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Author / Writer Spotlight, Reflection

The Weekend Before Orange Prize Winner 2011 Announcement

The Orange Prize Winner 2011 will be announced this Wednesday on the 8th June 2011.

For past years, I have not been ardent in pursuing and reading all the shortlists. I chose instead to read the prize winner after the announcement is made. This year, however, I have a change of tune. I started reading the shortlists 2 weeks ago.

To date I have read and reviewed 3 out of the 6, they are:

I tried to read The Memory of Love and I didn’t get very far, sensing that a book of such length (445 pages with small fonts and small spacing! :() may drag me back to my reading slump, I gave up. I am in the middle of The Tiger’s Wife and 50 pages on I like it so far, then suddenly last night I came to the bit when the deathless man jumped out of the coffin with two bullets lodged at the back of his brain, asking for a glass of water… and then I thought, oh no, oh no..  don’t go there, I can’t take this, I can’t take this… and I have given up trying to read it. It’s a shame really because Obreht writes compellingly and beautifully. Grace Williams says it loud doesn’t call out to me either.

Great House seems to be the sort of books that would win the Man Booker or Pulitzer Prizes but I’m not sure if it would win the Orange Prize. Many orange prize winners’ books have high readability and appeal to a wider audience, not just literary ones. For this reason, I refrain to say this one will win. I didn’t like Room.

I feel this year’s shortlist is better than the past two years. What I think doesn’t really matter but I like to see Annabel win just for the sheer readability, a great sense of place and how deeply affected the writing and characters are. Each and every one is a strong contender and any one of them could win. I don’t envy the judges for having to make such a tough decision.

So here’s a picture of my Orange prize shortlists pile from the library, with The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives as the only longlist I wish to read. I am slightly regreting for not getting through the whole lot of the shortlists earlier….

Today I also brought home The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht and A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan which I think I am going to love the latter.

Now in its sixteenth year, the Orange Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman, celebrating excellence, innovation and accessibility and the best of outstanding international fiction in women’s writing.

The judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 are (picture from Left to Right):

  • Tracy Chevalier, Novelist
  • Liz Calder, founder-director of Bloomsbury Publishing and Full Circle Editions
  • Bettany Hughes, (Chair), Broadcaster, Author and Historian
  • Helen Lederer, Actress and Writer
  • Susanna Reid, Journalist and Broadcaster
As much as I advocate that everyone should read the shortlists of book prizes (which I found could be a better read than the prize winner in some years!), so much book and so little time that only the books that came out top and won the prize are given the priority…. which is a shame really, but…
What do you think? Do you tend to read the prize winner over the shortlist? or you don’t care? Who is your favourite to win? Lets take a vote.
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About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.

Discussion

23 thoughts on “The Weekend Before Orange Prize Winner 2011 Announcement

  1. I wanted to do this reading the shortlisted titles, but one of them had a HUGE waiting list at the library, another was not even available, and the third hasn’t been released here. Bummer! I’m still hoping to get to all of them before the year is up. I can’t wait to find out who the winner will be!

    Posted by Aths | June 5, 2011, 2:39 am
    • Aths, I think my library works close to your pace. I didn’t see all the shortlists until it was about 2 weeks before the announcement. I hope you get to finish the shortlist this year! I look forward to reading them. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | June 5, 2011, 9:48 am
  2. It’s amazing how almost no one has read Grace Williams (at least, on the blogs that I follow) while the other books have had so much buzz. I haven’t read any of them I must say.

    I can forget about the library having them – they have a decent English section but can’t buy all the new books and these probably haven’t been translated into Dutch (our main section). I’m sure they will be in the library as soon as a translation is available.

    So I would have to buy them myself – well, I haven’t felt particularly inspired to pick them up. Annabel is actually the book I want to read most of this set but otherwise, I’m not that bothered.

    Posted by Leeswammes | June 5, 2011, 7:15 am
    • Judith,
      It’s tough to be able to read all of them before the announcement isn’t it? Some publication in America takes awhile for it to come over to the UK. Reading the books after the announcement seems to be the most sensible thing really. I hope you get a copy of Annabel. I look forward to hear what you think about it. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | June 5, 2011, 9:51 am
  3. I keep meaning to read a short list of either the Orange or the booker but I always ending up flaking out or I find I haven the time. Ah one day!

    Posted by Jessica | June 5, 2011, 9:24 am
    • Jessica, it’s quite fun to read it before the announcement. I’ll see if I get the chance to do the same for Man Booker Prize this October. Fingers crossed the library stock most of them before that! Having time is the key, especially not with little children around. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | June 5, 2011, 9:53 am
  4. I haven’t read any of these but once a book has won I know it’ll start piling up in the library 😉 I rarely by a new book so I only ever read these after the announcement of the winner.

    These appear to be all quite interesting, so I don’t envy the judges their decision!

    Posted by Bina | June 5, 2011, 1:25 pm
  5. I see you have some liking for Kathleen’s Annabel. So sorry you gave up on Aminatta’s The Memory of Love. I am keen to know who wins this year. Congrats on reading many of the shortlists.

    Posted by Geosi | June 6, 2011, 6:21 pm
    • Geosi,
      Thanks. It was hard work. I like to read The Memory of Love, perhaps in a better state of mind, obviously not for the reason to beat the announcement deadlines. I am curious to read her first book The Devil that dance on waters or Ancestors Stone, something less chunky. I can’t take chunksters now.

      Posted by JoV | June 6, 2011, 7:23 pm
  6. Very interesting! I agree that Annabel was very readable, but I didn’t think it had that special spark and I’d be very surprised to see it win. I thought that Great House was a lot harder to read than Memory of Love – I think that you might like it if you read it at another point. I look forward to seeing which book those judges end up choosing. 🙂

    Posted by Jackie (Farm Lane Books) | June 6, 2011, 9:28 pm
    • Jackie, you are right. I may like Memory of Love on another point in time. I think it is between those 3 that we have mentioned. This is the first year I ever feel so much trepidations about Orange Prize announcement!!! 🙂

      Posted by JoV | June 6, 2011, 10:16 pm
  7. I feel this is a bland orange list ,I m not huge orange fan ,I like prize short lists and longlist and have read numbers from IFFP and booker over the years I feel closer to them two prizes ,I ve read one from shortlist tigers wife a good debut ,I feel it be great house that wins as it seems strongest book on list from reviews I ve read ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | June 7, 2011, 10:40 am
    • Stu, I use to be a non-orange fans too. Somehow this year sounds different. Then again it’s books written by women and then we ask ourselves an interesting questions whether men actually “like” or “prefer” to read books written by women? That’s a discussion topic for another day. 😉

      Posted by JoV | June 7, 2011, 4:02 pm
      • I tend to read more male than female but have made effort to fit more femlae writers in last year or so as I d read very few year before ,I felt this was a more female list of women writers if you know what I mean ,alll the best stu

        Posted by winstonsdad | June 8, 2011, 9:05 pm
  8. Congratulations on reading so many from the shortlist/longlist! As you know I’m kinda slogging through my reading now (it’s really me, nothing wrong with the books) so I don’t dream to read even a few of them. But who knows I might pick them up in the next years or so lol. On a side note I intend to read one of Jonathan Safran Foer’s books before I pick another Krauss’s as I’ve been told I would love his as much if I love hers (they’re husband and wife and were matched up by the publishers or someone because people thought they write in similar style). Curious I am!

    Posted by dioni | June 8, 2011, 10:26 pm
  9. No, not Krauss please heh.

    Yes, I read the winner from you website. Gosh. You are really into reading eh? I admire your passion. How do you manage to pick books that have nomination potential for reading?!?! I can never do that hahaha.

    Posted by Wilfrid Wong | June 20, 2011, 12:13 am
    • Wilfrid,
      Thanks! I didn’t really pick books which has potential for nomination, I just read all the shortlists after the announcement! 🙂 My library do a feature, albeit a bit too late, 2 weeks before the Orange Prize winner announcement. This is the first time I’m doing this but it does give you a great sense of anticipation. I might do it for Man Booker Prize this year, we’ll see, Man booker prize shortlists are sometime quite hard going.

      Posted by JoV | June 21, 2011, 7:00 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Mockingjay
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City


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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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