My Wishlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of my favourite UK literary award, The Women’s Prize for Fiction. I still remember being excited at the prospect of this prize when it was first announced and my delight when Helen Dunmore’s A Spell in Winter was the inaugural winner of what was then called the Orange Prize. The 2020 longlist will be announced next Tuesday. Only novels written by women in English published between April 1st 2019 and March 31st 2020 qualify. Over the past few years I’ve failed miserably in predicting what took the judges fancy but truth be told I’d much rather indulge myself with a fantasy list rather than speculate as to what they might think. What follows, then, is entirely subjective, wishes rather than predictions. I’ve followed the same format as previous years, limiting myself to novels that I’ve read with a link to a full review on this blog. So, in no particular order here’s my wish list for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction:

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The Language of Birds                        Good Day?                                 A Stranger City

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The Hiding Game                                 Starling Days                             The Dutch House

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Olive, Again                                          Body Tourists                                    Adults

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The Warlow Experiment                    Say Say Say                                    Weather

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There Was Still Love                     Right After the Weather          Coming Up for Air

There are some notable omissions from my list including Anne Enright’s Actress which I’m sure deserves a place but I’ve yet to read it. I may be stretching the rules a bit with Olive, Again, technically linked short stories rather than a novel but, hey, it’s my fantasy list. I’d be delighted if any one of these fifteen snags the judges’ attention – fingers firmly crossed.

What about you? Any titles you’d love to see on the judges’ list?

32 thoughts on “My Wishlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020

  1. Liz

    What a great list, Susan – fantasy or otherwise! Several here that I plan to read – the Patchett in particular, and also the Wood (not least for the excellent cover!!). To which of these titles would you award your fantasy prize?

    Reply
  2. heavenali

    Typically I haven’t read any of these, though all of them are on my radar thanks to your reviews. I clearly don’t read enough modern fiction. I always enjoy seeing the women’s prize list though. Although I haven’t read as many previous winners and shortlisted books as some people, I have a page on my blog to help me work my way through them.
    I would love to see Girl, Woman other on the list if it’s eligible not sure of its publication date. I thought it was amazing though. I am actually currently reading Actress by Anne Enright and really enjoying it.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It is eligible, Ali. Another novel I’m sure I would have included if I’d read it. I’m not sure how many of these you’ll be adding to your page given my past performance but one or two, I hope.

      Reply
  3. vesna main

    I am very honoured to be on your list. However, to my mind, women’s prize is more problematic than any other. Created to address the marginalisation of women, it has brought about another discrimination. 6000£ to be on the short list is prohibitive to most indie publishers. A disgrace.

    Reply
  4. whatcathyreadnext

    I’ve only read Olive, Again but The Dutch House and The Hiding Game are in my TBR pile. I think you have just as much chance of being right with your predictions as I do with mine for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction!

    Reply
  5. Dan Friedman

    Anakana Schofield receives much less attention than she deserves. Bina is her third novel, and it’s a first person story about a “difficult” older woman. First published in Canada and recently in the UK. Oddly, neither Bina nor Schofield’s first novel, Malarky, has US publishers.

    I’ve read A Stranger City and Olive, Again. I admire Linda Grant and I’m also surprised that she doesn’t receive more attention, perhaps due to her story-telling style. A Stranger City isn’t, in my view, among her best. I thought that Olive, Again was splendid, just a wondrous act of empathy and understanding about what growing old can entail.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I’ve added Bina to my list. Always pleased to be alerted to unsung authors.

      I’ve long been a fan of Grant’s fiction and particularly liked the way that her love of London shone brightly in this one. Both Olives are such treats. As you say, empathetic portrayals of ageing, comparatively rare in modern fiction.

      Reply
  6. Rebecca Foster

    I’ve read 5 of these and have one up next on the library stack. I’d be particularly pleased if Olive was deemed eligible and longlisted. I agree with Ali that Girl, Woman, Other will probably get a place.

    Reply
  7. JacquiWine

    Of the books on your fantasy list, Olive, Again is the only one I’ve read, and it would be very pleasing indeed to see it on the official list. Several of your other choices are new to me, but it’s great to see the selection. I hope some of your favourites make the cut; it’s always exciting when a book you feel passionately about is in the running!

    Reply
  8. madamebibilophile

    I’ve not read any of these because I’m always a bit behind but many of them are ones I want to read, due in no small part to your reviews! Prize lists are always so difficult to predict aren’t they? So subjective and yet they can have such an impact on an author’s professional life. I hope the judges’ list is as interesting as yours Susan!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thank you, Madame Bibi! You’re absolutely right about the impact on prize-winning authors’ lives. Well nigh impossible for most writers to scratch a living without that kind of recognition not to mention the financial reward.

      Reply
  9. Eric

    You’ve reminded me I sitll want to read A Stranger City and The Hiding Game. I’d be so happy if The Dutch House, Olive Again and Good Day? made the list. And I think Weather is a sure bet!

    Reply
  10. buriedinprint

    This is a prize I once followed devotedly and I have continued to add all the longlisted titles to my TBR list annually but now that I am shifting my attention to my backlisted TBR I find that posts like these (and the actual longlists) only make me want to shove all these old and lingering books to the side to read NEWnewNEWnew books and only those. Hahaha. So many of the books you’ve chosen here are books I’m itching to read. Soon, maybe. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy reading your thoughts! (And, yes, I well remember just HOW exciting this prize was “back then”. But of course we had to wait for newspaper coverage. Which only made it more exciting in some ways.)

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It does seem like another age, doesn’t it, and I suppose it was. As ever, my hit rate was low – just Weather and The Dutch House – although I’m pleased to see any of my wishes fulfilled.

      Reply

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