The winner of the 2017 Baileys Prize will be announced tomorrow, 7 June, and Nigeria’s Ayobami Adebayo, who is shortlisted for her debut novel Stay with Me, is the bookmakers’ second favourite to win. At 29, Ayobami is the youngest author on the shortlist, and if she wins, she will become the second African to do so.

According to The Bookseller, bookmakers William Hill’s latest odds have placed British author Naomi Alderman in pole position to take the prize for her fourth novel The Power. Alderman’s chances are at 9/4. Ayobami’s stand at 5/2.

The six shortlisted novels.

In third place, with her second novel The Sport of Kings, is American author C.E. Morgan at 5/1. In joint fourth place, at 6/1 odds, are Britain’s Gwendoline Riley for her fifth novel First Love and Canada’s Madeleine Thien for her third novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing. At 7/1, William Hill’s fifth favourite is the 2000 winner of the prize Linda Grant for her sixth novel The Dark Circle.

Ayobami might be second favourite but she has immediate history on her side: In 2016, the bookies’ favourite was Anne Enright’s The Green Road but the prize went to Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies which was the second favourite. However, the only time an African won the prize—Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun in 2007—she had been the favourite.

Stay with Me is one of the most praised novels of the year. The Guardian calls it “a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit.” Daily Mail says it “packs a tremendous punch” and describes Ayobami as “hotly-tipped.” The Times (UK) details how it “unfolds the many layers of truth with insight and skill.” Mail on Sunday hails its “deceptively simple prose.” ELLE (UK) calls it a “closely observed, heartbreaking and original tale of the desperate attempts we make to save ourselves from severing the very bonds that make us.” Here is a synopsis from Stay with Me‘s publishers Penguin Random House:

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

Founded in 1996 as the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is awarded to the best novel by a woman in a given year. The winner will take home £30,000 and a limited edition bronze statue known as The Bessie, created by the artist Grizel Niven. The ceremony will take place in The Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, central London.

At Brittle Paper, we are excited at the real possibility of Ayobami winning. We wish her the best of luck tomorrow. We hope she wins.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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