The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023 longlist has landed. Read: the list you’ve all been waiting for, comprised of the only sixteen books worth knowing ahead of summer. The prize itself is an institution; launched in 1996 – before which, the shortlist of a major prize was an all-male line up – it champions women writers on a global stage, celebrating the very best writing by women for everyone. You may wonder why a prize like this is still necessary, with a more diverse literary landscape than ever before, but there is still (sadly) a huge disparity in publishing. Enter: the Women’s Prize, which goes some way in helping to rectify every year. Oh, and watch this space: the institution are now looking to launch a non-fiction prize, as female and diverse writers are even less represented in this space and need their voices to be amplified.
This year’s longlist might just be its best one yet. While including stunning new books from previous winners Barbara Kingsolver and Maggie O’Farrell, the list showcases an eclectic range of novels from no less than nine debut authors of full-length fiction, which is certainly something to be celebrated. Stand out books include Sheena Patel’s excoriating I’m A Fan, the surreal Children of Paradise by Camilla Grudova, Natalie Haynes’ epic Stone Blind and the utterly unique Homesick by Jennifer Croft. Though quite frankly, a night in with any of these would be perfection.
The books span across the world, from Renaissance Italy, rural India, Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and opioid-infested Virginia through to an imaginary kingdom ruled by animals and the magic and mystery of life underwater. The writers themselves are from all over the globe; seven are British, five are American, one Canadian, one Zimbabwean/American and one French.
Louise Minchin, Bella Mackie, Rachel Joyce, Irenosen Okojie and Tulip Siddiq are this year’s panel and truth to be told, we @thebibliofilles don’t envy them one bit — they are going to have a seriously tough job whittling this year’s list down even further. There are so many titles here that we’ve loved, and we know you will too.