women's prize for fiction

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 Longlist Reactions & Feelings

I can’t believe that Women’s Prize season is upon us again so soon. Feels like we just wrapped up 2020 prize cycle and we’re already back. Time continues to be a JOKE. Anyways, I made no plans to read the longlist this year after not having fun with it last year (you can check out the journey HERE). And that weirdly made me feel much more excited for the list. So here’s the longlist for 2021:

Overall thoughts on the list: I have to say that off the bat, when I first saw the list, I was really happy with it. Instantly, it was a much more exciting list than last year’s AND it had six books that I was so excited to read and some that I would be interested in now. I am so happy that some of these books made it (Detransition, Baby!) and I am genuinely excited about what the shortlist could look like. However, there are some inclusions that I am not into, so let’s talk about the books individually and whether or not I would read them.

  • Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi – Really glad this made the list! It has been on my TBR previously, I love fraught mother-daughter relationships, and a lot of people whose opinions I really trust were rooting for this one for the Booker, so I have high hopes.
    Will I read it: YES!
  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan – This is the highest priority book for me, it has all the Rooney vibes and I cannot wait to get to it. I am really glad that this got included since I think the inital hype for it died down, so it will be nice to see people pick it up again.
    Will I read it: Absolutely!
  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller – I have read one book by Fuller before and really enjoyed it, however, this in particular was not on my radar at all (I DNFed Fuller’s most recent release, so I’ve been feeling meh about her writing). The sibling premise is always a buzz word for me though, so I am fine with it being on the list. I have no strong feelings about it either way.
    Will I read it: Probably not, but I do not hate the sound of it.
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi – Really excited for this one! It was already on my radar, but after hearing Anna James discuss it in her predictions for the prize, I immediately had to order it. It sounds right up my alley, and discussions between faith and science are always so interesting for me personally. Really looking forward to picking it up.
    Will I read it: Definitely, really looking forward to picking it up.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – This is a really interesting pick for the prize and I am really glad to see this on the list. I have not read Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I think I might pick this one up, it does have the potential for me to like it.
    Will I read it: Definitely interested, but not top priority.
  • No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood – Another one I am super excited to get to and am really glad to see on the list. I love reading about existing online and social media, and I’ve heard such great things about this one so far, so I am really excited to get to it.
    Will I read it: DEFINITELY.
  • How the One-armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones – I have seen this book around a lot and I am definitely interested in it. All I know is that it’s set in Barbados and focuses on four different characters, and I always like following a cast of characters and seeing how they come together, so I think I definitely will pick this up at some point.
    Will I read it: Definitely interested, but not a priority.
  • Luster by Raven Leilani – This was a book I was sure that would end up on the list, and one I am really keen to get to this one and see what the fuss is about.
    Will I read it: Definitely.
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters – The first trans woman on the list! So glad for Peters and I have heard that this book is fun and delightful and explores the experiences of both cis and trans women and this is one I am so excited to get to.
    Will I read it: For sure.
  • The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig – I have not heard of this author or the book before before, but I realized that she was one of the people who signed a petition in support of J.K. Rowling, a petition that called the discussions around Rowling’s attitudes “bullying”, which I think is incredibly tone deaf. And I think that any feminist who spends so much effort defending or propagating attittudes that are so deeply concerned with biology needs to take a hard, long look in the mirror and ask themselves why do they think that this is the most important thing they should be concerned with as a feminist. So yeah,  I do not care and I will not read this.
    Will I read it: No, thank you.
  • Consent by Annabel Lyon – Another book I have not heard of before, but it definitely sounds interesting. It’s another sibling story so definitely up my alley. I am glad the list put this on my radar, I can definitely see myself picking it up at some point. 
    Will I read it: I am interested, but not my top priority.
  • Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon – This is also not a book I have heard of before, and it’s one whose synopsis does not immediately grasp my attention. But I am open to reading it if someone really recommends it. 
    Will I read it: Probably not.
  • Summer by Ali Smith – I definitely love Smith’s writing and I read the first book of the seasonal quartet, Autumn as an ARC before it came out, but I have to say I just did not get a lot from it personally, so I do not see myself picking this one up.
    Will I read it: Nope.
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers – Again, not one I have heard of before and the synopsis does not draw me in immediately. It’s set in the 1950s and follows a woman that gets caught up with a family that she is doing a story on. It feels like a synopsis I heard before, so not immediately interested. I do love this cover and would like to own it for it, so if I hear really good things about it I might get around to it.
    Will I read it: Probably not.
  • Because of You by Dawn French – Not an author I heard of before, and turns out she’s a celebrity comedian. For some reason, I find this pick really a weird choice, but who knows. It’s another motherhood story about two women, so not something that immediately grasps my attention. I’d be keen to see reviews for this one from other people.
    Will I read it: Probably not.
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet – This is one I definitely can be convinced to pick up. I had an ARC of The Mothers way back in the day and I dnf-ed it sadly, and so I am not sure if Brit Bennet is for me. But I love the premise of this story, and like I said, siblings and especially sisters are my buzz words in a book, so I do see myself trying this out, it’s just not top priority. But it was one of four books I was certain would make the list, and all four of those did make it so I think I win, and I am really glad that this is on the list.
    Will I read it: Possibly, but not top priority.

Final thoughts: SO in total six books that I am definitely going to pick up, 5 that are appealing to me and I could be convinced to read, 5 I do not see myself reading and one I will for sure not pick up. So in terms of my personal reading tastes I think this is a list that is much more suited to it than last year’s. I feel like last year it was very historical fiction heavy, which is just not for me, and this year does promise a good time.
My friend and personal hero Rachel did a breakdown of the list and I have to say that I was expecting the list to be more diverse, so it’s kind of a bummer. And the whole Amanda Craig thing does put a damp on my overall excitement. So I am not sure how heavy the WP content will be on the blog this year, but I am really excited about some of these titles and I cannot wait to see how I like them. Personally, WP season is always fun for me because there’s a lot of disk horse in the community, which is always fun, we love OPINIONS here. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my thoughts!


I would love to hear from you! Tell me all of your reactions to the list, I would absolutely love to know. How do you like it? How many books have you read or plan to read? Let me know! . 

In the meantime, happy reading





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14 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 Longlist Reactions & Feelings

  1. I hadn’t realised until you said that there is almost no historical fiction on this list (The Vanishing Half technically counts). It’s odd, because I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan of historical fiction, but I think the list does feel a bit contemporary for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love reaction posts!! Yours is such fun to read (as are all your posts really). Looking forward to your thoughts on the books you decide to read! Also glad we didn’t have to riot in the end!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I hope you’ll like Burnt Sugar! I thought it was a really smart book that did the motherhood theme justice, but unfortunately it was too soon for another motherhood book for me when I picked it up after last year’s WP. Nevertheless I’m happy to see it here and think it’s a great contender. Eager to see your thoughts on all of the books you’re interested in! And completely agree with your overall list assessments.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post! I feel very similarly about this year’s list. It’s definitely more suited to my taste overall, and there are lots I’m excited to check out, but it could have done with a little more diversity in both authorship and genre/themes.

    Liked by 2 people

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