The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017

I love the Bailey’s Prize. I’ve barely done a single post recently which hasn’t featured a Bailey’s book in one capacity or another. Initially, I was planning on reading the whole shortlist, but in all honesty there were a couple on the list which I didn’t love the sound of, those being Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle and Gwendoline Riley’s First Love. If either of those ends up being the winner, I’ll get over myself and read them, but for now they don’t particularly appeal to me.

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
I posted a full review of this last night, but it’s a stunningly written look at race, class, family and legacy against the backdrop of horse breeding in the American South. I found it challenging, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
This is the one I read longest ago; I actually read it pretty much as soon as it came out last Autumn. It’s an examination of a world in which women develop the physical advantage over men, with themes of abuse, corruption and cults. I adored this and have been recommending it to everyone, particularly fans of Margaret Atwood.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
This is a sweeping novel, set over several decades and taking in multiple generations of a family of musicians before, during and after Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Thien seamlessly incorporates history and politics into her narrative while still telling deeply personal, moving stories.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
I can’t stop talking about how good this book is. If we had it in stock in the bookshop where I work, I would have been forcing it on every customer who walked through the door. It is visceral and raw and heartbreaking.

For me, it’s a toss up between Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Stay With Me. While I did like the other two that I’ve read, these two are both novels that I have kept thinking about over and over again, which moved me very much when I read them and which brought me new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. I would be overjoyed to see either of them win.

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