Entertainment & Arts

Women's fiction prize shortlist includes debut work

Clockwise from top left: Rachel Cusk, Laline Paull, Kamila Shamsie, Sarah Waters, Anne Tyler, Ali Smith Image copyright Various
Image caption Clockwise from top left: Rachel Cusk, Laline Paull, Kamila Shamsie, Sarah Waters, Anne Tyler, Ali Smith

A debut novel about a female bee is one of six titles to be shortlisted for the 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

The Bees, by Laline Paull, joins titles by Rachel Cusk, Kamila Shamsie and Sarah Waters on this year's shortlist.

Ali Smith's Booker-nominated How to be Both and A Spool of Blue Thread, the 20th novel by American author Anne Tyler, complete this year's nominees.

Formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction, the £30,000 prize is open to any woman writing in English.

The winner of this year's prize will be announced at the Royal Festival Hall in London, on 3 June.

Last year's prize went to another debut novel, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Ireland's Eimear McBride.

'Fantasy book club'

Shami Chakrabarti, chair of this year's judging panel, called whittling down a shortlist from a longlist of 20 announced in March "the fantasy book club of a lifetime".

"The novels we shared and the shortlist we ultimately honour form a body of great women's writing to entertain and inspire for many years to come," said the director of Liberty, whose fellow judges include columnist Grace Dent and novelist Helen Dunmore.

Dunmore's A Spell of Winter won the inaugural prize, set up in 1996 to celebrate "excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world".

Image copyright Various

This year's nominees are as follows:

  • Outline by Rachel Cusk
  • The Bees by Laline Paull
  • A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie
  • How to be Both by Ali Smith
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Smith's novel, which dovetails two stories divided by 500 years, won the 2014 Costa Novel Award and the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize and was also shortlisted for the 2015 Folio Prize.

Cusk's novel, her eighth, tells of a female writer who goes to Athens to teach a writing course and was also shortlisted for this year's Folio Prize.

Shamsie's novel tells of two women who meet on a train bound for Peshawar in 1915, while Waters' work tells of a boarding house in south London in 1922.

Tyler's novel, which the 73-year-old author has said will be her last, explores several generations in the life of a Baltimore-based family.

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