And the nominees are :
Anita Amirrezvani - The Blood of FlowersShould curiosity propel you to find out more about each of the books and their authors, the Orange Prize website has plenty of information.
Stella Duffy - The Room of Lost Things
Jennifer Egan - The Keep
Anne Enright - The Gathering
Linda Grant - The Clothes on Their Backs
Tessa Hadley - The Master Bedroom
Nancy Huston - Fault Lines
Gail Jones - Sorry
Sadie Jones - The Outcast
Lauren Liebenberg - The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam
Charlotte Mendelson - When We Were Bad
Deborah Moggach - In The Dark
Anita Nair - Mistress
Heather O'Neill - Lullabies for Little Criminals
Elif Shafak - The Bastard of Istanbul
Dalia Sofer - The Septembers of Shiraz
Scarlett Thomas - The End of Mr Y
Carol Topolski - Monster Love
Rose Tremain - The Road Home
Patricia Wood - Lottery
The usual do-we-actually-need-a-separate-prize for women's fiction arguments are rehashed. Should anyone (still?) need convincing Maureen Freely makes a pretty good case.
Lindesay Irvine on the Guardian blog makes me smile with his summary of literary prize controversies :
Tradition decrees that no major literary prize is complete without a decent ding-dong. This may be the fault of journalists - those people over there, you understand - since "Twenty Interesting Novels in Running for Book Prize" is not the most compelling headline. ... These rows almost invariably slot into one of three categories - Omission scandal! Inexpert Judge Outrage! Selection Criteria Injustice!before giving a run-down on some of the heated discussion which has dogged the Orange.
All I can say to that is - may the best woman win! The shortlist is announced 15 April, and the winner 4 June. The New Writers shortlist is announced 8 April.
Here's a real squirt of lemon-juice. Tim Lott in the Telegraph calls the Orange a sexist con-trick, and reckons it's not needed because :
Women are predominant, in terms of numbers and power, in most of the major publishing houses and agencies. They sell most of the books, into a market that largely comprises women readers. They are favoured by what is overwhelmingly the most important publishing prize (the Richard and Judy list), and comprise most of the reading groups that drive sales. Girls in schools are more literate than boys, and pupils are taught reading mainly by female teachers promoting mainly female writers.When are men going to stop whining and finally unpeel the Banana Prize for Blokes' Books?