Once my husband said to me “You tweet about book prizes so much… it seems like there’s a prize every week…”
Which made me inexplicably peevish and I said “So what?” and “This is a problem for you how?”
Granted, there does seem to be a particular time in the year when it’s Prize City (like how all our family birthdays happen at the end of November and we call November ‘Birthday Month’). That said, I really only pay close attention to the Stella Prize (shortlist announced this week, and the winner on April 19), the Baileys Prize (shortlist announced April 11 and winner on June 8), and the Man Booker (July and September action). I also like to hear the result of the Pulitzer (winner announced April 18) and the Man Booker International (winner announced May 16). But that’s really it.
Obviously my husband needs to cool his jets about book prizes (because there are lots of others I could tweet about).
But it did get me thinking – why do I love book prizes? Why do I love the announcement of a longlist and a shortlist so much?
First and foremost it’s a list. I just love lists.
Secondly, I like to see if the books I’ve loved have made the list – confirmation of my excellent taste in literature*. If there’s nothing I’ve read on a list (can’t actually remember this happening but….), then I get busy reading so that I have a book to cheer for.
So, with that in mind, here’s the Bailey’s Prize 2016 longlist:
A God In Ruins – Kate Atkinson
Rush Oh! – Shirley Barrett
Ruby – Cynthia Bond
The Secret Chord – Geraldine Brooks
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding – Jackie Copleton
Whispers Through a Megaphone – Rachel Elliott
The Green Road – Anne Enright
The Book of Memory – Petina Gappah
Gorsky – Vesna Goldsworthy
The Anatomist’s Dream – Clio Gray
At Hawthorn Time – Melissa Harrison
Pleasantville – Attica Locke
The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney
The Portable Veblen – Elizabeth McKenzie
Girl at War – Sara Nović
The House at the Edge of the World – Julia Rochester
The Improbability of Love – Hannah Rothschild
My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
I’m cheering for Rush Oh!, The Portable Veblen and My Name is Lucy Barton. There’s no question that I loved A Little Life but I just wonder if it’s too much of a book. Equally, I loved The Green Road but I’m not sure that it’s enough. I kind of expected Eileen to make the list but oh well… It’s a strong field and I don’t envy the judges the task ahead.
Later this week I’ll be posting and tweeting about the Stella Prize as well (so husband, if you’re reading this, either get off Twitter or calm your farm).
*smart-arse font used there.