The Baileys Longlist 2015.
And before I begin, I would like to wave at some brilliant, original, astonishing writers. I would like to wave at Susan Barker. Sarah Hall and Linda Grant. At Anna Smaill, at Claire Fuller and Kate Hamer, at Shelley Harris and Harriet Lane. At Carys Bray and Marilynne Robinson. At Maggie Gee. And the list goes on – Monique Roffey, Sarah Vaughan, Jo Bloom, Vanessa Lafaye, Sarah Sykes…I couldn’t be in better company.
The big names are largely ones I’m glad to see – Sarah Waters and Kamila Shamsie appear here which is good news; I’d expected them to be on the Man Booker longlist last year. Ali Smith, Rachel Cusk and Emma Healey have all enjoyed prize successes this year and are getting a new draught of oxygen. Anne Tyler was hotly tipped and here she is – I’m looking forward to reading A Spool of Blue Thread. Emily St John Mandel’s Station 11 gets prize-list recognition of her very popular UK breakthrough. Rachel Seiffert is here; finally, I’ll read her. And I’m thrilled – more than thrilled – to see Laline Paull’s The Bees and Lissa Evans’ Crooked Heart on the long list. And there are new names, too. Until this morning, The Life of A Banana involved being purchased, then sitting neglected in the fruit bowl until I make a cake out of it. Now it’s a novel by P.P. Wong. Also new to me are After Before by Jemma Wayne, Sara Taylor’s The Shore, Marie Phillips’ The Table of Less Valued Knights (love the title), Heather O’Neill’s The Girl who was Saturday Night, Sandra Newman’s The Country of Ice Cream Star, Grace McCleen’s The Offering, Samantha Harvey’s Dear Thief, Xiaolu Guo’s I am China, and Patricia Ferguson’s Aren’t We Sisters.
So it’ll be a busy few weeks for the Baileys Shadow Jury. I can’t wait.