Friday, 15 March 2013

I challenge thee: Women's Prize for Fiction

Last year Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles won the Orange Prize for Fiction (now the Women's Prize). That book made it into my top twelve books of 2012 because it was literally ah-MAZing*. I figure that if any judging panel has the sense to award the Orange Prize to The Song of Achilles, it is probably a pretty sensible and worthwhile prize to follow. On Wednesday the Longlist for the 2013 prize was announced. There are some standards (Hilary Mantel, I'm looking at you), some slightly controversial (Gone Girl) and some that I am pretty darn excited about (Life after Life and The Light Between Oceans). I've read one from the list, am familiar with about half and the other half are completely new to me.

The Longlist:

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 Kingslover - 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) Read Jan 2013
Carrie Tiffany - Mateship with Birds (Picador)
G Willow Wilson - Alif the Unseen (Corvus Books)

(Ones in bold I'm particularly excited to read.)

I do think it is a shame Alison Moore's The Lighthouse is missing from the list but with so many amazing women writers around, it must have been tricky trying to whittle it down to twenty. I can only imagine how hard it will be to get to a shortlist and then to a single winner. That must be a serious brain ache.

To the whole point of this post - the challenge. I'm sure I'm hitching my waggon to an already long bandwagon of personal challenges but what the hell, I fancy doing it. The winner of the prize will be announced on the 5th June but what with all the millions of other books I'm planning to read in the next two months I don't think it is possible to read them all before then. So, as a compromise, I am going to devote my summer reading to the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist. I am challenging myself to read the longlist before September 1st 2013. You never know, I may get to read them all before June 5th but I'm not going to rush. Some of these books sound brilliant so I am going to savour them and thoroughly enjoy them.

Is anyone else planning to read the longlist?

* Apparently Miller's second novel is based on The Odyssey. Please excuse me while I freak out/dance with joy/reread The Odyssey (AGAIN)...



  1. I had the exact same thoughts - 1) that I would like to read the longlist and 2) I already have a pile of books that I want to read anyway :p I've read only one book out of the list, "Gone Girl", and given how I don't quite get why it made it to the list, I am very curious to check out some others. It is to be seen whether I can resist this sudden craving or not :)

    1. It gets so difficult when you love reading, particularly when you just want to read everything. There isn't enough time in the day. I'm interested to read Gone Girl to see whether I think it deserves its place in comparison to the others. It does make it a bit more interesting though having something so unexpected. I almost hope you can't resist the craving, it would be nice to hear your thoughts!

  2. I'm planning to read as many as possible, but in a low pressure way. I'm really excited to try The Marlowe Papers.

    1. Yes, I'm certainly keeping it low pressure! I think The Marlowe Papers looks really intriguing, particularly because of the format it is written in. It's been a long time since I read blank verse like that.

    2. Just saw the end of your post - Miller is writing a second novel? So exciting!

    3. I know, right?! There are definitely rumours circling the interwebs.

  3. Just found your blog thanks to Sam's blog (poster above)!
    Got to say Honour is fantastic - 50% through and really enjoying it . Think I'll go for Kingsolver next - not read her before.
    I am aiming to get through them all though.
    Good luck!

    1. Yay for Sam! Thanks for popping by :)
      I'm thinking I might pick up Honour first, it just sounds so interesting. And if you say you're enjoying it then I can hardly ignore that. Kingsolver is one I'm probably going to end up putting off. She is just one of those novelists I find quite intimidating. I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised though.
      Good luck to you too!

  4. I'll be reading as many as I can but there will be some that won't make it into our library. The Kate Atkinson is the one I'm most looking forward to.
    My first visit to your blog and I look forward to more.

    1. I think everyone is excited for Kate Atkinson. Definitely the sign of a good author. Enjoy your reading! And thank you :)


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