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