Orange Prize Shortlist

From the longlist of 20 books, today a shortlist of five has been announced, for the 17th annual Orange Prize for women’s writing.

Set up to acknowledge and celebrate women’s contribution to storytelling the Award celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world. It is awarded to a novel written by a woman in the English language.

Last year the award was won by Téa Obreht for The Tiger’s Wife and previous winners have included Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna, Andrea Levy’s A Small Island and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Half of a Yellow Sun, which is currently being made into a film.

This year the shortlist includes:

Esi Edugyan                 ‘Half Blood Blues’           Canadian      2nd Novel

Anne Enright               ‘The Forgotten’                Irish             5th Novel

Georgina Harding      ‘Painter of Silence’             British         3rd Novel

Madeline Miller         ‘The Song of Achilles’         American      1st Novel

Cynthia Ozick              ‘Foreign Bodies’              American      7th Novel

Ann Patchett              ‘State of Wonder’             American      6th Novel

Short Synopses and Biographies can be read here.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 30 May 2012.

I haven’t read any on the list yet, but I have Ann Patchett’s ‘State of Wonder’ on the shelf and I have been eyeing up ‘Half Blood Blues’ for some time.

And you? Have you read any of the titles from either the short or the long list yet, or planning to?

31 thoughts on “Orange Prize Shortlist

  1. c, how have we not talked about this in all our talking? you have “state of wonder” on the shelf? first of all, why do we have two copies 🙂 (in our rotation) and, more importantly, oh my god “state of wonder” is a total wonder, amazing, gripping, unbelievably good. it’s such a brilliant novel, you just fall right in. i didn’t think it could surpass “bel canto,” but indeed it does. you are going to love. xo c


    • I have your copy my dear friend, thanks to Mary 🙂 I never succeeded in finishing ‘Bel Canto’ shock horror, so in fact this will be my first Ann Patchett read though her name is so familiar to me I feel as though I ought to have read her – Julie’s roomate and all that truth and beautification 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting, I will put David Lodge aside and move Patchett up to the top!


      • I don’t know. None of them appeal too much, but if I was forced to read one, I’d try Anne Enright – I’ve heard of her, at least. 🙂

        I think I’ll not bother, though – I have a huge back log of books to read at the moment, so I’ll leave the oranges to other bloggers. Sounds like you are planning to read them all, for instance.


        • No, I’m not really a fan of reading award long or short lists, but I do like knwoing who is on them and seeing how it changes rom year to year. I read what I’m drawn to and what reading buddies recommend, and a few classics and translations to vary it, blogging and bloggers reviews are still a novelty, I am just enjoying being able to have this conversation with so many others. My favourite book of the year thus far didn’t even make the longlist!


  2. I’ve only read State of Wonder too, I enjoyed it very much but not as much as The Magician’s Assistant. I often wonder at the reasoning behind the Orange Prize as the winners often don’t seem to be the pick of the bunch, bit like the Booker I suppose.


  3. Nice post! Looks like I’m going to add some more books to my list. My ever growing list of things I must read…..Thanks I don’t mind/ love surrounding myself with books but most of all reading them. I’ve been interested in reading Half Blood Blues, but don’t have it yet. I’m sure State of Wonder is good too. Looking over the long list of the 20 books was amazing because I’m sure they are all good reads too. Good thing I’m not a judge. Wonder who’s going to win?


    • I agree, the longlist is great and always good to have another list reference of worthwhile books to consider and to see some great women writers being promoted to the world. Look forward to hearing which you read.


  4. I love Anne Enright, but The Forgotten Waltz was terrible. I hope it doesn’t end up winning. I think Anne Patchett is definitely the favorite. You should read it and let me know what you think. I really want to read Song of Achilles.


    • Ok, you read Song of Achilles, I’m going to start State of Wonder and try to get hold of Half Blood Blues as well. I remember your review of Enright’s book and I have been reading the Guardian book clubs discussion of it, it aint calling out to me so will raincheck it for now.


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  6. I’ve read both ‘State of Wonder’ and ‘Foreign Bodies’. I’d picked up ‘Wonder’ because I’d thoroughly enjoyed ‘Bel Canto’ (yes, really!), and I was disappointed, but I think that had more to do with the subject matter of ‘Wonder’ than anything else. ‘Bodies’…it reminded me too much of JD Salinger, for some reason, and a poor man’s Salinger at that. Needless to say, I didn’t like that one either.

    I’ve got Enright’s book sitting on my coffee table, and even though I hated ‘The Gathering’, I’m willing to give her another try with ‘Waltz’…


  7. I’m particularly curious about ‘Half-Blood Blues’ and ‘The Song of Achilles’. ‘The Night Circus’ was surprisingly enchanting.


  8. Hmmm. I haven’t read any on the list yet either, but I wasn’t wowed by last year’s winner, The Tiger’s Wife, so maybe it’s not the list for me.
    BTW, the audio version of Bel Canto was amazing, and I think the narration really enhanced the book.


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  10. I’ve read Half Blood Blues, it was just ok, I guess I expected it to be more of a war novel than it actually turned out to be.

    The Tiger’s Wife is on my TBR pile


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