The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 Shortlist Announced
Since its inception in 1996, under its original moniker the Orange Prize for Fiction, The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has established itself as one of the most significant awards in the literary calendar. The award, which celebrates ‘originality accessibility and excellence’ is unique in that it considers only writing by female authors.
Last night, the shortlist for the Prize was announced at a special event. This year’s selection of titles comprises a balance of new and established voices:
A transfixing page-turner, Ruby continues a long history of addictively dark Southern American fiction. One woman's struggle to leave her intensely claustrophobic family and break from a cycle of abuse takes her to the streets of New York, yet she soon finds herself drawn back to the red dusty Southern streets of her youth. Vibrant and textured, this is an unflinching portrait of the relationship between identity and suffering that has already drawn comparisons to an impressive array of authors’ work including that of Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Anne Enright – The Green Road
The Green Road is a wise and searching tale that chronicles the life of a modern Irish family and occupies a similar world to Enright’s previous two highly acclaimed novels, The Forgotten Waltz and the Man Booker-winning The Gathering. We meet the Madigans, a family kept in line by an uncompromising matriarch, who have little in common beyond their County Clare background. The narrative presents deft, beautiful fragments of each family member’s life, which show how subtle battle-lines have been drawn, and lead, ultimately, to a climactic homecoming .
Lisa McInerney – The Glorious Heresies
An uncompromising debut, The Glorious Heresies depicts one tragic mistake and the ever-intensifying series of events it sets in motion. Set in Cork, the narrative holds nothing back in its depiction of social malaise, gangster violence and the deterioration of church and state. At the murky heart of this chaos is the psychotic Jimmy Phelan and his mother: a woman who has unwittingly committed murder.
Elizabeth McKenzie – The Portable Veblen
Elizabeth McKenzie’s second novel The Portable Veblen is a delightfully eccentric and unusual romance. Veblen, which translates from the Norwegian as ‘experienced mood-lifter’ and ‘squirrel enthusiast’, is about to marry the brilliant neuroscientist Paul; but, the novel asks, will their love prove strong enough to survive the seismic pressures of corporate greed, their respective dysfunctional families, and their dangerously over-stretched morals?
Hannah Rothschild – The Improbability of Love
After the seemingly innocuous purchase of a painting from an old junk shop, Annie McDee - who has hitherto been unlucky in life, love and employment - finds herself suddenly swept up in a whirlwind of intrigue, high art, and the possibility of bona fide romance. An impressively assured fictional debut from Hanna Rosthchild, The Improbability of Love is a nimble and witty jaunt through the contemporary art scene; it is also our current selection for Fiction Book of the Month.
Narrowly missing out on The 2015 Man Booker Prize, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life was a word-of-mouth phenomenon, one which quickly became one of last year’s most-discussed releases. Described by The Guardian as a human epic, Yangahara's second novel is in unflinching look at the decline of one man, Jude Saint Francis. Jude is an outwardly accomplished and prosperous man coming gradually and irrevocably unstuck, unable to reconcile his haunted inner self with his material success. His devastating decline is watched and at times aided by his intimate circle of friends.
Hanya Yanagihara - A Little Life