Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction: longlist 2016

Find out which books by female authors made this year's list. There are a host of household names, a couple of Booker nominees, a few new faces, and even a self-published debut - you'll be sure to find a few titles to add to your reading list

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A God in Ruins - Kate Atkinson

Focusing on Teddy Todd, brother of Ursula Todd from Atkinson's previous novel Life After Life, A God In Ruins explores the effects of the 20th century on one man. A WWII pilot and war hero, Teddy will have to face war and loss, but also - far more unexpectedly - the changing world of post-war England.

 

Rush Oh! - Shirley Barrett



Mary Davidson's father George runs a whaling crew in New South Wales, Australia, at the turn of the 20th century. When a new boatman, John Beck, joins the crew, Mary finds herself falling in love with him - but the course of true love never does run smooth. Rush Oh! is hilarious, joyful, poignant, and utterly unforgettable.


Ruby - Cynthia Bond


Growing up as a black girl in 1950s Texas, opportunities are limited - so when Ruby Bell gets the chance, she lights out for New York. Decades later, she returns, and her childhood friend Ephram Jennings must choose between loyalty to his sister and the possibility of love with beautiful, mercurial, universally hated Ruby.

The Secret Chord - Geraldine Brooks 



Author Geraldine Brooks isn't a stranger to religious history - her previous novel, People of the Book, focused on the fate of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless copy of a Jewish holy book. In The Secret Chord she turns her observations on David: King of Israel, composer of the Psalms, best friend to Natan, murderous and charismatic by turns.

 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers 



Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the spaceship Wayfarer, mostly for a bunk to call her own and a not-too-demanding itinerary. When the crew are offered a job tunneling through space, they jump at the chance: it'll be lucrative, albeit dangerous. But every crew has its secrets, and in the confines of space, secrets will out.


A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding - Jackie Copleton 



Amaterasu Takahashi has spent most of her life trying to forget what happened the day that Nagasaki was bombed: she lost her daughter and her baby grandson, never finding their bodies. But when a scarred man turns up at her retirement home claiming to be her grandson, everything she thought she knew about that day - and what happened afterwards - is called into question.


Whispers Through a Megaphone - Rachel Elliott


Miriam has spent the past three years in her house, cowed by the memory of her abusive mother and unable to speak above a whisper. Ralph has just discovered that his wife doesn't love him, though everyone who followed her on Twitter seems to have known all about it already. When they meet in a local wood, the friendship that springs up may just be the saving of them both.


The Green Road - Anne Enright


Rosaleen Madigan's children have long since scattered from the family house in Ireland. They're now pursuing careers all over the globe, with greater or lesser success. When Rosaleen announces she's selling the house, they all come together for one last Christmas: to say goodbye, to come to terms with their past, and to face the future.


The Book of Memory - Petina Gappah



Memory, an albino Zimbabwean woman, narrates her story from inside prison. She has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The man she killed was Lloyd Hendricks, a man who purchased her from her birth parents when she was nine years old. As the clock ticks, Memory begins to doubt herself, and her recollections. Who was her adopted father? And what really happened between them?


Gorsky - Vesna Goldsworthy


A 21st century retelling of The Great Gatsby, Gorsky is the story of a Russian oligarch who follows his love, Natalia, to London, only to find her married to an Englishman. Determined to prove his worth, Gorsky sets about creating a magnificent library in his mansion, a commission which gives the shabby bookseller he employs access to a world he never dreamed of.

 

The Anatomist's Dream - Clio Gray



Germany, circa 1840. Philbert is born with a taupe - an inflammation of the skull that marks him out as a freak. Abandoned by his parents, he and his pet pig are picked up by Maulwerf's Fair of Wonders, where he befriends a whole gallery of characters including the Fish Man, the Fattest Woman in the World, and the Dancing Dwarf. When he is examined by the famous Dr Ullendorf, however, Philbert is catapulted into a journey with much higher stakes.

 

At Hawthorn Time - Melissa Harrison


Four people in one rural village: Howard and Kitty, seeking bucolic delights after a London career, realize their marriage is crumbling. Jamie, 19, loves cars and can't wait to get out of the country. Jack, a farm worker and itinerant, is on the run from a bail hostel. All of them seek remedy in the countryside; all of them will discover that such remedy is hard to find.


Pleasantville - Attica Locke


The Houston, Texas mayoral election of 1996: Axel Hathorne, former chief of police could become Houston's first African-American mayor. But then a girl from his campaign is found murdered, and Axel's nephew is charged with the crime. Defense lawyer Jay Porter (whom longtime readers of Locke will know from her novel Black Water Rising) must try his first murder case - one that will reveal how deep corruption runs in Houston.

 

The Glorious Heresies - Lisa McInerney



Maureen never meant to kill the man, but now she has - and her actions will affect five of Cork's most peripheral members of society. There's Jimmy, her terrifying gangster son; there's Ryan, a 15-year-old drug dealer, and his dad Tony, obsessed with their next door neighbour. There's Georgie, a prostitute whose pretense of religiousness isn't as innocent as it seems. And then there's Maureen herself: exiled from Cork for forty years and about to discover how deeply interconnected everyone is in that city. 


The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie



Veblen and Paul are engaged to be married. Veblen is whimsical and a little weird; Paul is a neuroscientist studying brain trauma. Their story includes grey squirrels, a shady Department of Defence contract, a hypochondriacal mother, and a pharmaceutical heiress named Cloris Hutmacher. Playful, bizarre, and unlike anything you'll read this year.

Girl At War - Sara Nović


Ana Jurić is a carefree 10-year-old living in Zagreb in 1991: daughter to two loving parents, sister to little Rahela. But civil war breaks out, and everything that Ana thought was stable begins to crumble. Ten years later, a college student in New York, Ana must face her past and return to Croatia to lay her ghosts to rest. 

The House at the Edge of the World - Julia Rochester


John Venton falls to his death from a cliff while drunk. His family react in a multitude of ways: his children throw themselves into adult life, his wife embraces widowhood as a release from a marriage that had made her terribly unhappy. Only his father remains in the family house in Devon, obsessively painting a map that holds the key to a terrible secret.


The Improbability of Love - Hannah Rothschild


Recovering from a devastating break-up, Annie McDee stumbles across a little painting in a dusty secondhand shop, and buys it on impulse. What she doesn't realise is that the painting is a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, a French painter of the Enlightenment. Plunged into the world of art - about which she knows nothing - Annie must navigate the many people who want to get their hands on the lost Watteau, as well as the vagaries of her own heart.


My Name Is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout



Lucy Barton, in hospital for five days, receives a surprise visit from her mother. The two haven't spoken to each other in years. Her mother's visit will awaken memories from her childhood that she thought long buried, and force her to confront the faults and realities of the way she lives now. Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge was made into a miniseries not long ago - with My Name Is Lucy Barton, she further demonstrates her ability to delicately deconstruct the emotional carapaces we erect around ourselves.


A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara



This needs no introduction. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015, it tells the story of four friends as they make their way in New York: gentle actor Willem, charismatic painter JB, successful but aimless architect Malcolm, and brilliant litigator Jude, whose childhood was filled with a trauma he cannot discuss with his friends. It was generally considered a true Marmite book - you either really love it, or really don't - but no one can deny that it's powerful, intense, and memorable. 


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