Monday, 12 March 2018

Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist 2018: Thoughts, Feelings, Plans of Action

I love the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Every year, I find books I would never have even heard of had it not been for the prize, and I tend to find some of my new favourite reads. Last year was the first year I properly followed the prize from beginning to end, even going to the Bailey’s Book Bar events with my friends at Waterstones TCR. This year, I’m avidly following along once again.

In case you don’t already know, the longlist is as follows:

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
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
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

Upon seeing the longlist when it was announced at 00:00 on International Women’s Day, my initial reaction was one of slight uncertainty. I felt the same as Elle Thinks, in that the list felt a bit old; the books featured have been around for a while and in many cases, they’ve already been nominated/have won other big literary prizes like the Man Booker, the Costa Awards, and the National Book Award in the US. Obviously, this hints at how great the books on the longlist are, but I do feel like the Women’s Prize has such a thwack in the industry that it’s a real chance to elevate a book that would not have been known otherwise. Before last year’s prize, I had never heard of Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo or First Love by Gwendoline Riley, but I read them because they were longlisted and they ended up being some of my favourite reads of last year.

After the initial reaction though and a more considered look at the titles, I became a lot more excited by the longlist. The range of genres and authors here is astounding, and can only make for an incredibly interesting few months of reading. I would love to read as many of the longlist as possible before the release of the shortlist on 23rd April, so I’ve instigated a plan of attack.

Already Read

When I Hit You: A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy

I am so happy these books are on the longlist! I read See What I Have Done in September and when I think of this book, the cloying sweet smell of pears is instantly what comes to mind. It’s the only book I can think of ever describing as ‘pungent’ (if you’ve read this book, I think that will make sense!). I read When I Hit You within 24 hours of the longlist being released and I’m still mulling over it but safe to say, it’s worthy of a place on the longlist.


Owned but Not Read

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

These are the books that are top priority at the moment. All three have had huge success so far so my expectations are high, particularly for Eleanor Oliphant. I’m a little wary of Sing, Unburied Sing due to some mixed reviews I’ve heard over the ending, but I’m going to give it a go.


Priority to Buy

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Idiot by Elif Batuman

Out of the rest of the longlist that I haven’t already read/bought, these are the books that I’ll be getting to as soon as possible once I’ve read longlisted books I already own. I’m particularly excited by The Idiot and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

If I Have Time/If They Are Shortlisted

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

These are the ones I’m feeling pretty ambivalent towards at the moment, but that could all change depending on what I hear and what ends up being shortlisted. If you’ve read any of them and think I should read them, then please let me know!

What do you think of the Women's Prize Longlist? Do you plan on reading all/any of them? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
Happy reading,