Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist Reaction

It’s finally here!

I have waited for this day for literal months and I am so glad the longlist is finally here and we can all start reading and discussing it. My predictions were actually ok this time around: I correctly guessed six and had two more on my maybe pile that made the list, so I am feeling sufficiently smug. It also seems to be a longlist not many people have read many books of yet, so that is exciting! I have only read one book so far and have to admit that quite a few are not books I was particularly thrilled about before their inclusion – but maybe this means I will find many gems I might otherwise have missed.

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

  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Girl by Edna O’ Brien
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

My Thoughts:

I am mostly happy with this list – sad that a few that I really wanted to get to soon didn’t make it (The Fire Starters! Trust Exercise!) but overall glad for what looks like a really diverse longlist, both genre and style-wise.

Read: I have only read Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo; I thought it was excellent – so I am obviously way happy to see it here.

Well pleased: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara sounds really different to what I normally read but like I could really love it. Weather by Jenny Offill sounds JUST like my type of book and I am glad for the inclusion of some shorter books. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson sounds like an incredible offering by an author I wanted to get to for a while. I am obviously happy to see a myth-retelling make the list; even if A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes will have to compete with the absolutely incredible The Silence of the Girls (which was my highlight from last year’s shortlist). I am also really pleased that Hilary Mantel made the list – I do love when people are on top of their game and I am excited to see her win everything with The Mirror and the Light – but I will only read this if I have finished all other books on the longlist and feel like reading three 600 page long historical novels (so not very likely).

Optimistic: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams has been getting such positive reviews and while it doesn’t quite sound like my type of book enough that I would have definitely read it, I am glad the judges made up my mind for me. Dominicana by Angie Cruz could be really great – depending on the writing style.

Cautiously optimistic: Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner sounds awful, admittedly – but I really like the author’s non fiction and I have heard some reviews that indicate that I might actually get on with it. I am not always happy with family sagas but The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo sounds like the type of multigenerational story that could work for me (although its high page count of 544 is giving me pause). The women do sound difficult which is always a plus! Ann Patchett is another author I have wanted to get to for years, so I am glad for the push – and I do like stories about siblings, so maybe The Dutch House will work for me even if it is a bit outside my comfort zone. Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell will probably be brilliant (I do like her writing style, even if I have only read her nonfiction) but it will also probably be very difficult for me to read.

Slightly pessimistic: I have tried to read Enright’s The Gathering a few years back and found it endlessly bleak, I am hoping Actress is not as dark and hopeless. Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie is the only book on the list I hadn’t heard of before and it doesn’t sound like my type of book.

Really dreading: I do not enjoy reading books about atrocities. So both Girl by Edna O’ Brien and How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee do not appeal to me at all. I guess I should be glad that the inevitable WWII novel is at least not set in Germany.

Still, I will try to read as many books as possible before the shortlist is announced on April 22nd. I will hopefully be able to alternate between books I am super happy to get to and those I am less thrilled about so that unlike last year, I won’t be running out of steam. I have downloaded A Thousand Ships as an audiobook and I am going into town in a few minutes to see what my local bookstore stocks (probably not very many). I am keeping my fingers crossed for Weather!

Are you happy with the longlist? Which books would you have loved to see? Are you planning on reading any of the longlisted books?

23 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist Reaction

  1. Ah, I forgot about Trust Exercise but I would like to have seen it.

    I wasn’t sure about Dominicana from the premise but I love the style, so hopefully it will work for you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your predictions were on point! I had also hoped Trust Exercise would make the list, because I can’t seem to get to it and getting on the WP longlist would have given me the push I needed! I agree with you that this list is thoroughly diverse – I hope that we’ll both find some unexpected favorites in it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a tiny bit proud of myself, I have to admit.
      I always love this first day after the announcement when everybody is planning their reading. And I love seeing which books people start if they plan on following the longlist at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow you did an amazing job with the predictions!!! I got 1 book right #loser

    It’s so funny to see which books “call” to each one of us – I am looking forward to Nightingale Point and dreading Djinn Patrol! So interesting.

    Very excited to finally have the list out!!! The suspense lasted forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am quite proud of myself. Especially compared to last year where I did so very bad.

      I am so looking forward to seeing what we all make of the different books. We do have often different reactions so it should be interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I do hope people like Fleishman, but somehow I just don’t see it. We’ll see, there’s always at least 1 person who enjoys a book everyone else disliked (like me and the Restaurant Nr 1 last year, I STAND BY MY WORDS)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooh congrats on guessing so many books right! I am also worried about Girl and How We Disappeared, but I am excited about Nightingale Point – haven’t heard of it before, but it sounds like my type of book. I am really excited that the list is finally here, cannot wait to start discussing it with everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just need to make sure I sandwich the atrocities books between more upbeat books because otherwise I might just lose steam again. At least they are both fairly short (especially Girl).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we might have totally different reactions this time around. There is so much historical fiction! And ugh family sagas. (Which only I seem to hate this passionately of our group chat)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m kind of fatigued with family sagas. And, a lot of historical fiction but I’m not really excited by most of it! A Thousand Ships (if that counts as hist fic), the WWII thing, and Hamnet, all yes. The rest, meh. We’ll see!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read the beginning of the Lombardo yesterday and it seems to be a pretty stereotypical family saga. I am hoping for some sort of play with expectations given its nomination but I am not super optimistic yet. But then again, like I said, not the biggest fan of family sagas to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m currently reading Queenie and checking out Red at the Bone today. I’m excited to try most of these. The Dutch House is the only one I’m really hesitating on because I’ve heard meh or bad reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How are you enjoying Queenie so far? I bought Weather and Red at the Bone yesterday as well as the Lombardo – I figured starting with the shortest and the longest books might make sense for me.
      I have mostly seen meh reviews for The Dutch House as well – but it will probably be at least competently written on a prose level given it’s Patchett.


      1. I loved Bel Canto but haven’t read any of her other books. I keep meaning to though. I like Queenie so far. I’m not too far in but I like her and her family is quirky.


  6. Kudos for so many correct guesses, you definitely won at predictions this year! I am also hoping that none of these books having been on my immediate TBR is an omen for discovering some gems I wouldn’t otherwise have reached for. And I appreciate the reminder to stagger books I’m more and less excited about! Last year I had mostly the less exciting books left after the longlist announcement, so I didn’t have to consider strategy much- this year I’ll need it! Very much looking forward to your thoughts on the books. Happy reading! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s