Women's Prize for Fiction - Longlist (& Plan of Action!)

Saturday, 17 March 2018


Following on from my recent Women's Prize for Fiction Predictions post, it only made sense to continue the little series I have got going on here with one unpacking my reaction to the long-list, now that it has been officially announced. Of the 10 books I threw my hat in the ring and had a guess about, 4 made it onto the list and I am quite happy with that number.
Honestly, I am surprised that I correctly guessed any.
Maybe that has validated me. Maybe it has proved that I can do this literary criticism/pitting books against one another-thing and that I should give it another go. So for the next month or so, my plan is read as many of the sixteen books on the long-list as is humanly possible and report back my thoughts and feeling as to where they rank to you guys. And, to make this more interesting, I thought I would fill this post with my initial thoughts before going into the books, so we can all look back and see how my opinions change with me actually reading them.
Are you ready? Then, let's get started.
If you missed the announcement on International Women's Day, the books that I (and many, many others like me) will be reading are:

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Of these sixteen, I have already read - and absolutely adored! - Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon (which you can find my review of here) which focuses on Florence, a resident of an old people's home who is confronted with the sudden appearance of a man she used to know from her past and whom she is certain died long ago. It is moving and heartfelt and thrilling, but do I think that it will win? Well, I haven't read all the other books yet so who knows.

Interested
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

These six books sound absolutely fascinating and are the ones that I will be going into with the highest expectations. Each and every one of them seems as though they are going to be the most hard-hitting and that they will bring a real bite to the table, one which I am hoping is not going to leave me anytime soon.

Apathetic
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

I am honestly, a little eh about these five books. I have heard some great things about a lot of them but I just can't seem to convince myself to feel really anything about them. Nevertheless, I am still incredibly open to a surprise in this lot and honestly, I won't be too shocked if there is one.

Dreading It
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Oh, where do I begin with these? Honestly, apart from H(A)PPY, I think an excess of hype has ruined the idea of these ones for me, to the point where the list title is all I can think about when I contemplate reading them. And, H(A)PPY earns a place on this list because of its experimental stylistic choices, a component that can go wrong so damn easily.

I mean, who knows, right? I am literally judging all of these books by their covers and so I am HOPING that I adore each and every one of them. That'd be a perfect world, right? Let me know which you think are the highs and lows of the long-list, and if you plan to try and cram all 16 into the next two months like I am. 

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