Entertainment & Arts

Baileys Women's Prize list dominated by debut writers

Shortlisted: (clockwise from top left) Donna Tartt, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hannah Kent, Eimear McBride and Audrey Magee Image copyright Marco Delogu, Beowulf Sheehan, Nocholas Purcell
Image caption Shortlisted: (clockwise from top left) Donna Tartt, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hannah Kent, Eimear McBride and Audrey Magee

Three debut writers are up against a former winner on the 2014 shortlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian writer whose Half of a Yellow Sun won the prize in 2007, is shortlisted for Americanah.

The first-time novelists are Hannah Kent, for Burial Rites; Audrey Magee, for The Undertaking; and Eimear McBride for A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing.

Donna Tartt completes the list with her best-seller The Goldfinch.

"We are very excited by the books we have chosen for the shortlist," said Helen Fraser, chair of judges.

"Each one is original and extraordinary in its own way - each offers something different and exciting and illuminating."

She added: "We feel you could give any one of these books to a friend with the absolute confidence that they would be gripped and absorbed and that maybe their view of the world would be changed once they had read it."

The £30,000 prize was known as the Orange Prize for Fiction between 1996 and 2012.

Any woman writing in English - whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter - is eligible.

The literary prize was funded privately in 2013 with liqueur company Baileys announced as the new sponsor in June.

This year's winner will be announced at London's Royal Festival Hall on 4 June.

The shortlist, announced in central London on Monday night, features two Irish authors - Magee and McBride. Tartt is American, Kent is Australian and London-born Lahiri grew up in the US where she now lives.

Tartt was shortlisted in 2003 for The Little Friend while Adichie was shortlisted the following year for Purple Hibiscus.

The Nigerian author's Americanah, her third novel, won the US National Critics Book Prize last month. It tells the story of a Nigerian woman who moves to the US to pursue a college education.

Lahiri's The Lowland - the story of two brothers brought up in Calcutta in the late 1960s - was shortlisted for last year's Man Booker Prize.

McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing won the first Goldsmiths Prize in 2013 and was shortlisted for the new Folio Prize in 2014.

Image copyright Baileys
Image caption Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 judges: (from left) Denise Mina, Sophie Raworth, Helen Fraser (chair), Mary Beard and Caitlin Moran

The debut novelist spent nine years trying to get the book published. Her work tells of a young woman's relationship with a brother still afflicted by a childhood brain tumour.

Tartt's The Goldfinch topped Amazon's list of the 100 best books of 2013. It focuses on the story of a teenage boy's survival after the death of his mother in Manhattan.

The longlist, announced a month ago, had included Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood's 14th book, Maddaddam, and New Zealand-born Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, which won the Man Booker prize in 2013.

Last year's women's fiction prize was won by US author AM Homes, who beat the double Booker-winning author Hilary Mantel with her satire May We Be Forgiven.

Homes became the fifth American writer in a row to win. The last British author to take the award was Rose Tremain, for The Road Home, in 2008.

This year's judging panel includes Cambridge classics professor Mary Beard, newsreader Sophie Raworth, columnist and author Caitlin Moran and writer Denise Mina.

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