The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 Longlist

So they have been announced, the twenty titles that make the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 Longlist, and after my guesses yesterday I can reveal that I guessed a whopping… four! More on that shortly, first though here is the list of the twenty titles…

Kitty Aldridge – A Trick I Learned From Dead Men (Jonathan Cape)
Kate Atkinson – Life After Life (Doubleday)
Ros Barber – The Marlow Papers (Sceptre)
Shani Boianjiu – The People of Forever are Not Afraid (Hogarth)
Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Sheila Heti – How Should a Person Be? (Harvill Secker)
A M Homes – May We Be Forgiven (Granta)
Barbara Kingsolver – Flight Behaviour (Faber & Faber)
Deborah Copaken Kogen – The Red Book (Virago)
Hilary Mantel – Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)
Bonnie Nadzam – Lamb (Hutchinson)
Emily Perkins – The Forrests (Bloomsbury Circus)
Michèle Roberts – Ignorance (Bloomsbury)
Francesca Segal – The Innocents (Chatto & Windus)
Maria Semple – Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Elif Shafak – Honour (Viking)
Zadie Smith – NW (Hamish Hamilton)
M L Stedman – The Light Between Oceans (Doubleday)
Carrie Tiffany – Mateship with Birds (Picador)
G Willow Wilson – Alif the Unseen (Corvus Books)

I have made the ones I have read in bold and linked to them if I have reviewed them, I have also put all the ones I have in mount TBR in italics. What you possibly might want to know is what I think of the list overall though maybe? Well, I have to say that I rather like it.

The talking points are of course going to be, firstly, Hilary Mantel. I can only imagine that there will be lots of people groaning about how she is up for yet another award and isn’t it unfair she is winning all these awards because she wrote such a brilliant book – honestly this whole attitude of slating someone for writing something that apparently, I haven’t read it yet though now I am more tempted, many people think is one of the very best books of the year is just mean. She has written a great book, the best books are meant to win prizes, let her enjoy it and please shut the **** up moaning about it and say something positive. Alas in the same vein I think the second point will be the ‘oh my god a crime book is on the list’ with Gillian Flynn and ‘Gone Girl’, a book I loved and am delighted is on the list – indeed I guessed it might be.

Speaking of guesses, yes I am sad that Kerry Hudson, Nell Leyshon, Maggie O’Farrell etc have missed out, especially as the Emily Perkins novel that I really didn’t get on with is on the list, but yippee Kate Atkinson is on it, and I predicted she would win it back on January the 1st in an episode of the Readers podcast. Let us continue on that positive note and look at the thing that really excites me about the list… The books I have never bloody heard of! These are, for me, what a longlist is all about – well, apart from the fact longlists make us look at books and talk about them, a lot.

I am really keen to find out more about the ones I don’t have here at home, especially the authors that I haven’t heard of, I tried the Smith and the Kingsolver and they didn’t grab me when I got them. I have heard of all the books or the authors bar three and those are the ones which really strike me as books I might need to get my mitts on. They are Deborah Copaken Kogen’s ‘The Red Book’, Carrie Tiffany’s ‘Mateship With Birds’ and ‘The People of Forever are Not Afraid’ by Shani Boianjiu. The latter two in particular as the Tiffany sounds right up my street as I love books set in the middle of the countryside/nowhere and how that effects people, the Boianjiu also sounds like it would be outside my normal reading remit which is something I am desperately looking for at the moment. In fact I will be discussing reading diets, and the fact I think I need to change my reading tastes a bit later today.

In the meantime though, what do you make of the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist above? Which of the books have you read and what did you make of them? Are there any books you are shocked to see on there or missing from there? Do you think Flynn vs. Mantel will be the big story? Is anyone planning on reading them all (I am going to read some if the whim takes, probably the two I mentioned I know nothing about, maybe) at all?

12 Comments

Filed under Women's Prize for Fiction

12 responses to “The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 Longlist

  1. The only one of these I’ve read is Gone Girl, which I adored.

    There’s been a lot of talk in my Twitter feed praising Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, a book I originally was put off by because my sister had said that many details in it about prep schools didn’t ring true and I knew that would bug me. However, everyone seems to think it’s a fun romp so I’ll probably read it at some point.

    Otherwise, I’m finally about to start Wolf Hall to be able to read the second Mantel, and I’ve had The Light Between Oceans on my to-read list for some time.

    Thanks for the update!

  2. I’m not surprised that Mantel is on the list, but fairly surprised that Flynn is there just because of the crime thriller aspect of her book (unlike you I didn’t really like it but I think I’m in the minority!). I am pleased to see that J.K. Rowling didn’t make it, which I was afraid might happen, and I’m excited to read “The Marlowe Papers” because it sounds really unique and interesting. I think you should try “Where’d you go Bernadette?”, it was one of my favorite books of last year!

  3. sharkell

    I have read Gone Girl, which I’m sorry to say I didn’t think that much of, and Bring Up the Bodies and The Light Between Oceans which I think both definitely belong on the list. I’ve heard Mateship with Birds is a good read so perhaps I’ll try and get a hold of that one. I’m also disappointed that The Colour of Milk didn’t make it. I would really love to read all of them but perhaps I’ll wait for the shortlist…

  4. I would love to read all of them again but I have to be honest with myself about not having the time. I’m definitely tackling the shortlist tho.

    I like the list itself and have read 3 – Mantel, Smith and Atkinson. All of those deserve a place I think, and all with a good chance of being on the shortlist.🙂 of the others I’ve got Gone Girl and Mateship with Birds on my TBR. I was sort of expecting Carrie Tiffany to be on there because she was shortlisted for her debut novel back in… 2006 I think… And it was a great book. Really looking forward to that one.

    Of the others I haven’t heard of four. But I want to read them all now, as usual! The one book i’m disappointed not to see is Amy Sackville’s Orkney, which is a really strong book.

  5. I think this list is amazing. I was surprised to see that J.K. Rowling wasn’t on it. I’ve not yet read anything on this list but on my near future reading list is Where’d You Go Bernadette, Gone Girl, Bring Up the Bodies (once I’ve finished Wolf Hall), NW, Flight Behaviour, and Honour. I just think it’s fabulous there are all of these interesting women writers. My question is why is there only one black writer on this list?

  6. David

    I’ve read nine of them, not all of which would have made my own longlist, but there you go. Mantel, Kingsolver and Smith I’d expected to see there and I think they all deserve to be. I’m thrilled to see ‘The Forrests’ there as I thought it was wonderful. I’m also glad to see ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ which I found to be an absolute delight, even if it is unlikely to progress to the shortlist. ‘Lamb’ I thought was a thought-provoking, compelling read and nicely ambiguous, though I did have a couple of issues with it. ‘Ignorance’ is beautifully written – impressionistic almost – but I found my interest waned about halfway through. ‘Mateship with Birds’ is, perhaps like ‘The Forrests’, something of a marmite novel – people seem either to love or hate it, and I’m afraid I was in the latter camp: I can’t fault the writing but I found it really disagreeable and some bits were just plain silly. And finally ‘A Trick I Learned from Dead Men’: perfectly okay book, much like Aldridge’s previous perfectly okay book – just a bit middling and, well… okay.

    Of the rest I’m keen to read Homes and Atkinson and maybe Segal (though I still feel I ought to read ‘Age of Innocence’ first) and Stedman, but I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to read them before the shortlist is announced. It’s a fairly interesting longlist but, I don’t know, it feels too long – some of them look like makeweights to me.

  7. I’m slightly irritated about Mantel being nominated/winning a bunch of awards, but only because I thought Wolf Hall was terrible. I couldn’t even get past the first 100 pages. It is one of two books I’ve ever given up on. Ah, well.

  8. I think the list is a bit ordinary. I’m pleased about Carrie Tiffany because hers is an interesting, edgy book, and I like the look of the Israeli and the Turkish one, but the others, hmmm.
    I know, I know, I shouldn’t say that because I’ve only read three of them but honestly, we have a whole world full of literature to choose from these days but there’s nothing from Africa or India or SE ASia or South America or Europe – it’s all so ho-hum mainstream…
    When I looked at the blurbs there was very little there that appealed to me at all, and apart from Mantel I don’t think the list does anything to convince anyone that women’s writing can be *great*. Great as in meaningful, significant, enduring and artistically interesting. And if it doesn’t do that, what’s the point? It’s just marketing, that’s all.
    Where are the books that answer the question, how come so few women have won the Nobel Prize? Where are the books that people will be reading 100 years from now?

  9. I ve read two myself NW and Honour ,I couldn’t guessed this list but only a couple more appeal to me ,all the best stu

  10. I adored The Light Between Oceans, and liked Life After Life and Gone Girl a lot. The rest I haven’t read, though I quite fancy a few of them.

  11. I’m really happy to see Elif Shafak on the list, I’ve read four of her books, most recently Honour and her Penguin Short ‘The Happiness of Blond People’. I hated the cover they gave the book in the UK and that put me off reading it for a long time and then amazing how it all changed when I saw the colourful and inviting US cover and also read an essay she wrote decrying those kinds of covers of seemingly oppressed veiled Muslim women. We clearly can’t always judge a book by its cover.

    I enjoyed Life After Life and The Light Between Oceans and I’m looking forward to reading a few more from the list, but don’t know the judges so really have no idea what they might choose, it’s a fantastic list all the same.

  12. Jenny Hudson

    Funnily enough Simon your point about the books you weren’t even aware of is one of the reasons I read your blog. I find sometimes that I get stuck in a bit of a reading rut. The sheer volume of published books still amazes me and it’s great to find something completely new. It’s also good to know that I’ll never run out – ha. Just wish I could read a bit quicker.

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