The longlist for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction was released last Wednesday. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Orange Prize, it’s the UK’s prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. The award can be presented to a female author of any nationality for the best eligible full-length novel written in the English language. The novel entries must be published for the first time in the United Kingdom the year prior to the awarded Prize (rules for entry).
This year’s longlist nominees include American contenders Jennifer Egan, Samantha Hunt, Nicole Krauss, Wendy Law-Yone, Tea Obreht (Serbian/American), Karen Russell, and Julie Orringer (a former creative writing teacher at the University of Michigan).
Where does NLR sit with this year’s nominees? Well, the Revue has a lot of reading left to do. While I enjoyed Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, I found it difficult to push as a solid cover-to-cover recommendation. But before the ax falls, I intend to read Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife (which is generating big nods), Egan’s NBCC award winner A Visit From the Goon Squad, and jumping the Canadian border to read author Kathleen Winter’s literary gender-bender Annabel.
This year’s Orange Prize seems to be more significant than ever in light of the VIDA Count of 2010. With the noted discrepancies between male and female writers, many have opined on the merits of women in literature, the purported Literary Glass Ceiling, and the very Orange Prize itself.
Now in its sixteenth year, the Orange Prize celebrates “excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world.”* Outside of increased book sales and prestige, the winner of the award receives thirty-thousand-pounds (nearly forty-four thousand dollars) and a limited edition bronze sculpture known as a ‘Bessie’ created and donated by artist Grizel Niven. The prize is sponsored by Orange which is a UK mobile network operator and Internet provider.
The Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist will be announced on April 12, 2011 and the actual winner will be announced sometime in June. In past years American authors such as Zadie Smith, Marilynne Robinson, and Ann Patchett have taken home the Orange Prize. Author Barbara Kingsolver won the Prize last year for her novel, The Lacuna.
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-Post by Megan Shaffer
*Information taken from the official Orang Prize for Fiction site
-You can link here for more information on the history, rules, guidelines, and judges of the Orange Prize for Fiction.
-Try The National’s article, Books Firing on All Cylinders: Orange Longlist Shows Power of Women Writers