LACUNA Wins Orange Prize

Barbara Kingsolver won the UK’s Orange Prize in a ceremony last night in London’s Royal Festival Hall for her novel The Lacuna.

The annual prize is awarded to a woman author, from any country, for a novel written in English. The prize was established in 1996 in reaction to the 1991 all-male Booker short list and is funded by Orange, a UK mobile phone and internet service company.

The UK’s Guardian calls The Lacuna,

…arguably the most demanding of the six books on the shortlist. It’s a doorstopping novel that needs to be read properly rather than in snatches and tackles big subjects that resonate today – not least, the media creation of, and obsession with, celebrity.

and said it held off “heavyweight competition” from Hilary Mantel’s Booker-winning Wolf Hall and Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs.

Of the other books on the short list, Rosie Alison’s The Very Thought of You (not published in the US) is called “the curve ball” by committee chair Daisy Goodwin, because it is “an old-fashioned romance…which had not even been reviewed by a national paper.” As the Guardian points out, however, it has not suffered from the lack of reviews and was selling well in the UK before the announcement.

The Guardian noted surprise at “the inclusion of a thriller,” Black Water Rising by American author Attica Locke as well as the “page-turningly enjoyable” The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey (not published in the US).

The prize gave a boost to The Lacuna which rose to #7 on Amazon’s sales ranking in the UK , as well as to most of the short list titles (Wolf Hall, now in paperback in the UK, was already in the top 10):

#12 (from #23) The Very Thought of You, Rosie Alison

#22 (from #49) The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, Monique Roffey

#81 (from #276) A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore

#105  (from #852) Black Water Rising, Attica Locke

In the U.S. none of the titles available here has cracked the Amazon top 100 since the announcement; Lacuna, which was a best seller here after it was published last year, rose to #286 from #514 yesterday.

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