Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tremain Takes Orange for Immigrant's Tale

In this country, prizes are like bumps in the road, sleeping policemen. You can't pretend they are not there, and anyone who says they don't care about them is being disingenuous.
Rose Tremain, one of Britain's most critically acclaimed authors has never won the Booker, but has scooped this year's Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (for which she was nominated once before).

The Road Home tells the story of an Eastern European immigrant called Lev, who tries to make his way in Britain, and broadcaster Kirsty Lang, chair of the judges said of it :
We were all very impressed by the novel's main character and the empathy with which she has written him. We liked the cast of characters, and, though it could have been a worthy book, it wasn't.
You find out more about the book and Ms. Tremain on the Orange Broadband site and can read an extract here.

The 2008 Orange award for new writers was won by Joanna Kavenna for Inglorious, which Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian describes as
... a tale of a disaffected journalist's descent into nervous breakdown
I have to admire this lady's perspicacity and determination - she said she had 13 "unpublishable" novels rejected before this!

Meanwhile of course, the ding-dong about whether it's' fair to have a separate prize for women continues with Tim Lott in The Telegraph pointing out that we don't have literary prizes for other disadvantaged groups like the handicapped and people of colour. (Has he never heard of the Decibel Prize?) It's tiresome to see critics inflating like puffer fish as the very mention of the Orange, though sure, it's hard to justify positive discrimination in a year when women have swept all the major literary prizes in the UK.

I did though like this comment left on Lott's post by someone calling themself Chas Pooter :
Novel writing is the one literary
form in which women have always
excelled, indeed led. The novel as
we know it was invented by Mrs
Behn, and she was buried in
Westminster Abbey (though not, it
is true, for being a pioneer
lady-of-letters). In every generation,
from Austen to the Dribbles,) the
leading novelists have been ladies.
And male novelists, from
Richardson's PAMELA onwards,
have been pre-occupied with the lot
of woman. Perhaps the founders of
the Orange Prize have not read any
of them.


Anonymous said...

This is the first time Rose Tremain has won a major prize, though she has been shortlisted for these prizes before. The Road Home (2007) was shortlisted for the 2007 Costa Novel Award. The Colour (2003) was shortlisted for the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction. Restoration (1989) was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize for Fiction.

bibliobibuli said...

always the bridesmaid, as they say of beryl bainbridge ...

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Tremain has won a few minor prizes, such as the Whitbread Novel Award in 1999 for Music and Silence as well as a British newspaper's - The Sunday Times, I think - Book of the Year Award for Restoration back in 1989.

bibliobibuli said...

that's a good list. whitbread isn't minor, neither. but the booker is the holy grail.

(your contribution is appreciated but please can you use at least a nickname?)

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

Chas Pooter must be a reference to "Diary of a Nobody" by George and Weedon Grossmith--how my family howls at the gentle misadventures of Charles, Carrie, and Lupin Pooter!

bibliobibuli said...

enjoyed that too. it's a really unique novel, can't think of another one like it.