Meet Charlotte Mendelson, author of the Women’s Prize 2022 longlisted novel The Exhibitionist.

A book The Guardian has called ‘a devastating, blackly comic portrait of middle-class dysfunction and a family with a monster at its centre’.

But what was the inspiration behind the novel? We grabbed a quick five minutes with each of the authors behind the longlisted books to ask that question and more…

Describe in three words how it feels to be longlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

An enormous honour.

What inspired you to write The Exhibitionist?

So many things: the studio of sculptor Barbara Hepworth; the idea of artists married to each other; people-watching and walking the streets of London; and my favourite subjects – adult children, toxic parents, monstrous egos, sexual longing, heartbreak, and the pressure which comes from not being the wife/mother/child you’re meant to be.

Can you describe The Exhibitionist in one sentence?

Art, sex, marriage, ego, unhappy families, queer desire, power and control.

The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson

The Exhibitionist

by Charlotte Mendelson

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Are there any locations that have a special connection for the book?

The Exhibitionist is set in London and Edinburgh; there are particular houses which parts of the novel are based on, but I can’t possibly say which.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

‘ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A LITTLE BOY HE WENT FOR A WALK A WITCH KNOCKED HIM OVER BUT HE ESCAPED THE END’ – it was printed in my primary school magazine. I was extremely proud.

Why did you become a writer?

I think I was born one; all that reading and terrible diary-writing, the childhood boredom, the youthful angst, made me. But the idea that I could dare to try to write fiction didn’t cross my mind until much later.

Have you read the Women’s Prize 2022 longlist?