Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, learned something,, become a better person. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.

-Nora Ephron

Image result for irish times poster of irish women writers

Last weekend ‘The Irish Times’ published a keepsake poster of 12 Irish women writers, having narrowed down the selection chosen by 40 writers and academics who were asked to nominate their favourite female author. They were also asked to explain the reasons for their choice in 180 words or less. In total, 62 short articles on the theme of Irish women writers have been published on their web site, irishtimes.com. Apart from the importance of highlighting the literary standing of many of our major female writers, and thus hopefully enticing those who have neither heard nor read their works yet, there is also the interest generated in the wider world of women’s writing in such a project as this. The importance of such initiatives cannot be underestimated.

BAILEYS Women's Prize for Fiction

One other such initiative of significance is The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. Previously known as The Orange Women’s Prize for Fiction, the longlist was finally published on 10th March. Speaking about the longlist, which unfortunately doesn’t contain any Irish women writers this year, the Chair of judges, Shami Chakrabarti, says,

The Prize’s 20th year is a particularly strong one for women’s fiction. All judges fought hard for their favourites and the result is a 2015 list of 20 to be proud of – with its mix of genres and styles, first-timers and well-known names from around the world.

The following 20 titles now need to be culled back to a shortlist of six, which will be announced on 13th April. The overall winner will be announced on 3rd June 2015.

Rachel Cusk: Outline

Lissa Evans: Crooked Heart

Patricia Ferguson: Aren’t We Sisters?

Xiaolu Guo: I Am China

Samantha Harvey: Dear Thief

Emma Healey: Elizabeth is Missing

Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven

Grace McCleen: The Offering

Sandra Newman: The Country of Ice Cream Star

Heather O’Neil: The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

Laline Paull: The Bees

Marie Phillips: The Table of Less Valued Knights

Rachel Seiffert: The Walk Home

Kamila Shamsie: A God in Every Stone

Ali Smith: How to be Both

Sara Taylor: The Shore

Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread

Sarah Waters: The Paying Guest

Jemma Wayne: After Before

PP Wong: The Life of a Banana

Doubtless we all have our own personal favourites which have surprised us by their omission. Mine is Lila by Marilynne Robinson, the long awaited sequel to Gilead and Home.

And if you’re interested in joining in the discussion of this year’s nominated novels, check out The Bailey’s Prize Shadow Panel 2015. Expect it to be lively!

Have you read any on the list? Which are your favourites? What do you plan to read next?

Right now I’m currently reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and hope to post a review of it very soon!

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