Debut novelists Eimear McBride, Audrey Magee and Hannah Kent join Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Donna Tartt and Jhumpa Lahiri on the shortlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.
Announcing the list this evening (7th April) at the Serpentine Sackler gallery in central London, chair of judges Helen Fraser said each of this year’s shortlisted books was “original and extraordinary in its own way” and offered “something different and exciting and illuminating”.
Irish author Eimear McBride is shortlisted for her debut A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (Galley Beggar Press/Faber and Faber), a tale of a young woman's relationship with her brother which has already won the Goldsmiths Prize and was shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize.
Audrey Magee, also from Ireland, is shortlisted for her debut The Undertaking (Atlantic Books), a love story set during the second world war and tackling the battle of Stalingrad. Australian novelist Hannah Kent’s Iceland-set historical debut Burial Rites (Picador), also shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, is the third first-time author on the list.
Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, shortlisted for Americanah (Fourth Estate), the tale of two Nigerian teenagers whose later lives take different trajectories, won the prize in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun (Harper Perennial), when it was named the Orange Prize. American Donna Tartt is shortlisted for her acclaimed novel The Goldfinch (Little, Brown); Tartt was previously shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2003 for The Little Friend (Bloomsbury). British/American Jhumpa Lahiri is shortlisted for The Lowland (Bloomsbury), an epic novel of family ties, also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013.
Fraser told The Bookseller that the shortlist was “very wide-ranging in terms of nationality”, and that it was “interesting that there are three first novels” on the list. There were three novels which “emerged from the pack very early on and very clearly”, she said, but a “number of titles that could have filled the other slots”.
“One of the great things is we [the judges] all feel, as well as being compelling and unputdownable, they’re [the books] all incredibly enjoyable” she added.
Syl Saller, chief marketing officer at Diageo, owners of sponsor Baileys, said: “Spanning nationalities, ages and genres, the shortlist represents the rich diversity in women’s writing today.”
The winner will be presented with a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze statue known as ‘the Bessie’, created by artist Grizel Niven.
The award ceremony will take place in The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, on 4th June.
Alongside Fraser on the judging panel are Mary Beard, Denise Mina, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Raworth.