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Women’s Prize For Fiction 2020 | Winner Prediction + My Thoughts On The Shortlist

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Hi Readers!

The time has finally come. In just a few hours we will learn the winner of this years Women’s Prize for Fiction. It’s been a longer wait than normal, what with the event being delayed, like so many other things, due to the pandemic.

But the announcement is almost upon us and with that I think it’s time to round up my thoughts about the shortlist. Which is my favourite? Did any disappoint me? And what book do I think is going to be this years winner?

Firstly, for full thoughts on each of the books (that I read) here are links to their full reviews:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Weather by Jenny Offill
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

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As you can see, despite the extra time we had to read this years shortlist, I still didn’t get to The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. That isn’t because I don’t plan on reading this book, it’s just taken a while for me to get my copy from the library. I’m number 3 on the waiting list now though so not long to wait!

My Thoughts On This Years Shortlist

I have quite polarizing thoughts on the books on this years shortlist. Of the five that I’ve read I found two new favourites, two that I just very nearly DNFed and one that I kind of want to give another try sometime in the future.

I did however notice similarities between the five that I read so I can see why each of them made this years shortlist. They all give voices to female characters who, in history/real life, probably felt like they didn’t have one.

We have a young Dominican bride who’s immigrated to America. A chorus of black woman in Girl, Woman, Other. The wife of a world famous poet and playwrite in Hamnet. The female perspective of the Trojan war in A Thousand Ships. And a modern day wife/mother who has growing concerns about the world in Weather.

I’ll start with the negatives. Two books I struggled with. I feel like they were written in quite experimental ways that just didn’t work for me and I really struggled to get through both of them. Those were Weather by Jenny Offill and Dominicana by Angie Cruz.

I wasn’t too disappointed about Weather because I guiltily went into that with low expectations anyway. But I had high hopes for Dominicana just because I find the experience of an American immigrant to be so intriguing. But I just felt this book had nothing new to offer.

I’d like to give A Thousand Ships another try some day. I really felt like I just kind of missed the point of it because the entire time I was thinking ‘I wish I’d read The Iliad before reading this. Not because it’s necessary to read that first, but because I’ve wanted to for a while and I felt I’d have more of an understanding if I knew more about the Greek myths.

So far, not much luck. But from this shortlist I’ve also found two new favourites and obviously I’ll be routing for one of these to win.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now but these are Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Both vastly different stories, but they just spoke to my soul and I could feel myself falling in love as I read them.

Hamnet is, putting it simply, a historical fiction about Shakespeares wife and children. It’s poetically written and so atmospheric it transports you to Stratford in the 16th century. It captivated me, and it’s not often I use that word for a book so you know I’m telling the truth.

Girl, Woman, Other is set in modern London and follows a group of black women, losely connected to one another, and each chapter follows a different story. This book is so powerful as it gives a platform for the people in society who are often left out. In the unique way it’s told, we come to learn about 12 black women, each with their own, individual story.

My Winner Prediction

Trying to predict a winner when I technically haven’t read the whole shortlist is going to be a little tricky but I have read Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies so I feel like I can still give it my best shot.

I’ll start with what I want to win. Out of what I read obviously I’m routing for Girl, Woman, Other & Hamnet. Of these two, I think Hamnet has pushed ahead as my favourite (although it is fresher in my mind as I read GWO last year) so I’m wishing for Hamnet to win.

But what would I bet on? This takes a bit more thought because I have to consider what the judges think of the books.

Just based on my personal opinion, I would be a it underwhelmed if Weather or Dominicana won.

I think A Thousand Ships could have a chance. Like I said I didn’t give it much of a chance myself, but it’s premise is pretty powerful and it’s been a while since a Greek myth retelling won the prize.

Hamnet is the book on this list which is freshest in my mind that I loved. It’s just such a beautifully told story, but I wonder if the fact it’s historical fiction might put it in disfavour with the judges.

I think it would make waves if The Mirror and the Light won. It would definitely get people talking about the prize seeing as the previous two novels in this trilogy made the shortlist but didn’t win. For that reason I think this could possibly grab the prize.

Girl, Woman, Other co-won the Booker prize last year (should’ve won outright but lets not go into that now). This, I think, has a big chance of winning and I think if I were to put money on a book, it would be on this one. It’s just so currently significant and it’s popularity has grown despite being put in the shadow of The Testaments. I would cheer if this won.

What do you think? Is your favourite book on the shortlist the one you think will win?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

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Initial Thoughts On The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2020 Longlist! I’ve got a lot of reading to do…

This Years Longlist!

Hi Readers!

Well this is a post I’m very excited to be writing and sharing with you. The Women’s Prize longlist was finally announced last night! Now my plan was to stay up for midnight and do my reaction then but I made the mistake of just ‘closing my eyes’ for a second at 23:30pm and didn’t see the world again until 6am. Oops.

But it’s fine, we’re here now and the longlist has been released. And boy is it an exciting one. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to get to reading this prize’s longlist. This years judges have picked some amazing books!

My Predictions | How Did I Do?

Just like the past couple of years I’ve tried to predict what books will be on the longlist. This year was my most successful guesses yet! Out of the 16 books on the longlist I predicted 7 of them. I had heard of three others and there are 6 books on the longlist that are new to me.

What’s Missing | Books I Wish Had Made the Longlist

Of course the judges can’t please everyone. There are just 16 spaces on the longlist and there are always going to be books deserving of a spot that just didn’t make it.

There’s two books I personally would’ve liked to have seen on the longlist. Long Bright River by Liz Moore and FrankissStein by Jeanette Winterson. But saying that I’m excited to see so many books on the longlist I haven’t yet read. I never protest to adding more books to my TBR.

There’s also the notable absence of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. But I’m not upset about that to be honest. It’s already had a lot of coverage and I think Atwood would agree it’s good to give another author a spot on this list.

How Many Have I Already Read?

Three. So… I have a lot of reading to do! I do of course plan on reading the entire longlist and 6 of those books were already on my immediate TBR anyway.

The Longlist!

For those who haven’t seen the longlist yet, here it is! How many of these books have you read/are planning on reading?

WomensPrizeForFictionLonglistPredictions!(1)
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • Girl by Edna O’ Brien
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

In this years longlist we have three past winners, Patchett’s The Dutch House, Mantel’s anticipated The Mirror and the Light & Enright’s Actress. But they have strong competition from Evaristo, co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize with her multi-perspective book Girl, Woman, Other.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for O’Brien’s Girl and one I’m particularly excited about is Haynes’s greek myth feminist retelling A Thousand Ships. I’m also intrigued by Red At the Bone. Woodson is an author I’ve heard of but never read before so I’m excited to finally give her a go.

We also have some amazing debuts with Carty-Williams’s modern Queenie, O’Farrell’s Shakespearean Hamnet and Anappara’s India set Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

The other authors and books are completely new to me but that’s what I love about this prize. It brings new authors and voices onto my radar. I’m especially intrigued by Dominicana and How We Disappeared.

What books are you most excited to get to?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Prize

Booker Prize 2019 Winner’s’ and My Thoughts On The Controversial Decision

Hi Readers

The Booker Prize, known by many as the most important and prestigious award in the literary industry has come and gone for another year. But this year it has left a trail of controversy in it’s wake. 

There’s always some backlash that follows the winner announcement. It’s unavoidable. Readers follow this prize closely and get involved by the reading the longlist and/or the shortlist and generate their own opinions. Everyone has one particular book and author they’re rooting for and it’s impossible to please everybody. 

However this year it seems the judges tried to do just that. Choosing not one, but two winners. Bernardine Everisto (Girl, Woman, Other) and Margaret Atwood (The Testaments) will be splitting the money and the glory in half. 

I’m not happy. Here’s why. 

It’s against the rules. Some might say, ‘rules are meant to be broken’ but I’m more of the Hermione Granger in this situation. Rules are there for a reason. The judges had one job and one winner to pick. 

I’ve made it no secret that I wasn’t entirely impressed by The Testaments. In fact, as more times gone on it’s become more and more forgettable. It wasn’t impactful and I agree with anyone who says it was unneccesary. I could see why it made the longlist, but not the shortlist and I was shocked it won.

But the thing I’m most upset about is this; Bernardine Evaristo is the first black woman to ever win this prize, and she should not have had to share that stage. Especially not with Margaret Atwood, whose popularity could easily overshadow her. 

Evaristo is who I was rooting for, and while I’m glad she can be called the winner, I wish it wasn’t under these circumstances. She’s the first black woman to win the prize. Hopefully the first of many. 

It’s gotten people talking however, that’s for sure. That’s the only good that could come out of this I suppose. 

What are your thoughts on this decision? 

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Prize

My Booker Prize Longlist Thoughts and Shortlist Predictions

Hi Readers

Since the Manbooker longlist was announced just over a month ago now I have been enjoying reading as many of the books as possible. Over the last month I was able to 5 of the books, plus the 2 I had already read means I’ve now read 7 of the 13 longlisted novels. 

There was some more I would have loved to have gotten to before the shortlist is announced but, alas, time was against me. I’ll definitely get to them soon if any I haven’t read end up on the shortlist, otherwise they’ll be left on my TBR for another time. 

With the shortlist being announced tomorrow, I thought I would give my thoughts and my predictions for what will make the shortlist. Here they are: 

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithewait – I won’t lie, I was surprised to see this here. Whilst I thought the dynamic between the sisters was interesting the lack of atmosphere made this thriller not very thrilling. Also, I’m still bitter that this book left me feeling unsatisfied. 

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli – (SHORTLIST) I was so happy to see this on the longlist. I read this a while ago and admittedly didn’t have a great time with it, although I’d love to give it a second try sometime. I think the subject of this novel is so important and to see it portrayed in highly-praised literature means a lot. 

Night Boat by Barry White – So, I gave this book 1 star. Sometimes books just don’t click with me and this was one of them. The story just didn’t keep me engaged. 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (SHORTLIST) – Loved. This. This novel, to me, is pretty close to perfect. It follows 12 diverse women with modern and prevelent stories, each engaging and moving. 

The Wall by John Lanchester – The more I think of this book, the less impressed I am with it. I originally gave it three stars, I’d probably give it two now. It’s just not overly inventive and definitely doesn’t push the bounderies of dystopia. 

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson (SHORTLIST) – Again, loved this. I’m itching to reread it already and I only finished it a couple of weeks ago. There is so much to this novel that I can’t place it into one genre. All I will say is it connects the creation of Frankenstein with futuristic technology. 

Lanny by Max Porter (SHORTLIST) – I think this will make the shortlist, but not really because my own thoughts for it are glowing, but because others are. It followed interesting themes but I found it hard to keep focused. I might give the audiobook a try if it does make the shortlist. 

Others…

10 Minutes, 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafik – I started reading this and kind of flicked through it until the end and realised I wasn’t really reading it. It just didn’t capture my interest. 

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chicozie Obioma – This was one I almost got to and I’m so sad I didn’t because I love the sound of it. But it’s one of the longer books on the longlist and there just wasn’t enough time. 

The Man Who Saw Everything by Debra Levy – This was another one I started reading but I very quickly lost interest. 

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Elmann (SHORTLIST) – Honestly, I don’t actually know what people think of this book. All I know is it’s different and experimental and I feel like the judges will be looking for something that stands out. I’m dreading reading it though. 

Quichotte by Salmon Rashdie – This is one I’ve just heard nobody talking about. Possibly because it’s only being released tomorrow. Apparently it’s Don Quiote for the modern age. 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (SHORTLIST) – I haven’t read this yet. Nobody has. It’s literally under lock and key until it’s publication date. But the judges liked it enough to put it on the longlist with no outside influence so it must be pretty good. 

Overall, I think the shortlist is going to look like this: 

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli 
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
FrankissStein by Jeanette Winterson
Lanny by Max Porter
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Elmann
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Let me know what you thought of this years longlist. 

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

book blog · Book Prize

The Women’s Prize Shortlist and My Thoughts!

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Hi Readers

The shortlisted books for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 was announced last night at midnight and this year there’s a great mix of genres. We have some contemporaries, a couple of fantasies and a thriller.

I initially set out to read the entire longlist when it was announced but unfortunately this year I was only able to get to 6 of the 16 books.

On the shortlist I have read half, DNFed two and going to get to one. We’ll start with those I was able to read.

Circe by Madeline Miller – This is one I knew would be on here even though I didn’t necessarily love it myself. As the title suggests this tells the story of greek goddess Circe who only played a minor role in the greek myths.

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – A thriller that wasn’t very thrilling but explores a very complex sister relationship.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker – This is another greek myth retelling and tells the story of achilles through the eyes of his slave Briseis. I haven’t got around to doing a full review of this book yet but I think I probably will because I have some thoughts. Basically, this isn’t entirely what I expected but I didn’t hate it. 

Now onto the ones I haven’t read…

Ordinary People by Diana Evans – Now, I had planned to not read this. It doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea as it’s about marriage and that’s not a subject that I find interesting in books. Which leads onto the next one…

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones –  …which is obviously about marriage. I had tried to read this book before the longlist was announced and I actually DNFed it and planned on never picking it up again. I will give it another try but I’m not opposed to DNFing it again. 

Milkman by Anna Burns – I did give this a try and I actually wasn’t hating it. The way it explores Ireland and the Troubles there I found very unique and interesting. I had to put it down though as I basically felt like I was rushing it. I will have to set aside a week to just focus on this book sometime in May. 

Not long now until 2019 winner will be announced. You have until June 5th to read these 6 books if you’re interested!

If you have read them, what do you think? Was there anything you hoped would make the shortlist that didn’t? I’m very disappointed Normal People isn’t here as it was definitely my favourite of the ones I read. 

Thanks for reading,
Jess X

Book Prize

Women’s Prize Shortlist and My Thoughts

VnpPchZi_400x400Hi Readers

Earlier this morning the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 Shortlist was announced and I’m very happy with it. 

A couple of days ago I shared my prediction of what I thought would make the shortlist. I only predicted three right, but two of the books I haven’t read yet so I’m excited to give them a go.

Here are the 6 shortlisted books, along with the reviews I did for 4 of them:

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Sight by Jessie Greengrass

There are no real surprises on here for me personally. The Idiot and Sight I didn’t get around to in time so I don’t really have opinions on them yet. I did try and read Sight but I got too busy and couldn’t finish it. So I will be reading those before the winner is announced in June. 

I’m a little sad Eleanor Oliphant was left out of this shortlist but I completely agree that all of these books deserve a spot here. They all explore such tough and important current topics, we have racism, domestic abuse, sexism, motherhood and language. The authors explored these topics in such fearless and powerful ways.

Without having read the whole shortlist, my initial thoughts are When I Hit You by Meena Kansamy will be the winner. But I’m going to do a Winner prediction a bit closer to the time. I may do a couple of rereads as well.

As for right now, I encourage all of you to pick up the books on this shortlist (and Eleanor Oliphant.)

Thanks for reading,

Jess X

Book Prize

Women’s Prize: Shortlist Prediction.

VnpPchZi_400x400Hi Readers!

It’s not long now until the shortlist for the Women’s Prize is announced. This year I’ve been following this prize very closely and have read over half of the longlist. I did plan on reading the whole longlist but in all honesty I would’ve needed an extra month to do that.

Haven’t Read:
Miss Burma by Charmain Craig
Idiot by Elif Batuman
Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
A Boy In Winter – Rachel Seiffert

Plan To Read:
The Trick to Time by Kit De Waal
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
H(A)PPY by Nicola Berker

DNFed:
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Sight by Jessie Greengrass

Read & Reviewed:
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
When You Hit Me by Meena Kandasamy
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Out of the books I have read these are the ones I think HAVE to make the shortlist:

When I Hit You: The Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsee

There are still books on the longlist I haven’t read that could make it, and a book I did read and personal didn’t enjoy could also make the shortlist. So here’s the other two books that I think could make up the rest of the shortlist.

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon – Because I’ve just heard such glowing reviews for this.

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker: Because this has the sci-fi element I think the shortlist needs.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of these books. I’ll see you on the other side to share my thoughts on the shortlist. Hopefully they’re positive thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Jess X