The longlist for the 2013 Women’s Fiction Prize was announced this morning. I was very pleased to see a few genre books selected and it was nice to be introduced to some books I hadn’t come across before.
Overall the list seems to be very balanced, with a nice mix of literary and mainstream fiction.
I’ve already tried/read half of the longlist and have taken the time to look at the other books selected. I’ve summarised my thoughts below:
The 2013 Women’s Fiction Prize Longlist
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Five words from the blurb: funeral home, death, mother, deaf, brother
This chatty, compelling read had lots of interesting facts about the work of an undertaker, but I’m afraid I found it lacked that special spark.
NW by Zadie Smith
Five words from the blurb: Londoners, estate, moved, different, lives.
The writing in this book is fantastic, but its disjointed nature means that I am struggling to connect with it. I’ve abandoned it two times already, but, given its prize longlisting today, I’ll persevere a little longer and see if it can win me over.
Five words from the blurb: Australia, lighthouse, childless, baby, keep
The Light Between Oceans is a book of two halves. Most people seem to enjoy one half, but not the other. I fell into the “loved the beginning” camp, but if you enjoy lighter, faster paced books then you’ll probably prefer the end. I’m surprised to see this on the longlist and can’t see it progressing any further.
The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber DNF
Five words from the blurb: playwright, killed, Stratford, Marlowe, exile, Shakespeare
I don’t enjoy Shakepeare, but anyone who does will love this ambitious story written entirely in verse. It wasn’t for me, but the skill and originality of the text mean that I am rooting for it in this prize. It deserves to be the 2013 winner.
The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
Five words from the blurb: Israel, army, guarding, refugees, danger
I hadn’t heard of this book until today, but it sounds like an important work of fiction and I’m pleased that the prize has brought it to my attention.
May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes DNF
Five words from the blurb: quiet, life, family, strange, finding
I’m afraid the satirical elements of this book were lost on me and without the humour this book was just a strange string of outrageous consequences. It deserves its place on the longlist, but it wasn’t for me.
Five words from the blurb: kid, reckless, heart, beautifully, idea
Lamb is fast paced, gripping and thought provoking. I’m very pleased to see it on the longlist.
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel DNF
Five words from the blurb: Thomas Cromwell, rise, destruction, Anne Boleyn, Catholic
Over the years I’ve come to realise that Mantel isn’t for me, but it is no surprise to see her on this longlist.
Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
Five words from the blurb: country, lonely, farmer, observes, life
I hadn’t heard of this book until today. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but hopefully it will prove me wrong.
Honour by Elif Shafak
Five words from the blurb: mother, died, Turkey, betrayal, past
Elif Shafak is an author I’ve heard mentioned a lot, but I’ve not read any of her books before. This one sounds as though it could be emotional and so I look forward to trying it.
Five words from the blurb: wife, disappears, police, suspect, secrets
It is great to see a fast paced thriller on the longlist – its inclusion will hopefully bring a new audience to the prize. I’m afraid that the irritating characters and the large number of coincidences didn’t appeal to me, but the majority of the population disagree with my point-of-view!
The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan
Five words from the blurb: power, burden, privilege, reality, woman
I hadn’t heard of this book until today, but I’m looking forward to reminiscing about the last few decades. It sounds like an entertaining read.
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
Five words from the blurb: self-help, confessional, shameless, conversations, life
I had heard of this book and seen the way it divides opinion, but I assumed it was a self-help guide, not a novel. I’ve never been a fan of self-help guides so I’m pretty sure it will annoy me, but I’ll try to keep an open mind and hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
Five words from the blurb: Appalachian Mountains, mother, discovers, nature, miracle
I’ve had my eye on this book for a long time. It is next on the TBR pile and I’m hoping it is just as good (or even better than!) The Poisonwood Bible.
Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson
Five words from the blurb: magic, adventure, beasts, Arab, censor
I hadn’t heard of this book until today, but I love the fact that a fantasy novel is on the list. This book sounds wonderfully original and I’m looking forward to trying it.
The Innocents by Francesca Segal
Five words from the blurb: sweethearts, family, intertwined, unexpected, trouble
I’d heard of this book, but the troubled family premise didn’t excite me. I’m hoping that the writing will be good enough to win me over.
The Forrests by Emily Perkins DNF
Five words from the blurb: sensory, flickering, moment, odd, family
I’m pleased to see The Forrests on the longlist. I found the meandering, dreamlike prose frustrating, but the quality of the writing was obvious from the start. Recommended to fans of Virginia Woolf.
Ignorance by Michèle Roberts
Five words from the blurb: society, Jew, war, village, hero
I’d not heard of this book and I’m a bit worried that I’ve heard the story of Jews hidden during the war too many times before. Hopefully this book will contain some special spark that enables it to compete with all the other books on a similar subject already out there.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Five words from the blurb: turbulent, events, chances, past, moments
I’ve not had much success with Atkinson’s previous books, but this one is receiving rave reviews. Hopefully the originality of the premise with be enough to entertain me.