The Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist is due to be announced on Thursday 8th March and I have been thinking about which books could make the cut. My predictions last year included the eventual winner The Power by Naomi Alderman which is satisfying but I also hope to be pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of some novels which are new to me.
For many years, there have been 20 titles on the longlist. However, there were supposed to be only 12 last year but the judges decided to increase their selection to 16. This year – who knows? Novels first published in the UK between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018 are eligible. Of those I have read, I would be particularly happy to see any of the following on the longlist:
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – I really enjoyed this excellent novel set in Shaker Heights, Ohio in the 1990s which addresses adoption, abortion and surrogacy.
Elmet by Fiona Mozley – last year’s Man Booker Prize dark horse blends ancient folklore and dialect with modern settings and political debates.
Winter by Ali Smith – Smith won the Prize in 2015 for How to be both. I was surprised that Autumn wasn’t longlisted last year, and I think the second book in Smith’s seasons cycle is every bit as brilliant as the first.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney – winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, Rooney’s debut novel about self-absorbed millennials is engagingly written.
The Burning Girl by Claire Messud – a very perceptive tale about early adolescence set in Massachussetts.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – an excellent historical fiction debut set in eighteenth century London.
The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig – a brilliant and very funny state-of-the-nation novel which I haven’t reviewed yet.
Other possible contenders include authors I have come across before but have yet to read their latest work:
Sight by Jessie Greengrass – I enjoyed Greengrass’s offbeat short story collection An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It and her debut novel published last month is about pregnancy, psychoanalysis and much more.
Sugar Money by Jane Harris – I enjoyed reading The Observations and Gillespie and I a few years ago and Jane Harris returns to historical fiction with her latest novel about the slave trade.
And there are many books by authors new to me – here are a few which stand out as strong possibilities:
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – a Southern gothic novel about an African-American family in Mississippi and winner of the National Book Award last year.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday – a promising literary debut novel of two seemingly unrelated stories which turn out to have surprising connections.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – Egan is an author who has somehow passed me by for many years. Her latest novel is set in Depression-era Brooklyn and is something of a departure from her postmodern work.
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch – a dystopian novel which has received very strong reviews from bloggers I trust.
Which books do you think will be on the longlist? Which books would you like to see on the longlist?