We recorded Tuesday’s episode of The Readers today and Simon and I discussed the Women’s Prize for Fiction long list and I surprised myself but choosing seven (now eight) novels that I liked the sound of, which is not bad from a selection of twenty.

Long and short lists should be treated like shopping lists I think, obviously attention should be paid the eventual winner, but until then it’s good to look at books you might not have considered, or if you have to move them up your reading list, or if you’ve read and enjoyed them to commend your own taste, or if not liked criticise the judges (I’m not keen on this last one though people do). 

Anyway, here is my selection: 

Alif the Unseen

One real surprise was Alif the Unseen as it’s one of ours (that is marketed as a genre novel) I have it sitting on my Kindle! 

A Trick I Learned From

I loved the way the guardian presented the long list  and my selection is very much based on their snippet reviews - ‘conversations about work, cups of tea, the weather. And yet somehow these small things make us more aware of the importance of these moments.’ I know it sound very mundane the setting is funeral home and I think that the mix would give some interesting insights. 

Gone Girl

Simon has managed to both excite and put me off this book by commenting on the ending. I know lots of people have loved this book but now I have a bit of doubt in my head. 


May We Be Forgiven

  “People are hospitalised, repeatedly; sacked, kidnapped, and incarcerated.’ Eventually, though, ‘dark satire gives way to spiritual uplift’.” thanks again to the guardian – it’s intriguing from that description alone!    

The Marlowe Papers

 I was reading the comments on a review by Andrew Motion and some of them were quite brutal about his misunderstanding of this book – I’ve had it for ages but it’s a little daunting reading prose poetry. Not that I dislike it but there is a rhythm to your thoughts – would take stamina? 

Whered You Go Bernadette

A detective novel spanning Seattle to the South Pole? Oh go on then!

Life After Life

Simon is calling this one the winner. It’s had so much praise and is a bit of a departure from what Kate is best known for. Going to be giving it a read soon. 


Finally, to be honest I’m never going to read this one. I don’t think I’m brave enough. I’ve heard that the subject matter is well handled and I’m glad that authors have scope to tackle the subject and that there are readers brave enough to read it. 

So there we have it a quick tour of my picks and here is a bit more about it including the full list:

The Women’s Prize for Fiction – previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction – celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.

The full longlist

  • Kitty Aldridge – A Trick I Learned From Dead Men
  • Kate Atkinson – Life After Life
  • Ros Barber – The Marlowe Papers
  • Shani Boianjiu – The People of Forever are Not Afraid
  • Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
  • Sheila Heti – How Should A Person Be?
  • AM Homes – May We Be Forgiven
  • Barbara Kingsolver – Flight Behaviour
  • Deborah Copaken Kogan – The Red Book
  • Hilary Mantel – Bring Up the Bodies
  • Bonnie Nadzam – Lamb
  • Emily Perkins – The Forrests
  • Michèle Roberts – Ignorance
  • Francesca Segal – The Innocents
  • Maria Semple – Where’d You Go, Bernadette
  • Elif Shafak – Honour
  • Zadie Smith – NW
  • ML Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
  • Carrie Tiffany – Mateship with Birds
  • G Willow Wilson – Alif the Unseen

7 Thoughts on “Quick Long List Thoughts: The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013

  1. I have Alif the Unseen sat on my Kindle too and its longlist appearance has made me want to read it soon. The only other from your list I want to read is Life After Life. I can’t say I was overly excited by the line-up in general. I have ordered a copy of The People of Forever are Not Afraid though.

    • Gav Reads on 17 March, 2013 at 8:04 pm said:

      I liked the cover of The People of Forever are Not Afraid but then Simon told me what it was about and it’s little bit too ‘real’ for me. Simon likes it though :D

  2. I thought the same thing re novels in verse when I learned my friend’s YA novel about ballet (Stasia Ward Kehoe’s Audition) was going to be in verse. I was scared to read it, but then I did, and also Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (which was also coincidentally ballet related, I was going to see the ballet Onegin) and the style really worked for me both times. I think if it fits the story being told it works well.

    • I loved the novel in verse Sharp Teeth but that was a bit shorter – you have a thing for ballet at the moment then?

      • Well, it depends on the season I suppose. In San Francisco, the ballet and opera share the same opera house and divide the year in two. So, in the winter/spring, I blog mostly books and film (because of the Oscars), with some ballet; in the summer/fall, opera tends to dominate.

        I actually started my blog a few years ago to document my initial forays into the world of opera, although I’m always doing some book challenge or another. But my interest in ballet dates back to my college days when my roommate (the author mentioned) was a dancer.

  3. I think it’s an appealing longlist, as I want to read at least half of them, and there’s a fair few I hadn’t heard of. The only one on my TBR is the Kate Atkinson and in fairness that doesn’t exactly need the extra publicity, but if it’s as good as people are saying then it deserves its place here.

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