Bookish Chatter | Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022

This marks two bookish posts in a row from me but I was too excited to pass up the opportunity to talk about this year’s Women’s Prize short list one more time. The winner will be chosen later today and I’ll be near my phone, waiting for my Discord alerts to light up when the announcement is made.

In case the Women’s Prize for Fiction is new to you, here’s a little background. It’s only had that title for a few years; you might have heard about it as The Orange Prize or the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. It is awarded to a female writer and “celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.” (About the Women’s Prize)

You can find the long and short lists here. And here is a list of previous winners.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s move on to this year’s short list! Some of the writing below is copied from my original post when the list was first announced, but I’ve updated it a bit to make it more current. I read 5/6 of the short listed titles. I tried to read them all, but there was one that just didn’t land right with me so I gave up on it. Here they are:

🔲 Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead – I tried reading this several times – both in print and on audio. I could never get much further than page 80 or so. I don’t know why, but this one just didn’t grab me. But don’t let my opinion stop you from picking it up because so many people read and LOVED it.

✔️ The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak – I really enjoyed this one when I read it in early April and here’s my blog post about it. It’s been a couple of months since I finished it and have to say — it’s not one that I think about too much, so I don’t think it had much of an impact on me.

✔️ Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason – I just finished this on Monday night and haven’t even written a blog post about it. I can’t say how I’ll feel about it long-term since I finished it so recently, but I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t put it down! It was funny, moving, and hopeful. More about this one next week, I hope.

✔️ The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini – I read this one back in March and here’s my blog post about it. I was impressed by the author’s ability to teach the reader how to be a good friend to someone experiencing domestic and/or sexual abuse. I still think about this book as a good example of helping people through really difficult situations. It was hard to read for a variety of reasons (trigger warnings galore) but worth it in the end.

✔️ The Sentence by Louise Erdrich – I read this one when it was published in the US last December and here’s my blog post about it. You all know that I love Louise Erdrich and this book, while not a part of the Love Medicine series, was wonderful. Funny, relatable, and heart-warming. I would be very happy if Louise Erdrich won the prize this year.

✔️ The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki – I read and adored this one in 2021 and am the ultimate Ruth Ozeki fangirl. This is my top pick and I hope to reread it soon. I wrote a One Little Word post about it in December and it made its way into my 2021 Bookish Highlights. And of course — I still think about it often. Ozeki has made such an impact on my life since I started reading her books and I’m still hoping to finish up her backlist this year.


Do you have a prediction for the winner? Are you disappointed that a particular book didn’t make the short list? Have you read any of the previous winners? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I can’t wait to check back in on Friday so that we can discuss the winner. Until then — take good care.

16 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022

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    1. I KNOW!! I was so excited when the winner was announced. I sighed about it all afternoon (and evening. and this morning!). I hate to be disparaging about any book but I am so relieved that Great Circle didn’t win. Phew!

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  1. Although Bad Actors meanders a bit, it is still almost as compelling a read as Slow Horses. Mind you, that’s not surprising: on Amazon, Mick Herron is described as “The John Le Carré of our generation” and it’s all to do with bad actors and slow horses. Who would have thought le Carré might be associated with “any generation”! In terms of acclaimed spy novels, Herron’s Slough House series has definitely made him Top Of The Pops in terms of anti-Bond writers. For Len Deighton devotees that ends a long and victorious reign at number one.

    Raw noir espionage of the Slough House quality is rare, whether or not with occasional splashes of sardonic hilarity. Gary Oldman’s performance in Slow Horses has given the Slough House series the leg up the charts it deserved. Will Jackson Lamb become the next Bond? It would be a rich paradox if he became an established anti-Bond brand ambassador. Maybe Lamb should change his name to Happy Jack or Pinball Wizard or even Harry Jack. After all, Harry worked for Palmer as might Edward Burlington for Bill Fairclough in another noir but factual spy series, The Burlington Files.

    Of course, espionage aficionados should know that both The Slough House and Burlington Files series were rejected by risk averse publishers who didn’t think espionage existed unless it was fictional and created by Ian Fleming or David Cornwell. However, they probably didn’t know that Fairclough once drummed with Keith Moon in their generation in the seventies.

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