Last year was the first time I read the entire Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist before the shortlist was announced. Though I didn’t necessarily love all of the titles, I adored the experience of following the prize, and the friendships that were forged from discussing it with fellow bloggers. My initial reaction to seeing this year’s longlist was, “How can I possibly have read so many eligible titles, but only two of them made the list???” Once I calmed down and got over myself, however, I realised it was a pretty interesting selection, nonetheless. So, let’s chat about it!
Ironically, I think one of the most notable things about this year’s list is which books are absent. Whether it’s titles that have had huge media coverage (The Testaments by Margaret Atwood); titles from well-established authors (Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson); titles that have had previous award success (The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak); titles that have generated big buzz within the bookish world (Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid); or simply some personal favourites from this year’s eligible titles (The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Long Bright River by Liz Moore), to name just a few; there are lots of big hitters that didn’t make the cut. In some ways, avoiding many of the ‘obvious’ picks is exciting, and once I started looking into the list properly, I started feeling more excited and optimistic about the prospect of committing to reading (almost) all of them once again.
The two I’ve read thus far are Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (click on the titles if you’d like to check out my reviews). I enjoyed both, and am perfectly happy to see them make the list. Weather by Jenny Offill, and Girl by Edna O’Brien were both already on my TBR, so I’m happy for the excuse to try and pick them up sooner rather than later.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, and Actress by Anne Enright were already firmly on my radar, and I’ve heard sufficiently good things about each of them to now officially add them to my TBR as well.
I knew next to nothing about Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie, Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, or How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee before the list was announced. Having looked into them, I’m definitely intrigued enough to want to give them a shot, and I’m really pleased I discovered a few exciting new-to-me books through the prize!
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, Dominicana by Angie Cruz, and The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo don’t immediately jump out at me. Depending on how well I get on with the ones I’m planning to prioritise, and the reviews I see coming in for them from fellow bloggers over the coming weeks, I may reach for them.
The only one I don’t want to read is Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. It doesn’t sound like my kind of thing at all, and I’ve seen a few ‘meh’ reviews from people I trust. We’ll see…
And last but not least, the only one I definitely won’t be reading is The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. It’s the third in a trilogy of historical behemoths, none of which I’ve read yet, and none of which particularly appeal to me – despite Mantel’s immense success and reputation (I know, don’t come for me, okay?). With a longlist this extensive already, there’s no way I can commit to making my way through that whole series within the next month or two.
So, taking stock, there are 11 titles that I would ideally like to have read by the time the shortlist/winner is announced, 3 that are maybes, 1 that’s unlikely, and 1 that’s a definite no. Honestly? I’m pretty happy with that. In an ideal world, I’d be able to wholeheartedly commit to the entire list every year, but as it is, I’m looking forward to following this one as best I can, and seeing where it takes me.
What about you? How many of the longlisted titles have you read? How many others do you plan to pick up? Which titles are you most surprised and/or sad didn’t make the cut? Let me know your thoughts!