The longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced last week – Wednesday 8th March, at midnight. I wanted to take some time to absorb and digest the list, laying out plans for my reading, so a week later here’s my initial thoughts on the books that made the cut.
Looking at the longlist this year, overall I’m happy. There’s a mix of books I’ve read, books I thought would appear, books I’m longing to read and also books – and authors – I’ve never even heard of. Honestly, there’s also a few books I’m surprised to see, that I thought maybe wouldn’t be longlisted because there’s already loads of hype around them. That’s not to say they don’t deserve recognition and an (even) wider audience, but I prefer it when I discover new, hidden talent. And that’s really why I love the WPF – it gives me a kick up the bum to read the books I’ve had on my list a little to long and also allows me to discover new gems that might have gone unnoticed.
Out of the 16 longlisted books, I’ve already read two:
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
- See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Both were impeccable, enjoyable and memorable reads.
Out of the 14 remaining books, I already have five on my TBR list:
- Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
- The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
- The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Looking at the last nine books, I’ve heard of – but don’t really know anything about – five:
- The Idiot by Elif Batuman
- Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
- Sight by Jessie Greengrass
- Elmet by Fiona Mozley
- Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
So that leaves four that are completely shiny and new to me:
- H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
- Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
- When I Hit You: or, a portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy
- A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
One of the first things I do when I see the prize each year is to assess what I’ve already ticked off reading during the previous year, as well as what I already own. Then I go through the rest of the books on the list picking out the ones that interest me the most, reserving them from my library in the hope that I’ll get them out before the shortlist for the prize is announced.
This year, I’m most excited to read The Trick to Time, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Manhattan Beach and Miss Burma. I’m really into reading historical fiction at the moment, so I think the latter three will help scratch that itch. There’s a couple I’m not too fussed about (I won’t name names at the moment), but if I can get them from the library and have some spare time I’ll try and give them a go.