Here's the 20 strong list :
- Debra Adelaide - The Household Guide to Dying
- Gaynor Arnold - Girl in a Blue Dress
- Lissa Evans - Their Finest Hour and a Half
- Bernardine Evaristo - Blonde Roots
- Ellen Feldman - Scottsboro
- Laura Fish - Strange Music
- V.V. Ganeshananthan - Love Marriage
- Allegra Goodman - Intuition
- Samantha Harvey - The Wilderness
- Samantha Hunt - The Invention of Everything Else
- Michelle de Kretser - The Lost Dog
- Deirdre Madden - Molly Fox’s Birthday
- Toni Morrison - A Mercy
- Gina Ochsner - The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight
- Marilynne Robinson - Home
- Preeta Samarasan - Evening is the Whole Day
- Kamila Shamsie - Burnt Shadows
- Curtis Sittenfeld - American Wife
- Miriam Toews - The Flying Troutmans
- Ann Weisgarber - The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
Okay, the stats : American authors predominate (9/20) ; 6/20 are first novels (including, of course, Preeta's); four authors have been previously longlisted, and two of those reached the shortlist. Random House has more authors on the list than any other publisher (7/20).
Toni Morrison's is clearly the name spoken in most hushed tones ... but the British press is focusing on perhaps the most unlikely heroine of the list - Birmingham social worker Gail Arnor whose novel - a fictionalised account of the about the aftermath of Dicken's death - proves once again the dynamism of the tiny Tyndall Street Press. Some surprising names not on the list inc Helen Garner and Zoe Heller.
And the most common theme seems to be exile and migration.
Tomorrow, I bet, the bitching will start about how dare there be a woman-only literary prize, as it does every year. No-one has got around to starting up the Banana Bonanza for Blokes yet to shut these people up.
The shortlist will be announced on 21st April and the shortlist for the Orange Award for New Writers on 7th April. The winners of both awards will be announced at a ceremony on the 3rd June.
Fingers crossed for Preeta once again.