The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist for 2017 was announced today. The 16 books are:Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò The Power by Naomi Alderman Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood Little Deaths by Emma Flint The Mare by Mary Gaitskill The Dark Circle by Linda Grant The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride Midwinter by Fiona Melrose The Sport of Kings by CE Morgan The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Barkskins by Annie Proulx First Love by Gwendoline Riley Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
It was initially suggested that there would be 12 books on the longlist down from 20 in previous years but a compromise was reached between the judges who wanted a longer list reflecting the strength of the submissions and the organisers who wanted a shorter list with more focus on each title. It’s also notable that the number of submissions was a staggering 189 compared to around 150 in previous years. Hopefully, the reputation of the prize means that it has a long future ahead of it regardless of sponsorship changes.
Last year’s longlist was dominated by debuts but this year’s selection features more established names. Of the books which are new to me, ‘The Lonely Hearts Hotel’ by Heather O’Neill piques my interest the most and is about two orphans in 1930s Montreal who dream of opening a circus. I have also seen some really strong reviews for ‘Midwinter’ by Fiona Melrose and ‘First Love’ by Gwendoline Riley.
In total, six books which I featured in my predictions list made the cut. I have read four of the longlisted novels (Naomi Alderman, Emma Flint, Sarah Perry and Madeleine Thien) although I didn’t include Flint in my predictions list. Instead, I would really liked to have seen some recognition for The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss but alas, it was not to be…
I also predicted a strong showing from previous winners. In the end, three made the cut (Linda Grant, Eimear McBride and Rose Tremain) and I will be looking out for ‘The Dark Circle’ set in a tuberculosis sanatorium in post-war Kent. However, my preferred choices (Ali Smith and Zadie Smith) both missed out.
The shortlist will be announced on Monday 3rd April. Have you read any of the longlisted books and which ones would you recommend?