The Baileys Prize 2016 winner will be announced next week on June 8th! In case you need a reminder, the six books shortlisted for the prize are listed here where you can also listen to me and Simon from SavidgeReads discussing all of the books in a special Baileys Bearded Book Club podcast: http://lonesomereader.com/blog/2016/4/12/baileys-womens-prize-shortlist-2016
I want to emphasize that I don’t have any affiliation with the prize or publisher so all of my comments and posts about this prize come purely from being a committed reader and lover of great literature written by women.
It’s been fascinating discussing the books nominated for the prize with so many people this year. It’s really helped broaden my opinions about many of the books and hopefully I’ve inspired a few people to pick up books on the list they might not have read otherwise. My opinion has probably changed the most about Anne Enright’s “The Green Road” which is brilliantly and beautifully written, but I do now wonder how well it hangs together as a whole novel since different sections focus on self-contained moments in the family members’ lives. Nevertheless, it still stands as one of my favourite books that I read in 2015.
Compared to last year where I felt Ali Smith was the clear winner, I think it’s really difficult to guess which novel will win this year. “The Portable Veblen” is such a fantastically fun and clever read, but I think it’s too quirky to be considered the best out of all of them. Also, “A Little Life” is an incredibly compelling and moving novel, but it is perhaps too divisive to be unanimously agreed upon to be a winner. This might be why this novel keeps being nominated for prizes like the Booker but not actually winning them. I’ve heard some people say it’s a life changing experience and others say the author betrays her characters after a certain point in the book.
Now, I have to be honest. I haven’t read “The Improbability of Love” and it’s not that I haven’t tried. I started reading it… three times. Usually I give a book 50 pages before I decide to continue on or put it down. I couldn’t ever get past page 20 of this novel. It simply isn’t for me. Some readers who I respect did really enjoy reading it and felt it was a hilarious satire of both the pretensions of the art world and romantic chick-lit novels. Others have been equally unimpressed bit it. I found it too frustrating to read because it felt too trite and superficial. Interesting how almost every year there’s at least one of the books on the Baileys list I don’t get on with such as Rachel Cusk’s “Outline” last year which is a book many people loved, but I found ultimately unsatisfying. Strangely, it’s the books I like the least that drive some people to seek them out and read them out of curiosity.
I think the contest for this year’s prize is really between Cynthia Bond’s “Ruby” and Lisa McInerney’s “The Glorious Heresies”. Both are intense, original and wonderfully written novels. It’s a coin toss between them and in my video about the shortlist I make an instantaneous guess as to which I think will win. However, I could be totally wrong. I think it could really go to any of these novels. I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to the Baileys Prize ceremony so I’ll be fascinated to see who wins.
If you want to win a copy of the book that I think will win watch my video roundup of the prize, subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave a comment. The competition is open worldwide and I’ll keep it going until the end of June when I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments. Would you like to see me make more videos? It’s a new thing so I’m kind of nervous about it. Let me know what you think, what book you think will win the Baileys Prize and (if you haven’t read any of the shortlist yet) which book you’re most interested in reading.