Thoughts: The Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist

I love the Women’s Prize for Fiction. I mean, I love book awards in general but this one in particular delights me. I do love fiction written by women, so obviously this is my jam.

As usual, I have some thoughts.

But first, here is the longlist in all its glory:

  1. H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker (William Heinemann)
  2. The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Jonathan Cape)
  3. Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon (The Borough Press)
  4. Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig (Grove Press)
  5. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Corsair)
  6. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker)
  7. Sight by Jessie Greengrass (John Murray)
  8. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Harper Collins)
  9. When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy (Atlantic)
  10. Elmet by Fiona Mozley (Hodder & Stoughton)
  11. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton)
  12. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Tinder Press)
  13. A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert (Virago)
  14. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury)
  15. The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal (Viking)
  16. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury Circus)

I will not attempt to read the longlist because a) I am so very bad at TBRs (the fact that I still haven’t read Home Fire or Elmet even though I tried to read the Man Booker longlist is the perfect proof for that) and b) there are a few books I am not so sure about.

I have already read three of the books on this list:

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar and See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt and they have one thing in common: I rated them all two stars. Now, to be fair, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock I struggled with rating and here I can definitely see what makes it a great book for the right person. Which is why I don’t mind it being on the list. The other two (especially Manhattan Beach) I totally disagree with. They cannot possibly be two of the best books written by women this year. While I have seen some rave reviews for See What I Have Done, literally no one I follow thought Manhattan Beach was a masterpiece. And still, here it is. (I do love that literature is this subjective, I just like grumbling.)

I have also DNFed The Ministry of of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. I just could not get into it at all.

A couple of the books I already own:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie  both sound absolutely brilliant and I really should get to them soon now. I own Eleanor Oliphant on audio and loved the narrator’s accent (I do miss Scotland dearly sometimes).

Newly added to my TBR:

H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker, Sight by Jessie Greengrass and When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy. Those sound stunning and I cannot wait to get to them.

As for the rest: I am sure they are all very brilliant books but they just do not speak to me. Especially the Jesmyn Ward book has been praised by pretty much everyone but for some reason I am fairly sure I won’t enjoy it (I might be wrong about that). If it goes on to win, I will reconsider.

Overall, I am super intrigued by the list and the different genres and kinds of books on it. It looks like a good mix of famous authors and new authors, buzzed-about books and books that flew under my radar. Super exciting stuff.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning on reading the longlist? Is there a book on there that I should still consider reading? Is there a book you would have liked to be on the list?

18 thoughts on “Thoughts: The Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist

  1. Great post! I thought it was a really interesting list because, like you said, there was a great mix between very hyped books and pretty much unknown books. I think that’s what a long list should be like, as they have the power to introduce a lot of people to new reads they otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

    Like you, there are some on the list I’d like to read and others that don’t appeal to me personally, but I’m intrigued to see them all there for their own reasons. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s super weird that there are a couple books on there that I’ve seen reviewed almost entirely negatively. I mean, I guess everyone’s opinions are typically different but… it’s just strange! Anyway, this is just me saying I agree with you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Manhattan Beach is still baffling to me. And I say that as somebody who LOVED A Visit From The Good Squad. (I did briefly and meanly entertain the notion that people hadn’t actually read it when it started appearing on best of the year lists. But then again, yeah, yeah literature is subjective and I just really don’t get on with historical fiction lately)
      Other books that are controversial are often very experimental and people either love that or don’t. So yeah, baffling.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. I think it’s quite a wide ranging and interesting list. I’ve read about half of them and may attempt a couple more. I was surprised Tinman and Preti Tameka We That Are Young didn’t appear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always think I am fairly well-read and then those lists come along and I have only read a few (more than half of the books I read are genre fiction though).
      I was sure Ali Smith would make the list. While I am not planning on reading Winter, her work seems to important and timely to ignore.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought it was a really interesting longlist as well, for the combination of hyped and unknown titles. I’ve only read three also (See What I Have Done, Sing Unburied, and Elmet) and the inclusion of See What I Have Done absolutely baffles me. I can’t even fathom thinking that that book is good or important in any way, especially when there are some great titles that got overlooked this year. I’m also not going to try to read the longlist but I’m really looking forward to reading Home Fire, Eleanor, Sight, and When I Hit You… and I really hope you like Elmet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking about you when I saw See What I Have Done on the list; you were even more vocal in your distaste of the novel than I was. But I think its inclusion is pretty baffling (but some people REALLY love it).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Usually when I dislike a book I can still see why other people may like it, but… nope. I cannot fathom having a single positive thing to say about that book. Maybe I’ll look up positive reviews on Goodreads to try to Understand….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The most positive thing I can say about it is that it is impressive how grossed out it made me feel.

        PS: I just added Elmet to my TBR based on your recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. TRUE. It made me never want to eat another pear for as long as I live, there’s a certain amount of skill required for that.

        Yay, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I have Manhattan Beach out for the second time from the library (I couldn’t finish it on the first go-around). It’s taking me some time to read it the second time, as well. I really liked See What I Have Done, but I don’t think it’s the absolute best book I’ve read. I own/have on my TBR list Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I took Elmet out of the library but it didn’t hook me. I feel a little underwhelmed at the list 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The longer I think about the list, the less enthusiastic I am. Maybe it’s a good thing I am not attempting to read the longlist this year (maybe next year).


  6. Wow, that’s some coincidence, three books with low ratings, I haven’t read any of the three you’ve read, but I was intrigued by The Mermaid.
    I’ve just finished When I Hit You and I think it’s exceptional, I didn’t particularly want to read it, but decided I would since it made the long list and I was pleasantly surprised at how she uniquely tackles such a tough subject without resorting to the kind of ‘misery memoir’ techniques we see so much of.

    I enjoyed Home Fire and Sing, Unburied Sing and loved Three Things About Elsie fr its entertainment value. I’m intrigued by Sight, based on the thoughts of a few reviewers I follow, but the book I’d really love to have seen on there was Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is stunningly written but just wasn’t for me – but I think that might have been a genre thing. I was hoping for a bit more magical realism.
      I really want to get to When I Hit You – it sounds amazing from what I have heard.
      Sing, Unburied Sing seems to be absolutely brilliant – but for some reason it does not speak to me.
      I am currently trying to listen to Eleanor Oliphant but might have to give up on that. She is driving me nuts.
      I really want to read Kintu – but somehow keep forgetting to buy it.


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