Novels by Carol Shields, Zadie Smith and Donna Tartt head the longlist for the prestigious 2003 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Shields is a Pulitzer Prize winner
Shields, who won the Orange prize in 1998, is selected for Unless, while Smith's second novel The Autograph Man is chosen along with Tartt's best-seller The Little Friend.
The £30,000 prize honours the best of fiction written by women and the 20 writers on the longlist will be cut down to a shortlist of six before the winner is announced on 3 June.
Click here to see the long-list in full
The judging panel is chaired by writer Ahdaf Soueif, who has been short-listed for the 2003 Independent Foreign Fiction prize.
Last year's winner was Anne Patchett for her book Bel Canto. Previous winners of the prize include Kate Grenville, Linda Grant and Helen Dunmore.
This year's longlist also includes In the Forest, the controversial book by Edna O'Brien which was criticised for exploiting a real murder case that took place eight years ago in rural Ireland, near to where O'Brien grew up.
And another book on the list, Alice Seabold's The Lovely Bones, is about the abduction and murder of a teenager.
Edna O'Brien's book caused controversy last year
It was published at the same time as some high-profile abductions in the US and swept the country's bestseller lists before being released in the UK.
The Orange Prize was set in 1996 by a group of journalists, publishers and writers who were dismayed when the 1991 Booker prize shortlist contained no women writers.
"We were concerned at the idea that many of the biggest literary prizes often appeared to overlook wonderful writing by women," according to Kate Mosse, co-Founder and honorary director the Orange Prize.
"We did think that many novels by women were possibly not being brought to the attention of readers who'd appreciate them."
Back to top
The Orange Prize long-list:
Special by Bella Bathurst
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
English Correspondence by Janet Davey
Buddha Da by Anne Donovan
Dot in the Universe by Lucy Ellmann
What the Birds See by Sonya Hartnett
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
Heligoland by Shena Mackay
Property by Valerie Martin
In the Forest by Edna O'Brien
Fox Girl by Nora Okja Keller
When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Unless by Carol Shields
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh
Water Street by Crystal Wilkinson