Last year, I decided not to commit myself to reading the whole Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. This year, I’m going to take the same approach; I don’t see the point in forcing myself to read books which I know I won’t enjoy and which are often repetitive in terms of theme, depending on the particular interests of the judges. Nevertheless, I will still be shadowing the Prize in 2022, and here are a mix of predictions and wishes for the longlist. Books are eligible for the Prize if they were, or will be, first published in the UK between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022. The Prize will announce the longlist on the 8th March, and it will consist of sixteen books.
- Matrix by Lauren Groff. This fits the Prize to a T, and I also enjoyed it enough that I’d be happy to see it on the longlist, although I had some reservations about its individualistic approach to a religious community. My review is here.
- Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman. This debut sounds different enough to the previous set of Greek retellings and yet similar enough to the Prize’s usual penchant for feminist historical fiction that it might stand a chance. Set in Georgian London, ‘the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations and romance’.
- Devotion by Hannah Kent. I thought this was unintentionally hilarious, so I’m certainly not backing it for the longlist, but it seems to tick a lot of the Prize’s boxes.
- The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. I thought this landed somewhat awkwardly between office satire and speculative fiction, but I think it has a good shot. My review is here.
- The Fell by Sarah Moss. I have a sinking feeling the Prize might finally recognise Moss this year, with what I think is easily her weakest novel. My review is here.
- Love Marriage by Monica Ali. I didn’t like Brick Lane and have seen very mixed reviews of this one, so I’m hoping it doesn’t make the list, but I think it might. It focuses on a young doctor, the daughter of Indian immigrants, ‘navigating love and family’.
- Fault Lines by Emily Itami. The Prize often shortlists books about motherhood, so this Tokyo-set debut might fit the bill.
- Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. I thought this was slow, predictable and dull until the virtuosic final section set in the Antarctic, but I slogged my way through it so now I kind of want it to be longlisted just to make that effort more worthwhile. My review is here.
- Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armfield. I’m so looking forward to this one, which combines a lot of my favourite things in fiction: lesbians, the ocean, deep-sea diving and a creepy mystery!
- Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González. Although I had some concerns about this debut, it was so original and memorable that I’d love to see it on the longlist. My review is here.
- The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki. Again, this is easily her weakest novel and I found it rather twee, but it might make it onto the list. My review is here.
- A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe. This historical debut, focusing on the Aberfan disaster, seems to be getting a lot of buzz.
- Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith. Definitely a wish rather than a prediction, but I really want to read this Vietnam-set novel, which follows three women in three different timelines.
- Wahala by Nikki May. Following three Nigerian-English friends living in London, this debut sounds like it could be one of the lighter titles longlisted for the Prize.
- These Days by Lucy Caldwell. I’d like to see this Belfast-set WWII novel on the longlist, as I have an ARC and will be reading it anyway!
- The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. I’m not a Shafak fan but I can see this Cyprus-set novel making the longlist.
I’m also going to stick my neck out and say that neither To Paradise nor Beautiful World, Where Are You will make the longlist, even though I enjoyed both novels very much and think they certainly deserve to be there!
What are your predictions for the Women’s Prize 2022 longlist? What would you like to see there? (Have I, as usual, named any titles that are not actually eligible this year?)