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20 Incredible Books From The Past Year That You Need To Read Right Now

Here’s the longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction 2016.

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The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has just announced its 2016 longlist.

Bailey's Prize / Via womensprizeforfiction.co.uk

The longlist, comprised of 20 books, celebrates the best fiction written by women. Here are the books the judges selected:

1. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Teddy – would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father and grandfather – navigates the perils and progress of the twentieth century and faces up to his greatest challenge: living in a future he never expected to have. (Doubleday)

2. Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908 – a season marked not only by the sparsity of whales and the terrible weather, but also by the arrival of John Beck, an itinerant whaleman with a murky past, on whom Mary promptly develops an all-consuming crush. But hers is not the only romance to blossom amidst the blubber… (Virago)

3. Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East-Texas town. For Ruby Bell, Liberty was a place of devastating violence from which she fled to seedy, glamorous 1950s New York. Years later, pulled back home, thirty-year-old Ruby is faced with the seething hated of a town desperate to destroy her. Witnessing her struggle, Ephram must choose loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy. (Two Roads)

4. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

Anointed as the chosen one when just a shepherd boy, David will rise to be king, grasping the throne and establishing his empire. In a life that takes him from obscurity to fame, he is by turns hero and traitor. His wives love and fear him; his sons will betray him. It falls to Natan, the courtier and prophet who both counsels and castigates David, to tell the truth about the path he must take. (Little, Brown)

5. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much: a quiet spot to call home, adventures in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities and life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants, until they are offered the job of a lifetime, and they soon discover that though space may be vast, spaceships are very small indeed. (Hodder & Staughton)

6. A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

When a badly scarred man knocks on the door of Amaterasu Takahashi’s retirement home and says that he is her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Amaterasu knows her grandson and her daughter died in Nagasaki, so this man is either a miracle or a cruel trick. The stranger forces Amaterasu to revisit her past. For years she has held on to the idea that she did what she had to do to protect her family… but now nothing seems certain. We can’t rewrite history, but can we create a new future? (Hutchinson)

7. Whispers Through a Megaphone by Rachel Elliott

35-year-old Miriam hasn’t left her house in three years, and cannot raise her voice above a whisper. But today she has had enough, and is finally ready to rejoin the outside world. Meanwhile, timid psychotherapist Ralph has discovered that his wife Sadie doesn’t love him and decides to run away. Miriam and Ralph’s chance meeting in a local wood marks the beginning of a quirky and mutually supportive friendship. Because sometimes, the world can seem too much for just one person… (One)

8. The Green Road by Anne Enright

The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined, in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold. (Jonathan Cape)

9. The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

Memory is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. (Faber & Faber)

10. Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy

The most enigmatic of oligarchs, Gorsky has been led to London by his love for Natalia. His mansion by the Thames is set to make Buckingham Palace look ungainly. At its heart will be a grand library. Now he just needs the books. When Gorsky’s armour-plated car halts in front of a down-at-heel bookshop, the startled bookseller suddenly gains privileged access to the wealthy and the beautiful; a world filled with delectable books but fraught with danger. (Chatto & Windus)

11. The Anatomist’s Dream by Clio Gray

Philbert is born with a taupe, a disfiguring inflammation of the skull. Abandoned by both parents, and with only a pet pig for company, he finds refuge in Maulwerf’s Fair of Wonders as it makes its way across Germany. He soon finds a family in the weird assortment of travelling entertainers. But then Philbert meets Kwert, a meeting that sets them both on an altogether darker and more perilous journey. (Myrmidon)

12. At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison

Four-thirty on a May morning. A long, straight road runs between sleeping fields to the little village of Lodeshill, and on it two cars lie wrecked. Howard and Kitty have recently moved to Lodeshill after a life spent in London, Jamie has lived in the village for all of his nineteen years and dreams of leaving it behind, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker, arrives in the village on foot one spring morning, bringing change. All four are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside; all are trying to find ways to belong. (Bloomsbury)

13. Pleasantville by Attica Locke

In Houston a mayoral election looms, with campaigns focused on Pleasantville – the African-American neighbourhood that has swung almost every poll since it was founded in 1949. Axel Hathorne, former chief of police, is on the verge of becoming Houston’s first black mayor, until a girl goes missing and Axel’s nephew is charged with her murder. The trial threatens to blow the entire community wide open, and reveal how far those with power will go to hold onto it. (Serpent's Tail)

14. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society; fifteen-year-old drug dealer Ryan, his alcoholic father Tony, religious convert Georgie, accidental murderer Maureen, and fearsome gangster Jimmy, the son Maureen was forced to give up years before. (John Murray)

15. The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Meet Veblen. She’s an experienced cheerer-upper, an amateur translator, and a passionate defender of the anti-consumerist views of her namesake, the economist Thorstein Veblen. Now meet her fiancé, Paul: a no-nonsense, high-flying neuroscientist who's work on minimising battlefield brain trauma has led him dangerously close to a shady-sounding deal with the Department of Defence. What could possibly go wrong? (Fourth Estate)

16. Girl at War by Sara Nović

Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-year-old until civil war splinters Ana’s idyllic childhood. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world. New York, 2001. Now a college student in Manhattan, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with the events that interrupted her childhood years before. (Little, Brown)

17. The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester

John Venton’s drunken fall from a Devon cliff leaves his family with an embarrassing ghost. His twin children flee in separate directions to take up their adult lives. Their mother, enraged by years of unhappy marriage, embraces merry widowhood. Only their grandfather finds solace in the crumbling family house, endlessly painting their story onto a large canvas map, a map that holds a devastating secret. (Viking)

18. The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Annie McDee is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected second-hand shop when a grimy painting catches her eye. Annie has stumbled across ‘The Improbability of Love’, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the eighteenth century. In her search for the painting’s true identity, Annie will uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so, she will learn more about herself, opening up to the possibility of falling in love again. (Bloomsbury)

19. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Lucy Barton, recovering from what should have been a simple operation, is visited by her estranged mother. The visit forces Lucy, who escaped her impoverished childhood in Illinois by moving to New York, to confront her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, and her love for her two daughters. (Viking)

20. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Four graduates from a small Massachusetts college – Willem, JB, Malcolm and Jude – move to New York to make their way. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet each comes to realise their greatest challenge is Jude himself, who by midlife is a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood. (Picador)

The 2016 Baileys Prize will be announced June 8.

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