Best of the best... Bailey's women's prize for fiction
Sutherland Shire Libraries Friday, November 06, 2015
The Baileys Prize celebrated its 20th anniversary by asking former judges to choose the best winning novel from the past 10 years." The best of the best". Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the 2007 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and has now been named the "Best of the Best" of all winners in the past decade.
The winners of the past decade are:
2006 - On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering Professor at Wellington College. He has been married for thirty years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths, and faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Then Jerome, Howard's oldest son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps. Increasingly, the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register . . .
2007 – Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene.
2008 – The Road Home by Rose Tremain
On the coach, Lev chose a seat near the back and he sat huddled against the window, staring out at the land he was leaving ...' Lev is on his way to Britain to seek work, so that he can send money back to Eastern Europe to support his mother and little daughter.Readers will become totally involved with his story, as he struggles with the mysterious rituals of 'Englishness', and the fashions and fads of the London scene. We see the road Lev travels through Lev's eyes, and we share his dilemmas: the intimacy of his friendships, old and new; his joys and sufferings; his aspirations and his hopes of finding his way home, wherever home may be.
2009 – Home by Marilynne Robinson
Glory Boughton has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. soon her brother, Jackthe prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty yearscomes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with torment and pain.
A troubled boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. He is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Reverend Boughton’s most beloved child. Brilliant, beguiling, lovable and wayward, Jack forges an intense new bond with Glory and engages painfully with John Ames, his godfather and namesake.
2010 – The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.
2012 – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes
Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper.They have been uneasy rivals since childhood.Then one day George loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life.
2014 – A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
This incredible debut novel tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, 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, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist.
How to Be Both by Ali Smith
Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith's novels are like nothing else. How to be Both is a novel all about art's versatility. Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it's a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There's the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real - and all life's givens get given a second chance.