Women’s Prize 2023: Longlist Predictions vs. Wishes

I’ve been working on a list of novels eligible for this year’s Women’s Prize since … this time last year. Unusual for me to be so prepared! It shows how invested I’ve become in this prize over the years. For instance, last year my book club was part of an official shadowing scheme, which was great fun.

We’re now less than a month out from the longlist, which will be announced on 7 March. Like last year, I’ve separated my predictions from a wish list; two titles overlap. Here’s a reminder of the parameters, taken from the website:

“Any woman writing in English – whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter – is eligible. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between 1 April in the year the Prize calls for entries, and 31 March the following year, when the Prize is announced. … The Prize only accepts novels entered by publishers, who may each submit a maximum of two titles per imprint, depending on size, and one title for imprints with a list of ten fiction titles or fewer published in a year. Previously shortlisted and winning authors are given a ‘free pass’.”

This year I dutifully kept tabs on publisher quotas as I compiled my lists. I also attempted to bear in mind the interests of this year’s judges (also from the website): “Chair of Judges, author and journalist Louise Minchin, is joined by award-winning novelist Rachel Joyce; author, journalist and podcaster Irenosen Okojie; bestselling author and journalist Bella Mackie and MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq.”



A Spell of Good Things, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton

Joan, Katherine J. Chen

Maame, Jessica George

Really Good, Actually, Monica Heisey

Trespasses, Louise Kennedy

The Night Ship, Jess Kidd (my review)

Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver (my review)

Our Missing Hearts, Celeste Ng (my review)

The Marriage Portrait, Maggie O’Farrell

I’m a Fan, Sheena Patel

Elektra, Jennifer Saint

Best of Friends, Kamila Shamsie

River Sing Me Home, Eleanor Shearer

Lucy by the Sea, Elizabeth Strout – currently reading

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin (my review)


Wish List

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, Angie Cruz

The Weather Woman, Sally Gardner (my review)

Maame, Jessica George

The Great Reclamation, Rachel Heng

Bad Cree, Jessica Johns

I Have Some Questions for You, Rebecca Makkai – currently reading

Sea of Tranquillity, Emily St. John Mandel (my review)

The Hero of This Book, Elizabeth McCracken (my review)

Nightcrawling, Leila Mottley (my review)

We All Want Impossible Things, Catherine Newman – currently reading

Everything the Light Touches, Janice Pariat (my review)

Camp Zero, Michelle Min Sterling – review pending for Shelf Awareness

Briefly, A Delicious Life, Nell Stevens (my review)

This Time Tomorrow, Emma Straub (my review)

Fight Night, Miriam Toews – currently reading

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin (my review)

Of course, even if I’m lucky, I’ll still only get a few right across these two lists, and I’ll be kicking myself over the ones I considered but didn’t include, and marvelling at all the ones I’ve never heard of…

What would you like to see on the longlist?


~BREAKING NEWS: There are plans afoot to start a Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction. Now seeking funding to start in 2024. More details here.~


(A further 99 eligible novels that were on my radar but didn’t make the cut:)


Hester, Laurie Lico Albanese

Rose and the Burma Sky, Rosanna Amaka

Milk Teeth, Jessica Andrews

Clara & Olivia, Lucy Ashe

Wet Paint, Chloë Ashby

Shrines of Gaiety, Kate Atkinson

Honey & Spice, Bolu Babalola

Hell Bent, Leigh Bardugo

Either/Or, Elif Batuman

Girls They Write Songs About, Carlene Bauer

seven steeples, Sara Baume

The Witches of Vardo, Anya Bergman

Shadow Girls, Carol Birch

Permission, Jo Bloom

Horse, Geraldine Brooks

Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo

Mother’s Day, Abigail Burdess

Instructions for the Working Day, Joanna Campbell

People Person, Candice Carty-Williams

Disorientation, Elaine Hsieh Chou

The Book of Eve, Meg Clothier

Cult Classic, Sloane Crosley

The Things We Do to Our Friends, Heather Darwent

The Bewitching, Jill Dawson

Common Decency, Susannah Dickey

Theatre of Marvels, L.M. Dillsworth

Haven, Emma Donoghue

History Keeps Me Awake at Night, Christy Edwall

The Candy House, Jennifer Egan

Dazzling, Chikodili Emelumadu

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, Akwaeke Emezi

there are more things, Yara Rodrigues Fowler

Factory Girls, Michelle Gallen

Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus

The Illuminated, Anindita Ghose

Your Driver Is Waiting, Priya Guns

The Rabbit Hutch, Tess Gunty

The Dance Tree, Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Weyward, Emilia Hart

Other People Manage, Ellen Hawley

Stone Blind, Natalie Haynes

The Cloisters, Katy Hays

Motherthing, Ainslie Hogarth

The Unfolding, A.M. Homes

The White Rock, Anna Hope

They’re Going to Love You, Meg Howrey

Housebreaking, Colleen Hubbard

Vladimir, Julia May Jonas

This Is Gonna End in Tears, Liza Klaussmann

The Applicant, Nazli Koca

Babel, R.F. Kuang

Yerba Buena, Nina Lacour

The Swimmers, Chloe Lane

The Book of Goose, Yiyun Li

Amazing Grace Adams, Fran Littlewood

All the Little Bird Hearts, Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

Now She Is Witch, Kirsty Logan

The Chosen, Elizabeth Lowry

The Home Scar, Kathleen MacMahon

Very Cold People, Sarah Manguso

All This Could Be Different, Sarah Thankam Mathews

Becky, Sarah May

The Dog of the North, Elizabeth McKenzie

Dinosaurs, Lydia Millet

Young Women, Jessica Moor

The Garnett Girls, Georgina Moore

Black Butterflies, Priscilla Morris

Lapvona, Ottessa Moshfegh

Someone Else’s Shoes, Jojo Moyes

The Men, Sandra Newman

True Biz, Sara Nović

Babysitter, Joyce Carol Oates

Tomorrow I Become a Woman, Aiwanose Odafen

Things They Lost, Okwiri Oduor

The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts, Soraya Palmer

The Things that We Lost, Jyoti Patel

Still Water, Rebecca Pert

Stargazer, Laurie Petrou

Ruth & Pen, Emilie Pine

Delphi, Clare Pollard

The Whalebone Theatre, Joanna Quinn

The Poet, Louisa Reid

Carrie Soto Is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Kick the Latch, Kathryn Scanlan

Blue Hour, Sarah Schmidt

After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz

Signal Fires, Dani Shapiro

A Dangerous Business, Jane Smiley

Companion Piece, Ali Smith

Memphis, Tara M. Stringfellow

Flight, Lynn Steger Strong

Brutes, Dizz Tate

Madwoman, Louisa Treger

I Laugh Me Broken, Bridget van der Zijpp

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, Rebecca Wait

The Schoolhouse, Sophie Ward

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm, Laura Warrell

The Odyssey, Lara Williams

A Complicated Matter, Anne Youngson

Avalon, Nell Zink

53 responses

  1. Goodness. I haven’t read anything like all of these. Ones that I have read and wouldn’t have put on the list include Nightcrawling and The Night Ship, though I did enjoy both. Happy to see both Joan and (inevitably) the Marriage Portrait there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve only read a handful myself (and not even all of my ‘wishes’). It’s just a matter of keeping my eyes and ears open for what’s been making a splash and what seem like the kind of books the Prize likes to recognise. Have you read Joan? I’m keen but haven’t been able to find it.


      1. I got it from the library the second it appeared(the benefits of volunteering!). I see I gave it 4* on Goodreads, and the last few words of my review are ‘ …attention to pictorial and emotional detail, this tale carries you along and gives a convincing picture of France under often terrifying English rule at the time. It’s worth reading for that alone.’

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sounds fantastic! Alas, my library doesn’t own it. If it is indeed longlisted, they’ll buy it, so fingers crossed.


  2. Your wishes and predictions are so different! My wishes are only in my head for now but a few from both your lists are likely to appear on mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My favourites rarely make it through. I’ve tried to be realistic about the kinds of authors and books that tend to be nominated, whether they appeal to me or not. Last year I was lucky to get 3 right from across my lists!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. And I keep finding books I didn’t include: Big Swiss by Jen Beagin, The Sharing Economy by Sophie Berrebi, My Nemesis by Charmaine Craig, Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks, Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs, Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery, The Silence Project by Carole Hailey, Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh, On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel, Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin…


  4. It will be interesting to see the result. I’m in the middle of Demon Copperhead, and I liked The Weather Woman too, but I have not read any of the others. Yes to a nonfiction prize!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How are you enjoying Demon Copperhead?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really want to like Celeste Ng’s work (she’s a Cleveland native, like me), but I read Little Fires and was unimpressed, found all the characters unlikeable and not in an interesting/challenging way. If this latest one doesn’t measure up, I think I’ll pass. I will be interested to hear what you think of the Rebecca Makkai. I just started following her Substack (I could spend my whole day on there!) and she’s very smart and funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed Ng’s first two novels, especially Little Fires, but this one was too obvious. I made it one of my predictions because the WP likes timely themes (here: state oppression, censorship, racial violence, children being separated from their parents) in novels by BIPOC.

      I’ve loved a couple of Makkai’s previous novels. I have literally only read the first two pages of her new one so far, but Laura’s review reinforced my high expectations: https://drlauratisdall.wordpress.com/2023/02/06/metoo-and-metoo-i-have-some-questions-for-you-by-rebecca-makkai/

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh wow, yes, great review. On my list!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow, that’s a lot of work, well done on pulling it all together!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a fun bookish procrastination activity for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I look at this post and I think, “Sigh, so many books I want to get to!” I need to clone myself or something to get all the desired reading in. I just selected Camp Zero for our branch as one of the 30 monthly titles I get to choose. The Great Reclamation and Maame also look so good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, you have the power 😉 Camp Zero is a great one for fans of Station Eleven. I have Maame on reserve through the library.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Library ordering committees select the vast majority of our books but those 30 are a precious opportunity for me. It’s so challenging because I have to balance what I think our regular patrons will want with trying to get a little bit of everything and also wanting to support new and more diverse voices. Camp Zero sounds great. I wanted to get The Great Reclamation too this time but it didn’t make the cut.


  9. Thanks for sharing! I always love to read people’s Women’s Prize predictions – such a fun time of year. I loved Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow so would love to see it make the list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting! I feel like it’s a shoo-in, but that probably means I’ll be wrong.


  10. I’ll be so interested to see what makes it! Would be shocked if the Zevin didn’t…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, but then again, I don’t have a great track record for predicting the nominees or eventual winner…


      1. It’s always so dependent on the judges in any given year!


      2. I 100% think they might pass over the Zevin. I absolutely adored it, as you know, but it doesn’t scream Women’s Prize to me. Hope I am wrong!


      3. Ooh, do you reckon? That would be a travesty. (Though we know the WP is not above travesties.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I just don’t trust them any more! Fingers crossed though 🤞

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’m sure we’ll have some outrageous omissions and inclusions!


  11. Predictably I haven’t read any of these, though I have Trespasses on my kindle. I am always fascinated however to find out what is on the list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan (A life in books) rates it highly. A few of these ideas came primarily from her reviews. How are you doing with your Women’s Prize reading project?


      1. Ha, well I think that has fallen by the wayside. I still have my page for it on my blog, but it is very out of date.


  12. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find Trespasses on the list – a remarkable novel. The Eleanor Catton hasn’t been published yet has it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Catton comes out in early March — books published by the 31st are eligible.


  13. I really enjoy this type post! My thoughts: Maame, reviewing Monday, possible. A few others include Maggie O’Farell and Barbara Kingsolver are on my TBA still

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Did you enjoy Maame? I’ve been looking forward to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. OOOOO just added a TON. Thank you for this pos t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, that’s what I like to hear! 🙂


  15. Such a great post, Rebecca! I think your predictions are very good but sadly they’ve reminded me why I don’t want to follow the WP this year – such an unexciting list! I much prefer your wishlist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s always an internal struggle between what I think they should recognise … and what they probably will. I agree, I have little interest in reading all but a couple of my predictions. We’ll see if the longlist announcement puts any novels on my TBR. Would you consider reading a few new-to-you titles at that point if they appeal?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, I’d read anything the Prize brings to my attention if it sounds good! Just finished A Spell of Good Things BTW and I agree, it’s a shoo-in.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. You’ve been doing a lot of reading to have such a long predictions and wish lists. I haven’t read a fraction of those books, although I have read a few and a few more are in my stack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not read a fraction of them either 🙂 I kept an ongoing list of UK releases of novels by women from the eligibility period and made my selections from that. Most of my ‘wishes’ are books I’ve read or plan to read, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow what a fantastic list you’ve curated!! So many I hope to see on the long list and hope to read! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. So great to see the list of 99 extras, I never know what’s on the nominations, thank you for adding that.

    I would love to see Seven Steeples by Sara Baume and Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor make the cut, I have read Catton’s cross -genre novel Birnam Wood but wasn’t wowed by it. It will be interesting to see which way the judges go, with the familiar names versus the new. Looking forward to the announcement!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always difficult to strike a balance between bestsellers and literary titles; debut authors and repeat appearances. No doubt I’ll kick myself over what I should have included and didn’t. I have been hearing mixed things about Birnam Wood.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. […] It’s timely, daring, intelligent, enthralling storytelling. Susan (review here) and I are both hoping to see this make the Women’s Prize longlist next […]


  20. There’s very little overlap between your two lists. I like your wishlist best because it includes some Canadian authors! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true, 3 of them! Even though I haven’t read Fight Night yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Such a good group of guesses with several I’m hoping to see on there too! And so interesting the distinctions between your predictions and wish list.
    Kingsolver and Zevin’s novels are favourites so I really hope they get some more attention (even though there is already a lot of love for both of them amongst readers.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Eric! My copy of Birnam Wood just arrived today and I’ll have to see what I think — maybe had I read it earlier it would have been a wish as well. I think Kingsolver has a very good chance of being long- and shortlisted as her books have been WP favourites before (and so of course she gets a ‘free pass’ for the publisher submissions).


      1. Funnily enough, after reading Birnam Wood I removed it from my wish list and my predictions list. I’m very curious to hear what you think of it!


  22. […] evening the Women’s Prize longlist was announced.** Of my predictions, 4 were correct, which is pretty good going for me. I got none of my personal wishes, however. Of […]


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