33 comments on “Reading the Women’s Prize Longlist | Wrap Up, Wish list & Shortlist Predictions

  1. I have a distinct sense of deja vue. Because last year you were also all like “ah, I don’t know if I’ll read them all” and then finished first. I am still very impressed that you managed to speed through this very underwhelming list. I am unsure whether I will continue on because I am just dreading all the books I have left to read. But yay for Actress!
    (Also, Rachel’s numbers were wrong. O’Farrell (she of the Irish name) is indeed Irish.)

    • I did, indeed 😂 Something about this prize always seems to draw me back in. I can’t say I’d blame you; there aren’t many on the list that stand out enough to warrant pushing through if you aren’t feeling motivated to do so.

      I believe O’Farrell was born in Northern Ireland rather than the Republic, which means she would count as being from the UK. Her nationality is usually given as either British or British-Irish, but I’m not certain how she personally identifies.

      • It’s just – I am tired of reading about all these horrible parents. I wish the books were a little more varied in themes. And why is it the second year running without a proper speculative fiction title? Myth retellings don’t count. Maybe next year the new Emily St. John Mandel will be longlisted! (Next year could be SO good)

        She personally identifies as Irish (Rachel had a bit of a “how could I not know this” frantic Google-search when she realized she had not successfully identified all the Irish lit on the longlist. I can’t think of anything more on brand for her to be honest.)

        • Yes, I totally agree! The list in general is lacking variety. Fingers crossed for a great list next year.

          That makes sense but she would still be listed as a UK author in this context, I think. (The way that I’m Scottish but that means I would be listed as from the UK). It’s essentially the difference between the UK and Great Britain, which most people use interchangeably, but where the former includes Northern Ireland, the latter doesn’t.

  2. I like your ideal shortlist! It’s not the same as mine but I wouldn’t be unhappy to see those six books at all.

    I still haven’t read The Mercies but I’m really looking forward to it.

    • A decent shortlist would at least help to soften the disappointment of an underwhelming longlist! My prediction last year was way off, so I’m intrigued to see what happens.

      I hope you enjoy The Mercies! It’s very much in my wheelhouse anyway, but I think it’s a genuinely great novel, and I’ve seen quite a few other rave reviews recently.

  3. I am so impressed by the fact that you finished everything + the other two Mantel books and so fast! WE LOVE TO SEE IT. I think we all agree that this year’s longlist is seriously underwhelming. And I think your predicted shortlist is spot on!

  4. Great post and well done on reading the whole longlist! I agree that the candidates this year are overall underwhelming. There have been some really positive reviews of a few I’d written off/never heard of though, which is always a great part of following a prize. 🙂

  5. Congrats again on reading through the entire longlist (and Wolf Hall series)! 🙂 This is my first year of closely following the Women’s Prize/trying to read the entire list, and I agree that it’s kind of disappointing (although I’ve only read 10/16 books so far ahhh). I probably wouldn’t have read Actress if it weren’t for this year’s longlist, though, so that was a definite plus. I really like your ideal shortlist, and would be so excited if the actual shortlist even kind of resembled it!

    • Thank you so much! 😊 It’s a shame your first year committing to the prize was a largely disappointing one. Here’s hoping we at least get a decent shortlist out of it, and that 2021 is a lot stronger overall!

  6. I love how you structured this blog post – such an interesting read! I haven’t worked my way through the long list nearly as successfully as you have, but this post has given me a great idea of where to start. I’m excited for the big reveal of shortlisted novels soon☺️

  7. I used to read this longlist and shortlist every year, and Eric Anderson, Antonia Honeywell and I shadowed the official jury two or three years running. But its move towards commerciality has left me so uninspired by recent lists; this year is the first year I haven’t been able to bring myself to care enough to even try reading along. I’m impressed by those of you who are still doing so–good work! And it’ll be interesting to see what happens when there’s such a huge gap between shortlist announcement and winner announcement. But I don’t think the Women’s Prize is for me anymore, really.

    • Thank you! I can’t say I blame you, to be honest. I think there has been a sense the past few years that they aren’t sure what kind of prize they want to be anymore. I like that they’ve always attempted to select books that blend accessibility with literary merit, but I think the balance was certainly off this year. Fingers crossed for a judging panel more aligned with the Prize’s original ethos next year!

  8. Ah, CONGRATS on finishing the list! It’s so exciting that at least one of the group managed it, and especially with the entire Mantel trilogy in the mix! I agree with so many of your overall thoughts on this year’s list; I’m aiming to have a post up tomorrow but I could just as well link yours, I felt so similarly! 🙂
    I’d love to see your top choices make the shortlist, although I also worry we’ve not seen the last of The Dutch House yet. :/

    • Thank you so much! You did great with the list as well, especially considering you weren’t able to get started with it right away.

      Yeah, something tells me it’s got a strong chance of making it, but fingers crossed we at least end up with a decent shortlist! 🤞🏻

  9. Congrats on finishing this! Especially impressive considering how underwhelming it was. 🙂 It’s been fun to watch y’all talk through the process and the books, even as someone who isn’t participating!

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  12. Following along with a few of you, underwhelmed is a good way to put it. Almost none of have jumped at me and I’ve only added two to my TBR.

    • It’s a shame this year’s selection seems to have been disappointing most readers, but I still like the prize’s ethos enough to keep following along. Hopefully next year’s list is a little more exciting! And I hope you enjoy the two you added to your TBR!

  13. I like your ideal shortlist! I haven’t gotten to Actress or Hamnet yet, so those sound promising. It looks like others have loved it too.

    I was actually contemplating between Fleishman and The Dutch House for my actual shortlist, just because TDH is so commercially successful. I don’t know what that means for the prize that I’m thinking the judges would pick buzzier books over those that truly deserve it. I’m holding out for the best, though – we’ll know the announcement very soon!

  14. Not knowing if you’ll read the longlist and then finishing first is YOUR BRAND. Actress and How We Disappeared are my top picks as well right now, despite the fact that I haven’t even finished the former. What an underwhelming list indeed.

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