Hi everyone! Since the 2019 Women’s Prize longlist is being announced on Monday 4th March, I thought I would post my predictions since it is my favourite literary award and I always love reading others’ predictions. Whilst there tends to be 16 shortlisted books I have only mentioned 12 here – originally I had 15 but culled 3 as I didn’t feel they would make the list due to mixed response from both critics and bloggers/vloggers. So hopefully at least one of my 12 makes it way into the longlist! Due to the amount of books mentioned here, I will just write a brief synopsis of the plot and if I have reviewed any novels mentioned I will link, so I’m not repeating myself and also no one wants to read a blog post the same length as War and Peace. But enough prattling on, I shall jump into my predictions:
Normal People – Sally Rooney
‘Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.’
My review of Normal People
The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
‘When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis’ old life is shattered. She is transformed from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the god-like warrior Achilles as a prize of war. And she’s not alone: on the same day, and on many others in the course of a long and bitter war, innumerable woman have to be wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters’.
Circe – Madeline Miller
‘In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Yet, in the golden halls of gods and nymphs, Circe stands apart, as something separate, something new. With neither the look nor the voice of Divinity, and scorned and rejected by her kin, Circe is increasingly isolated. Turning to mortals for companionship, she risks defying her father for love, a path that leads her not to the marriage bed but to a discovery of a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft’.
Transcription – Kate Atkinson
‘In 1940, eighteen-year-old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work by turns to be tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. However, ten years later, working as a producer for the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat’.
Milkman – Anna Burns
The 2018 winner of the Man Booker Prize, Milkman revolves around ‘a teenager – whose only means of escape is literature – is slowly ground down by the unwanted attentions and creeping psychopathy of a paramilitary many years her senior. This is the secret state, a place where gossip and hearsay are weaponised methods of control’.
My review of Milkman
Everything Under – Daisy Johnson
‘It’s been sixteen years since Gretel last saw her mother, half a lifetime to forget her childhood on the canals. But a phone call will soon reunite them, and bring those wild years flooding back: the secret language that Gretel and her mother invented; the strange boy, Marcus, living on the boat that final winter; the creature said to be underwater, swimming ever closer’.
M for Mammy – Eleanor O’Reilly
‘Meet the Augustts: a loving, Irish, family who, like all families, are a bit complicated. They are bound together by their love for each other, but each expresses themselves in a very different way. When misfortune strikes the family, they must learn to understand each other anew’.
My review of M for Mammy
My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
‘Beautiful, young, successful and wealthy, the novel’s narrator lives in an endless bubble of social engagements, caught up in the heady thrill of early 2000’s New York. Superficially her life is perfect but there is a void at the centre of her world. Fuelled by an unscrupulous psychiatrist – a wonderfully grotesque figure – she begins a regimented programme of hibernation; induced and sustained by a cocktail of narcotics and aided by an avant-garde artist chronicling her descent into self-created somnolence’.
Swan Song – Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
‘In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him?’
My review of Swan Song
My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
‘When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in ‘self-defence’ and the third mess her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…@
All Among the Barley – Melissa Harrison
‘The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, although the Great War still casts its shadow over the fields and villages around her beloved home, Wych Farm. Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to document fading rural traditions and beliefs. For Edie, who must soon face the unsettling pressures of adulthood, the glamourous and worldly outsider appears to be a godsend. But there is more to the older woman than meets the eye’.
Washington Black – Esi Edugyan
‘When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven-year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of them. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him. Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape together, but then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible’.
And here you have it: my choices for the Women’s Prize longlist. As you can see I’ve went with a lot of former nominees and winners of the prize (Barker, Atkinson, Burns and Moshfegh spring to mind). I reckon some of the bigger names may make the longlist but whether they all do remains to be seen. It will also be particularly interesting to see if Barker, Atkinson and Johnson make the list; their books are either classical or mythical retellings so I’m debating whether they will ultimately cancel each other out. I never noticed it at first when compiling this list but retellings seems to be a key theme running through my predictions. I also selected Swan Song and M for Mammy because one deals with a famous writer and the other focuses on language; making them potentially appealing candidates for a literary prize. Or that’s my thinking anyway.
Let me know below who you think (or hoping) is going to make the longlist on Monday, when we shall find out how wrong I am! Until then, have a nice weekend!