Every year I look forward to the release of the Women’s Prize longlist, because I get some of my best book recommendations from them. The longlist is a list of 16 books, selected from novels by women, regardless of nationality or residence, written in English and published in the UK after April 1 of the previous year. In April, the longlist will be shortened to six books, with the winner announced in June. Founded in 1996 and previously known as the Bailey’s Prize, the Prize has recently decided to open up a new award for nonfiction.
The longlist will be announced March 7. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about which novels might make the list, because I don’t track when things are published in the UK (which often is much earlier than the US) so I don’t always know what’s eligible. Here are some books that MIGHT be eligible that I’d love to see on the list:
- Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
- Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
- The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
- What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez
- Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
- Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
- Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour
Kingsolver and O’Farrell have already won the prize, and it also wouldn’t be surprising to see Kamila Shamsie, Geraldine Brooks, or Kate Atkinson on the list (I haven’t read their newest books yet). But the Prize nominees have become much more diverse in recent years and they make an effort to bring in new and less-known authors.
A lot of the books that have won the Prize are favorites of mine, like Hamnet, An American Marriage, The Power, The Song of Achilles, The Lacuna, Home Fire, Piranesi, The Book of Form and Emptiness, and The Glorious Heresies. But a lot of great books were longlisted that didn’t win.
Here are 12 books I recommend that were nominated for the longlist (and in some cases the shortlist) but didn’t win the Prize:
- Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (shortlist)
- Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (shortlist)
- How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (shortlist)
- Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Annaparra
- The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
- Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
- The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (shortlist)
- How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
- The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (shortlist)
Most of these are books I wouldn’t have heard of if I hadn’t seen them on the longlist. Of course there are plenty of longlisted books I haven’t loved, but it’s always been a good source of new authors for me. I hope you’ll find something on this list – or on the list announced Tuesday – that you like.
Let me know if you have any books you’re hoping to see on the list.
UPDATE: What do you think of the list? I haven’t heard of most of the books, though I’m reading Pod right now and it’s pretty intense. I also loved Elizabeth McKenzie’s The Portable Veblen so I’m happy to see her on the list. And Memphis is a book on my TBR list. But I was surprised not to see Lessons in Chemistry or Our Missing Hearts.
We were speculating at our book club meeting today that Lessons in Chemistry could be on the longlist. I’m going to see her at a book event in a couple of weeks. I also suspect The Marriage Portrait will be on the list
Very much looking forward to the list tomorrow and I’m hoping to see Okwiri Oduor’s debit novel Things They Lost on there, if it’s eligible.
Like you I love the long lists most of all, it’s from there we’re most likely to find out own potential gems.