The Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist is out tomorrow. For weeks now I’ve been ghosting the Women’s Prize, reading as many of the 20 longlisted titles as I can before the shortlist is announced. I’ve read 11 and 4/2 titles (there are four titles: NW, A Trick I Learned from Dead Men, The Marlowe Papers and that I’m ½ done). Here’s how I’m hoping things shape up:
The Five-Star Reads I Hope Make the Cut
It’s been a long time now since I read this tale of a close-knit Jewish community in London, but it stands out as one of the most memorable works of fiction this Edith Wharton fan has read in recent memory.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
I do not like the cover of this book. I read the blurb and didn’t think it was for me – Global Warming: The Novel. That being said, I was so wrong. The whole time I was reading Dellarobia’s story of a small town life dragged into the media spotlight, I was entranced. (To be honest, I wished my copy wasn’t a library book so I could underline all of the most memorable passages. Ah well, Goodreads quotations will have to serve.)
The Other Four Titles I’d Like to See
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
If a customer came in and asked for a book like Alif the Unseen, I’d have to think about it really hard. This book seamlessly blends Middle Eastern folklore with digital sensibilities. At its heart it’s the story of a nerdy boy in love with the wrong girl. What can compare?
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
I want it to make the list so I’ll finally stop intending to read Hilary Mantel and actually sit down and read her. (I’ve been told to start with Wolf Hall.)
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Holds are mounting on this title, which promises to be one of the hits of the season. I haven’t read it yet, but will keep you posted.
A well-written novel in verse that doesn’t feel gimmicky at all.
The Over-Rated Titles I Hope Don’t
The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiou – This novel is more a series of vignettes, tales from three women serving in the Israeli army. While individual stories can be well told, the novel doesn’t hang fully together, there are too many awkward moments and, at times, the writing felt like a bad translation. I have a feeling these effects were deliberate – but they simply didn’t work for me.
The Forrests by Emily Perkins – This was the first book I started when the longlist came out and I’m still trudging away at it for some reason (I think I might be stubborn.) The writing is completely overdone and the story – a family history – doesn’t speak to me. If my opinion changes by the time I (finally!) finish it, I’ll be sure to let you know in the comments below.