Given how busy I’ve been with university work recently, I’ve tried not to set myself too many reading goals. I get my MA reading done and I keep on top of my blog tour reading but, after that, I read according to whim. As a result, a lot of the book prizes of the past year have passed me by.
That might have to change however with the announcement of the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. Because this list looks absolutely AMAZING!! There are so many titles on here that have been lingering on my TBR, calling out for their turn to be read. So, whilst I don’t think I’ll read the whole longlist, I did want to discuss the longlisted titles and the ones that I’m hoping to read.
I already own, or have borrowed, ten of the sixteen shortlisted titles but have only read two of them – Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, a strange but haunting novella that I’ll be reviewing in the next couple of weeks, and My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, which I enjoyed but didn’t love. The characters were fantastic and it’s definitely a quick read with a great narrative voice, but I found the ending a little lacklustre and I was left with a sense that nothing had really changed for the characters, despite the events of the book.
The other books that I own are:
– Circe by Madeline Miller
I absolutely loved Miller’s debut, The Song of Achilles, which gave an evocative voice to an over-looked character from Greek myth. I’ve heard only excellent things about Circe so I can’t wait to see what she has done with this complex mythological woman.
– The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Myth re-tellings are having a bit of a moment at the moment. This re-telling of the Trojan War promises to give voice to the women of Troy. Euripides’ tragedy The Trojan Women was the high point of my undergraduate classics module so I am looking forward to seeing what Barker, author of the evocative Regeneration trilogy, does with the story.
– Normal People by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney seems to be the author of the moment – is there a shortlist that Normal People hasn’t been on this year? I have to admit to being a little worried that this won’t live up to the hype but I’m reassured by her short story, Mr Salary, which I read and very much enjoyed earlier this year. If Mr Salary is anything to go by, Rooney has a real eye for detail and for capturing the idiosyncrasies of human interaction.
– Milkman by Anna Burns
I’ve had this one on my shelf since it won the Man Booker Prize last year. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I’ll like it – I’ve heard that the style can be rather inaccessible and it seems to be quite the Marmite book. I’m hoping that the Women’s Prize will give me a push to try it so that I can decide for myself one way or the other.
– Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenburg-Jephcott
Okay, so this one was a random NetGalley download that has lingered on my Kindle for far too long. I downloaded it after my book group read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which I found fascinating as much for its author’s compelling voice as anything else. So when I heard about a book centred on Capote, and the literary grenade he detonated amidst an elite circle of Manhattan socialites, I put in a request. I freely admit that I’d almost forgotten that I’d downloaded this but it’s definitely one I want to get around too.
Since the longlist was announced, I’ve also bought An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Ordinary People by Diana Evans, as well as Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton (which is currently one of the featured reads for NB Magazine so available for an absolute steal on their website), all of which sound right up my reading street.
Out of the remaining titles on the longlist, I am hoping to borrow Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive & Bernice L. McFadden’s Praise Song for the Butterflies from the library. Both sound like they could be enjoyable but I’m not 100% sure whether the style is going to be for me – they seem like more literary titles and, whilst I do enjoy literary fiction, I do find some books can be a little too ‘high’ in their style.
I have heard amazing things about the remaining longlist titles – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, The Pisces by Melissa Broder, Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li, and Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn – but they don’t immediately grab me and, with eight books to read already, I think I’ve got my work cut out for me as it is!
I would love to hear from any of you who have read any of these books though, as I am open to being persuaded which I should read first. At the moment, I’m inclined to start with either Swan Song or Circe – both have been languishing in my TBR for far too long. So please do drop me a comment down below, or come say hi over on Twitter and, until next time…