I’ve now tried all the books on the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction longlist and overall I was very impressed by the quality of the books. It is probably the strongest year I’ve ever seen and narrowing it down to six books is a tough job. I cut it down to 11 books very easily, but deciding which 5 extra ones to remove was more science than judgement – something that probably doesn’t exist on a judging panel!
Here’s my prediction for the 2014 shortlist:
- The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Reasons for my selection:
- Eleven Days is outstanding and deserves to be put through, no questions asked.
- Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies wouldn’t be out of place on the shortlist, but I don’t think they’ll pick two experimental books and I think A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is the stronger of the two.
- The Signature of All Things is the best piece of historical fiction on the longlist.
- The Luminaries will glide onto the shortlist without any disagreement because of its ambition, scope and writing quality.
- I don’t think they’ll put two books about immigration/identity through. Americanah is a fantastic character study, but I think The Lowland will pip it at the post.
- The Goldfinch is loved by the majority of readers. I think several members of the judging panel will be rooting for it.
- Burial Rites would probably have made the cut in previous years, but I think it is sadly outclassed this year. The Luminaries and The Signature of All Things take up all the historical fiction quota.
- The Flamethrowers and All the Birds, Singing are also strong contenders. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either on the list, but I couldn’t justify removing any of my six to include them.
- The longlist contained a few odd choices so I predict that I’ll be wrong and at least one left field book will make the cut. Possibly switching The Goldfinch for Still Life with Bread Crumbs?