At 9.30 this morning, the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist was announced. It is as follows:
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
May We Be Forgiven – A.M. Homes
Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver
Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple
N-W – Zadie Smith
I’ve read five of the shortlist and reviewed four (if you click on a book title it’ll take you to my review). I’ll be re-reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette? so it’ll be interesting to see how that stands up to a second reading and I’ll get round to Bring Up the Bodies when the paperback’s published in a couple of weeks.
I liked all the books I’ve read on the shortlist, it’s undoubtedly a very strong list. Four of the writers are well known prize winners (Kingsolver and Smith both being previous winners of the Orange Prize); A.M Homes was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice with This Book Will Save Your Life, and Semple was a writer on Arrested Development.
If I was being critical, I might say that I think the judges have played it safe. I’m particularly disappointed at the omission of Ros Barber’s The Marlowe Papers (a disappointment shared by several other bloggers) and Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?
However, the good news is – despite some of the talk on Twitter today – that a shortlist of accomplished writers means that Hilary might be left with a Women’s Fiction Prize sized gap on her mantlepiece.