I’m always excited about the publication of the long list of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Despite my ambivalence (and occasional vocal opposition) about women-specific activities, I can’t help but like this one because, well, they always do such a damn good job. Some of my favourite books of all time have won the prize:
- When we Lived in Modern Times (2000)
- Bel Canto (2002)
- Small Island (2004)
- Half of a Yellow Sun (2007)
- The Road Home (2008)
- May we be Forgiven (2013)
In my opinion, the judges always seem to strike the perfect balance between interesting and accessible. They are always books that I want to read, learn from, and actually enjoy – a surprisingly rare mix (and not something I can say of the Man Booker).
This year’s longlist seems hugely promising, so I am as a excited as ever.
I have read a few of the books on the list: The Goldfinch (good, but overhyped) and Americanah (in my opinion, a potential winner), The Lowland (sometimes slow, sometimes amazing, well worth a read).
But had a couple more ‘on my reading list’ (downloaded on my kindle) already: All the Birds Singing, Almost English, The Luminaries, The Signature of all Things (though I remain entertained that Elizabeth Gilbert has become a ‘respectable’ writer, post Eat, Pray, Love *which I secretly loved).
One of the things I love about reading these lists is that they always introduced me to amazing new authors and novels I may not have heard about. And there is not one book on the list that I am not looking forward to reading. Of the ones not already on my list, the summaries give me particular hope I will love: Still Life with Breadcrumbs, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Reasons she Goes to the Woods and The Strangler Vine.
There are, however a few books I am sad didn’t make it onto this year’s list:
- Instructions for a Heatwave (Maggie O’Farrell)
- A Tale for the Time Being (Ruth Ozeki)
- Boy, Snow, Bird (Helen Oyeyemi) – which I am currently reading and completely obsessed with
(Though I am secretly quite please Life after Life didn’t make it – I’m not sure what all the fuss was about)
Anyway, no time to look backward, time to look forward and get my reading cap on. I’m unlikely to make it through all of these in the month before the shortlist is announced, but you don’t know if you don’t try….