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Essays,  Random

Kate Atkinson Not Shorlisted for the Bailey’s Prize… Yet Again

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.

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10 Comments

  • Ivalleria

    What a nice post! I don’t know this author’s work but I am always ready to suspect prize committees of working off of nepotism and politics instead of quality.

    • Elena

      I hope you get to read her works, IValleria, they are amazing. And for the Bailey’s, they’ve always made good decisions, I think, despite systematically ignoring Atkinson for two decades now.

  • Bibliobroads Kelly

    I know, what the hell?? I revere Kate Atkinson! Yup, I too am ‘bookishly devastated’ but then again, some extraordinary artists throughout history did not win the big prizes in the field & yet, it is them who we remember/read/admire/study today. Still! Would’ve been nice for Kate to get shortlisted fer cripes sake! Never shy with my opinions, had to reply. Great piece Elena, Kelly

    • Elena

      Thank you, Kelly. It’s been two days and I still can’t believe it. I just don’t understand why Atkinson is so underrated. She is fantastic!!!

  • crimeworm

    Hear, hear! Couldn’t agree more. But you know something’s hinky when she didn’t get it for Life After Life. I’ve still to review it because – what can you say?

    • Elena

      I know! I was so sure she would get something big for Life After Life… It is one of the most complex, most diverse and most important novels I have read in my whole life. I even venture to say it is better than many of Atwood’s works. What happened there, then?

  • Lianne @ eclectictales.com

    I only took a passing look at the shortlist yesterday (and will need to look at it again) but the first thing that struck me was how Kate Atkinson wasn’t shortlisted for A God in Ruins. I’ll need to look back and see if Life After Life was but I thought A God in Ruins would’ve easily slotted in to the shortlist. I only got around to reading her books very recently so I can’t comment much on the notable absence of her titles for literary titles but I did enjoy A God in Ruins.

  • Elena

    I have to admit I haven’t read A God in Ruins yet because I want to have some time to enjoy it, and just read that, not be distracted by PhD reading. But I am more than 99% sure it is a great book, plus, everyone whose criteria I trust says so!

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