Thursday, April 24, 2014

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction - Shortlist

Earlier this month the shortlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction was announced. A. M. Homes was the winner of this prize in 2013. As you will know if you've been reading the blog for a while, she was one of my favourite discoveries last year. In fact she is attending the Sydney Writers' Festival next month and I am gutted I won't be there to see her. But I digress.

The point is, if A. M. Homes was awarded the Baileys Women's Prize for May We Be Forgiven, it makes me curious about the books that have been nominated this year - maybe among them lies another gem (or two)?

With no further ado, the nominees are:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
Hannah Kent – Burial Rites
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland
Audrey Magee – The Undertaking
Eimear McBride – A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch
Such a great line-up. And I'm also impressed with the choice of judges this year, especially the fact that Caitlin Moran is among them (I love her!). When I read this quote, from Denise Mina, it made me think I would like to sit down and have a drink with these women:

This list of six shortlisted books is a source of such pride to us judges, you might think we had done something more noble that just curling up, reading and loving them. This shortlist seemed to make itself known because we chose those books that we really, really loved. Not the ones we admired technically, or the cleverest ones, but those books that made us yelp with joy or sob on planes, the ones we’ve bought for friends and couldn’t wait to tell people about.


I think I can speak for all of the judges when I say that we’re so proud of the shortlist of six books, we’ve begun to talk as if we had some hand in producing them. That’s wrong. We didn’t. We feel that sense of ownership because great books are beguiling and make readers feel proprietorial. It’s not just that the books are individually fantastic, but the span of the shortlist, in subject matter, style and tone, is so textured and the standard so high, choosing just one as the winner will be like choosing between your children. If you decide to do the Full Marathon and read all six before we announce the winner on the 4th June, I’ll bet you feel the way we do. If you don’t have time for six, and pick three for the Half Marathon, let us know how you get on, keep us updated and tell us who you think should win, if you can!

- Denise Mina, WriterBaileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 Judge 

Isn't that brilliant? "We chose books that we really, really loved" - shouldn't that be exactly how book prizes are judged?

So the winner is to be announced on the 4th of June. Given that The Goldfinch alone is 771 pages of book (I just went and checked in the lovely hardcover I was given for Christmas), it will certainly be a challenge to read all of these books by that date. But Burial Rites, The Lowland and The Goldfinch were already on my list for 2014. I'm going to add the rest and try to read all of the shortlisted nominees this year, if not by June 4. 

Who will join me for this delightful challenge? Who's in?

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