An Alternate Women’s Prize Longlist

As we all know, I’m a devoted follower of the Women’s Prize.  I tried my best with the 2020 longlist – I really did.  Here’s where I landed on this group of 16 books:


Remaining longlist

  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara | will not read/don’t care enough to prioritize this
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner | read ★★★☆☆
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams | will not read/don’t care enough to prioritize this
  • Actress by Anne Enright | on-hold for now; I read 50 pages, had to put it down when various library holds all came in at the same time, and now it’s been too long to pick it back up, so I’m going to wait a couple of months and start over
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie | will not read/don’t care enough to prioritize this/have heard it’s awful
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee | read ★★★★☆
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo | currently reading/suffering
  • Girl by Edna O’ Brien | read ★☆☆☆☆
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett | will not read/don’t care enough to prioritize this/have heard it’s awful
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson | read ★★★★☆

At this point, I’m just sort of fed-up.  I haven’t had a single 5-star read off this list, I’ve read two that I positively HATED, and if I have to read another book about motherhood I’m going to fucking scream.  Luckily the 3 shortlisted titles that I haven’t already read (A Thousand Ships, Mantel, Hamnet) are the 3 that I was most looking forward to off the longlist, so, that was fortuitous, and I’ll definitely be reading those.  As for the rest… nope!

So a group of blogging friends and I decided to take the initiative to create our own 2020 longlist.  In a perfect world where we were the judges, these are the books we would have longlisted this year (adhering to all the Women’s Prize eligibility criteria):

It’s a group of 8 of us, so we each put forward 2 titles.  (See if you can guess mine.)

The Judges: Callum, EmilyHannahMarijaNatySarahSteph, and myself.

The longlist:

  1. The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy | review ★★★★★
  2. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell | currently reading
  3. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo | review ★★★★☆
  5. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  6. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
  7. The Body Lies by Jo Baker | review ★★★★★
  8. The Fire Starters by Jan Carson | review ★★★★★
  9. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips | review ★★★★★
  10. Bunny by Mona Awad
  11. Supper Club by Lara Williams
  12. My Name is Monster by Katie Hale
  13. Actress by Anne Enright
  14. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
  15. The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
  16. Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson | review ★★★★☆

All of us have a bit of literary prize fatigue at the moment, so we aren’t setting ourselves a deadline to read the list and come up with a shortlist.  It’s just something we’re going to meander through and hopefully revisit in a few months’ time.

That said, if you want to join us in reading any of these titles, please do!  The idea is ultimately to spotlight a group of books that we think either flew somewhat under the radar this year, or which we think are deserving of all the accolades they’ve been getting.

Comment and let me know your thoughts on the following: 1. the official longlist, 2. our alternate longlist, and 3. your own ideal longlist!

33 thoughts on “An Alternate Women’s Prize Longlist

  1. “if I have to read another book about motherhood I’m going to fucking scream” UGH yes! I mean obviously I haven’t read any of these but this statement feels so applicable in general. I read a memoir a few weeks ago that was allegedly about food but quickly turned into stories of placenta and pre-birth perineum massages. I was furious and felt so tricked. Anyway, sorry the prize list isn’t doing it for you and hope your own initiative helps you find way better ones!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so too!!!

      God I know right?! The motherhood books are SO insidious! I can stomach them in small doses if know exactly what I’m signing up for (which I have to bring up because I feel like IRONICALLY we have talked about Mother Winter quite a bit – but maybe that one’s different because it’s about the absence of a mother..?!) but when I think I’m going to be reading a broad family saga about a diverse group of characters and EVERY OTHER PAGE is someone ruminating on the DIFFICULTIES OF RAISING A CHILD I’m just like…. dear god I cannot take this anymore!!! Someone in our group chat who read the entire longlist said that the ONLY BOOK that doesn’t have motherhood as a prominent theme is the new Hilary Mantel. Officially nope-ing the hell out of the rest.


  2. “The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo | currently reading/suffering” omg i cant wait to see what u think of this – it was the book i told u about on twitter that i DESPISED when i read it last year

    Liked by 1 person

    • GOD!!!!! Ok I have to admit I was really enjoying this book at first in the same way that I enjoy soap operas, but at this point I have 20% to go and I genuinely do not know how I am going to spend one more single second with these insufferable people and Lombardo’s repetitive, inane writing

      Liked by 1 person

      • its genuinely impressive to me how Lombardo wrote a book where i hate every single character with burning passion 💖💖💖💖💖 GODSPEED re: finishing the book hopefully it wont be too torturous

        Liked by 1 person

      • FINALLY FINISHED THIS SHITTY BOOK. I was thinking about this comment as I was finishing it because I was like ‘Jonah isn’t that bad though???’ and then there was like the 75th paragraph about how he’s never had love or stability in his life and I was like I AM SO FUCKING SICK OF THIS KID congrats Lombardo, you got me to hate an orphaned teenager, IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED??

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL YESSSSS it really takes talent to be so consistently bad in developing every single character. at this point if i wanna get into a really angry mindset all i have to do is just think of this book and how irritating it was and then bam im angry 😤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha I love this summary of the Women’s Prize longlist, especially ‘currently reading/suffering’. I think the shortlist is better than the longlist, but still not as strong as it could have been given all the eligible books out there, as your alternative longlist illustrates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The shortlist is SO much better than the longlist – in a way a refreshing change from last year, where they whittled down 16 incredibly diverse and interesting books into… whatever the hell that shortlist was supposed to be. I’m excited to keep going with this year’s shortlist but after that I am thrilled about jumping ship to our alternate list.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally love this idea (and am guessing The Fire Starters was most assuredly one of your selections!) Your ideal longlist is definitely more inspiring than the actual one… although they seem to have selected the most interesting books for the shortlist, which is a small mercy.

    Liked by 1 person


      Absolutely a small mercy! Just get Dominicana the hell out of there and replace it with Actress and the shortlist is literally the best it could be out of those 16 mostly dreadful books. I am excited to keep going with the shortlist though. I mean, Hamnet! So relevant to my life choices right now!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a great idea, and I love the diversity of this list! My contributions probably would have been The Confessions of Frannie Langton (I think you’d really like this one!!) and The Bird King!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good for you for such a reading goal. I read very few books that have just come out–mainly those I read like that are books written by a friend or by an author whose work I really like. I haven’t read any of these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read so much contemporary fiction that it definitely comprises the majority of my reading usually, but I have to say that during quarantine I’ve definitely been reaching for more backlist than usual!


  7. I hope you’ll survive The Most Fun! Good choice nixing the rest of the longlist that didn’t make it otherwise. The motherhood focus was excruciating! On the bright side, our longlist is much more appealing and varied in theme, so at least there’s that to look forward to! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I SURVIVED, AT LONG LAST! God if I never have to read another motherhood book it will be too soon. But yes, EXCELLENT point, that does not appear to be a very prominent theme on our list!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Have fun reading for the alternative prize! In general I do prefer your longlist to the ‘real’ one. Apart from struggling with Mt. Mantel (which will surely win? unless Evaristo makes it a double with the Booker), I’ve given up. I have my fingers crossed that you’ll adore The Bass Rock as much as I did. I imagine your picks were two of your 5* reviews, unless you submitted one that you still wanted to read. I think/hope you’ll really enjoy Supper Club.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are absolutely correct, my two nominations were The Fire Starters and Disappearing Earth, two 5-star reads, though I’m VERY pleased at what everyone else nominated as these were mostly books I’d been wanting to read anyway! The Bass Rock I have VERY high hopes for and I cannot wait to pick it up. Supper Club too!

      I think it’s definitely between Mantel and Evaristo… I almost wonder if they’ll want to give it to Evaristo to smooth over the Booker fiasco?


  9. Please don’t write off Djinn Patrol. I’ve just finished it and cannot stop thinking about it. Hamnet has started off brilliantly, so I hope it can stay the course. I loved Girl, Woman, Other too. I want to read the Haynes, Mantel and Offill as well. For me, this was the first year in quite a while that I got excited about almost the whole longlist – horses for course, as they say 🙂
    I do want to read Ducks one day too….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah see the thing about Djinn Patrol is that it just never appealed to me in the first place – I NEVER would have added it to my TBR if it weren’t for this longlist. That said I’ve heard a lot of glowing reviews so at this point I’m not opposed to reading it – I’m just not going to rush out and pick it up at the moment!

      I hope Hamnet continues to be great! I’m really excited about picking that one up.

      Liked by 1 person

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