Thursday, June 09, 2011

Winner of the 2011 Orange Prize

The 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction has been announced. Though ImageNations was supporting Aminatta Forna with her The Memory of Love to win, things went in the way of the Serbian/American Author  Téa Obreht with her debut novel The Tiger's Wife (Weindedfeld and Nicolson). At 25, Obreht becomes the youngest-ever author to win the prize.

In its sixteenth anniversary this year, the Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world. This comes timely as Naipaul in his ever caustic remarks has recently indicated that women authors, including Jane Austen, are inferior to him. Or so he was supposed to have said and this has generated a lot of heat in the literary blogging world, to which I have added my two pesewas, in the form of comments, here and there.

At a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, the 2011 Chair of Judges, Bettany Hughes, presented Obreht with the £30,000 and the 'Bessie', a limited edition bronze figurine. Is this 'Bessie' in honour of Bessie Head? The South African who became a Botswana citizen? If so then this figurine is worth winning.

According to the Chair of Juges, Bettany Hughes:
The Tiger's Wife is an exceptional book and Téa Obreht is a truly exciting new talent. Obreht's powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable. By skillfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of a chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms with a bittersweet vivacity. ... The book reminds us how easily we can slip into barbarity, but also of the breadth and depth of human love. Obreht celebrates storytelling and she helps us to remember that it is the stories that we tell about ourselves, and about others, that can make us who we are and the world what it is.
About the AuthorTéa Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia and raised in Belgrade. In 1992 her family moved to Cyprus and then to Egypt, where she learned to speak and read English, eventually immigrating to the United States in 1997. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Téa received her MFA in Fiction from the Creative Writing Program at Cornell University in 2009. Téa was featured in The New Yorker's Top 20 Writers under 40 Fiction Issue (June 2010) and at 24, was the youngest on the list. Her short story, The Laugh, debuted in The Atlantic fiction issue and was then chosen for The Best American Short Stories 2010, a further short story, The Sentry, featured in the Guardian Summer Fiction Issue. Her journalism has appeared in Harper's magazine and she lives in Ithaca, New York.

Read the full announcement here.

This wasn't my post of the day. For my post of the day, which is a review of Mia Couto's Every Man is a Race click here.


  1. Too bad Aminatta Forna didn't win. Obreht's books seems also interesting (apart from the fact that it is set in "an unnamed Balkan country" and apart from my personal dislike of this habit I think that identity, ethnicity and nationalism in the Balkans are so important that they can hardly be omitted). Ironic that to make the English-speaking world read a novel about war in Yugoslavia the author had to write in English instead of Serbian or Croatian!

  2. Also expected Aminatta to win though I thought all the shortlisted authors deserved the prize. Have read a number of reviews and looks like there mixed feelings for Obreht's win.

  3. @Stefania, yep... but then once it is a shortlist anyone could win. the problem with non-English books is that when not translated it tends to be overlooked.

  4. @Geosi, I am yet to read a review of the books. However, I believe if you have not problem seeing it on the shortlist you shouldn't have a problem once it has won. A shortlist means that they are of equal might and each could win. But then... well we all have our opinions.

  5. The main thing I cant get past is that she is so young! She makes me feel I need to do more with my life . . .

  6. @That's something positive you are taking. I am almost giving up on writing.

  7. I just swung by to say "hello", my friend. Got quite some traffic from your site this week. Keep up the good work!

  8. Thanks Gamelmag... lol. How far now?


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