TagOrange Prize for Fiction

The Women’s Prize and Granta’s Best Young Novelists

A couple of lists which have been announced in the last 24 hours. First, the shortlist for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction:

  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
  • May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
  • Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • NW by Zadie Smith

This list reminds me that I want to read Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Life After Life. I also find it interesting that, after a couple of years where the Orange Prize (as was) has been won by debuts, this year we have a list strongly weighted towards more established names.

But this is also a time for new names, because Granta have announced their fourth Best of Young British Novelists list:

Of course there are limitations to any exercise of this nature, and I don’t think there’s much mileage in treating the list as anything approaching ‘definitive’. Taken as a selection of names, though, I rather like this list. I’ve reviewed books by eight of the authors (linked above) and enjoyed them all. (I have read – but not reviewed – a ninth, whose book I didn’t care for; so be it.) I’m pleased to see women and non-white writers so strongly represented. And there are quite a few names on there whom I’ve been meaning to read. I think I might do a story-by-story review of the anthology, once I get hold of a copy. For now, congratulations to all!

Orange Prize longlist 2012

Congratulations to all writers who have been longlisted for this year’s Orange Prize for Fiction:

Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg (Quercus) – Swedish; 1st Novel

On the Floor by Aifric Campbell (Serpent’s Tail) – Irish; 3rd Novel

The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (The Clerkenwell Press) – American; 4th Novel

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue (Picador) – Irish; 7th Novel

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail) – Canadian; 2nd Novel

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (JonathanCape) – Irish; 5th Novel

The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki (Headline Review) – British; 5th Novel

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (Quercus) – American; 4th Novel

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (Bloomsbury) – British; 3rd Novel

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (Faber & Faber) – British; 2nd Novel

The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – British; 2nd Novel

The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy (JonathanCape) – British; 6th Novel

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker) – American; 1st Novel

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury) – American; 1st Novel

Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (Atlantic Books) – American; 7th Novel

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury) – American; 6th Novel

There but for the by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) – British; 5th Novel

The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard (Alma Books) – British; 2nd Novel

Tides of War by Stella Tillyard (Chatto & Windus) – British; 1st Novel

The Submission by Amy Waldman (William Heinemann) – American; 1st Novel

Orange Prize shortlist 2011

So, the shortlist of this year’s Orange Prize for Fiction has been announced, and it is:

Emma Dooghue, Room

Aminatta Forna, The Memory of Love

Emma Henderson, Grace Williams Says It Loud

Nicole Krauss, Great House

Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife

Kathleen Winter, Annabel

My reaction? Well, Room is the only one of these that I’ve read (indeed, the only book on the whole longlist that I’ve read), and I thought it was good, so fair play to it. The Tiger’s Wife was already on my radar, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it (which I will get around to doing soon, honest). The Memory of Love wasn’t on my radar — and, judging by its synopsis (the lives of an English psychologist, a surgeon, and a patient reflecting on his past, intersect in Sierra Leone), is not something I would instinctively pick up — but I loved Forna’s entry in the BBC National Short Story Award last year, so I may well take a look at it.

I don’t have any experience of the three other authors’ works, so I can only go by how they sound to me. Grace Williams Says It Loud is a  love story between two people who were placed in a psychiatric institution; I’ve come across a brief extract, which I thought  well-written. I know Krauss received great acclaim for The History of Love, but the idea of Great House (three lives linked by the same desk) strikes me as potentially too gimmicky, and the excerpt I’ve read didn’t especially grab me. Annabel concerns a hermaphrodite in remote Canada; I suspect the quality of the prose will be key to the success of this book, and the extract I found was promising, very precise in its detail.

The winner of the Orange Prize will be announced on Wednesday 8 June.

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