Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist predictions

It’s my favourite bookish time of the year! I have been looking forward to Women’s Prize season pretty much since last summer – and I have, again, spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about the possible longlist. Last year, I correctly predicted two books on the longlist, so it can probably only get better from here.

I am attempting to read the longlist (something I did not completely manage last year) with my wonderful group chat (of those lovely people, Emily is the only one to have posted a prediction post already). I do hope to have better luck than last year where I did not love nearly as many of the longlisted books as I hoped (and where my two favourite books were ones I had read before). But even if I end up hating most books, I am still beyond thrilled to be doing this again. This time I am aiming to finish the longlist before the short list is announced; I’ll be on leave from work from the middle of April onwards and I have the week of the longlist announcement off, so chances are actually decent that I manage this (she says, having finished two books in February so far).

40718354The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

Because The Troubles are on everybody’s minds with Brexit. Also, Rachel loved this and her taste in Irish lit is impeccable.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Yes!

43923951Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This seems like the book club choice – and one of those always makes the list. This also deals with currently relevant topics and the publisher has been hyping this up for months – which indicates to me that they likely submitted the book to be considered for the longlist.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Eh. (to be fair, the reviews are glowing, so maybe I would love it after all.)

41081373._sy475_Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I would riot if it didn’t make it. The book is not only incredible, given the shared booker win I want Evaristo to have this.

Longlisted before: Yes.

Would I be happy to see it: YES!

44890081My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Super hyped and apparently brilliant it also focusses a woman’s story in an interesting way.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Yes.

43565316._sy475_Girl by Edna O’Brien

This seems like it might make the list (timely topic, previously longlisted Irish novelist) but I am actually dreading having to read it. I am not often in the mood to read books that focus something this atrocious – and this does not sound like something I would enjoy at all.

Longlisted before: Yes.

Would I be happy to see it: God, no.

45992717The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel


Longlisted before: Yes.

Would I be happy to see it: I think it would be awesome to see Mantel longlisted again but I have already decided not to read it – I have not read the previous, super long books in the series and I do not get on with historical fiction.

43890641._sy475_Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Historical fiction often dominates the longlist and this one, from an acclaimed author, sounds like a very Women’s Prize-y book to me (shining a light on a woman weirdly absent from history).

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Actually, mostly yes. Am I looking forward to reading a book about the loss of a child while highly pregnant? Not particularly. But it also sounds like something that could be really, really brilliant.

45893518._sy475_Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride

So far, every single book McBride has written was longlisted (ok, she has only written two before this one) and she also won before. I also selfishly really, really want to read this.

Longlisted before: Yes.

Would I be happy to see it: Very, very much so.

43615778._sy475_Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

This seems topical in a way not all my other choices are: a fictionalized account of a real life crime and the repercussions felt decades later, with flavours of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Yes and no. It sounds like a good book to include but again not like one that I would love.

43697186Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This has gotten praise from basically everyone, it is a family story dealing with social issues, and it was written by an acclaimed American author.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Yes. Give me all the books about motherhood!

40046059Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

This won the National Book Award last year but the reviews have been all over the place. I would love for it to make the longlist so that I don’t have to decide whether to read it or not.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Yes.

43820277._sy475_Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

One of the eligible ‘notable literary sequels’, this is the one I would most love to see on the list. I really really enjoy Strout’s writing and want to read more of her books. I wouldn’t even be mad at having to read Olive Kitterige first.

Longlisted before: Yes (3 times!).

Would I be happy to see it: Yes!

43721059The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Another mostly selfish prediction, I just really want an excuse to buy this book. Erdrich is one of those authors that intimidate me but that I do think I could adore beyond reason.

Longlisted before: No (I was surprised).

Would I be happy to see it: Yes!

45755173Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Basically gut-feeling – but the mix of thriller elements with a literary setting makes this a likely contender.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Mostly.

34563821._sy475_Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Another book combining a thriller set-up with a more literary style, this is a book I would be very glad to see on the longlist. Its mostly positive critical reception and visibility in the literary landscape makes this a likely debut to be successful.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Very.

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

There is usually at least on book on the longlist that sits under the speculative fiction umbrella – and a dystopian novel dealing the commodification of motherhood seems like an obvious fit.

Longlisted before: No.

Would I be happy to see it: Yes and no (yay, a book about pregnancy, oh no, a dystopian novel).

There you have it, my official predictions. I am not convinced the longlist will be 16 books long – before this year I was under the impression that this is kind of the official Women’s Prize longlist length – but there have been plenty of years with 20 books longlisted. You will have noticed that I left off a few obvious contenders: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann seem like obvious choices – but I do not think Atwood will let her book be submitted given the reactions to the double Booker win and Ellmann’s publisher has been very upfront how difficult the financial burden on smaller publishers is. Some other books I could imagine making it are Long Bright River by Liz Moore, The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, and Weather by Jenny Offill, all books that I would be very happy to see longlisted but that for some reason or other did not make my list of 16 (if we have a longlist of 20 this year, these four are my official additional predictions).




24 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist predictions

  1. These are good predictions! I haven’t read all of these, but I’ve read other books by some of these authors and LOVED those. I wasn’t super impressed with The Farm, but I think that was my own fault. I was expecting something very different for some reason.


    1. Thank you! I am not sure whether I would love The Farm – but none of the other eligible “literary speculative” novels that I have found intrigued me either. And I do like books about motherhood and pregnancy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lots of crossover with my list! I’d have to admit to being very relieved if Ducks doesn’t make it – not because I think it sounds bad or doesn’t deserve it, but because I’m worried about getting through it in the timeframe. It’s a good point about the financial issues there.

    I’d particularly like Such A Fun Age and Trust Exercise to be longlisted as they both sound great and I worry I won’t get to them otherwise (unlike The Mirror and the Light and Hamnet which I’ll be reading whatever).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were the first one I have seen to predict Djinn Patrol – I have SUCH a gut feeling about this one making it that I am glad that I am not the only one.
      I would love Trust Exercise to make it – the reviews make me intrigued enough that I would love an incentive to read it. I am not the biggest reader of historical fiction, so whatever doesn’t make the longlist won’t be read by me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, haven’t seen it on anyone else’s list! I was trying to think of offbeat picks, as the Prize always has some longlistees who surprise me, and I agree, I think Djinn Patrol has a good chance, particularly as it looks like Vintage are really pushing it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When I looked at the longlists from the past years, it struck me how often crime adjacent books are nominated and I went from there. Djinn Patrol also sounds quite interesting, so I would kind of like to get to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think it has a few things going for it if we’re taking a ‘checklist’ view of the prize – it tackles an important social issue and is not written by a white, or even a British-born, woman – and then it is also genuinely very moving and effectively written, even if I thought it was a bit too long.


  3. Excellent choices!! I’d be thrilled with your list, there are a lot here that I wavered about including also and most of them are on my TBR. I was SO CLOSE to including Disappearing Earth in particular; it’s my current read and the farther I get the more I love it. I hope we’ve managed a few correct guesses! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i can see so many of these books making the longlist!! πŸ‘Œ im interested to see if there are any unexpected underdog books that manage to make the list πŸ‘€ regardless its always fun participating in these book prizes and seeing who wins in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE the Women’s Prize and the days leading up to it. I cannot wait to see who gets longlisted! The predictions I have seen are all over the place, so it’s very likely that a few books will surprise everybody.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, but I feel sorry that if both make it, a lot of people will decide to read only one of them, or will skip both altogether – especially if the list is longer than 16.

        I find it interesting that Trust Exercise has been on so many prediction lists, when it came out for some reason it did not get my attention at all – just seemed like a regular genre fiction. But the more I hear about it, the more interested I am!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am usually awfully bad at prediction any longlists, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that I at least got a few of them correct. I am SO excited for the longlist, I cannot even begin to tell you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. At long last I get to properly read this post! I like your list better than mine because it includes The Fire Starters, and I would give ANYTHING for that book to be there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can definitely see it making the list. When I was in Scotland last summer, The Troubles were very present in the media again and this seems to be the most popular book talking about them.

      Liked by 1 person

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