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American authors dominate Man Booker 2015 longlist

American writers dominate the Man Booker Prize long list with five inclusions followed by the UK with three. Ireland, Jamaica, Nigeria, India and New Zealand all have one. Already this has fuelled a renewal of opposition to the expansion of the prize to writers from outside the UK& Commonwealth, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Ireland last year.

Review: Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread

spool_of_thread_3188819aThere is usually a reassuring feeling of familiarity when you open a book by Anne Tyler; like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen for a while. Everything is familiar but not the same. At the heart of A Spool of Blue Thread, her 20th novel, are the Whitshanks. Red is the head of a successful Baltimore construction company and he and his wife Abby, a former social worker, still live in the elegant house that his father, Junior, built almost 50 years before. Even they would concede that there is nothing remarkable about the family. This is no sweeping saga. Tyler’s focus, and where she consistently excels, is on the drama that lies within the ordinary everyday events and exchanges between the characters.

As three of their children, Amanda, Jennie and Stem pass from school to forge marriages and careers of their own, Denny, the troubled and troublesome one, consistently

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


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


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