This week the Women’s Prize for Fiction announced its long list of 16 novels. The list reflects a great year for fiction with Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns and Costa Book Award winner Sally Rooney praised alongside seven debut novelists.
It has certainly been a good year for debuts, with Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer, Yvonne Battle-Felton’s Remembered, and Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s Swan Song getting some well-deserved recognition.
Akwaeke Emezi’s first novel, Freshwater made the long list, making them the first gender non-binary writer to be up for the Women’s Prize. They were asked whether they’d want to be part of the Women’s Prize before their publisher submitted their novel and asked again by the judges before the long list was announced.
The judges, Arifa Akbar, Dolly Alderton, Kate Williams, Leyla Hussein, and Sarah Wood knew almost nothing about the authors until after selecting their work.
From longer novels like Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage and Madeline Miller’s Circe to novellas like Sarah Moss’ Ghost Wall and Sophie van Llewyn’s Bottle Goods, this long list shows a range of forms as well as content.
You’ll find a Greek chorus of members of a love-addiction therapy group in Melissa Broder’s The Pisces and a family running ‘The Beijing Duck House’ in Lillian Li’s Number One Chinese Restaurant. Diana Evans’ timely examination of life in the Obama-era is listed alongside Pat Barker’s feminist retelling of the Iliad.
Reading the long list means travelling from the US-Mexico border in Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive to the fictional African nation of Ukemby in Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden. Luiselli will be in Manchester to read from Lost Children Archive on 20th March.
Previous winners include Kamila Shamsie, Zadie Smith, and Andrea Levy, making the Women’s Prize one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards. Despite fears that smaller publishers might be priced out of this year’s awards, the list includes books from independent publishers like Dialogue Books, Fairlight Books, and Jaracanda Books.
Anyone looking for new books to read throughout 2019 might not need to look further than this list, its diversity and range are impressive. The shortlist for the prize will be announced on the 29th of April and the winner will be awarded the £30,000 prize on 5th June.