Monday, 10 March 2014

Monday Musings: The Baileys Longlist

A self-indulgent post where I muse and comment on the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction longlist.
I have read [links to my reviews]:
On the whole, I'm impressed by the quality of the longlisted titles I have read. The only one that I think shouldn't be on the list is Almost English, which I thought was dreadful. Three of them made my Top Ten Books of 2013, which is very satisfying, and I hope the Adichie, Catton and Tartt make it to the shortlist.
I want to read:
The Strangler Vine: MJ Carter. This sounds so fabulous - even though I generally avoid historical novels set in the nineteenth-century Empire - that I may have to give it a go.
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing: Eimear McBride. This has been on my to-read list since I first heard about it.
Still Life With Bread Crumbs: Anna Quindlen. I read one of Anna Quindlen's earlier novels (One True Thing) and, while expecting it to be an easy, generic read, I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting I found it. I'd certainly like to read something else by her.
The Burgess Boys: Elizabeth Strout. I'm intrigued by the synopsis.
I may be convinced to read:
The Shadow of the Crescent Moon: Fatima Bhutto. Nothing about the synopsis of this debut grabs me immediately, but equally I have no reason to think I'll dislike it.
Eleven Days: Lea Carpenter. This sounds like it's treading very dangerous ground between trashy and interesting, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Reasons She Goes to the Woods: Deborah Kay Davies. I'm intrigued by the title and the central idea, but (a) it has a child narrator - see below and (b) I'm not won over by the idea of reading very short chunks of prose.
The Flamethrowers: Rachel Kushner. I feel this could go either way and, with limited reading time, I'm not convinced enough at the moment.
The Undertaking: Audrey Magee. I'm not sure I can take any more novels about Nazis.
All The Birds, Singing: Evie Wyld. Although Wyld's debut was well-written, I found it ultimately very disappointing. I may be tempted to try this to see if it is any better.
I don't want to read:
MaddAddam: Margaret Atwood. I'm not a Margaret Atwood fan, I'm afraid, and having read five of her novels I have decided that life is short and reading time is precious.
The Dogs of Littlefield: Suzanne Berne. I disliked her previous Orange-Prize-winning A Crime in the Neighbourhood, and this sounds very similar.
The Bear: Claire Cameron. I admit this is pure prejudice on my part but I am currently avoiding all novels with child narrators unless I have a very good reason to think they will be able to portray children in a non-cliched way.
The Lowland: Jhumpa Lahiri. I avoided this once when it was on the Booker shortlist and I still don't want to read it!
What are everyone else's thoughts on the longlist?


  1. I love your comments! So similar to mine :-) I have a problem with child narrators and The Bear did nothing to change that. I also think you're right to avoid The Lowland and Maddaam, Interestingly I haven't tried Berne before and am liking 'The Dogs of Littleton' so far. Wonder what I'll think when I reach the end? I look forward to comparing notes on any you decide to try!

  2. Thanks Jackie - this was actually inspired by your Baileys post! I'm glad to hear my instinct about The Bear seems to have been right. I've just got an ARC of Reasons She Goes To The Woods (decided I couldn't resist that title) so will be reading that next.