The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 judges have released the longlist of 20 nominees for the prestigious British prize formerly known as the Orange Prize. The five judges each read 158 novels before choosing the 20 that make up the longlist. The nominees, in alphabetical order, are:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
Margaret Atwood – MaddAddam
Suzanne Berne – The Dogs of Littlefield
Fatima Bhutto – The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
Claire Cameron – The Bear
Lea Carpenter – Eleven Days
M.J. Carter – The Strangler Vine
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries
Deborah Kay Davies – Reasons She Goes to the Woods
Elizabeth Gilbert – The Signature of All Things
Hannah Kent – Burial Rites
Rachel Kushner – The Flamethrowers
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland
Audrey Magee – The Undertaking
Eimear McBride – A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing
Charlotte Mendelson – Almost English
Anna Quindlen – Still Life with Bread Crumbs
Elizabeth Strout – The Burgess Boys
Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch
Evie Wyld – All The Birds, Singing
The judges still have to narrow these 20 books down to the six that will constitute the shortlist, which will be announced on April 7. The prize will be awarded on June 4. It comes with a check for 30,000 pounds (just over $50,000).
Helen Fraser, Chair of Judges, said: “This is a fantastic selection of books of the highest quality – intensely readable, gripping, intelligent and surprising – that you would want to press on your friends, and the judges have been doing just that.”
The judging committee comprises Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge; writer Denise Mina; Times of London columnist, author and screenwriter, Caitlin Moran; BBC broadcaster and journalist, Sophie Raworth; and Fraser, the former Managing Director of Penguin Books UK and Chief Executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust.
The list includes writers from the UK, Ireland, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria. The list includes two previous Orange Prize winners: American Suzanne Berne won in 1999 for her novel A Crime in the Neighborhood, and Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun.
Eleanor Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, set in 19th century New Zealand gold mining country, won the Man Booker Prize for 2013, which was awarded on Oct. 14. Fatima Bhutto is the niece of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Also worth noting is that the list of 20 books includes six first novels and seven second novels, suggesting that the newer and/or younger women writers are already working at a very high level. Another interesting tidbit is that American novelists have won the prize the last five years straight, something viewed with distaste by some British cultural critics.
Four of the books have not yet been published in the United States. But don’t expect that to remain the case for very long.