2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist

The 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist has just been announced and it includes some incredibles books. I thought I would run through which ones I’ve read (and my thoughts), which are on my tbr and which ones have been brought to my attention.

Read:

  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

I first read Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan last summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. It follows Ava, a, Irish 22 year old TEFL teacher in Hong Kong, as she meets Julian, an English banker who likes to spend money on her. Then Julian goes to London and Ava meets Edith, who actually listens to her. Ava’s two worlds collide when Julian announces his return to Hong Kong. I found this novel strongly reminiscient of Sally Rooney’s work and thoroughly enjoyed it. Read my full review here.

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I absolutely adored The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett when I read it last year. The novel spans 5 decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s, following the lives of twin sisters, and their daughters, who take very different paths in life. This novel explores issues of race, sexuality, identity and the controversial topic of passing. I would definitely recommend this book and I am thrilled it has been nominated. See my fully review here.

My To Be Read:

The following titles are the nominations that I want to prioritise reading. I’m hoping to read at least a couple of them before the shortlist is announced on April 28th. Ideally I would read them all, but even I know that’s probably too ambitious.

  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Detransition, Baby has been on my radar for a while now, having seen a lot of positive things about it. It deals with issues of sexuality, gender and forming an unconventional family. Read all about on the Women’s Prize for Ficiton website.

  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

I can’t count how many times I’ve almost bought this book and it’s not quite made the cut. I definitely regret that now. Small Pleasures is set in 1957, following reporter Jean Swinney as she attempts to unravel the truth behind a claim of a virgin birth. Find out more here.

  • Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Whenever I’m on the Waterstones website (which is too often), Burnt Sugar is a common recommendation. But for a reason I can’t explain, I was never compelled to read it, even after it was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. However, I have decided to listen to the universe and accept that this is a book I should read. It is described as a poison love story between mothers and daughters, find out why here.

  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I was vaguely aware of this title before the longlist announcement but I hadn’t taken the time to find out more about it. Now that I’ve looked into it more, it’s definitely on my tbr list. It’s a story of immigration, the opioid crisis and life in modern America. Read about it here.

  • Luster by Raven Leilani

I’ll hold my hands up to not knowing about this book until the longlist came out and it was all over twitter. However, after reading the blurb I knew I wanted to read it (plus the cover is gorgeous). It follows Edie, as she is thrust into a world of white suburbia and the life of a family with an adopted black daughter. The full description can be found here.

Undecided:

The below titles on the longlist are ones I haven’t made up my mind about yet. That’s not to say that I won’t read them or I don’t think they are worthy of a nomination. I simply haven’t been pushed to read them yet, whereas the ones mentioned above I know I want to read.

  • Because of You by Dawn French
  • Consent by Annabel Lyon
  • How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House by Cherie Jones
  • No One is Talking about This by Patricia Lockwood
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Summer by Ali Smith
  • The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig
  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Let me know your thoughts on the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist this year. Are there any you aren’t impressed by? Or any titles you wish had made the cut?

And keep an eye out for the shortlist announcement on April 28th.

Most Anticipated Reads for 2021

1: Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Milk Fed deals with an unexpected love story alongside the sharp edge of body image, considering what it means to break the calorie-counting habit and an obsession with food as a means of maintaining control. This is a novel that is described as ‘scathingly funny’ and a ‘heart-breaking story of self-discovery.’

Release Date: 4th March

2: Friends and Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford

A group of young housemates navigate relationships, work and loss and are confronted with their own privileges in the process. This is a debut novel that is thoroughly modern through its exploration of burnout and what it means to be young today.

Release Date: 2nd March

3: Women of a Certain Rage by Liz Byrski

This book is collection of writings about rage by 20 different Australian women from varying backgrounds, races, beliefs and identites. This is set to be a deeply insightful look at the relationship women have anger.

Release Date: 2nd February

4: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Melinda Lo

In the midst of the Red Scare, Lily is falling for a girl in her class while her immigrant dad comes under scrutiny by the government over suspected ties to the communist party.

Release Date: 19th January

5: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

When Jane meets Eddie she can’t believe her luck; he’s rich, handsome and recently widowed, whereas she’s a broke dog-walker who’s new in town. Eddie can give her everything she’s ever wanted, but there’s a mystery around his wife’s death that just won’t stay buried. This novel sounds like a perfect mix of dark humour, twisted love and suspenseful murder.

Release Date: 29th April

New Year, New Books: My 2021 Reading Goals

It’s the start of a new year and I’ve been thinking about my new reading goals over the next twelve months. I managed to read 50 books last year, including trying out some new genres and books I wouldn’t normally read. However, I am nervous to set myself a similar goal for next year as I had significantly more free time in the past twelve months than normal, leaving me conflicted over what goals I want to set myself. Despite this, I think I’ve finally settled on what I want to achieve over the next year when it comes to reading.

1: Read between 45-50 books

This is because I would ultimately like to read 50 books again but have decided to give myself some room to land a bit under and be realistic about how busy I might be with a full-time job and part-time masters degree.

2: Read 4 Classics

In 2020 I set myself the challenge to face my fear of reading classic novels and succeeded in reading both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen (and quite enjoying them). Whilst I don’t think classic novels are ever going to be a go-to genre for me, I would still like to keep reading a few of them each year. I’ve also found that the audiobook versions are great to listen to if I’m having trouble sleeping.

3: Buy fewer books (Take with a pinch of salt)

I love buying new books and I really loved it in 2020 but this means there are a lot of books on my bookcase that I haven’t read yet so I am going to try my best to cut back. Instead of buying every other book that I want to read, I am going to focus on reading the books I already own which will hopefully save me some money without slowing down my reading.

4: Make time for reading

Finally, I just want to make time to read. This year I want to always make reading a priority because it is something that I desperately enjoy. Regardless of whether I complete any of the above goals, I definitely want to achieve this one because no matter how busy I am, I want to keep reading.