book blog · Bookish News

Women’s Prize For Fiction | 2022 Longlist Reaction

March 8th, 2022

Hi Readers!

Firstly, happy international women’s day. This day means celebrating the vast sea of female voices, and that’s why I always look forward to the women’s prize longlist. This years has finally been announced, and there are so many books here not even on my raider, but sound so exciting.

This years longlist consists of 16 books again, eight of them I’d heard of before but eight are completely new to me. I’ve also not read any of them, so that means I have a lot of reading to do. I’m quite pleased by this years selection and there are only a couple of books I’m not sure about.

Here are the books, a small part of their synopsis, and my plans for them. n

Careless by Kirsty Capes

Sometimes it’s easy to fall between the cracks…
At 3.04pm on a hot, sticky day in June, Bess finds out she’s pregnant.
She could tell her social worker Henry, but he’s useless.
She should tell her foster mother, Lisa, but she won’t understand.
She really ought to tell Boy, but she hasn’t spoken to him in weeks.
Bess knows more than anyone that love doesn’t come without conditions.
But this isn’t a love story… 

This is a tale as old as time, I’m intrigued to see what Capes has done with it.

The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mandelson

The longer the marriage, the harder truth becomes . . .

I love books about family, and I love books about art. This one brings those two together, and I have big hopes for it.

The Bread The Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

This is an engrossing and atmospheric novel with a strong feminist message at the heart of its page-turning plot. It explores an abusive love-affair with searing honesty, and skilfully tackles the issue of gender violence and racism against the lush and heady backdrop of the national festival, and the music that feeds it. It’s impossible not to root for Alethea – she is an unforgettable heroine, trapped in ways she is only just beginning to understand but shining with strength, resolve and, ultimately, self-determination. 

This is normally something I would avoid because it’s main character is a victim of domestic abuse and I don’t like reading that. I would however like to try this. I may not be able to though as my library doesn’t currently have it available.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho, a world where magic is everywhere, food is fate, politics are broken, and love awaits. Everyone in Popisho was born with a little something… The local name for it was cors. Magic, but more than magic. A gift, nah? Yes. From the gods: a thing that felt so inexpressibly your own.

Another book I would have normally avoided. I’ve tried magical realism before and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed one. But I will definitely try to read this as it has got some great reviews.

Flamingo by Rachel Elliott

A novel of love, homelessness, and learning to be fearless
In the garden, there were three flamingos.

This is one I’m considering skipping. I have reserved it and if it comes in I’ll give the first couple of chapters a go. But the way the full synopsis is written just doesn’t entice me, and kind of gives me reservations about the writing style.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Spanning Prohibition-era Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, wartime London, and modern-day Los Angeles, Great Circle tells the unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost.

Finally, one I predicted correctly! I am so pleased to see this made the longlist because I’m very excited to read it. This just felt like a women’s prize book.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace” — the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside.

I’m very excited for this, and I’m very annoyed with myself for not predicting it. I don’t know why, I just didn’t think it sounded like a women’s prize book. But I definitely think I’ll enjoy it.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki–bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.

I had never heard of this book before today, and that’s why I love this prize, because this book sounds incredible. I love books about books and grief, and whilst this is another magical realism, I think this could be a very enjoyable one.

Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejide

With echoes of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Yejidé’s novel explores a forgotten quadrant of Washington, DC, and the ghosts that haunt it.

I have never seen this book before, and I can’t say I have much interest in it personally. Just the fact that it achoes Beloved, a book I’m really not a fan of, puts me off. It’s also another magical realism, apparently it has ghosts. This might be one where I wait to see what other people think first. My library doesn’t have it in anyway.

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey

The looming presence of the nearby prison camp – lying just beyond a patch of forest – is the only blot to mar what is otherwise an idyllic life in Buchenwald.

This is another subject I tend to stay away from, especially in fiction. The holocaust. I think that these stories will always be important to share, I just can’t read them. My library also doesn’t have this in, so I’ll just see what everyone else thinks of it.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.

This book completely escaped my notice last year, but it sounds incredible and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

A moving, beautifully written and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history and eco-consciousness.

I can see this becoming a favourite. I’ve read and enjoyed two of Shafak’s previous books, but this one sounds like something I could love. I did want to read it when it was first released but I never got around to it. I definitely will now.

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

Doesn’t that one line just hook you? It has me, and I can’t wait for it.

Salt Lick by Lulu Allison

This book has a chorus, the dreamy herd voice of feral cows, who are impatient with humans for their cruelty and lack of ability to find contentment, but they watch over Jesse, Isolde and Lee with benevolent care, understanding their lives as part of a bigger story that ravels and unravels endlessly over time. 

My library doesn’t have this, and the synopsis doesn’t really speak to me. I think it’s from the POV of animals which I’ve never really been a fan of so I don’t think I would have read it anyway. Maybe if it makes the shortlist.

The Sentence by Luise Erdrich

The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written. 

The fourth and final book I predicted! I very excited to see this made the longlist because I absolutely want to read it, and now I can for the prize. I just love the sound of this.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

An electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.

Just like The Book of Form and Emptiness, I hadn’t heard of this one. But this book sounds like something I could possibly love. I love music and bands, and if this author does what TJR does and makes this band feel real, this could be a potential new favourite. We’ll see!

What longlisted book are you most eager to get to? I can’t wait to get my hands on The Island of Missing Trees myself, but there a few here I’m excited for.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X


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