The much-anticipated Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist was announced in the early hours of this morning, on International Women’s Day. A record-breaking number of submissions were received this year, and the final 16 title longlist is a diverse mix of established and debut voices. What’s more, we’re thrilled to see so many writers on the list with a close connection to Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature.
‘The judges had an unusually large number of books of extraordinary quality to choose from this year, and so I can’t say that it was an easy process to come up with a list as short as sixteen,” commented Tessa Ross, Chair of Judges. ‘However, we’re all thrilled by where we’ve ended up and truly excited by the quality and range of talent on this year’s longlist. It’s a great showcase for the very best contemporary women’s fiction – we hope that it will inspire readers everywhere.’
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Naomi is a University of East Anglia graduate. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers, and was in 2007 she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future.
Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in ten languages. Penguin published her second novel, The Lessons, in 2010 and her third novel, The Liars’ Gospel, in August 2012. Her fourth novel The Power was released in 2016. Her prize-winning short fiction has appeared in Prospect, on BBC Radio 4 and in a number of anthologies. In 2009 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. In April 2013 she was named one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists in their once-a-decade list.
‘deserves to be read by every woman’
Naomi is also an online game writer and has written for Penguin and the BBC among others. Her marketing leading fitness game, Zombies, Run!, has been downloaded millions of times and recently put out an exciting call for new trainee writers.
Naomi is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She has been mentored by Margaret Atwood, who also features on the Baileys longlist, as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
‘The Power is a fascinating look at what the world might be like if millennia of sexism went the other way…as a whole the narrative feels ingenious…deserves to be read by every woman (and, for that matter, every man)’ – The Times
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is a patron of the National Centre for Writing and a regular visitor to Norwich (she has sung the praises of the Fat Cat pub and Colman’s Mustard Shop on Twitter). She spent three months living in the city as UEA’s third UNESCO Visiting Professor for Creative Writing in 2014.
Margaret is the author of more than fourty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays including The Handmaid’s Tale, the Booker-winning The Blind Assassin, the MaddAddam trilogy and her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. Her work has received many awards around the world. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer.
‘Riotous, insanely readable’
It also seems pertinent to mention that The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the books involved in that argument between Susan Hill and an independent bookshop…
‘Riotous, insanely readable and just the best fun… The novel builds to a fantastic climax of dark calamity… There is so much exuberance and heart and wonder in this novel that the only thing I want to happen next is for Atwood to rewrite the whole of Shakespeare. (No offence, Will.)’ – Viv Groskop, Observer
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride currently lives in Norwich with her family. She grew up in the west of Ireland and studied acting at Drama Centre London. Her debut novel A Girl is A Half Formed Thing took nine years to publish and subsequently received the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in Dubliners 100, The Long Gaze Back and on BBC Radio 4. She occasionally reviews for the Guardian, TLS, New Statesman and New York Times Book Review.
The book launches for A Girl is a Half Formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians were both hosted at Norwich’s award-winning independent bookshop, The Book Hive. Eimear was selected as a showcased writer for WCN’s International Literature Showcase in 2015.
‘one of our major novelists’
Eimear will abe joined by Sarah Hall and Megan Bradbury for a lively, funny discussion on art and sexuality at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017. Buy tickets now.
‘Confirms McBride’s status as one of our major novelists . . . the life here radiates through the pages and illuminates ours.’ – Guardian
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Sarah Perry joins Eimear as another award-winning novelist who calls Norwich ‘home’. She has a PhD in creative writing from Royal Holloway, and has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library and the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague. You can read a blog on her experience here.
Her first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize, and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award, in 2014. The following year, she opened the Awards with a wonderful speech that described her love of East Anglia and the radical women who have resided here.
‘a novel to relish’
Sarah is one of 40 showcased writers taking part in the International Literature Showcase.
She will be joined by Lucy Hughes-Hallett and Anjali Joseph for an event on British and Indian writing at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017. Buy tickets now,
‘The Essex Serpent is a novel to relish: a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author’ – Sarah Waters
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
Rose Tremain is a former Chancellor of UEA who lives in Norfolk and London. Her bestselling novels have been published in 30 countries and have won numerous awards, including the Orange Prize for Fiction (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel Award (Music & Silence) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Sacred Country); Restoration was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She was made a CBE in 2007.
Rose has been a guest at numerous WCN events over the years, including last year’s sold-out Norfolk & Norwich Festival event for The Gustav Sonata. Listen to a podcast of the event below.
‘heartbreaking, unsentimental and beautifully written’
‘The Gustav Sonata is a magnificent novel, heartbreaking, unsentimental and beautifully written, and it reinforces my opinion that there are few writers out there with the dexterity or emotional intelligence to rival that of the great Rose Tremain.’ – John Boyne The Irish Times
The full Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist
Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
Little Deaths, Emma Flint
The Mare, Mary Gaitskill
The Dark Circle, Linda Grant
The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride
Midwinter, Fiona Melrose
The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso
The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
Barkskins, Annie Proulx
First Love, Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien
The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain
The Baileys shortlist will be announced on 3 April 2017, followed by the overall winner announcement at an awards ceremony hosted in the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall on 7 June 2017.