Reading the Women’s Prize Longlist

I always look forward to the release of the Women’s Prize longlist, because I get to cheer for the authors I’ve already read, and discover a bunch of new ones. I know I won’t love every book on the list, but I always end up with a few new favorites, so it’s worth it.

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is awarded each year to a female author writing in English – regardless of nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between April and the following March, the year the Prize is announced. This year’s longlist of 16 books was announced on March 10, with a shortlist April 28, and the winner will be announced July 7. Previous winners include The Power, Hamnet, The Inglorious Heresies, Home Fire, and An American Marriage.

My favorite longlist books from last year (2020) were Hamnet, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Queenie, Girl Woman Other, The Most Fun We Ever Had, and How We Disappeared. I didn’t get through Weather and I had mixed feelings about Fleishman is in Trouble.

This year’s longlist includes the following:

Of this list, I’ve only read Transcendent Kingdom and The Vanishing Half, and I’m thrilled to see both of them on this list.

I was already planning to read Luster and Piranesi, and now I’ve added these books to my TBR: Burnt Sugar, Detransition Baby, Exciting Times, and How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House. Most years, I read about half of the longlist, and reading these would get me to that goal. Burnt Sugar appeals because it was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and One-Armed Sister is about Barbados, an island I enjoyed visiting. Detransition, Baby is about a trans woman, and I think Peters is the first trans author on this longlist, so that drew my interest. Consent and No One is Talking About This also sound interesting.

I haven’t had a lot of success with Ali Smith, even though people love her books. And I don’t know much about the other authors.

Have you read any of the books on this list, or any of the authors – and if so, what did you think? Are there other award lists you follow?

  25 comments for “Reading the Women’s Prize Longlist

  1. Izabel Brekilien
    March 18, 2021 at 10:29 am

    I haven’t read any of these novels this year but last year, Girl woman other and especially Hamnet were among my best reads of the year. Enjoy !

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:27 pm

      Last year was a particularly strong list, I think. Thanks for commenting!

  2. March 18, 2021 at 11:10 am

    I’m pretty excited about this long list! I’ve only read Luster and Exciting Times so far. I have an ARC of Unsettled Ground, so that’s next up, and I’m really looking forward to Consent and Detransition, Baby. I still need to read Transcendent Kingdom and The Vanishing Half – heard so many good things.

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:26 pm

      How did you like Luster and Exciting Times? I’m not sure I’m seeing the hype about Luster so far, but I’ll keep going. I hope you enjoy the others!

      • March 21, 2021 at 12:34 pm

        I honestly wasn’t totally enamoured with either – they were 3/3.5* reads for me, so I’m hoping the others on the longlist wow me a bit more!

  3. March 18, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve only read The Vanishing Half but I really want to read Transcendent Kingdom. However, I know it will be in all the charity shops once they reopen and sort their post-lockdown donations, so I’ll wait a bit for it …

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      I loved Transcendent Kingdom and hope it wins (though I’m saying that while I haven’t read most of the others). I hope you like it as much as I did.

  4. March 18, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    I’ve read the same as you and loved both of them (Transcendent Kingdom more than The Vanishing Half). Plan to read Piranesi and perhaps a few more, but definitely not all of them.

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:24 pm

      Glad to hear we have that in common! I hope you enjoy Piranesi and whatever else you read.

  5. March 19, 2021 at 1:59 am

    I never “get” Ali Smith either. Excited to read Piranesi!

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:23 pm

      I’m glad to hear I’m not alone on that one! I do struggle with books that are more experimental. I hope you enjoy Piranesi, I’m hearing great things about it.

  6. March 19, 2021 at 10:48 am

    The only one I’ve read so far is Piranesi (which I loved), but I know there are a few more I’d like to get to. Good luck — I’ll look forward to hearing your reactions as you read these!

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:21 pm

      I’m glad to hear so many raves for Piranesi – I’m looking forward to that one.

  7. March 19, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    I’m usually pretty late to the party, but I have actually read The Vanishing Half, which I loved. Transcendent Kingdom is on my short list to read this spring. I need to learn more about the other books so I can maybe read a couple more on the list. I didn’t know Dawn French wrote books–I’m a bit intrigued. The premise of Piranesi is appealing, but I never could finish Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, so I’m not sure I will like it enough to invest a lot of time in it.

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:20 pm

      I hope you love Transcendent Kingdom, I’d pick it to win right now, but Vanishing Half will be a strong contender and I haven’t read most of the others. I didn’t make the connection that Dawn French is the actress, thanks for pointing that out!

  8. March 20, 2021 at 5:16 am

    I’m terribly confused by this list… it seems to me that these are all 2020 novels, and we already had a 2020 winner – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell… Why did they put this list out so early? I’m certain that there are dozens of 2021 books that could have made this list if they had waited to compile it until later in the year.

    • March 20, 2021 at 9:00 am

      Hi Davida! According to the Prize, the books are ones that published in the UK between April 2020 and March 2021.

      • March 21, 2021 at 1:18 am

        I get that, but last year they had different dates. I know this for sure because although the winner last year – Hamnet – was released on March 31, one of the long list ones – Miss Benson’s Beetle – was released in July. So they definitely changed the dates for this year’s list.

      • March 21, 2021 at 2:52 pm

        I didn’t realize this was a change – maybe they want the books to be more readily available? I know in the past, a lot of the books haven’t been available in the U.S. when the longlist comes out.

      • March 22, 2021 at 2:13 am

        Yes, that happens. Not every UK published book gets released in the US at the same time.

  9. March 20, 2021 at 11:11 am

    I’ve read and loved Summer, Piranesi and Transcendent Kingdom. Liked Vanishing Half and Exciting Times. Did not get Burnt Sugar and Luster. Just started reading The Golden Rule which is all right so far. I’ll see how I get with the other ones, I usually read all of the novels on the shortlist.

    • March 20, 2021 at 3:18 pm

      Good for you for covering that much of the list – I usually get to about half of them (but more feels like too much pressure). I’m listening to Luster now, and so far I don’t see why it’s on the list.

      • March 20, 2021 at 3:58 pm

        Covering the list so far was sheer coincidence 😂. I found Luster too weird, what happens distracting from the serious issues.

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