Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Orange Prize

At risk of boring everybody with another post about the Orange Prize, I did just want to jot down some thoughts in response to today's announcment of this year's longlist. The Orange Prize is something that has interested me for many years, since I was working in public libraries at the start of the decade. In 2003 we had a big Orange Prize promotion and all of the staff were encouraged to read at least one title from the longlist; it was great fun discussing the books in the staffroom over tea and I challenged myself to read as many as I could so that I could join in all of the discussions. I didn't quite get through the whole list that year, but I managed a fair number. I wrote quite early on on my blog about the number of Orange longlisted titles that I have read since the prize started. What I loved (and still love) about the Orange prize list is the fact that it introduces me to authors that I might not otherwise read, and read types of books that I would usually pass over.

This year's list is interesting, especially as there were lots of authors that I was expecting to see on the list which weren't there (Sarah Dunant, Lori Lansens, Anna Pietrioni, Rose Tremain and Margaret Forster). I don't intend to read my way through the longlist - I don't especially want to read Wolf Hall, but I have asked for a couple of titles from obliging publishers and reserved a couple of interesting looking titles at the library...

I intend to read:
Hearts and Minds (Craig)
This is how (Hyland)
Secret Son (Lalami)
The still point (Sackville) - though it's not yet in the library
The very thought of you (Alison)
The Lacuna (Kingsolver)

and have already read:
The way things look to me (Farooki) - very enjoyable read which I definitely recommend
The little stranger (Waters) - wonderfully gripping ghost story, although not perhaps my favourite of Water's novels
The Long song (Levy) - very well constructed read, but again not my favourite of the author's work
A gate at the stairs (Moore) - only read this last week actually, and enjoyed it - had not come across Moore before until Amazon suggested it to me.
Small Wars (Jones) - absolutely loved this when I read it in the summer. Again a big fat recommendation for that one.

(So my favourites out of the 5 that I have read are the Farooki and Small Wars, not necessarily the ones that I think are likely to win, but the ones that I have most enjoyed reading)

I'm not going to make predictions about what I think will be on the longlist; I don't even promise to review all of the books on the longlist that I read as it can get a bit tedious when everyone is blogging about the same books, but I hope to join in plenty of discussions about the prize in the next few weeks and hope to once more broaded my reading horizons.


  1. I haven't heard of Moore before and am surprised that so many people seem to have heard of her. I may have to investigate!

    I wasn't a big fan of The Outcast, so Small Wars didn't appeal. Are they similar books?

  2. Hearts and Minds, The Still Point, The Long Song and The Twisted Heart are the ones that appeal to me most at the moment. I guess I'll be one of the bloggers boring people with my Orange thoughts.

    I do love how the Orange Prize is so focused in the use of libraries and how libraries promote it; the first year I really paid attention to the Orange Prize was because of the library's involvement.

  3. Jackie - I guess you may not enjoy Small Wars if you didn't enjoy Outcast. It's weird, Moore has been mentioned a lot since I stumbled across her only last week.

    Claire - it'll be itneresting to read about the ones that I don't get to! I hope my library is ordering lots of orange stock now - they often put on a display of previous orange list titles too which is also worth a browse.

  4. Thanks for this post, Verity! I knew that the short-list was due out but hadn't heard anything since. There are several titles listed that I'm not aware of so I will have some catching up to do in the research department.

  5. I didn't realize the Moore was such a recent publication. I had it in my mind that it had been written years ago; no wonder it's always checked out at the library! Better place a hold then...

  6. I have a feeling that Margaret Forster may take the same line as A S Byatt. And maybe Sarah Dunant too.But I do like the list. A few familiar books and some new things to try.


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