Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022: Longlist Predictions and Wishlist

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.

My List:

  • 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?)

27 thoughts on “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022: Longlist Predictions and Wishlist

  1. You’re so ahead of the game this year! I’ve been keeping an ongoing list of hopefuls in a Word document for some months now. Yesterday I had a look back and tried to start narrowing it down, but I’m at nearly 90 titles and it’s tough. I like your longlist, but I fear we’ll get some more predictable choices from white women (there’s a new Anne Tyler novel out before too long!). And I do think we’ll see Rooney and Yanagihara at least longlisted. The loophole about previously shortlisted authors getting a free pass makes me think that Yanagihara and others like Gwendoline Riley and Rachel Cusk will have better luck than some debut authors — though I’d absolutely love to see e.g. Julia Armfield nominated.

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    • I would LOVE to see Yanagihara, but the book does not feel like the Women’s Prize to me. You might be right about Rooney. Yes, one of the reason I’ve given up reading the whole longlist is that they list too many middlebrow books by white women. Looking at the judges, I wonder if the list will be even more mainstream than usual this year.

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      • I just had the thought: with a judge named Pandora, of course a novel named Pandora will be longlisted! I don’t want to read too much into the judges (last year was more conventional than expected despite several Black women being on the panel), but Dorothy Koomson writes women’s fiction, so…

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        • I’m not a fan of Koomson’s writing (nothing against women’s fiction, but I think hers is definitely on the trashy end…) so she’s who I was thinking of in terms of what might get longlisted. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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  2. I’ve started working on my list too, I’m not quite ready to post it but from my preliminary list we have six in common! Re: the heavy hitters, I’m expecting Rooney to be longlisted but not shortlisted, and no Yanagihara. As for my wishlist, there’s nothing I’m particularly invested in this year… I’m a Rooney stan as you know, but I’ll hardly lose sleep if she doesn’t make it. Brood by Jackie Polzin would be a nice surprise but it wasn’t exactly a new all-time fave. I wish I’d read an eligible book that’s knocked my socks off this year but I really don’t think I have!

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    • Ah, interesting! I struggled to think of 16 titles – there just weren’t enough books that I either really loved or really thought would be on the list. Looking forward to your list – I think you may be right about Rooney.

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  6. Such a great list! You were right, we have a good overlap (I had somehow missed your post!!!! Unforgivable). I’m SO glad to see someone else list Walaha in their predictions, I think it’d be such a nice addition. I’m hoping Great Circle doesn’t make it because I don’t want to read it…. although your description of a virtuosic ending did pick my interest! I also think To Paradise and the new Rooney won’t make it! Will be interesting to see if they do. Either way, I think there’s a bit more excitement about this year’s prize than the last (or two) years, so that’s really cool!

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  7. I think Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette stands a chance of making the longlist. If Assembly makes the word count (30,001, I think), I believe it will be there too.

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        • Ugh, I forgot to check if it had been published in the U.K.! It published in the States on August 3, 2021, but not until August 2022 in the U.K. I have another even longer long shot that published in the U.S. in October ‘21 and in January ‘22 in the U.K. and that is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins. I didn’t expect to love this book, but I did. It’s definitely not mainstream.

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              • No need to apologize, I like hearing what others thought about I Love You, But I’ve Chosen Darkness. I shouldn’t have liked it. I only recommended to one other person and that was with the caveat to not purchase it, only get it from the library, because of the likelihood she wouldn’t like the book.

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  8. Pingback: The Women’s Prize Longlist, 2022 | Laura Tisdall

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