Shami Chakrabarti is chair of the judges for this year’s Baileys women’s prize for fiction. Photograph: Roger Askew/Rex
The women’s prize for fiction, established to redress the tendency by literary awards to overlook writing by women, is now in its 20th year, but chair of this year’s judges Shami Chakrabarti believes we are “still nowhere near where we should be” when it comes to literary recognition for women.
Announcing a longlist of 20 titles for the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, which runs the gamut from literary works by the likes of Ali Smith, Anne Tyler, Kamila Shamsie, Sarah Waters and Rachel Cusk to dystopian science fiction and thrillers, the Liberty director was adamant that there is still a place for a literary award focusing on women’s fiction.
The women’s prize for fiction was launched in the wake of the judges’ failure to shortlist a single female author for the Booker prize of 1991. Literary figures led by the author Kate Mosse discovered that “by 1992, only 10% of novelists shortlisted for the Booker prize had been women”; by 1996, their plan to launch an award solely for women had come to fruition.
The award is open to novels written in English by women from anywhere in the world, provided they are published in the UK, and is intended to reward “excellence, originality and accessibility in writing”. Chakrabarti said there had been a “very strong showing of UK writers”, on this year’s longlist.
The winner will be announced on 3 June, following the unveiling of the shortlist on 13 April. The award has previously honoured writers including Eimear McBride, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith and Andrea Levy…
Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist 2015:
- Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber and Faber) – British – 8th novel
- Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans (Doubleday) – British – 4th novel
- Aren’t We Sisters? by Patricia Ferguson (Penguin) – British – 8th novel
- I Am China by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus) – Chinese/ British – 6th novel
- Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape) – British – 3rd novel
- Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Viking) – British – 1st novel
- Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (Picado) – Canadian – 4th novel
- The Offering by Grace McCleen (Sceptre) – British – 3rd novel
- The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman (Chatto & Windus) – British/American – 3rd novel
- The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill (Quercus) – Canadian – 2nd novel
- The Bees by Laline Paull (Fourth Estate) – British – 1st novel
- The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips (Jonathan Cape) – British – 2nd Novel
- The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert (Virago) – British – 3rd novel
- A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury) – Pakistani/British – 6th novel
- How to be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) – British – 6th novel
- The Shore by Sara Taylor (William Heinemann) – American – 1st novel
- A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus) – American – 20th novel
- The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Virago) – British – 6th novel
- After Before by Jemma Wayne (Legend Press) – British – 1st novel
- The Life of a Banana by PP Wong (Legend Press) – British – 1st novel