(A post in which I make no mention of Hilary Mantel. She’ll be on the shortlist. I haven’t read it yet.)
So, while most of us were asleep in bed last night, the people behind the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) were busy announcing their longlist. It has 20 – 20! – books on it. Alex in Leeds has already written a very astute piece on the length of the shortlist here. I, like a fool, am going to attempt to read – and post full reviews – on as many as I can before the shortlist’s announced on April 16th.
I’m delighted Sheila Heti’s made the list with a book that people seem to love or hate. I loved it. You can read my thoughts on it here. I also, mostly, loved A.M Holmes’ May We Be Forgiven, which is a statement of contention for the title of Great American Novelist. Surely she’ll make the shortlist. My review is here. Francesca Segal’s The Innocents won the Costa First Novel award and I reviewed that here. It’s a cracking first novel.
I’m also thrilled to see Kate Atkinson on the list – she’s a novelist I’ve long admired and I’ve been hearing great things about Life After Life. I’m going to her reading at Huddersfield Literature Festival on Friday night, so that should be my weekend reading sorted.
I’ve also read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette (pre-blog). Gone Girl kept me up late two nights running while I finished it. It’s taut and gripping with several sharp twists. Semple’s debut is fun and feisty with a big heart. It tells the tale of Bernadette’s disappearance – mentally and then physically – through emails, notes, letters and reports collated by her daughter Bee. I enjoyed it a lot.
From the rest of the list, I’ve had Zadie Frost’s NW, Shani Boianjiou’s The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, Bonnie Nadzam’s Lamb, and G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen sitting in my (physical and e) tbr pile for a while now. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into these.
I’m sure the rest of the list will bring me to some great books that I might not have read otherwise. From their blurbs, I’m already hoping I can find the time to read Emily Perkins’ The Forrests, Ros Barker’s The Marlowe Papers, Deborah Copaken Kogan’s The Red Book and Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds. It looks as though my reading’s going to be completely female dominated for the next month or so – no bad thing with this sort of variety on offer though.
Kitty Aldridge A Trick I Learned From Dead Men
Kate Atkinson Life After Life
Ros Barber The Marlowe Papers
Shani Boianjiu The People of Forever are Not Afraid
Gillian Flynn Gone Girl
Sheila Heti How Should A Person Be?
AM Homes May We Be Forgiven
Barbara Kingsolver Flight Behaviour
Deborah Copaken Kogan The Red Book
Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies
Bonnie Nadzam Lamb
Emily Perkins The Forrests
Michèle Roberts Ignorance
Francesca Segal The Innocents
Maria Semple Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Elif Shafak Honour
Zadie Smith NW
ML Stedman The Light Between Oceans
Carrie Tiffany Mateship with Birds
G Willow Wilson Alif the Unseen