Sunday, March 3, 2019

Thoughts on the Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist

I can't help myself, I pay attention to award lists, especially longlists. Tonight, the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist was announced, and I thought I'd write a short response. I've actually read 6 of these already!

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
I haven't read this one yet but I remember seeing it in the reshelving area at work so I might snag it. Myth retellings are not often a hit with me, but I am still interested in this one.

Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
I had not heard of this book or author, but it doesn't even come out until August, so I'm not surprised. A historical novel set in Philadelphia.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This is one book that's on the Tournament of Books shortlist that I haven't read yet. I've heard it's pulpy, comic, and short, but I can't find a copy in all my library options to save my life.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Gah, I can't believe I haven't read this one yet. Completely mean to, for sure.

Milkman by Anna Burns
Winner of the Man Booker Prize, this was not a five-star read for me. I've heard the audio really helps, but I always was left feeling like I'd missed the humor that others had seen. My longer review is here if you are interested.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
This is a stand-out, unusual novel that I really loved. The author has said they do not identify as one gender, so I was taken back a little, but I'm not the only one. The Guardian picked up on that story immediately. It would align with feminist theory to be more inclusive, but I expect there will be discussion about this decision.

Ordinary People by Diana Evans
This one isn't on my radar although I see it came out in October, about marital strife in two South London couples. It sounds like my kind of thing, but perhaps too stereotypically "domestic" to be the winner of the Women's Prize?

Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
This doesn't come out until June, but looks to be about the six women surrounding Truman Capote. Hmm.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
I read this before it was an Oprah Book Club pick, but I'm happy to see it on this list. The storytelling technique of rotating narratives, the setting of Atlanta, the issue of black male incarceration - it leaves a lot to discuss.  My review discusses it a little more in depth and can be found here.

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
I could have sword I read this book! Maybe I've just seen the cover a bunch.

Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
Ooh, a small-press book about spies. I might have to read this one next. Oh look I just bought the Kindle version.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
I've swirled around this one - a road trip plus a border story should be good, but I didn't like her teeth novel so I've been dragging my feet.

Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L McFadden
Set in West Africa, about ritual sacrifice/slavery. It didn't immediately peak my interest when it came out but maybe more people will read it now.

Circe by Madeline Miller
This is one of two five-star reads on this list for me, and I also included it in my best reads of 2018. It's the story of Circe, a character in the Odyssey, from her perspective, and it is genius. A powerful woman, a compelling narrative, beautiful writing.  My review is here.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
This is the only book I've read by this author despite meaning to read her work for a while, and it was one in a number of books with domineering father figures, too much for me. My review is here.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
I have been waiting forever for this book to come out in the United States and it still has a month and a half to go. I don't usually talk about books that aren't out yet on my podcast but when Anna Baillee-Karas was on, we talked around it because I had just finished it and knew she'd liked it too. It's mostly a relationship with tons of conversation and I loved it. I was so bummed it didn't make the Man Booker shortlist! My review is here, and the podcast episode where I kind of talked about it a bit is here

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