Who will be shortlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction?

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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 ThingsEleven DaysThe Lowland

A Girl is a Half-Formed ThingThe GoldfinchThe Luminaries

  • 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?

Who do you think will make the Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction shortlist?

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  1. Eric says:

    Interesting to read your predictions. I’m still reading through the list. However, since I’ve read both, I would be shocked if Still Life with Bread Crumbs were to be on the list over The Goldfinch. I enjoyed Quindlen’s novel and thought it had moving aspects to it, but it had none of the literary style or deeper meaning found in Tartt’s book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Eric, I agree with you, but why was Quindlen’s book on the longlist? Many superior books (Blazing World, My Notorious Life, The Interestings, Boy, Snow, Bird etc) were left off the original longlist and so that is why a book like that might make a surprise entrance to the shortlist. I’ll be very interested to see what those judges pick!

  2. tanya says:

    I like your selections. I haven’t read enough of the long list to comment really, but i agree with Tarrt and Catton. They are the sweethearts of 2014.

    1. Jackie says:

      Tanya “sweethearts of 2014” is a lovely phrase!

  3. Annabel says:

    I’ve really no idea what is likely to be shortlisted or win – so I’m relying on you Jackie :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, Let’s hope I get at least some of my prediction right :-)

  4. I’m still heartbroken that The People in the Trees didn’t make the cut! I agree with you on a lot of these, although I think Americanah has the capacity to edge out The Lowland…

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I still haven’t read ‘People in the Trees’. I bought a kindle edition months ago, but because it isn’t visible I keep forgetting about it. I need to get to it soon!

  5. Sandy says:

    I guess the purpose of these lists, for me anyway, is to give me some direction, since I rarely read any of them beforehand. I would have read The Goldfinch by now had it not been so long and I read so slow.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, The Goldfinch is SO long! I listened to an abridged audio production, but I still felt its length :-( I hope you enjoy it when you decide to give it a go.

  6. Ifi says:

    This is by far one of my favorite book prizes, yet this year I have read none of the contenders except for the Burgess Boys.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, Give The Signature of All Things a try first :-)

  7. Karen says:

    Just looking over these in preparation for tomorrow, when the shortlist will be announced. Thank you for including your very clear reasons for each book! Got to say I would take Americanah over The Lowland though, but perhaps based not just on the book. It seems to me that Lahiri does tend to write the same story over and over (Unaccustomed Earth could be a trial run for The Lowland, just changing women for men as the subjects).

    I agree with Ifi: I have read all the Booker winners and all but one of the previous Women’s winners, and the top six (or ten) of the latter (IMO!) are much better than the top six of the former.

    Getting excited now! Looking forward to hearing what you think when the list comes out.

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