Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction Judges Q&A: Shami Chakrabarti

Posted on 28th March 2015 by Rob Chilver
We conclude our interviews with the judges of this year's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction with Shami Chakrabarti, this year's Chair of the judges. She discusses her love of fairy tales and which book she has given as gifts the most this year.

How have you found the experience of reading women’s fiction back to back for the past few months? And what’s it been like having to read so many books in such a short space of time?

It's been an intense emotional and intellectual adventure, reading so many books in such a concentrated period and a huge treat to have "permission" to do so. 

Have there been any surprises in the books that you’ve read? OR Have there been any surprises along the way?

I've been surprised by finding real treasure in types and genres of books that I might normally not venture into. 

Have you noticed any particular themes coming through in the books that you’ve read?

Some obvious themes emerge, not least the complexities and legacy of family on our lives and actions.

Have you always loved reading?

My mother read to me and taught me to read. I've always loved reading, thanks to her. 

What’s the best book you’ve ever been given, and who gave it to you?

I've been given so many wonderful books over the years but I'll never forget the first giant book of fairy tales that my parents gave me as a small child. 

Do you have a favourite book by a female author that you’ve given to friends and family as a gift?

I have many favourite books and love giving them as gifts. I shall avoid singling out any current novel (for obvious reasons), but I have given very many copies of Rachel Holmes' great biography of Eleanor Marx over the last year. It's a great story of a great woman of action and letters and reads like a gripping novel.


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