The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction has finalised a longlist of possible winners for the prestigious literary award.
Published on International Women's Day, the longlist offers a selection of the year's best full-length novels written in English by a female author – whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter.
The novels were selected by an all-female panel of five judges: CEO House Productions Tessa Ross, presenter and broadcaster Katie Derham, comic Sara Pascoe, novelist, memoirist and essayist Aminatta Forna, and journalist, author and co-founder of website The Pool Sam Baker.
"The judges had a large number of books of extraordinary quality to choose from this year, and so I can't say that it was an easy process to come up with a list as short as 16," commented Ross, the chair of the judges. "However, we're all thrilled by where we've ended up and truly excited by the quality and range of talent on this year's longlist. It's a great showcase for the very best contemporary women's fiction – we hope that it will inspire readers everywhere."
This year's longlist honours both new and well-established writers and different genres. Authors debuting their first novel such as Emma Flint, Fiona Melrose and Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀ are competing against seasoned writers like Margaret Atwood, who has published 16 novels in her career. Three former prize winners feature in the longlist: Eimear McBride, Rose Tremain and Linda Grant.
Now in its 22nd edition, the UK-based prize has recognised authors from a variety of other countries. This year, the prize features authors from the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, South Africa and Nigeria.
The prize co-founder and honorary director, author Kate Mosse, said that the idea to launch the award first came in 1991, following the absence of female authors in that year's Man Booker prize shortlist. Even since its first edition in 1996, the prize has sought to award "excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world". It consolidated the status of writers such as Zadie Smith (2006 winner), Hilary Mantel (three-time nominee) and Marilynne Robinson (2009 winner).
The 2017 shortlist will be announced on 5 April and the winner will be crowned at an awards ceremony on 7 June. A sum of £30,000 is given to the gong-grabber.