Orange Prize Other

Who will win the 2011 Orange Prize?

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?

Book Prizes Orange Prize Other

The 2011 Orange Prize Longlist

Last week I predicted which books would make the Orange longlist. I correctly guessed eight of them, which I thought was quite good considering that I didn’t even know which books had been submitted.

The longlisted books:

  • Room – Emma Donoghue
  • The Birth of Love – Joanna Kavenna
  • Annabel – Kathleen Winter 
  • Louise Doughty – Whatever You Love 
  • Nicole Krauss – Great House DNF
  • Roma Tearne – The Swimmer DNF
  • Téa Obreht – The Tiger’s Wife DNF
  • Emma Henderson – Grace Williams Says it Loud DNF
  • Leila Aboulela – Lyrics Alley
  • Carol Birch – Jamrach’s Menagerie
  • Tishani Doshi – The Pleasure Seekers
  • Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Goon Squad
  • Aminatta Forna – The Memory of Love
  • Tessa Hadley – The London Train
  • Samantha Hunt – The Seas
  • Lola Shoneyin – The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
  • Wendy Law-Yone – The Road to Wanting
  • Julie Orringer – The Invisible Bridge
  • Anne Peile – Repeat it Today with Tears
  • Karen Russell – Swamplandia!

NB: DNF = Started book, but did not finish it.

My immediate thoughts on looking at the list were of disappointment. Why didn’t the outstanding The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins make it? What about the quirky, entertaining When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman?






I was very happy to see Room by Emma Donoghue and The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna, but many of the other books on the list have failed to engage me. I have tried and given up on a surprising percentage. It looks as though the Orange Prize judges all share a taste in books as I can see many similarites in style and have noticed that plot isn’t a high priority for any of them. This worries me when I think about tackling the rest of the long list.






Are any books with fantastic plots hiding in the longlist?

Have I just been unlucky in reading books with a similar style? Is the rest of the list more diverse?

I am going to try the entire longlist, but I am not going to complete them all. I love the way these prizes introduce me to many books that I haven’t heard of, but I’m no longer going to force myself to complete anything that I’m not enjoying. I’m especially looking forward to reading  The Invisible Bridge, A Visit from the Goon Squad and Swamplandia!, but I am also interested in trying the ones that I haven’t heard of before.

Which books are you looking forward to reading?

What do you think of the Orange longlist?

Orange Prize Other

Who is going to win the 2010 Orange Prize?

I have now finished my Orange short list reading. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the end of all the books, but I’ve read enough to know their writing style and basic plot.



I was very disappointed by the Orange short list this year. It wasn’t just that I didn’t really like any of the books, but I felt that most of them didn’t deserve to make the short list.

When I read the 2009 Orange short list I didn’t like all the books, but knew why they had been selected and could see the quality of the writing.

In 2010 all the best books were left on the long list.

I think that leaving these three books out of the short list was a big mistake.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett stars4h

Hearts and Minds – Amanda Craig

The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton stars4 

I think that The Help and The Rehearsal deserved to fight it out for the winning position this year. I have no idea why they weren’t selected and I highly recommend that you take a look at them!

My Reviews and Ratings for 2010 Short List

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore

The Very Thought of You – Rosie Alison

Black Water Rising – Attica Locke

The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver stars1 (DNF)

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel stars1 (DNF)

Who is going to win?

In my opinion the only book that deserves to win is Wolf Hall. I didn’t enjoy reading it, but it had the writing quality of a prize winning book. The problem is that the same book has never won the Booker and the Orange prize before. The Orange prize tends to favor fiction over literary fiction and so I have a feeling that Wolf Hall will struggle to win.

Those Orange judges are making very strange selections this year so it is impossible to know which book they will pick. If I try to get inside their minds then I imagine The Very Thought of You has a very good chance. It is a flawless example of a romance book and I think it will have broad appeal.

If I was going to place a bet then my money would be on The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.

I think it is one of those books that will improve with re-reading (something I’m hoping the judges do!). It did have a good plot and although I found it to be a slow read, it has left a good impression on me.

The Bookies Favourite?

The bookies favourite is Wolf Hall. They put The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and The Very Thought of You as the least likely choices, both with odds of 8/1. It is tempting to place a bet….

The winner of the Orange prize will be announced on 9th June.

Who do you think will win?

2009 Historical Fiction Orange Prize

Small Wars – Sadie Jones

 Long listed for the Orange Prize 2010

I enjoyed Sadie Jones’ last novel, The Outcast, to some extent, but found the ending to be a bit of an anti-climax. When I saw her latest book had made the Orange long list I decided to give her another try.

Small Wars is set on Cyprus during the 1950s Emergency, a time when the British defended Cyprus against a colony of Cypriots determined to form a union with Greece. The book follows Hal, a young British soldier who is posted to Cyprus. He brings his wife and daughters with him, but their relationship is put under pressure by the fear of violence.

I’m afraid I wasn’t a big fan of Small Wars. The pace of the book was quite slow and there were several long, meandering sections where I began to lose interest. The writing was simple and easy to read, but this simplicity meant that the real horror of some situations wasn’t adequately described:

The people were made to lie down on the floor of the trucks, because there were so many of them, and if the soldiers made them lie down, they could be layered to make room. There were reports of suffocation from this stacking of live bodies, but later, the British, investigating, found no bodies.

In the hands of a different author that same scene could have been very hard to read. I can imagine the fear of those poor people, but reading the above passage provoked no emotion in me. The same is true for much of the book – there were some terrible events, but they were rushed over and so the horror could be largely ignored.

The main theme of Small Wars was the way war can affect relationships. The book concentrated on characterisation rather than plot; this gentle observation of the feelings will be of interest to some, but I’m afraid it was all too quiet for me.

Recommended to those who want to read about war in a quiet, gentle way.

What others had to say:

It’s a complex study, yet it’s easy to read and progresses very quickly!  S Krishna’s Books

 ….notable for its psychological depth and characterizations. California Literary Review

 ….this follow-up shows that she is no one-hit wonder. Times Online

Have you read The Outcast or Small Wars?

Do you think this book has a chance at making the Orange short list?

2009 Historical Fiction Orange Prize

Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed

 Long listed for 2010 Orange Prize

Last week the long list for the Orange prize 2010 was announced and I discovered that I already owned a copy of this one. I started to read it straight away, keen to discover why it made the list. 

Black Mamba Boy begins in 1930s Somalia and follows ten-year-old Jama as he sets out on a dangerous journey across the desert, searching for his father. He travels through war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt, Palestine and finally to Britain.

The plot is based on the true story of what happened to the author’s father; it is amazing to think that one person endured so much hardship at such a young age. The terrible things that this little boy saw and had to endure to stay alive are almost beyond belief.

Unfortunately this book didn’t grab me in the way that it should. In the beginning too many characters were introduced, so I struggled to remember who was who. I failed to connect to Jama and so I felt distanced from the events he was witnessing. It could be that he was forced to grow up quickly, but I also didn’t feel that the book realistically portrayed a child’s point of view – he seemed to understand everything that was going on around him, having an adult’s comprehension of the world.

The book also contained long descriptions, which led my mind to wander away from the page.

Sand scratched in his eyes and blurred the path as it danced around the desert in a frenetic whirling ballet. Jama’s sarong was nearly pulled off by the mischievous sand jinns hiding within the storm. Jama covered his face with his sarong and managed to make slow progress like that. The dust storm had turned the sun a bright orange, until unashamed at its obscured power it crept away below the horizon to be replaced by an anaemic fragile-looking moon. Jama stumbled across the hill, kicking rocks away with bare feet, giant thorns poking and prodding dangerously. Desert animals scurried around looking for refuge, their small furry paws scrambling over Jama’s sand-swathed feet. Exhausted, Jama stopped and collapsed on the sand.

There is nothing wrong with these descriptions by themselves, but when you have to wade through pages and pages of them with no text to break things up it gets tedious. The repitition of the word Jama also began to irritate me.

Overall, I’m afraid I was disappointed by this book. I hope I’ll have more succes with my next Orange read.

There are very few reviews for this book out there at the moment, but it does seem to divide people. I think this is another Marmite book!

an amazing ride through the dusty, noisy but bustling streets of the some of the most important cities of North East Africa in the ’30’s. Lotus Reads

There are, however, moments when Black Mamba Boy stumbles…… Follow The Thread

Orange Prize Other

The Orange Prize Long List 2010

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?