Podcasts, Recommendations

Annie Mac: ‘I really felt an urge to learn something new’

Photo of Annie Mac

In this week’s ‘Bookshelfie’ episode of the Women’s Prize Podcast, Yomi Adegoke sits down with DJ, presenter and now novelist Annie Macmanus, to discuss the five books by women that have impacted her life and career. They discuss the similarities of the Nigerian and Irish immigrant experiences in the UK, and the impact of Gaelic on Annie’s writing; Annie’s rejection by 12 publishers before finding her editor for her debut novel Mother, Mother, and how she has begun to grow out of the ‘persona’ of Annie Mac.

Read on for Annie’s five favourite books by women, and you can listen to her episode in full here.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Life isn’t easy for Margaret. She’s moved away from her childhood home, she’s starting a new school, finding new friends…

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“It’s a of coming of age story that really reflects, quite powerfully, a lot of what I was going through at the time. You know, it’s such a mad time, isn’t it? It’s so sensory, your body is changing, everything is changing, your hormones are going wild. I remember it being really scary and frightening, the physicality of it, what it looked like and what it felt like.”

Peig: The Autobiography of Peig Sayers of the Great Blasket Island

Peig is among the most famous expressions of a late Gaelic Revival genre of personal histories by and about inhabitants…

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“Peig Sayers was not remarkable at all, as a woman. But what was remarkable is that she told the story of her life to her son, who then dictated it in in Gaelic. And it became a huge book on the Irish language curriculum for a lot of Irish people. To a lot of Irish people this brings back  the struggle of learning Irish, but for me, personally, it means a lot because it reminds me that at the age of kind of 17, I was pretty much fluent in the Irish language.”



Dazzling novel from Carol Shields, author of ‘The Stone Diaries’, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and ‘Larry’s Party’, winner of…

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“It’s an angry book. It’s from the perspective of a 44-year-old woman who’s a writer, entering into middle age and starting to feel frustration and anger at the patriarchy, about the of miniaturising of women. I read it when I had just turned 40, and was having all these reassessments of my life, and what I’ve been doing, my motivations,  my choices over the years – and I really felt an urge to learn something new. And I started a writing course, which started me off on my journey to writing [my debut novel] Mother Mother.”

The Green Road

The Green Road

A darkly glinting novel set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, The Green Road is a story of fracture and family, selfishness…

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“I love everything about this book. It is so powerful. I’m sure this was not Anne Enright’s intention, but it feels like it’s so exceptionally good, that it feels like she’s showing off. How good is it basically a book about a family and Irish family. I love that how Irish it is, and I relate to so much of it. I learned so much from it. I often find myself having to stop and reread things over and over again, there’s such deftness to it, there’s never an extra word when there doesn’t need to be, everything is told in such a kind of condensed and unvarnished way.”

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is…

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“The context is that this is Sylvia Plath’s only book and she took her own life just a few months after it was published. It’s desperately, desperately sad. But I find her writing style so light, and so fresh, and entertaining. Obviously, she’s a poet, and you can really hear her poetry in the writing, but it never feels forced or over done or over lyrical in that way.”

Listen to the full conversation on the Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast here >

Make sure you subscribe in time for next week’s Bookshelfie, in which Yomi will be joined by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

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