The Women’s Prize for Fiction announces 2020 longlist

The longlist for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced at midnight GMT on March 3rd, with many avid UK booklovers staying up in anticipation of the announcement. Now in its 25th year, the prize was previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction and until recently was the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction. It is now funded by a group of sponsors.

Awarded annually to the best work of fiction written in English by a woman from anywhere around the world, the prize rivals the Booker in prestige. Previous winners include literary heavyweights such as Tea Obrecht, Rose Tremain, Barbara Kingsolver, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Eimear McBride, Madeline Miller, Ali Smith and more.

This year’s longlist includes previous winner Ann Patchett (for Bel Canto in 2002) and Bernadine Evaristo‘s Booker Prize winning Girl, Woman, Other. Evaristo’s shared Booker winner Margaret Atwood and her book The Testaments are absent from this year’s Women’s Prize Longlist.

The 2020 panel of judges was chaired by Martha Lane Fox (founder and chair of doteveryone.org.uk) and includes writer, critic, broadcaster and comedian Viv Groskop, writer Scarlett Curtis, novelist Paula Hawkins and entrepreneur and business strategist Melanie Eusebe.

Of the 2020 list, Fox has said:

“Ahead of the longlist meeting I was anxious that the negotiations between judges might be as arduous as Brexit, but it was an absolute delight to pick our final 16 books. Entries for the Prize’s 25th year have been spectacular and we revelled in the variety, depth, humanity and joy of the writing – we hope everyone else will too.”

The longlist of 16 novels is as follows:

  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Girl by Edna O’ Brien
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

The shortlist will be announced on the 22nd of April and the winner revealed on June 3rd.

The winner will receive a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze figure named ‘Bessie’, created by the artist Grizel Niven. Both the prize money and the figure are anonymously endowed.

On top of this year’s award, the Women’s Prize is also running a celebration of its 25 year history, putting together a program of reading related activities, podcasts and more. Encouraging readers to rediscover the past 24 winners, an overall favourite will be decided by a Twitter vote this November. Follow the hashtag #ReadingWomen for more.

For more information, head to the Women’s Prize website.

Emily Paull

Emily Paull is a former bookseller and a future librarian. Her debut book, Well-Behaved Women, was released by Margaret River Press in 2019.

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