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2012 Orange Prize for Fiction: shortlist
This year's must-read female novelists
The Orange Prize for Fiction – the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by women – has announced its shortlist nominations for 2012 today (17 April). Now in its seventeenth year, the Orange Prize for Fiction celebrates originality, excellence and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world, with this year’s shortlist featuring Irish, Canadian, American and British writers.
Come see the six shortlisted novels for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction below. You can also peruse the other 24 books that made a place in this year's longlist for the prize.
The six finalists will be whittled down by a five-strong panel of esteemed female judges, including the Prize’s chair novelist Joanna Trollope and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky, with the final winner being announced at the awards ceremony on Wednesday 30 May.
“This is a shortlist of remarkable quality and variety,” commented Joanna Trollope. “It includes six distinctive voices and subjects, four nationalities and an age range of close on half a century. It is a privilege to present it.”
Get the lowdown on the Orange Prize’s shortlisted books - click through the gallery below to find out what you should be reading this year and let us know your thoughts on the nominees on Twitter or in the comments section below.
ON THE SHORTLIST: Half Bloo…
The Canadian author's second novel, Half Blood… More details
ON THE SHORTLIST: Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
The Canadian author's second novel, Half Blood Blues centres on a group of American and Afro-German musicians who flee Germany for Paris as World War II closes in and was inspired by Edugyan’s own travels in Germany and love of the music of the era. Previously short-listed for 2011's Man Booker prize amongst other accolades.
ON THE SHORTLIST: The Forgo…
In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the… More details
ON THE SHORTLIST: The Forgotten Waltz, Anne Enright
In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the winter of 2009, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for 'the love of her life', Sean Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers the days of their affair in one hotel room or another. Now, as the silent streets and the stillness of the falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, Gina awaits the arrival of Sean's fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie - the complication, and gravity, of this second life. In this extraordinary novel, this opening book of secrets, Anne Enright speaks directly to readers about the sudden, momentous drama of everyday life.
ON THE SHORTLIST: Painter o…
Iasi, Romania, the early 1950s. A man is found on… More details
ON THE SHORTLIST: Painter of Silence, Georgina Harding
Iasi, Romania, the early 1950s. A man is found on the steps of a hospital, frail as a fallen bird. He carries no identification and it is days before anyone discovers that he is deaf and mute. And then a young nurse called Safta brings paper and pencils with which he can draw. Slowly, painstakingly, memories appear on the page. The memories are Safta's also. For the man is Augustin, son of the cook at the manor at Poiana that was her family home. Born six months apart, they grew up with a connection that bypassed words. There are things that he must tell Safta that may be more than simple drawings can convey. Beautiful, spare and intense, Painter of Silence captures the loss and the hope of a tragic time through the extraordinary vision of a mute outsider.
ON THE SHORTLIST: The Song …
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an… More details
ON THE SHORTLIST: The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. Achilles, is everything Patroclus is not - strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess - and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into the Trojan war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. Profoundly moving, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination.
ON THE SHORTLIST: Foreign B…
The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled… More details
ON THE SHORTLIST: Foreign Bodies, Cynthia Ozick
The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled Bea Nightingale's life, leaving her middle-aged and alone, teaching in an impoverished borough of 1950s New York. A plea from her estranged brother gives Bea the excuse to escape lassitude by leaving for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows. The story of Bea's travails on the continent is a fierce and heartbreaking insight into the curious nature of love: how it can be commanded and abused; earned and cherished; or even lost altogether.
ON THE SHORTLIST: State of …
Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas… More details
ON THE SHORTLIST: State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson's work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh, Anders' colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination.
Longlisted: Gillespie and I…
As she sits in her Bloomsbury home, with her two… More details
Longlisted: Gillespie and I, Jane Harris
As she sits in her Bloomsbury home, with her two birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter sets out to relate the story of her acquaintance, nearly four decades previously, with Ned Gillespie, a talented artist who never achieved the fame she maintains he deserved. Featuring a memorable cast of characters, infused with atmosphere and period detail, and shot through with wicked humour, Gillespie and I is a tour de force from one of the emerging names of British fiction.
Longlisted: Island of Wings…
Lizzie is bright, cheerful and almost ethereal in… More details
Longlisted: Island of Wings, Karin Altenberg
Lizzie is bright, cheerful and almost ethereal in her beauty. When she married Neil, a minister for the Church of Scotland, it was because of his looks, spirit and intent to do good. Setting out for St Kilda with a man she barely knew, pregnant with his child, she had no way of knowing if she was heading for adventure or disaster. This is a beautiful, rich and incredibly moving account of a marriage, of two people struggling in the most inhospitable of locations to improve the world of those around them, but most of all, simply to survive and raise their family.
Longlisted: Lord of Misrule…
Indian Mound Downs, West Virginia: a downtrodden… More details
Longlisted: Lord of Misrule, Jaimy Gordon
Indian Mound Downs, West Virginia: a downtrodden racetrack as dusty and dilapidated as the characters tied to it, characters who think they've seen everything the cheap sport of claim racing has to offer. Until August 1970, that is, when Tommy Hansel comes to town. Hansel, handsome and hypnotic, has a scheme in his head and a scam up his sleeve. Its a sure thing. But Hansel soon learns what the old-timers already know there is no such thing as a sure thing, let alone a quick out. Especially since his girlfriend, Maggie, has piqued the interest of two local gangsters. Lord of Misrule is a tale of pluck and risk, told with mesmerizing assurance and ambition.
Longlisted: On the Floor, A…
On the Floor is the third novel by Irish-born,… More details
Longlisted: On the Floor, Aifric Campbell
On the Floor is the third novel by Irish-born, Sussex-based writer Aifric Campbell. She was the first female MD on the trading floor at Morgan Stanley in London, and the novel is an insider’s take on life as a young woman in the City set in 1991. For five years Geri has had it all, but in the months leading up to the outbreak of the Gulf War, her life starts to unravel. Taut and fast-paced, On the Floor is about making money and taking risks; it's about getting away with it, and what happens when you're no longer one step ahead.
Longlisted: The Blue Book, …
Elizabeth Barber is crossing the Atlantic by… More details
Longlisted: The Blue Book, A.L. Kennedy
Elizabeth Barber is crossing the Atlantic by liner with her perfectly adequate boyfriend, Derek, who might be planning to propose. In fleeing the UK Elizabeth may also be in flight from her past and the charismatic Arthur, once her partner in what she came to see as a series of crimes. Together they acted as fake mediums, perfecting the arcane skills practised by effective frauds. She hadn't, though, expected Arthur on the boat. As her voyage progresses, Elizabeth's past is revealed. It's time for her to discover who are the true deceivers and who are the truly deceived. What's more, is the book itself - a fiction which may not always be lying - deceiving the reader?
Longlisted: The Flying Man,…
Meet Maqil - also known as Mike, Mehmet, Mikhail… More details
Longlisted: The Flying Man, Roopa Farooki
Meet Maqil - also known as Mike, Mehmet, Mikhail and Miguel - a chancer and charlatan. A criminally clever man who tells a good tale, trading on his charm and good looks, reinventing himself with a new identity and nationality in each successive country he makes his home, abandoning wives and children and careers in the process. Ending up old and alone in a budget hotel in Biarritz some eighty years later, his chequered history begins to catch up with him: his latest wife, his children, his creditors and former business associates, all want to pin him down. But even at the end, Maqil just can't resist trying it on; he's still playing his game, and the game won't be over until it's been won.
Longlisted: The Grief of Ot…
The Grief of Others is the fourth novel by… More details
Longlisted: The Grief of Others, Leah Hager Cohen
The Grief of Others is the fourth novel by American author Leah Hager Cohen about the impact a terrible secret has on the life of a contemporary New York family. The Ryries have suffered a loss: the death of a baby just 57-hours after his birth. Without words to express their grief, the parents, John and Ricky, try to return to their previous lives. Struggling to regain a semblance of normalcy for themselves and for their two older children, they find themselves pretending not only that little has changed, but that their marriage, their family, have always been intact. Yet in the aftermath of the baby's death, long-suppressed uncertainties come roiling to the surface.
Longlisted: The Night Circu…
In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes… More details
Longlisted: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths. Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter's daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer's apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love...
Longlisted: The Pink Hotel,…
A seventeen-year-old London girl flies to Los… More details
Longlisted: The Pink Hotel, Anna Stothard
A seventeen-year-old London girl flies to Los Angeles for the funeral of her mother Mandy, from whom she had been separated in her childhood. After stealing a suitcase of letters, clothes and photographs from her mum's bedroom at the top of a hotel on Venice Beach, the girl spends her summer travelling around Los Angeles returning love letters and photographs to the men who had known her mother. As she discovers more about Mandy's past and tries to re-enact her life, she comes to question the foundations of her own personality.
Longlisted: There But For T…
Ali Smith, twice shortlisted for both the Man… More details
Longlisted: There But For The, Ali Smith
Ali Smith, twice shortlisted for both the Man Booker and the Orange Prizes, is back with There But For The. There once was a man who, one night between the main course and the sweet at a dinner party, went upstairs and locked himself in one of the bedrooms of the house of the people who were giving the dinner party. As time passes by and the consequences of this stranger's actions ripple outwards, touching the owners, the guests, the neighbours and the whole country, so Ali Smith draws us into a beautiful, strange place where everyone is so much more than they at first appear.
Longlisted: The Sealed Lett…
Helen Codrington is unhappily married. Emily… More details
Longlisted: The Sealed Letter, Emma Donoghue
Helen Codrington is unhappily married. Emily 'Fido' Faithfull hasn't seen her once-dear friend for years. Suddenly, after bumping into Helen on the streets of Victorian London, Fido finds herself reluctantly helping Helen to have an affair with a young army officer. The women's friendship quickly unravels amid courtroom accusations of adultery, counter-accusations of cruelty and attempted rape, and the appearance of a mysterious 'sealed letter' that could destroy more than one life. Based on a real-life scandal that gripped England in 1864, The Sealed Letter is a delicious tale of secrets, betrayal, and forbidden love.
Longlisted: The Submission,…
Ten years after 9/11, this dazzling novel… More details
Longlisted: The Submission, Amy Waldman
Ten years after 9/11, this dazzling novel reimagines its aftermath. A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner's name, and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country's, where hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, and even the architect himself fight for both advantage and their ideals.
Longlisted: The Translation…
Mary-Margaret O'Reilly is a harmless young woman,… More details
Longlisted: The Translation of the Bones, Francesca Kay
Mary-Margaret O'Reilly is a harmless young woman, perhaps overweight and a little slow, but diligent in her cleaning job at the Sacred Heart church in Battersea. She is especially drawn to a statue of Jesus on the cross, and one day she decides to give Him a thorough and loving clean. But then something strange happens - moments later she is unconscious, a great gash in her head, blood covering the floor. Just before she fell, Mary-Margaret was convinced that the statue's eyes opened. Word soon gets out that a miracle has occurred and a crowd descends on the quiet church. This event will have a profound effect on the small but loyal band of parishioners - particularly on Mary-Margaret herself.
Longlisted: Tides of War, S…
At the heart of this sweeping, panoramic novel,… More details
Longlisted: Tides of War, Stella Tillyard
At the heart of this sweeping, panoramic novel, set in Regency London and Spain during the Peninsular War, stands the lively, outspoken Harriet. Her new husband, James, is setting off to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain. Left in London, she is taken under the wing of Kitty, Lady Wellington. While the women plunge into new worlds of politics, finance and science, the men face the bloody reality of the battlefield, testing their endurance to the hilt. There are betrayals on both sides. As Harriet and James pursue their destinies, facing hope and heartache in equal measure, this stunning novel returns us all to the vivid, lost world of the past.
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