Quick Thoughts on the Women’s Prize 2022 Longlist & My Reading Plans

Tuesday is my volunteering morning at the library, but at 9:45 I nipped onto one of the public access PCs so I could find out which books were on the Women’s Prize longlist. I just couldn’t wait until I got home! It’s a surprising list. Those who thought Rooney and Yanagihara would be snubbed were absolutely right. Debuts and historical fiction aren’t as plentiful as forecast, but there are two doorstoppers on there, plus another 450+-pager. And it is great to see a list that is half by BIPOC women.

Of my wishes and predictions, 1 and 2 were correct, so I got 3 right overall, with my wildcard choice being the only nominee I’ve read in full so far. I’m currently reading another 2 and have 3 more set to read – the moment I got the news I marched over to borrow a couple more.

Fair play to the judges – I hadn’t even HEARD of these SIX titles:

  • The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini
  • Salt Lick by Lulu Allison
  • Careless by Kirsty Capes
  • Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey
  • Flamingo by Rachel Elliott
  • Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejidé

I haven’t had a chance to look into these half-dozen, but will do so later on. I’m only likely to pick them up if a) others rave about them and/or b) they’re shortlisted.

 

Read:

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason: They say turning 40 can do weird things to you. Martha Friel gets a tattoo – so far, so stereotypical – but also blows up her marriage to Patrick, who’s been devoted to her since they were teens and met as family friends. In the year that follows, she looks back on a life that’s been defined by mental illness. As a young woman she was told she should never have children, but recently she met a new psychiatrist who gave her a proper diagnosis and told her motherhood was not out of the question. But is it too late for Martha and Patrick? Martha’s narration is a delight, wry and deadpan but also with moments of wrenching emotion. Her relationship with her sister, Ingrid, who gives birth to her first child on their aunt’s bathroom floor and eventually has four under the age of nine, is a highlight, and it’s touching to see how their mother and their aunt, both initially standoffish, end up being pillars of support. (My full review)

 

Currently reading:

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith – I’m just over half done, and loving it. A weird and magical and slightly horror-tinged story set in Vietnam past and present, it builds on her debut ghost stories. Sort of plays the role Our Wives Under the Sea would have had on the longlist (though I dearly wish it could have been nominated as well).

 

Set aside last year because it’s twee and annoying, but will now continue (ARGH + le sigh):

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

 

Own and will read soon (this was a treat to self with birthday money last year):

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

 

Borrowed from library:

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

 

DNFed last year (twice); will not attempt again:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

 

On request from the library:

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson

 

Not interested in reading:

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross – I saw Ross speak about this and read an excerpt as part of a Faber showcase. I have a limited tolerance for magic realism and don’t think this appeals.

Above: my reading plans. Plenty to be getting on with before the shortlist announcement on 27th April!

 

What have you read, or might you read, from the longlist?

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26 responses

  1. Congratulations on getting your thoughts out so quickly! You know my feelings about the Ozeki and the Shipstead, the only two on the list I’ve read. I can’t say I’m enthused about reading the Mendelson, Ross or Heller either – I feel the same way as you about magic realism, haven’t liked Ross’s books in the past, and saw that Anna hated The Paper Palace! I’ll be interested to find out more about the 7 I hadn’t heard of (your 6, plus the Walton).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *haven’t liked Mendelson’s books in the past

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    2. Putting off work to blog instead 😉 One of the fun things about being a freelancer is that my schedule is completely flexible. I tried a few pages of the Heller last year and wasn’t hooked; I thought I might pick it up over the summer as it seems like more of a beach thriller, but I’ll give it a go sooner now. Susan (A life in books) enjoyed it and Two fond of books (Amanda and Clare) predicted it!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You did better than me! Certainly a list full of surprises.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura (above) did better still, with four correct predictions. It always amazes me how I can have ~100 eligible books on my radar, yet still not have heard of so many nominees. Often happens for the Booker too.

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      1. Couldn’t agree more! It’s an indication of just how many zillions of books are published every year.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Weird long list, I also hadn’t heard of those 6, or a few of the others! Now waiting for the International Booker on Thursday..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prize season is such a whirlwind! I don’t follow that one too closely, but the announcement might lead me to pick up one or two of the nominees.

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  4. Like you, I hadn’t heard of several of these. But there’s a lot of dystopia, magical realism and other things that don’t light my fire here. Maybe the Capes, the Chidgey … I dunno…. let’s see…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it seems like a lot of magic realism this year. Must reflect the judges’ taste! My library system usually acquires the whole longlist, so I’ll look into some of the others and see if they sound worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good to see so many authors I’ve not heard of; they need the boost in exposure far more than the big names

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, a lot of debut novelists and ones with a lower profile. Some small publishers, too, like Unbound for Salt Lick.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love when the lists are unexpected! I hope you find some real gems in there!
    Right now, I’m most interested in The Sentence and Opal and Nev. But Sorrow and Bliss sounds good, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a great trio!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great to see some new names. Unknown writers need the exposure. I read the Ozeki and enjoyed it; not read any of the others. A couple that I will avoid: the Shafak & the Shipstead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not particularly enjoying the Ozeki, but will push my way through. I’ve not read Shafak before so will see how I get on with her style in this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. […] Prize for Fiction longlist 2022 has been announced! Here are some other bloggers’ reactions: Rebecca, Eric, […]

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  9. The Ozeki is on my TBR (I really liked her last novel) and The Sentence was fabulous! Thanks for the update on these nominees!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really liked the other novel I read by Erdrich, so I’ll look forward to trying her new one.

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  10. Blimey, I own six of them, and would read the Ozeki too. Not that I’ll probably manage to read any of them soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which ones? A good excuse to get to some neglected 2021-2 releases!

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  11. […] in any of the prediction lists going around. You can see other blogger’s reactions here: Laura, Rebecca, Claire, Ellen, […]

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  12. We’ve chatted so you know that I’ve read five and you also already know how much I loved Opal & Nev! I’m so disappointed that Leone Ross’s book is getting the “magical realism” label and the “fantasy” label (just in general, not your use of it); I hadn’t read the blurb when I started to read, and the recommendation that lodged it on my TBR-from the NYT-was so long ago that whatever they’d said I’d forgotten, and it was just the most amazing story to fall into. So strange, so wondrous. I wholly enjoyed it. But the strangeness that emerges out of the place felt completely natural, and reducing it to a marketing label irks me. Having said all that, I’m certain it’s not a story you’d enjoy, so I’m not trying to entice *chuckles*, only thinking that efforts to sell books are often too reductive and narrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve gotten stuck into Opal & Nev and I’m really enjoying it.

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  13. I have the Mendelson to read on my NetGalley TBR for this month so will share thoughts soon. An odd list with so many seemingly unknown by everyone, but hooray for the diversity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great, I’ll be interested to see what you think!

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