Bee novel up for Women's Prize
A debut novel told from the perspective of a lowly worker bee is in the running for this year's Women's Prize For Fiction.
Laline Paull, 50, has been longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction for her "thriller", The Bees.
It tells the story of a beehive from the point of view of Flora 717, a female "mutant" bee and sanitation worker.
Paull penned her first novel at the age of seven but went on to build a career as a screenwriter and playwright and did not attempt another until she "became obsessed" with bees.
She began reading about bees after a beekeeper friend she had met at a community choir died at a young age from cancer.
The Bees took its author 14 months to write.
"You could honestly not invent the world of the beehive. It's like a hall of mirrors of our society," the London-born author previously told The Herald.
"As I read, I discovered that the truth really is stranger than fiction, that a beehive is a matriarchal society that hasn't changed in 40,000 years."
Twenty authors have been longlisted for the award, previously known as the Orange prize and now in its 20th year.
They include US writer Anne Tyler, who at 74 is the oldest author on the list and has been longlisted for her 20th novel A Spool of Blue Thread.
Debut British writers include Jemma Wayne, the daughter of Jeff Wayne, who created the musical adaptation of HG Wells' science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds.
Wayne has been longlisted for After Before, about three women who reach crisis point.
Established writers include Tipping The Velvet author Sarah Waters, for The Paying Guests, and Scottish writer Ali Smith for How To Be Both.
Chair of the judges, campaign group Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, said: "The Prize's 20th year is a particularly strong one for women's fiction.
"All judges fought hard for their favourites and the result is a 2015 list of 20 to be proud of - with its mix of genres and styles, first-timers and well-known names from around the world.
"There is a very strong showing of UK writers and we are all incredibly excited about the final stages of the search for the winner."
The winner of the prize, open to all women writing in English, receives £30,000, and will be announced at a ceremony in London on June 3.
:: The longlist
Rachel Cusk, Outline
Lissa Evans, Crooked Heart
Patricia Ferguson, Aren't We Sisters?
Xiaolu Guo, I Am China
Samantha Harvey, Dear Thief
Emma Healey, Elizabeth Is Missing
Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven
Grace McCleen, The Offering
Sandra Newman, The Country Of Ice Cream Star
Heather O'Neill, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
Laline Paull, The Bees
Marie Phillips, The Table Of Less Valued Knights
Rachel Seiffert, The Walk Home
Kamila Shamsie, A God In Every Stone
Ali Smith, How To Be Both
Sara Taylor, The Shore
Anne Tyler, A Spool Of Blue Thread
Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests
Jemma Wayne, After Before
PP Wong, The Life Of A Banana