare a first-time novelist can make such an impact, but McBride does just that. The language, voice and style are authentic. Despite McBride’s young age when she wrote it, you get the feeling that you’re in the company of an experienced writer. There is something to be admired about a young writer who knew what she wanted to write and did not change her novel just to get it published, even when the rejection slips were piling up.
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing may be a dark and difficult story but its language and style make it all the more powerful. It’s clever. It’s startling. It’s definitely a worthy winner of the women’s prize for fiction.