Friday, 7 March 2014

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist 2014

I've been a fan of the prize formerly known as the Orange Prize ever since I was a teenager.  Over the years, I've been introduced to so many great titles and authors, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Barbara Kingsolver and Andrea Levy, to name just a few.  Every year I try to read as many of the long-listed titles as possible and follow the prize all the way through to the winner's announcement.  This morning the long list was revealed, and I'm already excited for all the great reading that is sure to be ahead of me.

My thoughts on the long-listed books and any reading plans (links to goodreads):

  

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I've already read and loved this one (my review).  I thought it was a masterful look at what it is like to be a migrant, but as much as it was a 5-star read, it wasn't my favourite Adichie.  Still, I'll be very surprised if it isn't short-listed.
  • Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood - No surprises to see this on the list either.  I loved Oryx and Crake and own this one, but need to read Year of the Flood before I can get to it.  Which will definitely be happening soon.  I have reserved Year of the Flood at the library and I'm number #1 on the list, so my wait should be under a week.
  • The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne - This one was new to me. It's an examination of the darker side of a suburban society as the neighbourhood dogs start to be mysteriously poisoned.  It sounds pretty interesting but hasn't been purchased by my library, so I'm holding fire.
  

  • The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto - Another new to me title, but one that I'm keen to try.  It's the story of five young people in Pakistan's Tribal Areas.  Position in reserve list: #1, but all copies are currently out.
  • The Bear by Claire Cameron - A young girl must look after herself and her brother after a vicious bear attack kills their mother on a camping trip.  No copies in the library system as of yet.
  • Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter - A mother's story when her son goes missing on a special operations mission on the night of the Bin Laden raid.  Again, no copies purchased by my library system, although I am want to read this one.
  

  • The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter - Someone from the East India company goes missing in Calcutta in the 1800s.  This appears to be a historical mystery, which isn't normally my thing, but I am going to give it a go.  Position in reserve list #12, and for one copy, so I'm in for a bit of a wait!
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - I'm not surprised to see this one here.  I was already wanting to read this, and will be soon, as I'm #1 on the list.
  • Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies - This seems to be a quirky coming of age tale told in vignettes, which makes it one of the more interesting titles on the list.  No copies available, unfortunately.
  

  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - Botany, the nineteenth century and exploration.  It's another long book, but it's definitely got short-list potential. Position on reserve list #1
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - I was so excited to see this one on the list, as I've been wanting to read it for months.  I've seen so many positive reviews of it on other blogs.  Position on reserve list #15.
  • The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner - A story set in the 1970s about a radical art movement.  No copies at the library, but it's not one I'm overly keen to try anyway.
  

  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri - I've never read any Lahiri, although I've been meaning to for years. I will be reading this one as I already have it on my kindle.  Definite short-list potential
  • The Undertaking by Audrey Magee - Hmm, yet another WW2 novel.  I'm not that disappointed that my library hasn't purchased it yet.
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimar McBride - This is a stream of consciousness novel about the relationship a woman has with her brother, who had a brain tumour as a child.  One of the more unusual picks on the long-list.  Again, no copies.
  

  • Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson - I'm always keen to read novels about the immigrant experience, and this one is centred around a young Hungarian girl attending a prestigious English public school.  I should be able to pick this one up off the library shelf tomorrow morning.
  • Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen - This is a biographic novel about the photographer Rebecca Winter.  I have reserved it, but the library copy is still on order, so the wait is unknown.  Position #6
  • The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout - On the surface, this sounds like a very ordinary story about family life.  I'm not excited about this title, so probably won't read it.
 

  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - No surprises here either.  I've tried to read The Little Friend in the past and not got on with it, so I've been avoiding this book until now.  Hopefully I'll enjoy Tartt more on the second try. I am #38 on the reserve list.
  • All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld - This appears to be about a hermit living in Australia.  I'm #2 on the list.
My initial reaction to the long-list is that it looks to be shaping up to be a good year for the prize this year.  There's a lot of big name authors (Atwood, Adichie, Tartt, Lahiri) and titles (The Luminaries, Burial Rites).  Have you read any of the titles?  I'd love to know your thoughts on them if you have, to help me prioritise!

19 comments:

  1. Almost English is good, I just read it. Also MadAddam, obviously is great. There's a lot on this that I'd like to read, but in all honesty I probably won't get to most of them... Maybe I'll wait for the shortlist, but then probably none of the ones I really want to read will make it! :-p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I picked up Almost English in the library this morning, really looking forward to starting it. I probably won't get to most of them either, but I have good intentions!

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. I know, it's shaping up to be a good year!

      Delete
  3. I haven't read any of the books yet...Where to start, where to start?!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean. Getting titles from the library makes it easier as I can just read them as they come in/

      Delete
  4. Nice job with the titles, Sam :) I was so excited about the long list that when I woke up at night I actually picked up my phone and checked who made it.

    Like last year, I'm going to attempt at least the shortlist. Right now I'm thinking I definitely want to try The Goldfinch and The Burial Rites (which I have both on my Kindle), Americanah, The Lowland, The Signature of All Things (though I am quite nervous about that one since Gilberg's Eat Pray Love was one of the most traumatic reading experiences I've ever had), The Luminaries, The Strangler Vine... basically everything looks pretty good in this list.

    I'll make my post probably this weekend as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was excited too, checked first thing in the morning when I woke up :)
      Americanah is excellent, and I'm really excited about The Lowland and Burial Rites too. And I didn't realise that was the same Gilbert....

      Delete
  5. It's such a great list, isn't it? I always forget how LONG the longlist is. There's so much to enjoy. I haven't read any of these yet, though I have a copy of Burial Rites and am definitely going to read The Signature Of All Things. I'm really keen to read The Luminaries and The Goldfinch, too. Loads of the others look exciting, though - where to start?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The long-list is certainly long! I don't think it's quite as unconventional as last year, when we had Alif the Unseen and also a novel in verse, but so many of the titles look very good.

      Delete
  6. I have 3 of the long-listed titles: The Luminaries, Burial Rites, & Americanah and am really excited to know I was interested in these books before I even knew they were award contenders (well, except The Luminaries, I got that after it won the Man Booker) -- I would love to read more award-winners/nominees and I think this award might be a great one to start with, with such a stellar list of choices. So many people say they have to make a effort to read more female authors, but I seem to gravitate toward them naturally so I will definitely be doing some research into past winners & lists!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Americanah is so good. I love Adichie and pre-ordered it before it came out last summer, she's one of the few authors I will do that for.
      The back-list of the Orange Prize has some real gems in it, like The Poisonwood Bible, Small Island and Song of Achilles. I find it easy to read women writers too, I definitely read more books by women than men.

      Delete
  7. Wow, it's an interesting list, but A LOT of white authors -- which I guess is normal. Other than that, I think they made a lot of great picks. I need to add some stuff to my list!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've read two from the list - The Lowland and The Goldfinch, both of which were lovely, but flawed for me. I own copies of The Luminaries, The Signature of All Things and The Burgess Boys. I think I will wait to see what makes the shortlist before I start reading any of them.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Isn't it fun playing the library reserves game? All of the books look so good on this list. So far I've only put The Bear on my list because I keep hearing about how good it is. I'm sure you're going to get some of your books soon. Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Americanah and The Goldfinch were my two favorite books last year, and I've been wanting to read Burial Rites for a while. I also hope to read the Margaret Atwood series in its entirety. Several of these I hadn't heard of but some sound quite intriguing - especially Reasons She Goes to the Woods and All the Birds Singing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've read MaddAddam and The Goldfinch - I didn't like The Little Friend either, but I would give The Goldfinch a try. I struggled with some of it but I'm glad I read it. (My review coming soon.) I mean to read Americanah, The Lowland, and Burial Rites. Curious if anyone read the winner from last year, May We Be Forgiven? I couldn't get through it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks to this post now I know I have to read The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne. Mind you, I just took a look at the longlist, but did not stop to pay attention to that title. Thank you, Sam. I hope you're feeling great and positively glowing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. There will be so much reading to do for you Sam. Glad that you are sanguine about reading all the books that you are reserved on #1! :D

    ReplyDelete