Who will win the 2011 Orange Prize?

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The winner of the 2011 Orange prize will be announced next Wednesday, but who will pick up the trophy?

I think that the shortlist is very strong and, unlike previous years, there is no obvious front runner.

My personal favourite is Room, but the long list selection proved that the judges favor more literary novels and so I’d be surprised if it won.

I think the real discussion in the judge’s secret chamber will come down to whether The Memory of Love or Great House should win. The Memory of Love has recently won The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and so many people are tipping it to win the Orange, but whilst I admired the writing I found the plot so slow that it was almost non-existent. Great House has a complexity not present in The Memory of Love and this will mean that the re-reading the judges must do will reveal many extra qualities missed on a first reading. This won’t be so true for The Memory of Love. It is a tough call and I’m sure the judges will spend a long time agonising over the decision, but I think in the end they will decide that Great House should win the Orange prize.

The bookies don’t agree with me. William Hill currently have Room as the favourite:


Odds of Winning Orange Prize

Room 2/1
The Memory of Love 3/1
Grace Williams Says it Loud 5/1
Great House 5/1
Annabel 6/1
The Tiger’s Wife 6/1

This is probably due the fact that the other titles aren’t as well known as Room, rather than an indication of the relative quality of the books.

Who do you think will win the Orange Prize on 8th June?

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  1. Alison M. says:

    Torn between “Memory of Love”, “Annabel”, “Tiger’s Wife” & “Great House”. I think “Annabel” contains the most subtle writing & that “Memory of Love” told the best story, but I was suprised at how much I enjoyed “Tiger’s Wife”. I’ve thought since the list was announced that “Room” will probably win it tho.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alison, It is good to see someone who enjoyed so many of the books! It will be interesting to see if you and the bookies are right about Room winning – I hope you are :-)

  2. sakura says:

    I was waiting for this post, Jackie! As I haven’t managed to read anything else apart from Great House, I will be eagerly awaiting to see whether your predictions come true:)

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks Sakura – it is good to know you like seeing my predictions. :-)

  3. Amy says:

    Interesting prediction – can’t wait to see if you turn out to be right!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Yes – I do seem to be going against general opinion with this prediction. I’d love to know what debate the judges are really having.

  4. Annabel says:

    Almost worth a punt on Nicole Krauss I’d say, (not that I’ve read it).

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I nearly placed a bet, but don’t have an online account with William Hill (other bookies don’t seem to be covering the Orange prize) and have never actually set foot in a bookies before. I’ll have to see if I happen to walk past one with a friend who has between now and then :-)

  5. Sandy says:

    The only one I’ve read is Room, so of course I would vote for that. But history would indicate I don’t have a clue, and judges usually pick something completely against common interests. I’ll be watching with interest!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Yes. History indicates that my favourite never wins, further supporting my case for Room ;-)

  6. JoV says:

    What I think doesn’t matter, it will be down to those 5 judges. Interestingly I have similar post drafted for the weekend, just waiting to finish Great House before I decide. You knew which book is my favourite but I agree with you this year’s shortlist is very, very strong!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I look forward to seeing which book you plump for once you’ve finished Great House – I hope you like it more than I did. :-)

  7. I can’t believe I haven’t read ANY of this year’s short list! I must get a hustle on. Thanks for the update, Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Debbie, I hope you enjoy your short list reading – there should be something on there for everyone to enjoy.

  8. kimbofo says:

    Did you watch the BBC Review Show on Friday night? The panel there seemed in favour of The Tiger’s Wife.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, No, I didn’t catch the review show. :-( I would be surprised if The Tiger’s Wife won, as few people seem to rank it as their favourite. You never really know how it will go though, perhaps the judging panel all love fairy tales. :-)

  9. stujallen says:

    I watch review show as well and I felt they leant towards great house my self ,only read tigers wife ,but I think it’ll be great house my self ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I wish I’d seen what they said. I’ll have to see if I can catch it on iplayer.

  10. FleurFisher says:

    I’ve only read half of the list, but I was leaning towards The Memory of Love as I’ve read some very positive reactions. I’d prefer a winner that is literary but accessible so that it can cross over and pick up a new readership, so much as I liked Great House and The Tiger’s Wife I didn’t necessarily want them to win. But I think you could be right about Great House, it would re-read well.

    1. Jackie says:

      Fleurfisher, I like the same thing in an Orange winner, but that isn’t going to happen this year.:-( I like literary books with a strong plot, but this year’s judges seem to like books without any narrative drive. I hope that you enjoy the rest of your short list reading.

  11. LizF says:

    I think it would be typical for it to be between Great House and Memory of Love because I didn’t like either of them and I am very rarely in agreement with judging panels!
    My personal favourites are Room and Grace Williams Says It Loud although I am enjoying The Tiger’s Wife but not very far into it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Liz, it sounds as though we have a similar experience with judging panels! The prize normally goes to a book I can’t finish too :-)

  12. Louise says:

    I’ve only read Grace Williams says it Loud and Room. I loved them both but I think I enjoyed Room more. It was so original and such a pleasure to read in spite of it’s dark subject matter. I’d happily see it win. I have heard a lot of people pit against it though because it’s already had a fair bit of praise and recognition.

    Roll on next Wednesday for a winner : )

    1. Jackie says:

      Louise, I’d love Room to win, because tons of publicity now doesn’t guarantee lasting success whilst an Orange win would at least keep the title on permanent record. I have no problem with a great book having lots of attention. It is those great books that have none which I don’t like.

  13. I’ve only managed to read Room so far, and although it won me over in isolation, it’s often a good strategy to go against popular opinion in these cases. I have The Tiger’s Wife, The Memory of Love and Great House on my wishlist. Hope I enjoy the latter as much as you did!

    1. Jackie says:

      Booklover, I had very limited success with all the titles you have to read so I hope that you enjoy them all far more than I did. Happy orange reading.:-)

  14. Andi says:

    If Great House wins, I’m going to feel EXTRA bad that I couldn’t get through the ARC the publisher sent to me. Ugg!! :) Ran out of steam on The Tiger’s Wife and the library e-book loan period is almost over. Looking forward to diving back into it, though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andi, if it is any consolation I couldn’t finish Great House either :-( I hope you have more success with the rest of Tigers Wife.

  15. Biblibio says:

    The only title I’ve read of the six is The Tiger’s Wife which was quite good. However, as I cannot compare it to the others (and have heard particularly good things about Annabel), I don’t believe I’m qualified to really comment. I’m curious to see who wins, though, and for what reasons! Should be interesting…

    1. Jackie says:

      Biblibio, Annabel is well written, but I don’t think it stands out from the crowd and I’d say it was the least likely to win. That doesn’t mean much though – those judging panels ate so unpredictable!

  16. Jenners says:

    The only one I read is Room … I just can’t believe Goon Squad isn’t on the list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, yes. I don’t think it had a chance if winning, but I am surprised it didn’t make the shortlist.

  17. Aths says:

    I’m eagerly waiting to hear who the winner will be! I’ve only read ROOM, which I honestly didn’t care for much. I’m looking forward to reading GREAT HOUSE and ANNABEL.

    1. Jackie says:

      Aths, Room does seem to divide opinion, so don’t worry about not enjoying it. I think that fact indicates you’ll fall in love with Great House and possibly Annabel too. Enjoy :-)

  18. OOoooo, I’m trying not to make a choice yet. I still have two to finish (one short-listed and one long-listed) and am scrambling for reading hours before the announcement.

    But I don’t think the judge’s ideas have anything to do with my preferences anyway. And I’m not convinced that their other choices for the shortlist necessarily reflect where they’re planning to put the rest of their eggs in the prize-winning basket either.

    So my bet is still on Room, at least my bet on where they’re going to place their bets, which will likely make you very happy (even though it’s not my favourite).


    1. Jackie says:

      BuriedInPrint, I love the way you phrase things :-) I hope you’re right about Room – perhaps they’ll have such a big fight about whether Great House or Memory of Love should win that they decide to compromise and go for Room!!

      Good luck on your mission to finish the Oranges – I hope you enjoy your final two :-)

      1. Thanks, Jackie. Canada Post is holding tight to my last Orange reads (what a time for a strike!) so I’ll be reading the last two after the prize has been announced. (Or perhaps they have inside knowledge that Forna will win and are reading my copy even now.)

        I’ll be absolutely shocked if Room does not take home the Bessie tomorrow, and I’ll have to console myself with the thought that you — and many other Room-lovers — will be pleased.

  19. I’m glad you thought Room was the strongest – it’s sitting on top of my TBR pile right now!

    I’ll also be very interested to know your thoughts on Speed of Dark when you publish your review. I read it at university, thought it was totally riveting and have never known of anyone else who was even aware of it. I wouldn’t say it’s a literary classic but it’s actually really thought-provoking stuff! I await your verdict :)

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