Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist: Reaction

The longlist is finally here! I am beyond excited and a bit baffled because of the depth excitement. I stayed up yesterday to hear the announcement the moment it went live, something I have never done for a longlist announcement.

My longlist predictions were so wrong, it’s not even funny; I only correctly predicted two books. Of the 16 books on the longlist I have read three, am currently reading one, and three I had never heard of before yesterday. This means that I have an awful lot of reading to do (according to the Goodreads page counts it’s 4023 pages). I will really try to read the longlist but I will definitely DNF the books that don’t work for me.

Without much further ado, here is the longlist in all its glory:

The Silence of the Girls Pat Barker
Remembered Yvonne Battle-Felton
My Sister, the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces Melissa Broder
Milkman Anna Burns
Freshwater Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People Diana Evans
Swan Song Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
An American Marriage Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li
Bottled Goods Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive Valeria Luiselli
Praise Song for the Butterflies Bernice L. McFadden
Circe Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall Sarah Moss
Normal People by Sally Rooney

My thoughts:

Read: I am beyond thrilled The Pisces by Melissa Broder made the list; it was by far my favourite book of last year and I want more people to read it. In case you need convincing, here is my gushing review for it. I am also happy to see Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi on the list, which I also adored (my review). I was a bit worried that Emezi wouldn’t want to be included as they are non-binary but they are pleased so I am pleased. I am keeping my fingers crossed that people will try to make an effort to use the correct pronouns though (the first glimpse on twitter makes that seem unlikely). The only other book I have read is Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, where I seem to be the only person online to not have enjoyed it all that much (my review) – but others really do, so I am glad for its inclusion.

Currently reading: I have started Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli a while ago and really enjoyed the first few pages but found the prose very wordy – I am excited to see it on the list though because that means there is at least one book I don’t need to hunt down.

Well pleased: I am super excited to get to Normal People by Sally Rooney; I finished Conversations With Friends yesterday and I am so very much in love with it that I will read everything Rooney ever publishes (I spent yesterday periodically exclaiming “What a book!”) – and Normal People sounds brilliant. I am also happy to see both Circe by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker on the list; I adore feminist myth retellings and I have heard great things about both books. I did not think both would make it but I am glad for it. I am also really excited to have an excuse to finally take the plunge and read Milkman by Anna Burns, a book that scares me but also sounds really great. I opted for the audiobook version of this as I have heard listening to the prose makes the book more accessible. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is another one of the books I did want to read at some point anyways and this is a welcome excuse to prioritize it.

Cautiously optimistic: I requested a review copy of Ordinary People by Diana Evans last year and didn’t get approved but it does sound like a book I could really enjoy. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott isn’t quite a book I would have picked up on my own but I have heard great things about it. I am not good with books that deal with injustice, but again I have heard brilliant things about An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, so hopefully I will enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn but it is a short book that actually sounds like it could be my cup of tea.

Slightly pessimistic: While Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li sounds interesting, I have read rather negative reviews of it – however, sometimes my taste is different to Goodreads’ average and I might enjoy this more (after all, The Pisces has a dreadfully low rating as well and that book is perfection). Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton could be great but it is also really outside my wheelhouse.

Really dreading: Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden does not sound like my type of book at all – and the blurb includes this: “educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa.” and I do not really appreciate books that are meant to be educational. I am hoping to be proved wrong.

Overall I am mostly pleased (The Pisces!!!) but also sad for a few notable exclusions. I was really hoping for both My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and Motherhood by Sheila Heti because I really, really want to read these books. I was also hoping for Women Talking by Miriam Toews because it sounds intriguing but I don’t know whether I’ll get to it without the added push. I also thought there would be more overlap with the Man Booker longlist and would have really liked The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson to get a shout out because I really liked both books and think the authors are awesome.

What are your thoughts? Are you still planning on reading the longlist?

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25 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist: Reaction

  1. I feel you on Praise Song for the Butterflies; the fact that I haven’t heard anyone speak of it and the really vague synopsis makes me wary. But who knows; maybe it’ll be one my favourite books from the list. And I really must get to The Pisces as I’m getting The Shape of Water vibes from it and I loved that film!
    Overall, I think this is quite a strong list and picking the shortlist will be a challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am keeping my fingers crossed but I have been seriously struggling with historical fiction for years and I don’t think this’ll be the book to change that. But who knows!
      The Pisces is nothing like The Shape of Water except for the merman sex. I did love both the movie and the book but the tones are totally different. (But it is SO GOOD!)
      I am really also mostly pleased with the longlist which is a relieve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah my bad! I think because I heard of this book about the same time I watched the film they are forever linked in my head! Still want to check it out.
        Yeah overall I’m happy with the longlist, I can’t think of a novel that I felt deserved to be there and was robbed.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like this longlist – not too many obvious choices, quite a few surprises, a reasonable spread of nationalities, lots of authors of colour, and two books I’d never heard of, which is always super exciting. I’m hoping to read the nine I haven’t read before the shortlist announcement, but we’ll see if there’s time. The Pisces, Bottled Goods, Lost Children Archive and Freshwater are definitely my priorities to find; I’m a little wary of Swan Song and not confident that I’ll love Circe, given that I thought The Song of Achilles was perfectly adequate fluff, but many have loved it, so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I’ll be able to read everything on the list before the shortlist is announced but I will be doing my best.
      I have to admit that perfectly adequate fluff sounds absolutely perfect to me. It’s pretty much all I have been reading these last months.
      I just ordered the first batch of books from my local bookstore (of course they did not have a single of the books on the list stocked in English). I really need to be careful to not start off with reading all the books I am super excited for and then being stuck with the rest.

      Like

  3. Great post! I loved Circe and Silence of the Girls and I hope you do too! My Sister The Serial Killer was also fantastic and very original – I’m so pleased it’s on the list. Those are the only three I’ve read so I’ve got some catching up to do too! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a really interesting longlist! Some big names, as expected, but a few surprising absences (Everything Under, The Mars Room, Winter, and The Water Cure). It’s nice to see some lesser hyped books and smaller presses getting a shoutout though, so perhaps it’s a good thing in the long run that they didn’t nominate all the ‘obvious’ contenders.

    Being a big mood reader, and having only read 2 from the longlist, I’m not going to commit to the whole thing, but there are a few I’m excited to try, and I’m looking forward to following your reviews as you make your way through them! 📚😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a bit sad neither The Water Cure nor Everything Under made the list. But I also do think most books on there sound really good.
      I can totally understand not committing to the longlist. I am also feeling a bit overwhelmed but I will give it a try. I have started with Milkman which is the one I was most scared about but so far it’s good, if super stressful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. OH W O W — what a gorgeous longlist. I really need to read all of these books, or at least half of them! An American Marriage, Normal People, Pisces, and Circe have all been on my TBR for quite some time. I’m almost 100% sure I’ll love them, so it’s just a matter of carving out time to read them. I am so excited to see which books will make it on to the shortlist. AHHHH so much excitement for women’s prizes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great, isn’t it? there are very few books on there that don’t excite me on some level and who knows, I might end up loving them. (for example I was really unsure whether I’d love The Pisces when I requested a review copy last year and that turned out great)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so excited about this list! I was shocked to find nine (!) titles I’d already read, but with that many already finished I suppose I might as well round it out by reading the rest. Of the books I’ve read, I was most excited to see The Pisces and Freshwater here, as I LOVED both but wasn’t really expecting to see them. (But I’m terrible at predictions, so.)

    I was also bummed about Moshfegh/Toews/Heti not making the list because I haven’t read them yet but want to, and would have appreciated the encouragement to pick them up sooner. But I’m trying to stay cautiously optimistic about all seven of the titles I haven’t read yet; I’m hoping to find a few more gems among those, even though most of them don’t initially sound like something I would normally pick up.

    I hope you enjoy the longlist! Looking forward to your reviews!

    Like

  7. I love reaction posts! I’m really excited about this years books and as soon as the longlist was announced, I ordered three of them. Normal People, My Sister, The Serial Killer and Bottled Goods. Those seem like the most me books on the list and the ones that I’m most likely to really enjoy. I’m also thinking about reading Ghost Wall and Freshwater. We will see! Wishing you a great time reading them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, me too! I love this time of year when lots of people are talking about the Women’s Prize.
      Normal People is by far the one I am most excited about – Rooney is such a brilliant writer.
      I really really loved Freshwater – it is just stunningly done and super original I thought.

      Liked by 1 person

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