Q&A with Martha Kearney, 2006 Chair

Today kicks off two weeks of BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour coverage celebrating 20 years of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Each of the ten Chairs of Judges from 2006 – 2015 will be interviewed individually about ‘their’ winning novel. Tune in today from 10am to hear 2006 Chair of Judges Martha Kearney discussing her year’s winning novel On Beauty by Zadie Smith.

Ahead of today’s interview we caught up with Martha to discuss the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, book recommendations and more.

Why do you think the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and celebrating women’s achievements is important?

The prize is a glorious way of celebrating the best of women’s writing throughout the world in its diversity from the most touching love story to the bleakest family tragedy.

Where and how do you pick up new books and recommendations? ​

I do look to prizes to pick up suggestions but I also pick the brains of my friends. I have a long list of recommendations on my phone. It’s great when a good independent bookshop can point you in the right direction.

What was the last book you read that you would recommend to a friend? 

Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg

Did you miss Martha discussing On Beauty on BBC Woman’s Hour? Don’t worry! You can catch up here.

Plus, make sure you cast your vote on the Woman’s Hour website for the ‘Best of the Best’ winning book from the last 10 years of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.