Saturday, March 12, 2011

2011 Orange Prize Longlist Predictions

The Orange Prize celebrated
its 15th anniversary last year.
In the haze of grading final projects last December, I started compiling my 2011 Orange Prize Prediction list. Since then, I've been jotting down other ideas I had. As I sat down to compile my actual list, however, and make the first round of cuts, I discovered my longlist had 34 titles. 34? The longlist is only 20!

The method
I began by searching for eligible books by authors who had previously been longlisted, shortlisted or won the Orange Prize. Because I don't follow British publishing as closely as I follow publishing in the U.S., I took deliberate measures to make sure I knew what those previously honored were up to. I looked at my favorite reads to see what was eligible. Finally, I looked into books I've been meaning to read but haven't yet to see which ones were eligible.

The Orange Prize is given to a novel written by a woman, originally in English, and published in the UK between April 1 of the last year and March 31 of the year the prize is awarded. Only the UK publishing date matters. This year, books had to be published between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

My selections
Faced with nearly twice as many likely contenders as there were spots, I decided to keep it somewhat equal and select eleven from my list of previously nominated authors and nine authors who would be new to the Orange Prize. Five are debut novelists (last year's longlist had seven debuts.) Links are to my reviews (if applicable). 

My list:
Room: A NovelThe Invisible Bridge (Vintage Contemporaries)The Sweet Relief of Missing Children: A Novel
Secret Daughter: A NovelThe Memory of Love
  • The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell (on so many Best of 2010 lists)
  • The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna (I credit Jackie's review for bringing my attention to this one)
  • Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (I credit Swapna's review for this one)
  • Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (won Best Book-Africa in this year's Commonwealth Writer's Prize)
We Had It So Good: A NovelA Visit from the Goon Squad
  • The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht (the most anticipated spring release by a debut author)
  • We Had It So Good by Linda Grant (previous Orange Prize winner)
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (previously shortlisted & fresh off a National Book Critics Circle win; also one of my top 5 reads of 2010)
  • Trespass by Rose Tremain (longlisted for the Booker last year, a previous winner, and one of my top 10 reads of 2010) Jackie pointed out Trespass was eligible last year. Oops!
American MusicIzzy's War
  • The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman (previously longlisted author)
  • American Music by Jane Medelsohn (previously shortlisted author)
  • The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore (previous winner, Booker longlisted last year)
  • Izzy's War by Isla Dewar (previously longlisted author; about a group of women pilots in WWII)
PearlThe Dark TowerThe London Train (P.S.)
  • Pearl by Deirdre Purcell (previously shortlisted author)
  • The Dark Tower by Christina Koning (previously longlisted author)
  • Untold Story by Monica Ali (previously shortlisted author; imagines life if Princess Diana had lived)
  • London Train by Tessa Hadley (previously longlisted author)
How well will I do? We won't know until March 16 when my marathon reading of the longlisted novels begins. I'll weigh in on the announcement this week. What do you think will make this year's list? (Update: my take on the actual longlist.)

(Because I would hate to kick myself for eliminating the wrong one, here are the other fourteen novels that made my first cut of the longlist:
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
  • Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy
  • Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai
  • The Lessons by Naomi Alderman
  • Great House by Nicole Krauss
  • The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn
  • Private Life by Jane Smiley
  • Chosen by Lesley Glaister
  • Song House by Trezza Azzopardi
  • Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
  • Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
  • Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay
  • Five Bells by Gail Jones
  • Do No Harm by Carol Topolski
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  1. What an amazing list of books, Carrie! I agree with ROOM (I have a feeling we'll see that one short listed as well). There are several on your list that I have yet to read...but really need to get to them! Thanks for the predictions - it will be fun to see what gets picked.

  2. Interesting list! There are several here that I haven't head of, but also a few that I didn't select, but think have a very strong chance of making the list. I didn't realise that Monica Ali's book would be published in time - it is really sneaking in by being published on the last possible day.

    I'm afraid that Trespass and The Betrayal were longlisted last year and so aren't eligible this time around - those publication dates are so confusing :-(

    I'll be interested to see how many titles we both correctly guess. I'm looking forward to the big reveal!

  3. I'm excited to see how many of your predictions come true! You picked some great ones so I'd say some odds are good :)

  4. @Jackie - Trespass and The Betrayal were longlisted for the Booker last year, not the Orange. After double-checking, you're right about Trespass's eligibility; it was a few weeks short. The Betrayal should still be eligible, however, as it was first published in April 2010. Thanks!

  5. These prizes are so confusing! I wasn't that impressed with The Betrayal so will be interested to see if it makes it.

  6. It sounds like you are really on top of this Orange Prize thing, and I will be interested in hearing your take on it as things are narrowed down. I have a great love for Room and would love to see it win, but that's just me!

  7. Love your list! One to add - Half Life by Roopa Farooki should be eligible and had great reviews - and personally, I loved it - Farooki was longlisted last year and shortlisted for the Orange New Writers award a few years back

  8. @Sophie P - Glad to hear you liked Half Life! I had it on my initial list, but it didn't make the first cuts for some reason (perhaps my fear she wouldn't be longlisted two years in a row.) I'm looking forward to reading it myself! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I so wish Secret Daughter had made it! But I'm glad that there was some South Asian representation on the list, with Tishani Doshi's The Pleasure Seekers.

  10. It's cool that you included the "others" that you'd debated over including because several of them did end up making the longlist after all. Nicely done!


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