Women’s Prize 2021 Longlist Predictions

I’ve already talked a little bit about how I don’t plan on following the Women’s Prize this year as closely as I usually do… but at this point it’s tradition to make a predictions list and get everything spectacularly wrong, so, let’s do this.

I WILL be updating my Women’s Prize Complete Longlist history post here and its corresponding Google Doc here as soon as the list drops, so you can look forward to that, if that is the sort of thing you look forward to.

As of now, here are my predictions:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  Sure! I’ve heard mostly positive things and I’d like the excuse to finally read it. That said, I’d like to read Nella Larsen’s Passing first, which I understanding The Vanishing Act is sort of in conversation with, so I might not get around to reading it before the shortlist drops if it does make the list.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Has the author been longlisted before?  No (debut).

Would I be happy to see it?  YES. I loved this book and felt it didn’t get nearly enough attention. I thought it was a great snapshot of the withering effects of the Korean beauty industry on a group of young women.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  Hannah loved it and thinks I also would, so yeah, why not.

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Has the author been longlisted before?  No (debut).

Would I be happy to see it?  This narrowly missed out on being one of my top books of 2020 so yes, absolutely.

Sisters by Daisy Johnson

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  I’m not sure… I did mean to read this ages ago and was looking forward to it but since then my interest has waned a bit. I think I’ve read a few too many lukewarm reviews. I’d still probably give it a shot though.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  I don’t think I’ll read this, at least not right now, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it on there; the consensus seems overwhelmingly positive.

The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  I mean, you know me and Irish lit. I don’t know a whole lot about this one but I’ve heard good things.

Luster by Raven Leilani

Has the author been longlisted before?  No (debut).

Would I be happy to see it?  I was honestly a little underwhelmed by this book, but yeah, if it makes the list I think it will have earned its spot.

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Has the author been longlisted before?  No (debut).

Would I be happy to see it?  No. I can’t even explain why but I have a deeply intuitive feeling that I won’t get on with this.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Has the author been longlisted before?  Yes.

Would I be happy to see it?  This was my favorite novel of 2020, so yes.

The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  Definitely. Would love the excuse to read this.

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Has the author been longlisted before?  Yes.

Would I be happy to see it?  Yes! Haven’t read this yet but Moss is great.

Jack by Marilynne Robinson

Has the author been longlisted before?  Yes (winner).

Would I be happy to see it?  I don’t have a horse in this race. I’ve never read Robinson and I do intend to, some day, but also don’t feel an urgent need to do that next month. So if it’s on the list I won’t read it, but I also won’t begrudge the Robinson stans their happiness.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Has the author been longlisted before?  Yes.

Would I be happy to see it?  You literally could not pay me to read this book, so no.

The Yield by Tara June Winch

Has the author been longlisted before?  No.

Would I be happy to see it?  I know almost nothing about this, but it would be nice for at least one Australian novel to make the list.

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

Has the author been longlisted before?  No (debut).

Would I be happy to see it?  Also know very little about this one. No strong preference here.

What are you hoping and expecting to see on the list? Comment and let me know!


55 thoughts on “Women’s Prize 2021 Longlist Predictions

  1. Like you, I won’t be following as closely as I usually do so I’m very out of the loop in terms of eligibility. This seems like a really solid list of predictions though. But as we know, the list is rarely what we expect (or want), lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great guesses! I’d be pretty happy with this list, with a couple I’ve read and loved and quite a few on my TBR that I’d love the extra nudge to finally pick up. But I also doubt I would be reading Rodham or Jack (in any sort of timely manner at least) if they made the list! I’m not doing predictions this year but I am planning to work a few of these titles into my March TBR *just in case* so I’m definitely in agreement on the chances with some of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m reading The Vanishing Half now and last year read both of Nella Larsen’s Passing and Quicksand, the latter I enjoyed even more.
    I’d like to see The First Woman by Jennifer Makumbi on the list, The Yield definitely, A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf.
    I’m looking forward to seeing which titles make the longlist, though it’s unlikely to change my reading too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh good tip about Quicksand, I haven’t heard as much about that as Passing.

      I hadn’t heard of The First Woman or A More Perfect Union but both sound like they’d be excellent choices.

      And yes, same here!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m going to have a go at predictions as well, though after the disappointment of last year’s list I too won’t be aiming to read the whole longlist!

    I think The Vanishing Half is a shoo-in, although I thought it was good rather than great, so am getting a little tired of hearing about it now. (Does Bennett cite Passing as a specific influence? I can see why she’d have her imagination sparked by a book about passing written in the Harlem Renaissance, but they’re such different books. Which is to say that I don’t think reading Passing will particularly illuminate The Vanishing Half, or vice versa).

    I’m reading Transcendent Kingdom now and really, really enjoying it, so I’d love to see that make it. The Wild Laughter, Yield and Piranesi are on my TBR, so it would be nice to be able to double up! Totally with you on A Burning and The Glass Hotel (and I’m still cross that Station Eleven was longlisted but not shortlisted, so the Prize could redeem itself somewhat!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Re: Bennett and Passing–I’m not sure! It’s more that I’ve seen a lot of bloggers talking about these books together and I’m much more interested in reading Passing than TVH so it would be a shame to prioritize the latter.

      Ooh good to hear about Transcendent Kingdom. Not sure why that one isn’t really speaking to me, at least not in a ‘must read immediately’ kind of way, but if I keep hearing such good things I’m sure I’ll be swayed.

      I still can’t believe Station Eleven wasn’t shortlisted. Surely one of the most enduring books of the past decade, even before covid!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d be surprised not to see Vanishing Half in the long list because I feel like it’s been a Big Novel this year. I was surprised that Daisy Johnson hadn’t previously been nominated. I thought her first book was a bit better than Sisters but I could see Sisters making the long list. And I haven’t read Jack yet but I do love Robinson’s work. At the same time, I generally prefer these types of awards to go to lesser known writers. Robinson doesn’t need more of an audience, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree, if I had to bet money on one of these I’d go with The Vanishing Half hands down. I also could have sworn Everything Under had been longlisted! I think I read both the WP and the Booker longlists that year so I guess I conflated them.

      I definitely look forward to reading Robinson one day, I’ve heard so many amazing things. The timing doesn’t feel right for me to force myself to read her at the moment though so I’ll hold off, even if Jack makes it. But yeah, I totally agree, I love a debut-heavy longlist!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nothing I want to see on the list ever gets there, or makes it past shortlisting stage if it does, but I think skipping Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock and Kirsten Innes’s Scabby Queen would be HUGE mistakes, as both in different ways are about the legacies of violence against women and the types of power that women have historically been able to claim. (The Women’s Prize judges will, of course, make these mistakes.) Summerwater should also be there, and I think Eley Williams’s The Liar’s Dictionary ought to have a good chance. Olivia Sudjic’s Asylum Road, perhaps? In a just world, Eliza Clark’s Boy Parts, but I don’t think it’s commercial and shiny enough (am I increasingly cynical and bitter about the Women’s Prize, no, not at all, why do you ask?) Salena Godden’s Mrs. Death Misses Death would be great to see. I’d be happy to see Piranesi, Sisters, Jack, too. My colleague Freddie LOVED We Are All Birds of Uganda and they have great taste, so perhaps that. Suspect Luster and Exciting Times will both make it on—would be more delighted about the latter than the former. We’ll see…!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I forgot all about The Bass Rock but I think it may have been eligible for last year’s prize?! UK pub date being March 26, 2020 if Goodreads can be trusted.

      Lots of titles here that I haven’t heard of–Scabby Queen sounds VERY up my alley. I came to the same conclusion about Boy Parts–maybe a bit too out there?

      And, yes, your growing frustration with the prize is very much shared. In a way it’s a relief to be so disillusioned so as to not feel compelled to slog through 7-8 mediocre books just to tick the longlist box off, but still, kind of a bummer to have ended up here. I am just increasingly annoyed by their selections and their muddled at best/dangerous at worst statements about trans writers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pub dates are the hardest part of working out prize eligibility for me. Scabby Queen is great, you would like it and it hasn’t had nearly enough attention.

        The whole attitude they’re taking towards trans writers is… can’t even. Like, good try, but.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The hardest part for me is keeping track of the 2 books per imprint rule. Like, I don’t think my list is even logistically possible. Just going off vibes and hoping for the best.

        It’s… really incredibly atrocious. The hole they dug for themselves after essentially accidentally longlisting Akwaeke Emezi has… only gotten much deeper since then!!!


      • It just doesn’t seem that hard to affirm trans and nb women if you actually want to? Like, The Second Shelf has done so in no uncertain terms. My feeling is that if you’re an institution or company that isn’t coming right out and saying “all are welcome”, it’s because you’re afraid you’ll lose business to an extent, and that fear can fundamentally only affect boards/owners who, on some level, are themselves the kind of people who would stop patronising their own business if it came out for inclusivity. (I include my own workplace in this. Suggestions that we make some kind of active Black Lives Matter statement or say something in support of diversity in reading and publishing were met with the bland assurance that such statements would be “political” and the business “should remain politically neutral”. Sure, pal. Okay.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • YEP, ALL OF THIS.

        The fact that they responded to Emezi’s inclusion with “they used she/her pronouns and therefore they were a woman when their book was submitted” was just… HUGE HUGE HUGE ALARM BELLS and it’s only gotten messier since then. That was such an opportunity to open up the prize to trans and nb writers (which fits in with the prize’s mission anyway?!?!) and it was so disheartening to watch them fumble it that badly.

        Prioritizing the comfort of cis white people over inclusivity is literally the entire reason transphobia is as rampant in the UK as it currently is. Nothing’s ever going to fucking change if we keep allowing this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • (I should have written “trans women and nb people” in the previous comment, my bad.)

        I suppose we can just wait for all the conservative boomers to die. That’s a large part of my current strategy. (Kidding, but also not?)

        Liked by 1 person

      • OH I didn’t even notice, good catch and revision.

        Ok but literally tho. I was looking at the QTs on the WP’s ‘legally defined as women’ statement this morning to send to someone else and I was getting so infuriated and saddened all over again.


  7. I read both Passing and The Vanishing Half this month! Passing is SO short; you could probably read it in a few hours, tbh, and The Vanishing Half was absolutely excellent, and also a relatively quick read. I read it in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down! I really do hope to see The Vanishing Half on the list.

    I really want to get to Piranesi at some point! Though I feel like it’s not the sort of book the Women’s Prize usually goes for? I don’t think it’s fantasy, exactly, but it feels a bit too fantastical for the list.

    I was similarly underwhelmed by Luster but agree with you that it would deserve a spot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to know about Passing, I definitely want to try to read it this year!

      I haven’t read Piranesi but I think it’s the kind of fantasy that they’d include on the list–they definitely don’t do high fantasy but literary fiction with a fantasy or speculative or magical realism twist is fair game (stuff like Oryx and Crake, The Tiger’s Wife, Life After Life, The Power, etc). They tend to be more ‘forgiving’ toward fantasy when it’s by an esteemed author, too, so I think that will work in Clarke’s favor.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Yield and The Wild Laughter were SO GOOD and id love to see them on the longlist!! I also loved If I Had Your Face; it got a lot of buzz when it was released last year but then the buzz died out and no one ever talks about it anymore…

    atm i am very wary of the womens prize longlist after the underwhelming mess that was last year’s longlist, but im hoping for the best 😬

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We overlapped on 7! And of the rest, I think these are all very plausible choices … with the exception of Rodham, which was fun but not of prize quality in any way (not that that has stopped the judges before). The one I was most surprised to encounter here is Summerwater — I read it but found it so overwhelming compared to the rest of Moss’s work that it literally never occurred to me to include it on my list of potentials, whoops!

    Liked by 1 person


      We Are All Birds… sounds really great, I think if it’s longlisted I’ll wait to read a few more reviews before deciding whether I want to read it myself just because I haven’t heard much about it, but I think it has a lot of potential!


  10. I also adored Station Eleven – it should definitely have been on the short list – I have The Glass Hotel on my TBR and it might be my next read 🙂
    I also believe that Luster and The Vanishing Half will be on the long list
    I read Daisy Johnson’s first book last year and I want to read Sisters despite the mixed reviews. But her first book was definitely a long list possibility.
    I read the Vanishing Half (but not yet the Passing) and I enjoyed it but it lacked something to make it a great read. It was a good read if you know what I mean (passing as white was well done)
    I’ve read one book by Robinson and loved it and I mean to read the other ones soon. She doesn’t to be on that list for sure.
    As for the trans story, I haven’t heard about it so did they ban transgender authors ?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great list of books. With the exception of Rodham, obviously. It would be hilarious, if only for the group chat’s reaction.
    We have 8 overlap! Have we ever had this many? This either means the least or the most surprising longlist will be ahead of us.


  12. I just finished reading The Glass Hotel and loved it ! Their policy towards trans women is really stupid. Poor them. When do the list come out ? I’m afraid i’ve read only 10% of the predictions !

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I didn’t even realize that If I Had Your Face was eligible! I should absolutely have included it on my list. It wasn’t a five star read for me but I did really enjoy it and would be delighted to see it longlisted.

    Liked by 1 person

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