One particularly exciting aspect of the Orange Prize is the Orange Award for New Writers. Though it doesn’t generally receive as much attention as the main prize, I find it very interesting to check out some of the new female voices that are being brought to the forefront as the judges try to find the work that demonstrates excellence, originality and accessibility.
This year the shortlist is as follows:
Last year I went to an event in Birmingham which was organised by the Birmingham Book Festival and the Reading Agency where Kate Mosse chaired a fascinating discussion with previous shortlisted, longlisted and winning authors from previous Orange Prizes. It was very interesting to hear how the writers had gone about writing their books – all in very different ways which suited their own personality. You can hear about their views in this video we filmed at the Orange Prize Readers Day.An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay was the winner of the new writers award last year.
The 2010 Shortlist:
The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale
1752. As winter approaches, two guilty secrets drive seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel to run away from her home in rural Sussex. Pregnant with an unwanted child and carrying stolen coins, she is shocked by the squalor and poverty of London.
She finds work as an assistant to John Blacklock, a dark, laconic firework-maker. As her weaver’s fingers learn to make rockets, portfires, stars and fiery rain, she becomes intrigued by the glitter and roar of fireworks.
Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her. But why does Blacklock disapprove so vehemently of Mr Soul? And what is Blacklock hiding from her? Could he be on the brink of a discovery that will change pyrotechny forever?
Meanwhile, her own secret is becoming harder to conceal, especially from the suspicious eye of Mrs Blight, the housekeeper with a thirst for hangings. Caught between her crime and condition, it appears that ruin must be inevitable…
The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini
As Zimbabwe breaks free of British colonial rule, young Lindiwe Bishop encounters violence at close hand when her white neighbour is murdered. But this is a domestic crime, apparently committed by the woman’s stepson, Ian, although he is released from prison surprisingly quickly. Intrigued, Lindiwe strikes up a covert friendship with the mysterious boy next door, until he abruptly departs for South Africa.
Years later, Ian returns to find that Lindiwe has been hiding her own secret. It is to bring them closer together, but also test a relationship already contending with racial prejudice and the hostility of Lindiwe’s mother. And as their country slides towards chaos, the couple’s grip on happiness becomes ever more precarious.
After The Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld
Following the breakdown of a turbulent relationship, Frank moves form Canberra to a shack on the east coast once owned by his grandparents. He wants to put his violent past and bad memories of his father behind him. In this small coastal community, he tries to reinvent himself as someone capable of regular conversation and cordial relations. he even starts to make friends, including a precocious eight-year-old named Sal. But it is not that easy for him to let go of the past.
Leon is the child of European immigrants living in Sydney. His father loves Australia for becoming their home when their own country turned hostile during the Second World War, but his mother is not so comforted by suburban life in a cake shop. As Leon grows up in the 50s and 60s, he watches as his parents’ lvies are broken after his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. Leon himself goes from working in the shop, sculpting sugar dolls for the tops of wedding cakes, to killing young men as a conscripted machine-gunner in Vietnam.
In the fall-out from the war, Leon thinks he might be able to make a new life with his woman, make a baby, live by the sea in a small shack. But something watches form the cold shade of the teeming bush.
Have you read any of these books? It would be great to hear your views (feel free to put a review on CompletelyNovel) and if you think that there are other candidates that should be up there.
The shortlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction (the main event, as it were) is being announced on 20 April so keep an eye on the Orange Prize website for more information.
More about the Award for New Writers
Launched in 2005 in partnership with Arts Council England, the Orange Award for New Writers celebrates emerging female literary talent. and potential
All first works of fiction, including novels, short story collections and novellas, written by women of any age or nationality and published as a book in the UK are eligible to enter. The emphasis of the award is on emerging talent and the evidence of future potential. Books can be entered for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Orange Award for New Writers in any given year. Judges look for writers who demonstrate excellence, originality and accessibility.
The winner receives a £10,000 bursary.