My TBR from the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 Longlist

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is an annual literary prize awarded to an excellent work of fiction written in English by a woman. I’ve always followed the announcements for Women’s Prize, but this is the first time I’ll be attempting to read a couple of books from the longlist. I owe this sudden desire to seeing the enthusiasm of Emily, Callum, and recently Hannah about the prize, and about going through everything in the longlist. Thanks, guys!

As for myself, I don’t plan on making my way through everything (at least, not this year). There are a couple of books that have been on my TBR already for awhile, which I’m delighted to see on the longlist; some books I found interesting when I saw them on the list; and some books that I don’t plan on picking them up at all. There were books I was surprised not to see, like the much-hyped Such a Fun Age and Long Bright River, but other than that, I don’t have much to say. I mean, I was reading more fluffy than literary stuff last year, so I’m not exactly qualified to give opinions (unless Helen Hoang can be suddenly be nominated for the prize, but I digress ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

So here’s my TBR from the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. Based on past experience I’m not one to stick to my TBR, but for this month… CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

lets do this

Books already on my TBR

Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

I picked this up for two main reasons – it’s mercifully short, clocking in at just under 200 pages, and it’s about family, a topic that I find myself repeatedly drawn to in literary fiction. I practically devoured this novel in a day, and I’m surprised at how much depth Woodson can pack in a such a short book. This is definitely a gem. Full review to come.

QueenieQueenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I’m reading this now because I just watched Carty-Williams’s reaction to her nomination on Instagram, which was so endearing that it compelled me to pick this up. But now I keep imagining Queenie as Carty-Williams, and it doesn’t help that they both have the same kind of offbeat, self-deprecating humor. Ah, well. Also, I’ll be honest – a novel about a broke, hot-mess of a millennial sounds too relatable not to pick up. Misery loves company and all that.

The Dutch HouseThe Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I’ve been meaning to read Ann Patchett for awhile but I just never got around to it, so here’s my chance! Also, this is another novel on the list about family, and I’ve heard great things about how the relationship between the siblings is portrayed (i.e., not in a creepy, The Secret History kind of way). I might read this right after Queenie.

ActressActress by Anne Enright

Another novel about family – specifically, a mother-daughter relationship. This reminds me vaguely of the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, maybe because of the Hollywood vibe and the retelling of the celebrity’s life from someone else’s perspective. The similarities might end there, but I feel like I’m already primed to like it because of how much I liked Seven Husbands.

Girl, Woman, OtherGirl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I’ve heard so many good things about this novel, but I’m very intimidated by the line breaks in the first chapter. I even had to double-check online that I didn’t get a defective copy. I’m the kind of reader who prefers linear narration, so anything this experimental requires extra brainpower and a very specific mood from me. Let’s just hope the mood strikes before the shortlist is announced on April 22.

WeatherWeather by Jenny Offill

What I said about me and experimental prose in Girl, Woman, Other above also applies to Weather. I tried reading Dept. of Speculation before, but no matter how many times I read those little paragraphs I kept losing the thread of the story. (Or is the point to resist story in the first place…??? Gah, I’m never sure with these authors.) From what I hear, Offill uses the same fragmented style here. We’ll see if it will grow on me this time.

Books I’m now interested in reading

The Most Fun We Ever HadThe Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

This one’s yet another family saga, which for some reason also brings to mind Pachinko, if only for the sheer length of it. But I don’t really mind length when it comes to family sagas, so I’m really looking forward to reading this.

DominicanaDominicana by Angie Cruz

From the synopsis, this sounds like a coming-of-age story of a young girl who was uprooted from her home. When I started reading literary fiction, the kinds of books I voluntarily picked up were coming-of-age stories, so it sounds like I’ll like this.

Nightingale PointNightingale Point by Luan Goldie

The synopsis is familiar – an extraordinary event rocks the ordinary lives of those in a small community – but I’m intrigued because it sounds like the publishers really took pains to not reveal the nature of the event on the blurb.

A Thousand ShipsA Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

An all-female Greek mythology retelling? Say no more! …But, okay, I’m honestly a little apprehensive because the two previous Greek retellings I’ve read – Miller’s Song of Achilles and Circe – were pretty underwhelming, so I’m trying to manage my expectations for this one.

Books I’m still on the fence about reading

Djinn PatrolDjinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

This keeps coming up on my Goodreads feed, but I haven’t put it on my TBR because I’m picky about how children’s voices are written in fiction, especially in literary fiction. I guess I’ll be waiting for other people’s reviews before I give this a shot.

Fleishman Is in TroubleFleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

On one hand, the blurb sounds pretty funny, like a set-up as a bad joke with a punchline. On the other hand, do I really want to read a book about a mediocre, middle-aged man trying to figure out what went wrong in his marriage? Hmmm… Another “We’ll see” for me.

HamnetHamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

When I first saw the title I lol’ed because, well, Hamnet is a strange-sounding name. I wondered if Hamlet would have been a hit if it’d been called Hamnet instead… Anyway, I’m not a fan of the Bard, and it doesn’t help that the top reviews on Goodreads are 2-star reviews, so I’ll wait until something comes along to convince me to read this.

How We DisappearedHow We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

Given my Asian heritage, I’m surprised this didn’t appeal to me right away, but then again maybe I’m just not in the mood for a sombre WWII book. I need to know more about this before I can put it on my TBR.

Books I’m not planning to read

GirlGirl by Edna O’Brien

This is a novel about the horrors experienced by a young Nigerian woman written by an older white woman. I’m surprised a book like this even made it on the list in the first place, especially after the controversy surrounding American Dirt, but no one seems to be calling O’Brien out for it. Still, I’m leery of reading fiction that’s not an ownvoices novel.

The Mirror and the LightThe Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel

I never read Wolf Hall and was never interested in the life of Thomas Cromwell, so this is a pass for me. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually think I’d much rather watch the series instead.

That’s it for my TBR! If all goes according to plan, I’ll be able to read at least 10 of the 16 longlisted books by April 22 – around 60% of the list, which is not bad at all, considering that I only used to read like, one book from it. Wish me luck!

wish me luck

What are your reading plans this March? Let me know in the comments!


8 thoughts on “My TBR from the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 Longlist

  1. Oh, very exciting! I am always happy when people decide to read along!
    I personally thought Actress did have some similarities to Evelyn Hugo but I did enjoy it a lot more. Enright’s writing style and her wonderful narration really won me over!
    I listened to Girl, Woman, Other on audio and the prose does not sound experimental when listened to, so this might make the experience more fun for you?

    1. Thanks for inspiring me to do it! 🙂

      Ooooh, then I’m doubly looking forward to Actress! I never read Enright before, but since she already has a Booker under her belt, I’m sure her prose is stellar.

      And that’s a great suggestion. I already have an e-copy, so I’ll try reading it first and if I can’t get through it I’ll try to get my hands on the audiobook. 🙂

  2. I read Wolf Hall years ago and I do have to say that it was brilliant (but long). I didn’t know that Mantel had finally finished the trilogy – my plan was to reread them all when it finally came out.

    On the other hand: I do fully endorse you just watching the TV show. Claire Foy is excellent as Anne Boleyn. I will say that it’s a show you have to pay very close attention to in order to understand what’s happening. Scenes are not always well lit, and characters often have conversations that are actually about something else completely.

    1. Oh you should! I fully support you there. And thanks for the tip—now I know it’s not something I can just plop myself in front of mindlessly. I might pick it up during the quarantine for distraction. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Literary Elephant

    Thanks for the link! I’m so excited you’re planning to read from the longlist this year, I’d love to see your reviews. 🙂 I’m just getting started on the longlist books this week and some of the titles you’re most interested in are also high on my list. I hope you have a good time with the books you pick up! Looking forward to your thoughts!

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