The Orange Prize was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote international fiction by women to readers worldwide and is awarded for the best novel, the only criteria being that it must be written in English. This year’s winner will receive £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.
This year’s jury chaired by Joanna Trollope(Chair), included writer, Lisa Appignanesi, writer, novelist and broadcaster, Victoria Derbyshire, journalist and broadcaster, Natalie Haynes, writer and broadcaster, Natasha Kaplinsky, broadcaster. Their choices offer an inspiring long list that showcases the incredible breath of genres, styles and subjects
One of the most remarkable things about this list is that there are five first time novelists on it
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by ErinMorgenstern has been on many best sellers lists and captures the sheer magic of the circus world with strange but endearing characters. No doubt this book will be a book club favorite for years to come.
THE SONG OF ACHILLESby Madeline Miller has also caught attention of many with it originality and boundless imagination which is not an easy feat to achieve when one is using a subject of Trojan War.
ISLAND OF WINGS by Karin Altenberg from Sweden will be probably one of the least known books on this list. The story of this remarkable novel is set on the remote and mysterious Scottish island of St. Kilda where the bleakness and beauty of the landscape is a perfect background to an exploration of faith and love.
TIDES OF WAR by Stella Tillyard has already named one of the top 10 books of 2011 by The Library Journal. Interestingly, this is another ambitious historical novel created on the huge canvas of Regency England and Spain during the Peninsular War (1812-15). This story of love and betrayal is contrasted not so much with the landscape but with the unimaginable brutality and horrors of the war that the two main characters witness.
THE SUBMISSION by Amy Waldman also received a lot of praise particularly in USA where it has been recognized by Entertainment Weekly’s as Favorite Novel of 2011 Esquire’s 2011 Book of the Year A New York Times Notable Book for 2011, A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011, and one of NPR’s 10 Best Novels of 2011. This title has also generated a lot of the debate since its subject is the September 11th memorial. The juror’s of the contest discover that the winner of the competition for the design is an American Muslim…. Now try to imagine where that story goes from here ….
The rest of the 15 books are mix of very diverse works by well established authors many of them already prize winners and major best sellers. The long list has something for almost every kind of reader – historical fiction, contemporary issues, books that will inspire you, amaze you and keep you reading well into the night so check them all out at TheReadingRoom.com
The shortlist of five books will be announced on April 17th 2012 followed by the announcement of the winner on the 30th of May 2012.
Good luck to all the nominees and thanks go to the jurors that have a very difficult task of choosing just one novel from this remarkable list: