Having had some success with my Man Booker Prize predictions last year with three of my choices appearing on the longlist, I have been thinking about possible contenders for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction ahead of the longlist announcement on Wednesday 8th March.
As with my Man Booker Prize predictions list, I have been considering eligible books in terms of preferences and possibilities. There will be just 12 books on the longlist this year, down from 20 in previous years. This makes it much harder to narrow down my choices but my top personal preferences include:
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell – O’Farrell’s seventh novel spanning across decades and continents is among her finest in my opinion.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – a critical and commercial success, Perry’s second novel didn’t make the Man Booker Prize longlist and it will be surprising to many if it misses out on this one too.
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss – another book I hoped would be a Man Booker Prize contender last summer, I would really like to see Moss’s fifth novel recognised by the Baileys Prize judges.
The Power by Naomi Alderman – winner of the Orange Award for New Writers in 2006, Alderman’s fourth novel is a timely and terrifying dystopia in which women are more powerful than men.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – a gripping account of a fasting girl in 1850s Ireland and the sceptical English nurse sent to investigate claims that she hasn’t eaten solid food for four months.
Last year’s longlist leaned very heavily towards rising stars – eleven out of the twenty longlisted novels in 2016 were debuts – and it will be interesting to see which first-time novelists make the cut this year. My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal has been one of the most high-profile recent debuts while Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan could also be in the running.
However, this year’s longlist could feature several previous winners who have published new novels in the past year. My preferences are Swing Time by Zadie Smith (winner in 2006 for ‘On Beauty’) and Autumn by Ali Smith (winner in 2015 for How to be both). The rest are:
- ‘The Dark Circle’ by Linda Grant – winner in 2000 for ‘When I Lived in Modern Times’
- ‘Commonwealth’ by Ann Patchett – winner in 2002 for Bel Canto
- The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2046 by Lionel Shriver – winner in 2005 for ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’
- ‘The Gustav Sonata’ by Rose Tremain – winner in 2008 for ‘The Road Home’
- ‘The Lesser Bohemians’ by Eimear McBride – winner in 2014 for ‘A Girl is a Half-formed Thing’
Other recent literary award longlists can often be a good indicator of possible contenders and the Man Booker Prize shortlisted epic Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien could be in with a chance.
Elsewhere, there are countless eligible novels I haven’t read yet such as ‘Homecoming’ by Yaa Gyasi which has received lots of praise. I’m also conscious that my choices generally lean towards more established authors and I hope the longlist offers plenty of new discoveries too.
Which books would you like to see on the Baileys Prize longlist?