Short list announced for prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction

 

 

 

 

 

GoldfinchDonnaTartt
AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hay festival 2012

Final Lowland cover.indd  jhumpa-lahiri

burialrites  Hannah Kent

the undertaking  Audrey Magee

half formed thing  Eimear McBride

The judging committee for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction announced the short list of six novels, narrowed down from the long list of 20 titles, on Monday, April 7 in London. The favorites to win the most prestigious award for women’s fiction are Donna Tartt for her epic coming of age tale, The Goldfinch, which too ten years to write, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her story of African immigrants adapting to life in the U.S., Americanah. Adichie won the award for her previous novel, Half of a Yellow Sky, in 2007, when it was known as the Orange Prize. She was born and raised in Nigeria but attended college at Drexel University in Philadelphia and Eastern Connecticut State University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2001. Other finalists include Jhumpa Lahiri for her story of two brothers and the woman they both loved, The Lowland; Hannah Kent for her debut novel set in 19th century Iceland, Burial Rites; Audrey Magee for The Undertaking, set in Berlin during WWII; and Eimear McBride for her challenging debut, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. McBride has already won the Goldsmiths Prize for 2013 for the novel.

Interestingly, there are no British (English, Scottish, or Welsh) writers on the short list. Tartt is American, Lahiri was born in England to Indian parents but raised in the U.S.; Kent is Australian; and Magee and McBride are Irish. Four of the books are available in the U.S., but he Magee and McBride novels won’t be published here until September 2014.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on June 4.

 

Advertisements

My bookish bucket list: 10 literary longings

Today’s “Top Ten Tuesday” topic (wow, five t-words in a row!) for bloggers is to reveal your bookish bucket list. Thanks to Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish for the TTT idea and this particular topic, which was fun to think and write about while I’m home under the weather.

1. Visit the UK’s literary sites

I’m long overdue for my first visit to the UK. I need to make a pilgrimage to all the places I’ve read about that are so much a part of me (not just my reading history). Stratford-on-Avon, Gad’s Hill (Rochester), Oxford, Cambridge, Dorset, Hertfordshire, Watership Down :-), York, the Yorkshire Dales, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and, of course, Westminster Abbey; the list is nearly endless. I need to walk in the footsteps of the greats, writers and characters both.

2. Read the complete works of Charles Dickens.

I’ve read and loved a few of Dickens’ novels, but I’d really like to read them all, in chronological order, so I can observe his development from a comic picaresque writer to arguably the greatest social novelist ever. I need to read Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend.

3. Read the works of the Russian masters.

I’m sadly lacking in my knowledge of the Russian classics. I want to read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov (at the very least), and I am actually looking forward to reading the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Add Gogol (I loved the Penguin collection of stories and The Government Inspector), Turgenev, Pushkin, Solzhenitsyn, and the mighty Chekhov, and I’ve got quite an impressive reading list. I might need to make this a year-long project. 2015?

4. Read some of the notorious “difficult” books.

I’d like to be able to say I’ve read James Joyce’s Ulysses and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (at least Swann’s Way, the first of the seven volumes). I’d also really like to be able to say I understood and enjoyed these, and other similar, books.

5. Organize a dinner party with my favorite writers (the living ones, of course).

I think it would be great to organize a long evening of good food, wine, and conversation with 12 writers who are also good conversationalists and good company. Off the top of my head, my guest list would likely include Margaret Atwood, Rilla Askew, T.C. Boyle, Bill Bryson, Nathan Englander, Ben Fountain, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Munro, Ann Patchett, Ron Rash, Donna Tartt, and Tim Winton. Can you imagine? It would be even better than “My Dinner with Andre. (I know I’m forgetting several other writers I’d love to invite, but you get the drift.)

6. Visit Paris and have my own “Midnight in Paris” experience.

Like Owen Wilson’s character in “Midnight in Paris,” I’d love to explore literary Paris with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, and the other American expats as my guides. If they’ve unavailable to me, I’ll read some of the great French writers while I enjoy the City of Lights.

7. Visit several Australian cities with Aussie writers as my literary and cultural tour guides.

Let’s see, who would best represent each city? Peter Carey or Thomas Keneally in Sydney, Kate Grenville for the central and northern New South Wales coast, Peter Temple in Melbourne and the southeast Victorian coast, Hannah Kent in Adelaide, Tim Winton in Perth and the southwest coast down to his home town of Albany, and either Keneally or Midnight Oil drummer and writer Rob Hirst for the Outback.

8. Rent a quiet cottage by the sea and read the complete works of William Shakespeare.

While I’ve read about a dozen of Shakespeare’s plays, they are the usual suspects. I’d like to read all 37 of his plays, his two long narrative poems, and all of his sonnets. The question is where I should go for this amazing experience in the life of the mind. Should it be the coast of England to make it more authentic, the coast of Italy (where several plays are set), or just anywhere quiet enough to eliminate distractions so I can immerse myself in the works of the Bard? What do YOU suggest?

9. Write a novel.

Like most avid readers, I dream of being a writer, too. I’ve written journalism and non-fiction since my high school days, but fiction has never come naturally to me (unlike to my 17-year-old son, who has stories pouring out of him and who can already write fiction well). Now that I’ve lived over half a century, perhaps my novel’s long gestation period is over and it will come to me in a vision. Speak to me, O Muse, of the long-suffering reader who wished to be a writer.

10. Have my book blog become a profitable enterprise so I can make a living from my blogging and portrait photography hobbies.

Well, it’s a bucket list. It doesn’t have to be realistic. Sometimes dreams do come true.

Longlist announced for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014

Women's Prize for Fiction

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.