The 2018 Women's Prize Longlist Is Here, And You Really Need To Read These 16 Books
The 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction has released its longlist, which contains 16 books of the highest caliber that span a variety of genres, from magical realism to dystopia and beyond. Previously known as the Baileys Women's Prize, the award will grant £30,000 — about $41,000 U.S. — to the novel that best exemplifies "excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world." The 16 books on the list below represent the best of the 200 books by women that the judges — Sarah Sands, Anita Anand, Katy Brand, Catherine Mayer, and Imogen Stubbs — read over the last year.
Every year, the VIDA Count shows us just how few women work as reviewers in literary magazines, and how rarely those publications review books written by women. When women authors' works garner critical praise and awards nominations, certain other critics will bend over backward to gender their novels as saccharine, sentimental, and sloppy. Dubbed "Goldfinching" after the Donna Tartt novel that was mistreated in this way, the misogynistic practice of categorizing and unnecessarily gendering women's creative works keeps women authors out of the modern-day literary canon. The Women's Prize for Fiction was created to combat these gender gaps in the literary community.
Check out the 16 books on the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction longlist below:
'H(a)ppy' by Nicola Barker
Mira A. is one of the Young, living in a time of supposed peace and prosperity, which followed all of the apocalypses the world had to offer. All of the Young are calm, collected, unflappable. All of them, that is, except for Mira A.
'The Idiot' by Elif Batuman
Elif Batuman's debut novel centers on Selin, a Turkish-American woman who spends the summer after her first semester at Harvard teaching English in the Hungarian countryside, navigating her first love with a mathematics student named Ivan, and discovering her love of writing.
'Three Things About Elsie' by Joanna Cannon
When she found herself confined to a retirement home, Florence turned to her friends, Elsie and Jack, for comfort. Now, a new arrival at the home has Florence worried, because the man everyone else calls Gabriel looks an awful lot like the person she knew as Ronnie, who drowned years before.
'Miss Burma' by Charmaine Craig
Based on a true story and nominated for the National Book Award, Miss Burma takes readers into the heart of colonized Myanmar, beginning with Benny, a Cochin Jewish man, and his wife Khin, a member of the Karen ethnic minority. In the 1950s, Benny and Khin's daughter Louisa would become the first Burmese Miss Universe contestant. In the 1960s, she would flee her home country for her life. This is her story, as told by her daughter, Charmaine Craig.
'Manhattan Beach' by Jennifer Egan
Seven years after she first meets him while accompanying her father on a business trip, 19-year-old Anna reconnects with mob boss Dexter Styles in World War II-era Brooklyn, leading to an out-of-control series of events as Anna learns why her father disappeared shortly after his meeting with Styles.
'The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock' by Imogen Hermes Gowar
When he first learns that one of his captains has sold a ship to purchase a mermaid's corpse, widowed merchant Jonah doesn't believe people will pay money to see it in exhibition. But after placing his mermaid in a brothel and meeting a lovely courtesan named Angelica, Jonah wonders if his luck might be changing.
'Sight' by Jessie Greengrass
In this lyric novel, the narrator, pregnant with her second child, careens through her thoughts on motherhood and bodies, as well as her relationships with her foremothers.
'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman
After a lonely childhood and an abusive adolescence, 29-year-old Eleanor has settled into a life of solitude and social anxiety. But when a co-worker notices and befriends her, Eleanor finds herself being drawn, slowly, out of her shell.
'When I Hit You: Or, a Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife' by Meena Kandasamy
Set in modern-day India, When I Hit You tells the story of a young woman who agrees to marry a university professor, only to become increasingly subjected to abuses she did not expect.
'Elmet' by Fiona Mozley
After a time spent living in the home he built with his own hands, bare-knuckle boxer John Smythe gets pulled into a fight between laborers and landowners in modern-day Britain. Elmet centers on his gentle, teenage son, Daniel, who comes of age as their lives are thrown into upheaval.
'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' by Arundhati Roy
Intersex protagonist Anjum rests at the heart of Arundhati Roy's novel, but the story spirals outward from her, engulfing her family, friends, and neighbors in an epic tale set against the backdrop of political upheaval in Southeast Asia.
'See What I Have Done' by Sarah Schmidt
In her debut novel See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt reconstructs the Lizzie Borden murder case, telling the story of that fateful day and night from the perspectives of four people, including Lizzie herself, who struggles to remember the events as they occurred.
'A Boy in Winter' by Rachel Seiffert
Told over the course of three days in German-occupied Ukraine, A Boy in Winter winds throughout a small factory town, coming to rest on the two Jewish boys who narrowly escape Nazi capture, the girl who shelters them, her weary boyfriend, and the German engineer who hoped not to get involved with the Nazis' crimes against humanity.
'Home Fire' by Kamila Shamsie
After leaving London for an American offer of independence, Isma finds herself in constant worry over her twin siblings, fierce Aneeka and bitter Parvaiz, one of whom has disappeared.
'The Trick to Time' by Kit de Waal
Sixty-year-old Mona isn't like other dollmakers. The babies she creates are not toys, but healing items for families who have lost children in infancy, and every one takes her back to 1972, when she met William and they embarked on a life together — a life that would not last.
'Sing, Unburied, Sing' by Jesmyn Ward
When her children's father is released from prison, Leonie packs up the car and carries Jojo and Kayla north to the state penitentiary. One bad decision leads to another, however, and the trip soon turns into an unexpected reckoning with the past and the future.