Bernardine Evaristo’s novel, Girl, Woman, Other, a book hailed as “exuberant,” “inventive,” “courageous” and “compulsively readable,” has been long-listed for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The novel follows the story of 12 characters, most of whom are Black British women of different backgrounds, each of them taking up a chapter that sees their stories gently overlap.
Last year, Girl, Woman, Other jointly won the Booker with Margaret Atwood’s The Testament, and this recent nomination for Women’s Prize comes at the back of another nomination for the Australian Book Industry Awards. Evaristo is the only African on this year’s Women’s Prize longlist, unlike last year whose longlist saw the inclusion of three African authors and two for the shortlist.
The longlist this year fields 16 strong contenders, including three Booker Prize winners, prompting the judges to describe it as “an extraordinary year.”
“We had the most extraordinary list of submissions,” said judge Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train. “I think it is unusual to have a year with quite so many heavy hitters publishing.”
Two-time Booker Prize winner, Hillary Mantel, made the list with her novel The Mirror and the Light, the conclusion to her Wolf Hall trilogy. Evaristo is another Booker winner on the list, and Anne Enright whose novel Actress follows a daughter exploring her famous mother’s breakdown.
Also on the longlist are former Women’s prize winner Ann Patchett, whose novel The Dutch House follows two siblings whose stepmother threw out of their childhood home; Edna O’Brien’s Girl, a novel that depicts the life of a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram; Jenny Offill’s Weather, an exploration of climate anxiety; Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone, an examination of the effect of teenage pregnancy on a family. Maggie O’Farrell’s much-anticipated novel Hamnet, though not published until later this month, also made the longlist. The story is an imagination of Shakespeare’s family and the passing of his son at the age of 11.
New faces in contention for the Women’s Prize this year include Candice Carty-Williams for her debut Queenie; Claire Lombardo for The Most Fun We Ever Had; Taffy Brodesser-Akner for her debut Fleishman Is in Trouble; Natalie Haynes for her book A Thousand Ships, Deepa Anappara for her debut Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line; Angie Cruz for her novel Dominicana; Luan Goldie for her debut Nightingale Point, and Jing-Jing Lee for her first novel How We Disappeared.
The Shortlist will be announced on 22 April and the winner on 3 June. The winner will receive an anonymously endowed cheque for £30,000.