We love uneducated predictions.
Welcome back to the Women’s Prize for Fiction central, aka my blog. I know that for the past two months, I have been focusing on just this prize and reading the longlist, but it really has been all that I have read. And it was a lot of fun, in general, so let’s talk a bit about my progress and then we can chat about what I would like to see on the shortlist, and what I think will be on the shortlist which are two slightly different things.
Longlist Progress & Wrap Up
Tomorrow, the shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 is announced tomorrow and I have managed to read 8 of the 16 books on the longlist, and I am quite satisfied with that. Although I wish I would have finished them all (except the Mantel, which is never happening), but given that this was my first year trying to read the whole list, I think I did okay. I am still gonna finish the longlist, especially since the winner won’t be announced until September. Here’s what I read so far with my star ratings and reviews linked, in order of most liked to least liked:
1. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – 4 stars
2. How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee – 4 stars
3. Red at the Bone – 4 stars
4. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – 3 stars
5. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – 2 stars
6. Actress by Anne Enright – 2.5 stars
7. Weather by Jenny Offill – 2 stars
8. Girl by Edna O’Brien – 1 star
This puts my average rating at an atrocious 2.81 (but at least my average rating is higher than Rachel’s). I have found my reads so far to be really uninspiring. I have to say that the longlist isn’t doing much for me, but I did save the books I thought I’d enjoy most for last, so there’s still hope. My biggest grievance here is that I don’t think that the books I read so far do a lot of interesting stuff with the structure or even the narrative choices the authors explore. Moreover, I find I like all of the books less the more time I spend away from them. For example, Red at the Bone was a solid read, but the more time I spend away from it, the more forgettable I find it, and the more I think it wasn’t that great. I did however, have a lot of fun reading these and discussing it with everyone in our Women’s Prize group chat – all the shoutouts to Callum, Emily, Hannah, Naty, Rachel and Sarah for being the best and keeping me interested in reading the list, but also for accepting me into the chat even though I have very little to contribute beyond being mad at Rachel for giving two stars to The Dream Thieves (read Rachel’s wrong opinion HERE and read my five-star spoilery thoughts on it HERE).
I am excited to see what is on the shortlist, and I am excited to read the rest of the longlist, but my overall experience with the longlist so far is: MEH.
Shortlist Wishes & Predictions
As for my wishes, the only two books that I would love to see on the shortlist out of the ones I have read are A Thousand Ships and How We Disappeared. I think they both merit their place on the shortlist and I personally enjoyed them a lot. I would HATE to see The Dutch House on the shortlist, but I think it has a fair chance. I just don’t think that book does anything to warrant its place on the shortlist. If Girl is on the shortlist, I will riot and cancel the Women’s Prize for Fiction forever. The rest I would not want to end up on the shortlist because I personally did not enjoy them, but I think Actress deserves it and I think Weather would deserve its place there simply because it is at least different, structurally and stylistically speaking.
1. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
2. The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel
3. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
4. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
5. How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
6. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Okay, so my uneducated guess – I think Girl, Woman, Other is an easy pick. Not only is it universally loved and acknowledged, but I also think it might win. The Mirror and the Light needs to be on the shortlist, because why would you longlist the third book in a trilogy if not to put it on the shortlist. It has to happen. O’Farrell is another big name, so I think it has a fair shot at being shortlisted. Same goes for Patchett, and I know people loved The Dutch House generally, but they are still wrong. I don’t want it on the shortlist, but I think it will be there. How We Disappeared was great and I want to see it on the shortlist. Queenie is also one I felt meh about, but I think it would be cool to put a commercially successful story on the shortlist, especially one that is about a young black woman in the UK and deals so heavily with mental health.
Those are my longlist progress updates and my shortlist predictions! I would love to hear from you? Thoughts on the longlist? What do you think will be on the shortlist this year? Let me know!
In the meantime, happy reading
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