These #Mustreads are from the shortlist of one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, the BAILEYS Women’s Prize for Fiction – previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction. The award celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The winner receives £30,000.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie From the award-winning author of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, a powerful story of love, race and identity. As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdøttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jøn Jønsson and family. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, they avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tøti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, tries to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride – on order. Won the Goldsmiths prize, shortlisted for the Folio prize, this debut novel tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense; a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist.Touches on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Aged 13, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, he glides between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love; his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri Rated 5 star Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, ‘The Lowland’ is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee An immensely powerful first novel set in Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II, its ambition and achievement reminiscent of Rachel Seiffert’s ‘The Dark Room’, Hans Fallada’s ‘Alone in Berlin’, and Helen Dunmore’s ‘The Siege’