The 2011 Orange Prize shortlist is:
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson
Great House by Nicole Krauss
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
I stopped short of making predictions for the short list because I've only managed to read eight so far (which is one track for my goal of finishing all twenty before the winner is announced in June; you can track my progress and find links to all of my Orange Prize reviews on my Orange Prize page.) Still, when you bring a list from twenty to six, there are bound to be surprises.
My first reactions:
- Half are debut novels (Grace Williams, Tiger's Wife, Annabel). The longlist featured 9/20 debuts, and the shortlist carries on that pattern.
- The geographical variety is incredibly balanced: Emma Donoghue (Irish, but lives in Canada now), Aminatta Forna (British/Sierra Leonean), Emma Henderson (British), Nicole Krauss (American, but her work is infused with her Israeli and Eastern European ancestry),Tea Obreht (America/Serbian), and Kathleen Winter (Canadian). It's a broad spectrum.
- I guessed either Great House or Goon Squad would make it but not both. I'm a little disappointed, but I'll be reading Great House again to see if it is better the second time.
- I would not have predicted Emma Henderson would be the British representative.
- The 20 Under 40 are still faring well. They represent two of the six shortlisted books (Krauss & Obreht).
- Overall, it's a pretty young list: Donoghue (41), Forna (47), Henderson (53), Krauss (37), Obreht (25), and Winter (47).
- Interestingly, the ages of the debut novelists are 25, 53 and 47.
- Hooray for Room! I'm a bit disappointed to see Jennifer Egan left off, but as of now, I'm rooting for Room. It was my favorite read of 2010, and despite it being on both the Booker and Orange shortlists and named one of the 5 best novels of 2010 by The New York Times, I still think it deserves more praise. I'm looking forward to re-reading it too.
I'll be re-reading both Room and Great House, as I read both last year when they were first nominated for prizes (Booker and National Book Award respectively). I'll also be reading the other four longlisted titles, but not necessarily right away. There are so many intriguing titles on the longlist this year, and I still plan to read them all before the winner is announced on June 8. I'll wait to pick my winner until I've read them all, but it's no secret I'm cheering for Room right now. The contrarian part of me does want a debut novel to win because the Orange Prize for New Writers was disbanded.
What do you think of the shortlist? Which novel are you rooting for?
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