Tonight is the night! The winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for fiction is announced and we will finally wrap up with this year’s list. It was a RIDE to say the least, so I am excited to chat to you about my final thoughts, books I loved and would highly recommend, books I was surprised by and finally, my favorite read and my winner prediction! Thank you all for following along on my journey, and I hope these posts were at least a bit fun, I had such a great time. As always, all the shoutouts to the most amazing group chat: Rachel, Hannah, Callum, Naty, Emily, & Sarah , you’re the real MVPs.
General Thoughts on the List + Reading Experience
Overall, I found the list as a whole underwhelming. My longlist average rating is 2.85, while my shortlist rating is just slightly better at a 3. I ended up reading 10 books out of the longlisted 16 (4 out of the shortlisted 6).There were very few standouts on the list, and the books I disliked, I really disliked them. But as a whole, I am so glad I decided to read the longlist. I had fun and it was just the push I needed to start getting back into literary fiction. Moreover, I found that reading this list was challenging for me in a way that reading has not been in the last two years, so I am glad that I have reignited my critical reader side in a way that it was not. So while the list on itself was nothing spectacular, I think it definitely was worth it. But if you want to know more of my thoughts on the longlist, you can find them HERE, and for the shortlist HERE. You can also find all of my reviews HERE.
Standouts, Surprises and Favorites
So, out of the 10 books I read, here are some that were clear standouts:
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – I know this was not everyone’s favorite, especially because people read Circe and The Silence of the Girls last year. However, I still have not read those, so I was going very fresh into this one and I ended up really enjoying it. This is a Trojan retelling told through the eyes of the women and goddesses of Troy. I found this compelling, and I enjoyed its structure and its unchronollogical approach to storytelling. I definitely see some faults that everyone has mentioned, but overall I really enjoyed this one. You can find more of my thoughts HERE.
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee – I was so surprised that I loved this one. It’s set during WWII and we all know historical fiction is not my jam but I really enjoyed this one. I found it really immersive and evocative, and also really nuanced and heartfelt. It was also great to read a book that explores the war from a different perspective than we usually get in these kinds of stories. I was really sad that this one did not get shortlisted in the end, because I wish it got more hype. If you want more of my in depth thoughts, you can find them HERE.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo – Finally, this was my favorite book of the list. I don’t think that I can say anything that has not been said about this one yet, but I found it smart and very human, with characters that are flawed and real and honest. It was a great glimpse into these people’s lives and troubles and thoughts, all while tackling bigger issues of history, class, race and gender. Could not recommend more and if you want to know more, it’s all HERE.
So who do I think has it? To break down the shortlist: I really enjoyed two books: Girl, Woman, Other and A Thousand Ships. I did not read Dominicana, because the reviews were not great and made me not want to read it, plus I lost interest and steam to read the list a bit and The Mirror and the Light, because it’s the third book in a historical epic series. Finally, I disliked two books: Hamnet was overwritten and had really flat characterization, while Weather was topical and interesting as an idea, but it did not do absolutely anything for me.
Given the breakdown, I would absolutely love Girl, Woman, Other to win. I hate that it had to share its place for the Booker and this would be a nice redemption. Plus, I think it’s a clear standout from the books I read both in terms of writing quality, characterization, scope and narrative as a whole. HOWEVER.
I think that Girl, Woman, Other has received a lot of praise and accolades and I think the judges might want to highlight a different novel. Plus, I think Girl, Woman, Other has already been claimed by many other prizes, so I think the judges might go with Hamnet. So my bet is on it. Still hate that book, but I think it has a good shot at winning. Rooting for Evaristo though. I am excited to see who wins!
This concludes this year’s Women’s Prize posts! You can catch my reaction to the winner on Twitter (link below), but I would love to hear from you – who do you think will win? What book is your favorite? Thoughts on the list as a whole? Let me know!
In the meantime, happy reading
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