I’ve said it before, but it really does feel like the first holiday of a year when the longlist for The Women’s Prize for Fiction gets announced. It’s one of my favourite book prizes and I love reading/discussing/debating all the titles this award honours. It’s particularly exciting that the prize this year is known under it’s new title The Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Baileys Prize.) Some weeks ago I made a video with my friend Anna about what books we’d like to see on the longlist for the prize. Between us we guessed 9 of the 16. You can watch me discuss my reaction to this year’s longlist here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DCtqkk_78&t=27s

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After I finish reading Joanna Cannon’s novel I’ll have six more on the list to read. I’ll be meeting with Naomi from TheWritesofWomen and other members of our Shadow Group to discuss the longlist and pick our own fan favourite shortlist/winner for the prize. So there’s a lot of fun discussion to come! Let me know in the comments what books from the longlist you’re eager to read or what you’d like to see win. The official shortlist will be announced on April 23rd and the winner will be announced on June 6th.

A lot of people will bemoan the fact Ali Smith’s “Winter” isn’t included on this list and its absence is a great shame. I have no special inside knowledge or insight into the judging process, but I’d just point out that we don’t know if the novel was even submitted for the prize. Novels that are eligible aren’t always put forward for a prize and there can be any number of reasons for this. That’s just part of the mysterious alchemy of book prizes!

For the books that I’ve already read and reviewed you can click on the titles below to see my full thoughts.

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

I’ve been following this wonderful book prize for a long time. In the past two years I’ve felt very certain about who will win the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction – and I’ve been right! Yay Ali Smith & Lisa McInerney! But this year I think it’s really tough to guess. There are five incredibly strong novels on this list (and one which made me go huh?) I could go through and list reasons why I think one book will be chosen above another, but to be honest it’s too close to call and I don’t think there’s a way of gauging a proper prediction. If I screw my thinking cap on really hard I’d deduce that Naomi Alderman’s “The Power” will win. But if I listen to my heart it’s telling me Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing” will win. So that’s the best guess I can make.

Who do you think will win? Are there any on the shortlist you’re still aching to read? Or have you studiously made your way through the entire list? 

I had brunch with the shadow panel organised by Naomi this morning and we had a good long chat about our own shortlist and chose one novel as our own panel winner. Our pick will be announced on Tuesday and the real prize's winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 7th! I'll be going to the ceremony and I'm very excited to see who will win. 

An exciting announcement this past week is that in the future this prize will be known as simply the 'Women's Prize for Fiction' rather than the Baileys Prize, as Baileys will now just be one of multiple sponsors. 

Click on the titles to read my full reviews of the shortlisted books and/or watch this video where the fabulous Anna James and I break down the Baileys Prize 2017 shortlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziwhLux3pqQ

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
First Love by Gwendoline Riley

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Because I’m such a big fan of the prize, I’ve tried to read the entire longlist of the Baileys Prize for the past several years. It was always a massive undertaking since the longlist used to include 20 novels. But, just when I thought the longlist had been cut down to a more manageable 12 novels, the announcement of the 2017 longlist revealed the judges had still chosen 16! So I haven’t been able to get to all the titles on the short time between the March 8th longlist announcement and the shortlist announcement on April 3rd. It’s been a particularly busy time for me as I’ve also been judging The British Book Awards, chairing a discussion about the new film adaptation of ‘The Sense of an Ending’ and going through the process of buying a new flat.

However, I have read a number of the longlisted novels and I'm still making my way through a couple more. I can now see why the judges had such trouble eliminating books from the list because it’s truly a really strong group of novels. Nevertheless, Anna James and I got together to debate the books on the longlist and come up with our shortlist predictions. You can watch that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4oEQ0lwi4

It’s interesting how “The Lonely Hearts Hotel” is turning out to be a novel as controversial as “A Little Life” which was shortlisted for last year’s prize. I'm having extremely engaging debates about the novels longlisted with the shadow panel I'm on. I only succeeded in guessing 3 novels correctly for my longlist predictions (but then I only limited myself to 12 guesses). So I’m hoping I do better with these shortlist predictions. Click on the titles below for my full reviews.

What novels do you think will be shortlisted?

The Gustav Sonata - Rose Tremain
Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien
The Lesser Bohemians - Eimear McBride
The Essex Serpent - Sarah Perry
The Power - Naomi Alderman
Stay With Me - Ayobami Adebayo

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It’s that time of year again and I am so excited to see what is on the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist as there have been so many amazing new novels by women recently. I’m aiming to read as many books on the list as possible with the shadow panel organized by Naomi, but I’m going to be busy reading books for another prize as well since I’m a judge in the Fiction category of this year’s British Book Awards.

But, in the mean time, here are my guesses for what will be on the Baileys longlist (because guessing is always fun, isn’t it?) I've only included titles I've read and I know there are a lot of great books eligible that I haven't read yet. Click on the titles below to read my full thoughts about these wonderful novels. As an added bonus, the always amazing Anna James and I got together to discuss our predictions and make a joint wish list. You can watch that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8jUlw6Lsd4&t=2s

So do you agree with my choices and who would you like to see make the longlist?

Prize dates and info:
Wednesday 8th March - longlist announcement
Monday 3rd April - shortlist announcement
Wednesday 7th June - winner announced
The prize is only open to novels by women published in English between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017.

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Midwinter by Fiona Melrose
Autumn by Ali Smith
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
The Lauras by Sara Taylor
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter

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Kate Mosse introduces the evening.

Kate Mosse introduces the evening.

After so much reading and discussion, the 2016 Baileys Prize Winner was announced last night! I was so thrilled to see that my predicted winner “The Glorious Heresies” took the Bessie statue and prize. The ceremony and party took place in the ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall which was packed with people and very warm. I had a fantastic evening alongside my good friend and journalist Uli from Gays the Word bookshop. Lots of lovely chat about literature with fellow book blogger/vloggers, booksellers, journalists and publishers. It was particularly a pleasure meeting author Cynthia Bond who is so humble and was as lovely as can be. Also, I spent some time talking with Ali Smith. We had a long conversation discussing animals for some reason where I talked about my passion for owls and she confided that her spirit animal is the pink fairy Armadillo which is native to Central Argentina. She’s never seen one in person but hopes to one day.

Not only is it a thrill to know that the energetic, creative and complex novel “The Glorious Heresies” will now get more deserved attention and be read more widely, but I also placed a cheeky little bet that it would take the award so I’m now pleased to find myself with an extra £45 in my pocket! Of course, the real point of the prize (rather than parties or gambling) is celebrating the voices of excellent female authors and all the involved discussion about great literature written by women. I’ve enjoyed following the prize so much because it’s introduced me to books I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. Interestingly the consensus amongst the shadow panel I was involved with was that Kate Atkinson’s novel “A God in Ruins” should have won the prize – even though this novel wasn’t even shortlisted. What do you think? Are there any books on the long or short list you would have preferred to see win? Let's keep the conversation going!

Lisa McInerney's acceptance speech.

Lisa McInerney's acceptance speech.

Photobooth snapshop with Uli.

Photobooth snapshop with Uli.

with Cynthia Bond author of "Ruby"

with Cynthia Bond author of "Ruby"

Thanks for letting me know your thoughts about the nominated books. There’s still time to win a copy of McInerney’s novel because I’m leaving this competition open until the end of June. Just comment on my BookTube video about the Baileys Prize shortlist and subscribe to my YouTube channel for a chance to win a copy of McInerney's stunning novel.

My first proper book video. I was a bit nervous. What do you think?

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.  

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It was a pleasure getting to meet and chat to author Lisa McInerney at the event

It was a pleasure getting to meet and chat to author Lisa McInerney at the event

After much speculation, the official Baileys Prize shortlist has been announced! As part of the Baileys Bearded Book Club duo, Simon and I had an excellent time at the shortlist announcement party at the Southbank Centre drinking Baileys cocktails while chatting with authors, journalists and booksellers.

I predicted three out of the six titles correctly. It's in many ways a surprising list as two of the authors are Irish, three are American and only one author is English. Established former Booker Prize winner & genius Anne Enright takes a rightful place alongside last year's Booker shortlisted and highly controversial novel by Hanya Yanagihara, but I was particularly excited to see Lisa McInerney's strong debut on the list. Elizabeth McKenzie's novel strikes a rare balance of being both entertaining and very intelligent. To be honest, I didn't expect it to make the long or shortlist but I'm delighted it's done so. I finally read the extraordinarily creative and moving novel Ruby this weekend and it's fantastic this prize will help Cynthia Bond find more of a UK audience after being read widely through Oprah's influence in America. The wild card is Hannah Rothschild whose novel is one of the four on the longlist that I didn't have time to read before the shortlist's announcement.

If you haven’t yet read some or any of these titles here are my one sentence story summaries to give you a taste. Click on the title to see my full review. The 2016 Baileys Prize winner will be announced on June 8th with readings from all the shortlisted authors the day before at the Cadogan Hall. Which are you most interested in reading next?

The Green Road by Anne Enright is about a family who have been geographically split apart for many years and are drawn back together by a charismatic matriarch.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is an epic tale of the life-long consequences of abuse and the commitment of real friendship. This is one of the most controversial novels published in recent years.

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney depicts several struggling individual lives in an economically depressed city’s violent underworld.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie is a slightly surreal take on a relationship between two people navigating their engagement and difficult families.

Ruby by Cynthia Bond depicts a community swayed by the power of religion and a resilient woman who won’t forget the children who have been lost.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild is the story of a love-lost woman thrust into the raucous high-end art world after discovering a long lost valuable painting.  

Listen to a podcast from The Readers where Simon and I discuss the Baileys Prize party and the shortlist:

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Can you guess the author on my tshirt?

Can you guess the author on my tshirt?

Phew! It’s been quite a marathon reading as much of the Baileys Prize longlist as I can, but I loved the challenge as I’ve read some great books published in the past year that I probably would have missed otherwise. The subjects and styles of the novels are so varied. From a heart wrenching account of a girl’s adolescence in the Croatian War of Independence in Sara Novic’s stunning novel to fascinating details of whaling in a small Australian town in Shirley Barrett’s novel to a tender burgeoning romance between a woman and an alien lizard in Becky Chambers’ fantastic scifi novel! And it got me to read my very first Kate Atkinson book. Now that I know why so many people love her I will definitely be reading more of her previous novels.

The best thing about this process has been all the bookish chat I’ve had about the longlisted books with people including Simon as part of the Baileys Bearded Book Club, the shadow panel organized by Naomi and many other great readers on Twitter, Goodreads, blogs and privately through emails. Thanks so much for sending your thoughts about the books on the list. It’s so interesting to hear how people have read these novels differently and how sharply opinions can divide. These responses have really helped me think about the books in a more complex way and I hope my posts have done the same for you or inspired you to pick up a book or two.

Here are my guesses for what six books will appear on the Baileys Prize shortlist which will be announced on the evening of Monday, April 11th. It’s a really tough decision! Please comment and let me know if you agree or if you are hoping to see other books from the longlist make it through.

Click on the titles below to read my full thoughts about each of these excellent novels.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
The Green Road by Anne Enright
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

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The Baileys Prize 2016 judges

The Baileys Prize 2016 judges

The Baileys Prize Longlist for 2016 has been announced and I couldn’t be more excited! After all the speculation and looking through the tremendous novels published by women in the past year here are the twenty chosen novels. There are some familiar books I’ve already read, some I’ve seen mentioned multiple times and others I’ve never even heard of! I correctly predicted five books that appear on the list and there are many more I'm eagerly looking forward to reading.

I’m thrilled to see Anne Enright, Elizabeth McKenzie, Sara Novic, Elizabeth Strout and Hanya Hanagihari on this list as I've already read and hugely enjoyed their novels. I’ve seen promising reviews of the books by Atkinson, Barrett, Brooks and Rochester. Plus I’m particularly excited about reading Lisa McInerney's novel as I was really struck by her short story in the anthology The Long Gaze Back.

Now for the exciting bit of the Baileys Bearded Book Club! Simon and I will be reading all the longlisted novels and sharing our thoughts with you along the way. We would absolutely love if you read along with us. I'll also be reading books as part of a shadow panel where we'll be debating the books privately and choosing our own winner. Last year we correctly guessed the winner. Will we do it again this year?

But which novel to start with first? What are you most excited to read from this wonderful list?

The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Girl at War by Sara Novic

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Whispers Through a Megaphone by Rachel Elliott

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy

The Anatomist’s Dream by Clio Gray

At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison

Pleasantville by Attica Locke 

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

The Baileys Prize shortlist will appear on April 11th and the winner will be announced on June 8th. Let's get reading!

Listen to a podcast from The Readers where Simon and I discuss why we love the prize and the longlist:

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The longlist for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced in a week and I am so thrilled because this is one of my favourite book prizes. How fantastic that this award recognizing exceptional women’s writing has been running for 20 years!

I always strive to read as much of the longlist as possible but I’ll be following it especially closely this year because the Baileys Prize have sponsored my friend Simon of SavidgeReads and I to form the Baileys Bearded Book Club. And we want you to get involved! (You don’t need a beard or male appendage to join in!) We’ll be reading as much of the official longlist as possible. We’d love for you to read along, let us know your thoughts and share in the excitement!

As I did last year, I’ll also be joining the fabulous Naomi of TheWritesofWomen and several other great readers/book bloggers to form a shadow panel for this year’s Baileys Prize. We’ll be reading the official longlist and formulating our own shortlist/winner separate from the judges’ choices. I’m hoping for lots of great debate and discussion. With so many great new books written by women in the past year, I think this year’s longlist will be truly exceptional. FYI, only novels published in English between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016 are eligible.

Here is my wish list for the 20 books which I predict will be longlisted for this year’s prize. It’s primarily made up of novels I’ve read and loved. Click on the titles in the list to read my full thoughts about them. There are six books I’ve not reviewed yet or still have to read which I think have a good chance of making the list. As an aside, if anthologies of short fiction were eligible surely The Long Gaze Back would be listed. It’s an exceptional book collecting a selection of 200 years worth of great Irish women’s writing and was one of my favourite books last year.

Do you agree with my choices or are there others you think/hope will be listed?

Mr Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates
The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The Gap in Time by Jeanette Winterson
Sophie and the Sibyl by Patricia Duncker
Girl at War by Sara Novic
My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
The Green Road by Anne Enright
Elemental – Amanda Curtin
Tender by Belinda McKeon
Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas
Martin John – Anakana Schofield
A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson

The 2016 Baileys Prize official longlist will be announced on March 8th, the shortlist on April 11th and the winner on June 8th! Let's stay tuned and get reading!

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction has turned twenty and to celebrate they are hosting a live event at the Piccadilly Theatre in London with past judges and readings by famous actors to debate books from the past 10 years and crown one as the “best of the best.” (They are only considering the past 10 winners because they had the same competition on the prize’s 10th anniversary.) Let me begin this post by stating the obvious. Each of these books is already a winner. These are all important novels that deserve to be celebrated – no matter my opinions about the quality of some over others. I’ve been a long-time fan of this prize and I revel in the opportunity to celebrate brilliant female authors. The point of this event and any prize is to debate and discuss books that deserve attention in a compassionate, caring and fun manner.

Choosing a favourite between these ten books is particularly hard because they are all so good. The only two out of these ten winners I haven’t read are “Home” by Marilynne Robinson and “The Road Home” by Rose Tremain. I need to rectify this as from reading Robinson’s novel “Lila” this year and Tremain’s book of short stories “The American Lover” last year, I admire how skilled and intelligent each of these novelists are so I should get to their prize-winning titles.

Maybe I should start by commenting on which books from the ten I liked the least or have stuck with me the least since reading them years ago. I remember Tea Obrecht’s “The Tiger’s Wife” to be a really imaginative and moving novel, but I can’t remember much detail about it. For me, the best fiction is that which makes a long-term impact where scenes or characters or quotes will stick with you for many years. Although I read Zadie Smith and Adichie’s novels years before Obrecht, I can still recall some things about these other novels better than “The Tiger’s Wife.” Perhaps if I were to revisit it I’d feel differently now.

I do remember certain scenes and characters from A.M. Homes “May We Be Forgiven” and, while there were aspects of it I admired, overall I didn’t think it worked totally as a novel. I’ve written about this novel on the blog before and I still believe that Homes' style of writing makes her a better short story writer than a novelist. When Homes book won in 2013, I had been hoping Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Flight Behaviour” would have won instead. Again, perhaps if I were to read the novel again my opinion would change.

It’s interesting that the winners for the past two years have been quite edgy, experimental novels. In “A Girl is a Half-formed Thing” Eimear McBride creates her own form of narrative that seeps out somewhere from the sub-regions of consciousness. It’s not speech or straightforward thoughts or an outside perspective, but the deep inner language of experience mixed with memory. Equally, Ali Smith is the triumphant trickster of language (as her new short story collection “Public Library” I reviewed yesterday again shows) and in “How To Be Both” she uses a specific form to get at subjects few other writers can. Not only does she make us question the multi-levelled meanings of words, but the construction under which we read since the book can be read from back to front or front to back. Plus it’s fun! It gets people talking and asking: which way did you read it around?

Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Lacuna” had me from the opening of the book. A boy likes to spend his days doing nothing but reading and snorkelling in the sea. This is my ultimate dream life! What follows is such a winding, beautifully-plotted novel with richly fascinating figures from history like Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky and J. Edgar Hoover who highlight some of the most important ideological struggles in the past century. This is a big novel that I was swept away by and didn’t want to end. Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles” is simply a gorgeous novel taking two mythological figures and creating for them a male-male love affair which is poignant and fully realistic. This is such a passionate, tragic and beautiful story which I totally fell for.

However, if I’m forced to pick one Best I think it would have to be Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun.” It’s a phenomenally epic novel that I believe to be one of the best novels about both love and war written in the past ten… twenty… however many years. The writing is precise. The scenes are vivid and memorable. The characters are lively where each one possesses complex, personal points of view. It gives the world a totally different perspective on a national tragedy by showing specific aspects of the civil war in Nigeria in the 60s as well as making universal statements about the victims of war. I was mesmerized reading it and finished feeling shaken by the story. It’s a classic. Tomorrow I’ll be fascinated to see if the judges agree with my choice.

So those are my thoughts about these novels. What do you think? Which would you choose as your best out of the ten?


Kate Mosse gives a fantastic summary of the prize’s history and the reason why it’s so important to have a fiction prize for women here.

Past judges have come back to discuss each book in turn on BBC’s Women’s Hour here.

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction site has a comprehensive reading guide for all ten winners here.

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After spending the last month reading as many of the twenty longlisted books for the Baileys Women’s Prize 2015 as I can, below are the official six shortlisted titles. I guessed 4 out of 6 correct. To be honest, I personally believe a few other books by writers like Newman, Taylor or Seiffert belong on this list more than Outline which is a fascinating book but not an emotionally-satisfying read for me. It’s been a pleasure being a part of the prize’s shadow panel to participate in discussions about each of these books. Reading concurrently with five other dedicated readers has been enjoyable and enlightening. Now the serious discussion (fighting) for the winner can begin! We’ll all be rereading these books in the coming weeks to then meet and decide upon our own champion.

Whichever book ultimately wins, I am so glad this prize has introduced me to a range of unique books I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. From Laline Paull’s outrageously original The Bees to Jemma Wayne’s ambitious take on the aftershock of war in After Before to Rachel Cusk’s fascinating chorus of voices in Outline to Grace McCleen’s elegant portrayal of madness in The Offering to Marie Phillips’ hilarious Arthurian tale The Table of Less Valued Knights to Sandra Newman’s challenging mighty tome The Country of Ice Cream Star. In my opinion, book prizes help us notice great literature we might have missed and the Baileys Prize has offered up a lot of excellence this year.

Click on the images for my reviews of each title. (except for Kamila Shamsie which I haven't reviewed yet) Who do you think will win?

 

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The shortlist for the Baileys Prize 2015 will be announced next week. Since the longlist announcement, the shadow panel and I have been reading feverishly and discussing the books in earnest. Sometimes we’ve agreed and sometimes we’ve been surprisingly divided about these novels! With twenty books on the longlist there is a great diversity in subject and writing style. Phew, it's been a race to read as much as we can before the shortlist announcement!

Using the judges' criteria I’ve come up with my own six shortlist choices. Four were clear favourites of mine. I mulled over five other books (each great in its own way) quite extensively trying to decide what other two should be on the shortlist. Finally, here are my choices in no particular order. It’ll be fascinating to see how accurately I’ve guessed the list and how my choices compare to those of my fellow judges on the shadow panel.

I have a clear favourite I want to win but I'm keeping my mouth shut for the time being. What books from the longlist do you think will appear on the shortlist? Who do you want to win? Please comment below! Also, links to my reviews for each book appear in the text below.

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The longlist has just been announced! It's a fascinatingly diverse group of books for this year's Baileys Women's Prize. I correctly guessed the below eight out of the twenty correctly. Click on the books for links to my reviews.

Lissa Evans: Crooked Heart 
Xiaolu Guo: I Am China
Emma Healey: Elizabeth is Missing
Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven
Rachel Seiffert: The Walk Home
Ali Smith: How to be Both
Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread
Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests

I've read positive things about these seven books, but haven't read them yet. 
Rachel Cusk: Outline
Samantha Harvey: Dear Thief
Grace McCleen: The Offering
Sandra Newman: The Country of Ice Cream Star
Laline Paull: The Bees
Kamila Shamsie: A God in Every Stone
Sara Taylor: The Shore

These final five books I've not even heard of before.
Patricia Ferguson: Aren’t We Sisters?
Heather O’Neil: The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
Marie Phillips: The Table of Less Valued Knights
Jemma Wayne: After Before
PP Wong: The Life of a Banana

Although I'm disappointed some of my favourites such as Marilynne Robinson, Joyce Carol Oates and Rachel Joyce didn't make it on I am really happy with the choice of longlist. I'm especially pleased to see three of my top ten books from last year on the list: Waters, Smith & Seiffert. I love how prizes like this give me an extra push to get to books that have been in my TBR pile for a while and also give me books I probably would have never found otherwise. After getting high recommendations from other bloggers on Newman, Paull and Shamsie's novels I'm probably going to start with these. However, I'm looking forward to reading through the rest of the list in the upcoming weeks and conferring with the other members of the shadow panel of judges. 

Posted
AuthorEric Karl Anderson

Next week on March 10th the long list for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction will be announced. I’m always excited about this prize which celebrates female writers, but I’m particularly enthusiastic this year because I’ve been asked to be part of a shadow panel alongside other bloggers and authors who will be reading books listed for the prize and debating about who the winner should be. This has been organized by the fantastic blogger Naomi over at TheWritesofWomen. She has made a list of predictions here as has fellow-panelist Dan here.

I’ve read so many fantastic novels by women in the past year it’s difficult to narrow down a list of what could be considered the best. The long list last year was 20 books strong so I’m giving a list of my 20 favourites below. Some of these books I loved so much I will be sorely disappointed if they aren’t on the list.

2015 Judges: Cathy Newman, Helen Dunmore, Shami Chakrabarti, Laura Bates and Grace Dent

2015 Judges: Cathy Newman, Helen Dunmore, Shami Chakrabarti, Laura Bates and Grace Dent

Last year I was shocked to see that Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World which was one of my books of the year wasn’t on the long list. Equally this year I think Marilynne Robinson’s "Lila" and Joyce Carol Oates’ "The Sacrifice" are both brilliant and really must be listed. There are also some great novels by writers like Rachel Seiffert, Susan Barker, Catherine Hall and Lissa Evans which I feel haven’t had the recognition that they deserve. I’m aware there are many novels such as "Some Luck" by Jane Smiley, "Euphoria" by Lily King and "Outline" by Rachel Cusk that I haven’t yet read and I’m sure when the real list comes out I’ll be reading some of them. But, for now, here are my predictions. I'd like to note that after the shortlist was announced in 2014, I did successfully predict that Eimear McBride would win so watch this space for future posts and predictions!

 

Click on the titles below to read my thoughts about each of these great reads:

The Walk Home – Rachel Seiffert
Upstairs at the Party – Linda Grant
Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
I Am China – Xiaolu Guo
The Incarnations – Susan Barker
House of Ashes – Monique Roffey
Thirst – Kerry Hudson
The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
How to be Both – Ali Smith
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce
The Sacrifice – Joyce Carol Oates
Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
The First Bad Man – Miranda July
The Chimes – Anna Smaill
A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler
The Repercussion – Catherine Hall
Academy Street – Mary Costello
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel
Crooked Heart – Lissa Evans
Lila – Marilynne Robinson

Have you read any of these books? Are there other books by female authors published in the last year you'd prefer to see on the list?

Posted
AuthorEric Karl Anderson
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