The twenty longlisted novels for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction include 11 debuts and 7 British writers.
Taking in 20th century Australia, the Second World War and outer space, it’s a list that’s pleasingly broad in its scope.
Anne Enright’s The Green Road and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life are now familiar faces on awards lists but I’m particularly excited to see Kate Atkinson’s phenomenal A God in Ruins finally getting the attention it deserves.
One of our picks for the Best New Books of 2016 made the list - Shirley Barrett’s charming novel of proto-feminism and whaling, Rush Oh!, and Elizabeth McKenzie’s witty, clever The Portable Veblen, one of our favourite books of 2016 so far.
Here are the openings of the twenty longlisted books to give you a taste in advance of the shortlist being revealed on the 11th April.
Words by ELLE Literary Editor Anna JamesMore
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton
“Even the kindness of the half-light could not hide his disfigurement. The man stood on my doorstep hunched against the chill of a winter morning. Despite the scarring, I could tell he was Japanese, in his forties or fifties. I had seen such burns before, blacker versions, in another life.”
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
“The eleventh apartment had only one closet, but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting across the way, outdoors in only a T-shirt and shorts even though it was October, smoking. Willem held up a hand in greeting to him, but the man didn’t wave back.”
At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison
“Here’s where it all ends: a long, straight road between fields. Four thirty on a May morning, the black fading to blue, dawn gathering somewhere below the treeline in the east. Imagine a Roman road. No, go back further: imagine a broad track, in use for centuries by the tribes who lives and fought and died on these islands, whose blood lives on in us.”