Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist 2019: Thoughts

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Oh boy.

Midnight brought the announcement of the Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist and a cacophony of confused controversy across the internet and in the bookstores, that has not yet abated, even now that more than half a day has passed. And, believe me, I have needed that half of a day to finally get around to gathering my own thoughts into some semblance of semi-coherent critical writing. The shortlist is as follows:

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • Ordinary People by Diana Evans
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Circe by Madeline Miller

I imagine that I speak for a majority, when I say that I stared in horror/nearly fainted from the shock, when the gif appeared on the Women's Prize for Fiction twitter account and Sarah Moss' Ghost Wall wasn't featured amongst the books, after-all, it had been the out-and-out favourite and predicted-winner of many.
And, without its presence on the shortlist, my thoughts are blurred as to what will take its place on the podium: Milkman has already won the Booker, Madeline Miller has already won this prize for her debut (which, according to the opinion of many, was a far stronger and better loved novel)... and, speaking less pragmatically and more in-line with my own bookish opinions about the books themselves, My Sister, the Serial Killer, although fun, left much to be desired in terms of depth (it is easy to recommend and to read, but not a book that was as thematically interesting or complex, as the some of the others on the longlist); An American Marriage was thought-provoking and timely, although its views on gender roles and its ending, left much to be desired; and frankly, and I do not say this lightly, The Silence of Girls was complete and utter bollocks.
That leaves Ordinary People which, though I have not yet had the chance to get around to reading it, has shot immediately to the top of my tbr pile.
The selection, frankly, has left me quite out of sorts.
I do not know how to proceed, what to think.
The longer I sit here, the more I think that I must have missed something in these books; that I mistakenly stumbled upon something that wasn't really there in the others. But then, I sit back and feel content in the knowledge that Ghost Wall was one of those other books, and Swan Song too, and their brilliance, though apparently unseen by the judges, is as clear to me as the stars in the sky.
And, then I become content in my own little shortlist. No matter how unofficial it might be.

So, what do you make of the shortlist? Were you as flabbergasted as I was, or did the book selection match your own predictions?

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