The Orange Prize Long List 2010

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The Orange Prize long list was revealed this morning. I tried to predict who would make the list last week and did a terrible job! I successfully predicted only five of the twenty books:

The rest of the long list:

I have only read two books from the list:

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters  stars4

The Help – Kathryn Stockett stars4h

….although I did fail to complete Wolf Hall too!

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel stars1 (DNF)

The great news is that there are a lot of books on the list which I haven’t heard of, so I will enjoy finding out a bit more about them. The ones that instantly grab my attention are:

This is How – MJ Hyland (I remember that a lot of people were surprised this wasn’t on the Booker list last year and I nearly read it in 2009 – I then forgot all about it!)

Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed (I already have a copy of this one and so look forward to starting it soon) 

The Long Song – Andrea Levy (I’m currently reading Small Island and am loving it, so will get to this one at some point)

I need to investigate the rest of the list a bit further. I’m planning to read the entire short list when it is announced, but am not going to rush out to read all these books.

Which ones grab your attention?

Are there any you recommend?


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74 Comments

  1. Verity says:

    I’m looking forward to reading This is how too.

    I really enjoyed Small Wars, and also the Farooki, though suspect the latter might not be your sort of thing so much. I think the Levy is something that you will enjoy.

    My thoughts over on my blog!

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, I think I’ll go and see if the library has a copy later today! I look forward to comparing notes on the rest of the list.

  2. FlossieT says:

    I am a total bore on this topic, but I really think everyone should read The Rehearsal. Joshua Ferris’s cover blurb called it “a glimpse into the future of the novel”, and much as I am not a Ferris fan, I think on this occasion he nailed it. So many novels claim to be “different” and “unique”, but this really is an incredibly inventive book. As such, a lot of people find it too experimental in form, and Ellie was criticised a lot by NZ reviewers for being “more head than heart”. I found it completely fascinating, thought-provoking, insightful and impossibly skillful. Given who she’s up against, and the fact that a lot of people would find it a difficult read, I fear her chances of winning are slim, but she definitely deserves to make the shortlist.

    The other two titles from the longlist that I’ve read I thought were only 3-star books, so I can’t endorse them, personally… but I’m planning to read the 5 more that I actually have copies of (Hearts and Minds, Secret Son, Black Mamba Boy, The Still Point and Wolf Hall), plus Lorrie Moore because although I’ve seen mixed reviews of A Gate at the Stairs, I have loved her work for too long not to.

    1. Jackie says:

      Flossie T, I have heard a few people rave about The Rehearsal before, but it didn’t really appeal. You have left a very persuasive argument for trying it though – I think I’ll have to get a copy. Thank you for the helpful comment.

      1. FlossieT says:

        @Jackie, I so nearly didn’t read it because the basic storyline sounded so ‘meh’ – teens in school sex scandal? No thanks. I think a lot of people will find it hard going because it is not in any way conventionally written. The book began life as a script for a short play Catton was writing for her drama-school housemate; she got part-way in and thought, “Hmm, this could get really interesting if I wrote it as a novel…” So it’s more about the nature of identity and what powers we have to shape it – especially in that constantly-metamorphosing state of the teenage years – than about ‘what’s really happening’. I really can’t recommend it highly enough, but I am also very aware that a lot of people will be really put off by the form. Whether you’ll like it or not will probably depend a lot on your tolerance for ‘experimental’ writing!

      2. Jackie, I had intended to mention The Rehearsal in my comment. You read my thoughts, you know that ultimately I admired it and thought it was very experimental and yet very interesting, but I think you’d hate it. There’s a very good chance it will make it onto the shortlist though so you should give it a try.

        1. Jackie says:

          Flossie/Claire, I am willing to try books that I’ll probably hate. You have intrigued me now, so I will give it a try. At least the reviews for that sort of book are entertaining to write!

  3. I did my research last night after posting my immediate reaction to the longlist (seems like I was the only one willing to do that!) The ones that immediately appeal to me are: Hearts and Minds; The Long Song; The Twisted Heart; The Still Point. I’ll probably read the shortlist and the ones that catch my eye; I want to learn more about some of them and yet I also like the idea of reading blind…

    Last night I was a little bemused but this morning quite excited by how many of the books I haven’t heard of yet; I am sure there are exciting books there for us to discover. From my first impressions it looks as if historical events, romance and social issues are the common themes. Have you read The Guardian article/interview with Orange judge about the depressing content of women’s literature?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/17/misery-orange-prize-judge-authors

    It’s interesting. Personally I prefer my fiction to pack a punch and if it’s dark and twisty then more’s the better! Although sometimes I require some light relief.

    Very excited about list now. I’ve read 3.5 so far (currently reading The Help).

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I did consider staying up to find out about the longlist, but I value my sleep more! Congratulations on getting the first orange post up!

      Thanks for the Guardian link. I enjoy depressing books too, so that wouldn’t bother me. I wonder how many of the long list got there because they provided the light relief?

      I’ll let you try a few of those books first and rely on you to let me know if I’ll enjoy them.

      1. Well, it’s not like anyone appreciated the effort – I had one comment when I woke up! Oh well, it was for me anyway as I was too curious.

        I wonder how many are there because of the head judge’s taste too… I’m not so comfortable with the thought that deserving texts (such as After the Fire, a Still Small Voice) weren’t longlisted because it was one dark text after another one hundred and twenty eight mainly dark texts.

        1. Jackie says:

          Claire, I did notice and admire your dedication to your blog! Sorry everyone else went to bed and failed to take advantage of your hard work.

          I think the judges taste played a big role in the choosing of books this year – they do seem to be similar in style (as much as I can judge from the covers anyway!) There aren’t the quiet books – good for me anyway!

    2. Kinna Reads says:

      Claire, I also read the comments by the head judge. I also like my literature to pack a punch and so I don’t mind sad text. Regarding the comment that women’s literature is a miserable these days – I don’t think that is the case. I think more women are writing than ever before and they are becoming increasingly comfortable portraying the issues that women face. I mean, I think that the statistics point to at least 1 in 4 women will face rape or some form of sexual and other abuse in their lifetime. So if women writers are writing about that, I say societies should get to work making the world safer for as many women as possible. Fewer rapes equals fewer books about rape. Period.

      I live in an African country and work in an organisation that supports women writers. The writing is heavy, has a lot of issues. That is because, African women, like other women around the women, go through stuff. Some of which is not pretty. Women’s writing tends to reflect what women go through. Thank God. Otherwise which section of the population should portray our lives in books? If the judge doesn’t like that, she should perhaps change to another genre, preferably children’s stories.

      I’m ranting, I know. Such comments make me mad. Just my two cents.

      Jackie, your blog is so nice.

      1. Jackie says:

        Kinna Reads, Thank you for the kind words!

        I was saddened to read the judge’s comments as I don’t think that women write books which are any darker than those written by men.

        Books in which only nice things happen are normally quite dull. In fact I am struggling to think of any good, happy books (other than comedies).

        I also think you make a valid point about rape victims. It would be wonderful if terrible things didn’t happen in the world, but I suspect that we’d write about them even if we didn’t experience them. The emotional power of those darker books is what makes them special.

        I love a good rant too! LOL about the children’s books!!

      2. Kinna, I wholeheartedly agree with you. As a woman I want (I also choose) my fiction to be relevant to my existence as a woman; now, the subject matter itself may be far removed from my own experience but I still need it to be relevant to my sex. Daisy Goodwin isn’t living in the real world if she thinks that literature should be happy all of the time; I think that writers have a responsibility to represent the world as they see it and sometimes that it a dark, bleak, miserable place.

  4. Iris says:

    I’ve read none of the books listed. I’m going to look into them now, because I want to feel more sophisticated next time I come across the list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, LOL! I’m not sure that knowing anything about the Orange prize makes you sophisticated, but I hope you enjoy your investigations!

  5. FlossieT says:

    It is interesting that Evie Wyld didn’t make it; although I seem to be one of the few readers in Britain not totally blown away by it, I thought it was at least as good as the two I’ve read but that shall remain nameless… Also the absence of Sarah Hall and Rose Tremain surprises me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Flossie, I was surprised that Evie Wyld didn’t make the list, but I didn’t love the book as much as others did. It was a bit too quiet for me.

      I loved Sarah Hall’s book so am sad that it didn’t make the list. I haven’t read The Trespass yet so don’t know whether it deserves to be on the list, but I was surprised that it and The Year of the Flood didn’t make it.

    2. Wyld and Hall should definitely have been on the list (I’m one of those who were blown away by both). I’m also shocked that Margaret Atwood isn’t on it. I need to read more of the list to make an informed decision but perhaps dark fiction is simply no longer popular and women writers have to move to midway on the spectrum, between dark fiction that alienates them and stereotypical fluffy fiction that they have strived not to be associated with.

  6. Christina says:

    I figured Wolf Hall would make it not because I’ve read it, but because it was all over London. And The Help has been all over the blogosphere.

    1. Jackie says:

      Christina, Those two (along with The Little Stranger) have had the most publicity.

  7. I haven’t read any of these yet, or even heard of some. I am looking forward to The Still Point though, which was already on my TBR list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I hadn’t heard about a lot of them, including The Still Point. I still don’t know much – hopefully people will start reading/reviewing them soon.

  8. Mae says:

    Looks like a great list. I’m excited to see M.J. Hyland on it. After seeing The Little Stranger on every list there is, I guess it’s finally time to get into it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Mae, The Little Stranger does seem to have made every list going! I’m not sure it deserves the massive recognition it has been getting, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it to some extent.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I am so glad the longlist was announced. I need to look over them all now!

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, It is good to finally know the list!

  10. Dan Holloway says:

    With a prediction rate like that they should make you a meteorologist :) Isn’t it always the way that however much we think some things are a shoo-in, these lists still have the power to confound.

    I’ve had a quick flick through and the Farooki looks intriguing, but the one that stands out is The Rehearsal. I had a skim of the first few pages on Amazon and it’s knockout stuff – a wonderful, slightly stilted, highly acerbic voice.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, LOL! I think I might be too accurate for that! It sounds as though people are big fans of The Rehearsal. It seems to be the most talked about book of the morning. I’ll have to get a copy soon.

  11. diane says:

    I’ve only read The Help (loved it) and A Gate at the Stairs (hated it), but I do own 4 others, and want to read several more. It will be interesting to see what wins.

    Thanks for posting about this once again and sharing your reviews.

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, I don’t know anyone that didn’t enjoy The Help. It is a great read, but wonder if it is too straight forward to win? I have heard a few people on twitter knocking A Gate at the Stairs today. I think I’ll avoid it unless it turns up on short list.

  12. Steph says:

    Ha! I’ve read a whopping ZERO of these books! So your two reads beat mine! I haven’t heard of a lot of these books actually. One of the titles I was surprised to see on the list was A Gate at the Stairs, as the reviews I’ve read of it have been unilaterally mediocre/negative.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I think that book seems to be dividing people. I’m going to avoid it for now – so many other wonderful reads to try first!

  13. Kari says:

    You did better than I would’ve done. You know how many of these titles I’ve actually heard of? FOUR.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kari, LOL! I’m sure you’ll hear all about them soon!

  14. Kay says:

    I only read The Help from the list and have heard of a few more. One I’ve some talk about is Black Water Rising. It is set in Houston, which is only a few hours from my home in Austin and has garnered rather mixed reviews. It still appeals to me so I will probably read it at some point. Thanks for sharing the list Jackie. I’ll have to look it over more carefully.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kay, I have heard some very mixed things about Black Water Rising today. Perhaps it will have more meaning to you if you recognise the setting? I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

  15. Dorte H says:

    I am sure there are several good books on the list, but it seems to me there are too few crime and mystery novels ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Dorte, The Little Stranger is a gothic mystery and Black Water Rising is a thriller – what more do you want?! ;-)
      Which books do you think deserved to be there?

  16. I have managed to have nine of the nominated books in my TBR piles. The ones I’m most looking forward to reading are The Still Point by Amy Sackville and Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig.

    I wouldn’t have known where to start picking possible books and managing ten let alone twenty!

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I’m impressed that you have nine of the books in your TBR pile – I had one! I’m going to have to hope my library is well stocked!

  17. Jeanne says:

    I loved, loved, loved A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. Part of my adoration is personal, because I work with college-age people and my own children are edging ever closer to that age, so I have a very personal appreciation for the main character and the kinds of choices she faces. But part of my love is for the good writing and the intriguing way this story is told.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jeanne, It is interesting to see that A Gate at the Stairs is dividing opinion so much. My boys are younger than yours, so not sure it will have the same appeal. I’m becoming more intrigued by it all the time….

  18. Lu says:

    Oooh! I want to read ALL of these! They look so good and I’m pretty sure I’ve only read The Little Stranger.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lu, You’re keen! LOL!! Some of them don’t appeal to me at all, but I think I’ll make a big dent in the list over the next few months. I look forward to seeing which ones you decide to read.

  19. Stujallen says:

    the rehersal heard a interview about that sound good ,happy to see black water rising ,nice for a smaller press like serpents tail get some attention and it looks a good book is on my tbr

    1. Jackie says:

      Stujallen, It is always nice to see the smaller publishers gettting their books through. I might have to read it for that very reason!

  20. FleurFisher says:

    I’ve only read the two most obvious books on the list, but I’ve started The Still Point and so far I’m impressed. I have a few more on hand and on order. One of the things that has struck me now that i’ve had a little while to take things in is how conservative it is and how many of the books are Bristish compared to the last few years.

    1. Jackie says:

      FleurFisher, I hadn’t noticed the British bias until you mentioned it. There are very few books from other countries, especially from ones outside the West. It is even lacking US/Canadian authors. I think the judging panel has made some big mistakes this year, but hopefully the quality of the books will compensate for lack of variety.

      1. FleurFisher says:

        I had thought this might be Margaret Atwood’s year. It doesn’t seem right that her name isn’t on the roll of honour.

  21. David H says:

    I’ve read four books on the longlist:

    The Rehearsal – on which I’ll echo the opinions of others here, because it was my favourite read of last year. I was sceptical at first, with the style and everything, but it all works brilliantly, because the different aspects reinforce each other and the main theme of the book.

    The Still Point – another book where the style takes a bit (though not as much!) of getting into, but very good, and left me with plenty to think about.

    Black Mamba Boy – I don’t rate it as highly as the previous two, but it’s a good read all the same.

    The Little Stranger – Didn’t work for me as a ghost story, but I felt it was a good historical portrait.

    Of the other titles, I have a copy of How Things Look To Me, which I did start reading and really enjoyed, so I’m really not sure why I haven’t picked it up again and finished it; I’m also curious to read Wolf Hall, just to see what I’d make of it.

    1. Jackie says:

      David H, I like the sound of Still Point – especially if it gives you something to think about.

      I read half of Black Mamba Boy last night and I agree with your assessment so far.

      I think I’ll give Rehersal a try as it seems to be receiving the most attention today.

  22. At least you read two. I’ve read zero.

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T You’ve still got plenty of time to read a few!

  23. Jenners says:

    I don’t think you did too bad … and I haven’t read one. (Though I do have “The Help” on my shelves just waiting for me.)

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Help – everyone loves it!

  24. Kathleen says:

    I can’t believe I’ve read NOTHING from this list. I am starting to feel a bit inferior right now….Ha!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, Don’t feel inferior! Reading The Help and The Little Stranger doesn’t make you any more intelligent! I hope you manage to read a few of these books at some point.

  25. Andreea says:

    I still have to read The Little Stranger. I thought Remarkable Creatures and Ruby’s Spoon would make it on the list. I am disappointed. I really enjoyed these two.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andreea, I haven’t read Remarkable Creatures, but was surprised that Ruby’s Spoon didn’t make the list. Those judges work in mysterious ways!

  26. I don’t think 5 is too bad, I probably wouldn’t have got any. I loved The Little Stranger!

    1. Jackie says:

      Novel Insights, thanks! Perhaps I’ll do better at predicting next year!

  27. Wilson says:

    I have mixed reactions about this year’s longlist. I am both happy and disappointed about it. I am happy that This Is How is nominated. (I was shock that this book wasn’t nominated for last years’ Man Booker Prize.) And I am really disappointed that some of the books that that should be nominated wasn’t.

    For example, The Year Of The Flood, How To Paint A Dead Man, Trespass, The Man Who Disappeared, Family Album, and The Bradshaw Variations.

    But still, it is a good longlist. Anyway, I haven’t read most of the books yet. (I have read Wolf Hall and it was pretty good though I have to reread some passages to understand it.) Any recommendations of which book should read and what’s your opinion about the longlist?

    1. Jackie says:

      Wilson, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time!

      I can only agree with you – there were several surprising ommisions on the list and the quality of some that do appear seems questionable at the moment.

      I haven’t read many of the list, so can’t really comment at this stage, but it does appear that The Rehearsal is the most accomplished book on the list and deserves to win. I haven’t read it yet, but it could be a good place for you to start.

      I think The Long Song will also do well (again I haven’t read it yet, but am just going on what I’ve heard)

      I would also be tempted by Hearts and Minds – especially if you know London well.

      If you decide to read anything of the list, please come back and let me know what you thought of it.

      1. Wilson says:

        Actually, I’m from Malaysia. Although I haven’t been to London yet, I do read a lot of books about the life and times of London. Hopefully, Hearts and Minds would be an interesting read. (*fingers cross*)

        Anyway, I would love to try reading Small Wars, The Little Stranger and of course, The Long Song.

        There are a few other books that should be on the long list instead. (Forgot about it. Am terribly sorry.)

        E.g. We Are All Made Of Glue by Marina Lewycka and In The Kitchen by Monica Ali.

        By the way, try reading some books written by some Malaysian authors such as Tash Aw, Tan Twan Eng & Preeta Samarasan. Their books will take your breath away.

        1. Jackie says:

          Wilson, That sounds like a good selection to read. I would say that most of those will end up on the short list and I plan to read a similar selection.

          Thank you for recommending the Malaysian authors – I haven’t heard of any of them, but love to discover fantastic authors that aren’t well known in the UK. I’ll see if I can get hold of any of their books. Is there one you particularly recommend?

          1. Wilson says:

            Well, you can try The Harmony Silk Factory (nominated for the Booker prize and winner of the Whitbread award in 2005) by Tash Aw to get to know about Malaysia and its past.

            Or try The Gift Of Rain (longlisted for the 2007 Booker prize) by Tan Twan Eng. A beautiful and haunting story of half-Chinese half-English man who befriends a Japanese diplomat during the Japanese Occupation in pre-war Malaya with devastating consequences.

            Or try Evening Is The Whole Day (longlisted for last years’ Orange Prize) by Preeta Samarasan. Another beautiful and tragic story of a conflict of a family and country during the early years of Malaysia’s Indepence.

            Or better yet, try reading all of them and hopefully, post it on your blog to let others know about these fantastic books once you’re done with reading them.

          2. Jackie says:

            Wilson, Thank you for the recommendations! I have heard of The Harmony Silk Factory and think I should be able to get hold of a copy quite easily. I’ll keep an eye out for the others and hope I can introduce the readers of my blog to some wonderful Malaysian literature.

  28. David Nolan says:

    I’ve only heard The Still Point in abridged form on the radio, so admittedly I’m not commenting on the work in full, but what I heard sounded a bit too still for your liking (pun intended!). Of course, I’ve been wrong about that before, and could be again.

    Elsewhere (e.g. over at Savidge Reads), I have drawn favourable comparison between Hearts and Minds and The Other Hand. Knowing how much you loved the latter could mean that you will like Amanda Craig’s book, however, it could also end up suffering from the comparison. I loved it, but I get the impression are tastes differ almost as often as they overlap.

    If you fulfil your ambition of reading the whole list then you will get to decide for yourself.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, The Still Point isn’t grabbing my attention at the moment, so I will only read it if it ends up on the short list (I’m not planning to read the full long list) I’m not a fan of still, so I thank you for the warning!

      I have heard good things about Hearts and Minds, so will give it a try if my library has a copy.

  29. Beth F says:

    I have a few of these on my list. Small Wars is a book that I recommended and I hope to get to it soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I have a copy of Small Wars from the library and hope to read it soon.

  30. I’ve only read The Little Stranger out of these, but I’m dying to try out Lorrie Moore and Andrea Levy! I’ll be reading The Help soon – everything I’ve heard about it makes me think it will be an enjoyable read, but maybe not prize-worthy. Looking forward to seeing if I agree.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, I agree with you – The Help is a fantastic read, but I don’t think it is prize worthy. I hope you enjoy your Orange reads!

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