You all know Patricia and I get pretty darn excited for literary prizes. But did you know we get downright goofy about the Women’s Prize for Fiction?
Formerly known as the Orange Prize, the award is now sponsored by Baileys (yes, as in the Irish Cream manufacturer, Baileys!) and celebrates “excellence, originality, and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world.” Past winners have included Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Patchett, Lionel Shriver, and Carol Shields.
Patricia and I get so excited for this prize, in fact, that we have decided to host a Women’s Prize Party and contest! The celebration will be held on the evening of Wednesday, June 4th — the day the winner is announced — and will feature excerpt readings from the shortlisted books, drinks and refreshments, and the announcement of the winning book according to North Shore readers. Oh, and fabulous prizes!
For more information on the party and to register, check out our events calendar page.
And here is how the contest will work:
- As soon as the shortlist is announced on April 7th, you will be able to vote for your favourite shortlisted book through a survey we will create and post on our website.
- On the eve before the winner is announced, we will tally up the votes.
- At the party on June 4th, we will announce OUR winner, and one lucky voter will also win a fabulous prize!
In the meantime, we invite you to join Patricia and me in reading this scrumptious longlist of 20 novels, and stay tuned for more on the shortlist, contest and party!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah:A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected.
Margaret Atwood – MaddAddam: Combining adventure, humour, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination that is at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood, and a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy.
Suzanne Berne – The Dogs of Littlefield:
A wry exploration of the discontent concealed behind the manicured lawns and picket fences of darkest suburbia. (On order)
Fatima Bhutto – The Shadow of the Crescent Moon:
This debut novel chronicles the lives of five young people trying to live and love in a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border. Individuals are pushed to make terrible choices. And, as the events of this single morning unfold, one woman is at the centre of it all. (On order)
Claire Cameron – The Bear: The Bear is the story of Anna and her little brother, Stick–two young children forced to fend for themselves in Algonquin Park after a black bear attacks their parents. A gripping and mesmerizing exploration of the child psyche, this is a survival story unlike any other, one that asks what it takes to survive in the wilderness and what happens when predation comes from within.
Lea Carpenter – Eleven Days:
A debut novel–unexpected, tautly written, suspenseful–that touches on some of the most profound questions we have about war as it tells us a haunting story of a single mother, and her Navy SEAL son.
M.J. Carter – The Strangler Vine:
Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India – or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing. William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company’s army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. (On order)
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries: Arriving in New Zealand in 1866 to seek his fortune in the goldfields, Walter Moody finds himself drawn into a series of unsolved crimes and complex mysteries. Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for fiction.
Deborah Kay Davies – Reasons She Goes to the Wood:
Pearl can be very, very good. More often she is very, very bad. But she s just a child, a mystery to all who know her. A little girl who has her own secret reasons for escaping to the nearby woods. What might those reasons be? And how can she feel so at home in the dark, sinister, sensual woods, a wonder of secrets and mystery? (On order)
Elizabeth Gilbert – The Signature of All Things: The best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love traces the multi-generational saga of the Whittaker family, whose progenitor makes a fortune in the quinine trade before his daughter, a gifted botanist, researches the mysteries of evolution while falling in love with an utopian artist against a backdrop of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
Hannah Kent – Burial Rites: Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her.
Rachel Kushner – The Flamethrowers:
Reno comes to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity — artists colonize a deserted and industrial SoHo, stage actions in the East Village blur the line between life and art. Reno is submitted to a sentimental education of sorts-by dreamers, poseurs, and raconteurs.
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland:
Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives–Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America–until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.
Audrey Magee – The Undertaking: Desperate to escape the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met. With ten days’ leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin, and both are surprised by the attraction that develops between them. When Peter returns to the horror of the front, it is only the dream of Katharina that sustains him as he approaches Stalingrad.
Eimear McBride – A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing:
The story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother who is living with the after effects of a brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and sensual urges of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. (On order)
Charlotte Mendelson – Almost English: In a tiny flat in West London, 16-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations and their fierce un-English pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider.
Anna Quindlen – Still Life with Bread Crumbs:
Moving to a small country cabin, a once world-famous photographer bonds with a local man and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career, and self-understanding.
Elizabeth Strout – The Burgess Boys: Catalyzed by a nephew’s thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.
Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch: A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend’s family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.
Evie Wyld – All The Birds, Singing: Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something–or someone–picks off one of the sheep and sounds a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is also Jake’s past–hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back–a past that threatens to break into the present.
Any predictions on who will get shortlisted? I predict Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Clair Cameron, Rachel Kushner, Donna Tartt, Evie Wyld.