Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Shortlist reaction and reading plans

I was unsure whether I wanted to write a reaction post at all, given how weirdly over this whole process I am feeling but as I do not know if I can do any proper blog coverage next year (and even next month if I am perfectly honest), I figured I should be getting the most of it now while I still have time for blogging.

First things first, here is the shortlist:

  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Weather by Jenny Offill

I am actually not mad at this? I got four books right and while I would have loved to see Anne Enright’s wonderful Actress here, I at least got my wish and Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo made it. I am officially #TeamEvaristo now. Of the other books, I have read A Thousand Ships and thought it was a lot better than I expected it to be and Weather which I expectedly loved. I am currently in the middle of Hamnet which I am super enjoying and I have read a bit of Dominicana which I am expecting to mostly enjoy but not find very impressive. I am still not going to read The Mirror and the Light because the idea of reading three huge historical fiction novels gives me dread to no end.

None of the books I have read and actively disliked made the list which I am so glad about. I was ready to be disgruntled but now I am mostly relieved that this (imagined!) pressure of reading the longlisted books instead of what I actually want to read (fantasy!) is off my back. I will try to finish the two books I have started before the winner is announced, and given that I have nearly 5 months to accomplish that task, I should be fine. I am a bit worried that by the time the winner announcement comes around, I will have stopped being emotionally involved; which would be a shame! I love the Women’s Prize! On the other hand, I have already started looking at what could be eligible next year and there is every chance that in 2021 we will have an incredibly strong list of contenders. This seems to indicate that I am indeed still absolutely in the Prize’s thrall and shouldn’t worry so much.

I would have loved this list to be a bit more international but I also admit that I thought that the British/ Irish books on the longlist were indeed on average better. I think it will ultimately come down those three authors: Evaristo, Mantel, or O’Farrell. I am ultimately glad that none of the family sagas made the list and that there are a few books I would be happy to see win.

14 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Shortlist reaction and reading plans

    1. Especially for you because you are already done with reading the books. Or maybe they will crown a winner we will be so mad at that we’re all suddenly invested again.

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    1. Oh me too! Girl, Woman, Other really really worked for me and I also really like what I see of Evaristo on twitter. It’s also one of the few stylistically interesting books so I really hope they will reward that.

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  1. I am currently reading Hamnet (also loving it) and I have A Thousand Ships, Girl Woman Other, and The Mirror and the Light to read. I’ve loved all of Hilary Mantel’s previous books and really enjoyed Natalie Haynes first two novels as well (her debut – The Amber Fury -seems to get overlooked because it isn’t a classical re-telling but that’s been my favourite so far). I’ve also heard such good things about the Girl Woman Other. The other two are unknown to me but I’ll see if I can pick them up if I get the ones that I already own read!

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    1. I had such low expectations going into A Thousand Ships that I ended up really enjoying it. But it is also just not that interesting a book – so I would be a bit mad if it ended up winning.

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  2. The Mantel trilogy is one of the better things I’ve read in some time. She’s incredibly talented and her style, tone, cadence are beautiful, delightful, and atmospheric. You really feel in the moment. Worth the daunt 😉
    The others have been added to my list – love recommendations.

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  3. I’ve heard a lot of bloggers this year feeling a bit disappointed with the list – I‘d love to know what you think of the whole prize giving process in general. I often feel a weird pressure to read certain books, just because they’ve won an award or been shortlisted (but maybe that’s just me!)

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  4. September seems so far away for the winner announcement! But I agree that this list isn’t too bad (it could’ve been much worse!) and my bets are on the same three for the win. It’ll actually be hard to make a narrower prediction between them!

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