This is both a love note and a quick rant. This is a post about being bookishly devastated – if that is even a thing: British author Kate Atkinson has not been shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women Prize for fiction, even though her latest novel, A God in Ruins, made it to the long list. What can I say? I am both surprised and angry, but I saw it coming. Atkinson has been snubbed at numerous literary prizes for ages. Her novels offer readers a complex, rich, humourous, dark and unique take on diverse themes that range from everyday life to moral relativism.
I can take the cynical route and diminish the power of prizes and trophies, and say that a work of art’s value lies on itself, rather on the recognition from outsiders – see the controversy regarding the Academy Awards this year. However, I have a lot of respect for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and I truly believe if anyone deserves it, that’s Atkinson. I, like many others on the Internet, already thought Atkinson deserved that prize for her previous novel, Life After Life, which is such a complex work of art I’m terrified at writing anything scholarly on it.
While I am writing this, I wonder if Atkinson is still suffering backlash from her feminist comments while promoting her novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum back in the 1990’s. I wonder if that journalist who twisted her words to make her say all women should live together in an Amazon-like world with no men. I wonder if after that terrible experience that led to Atkinson cutting almost all contact with the press, she is still trying to heal, I know I would. But, most importantly, I wonder if those twisted words, if Kate Atkinson’s feminism (which she hasn’t openly commented on) is still haunting her. As if the rumour of being a feminist could destroy someone in 2016. I hope from the bottom of my heart that it is not the case because I want Kate Atkinson to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction. I also hope I get to write a love letter to Atkinson next year along with a congratulations note. She deserves it. We all know it.