Ranking the Women’s Fiction Prize Longlist

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I’ve now finished trying all the books on the longlist and thought it would be interesting to summarise my thoughts before the shortlist is announced on Tuesday 16th.

I haven’t posted about all the books yet, but rather than inundate the blog with lots of (mainly negative) reviews I thought it was best to focus on the positives and then move on to books that are more to my taste. So here are the books I most enjoyed reading:

The six books I most enjoyed reading:

Honour

  1. Honour by Elif Shafak 
  2. Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam 
  3. Ignorance by Michèle Roberts 
  4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  5. A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge 
  6. Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany 

As you can see I didn’t love many books from the longlist, but my taste isn’t everything. Many of the books were fantastic, just not for me. So here is the more important ranking:

The longlist by literary merit:

The Marlowe Papers

  1. The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber
  2. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  3. Ignorance by Michèle Roberts
  4. NW by Zadie Smith
  5. The Forrests by Emily Perkins
  6. Honour by Elif Shafak
  7. Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson
  8. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  9. May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes
  10. Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam

Who will make the shortlist?

That question is almost impossible to answer as it is all down to the personal taste of the judges on the day, but I suspect their discussions will mainly involve the ten books I’ve listed above. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gone Girl on the shortlist, but if I had to stick my neck out I’d predict these six books will make the cut:

  1. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  3. Ignorance by Michèle Roberts
  4. NW by Zadie Smith
  5. Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson
  6. The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

Who will win?

Hilary Mantel is the most likely contender, but I think there is a strong chance Kate Atkinson will pip her at the post on this one. Shame as all my fingers are crossed for The Marlowe Papers – it hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

The Marlowe Papers

Who do you think will make the shortlist?

Which books on the longlist did you enjoy reading?


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10 Comments

  1. June Seghni says:

    I’ve read 11 from the list so far and my favourite far and away is Alif The Unseen…just so different from what I normally read.I loved the geeky tech stuff and the way it was juxstaposed with the fantasy elements.
    Am waiting for The Marlowe Papers from my library, so can’t comment on it but I’m enjoying reading all these titles immensely..

    1. Jackie says:

      June, I’d be quite happy to see Alif win. I agree it should be praised for its originality – I love books that push boundaries for their genre. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it makes the shortlist.

  2. Elena says:

    I loved Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and I really think she finally deserves some more credit than she’s usually given despite her popularity. Having said that, I haven’t read any other longlisted work.

    1. Jackie says:

      Elena, I think this really could be Atkinson’s moment. I’d be surprised if she didn’t make the shortlist next week.

  3. JoV says:

    Bold decision as always Jackie. What about Flight Behaviour? You don’t think it will make it?

    I am still not sure about Alif the Unseen. I like it a lot but not sure if it will make it to the shortlist!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Flight Behaviour would probably come #7 on my list of favourites, but I thought it was a bit preachy. I don’t think it will make the list, but guess I wouldn’t be overly surprised if it did.

  4. Jenners says:

    Comparing Lamb and Where’d You Go, Bernadette is just crazy to me! How would one choose one over the other … or any of those other books for that sake!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I see your dilemma! I agree – both are fabulous books!

  5. Lisa Hill says:

    I haven’t read enough of them (or wanted to) to judge. I’m 2/3 through Bring up the Bodies, and liking it a lot, and I thought NW was ok but not fantastic. I have Honour on the TBR but haven’t got to it yet.
    If The Marlowe Papers wins I’ll get a copy….

    1. Jackie says:

      Lisa, Go buy a copy of The Marlowe Papers – it is good enough to win. Just a shame those judges didn’t put it through :-(

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