Girlpower, the stories of artists, thrilling crime novels and two stories involving horses – Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist are in. Check which books you should be catching up on before the winner is announced!

baileys women's prize for fiction 2017
Source: Baileys Prize Twitter page.

Sixteen books written by talented novelists have a chance of receiving Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. On 7th of June, the winners will be announced – and you’ve still got lots of time to catch up on these! Here’s what you should consider adding to your reading list:

Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo

After years of trying, Yeide and Akin lose hope of having a baby. University sweethearts stayed monogamous, although many people expected Akin to have multiple wives – but one day, her own family bring a woman over and introduce her as her husband’s second wife. This story of love, longing and jealousy is the debut novel of Adebayo, whose short stories have been published in a couple of magazines before.

The Power, Naomi Alderman

Drop all the male superheroes, now it’s time for girls to rule the world. A few girls around the world develop superpowers. Suddenly, they can cause unbearable pain or even lead to death – and the world is just about to change. Asking an important question that reverses the world we know, it muses over the world in which women are the stronger gender.

Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood

We don’t have to introduce either Margaret Atwood or William Shakespeare to you – and the writer sets her story in the theatre world this time, where critically-acclaimed festival director Felix plans to stage The Tempest. But he’s planning to make it his – and try to do it to deal with his past.

Little Deaths, Emma Flint

A single mother works hard to take care of her little kids. When one day they go missing and then are found dead, Ruth is on fire; the police investigators try to prove that she’s lacking morals – and that she’s a bad mother. Meanwhile, a young reporter is desperate to examine the case – did she really kid the children, or maybe she’s not the promiscuous woman that everyone sees?

The Mare, Mary Gaitskill

Gaitskill delivers a story of a relationship between Velvet, a Dominican girl, Ginger, an alcoholic artisy, and Paul – an academic who desperately wants to have impact and make a difference. Two worlds connect as the trio change each other – with Velvet discovering her love for horse riding.

The Dark Circle, Linda Grant

Orange Prize winner comes back with the seventh novel, turning back the clock. It’s 1950s, and two East End teenagers get diagnosed with tuberculosis. Sent off to a sanatorium in Kent, they’ve meet a multitude of characters. Soon, the changing times start to liberate the patients too – and the rumoured cure can be only acquired by rebellion.
The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride, the Irish writer and literary critic, has won the prize before for her debut novel A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing. This year, she returns on the longlist with The Lesser Bohemians – a story of an 18-year-old drama student who falls in love with a much older actor. An intimate story of two humans with disturbing stories from the past has already received a lot of praise – will we see the author receiving the award again?

Midwinter, Fiona Melrose

Melrose moved to Suffolk to concentrate on her novel – and brought us a story of father and son bound by the death of the most important woman in their life. Cecelia died when Vale was a child – and neither him nor his father Landyn have fully accepted their loss. When one of them indulges in bad decisions, the other finds consolation in his quiet farm life, but both of them need to face the past.

The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan

Horseracing and race issues twist into a story under Morgan’s pen as she tells a story of a noble Kentucky family crossing paths with Allmon, an African American fresh from prison. Breeding horses for the first time, Henry and Henrietta – father and daughter – unleash their ambitions as they try to make future better.

The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso

Everyone needs a good neighbour, don’t they? But it’s certainly not the case with Hortensia and Marion in this book praised for a successful portrait of Cape Town and in-depth depiction of sociological transformation. Both accomplished, reaching their eighties, and recently widowed, they live next to each other – but haven’t spoken to each other in years. They need to forget about the hate, however, when life happens and an unpredictable event brings them together against their will.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill

With a title that sounds like a song that’s a remix of the Beatles and Elvis at once, the story’s proximal to recent stories of artists and dreamers instead. Pierrot is a pianist and Rose is a dancer – orphaned as babies, the twins get along well. They’re a match made in heaven – not only onstage, but also in real life. Soon, they’re separated and earn their living with their creativity, and when they finally meet again, their dreams are more vivid than ever.

The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry

The end of the century brings the mythical Essex Serpent back to the village – a monster that was believed to take people’s lives. Excited by a possibility of discovering new species, Cora, who’s just moved in after her husband’s death, is introduced to William, a vicar who’s sceptical of the rumours – and the search for the legendary creature is just the beginning of their story.

Barkskins, Annie Proulx

In her new historical epic, Annie Proulx crafts a family chronicle: starting with two Frenchmen that are legally bound to the man who has leased them the ground in Canada, it continues as a story of two families that stemmed from the travels, events, and unusual stories.
First Love, Gwendoline Riley

Neve is unhappily married to Edwyn – a man with an unusual, undiagnosed illness. Despite her unhappiness, she can’t leave him, and she blames it on her past. Despite money worries and isolation, she stays with short-tempered, egotistic man – and tells us her story with the words of Riley, whose sixth book has received a lot of critical acclaim.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien

Taking us to China in the previous century, Thien collates political bits of the story with the events of cultural revolution and Tiananmen Square protest – with two girls as the characters at the centre of the plot. Discovering their family’s past, they embark on a journey of artistic transformation and political struggles of the generation above.

The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain

Gustav lives in a Swiss town, separated from the appalling landscapes of the war. However, he’s just lost his father, and his mother doesn’t seem to care about her son’s wellbeing. When he meets Anton, a Jewish pianist with stage fright, a friendship starts to blossom and lives are about to become different. Asking the questions about the line between indifference and neutrality, the novel by Tremain touches also about the pursuit of self-mastery and ever-present change.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any favourites? Maybe you think the longlist missed out on a good book? Let us know on Twitter @besidemag!

Kasia Kwasniewska

Editor in Chief

Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate whenever the opportunity arises. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being. Liked my work? Buy me a coffee!

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