Women’s Prize 2019 Longlist Predictions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Women’s Prize longlist time!  Well, almost.  Since we’re a week away, I wanted to share some of my predictions for what we might see on the longlist this year.  I had a hard time narrowing this list down, before ultimately deciding that I shouldn’t have to; I’m including somewhere around 30 books in here, and while they obviously can’t all be longlisted, and while I’m sure I’m missing a ton of other great possibilities that will inevitably end up on the list, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the following books there.  So, let’s get into it.  All summaries are from Goodreads.  And a list of my ”official” predictions can be found at the bottom of this post, if you just want the short version.

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Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Summary: “In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.  Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.”

Why I think it has a chance: Atkinson was shortlisted before for Life After Life, plus there seems to be an unofficial ‘one WWII book per literary prize longlist’ quota that needs to be filled.
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The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Summary: “The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war’s outcome. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.”

Why I think it has a chance: This newest offering from Booker-winning author Pat Barker is suffused with incisive commentary on a woman’s place in war throughout history, with echoes of the #MeToo movement thrown in.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Summary: “When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…”

Why I think it has a chance: It’s an impressive debut from a promising new voice in Nigerian lit, and it’s an interesting subversion of traditional gendered power dynamics.

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The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Summary: “Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.”

Why I think it has a chance: Because no other book in recent memory has allowed a female character to be as flawed as Melissa Broder’s ingeniously crafted protagonist.

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Milkman by Anna Burns

Summary: “In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.”

Why I think it has a chance: This experimental, lyrical look at the Troubles through the eyes of a young woman is crackling with a feminist undercurrent that can’t be denied.  Burns also, obviously, won the Man Booker for Milkman, and was previously shortlisted for the Women’s Prize with her novel No Bones.

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XX by Angela Chadwick

Summary: “Ovum-to-Ovum technology offers a breakthrough for reproductive rights but also has fierce opposition. When it is leaked that Rosie is one of only two women to become pregnant from the treatment, her relationship with Jules is put under a microscope. Who close to them leaked the news?”

Why I think it has a chance: That summary speaks for itself.  I think any book about reproductive rights can easily earn itself a ticket to the Women’s Prize longlist.

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Kudos by Rachel Cusk

Summary: “A woman writer visits a Europe in flux, where questions of personal and political identity are rising to the surface and the trauma of change is opening up new possibilities of loss and renewal. Within the rituals of literary culture, Faye finds the human story in disarray amid differing attitudes toward the public performance of the creative persona. She begins to identify among the people she meets a tension between truth and representation, a fissure that accrues great dramatic force as Kudos reaches a profound and beautiful climax.”

Why I think it has a chance: Cusk was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize twice, and the second time it was for the first book in the trilogy that Kudos concludes.  She also received a spot on the 2018 Goldsmiths shortlist for Kudos.  Personally, for VERY selfish reasons I hope that we don’t see Kudos on the longlist – reading up to 16 books for a literary prize is bad enough, but I haven’t even read the first two books in this trilogy.

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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Summary: “Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born.  When his master’s eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or “Titch,” is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist.  He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Titch abandons everything to save him.”

Why I think it has a chance: It was shortlisted for the Booker and it won the Giller, and Edugyan was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize in 2012 for Half-Blood Blues.  And I believe this is the only Canadian offering I’m including in this predictions post.  EDIT: no it’s not!  My bad!  Thanks Laura!

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When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

Summary: “If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?  This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.”

Why I think it has a chance: This is being hailed as the next great Irish novel, and the Women’s Prize has traditionally been kind to Irish lit.

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All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

Summary: “Fourteen-year-old Edie Mather lives with her family at Wych Farm, where the shadow of the Great War still hangs over a community impoverished by the Great Depression. Glamorous outsider Constance FitzAllen arrives from London, determined to make a record of fading rural traditions and beliefs, and to persuade Edie’s family to return to the old ways rather than embrace modernity. She brings with her new political and social ideas – some far more dangerous than others.  For Edie, who has just finished school and must soon decide what to do with her life, Connie appears to be a godsend. But there is more to the older woman than meets the eye. As harvest time approaches and the pressures mount on the entire Mather family, Edie must decide whose version of reality to trust, and how best to save herself from disaster.”

Why I think it has a chance: I believe Harrison has been longlisted in the past for this award, but I don’t know, this one is just a gut feeling.

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The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

Summary: “15th century Oakham, in Somerset; a tiny village cut off by a big river with no bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found: accident, suicide or murder? The village priest, John Reve, is privy to many secrets in his role as confessor. But will he be able to unravel what happened to the victim, Thomas Newman, the wealthiest, most capable and industrious man in the village? And what will happen if he can’t?”

Why I think it has a chance: You know, I’m not positive that it does, I feel like the hype around this one has fizzled out.  But still, for some reason I think it’s a decent contender.

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Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Summary: “In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.”

Why I think it has a chance: I think any book called ‘Motherhood’ automatically has to be considered.

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Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt

Summary: “A provocative, exuberant novel about time, memory, desire, and the imagination from the internationally bestselling and prizewinning author of The Blazing WorldMemories of the Futuretells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York City in the late 1970s and her obsession with her mysterious neighbor, Lucy Brite.”

Why I think it has a chance: Hustvedt is too prolific and accomplished an author not to have her work considered here.

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Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Summary: “Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though – almost a lifetime ago – and those memories have faded. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature.  A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago. She begins to remember the private vocabulary of her childhood. She remembers other things, too: the wild years spent on the river; the strange, lonely boy who came to stay on the boat one winter; and the creature in the water – a canal thief? – swimming upstream, getting ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but go back.”

Why I think it has a chance: This is a gorgeous literary debut that takes a Greek myth and flips it on its head – totally inventive and immersive and lyrical.  Plus, Booker shortlisted.

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Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Summary: “Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.”

Why I think it has a chance: Another author so accomplished we can hardly do to overlook her 2018 effort – I’ve heard mixed things about this book but the critics who love it love it passionately enough that I think it stands a chance.

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The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Summary: “It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.”

Why I think it has a chance: This book is filled to the brim with commentary on social issues that effect women of different walks of life, but ultimately in the way women are let down by the American justice system.  Another one that was shortlisted for the Booker.

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Crudo by Olivia Laing

Summary: “Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. Fast-paced and frantic, Crudo unfolds in real time from the full-throttle perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker.”

Why I think it has a chance: (I’ve had to check about 100 different times that this is eligible – I feel like this book came out a hundred years ago.  2018 was a very long year indeed.)  Anyway, this is one of those ‘books of the moment’ that has received rave reviews – I think it stands a very good chance.

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Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

Summary: “Written in the months after the author lost a child to suicide and composed as a story cycle, this conversation between mother and child unfolds in a timeless world. Deeply intimate, poignant, and moving, these conversations portray the love and complexity in a relationship across generations, even as they capture the pain of sadness, longing, and loss.”

Why I think it has a chance: I’ve been seeing this one everywhere and it seems like it’s going to be brilliant.

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Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Summary: “A mother and father set out with their kids from New York to Arizona. In their used Volvo–and with their ten-year-old son trying out his new Polaroid camera–the family is heading for the Apacheria: the region the Apaches once called home, and where the ghosts of Geronimo and Cochise might still linger. The father, a sound documentarist, hopes to gather an “inventory of echoes” from this historic, mythic place. The mother, a radio journalist, becomes consumed by the news she hears on the car radio, about the thousands of children trying to reach America but getting stranded at the southern border, held in detention centers, or being sent back to their homelands, to an unknown fate.  But as the family drives farther west–through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas–we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, unforgettable adventure–both in the harsh desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.”

Why I think it has a chance: Luiselli has been a formidable name in international and Mexican lit, so I’m sure this novel written in English will be a strong contender.

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Severance by Ling Ma

Summary: “Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.  So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.  Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?”

Why I think it has a chance: I’ve never read a more incisive take-down of capitalism in a novel than in Ling Ma’s offbeat zombie satire, which bends genres and offers something wholly unique and captivating.

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The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Summary: “King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. He has lain the barbed wire; he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter. Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave. Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world.  But when their father, the only man they’ve ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inward until the day three strange men wash ashore. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive the men?”

Why I think it has a chance: Feminist dystopias are in vogue at the moment, and though that isn’t how I would personally categorize The Water Cure, that is how it’s being marketed.  Another Booker longlister.

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The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Summary: “In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.”

Why I think it has a chance: I think this is one of the most likely contenders from American lit this year – this book has been everywhere.

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Summary: “In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.  Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.”

Why I think it has a chance: This was one of the most talked about books of 2018, and Miller previously won the Women’s Prize for her debut The Song of Achilles.

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Summary: “A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?”

Why I think it has a chance: Through its offbeat subject matter and narrative innovation, My Year of Rest and Relaxation gets to the heart of so many issues that characterize young female life.

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Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Summary: “For two weeks, the length of her father’s vacation, they join an anthropology course set to reenact life in simpler times. They are surrounded by forests of birch and rowan; they make stew from foraged roots and hunted rabbit. The students are fulfilling their coursework; Silvie’s father is fulfilling his lifelong obsession. He has raised her on stories of early man, taken her to witness rare artifacts, recounted time and again their rituals and beliefs—particularly their sacrifices to the bog. Mixing with the students, Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, speaking her mind.”

Why I think it has a chance: Sarah Moss has been a prolific author for years, though an oft-overlooked one, especially here in America.  With her incredibly accomplished and incisive Ghost Wall, everyone seems to finally be taking notice.

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The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

Summary: “When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.”

Why I think it has a chance: A premise that could have been sappy and saccharine was spun on its head by Sigrid Nunez’s accomplished writing – plus, it earned itself the National Book Award win for fiction.

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Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Summary: “Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. In fact, the world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend, Gretel Kercheval–a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.”

Why I think it has a chance: Another prolific author whose newest novel has been getting plenty of buzz in anticipation of its March release.

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Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Summary: “The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the country. Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this protective bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.”

Why I think it has a chance: As far as historical fiction goes, I think this is one of the more likely contenders – it seems to blend historical and literary fiction, and has gotten plenty of favorable reviews.

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Normal People by Sally Rooney

Summary: “Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.”

Why I think it has a chance: Rooney’s sophomore novel is the literary sensation of the moment.  I would be very, very surprised not to see this longlisted.

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All the Lives We Never Lived by Anurandha Roy

Summary: “Freedom of a different kind is in the air across India. The fight against British rule is reaching a critical turn. The Nazis have come to power in Germany. At this point of crisis, two strangers arrive in Gayatri’s town, opening up to her the vision of other possible lives.  What took Myshkin’s mother from India to Dutch-held Bali in the 1930s, ripping a knife through his comfortingly familiar universe? Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, Myshkin comes to understand the connections between the anguish at home and a war-torn universe overtaken by patriotism.”

Why I think it has a chance: I keep forgetting about this novel, but then I keep seeing it crop up again.  I just have a feeling it might make it.

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The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Summary: “In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned. ”

Why I think it has a chance: Lyrical and, you guessed it, dreamy, this novel and its many comparisons to Station Eleven have rightfully earned it a fair amount of attention.

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Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Summary: “One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.”

Why I think it has a chance: I think the Women’s Prize likes novels that offer different cultural perspectives, and this literary look at a Mennonite community seems like a no-brainer for the longlist.

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Putney by Sofka Zinovieff

Summary: “A rising star in the London arts scene of the early 1970s, gifted composer Ralph Boyd is approached by renowned novelist Edmund Greenslay to score a stage adaptation of his most famous work. Welcomed into Greenslay’s sprawling bohemian house in Putney, an artistic and prosperous district in southwest London, the musical wunderkind is introduced to Edmund’s beautiful activist wife Ellie, his aloof son Theo, and his nine-year old daughter Daphne, who quickly becomes Ralph’s muse.”

Why I think it has a chance: This book and its uncomfortable subject matter earned itself a bit of attention, and literary prizes tend to love divisive books like this.


Because I have listed way too many books here, and am therefore cheating compared to Hannah who I believe is narrowing her list down to 16 (EDIT: read Hannah’s predictions here!), the following are my official predictions:

  1. Transcription by Kate Atkinson
  2. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  3. XX by Angela Chadwick
  4. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
  5. When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
  6. Motherhood by Sheila Heti
  7. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
  8. Crudo by Olivia Laing
  9. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
  10. Severance by Ling Ma
  11. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
  12. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
  13. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
  14. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
  15. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  16. Women Talking by Miriam Toews

So, those are my predictions, but as for what I’m hoping for: I think Milkman fully deserves a spot, obviously, I would be THRILLED to see some love for The Pisces, and I’d similarly be excited for The Silence of the Girls, My Sister the Serial Killer, Severance, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ghost Wall, and The Friend.

As for my fears: I’d love to read the longlist, but I’m also expecting to have already read a handful of the books at the time it’s announced.  While I’m certainly hoping for a few I haven’t heard of, the prospect of having to read 16 books for this prize (18 for me if the Rachel Cusk is longlisted) is a little horrifying.  So, that’s my big fear: that I haven’t read any of them.  My other fears don’t revolve around specific books necessarily, though The Parentations by Kate Mayfield does scare me – please Women’s Prize gods spare me from 500 pages of magical realism.  And along the same lines as the Cusk, another fear is Ali Smith’s Winter – I love Ali Smith and I fully intend to read her seasonal quartet at some point, but I don’t want to have to cram in Autumn before Winter just to read it in time for this prize.  (I know you don’t technically have to read Autumn first but I am someone who needs to read books in order even if they’re only tangentially related.)

So, I think that’s everything.  What are your Women’s Prize longlist predictions, hopes, and fears?  Let’s chat!

46 thoughts on “Women’s Prize 2019 Longlist Predictions

  1. I am obviously loving this and thank you for narrowing it down to 16. It seems fairer somehow.

    I am definitely anticipating some books I have never heard of making this year’s longlist. I also think I will have read two tops, given how little literary fiction I have read this last year. (i knew it would bite me in the butt at some point) Still, I am so looking forward to buddy reading potentially 16 books with you! (god, I will have to read so many more than you)

    Liked by 1 person

    • After I went through the hassle of adding cover images for all those books I didn’t want to delete any off my long-longlist, but it did seem unfair if I can claim I got 10 right after guessing 30. And I am SO looking forward to comparing our lists in 10 minutes.

      Of my short-longlist I’ve read 6, which seems about right. But, who knows! You had read more Man Booker books than I had when that longlist was announced! At any rate I am very excited for the buddy reading.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read The Water Cure but not Crudo, I didn’t mind TWC but I don’t want to see it longlisted either. I did want the excuse to pick up Crudo though! Is it not good?

      I watched Eric’s video after I made this post and he did give me pause about Ghost Wall, are we sure it’s long enough? Ugh it had better be. I will be so sad if it isn’t longlisted.

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      • It’s…like reading Twitter. The part that lost me was the part where the Kathy Acker/Olivia Laing character looks at a flat in the Barbican with a view to buying. It made all of the observation about the ills of the world in 2016 feel so self-indulgent and self-indulged. No one who can buy a flat in the Barbican is suffering that much socially, and the things that happened in 2016 hurt so many vulnerable people so badly. It just smacks of bourgeois woe-porn.

        Pretty sure Ghost Wall is long enough – certainly hope so, anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh god. Oh god. I can handle a certain amount of self-indulgence in auto-fiction as it sort of seems inevitable, but characters and authors being blissfully ignorant when their conflicts are very much First World Problems does get my blood boiling.

        I read on instagram yesterday (a v. reliable source, clearly) that Ghost Wall is long enough, so I’m going to choose to believe that. Hooray!

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  2. Sheila Heti, Miriam Toews, and (technically) Rachel Cusk are Canadian, so you’ve got a handful here!

    I don’t really know who I’d like to see. I didn’t love Washington Black but it’s almost a given on the longlist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh DUH now that you say that of course I knew Miriam Toews is Canadian. This is what I get for finalizing this post in the eleventh hour. I didn’t know about Heti and Cusk though!

      Agreed that Washington Black is probably a given. Sadly. Especially since it sounds like there are plenty of better Canadian possibilities.

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  3. I loved both Putney and Ghost Wall (which was my Book of the Year last year) and I don’t think either have had enough love. Normal People (which I was underwhelmed by) is bound to make it on there. It’s won practically everything else!

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    • I REALLYYY hope Ghost Wall will make it, but after I made this post I started getting worried about its page count potentially not being long enough… I really hope it is!! I haven’t read Putney yet but I’d LOVE the excuse to pick it up soon.

      I did love Normal People but I’m a little bitter that Conversations With Friends didn’t get all this recognition when it is the far superior novel imo.

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  4. This is such a great post! I’m quite excited to see a lot of my TBR books in this list, makes me want to pick them up (especially if they do end up in the long list). I think Everything Under will definitely make it, and also The Water Cure (although I’m rather lukewarm about it). I agree absolutely that feminist dystopia is having such a moment, but I feel this one is overhyped. My Sister, the Serial Killer is such a gem of a book, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only thing that gives me pause about Everything Under is that it’s such a big year for mythology books, and with The Silence of the Girls and Circe also in the running I’m not sure all three (or more than one) would make the list…? That’s total conjecture though and I could be very wrong about the judges’ motivations. I’d like to be wrong. You know me, I love mythology books. I did like The Water Cure but I agree that it’s a bit overhyped, and I read it as more of a cult novel than a dystopia, so I find the ‘feminist dystopia!!’ marketing incredibly lazy. And I really hope My Sister, The Serial Killer makes the list! I was so pleasantly surprised by that book and its hidden depths.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is making me so excited for the Women’s Prize! I hope many of these show up on the official list. Maybe this will be the year I try for the longlist, too. It will probably depend on how many I’ve already read and how easily I can get the rest, but these predictions look so promising! I would read that list. Many of these are already on my TBR, so maybe I really should make a point of it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh less than a week to go now!! I’m so excited. I say I’m going to read the longlist, but I think it’s also going to depend on how many I’ve already read and how much I like the looks of the others. But hopefully having just read the Booker longlist we’ll have a leg up! Of the 7 books by women on that list they all seem like such Women’s Prize books (with the one obvious exception), so I will be shocked if there’s no overlap.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I’m so intrigued to see which of the Booker nominees will show up again! Having read all of those definitely seems like it’ll be an advantage. But even among prediction lists I’ve seen quite a few titles that are already on my TBR, and I think that will play a role in deciding how many longlisters I’ll pick up. For some reason it seems easier to read a bunch of books I’m already anticipating than a bunch of books I haven’t heard of yet- even tho I expect they’ll mainly be great reads whether I’ve heard of them or not.
        I will be ecstatic if you’re right about Ghost Wall tho, that book is such a haunting gem and I’ve been recommending it like mad!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think this could be an interesting year because there are SO MANY mainstream titles that seem very Women’s Prize-y, but I doubt they’ll choose 16 books everyone’s heard of… And yes, I totally agree with you! Reading 16 brand new-to-me books feels less productive since I’m leaving my massive TBR untouched. So I hope it’s mostly books that I’ve read/are already on my TBR, with a couple of hidden gems thrown in.

        YESSS Ghost Wall!!! I had a brief panic that it wasn’t long enough but I saw someone say it’s 35k words which fits the requirement, so let’s hope so! That book was utterly stunning, I’ve also been telling everyone to read it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, I’m definitely hoping for a few hidden gems in the midst of mostly-familiar titles. It would be disappointing if there were NO surprises.

        Fingers crossed!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh boy, so I AM going to attempt to read the longlist, but I need your guidance in giving me your shortlist predictions (which I’m sure you’ll do another post for) so that I can at LEAST read those. This is so ambitious for me, BUT a lot of these are already on my TBR so that will be exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like I said I have not read Women Talking but that’s one of the ones I’m the most confident about making the longlist! I even got it from Netgalley in anticipation of the list, lol. I’m really looking forward to reading it!

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