Women’s Prize 2020 Longlist Reaction

It’s here!  (The below are affiliate links – if you order any of these from this post I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

Some quick stats:

6 UK authors/6 US authors/1 Singapore/1 India/2 Ireland

7 authors of color/9 white authors

4 debuts

I got 4 predictions correct

At the time the longlist was announced I had only read… 1/4 of one book!  A record low for me.

So, initial thoughts were that I was a little disappointed at all the heavy hitters on the list: I do love a good debut-heavy longlist.  That said, I’m getting more excited to read it and I cannot wait to discuss the list with you guys in the upcoming months.

My plans:

I have the following out from the library:

Weather: I’m halfway through this and so far I’m enjoying it but it’s not exactly knocking my socks off like it has done for so many other readers.  Full thoughts to come hopefully in a few days.

Dominicana: I started this last night and I’m not at all crazy about the writing style, but I’m also only 20% in.

Girl: I’m a little wary of this one but also a little excited?  Will start soon.

How We Disappeared: Possibly my biggest unpopular literary opinion is that I don’t mind a good WWII novel every now and then, so I have high hopes for this!

I have the following on hold:

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line: This does not seem like my kind of book, but I’ve also heard it’s good and a quick read, so I’m fine with giving it a go.

Fleishman is in Trouble: Ugh.  This is the one I’m most annoyed about.  I have not heard good things and this does not seem like something I will enjoy at all.

Queenie: Ooh, yes!  Nearly made my predictions list.  I’m excited.

Actress: Never read Anne Enright but I’m really excited for this!

Girl, Woman, Other: FINALLY a concrete excuse to read this.  It’s such a shame that I haven’t made time for it before now.

The Most Fun We Ever Had: I must have read this summary four or five times and it has never made any impression on me.  It’s also very long.  We’ll see how this goes.

Hamnet: Very very very excited to read this.

The Dutch House: Meh?  I’ve not had the best history with Ann Patchett – I DNF’d Bel Canto and I 3 starred Commonwealth.  I do like the sound of this one though so hopefully it works for me.

Red At the Bone: Another meh.  I’ve only read one Woodson and it did absolutely nothing for me.

I ordered the following:

A Thousand Ships: I’d been holding out for a US publisher for over a year, but fuck it.  I am SO excited for this book and so happy to finally read it.

Nightingale Point: Never heard of it, didn’t even read the summary, I just placed an order.

Which leaves:

The Mirror & The Light: TBD.  I’ve not read Wolf Hall so that complicates things for me.  I’m going to save this one for last – if I don’t get around to it by the time the winner is announced, oh well; but who knows, maybe I’ll finish the longlist by early May and have ample time to devote to this trilogy.  We’ll see!


Finally, I just wanted to talk about some snubs real quick:

The Fire Starters by Jan Carson: My favorite novel of 2019 never got the attention it deserved, and this was really its last chance to show up on a big literary prize list, so I’m a little heartbroken.  Just – please read this.

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy: This is a brilliant brilliant BRILLIANT book – I cannot state that enough.  It almost definitely deserved a spot over some that made it onto the list.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: ding dong the witch is dead

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman: Mixed feelings about this not showing up; in a way I’d kind of have liked the excuse to read it!  But on the other hand, the length is pretty scary when it’s up next to 15 other books I’m also trying to read in a set period of time.


Other reaction posts:


What are your thoughts about the longlist?  What are you happy/unhappy to see and what are you happy/unhappy to see snubbed?  What are your reading plans?  Comment with all things Women’s Prize!

39 thoughts on “Women’s Prize 2020 Longlist Reaction

  1. Everyone who hasn’t kept up with Wolf Hall is regretting their life choices this morning 🙂 I will obviously be dropping everything and reading it, starting next Tuesday, longlist or not! I also bought Weather so I’ll be reading that. I recently heard a good review of Fleishman but like you I’m just… meh? And okay okay OKAY I promise I’ll read The Firestarters. I already put Daughter From the Dark on hold so my TBR is becoming very Rachel centric. Not a bad thing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • The worst part is I KNEW this was coming so why the fuck didn’t I just make myself read Wolf Hall and BUTB in February?! Ugh I’m so dumb.

      I was wondering if you’d be following the WP this year or if you’re boycotting on account of the lack of Canadian rep! RIP Bina! I thought we’d for sure see either that one or Atwood (though thank god not the latter).

      YAAAAY The Fire Starters – I promise you’ll love it!!! Especially after reading Say Nothing, I think you’ll get a lot out of it. Very curious to hear your thoughts on Daughter from the Dark too!

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      • I’ve never really followed the Women’s Prize that closely, I just follow the people who follow it (seriously, my wordpress feed is packed!) And since 2018 I’ve been very into the International Booker which is inconveniently at the same time so… yeah. Bina wasn’t my favourite of Schofield’s so I’m okay with it not being here actually… I didn’t really have anyone in mind for this longlist. All my fav books of 2019 were old/not Canadian/by men or some combo of the three.

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      • Join us!!!!

        Are you into the International Booker this year? I don’t know why but that longlist just looks so terribly bleak to me. A couple I’m interested in but I don’t think I could force myself to read the whole thing, even if that were my literary prize of choice.

        I hate that so much happens in March. International Booker, WP, Reading Ireland Month. There are only so many hours in the day, jesus.

        Oh bummer – I’d heard Bina was great! Yeah I was wondering what the Canadian frontrunner was aside from Atwood – was it just not a strong year?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am into it! I already finished Faces on the Tip of My Tongue which was a great (and short) collection, very charming. I’m really excited for Little Eyes (Samanta Schweblin, so you know it’ll be creepy) and Eighth Life (1000 page Russian historical saga, hell yeah) and The Discomfort of Evening just sounds intriguing (non-binary author, huge breakout success in the Netherlands). I like how *weird* this prize is.

        CanLit didn’t really grab me last year, no. And so far in 2020 I’ve read two fantastic Canadian books – both by men. Oops!

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      • The Discomfort of Evening is the one I desperately want to read! I hadn’t heard of it before but it sounds amazing. I also already had The Memory Police on my TBR so I should probably get around to that too even though I’ve heard mixed things.

        I do love its weirdness! Maybe a bit too weird for me this year though, lol

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  2. I like that you did an author break-down because I was too lazy to do so but really wanted to know.

    While I am still not completely on board with the longlist I am so very much looking forward to reading it! I cannot believe you haven’t read a single book of the list – you read so much litfic!

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  3. DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD you kill me!!

    I can’t believe how many great books didn’t make the list.. especially when some of these aren’t exactly exciting. But so it is, and I’m actually looking forward to at least 4 or 5 of these! Thanks for linking to other reaction posts, I neeeeed to see what everyone thinks. It’s always so interesting to see how different books interest different people!

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    • Omg I know I actually find it kind of exciting how the reactions in the group chat are SO different across the board! I’m so excited to discuss these in more detail!

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  4. Weirdly, it looks like I can cope with a WWII novel as long as it’s set in Japan… it looks like one of my preferences cancels out the other, so I’m looking forward to How We Disappeared.

    I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but I didn’t find Djinn Patrol to be a quick read at all – it’s too long, although it has a great payoff.

    Poor Ann Patchett – unfortunately I think Bel Canto, The Dutch House and Commonwealth are her three weakest books!

    I didn’t realise the list was so UK/US heavy – I think that’s a shame, although I always predict millions of US books for it so I’m not really helping.

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    • I’m way more interested in eastern WWII than western WWII at this point! And I think the summary of How We Disappeared sounds great.

      I’VE BEEN LIED TO. Was Djinn Patrol… good? I don’t know why, it just does not look good to me.

      Oh no 😂I swear I’ll give her a proper shot one of these days!

      That disappoints me as well but yes, ditto, my own reading is so US/UK-centric who am I to judge… Obviously I’d have been happy for more Irish lit from less esteemed authors to make it, and I’d have loved to have seen more international lit. At least we got India and Singapore?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Was just about to correct myself – I’m pretty sure How We Disappeared is set in Singapore, not Japan. But yes, it still appeals!

        Djinn Patrol was an interesting reading experience, in that my views on it massively changed as it went along, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s hard to say why without spoilers! I imagine there will be six stronger books for the shortlist, but I’m glad to see it on the longlist.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah ok I thought it was Singapore too – though I figured maybe part of it took place in Japan based on your comment. Either way. At least it’s not Germany or the UK!

        Oh interesting – I’m definitely open to it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think this is me getting tired after so much book discussion 🙂 My impression from the synopsis is that it is partly set in a Japanese brothel. But I think this brothel is in occupied Singapore not in Japan! Totally my misreading.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gotcha!!! Well, Japan would have been fine but I don’t think I’ve read a WWII book set in Singapore, so, even better. My brain is also fried from literary prize overload and it’s not even 1 pm.

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  5. Excellent post! I appreciate the author breakdown, I neglected to do that (just posted my thoughts/plans as well). I think we have a lot of overlap in what we’re excited for or wary about! I felt the same halfway through Weather, and have been worried about the writing style of Dominicana (I read the BOTM sample when it was first released and decided to steer clear at that time) so perhaps we’ll end up with some similar reactions amongst the longlist.

    Also lol’d at your Testaments comment, perfection! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yes it looks like we’re feeling quite similarly! Yeah Weather is like… I’m not disliking it but I’m also reading all these reviews about how perfect and magical it is and I’m like, did we read the same book?!

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      • Exactly! I was very drawn in by the first pages but it never quite did anything more to impress me than it was doing at the start. I’ll be interested to see your final thoughts!

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  6. Hey there – Thanks for the link 🙂 Like I said, I’ve got a massive TBR pile and I want to read a lot of the books on it so I’m only sporadically dipping into The WP and IB longlists. The only prize where TBR reading will be put on hold is when The Booker Longlist is announced.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Np! I love following this prize and the community aspect is the most fun part. I hate that the WP and the IB are at the same time but the IB really does not tempt me at all this year and the WP is my first love so it all works out. The Booker I have an on/off relationship with but I always await the announcement with baited breath

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  7. I loved reading Queenie and I am currently reading Girl, Woman, Other. And I have Red at bone on my list. Yay. these are all good choices!

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    • I just finished Red at the Bone last night and thought it was excellent! I started Girl, Woman, Other and that should be good too. And I’m excited for Queenie!

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