I enjoy following the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction (previously known as the Samuel Johnson Prize) because it is the one book prize which consistently picks winners I actually agree with: Chernobyl by Serhii Plokhy, How to Survive a Plague by David France and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald to name a few from recent years. I had just finished ‘The Five’ by Hallie Rubenhold when it was announced as this year’s winner on Tuesday and, once again, I think it is another book which really deserves this prestigious award. It is about the “untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper”, namely Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine “Kate” Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly who all died in 1888 in Whitechapel in east London. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Women
The opening paragraph of ‘XX’ by Angela Chadwick is as good as any to sum up the premise of her debut novel published last year: “After years of controversial research, scientists at Portsmouth University’s Centre for Reproductive Medicine have this morning announced plans to create IVF babies from two women. They’re pushing for a change to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act that will make it legal to fertilise an egg with genetic material from a second female.” Lesbian couple Rosie and Jules are quick to take up the opportunity to have a baby of their own through the means of a groundbreaking clinical trial, but a backlash from right-wing movements inevitably creates problems along the way. Continue reading
The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 longlist was announced earlier this week. The 16 nominated books are:
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Milkman by Anna Burns
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L McFadden
Circe by Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
Normal People by Sally Rooney Continue reading
The Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist is due to be announced on Thursday 8th March and I have been thinking about which books could make the cut. My predictions last year included the eventual winner The Power by Naomi Alderman which is satisfying but I also hope to be pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of some novels which are new to me.
For many years, there have been 20 titles on the longlist. However, there were supposed to be only 12 last year but the judges decided to increase their selection to 16. This year – who knows? Novels first published in the UK between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018 are eligible. Of those I have read, I would be particularly happy to see any of the following on the longlist:
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – I really enjoyed this excellent novel set in Shaker Heights, Ohio in the 1990s which addresses adoption, abortion and surrogacy.
Elmet by Fiona Mozley – last year’s Man Booker Prize dark horse blends ancient folklore and dialect with modern settings and political debates. Continue reading
As some of you may already know, August is Women in Translation Month (founded by book blogger Meytal at Biblibio in 2014) which aims to increase readership of translated books by female authors and raise awareness of the gender imbalance in publishing (estimates vary but currently only around 25-30% of books translated into English are by female authors). The three titles I have been reading this month from authors based in Israel, Austria and Mexico showcase the variety of fiction written by women around the world and championed by independent publishers Pushkin Press, Peirene Press and Granta.
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen (translated from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston) tells the story of Dr Eitan Green, a neurosurgeon who has recently relocated to the Israeli city of Beersheba and is involved in a collision with an illegal Eritrean immigrant while he is driving home from work through the desert. In a panic, Eitan leaves him to die at the side of the road, but the dead man’s widow shows up the next day on his doorstep holding his wallet which he left at the scene and blackmails him into providing medical assistance to other illegal immigrants in the area. To complicate matters even further, Eitan’s wife Liat is the police detective tasked with uncovering the identity of the driver who left the scene of the hit-and-run. Continue reading
Political events across the world continue to move at a whirlwind pace, particularly here in the UK. Here are my recommendations for three recent non-fiction books about British politics.
‘The Women Who Shaped Politics’ by Sophy Ridge offers a broad overview of the female campaigners and Members of Parliament who have shifted the political landscape in Westminster. The first half focuses on historical pioneers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and those involved in the suffragette movement while the second half draws on interviews with a range of contemporary female politicians including current Prime Minister Theresa May. Continue reading
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 Continue reading
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. Continue reading
One of the books which kept cropping up frequently in lots of end-of-year book lists last month was ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman and so it got bumped up my TBR list as one of my not-very-festive Christmas holiday reads. The main concept of Alderman’s fourth novel explores what would or could happen in a world where women become more powerful than men in every sense. Due to a mutation caused by a nerve agent used during the Second World War, teenage girls develop the ability to release electrical jolts through their fingertips which can be either harmless or strong enough to kill people. The “power” eventually spreads and although it is initially used by women as a deterrent against violent and abusive men who have oppressed them, it has far-reaching implications beyond that. Continue reading
This year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist was announced today. The twenty novels are:
Outline by Rachel Cusk Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans Aren’t We Sisters? by Patricia Ferguson I Am China by Xiaolu Guo Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel The Offering by Grace McCleen The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neil The Bees by Laline Paull The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie How to be Both by Ali Smith The Shore by Sara Taylor A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters After Before by Jemma Wayne The Life of a Banana by PP Wong
This week, analysis of 40,000 active Goodreads users (20,000 men and 20,000 women) revealed that readers prefer books by authors of the same gender. The results found that women rate books written by female authors more highly than those written by men and 90% of the 50 most read books by men were written by men.
Yesterday, I went to the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist Readings event at the Southbank Centre in London where the authors gave short readings from their nominated novels and then answered a few questions from this year’s chair of the judges, Helen Fraser, and the audience.
The shortlisted books this year are:
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has launched a project to highlight the books written by women which have impacted our lives.
You can nominate your choice using the #ThisBook hashtag on Twitter. The top 20 will be revealed in July. Continue reading
I have just watched the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 live stream broadcast on the Huffington Post website. In the build-up towards the big announcement when Miranda Richardson said that the judges were looking for originality, accessibility and excellence, I thought: “It’s got to be ‘Flight Behaviour’! Or ‘Bring Up the Bodies’! Or ‘Life After Life’! One of those three will definitely win it!”
The shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 was announced today at the London Book Fair. The six nominees are…
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
NW by Zadie Smith
Having read some pretty strange books recently (The Unconsoled and The Unbearable Lightness of Being spring to mind), I really wanted to read something that was based upon some good old-fashioned story-telling and a linear plot. On one hand, I wanted a book that wasn’t too taxing on the brain. On the other hand, I wanted a book that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to read in public on a train. ‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue was just what I needed. Continue reading
My postgraduate course is taking over pretty much my whole life at the moment. I am still finding the time to read non-academic books when I commute but I am getting very behind with writing up my reviews (also in the wrong order as I read this before ‘The Unconsoled’). I actually read ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin during Banned Books Week at the beginning of October but have only just got round to writing this blog post. Hopefully, I will catch up by Christmas…!
‘The Awakening’ tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young Creole woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who is capable of (shock horror) independent thought and marital infidelity. Her modern views on motherhood and femininity even cause her husband, Leonce, to seek medical advice. During a holiday, she meets Robert and falls for him. Inevitably, there are tragic consequences. Continue reading
‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett tells the story of Skeeter Phelan, a young white woman from Jackson, Mississippi who decides to write a book documenting the experiences of Aibileen, Minny and other black maids who work for white families. Set in the early 1960s during the Civil Rights movement, the maids are expected to look after the children, cook and clean yet they are persecuted because they are ‘colored’. It is a story that needs to be told.
I saw the film quite recently and enjoyed it but my mum said she thought the original book was better and lent it to me this week. Unsurprisingly, the film version is more saccharine than the book but the adaptation was still well done and the plot wasn’t altered too much. Moreover, watching the film beforehand and knowing how the story ends did not hinder my enjoyment of this excellent book.
I am currently battling my way through a 3000 word essay for my French Feminism module about Julia Kristeva (word count so far: 1570). This is proving to be extremely tedious considering that Kristeva’s ideas are highly abstract and that a significant number of critics think that she might actually be anti-feminist given the lack of attention she gives to female subjects in her work about semiotics, psychoanalysis, linguistics and a bunch of other crap that I don’t really understand at all. So it has been a real breath of fresh air to read Caitlin Moran’s memoir/rant ‘How To Be a Woman’ which feels like the first properly feminist book I’ve read this semester. I find it faintly ridiculous that the majority of feminist theorists do not write books that are either helpful for women, relevant to women or even really about women. Moran, however, is a revelation. ‘How To Be a Woman’ is not an academic thesis and there are few references to ‘global’ political issues such as equal pay, but it does address the real everyday experiences of being a woman. And by that I mean menstruation and knickers. It is a funny and honest account about growing up and how to cope with the trials of weddings, rubbish boyfriends, wearing high heels and giving birth. Ok, so this isn’t exactly new stuff, but I think it is refreshing to see a readable feminist ‘manifesto’ that actually has some relevance to the real world for once. Continue reading