Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist 2014

Baileys logoThings are a little busy in this part of my world currently, but I have just seen the announcement of the shortlist of the Baileys Women’s Prize and given the result, I don’t feel so bad about not having yet written reviews of two novels that were on the longlist, that I recently read.

They were Fatima Bhutto’s The Shadow of the Crescent Moon and Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing. I am sorry to say that I did not enjoy either of them.

But on to the shortlist!

The six novels chosen are:

Americanah (2)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – my review here

A story of love and reflections on race via a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home and on their return.


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

10-year-old Theo steals a painting from an Amsterdam gallery after his mother dies.


The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Two Bengali brothers growing up in 1960s Calcutta.

burial rites

Burial Rights by Hannah Kent

A woman is condemned to death in Iceland,  inspired by true events.

Girl Half

A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

 Experimental novel written in the second-person, “you” being the narrator’s fiercely loved, brain-damaged brother.


The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

A marriage marked by cruelty and violence, a husband who spends nights hurting Jewish children and comes home to a wife who never asks questions.


Very happy indeed to see Americanah on the list and although it is the only one I have read, I have been championing this title since it came out last year.

I will definitely be reading The Goldfinch, though probably not until August as I am saving it for my summer chunkster beach read and I am sure it be perfect for that.  I think i will have to track down Burial Rites next, I have been talking about this Icelandic novel for too long without having read a page!


So which one of these appeals to you to read next?


35 thoughts on “Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist 2014

  1. The first three are on my reading list. I’d really like to read The Goldfinch this year but I will have to buy it to make that happen.The waiting list at the library is dozens long. 😦


    • I was lucky to get a copy on sale via The Guardian Bookshop at Christmas and made sure to get it for myself as books rarely make it into my Christmas parcels and I always like to have a good long book ready for summer.


  2. I haven’t heard much about the last two books on this list. I wonder what they are like. I have the Goldfinch, but haven’t read it yet, and I would love to read Americanah, but my library doesn’t have it, so I will have to put in a special request for it, or buy it.


  3. I’m currently reading and enjoying Americanah, and I was really impressed by Burial Rites. I will probably read The Lowlands next. I really want to read The Undertaking, but that book isn’t scheduled to be published in the U.S. until September.


  4. Nice to see you back blogging, Claire! Have been missing you.

    The Bailey’s prize shortlist is interesting. I am disappointed that Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries’ is not there – I don’t know whether it was not shortlisted because it has already won the Booker. I want to read Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ and Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowlands’ sometime.

    Happy reading 🙂


    • Thanks Vishy, I’ve missed you all too and nice to see so many comments after a long silence.

      I am sure it wasn’t because of the Booker that The Luminaries didn’t make it. If I were to guess, I would say that the length imposed by the structure/framework, is both one of its unique characteristics and unerring frustrations for many readers. When the imposition of a structure starts to impose upon the work, some readers begin to resent it and when its a committee deciding and one as varied as this panel, there must have been some interesting discussions.

      I really loved The Luminaries, but towards the end did feel a little frustrated by that imposition of the chapters being 50% shorter than all the previous, I wanted the author to just concentrate on the story and forget about writing to a formula that became too obvious as the chapters became so short that long footnotes were required – I know you love footnotes!

      I had a similar experience with Evie Wyld’s book, being too aware of the framing tools. It would make an interesting discussion in general I think.


      • Interesting to hear your thoughts on ‘The Luminaries’, Claire. I remember you writing about the structure of the book in your review. When I got the book I went and checked it because I wondered how the author could have done that – making the next chapter half the length of the previous chapter. Resorting to footnotes to tell the story, because it doesn’t fit into the main text because of the structural formula – that is really interesting 🙂 Yes, I do love footnotes 🙂 Sorry to know that you had a similar experience with Evie Wyld’s book.

        I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on the other books on the shortlist. Happy reading!


        • I did really enjoy The Luminaries, I think it is a fabulous book, and of course being a New Zealander I am especially interested in any work that succeeds in the tough international arena and for this reason I am also very interested in the criticism.
          I think Evie Wyld’s book was just too despairing and probably not good timing for me.


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  6. I’ve read three of these – The Lowland, Burial Rites and The Goldfinch – all very different which is just as it should be. Of those three I think I’d plump for The Lowland which, I agree with Arti, takes some getting into – a little too much detail on the political background to the story – but once you do, it pays dividends. I know many people are passionate supporters of Americanah which I’ve yet to read. We’ll see. As with any list, the best thing about it is that it gets people talking about books!


    • I love all her work and am always very happy when she has a new book published. Half of a Yellow Sun is a very unique novel and subject and I am really looking forward to the film which is due out this year Celestine. I am sure you will enjoy it too. Maybe we should reread the novel.


  7. Hi Claire,

    I have The Goldfinch if you want to borrow it?

    Best wishes,


    PS I’d love the email of your contact at Envoll when you have time! Thanksa


    • Thanks Jane, I have a copy of The Goldfinch already, The Guardian Bookshop were offering it on sale at Christmas and so I gifted it to myself! But planning on waiting until summer before I indulge it. 🙂 Have you read it? Enjoyed it? Seems to attract a love or hate opinion, I’m expecting entertainment.


  8. I’m taking your recommendation re: ‘The Goldfinch’ as a summer read. We can compare notes then. ‘Americanah’ is moving close to the top of my TBR. Like ‘readinpleasure,’ I thought ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ was wonderful.


    • Half a Yellow Sun was a hotly anticipated read for me as I listened to the author give a talk in Auckland when she had only published one novel, but she spoke about her next project and the taboo in Nigeria about speaking about the Biafran War. She wanted to tackle the subject andHalf a Yellow Sun became the way she did that. I also have Chinua Achebe’s last book published before he died There Was A Country, which breaks his silence on the Biafran War which I would love to read soon, as Half of a Yellow Sun is about to come out at the cinema, so it would provide an interesting context.

      I really enjoyed Americanah and found it compelling reading and insightful. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a talented writer and an arresting speaker and I will always read all her work.


  9. I’ve heard that Americanah is very good. I very much enjoyed “The Lowland”, but “Burial Rites” just didn’t connect with me, though I know several people that really liked it.

    Great list!


  10. Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy All the Birds, Singing. I have it on my Kindle to read shortly. I enjoyed her first book. Will be interested to see what this one is like. I also loved Adichie’s earlier books, but have heard mixed things about Americanah. Maybe I’ll give it a try.


  11. Pingback: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon | Word by Word

  12. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the Evie Wyld either! I’m most looking forward to reading ‘Lowland’, which I’m getting a copy of for my birthday. It looks stunning.


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