Author Naomi Alderman Wins Baileys Prize For Our New 'Handmaid's Tale'-Inspired Literary Obsession

The 42-year-old just scooped the Baileys prize for women's fiction and it's not hard to see why.

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'The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree. Root to top, central trunk branching and re-branching, spreading wider in ever-thinner, searching fingers. The shape of power is the outline of a living thing straining outward, sendings it fine tendrils a little further, and a little further yet.'

These spine-tingling words are the opening paragraph to author Naomi Alderman's dystopian novel, The Power, which just earned the writer Baileys prize for women's fiction.

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Last night, Alderman's thriller became the first science fiction novel to scoop the coveted award, based on a dystopian future where women and girls have the power to kill me with a single touch.

The chair of judges, film and TV producer Tessa Ross, admitted she thought the novel was the undisputed winner of the £30,000 prize, and caused much debate among her colleagues.

'This prize celebrates great writing and great ideas and The Power had that, but it also had urgency and resonance,' she said.

Describing the book as 'bold, accessible and beautifully written', Ross added she was impressed by the author's ability to discuss wider socio-political issues that affect humanity, from the hunger for power to the present-day political similarities in the narrative.

While Ross predicts The Power would become 'a classic of the future', the book has also drawn comparisons with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale – currently being screened on Channel 4, staring Elizabeth Moss – which isn't entirely surprising seeing as Atwood reportedly 'adopted' the north London writer in a mentoring scheme.

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In fact, Alderman's fourth novel is even dedicated to Atwood and her husband, Graeme Gibson, 'who have shown me wonders'. According to the Guardian, Atwood inspired the idea of the convent in The Power, where a select number of young women find safety away from the vengeful male community.

Naomi Alderman with her 'mentor', Margaret Atwood

In a bid to avoid spoilers (I'm only on page 15, myself, and already hooked) the book is said to chronicle men becoming fearful of women, boys being segregated into single-sex schools for safety, feminised religion, sex traffickers taking revenge on their attackers, and armies becoming female.

On the cover of the book, Atwood notes Alderman's book: 'Electrifying! Shocking! Will knock your socks off! Then you'll think twice, about everything!'

We couldn't agree more.

You can buy 'The Power' here.

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