The Women’s Prize for Fiction longest arrived at midnight last night and, as ever, is an eclectic mix of books ranging from established writers to debut authors.
From the 2019 crop, I interviewed Lillian Li last month about her excellent debut Number One Chinese Restaurant and Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer is a wild anti-patriarchal ride. I’m thrilled that Valeria Luiselli is there with her English language debut Lost Children Archive (which I’ll cover soon); I’ve championed her work since her debut in translation Faces in the Crowd (translated by Christina MacSweeney), which I reviewed for Bookmunch in 2012. I’m also very pleased to see the inclusion of Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, which I’m currently halfway through. Emezi identifies as non-binary trans and I think it’s hugely important that The Women’s Prize takes a step forward and embraces writers who identify outside the gender binary.
On a personal note, I made a decision at the beginning of the year that I wouldn’t be shadowing this year’s prize. Although the time between the longlist and shortlist announcements has been extended to eight weeks, reading and reviewing up to sixteen books in that time is still a stretch. I’m teaching 80% of my time at the moment, am about to begin reading for the MLF brochure, and I’m trying to finish writing my PhD thesis this year. Speaking of which, my new PhD supervisor, Yvonne Battle-Felton is on the longlist with her debut Remembered. I’m delighted for her but am also pleased to be living without the awkwardness of having to review a book by someone I’m working with! I will read and cover some of the other books but I’m enjoying choosing what I want to read, when I want to read it. I am looking forward to everyone else’s take on the list though and seeing which books emerge as favourites for the shortlist.
The full list:
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Milkman by Anna Burns
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L McFadden
Circe by Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
Normal People by Sally Rooney