A God in Every Stone

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The buzz was right, Laline Paull’s The Bees is a great read

Flora 717 knows her place. As a sanitation worker bee she is bottom of theimages heap inside her rigidly hierarchical world. But she is both happy and proud to be playing her allotted part in the smooth running of a society in which “Accept, Obey, Serve” provide both voluntary guidelines and the brutally enforced law. Inside the hive individual thoughts are dangerous. Obedience is absolute and self-sacrifice for the common good, the norm. Each member knows their place and finds reassurance within its parameters, however harsh.

The Bees, Laline Paull’s debut novel, was described by Publishers Weekly

A very long long list for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

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How many books is too many? I confess there’s more than a little self interest involved in the question.  The long list for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has just been announced and it’s a whopping 20 books long, albeit from 165 original applicants. The prize, which was previously known as the Orange, is for a full-length novel written in english by a woman of any nationality and published in the United Kingdom.

Of course a plus for having long lists longer than the customary 10 or 12 titles is that  many more authors are able to get their moment in the literary sunshine. This particularly applies to debut authors of which the long list has five including Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing, which won the Costa Prize, and Laline Paull’s dystopian The Bees. It also gives the judges the opportunity to broaden the range of work celebrated beyond what might be viewed as more “conventional” subject and style.

On the downside,  I know I am not alone in liking to read as many of the contenders for

Longlist of best historical novels released

photoAnd the Oscar goes to … oops, sorry, wrong golden moment. Just as the stars were celebrating winning an illustrious bald statue, 15 authors were having their own, quieter, moment of pleasure having been named on the longlist for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish novelist and poet, is considered by many a founding father of the historical novel with Ivanhoe, one of the collection known as the Waverley Novels, amongst his most famous books.

In coming up with the award longlist, which increased from 12 last year, the judges did a considerable amount of time travelling from 11th Century England (The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth) to 17th Century Amsterdam (The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton) to 20th Century Europe (The Zone by Martin Amis) and  occasionally, even further afield. The shortlist will be announced next month with the final winner being revealed at the Borders Book Festival in June. Previous winners are: Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall), Andrea Levy (The Long Story), Sebastian Barry (On Canaan’s Side), Tan Twan Eng (The Garden of Evening Mists) and Robert Harris (An Officer and a Spy).

The full long list is:

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