Atwood and Tremain lead contenders on fiction prize longlist
Margaret Atwood and Rose Tremain are among the authors in the running for this year's Baileys Women's Prize For Fiction, it has been announced.
They were on the first longlist of 16 writers released on Wednesday, coinciding with International Women's Day.
Atwood's 16th novel Hag-Seed and Tremain's 14th book The Gustav Sonata made the list alongside debut works by authors Ayobami Adebayo, Emma Flint and Fiona Melrose.
Chair of the award's judging panel and chief executive of House Productions, Tessa Ross, said the 187 entries from around the world marked a crucial time for women's writing.
"What's happening in the world is making us even more aware of how important it is that women's voices are heard and that we talk about the rights of women and we support each other," she told the Press Association.
"The world is a scarier place and we need to be having these conversations more openly, more frequently and more loudly.
"We were looking for excellence in all ways, including stories that resonate with women and readers living now, even if they are not set in the present, because the exciting thing about reading is that it wakes you up to the world you are living in."
Commenting on the range of experience and nationalities in the list of authors, she added: "All diversity is something we should strive to do more of and celebrate.
"What marks out all of the entries is that they have found themselves in the world and found a way of looking at it.
"It's really interesting that this list is so diverse as that's not how it was discussed - it just came as a result of passionate readers - but it's thrilling that it's representing a big, broad, open world."
The judges panel for the 22nd annual prize also includes journalist Sam Baker, presenter Katie Derham, writer Aminatta Forna and comedian Sara Pascoe.
A condensed shortlist of entries will be announced on April 3 with the final awards ceremony on June 7 at London's Royal Festival Hall.
The winner will receive a cheque for £30,000 and the bronze "Bessie", previously won by the likes of Tremain, Zadie Smith, Helen Dunmore and AM Homes.
::The full longlist includes:
Stay With Me, by Ayobami Adebayo
The Power, by Naomi Alderman
Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood
Little Deaths, by Emma Flint
The Mare, by Mary Gaitskill
The Dark Circle, by Linda Grant
The Lesser Bohemians, by Eimear McBride
Midwinter, by Fiona Melrose
The Sport of Kings, by CE Morgan
The Woman Next Door, by Yewande Omotoso
The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O'Neill
The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
Barkskins, by Annie Proulx
First Love, by Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien
The Gustav Sonata, by Rose Tremain