By popular demand (*I asked on Twitter and a grand total of two people said they were interested in this), here are my reactions to the Women’s Prize longlist!
The list was announced last night and in case you missed it, you can check it out here.
I did pretty terribly with my predictions, I only got 4/16. But, I am actually pleased with how the list turned out!
I’ve read half (!) the list already, and weirdly enough, I actually enjoyed all 8 of the books I’ve already read. My least favorite of this group is Circe, which I liked but didn’t love, but I still gave it 3 stars. The rest of these I gave either 4 or 5 stars. So, let’s run through these:
- I am THRILLED to see The Pisces getting some long overdue recognition. I may or may not have screamed YES!!!! when I saw this.
- Obviously Milkman was my top book of 2018, so even though it already (rightfully!) won the Booker, I’m excited to see it here. I probably won’t be rooting for it to win even though it’s my favorite, as I think any of these other books could use the publicity a bit more (except maybe Circe and Normal People). But it really is a spectacular book and it fully earned its spot here as far as I’m concerned.
- Ghost Wall is just a phenomenal piece of literature that deserves all of the accolades.
- The Silence of the Girls is the best Iliad retelling I’ve read, and I have read many. I thought it was snubbed from the Booker so I’m excited to see it here.
- Like I mentioned, Circe wasn’t my favorite, though I do think it’s objectively a very good book and I absolutely understand the acclaim. I’m not upset to see it here. This book doesn’t inspire a huge reaction in me either way.
- I think My Sister, The Serial Killer is an underestimated tour de force of a novel, which is a fun romp on the surface but has a lot of hidden depths, so I’m excited to see it recognized here.
- I know we’re all tired of Normal People, but it’s just as good as everyone says.
- Freshwater I adored but I was initially confused about this one, as Akwaeke Emezi is non-binary and has been very outspoken about this on Twitter. There have already been a couple of articles about this (x, x), but the important thing is that Emezi was consulted and gave their blessing about being included on this list. I do think there’s an important conversation to be had about allowing non-binary writers into this space, as the prize was initially created to give a platform to works that were being overshadowed by male authors, which certainly applies to non-binary writers as well female writers. In which case, maybe it’s time to reconsider the name ‘Women’s Prize’…?
As for the rest, since I’ve already read 8 I may as well read the whole list, right? The only one of these that was already on my TBR was An American Marriage, which has been out for a million years in the US – I feel like the last American who hasn’t read this yet. I’d heard of some of the others – I wasn’t convinced that Lost Children Archive, Ordinary People, or Swan Song were my kind of books, and Number One Chinese Restaurant has an alarmingly low Goodreads rating (3.11!!) so I’m a little nervous about that… but I’m willing to try them all.
The three I hadn’t heard of are Bottled Goods, Remembered, and Praise Song for the Butterflies, which I’m interested in in that order.
I put library holds on An American Marriage, Number One Chinese Restaurant, Lost Children Archive, and Praise Song for the Butterflies, so that only leaves 4 I need to get my hands on by June. I’m up for the challenge.
A few quick notes about snubs, before I wrap this up: I’m gutted that My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Severance didn’t make the list, I thought both had a very good chance. While I personally wasn’t a huge fan of Washington Black I’m really surprised not to see that one on there as well. Of books I haven’t read, the ones whose omissions surprise me the most are probably Women Talking by Miriam Toews, Motherhood by Sheila Heti, and Transcription by Kate Atkinson. But, oh well! If the 8 I’ve read are any indication, this is shaping up to be an incredibly solid list.
And! I stand corrected, regarding a statement I made in my predictions post. There is not a SINGLE WWII novel on this list.
Here’s the full longlist with links to each on Book Depository:
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Milkman by Anna Burns
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden
Circe by Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
Normal People by Sally Rooney
What are your thoughts about the Women’s Prize longlist? Which have you already read and which are you planning on reading? Any books that you really wanted to see on the list that didn’t make it? Let’s chat in the comments!