Tomorrow (4th March) the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced! I love following the Women’s Prize each year, it’s one of my favourite literary prizes, and with so much fantastic fiction by women having been released in the past year I’m really excited for the longlist this year.
To be eligible, books must have been published in English in the UK between 1 April the year before to 31 March the year of the prize, so this year books published between 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019 are eligible. There are a few books I have a feeling could be on the longlist this year (despite the fact that I’ve only read one of them so far!), so today I thought I’d share my predictions with you!
EDIT: I stupidly forgot to check before and just realised that Blood Water Paint sadly isn’t eligible this year because it was published in March last year. I’m going to keep it on this list, however, just to spread the love in the hope that more people will pick it up!
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I haven’t read any Sally Rooney and I don’t know if I will, her work doesn’t really call to me even though I’ve heard she’s brilliant, but there’s been so much buzz around her second novel that I’d be very, very surprised if this doesn’t end up on the longlist this year. If it does end up on the longlist it might even encourage me to pick it up and see what all the fuss is about! I do keep meaning to read more Irish authors.
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
It felt as though 2018 was chock-a-block with myth/classics retellings (not that I’m complaining!); this book was everywhere and I can understand why. I haven’t read it yet, something I’m planning to rectify asap, but I do know it retells the story of The Iliad through the eyes of Briseis, who is one of the many Trojan women captured and used as a sex slave by the invading Greek army. In The Song of Achilles it’s Patroclus who encourages Achilles to claim Briseis to save her from the other soldiers, and the two become friends, while the 2004 film Troy treats the relationship between Briseis and Achilles as a great romance. This book looks instead at the reality of a woman’s experience of war, especially in this brutal period of history, and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t make the longlist.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Speaking of Greek myth retellings, I’ll also be incredibly surprised if Circe doesn’t make the longlist this year considering how beloved Madeline Miller is – and rightly so! I’m planning to cross this one off my TBR very soon (hopefully this weekend, actually!) after stupidly putting it off for far too long. It could be that the judges don’t want two Greek myth retellings on their longlist, and if I had to pick between them I just have a feeling that The Silence of the Girls is more likely to make the longlist than this one, but I’d love to see them both on there. Miller’s debut, The Song of Achilles, won the Women’s Prize back in 2012 and it’s not unusual for certain authors to be longlisted and/or shortlisted for this prize more than once, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Miller turned out to be one such author.
The Familiars by Stacey Halls
This is a very recent release and I picked up my copy last weekend with the hope to read it very soon. The Familiars takes place during the Pendle Witch Trials in 1612, the most famous witch trials in England which ended with the testimony of a nine year old girl leading to the execution of ten people, and I feel like I’ve been seeing it everywhere this year which is impressive considering it hasn’t been out long, and that’s what gives me the feeling that it might make its way onto the longlist. Especially with Kate Williams, who specialises in Tudor and Stuart history, on the judging panel!
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Another recent release, another one I’ve been seeing everywhere and another one I picked up a copy of and haven’t read yet. I think the concept of this book is interesting enough that it could end up on the longlist, although it’s probably the prediction on this list I’m least sure of. It’s not always the books that have the huge marketing push behind them that end up on the longlist and/or shortlist of prizes such as the Women’s Prize, but I’m never surprised when I do see them on there.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
There’s been so much great fiction coming out of Nigeria that I’ll be surprised if this debut doesn’t make the longlist. I do have a copy that I haven’t read yet (literally the story of my life) and I think its focus on a woman who murders and the success of shows like Killing Eve will make this one a popular choice. Plus if it makes the longlist, as with the majority of the books on my prediction list, it’ll give me the kick up the butt I need to read it!
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Will the judges pick a recently released, almost 900-page-long epic fantasy? I don’t know, but I really hope they do. I’ve seen so many wonderful early reviews of this book and I’d love to see an epic fantasy book like this on the longlist, especially when I usually find it’s rare to see an SFF book being longlisted for an award that isn’t an SFF award. I remember being so pleasantly surprised when The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet made the longlist back in 2016, and the dystopian novel The Power won in 2017 so I’m hoping a stodgy epic fantasy might make it onto the longlist this year!
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
I would absolutely LOVE to see this book on the longlist because I haven’t seen it being raved about anywhere near as much as it deserves. It’s a beautifully written novel in verse about the 17th century artist Artemisia Gentileschi who, remarkably for the time she lived in, pressed charges against the man who sexually assaulted her. For a long time she was remembered as a victim of assault rather than amazing artist in her own right, and her art is fantastic. Like many of her contemporaries she painted a lot of Biblical scenes, but unlike the men who were painting at the time she painted women from the Bible as real women rather than as the demure fantasies they’d previously been imagined as. I thought this book captured her story so sensitively and I’d love to see it be recognised by the Women’s Prize.