Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Orange Longlist 2012

The Orange Prize, the UK's only annual book award for fiction written by women, just announced its 2012 longlist. The Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing throughout the world.

From the longlist, I've only read Gillespsie and I by Jane Harris and it was quite good. I read part of  The Night Circus a few months ago but abandoned it halfway. I was disappointed that the novel was more driven by setting rather than characters. However after all the praise its received, I'll just have to give it another go. I doubt I'll read everything on the longlist but oh, there are so many that look interesting! I've narrowed it down to eight books I'd love to read. I highly doubt I'll even read half of this before the shortlist is announced on May 29 but it's nice to make a list. Here they are in the order I'd like to read them (with blurbs courtesy of Amazon):


Song of Achilles  by Madeline Miller
Patroclus, a young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his son, Achilles. Achilles,is strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles and Patroclus joins their cause.

The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay
Mary-Margaret is seemingly a harmless enough young woman, ready and willing to help out in the Sacred Heart church in Battersea. It is the statue of Jesus on the cross Mary-Margaret is especially drawn to, and one day she decides to give Him a thorough and loving cleansing. But then something strange happens, and moments later she lies unconscious, a great gash in her head, blood on the floor. Soon a full-scale religious mania descends on the quiet church and Battersea.




 



The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy
Elizabeth Barber is crossing the Atlantic with her boyfriend, Derek, who might be planning to propose. In fleeing the UK - temporarily - Elizabeth may also be in flight from her past and the charismatic Arthur, once her partner in what she came to see as a series of crimes. Together they acted as fake mediums. Elizabeth finally rejected the game but Arthur continued his search for the right way to do wrong. She hadn't, though, expected the other man on the boat. As her voyage progresses, Elizabeth's past is revealed, codes slowly form and break as communication deepens. It's time for her to discover who are the true deceivers and who are the truly deceived.


The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a "woman of business" and a spinster pioneer in the British women’s movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of a once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen’s failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into an intriguing courtroom drama complete with accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.
Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg
A richly imagined novel about two people struggling to keep their love, and their family, alive in a place of extreme hardship and unearthly beauty. Everything lies ahead for Lizzie and Neil McKenzie when they arrive at the St. Kilda islands in July of 1830. Neil is to become the minister to the small community of islanders, and Lizzie-bright, beautiful, and devoted-is pregnant with their first child. As the two adjust to life at the edge of civilization, where the natives live in squalor and babies perish mysteriously, their marriage-and their sanity-are soon threatened.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor.


The Forgotten Waltz  by Anne Enright
A new, unapologetic kind of adultery novel. Narrated by the proverbial other woman—Gina Moynihan, a sharp, sexy, darkly funny thirtysomething IT worker—The Forgotten Waltz charts an extramarital affair from first encounter to arranged, settled, everyday domesticity. . . . This novel’s beauty lies in Enright’s spare, poetic, off-kilter prose—at once heartbreaking and subversively funny.
There But For The by Ali Smith 
At a dinner party at a posh London suburb, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house, and Miles’s story is told from the points of view of four of them: Anna, a woman in her forties; Mark, a man in his sixties; May, a woman in her eighties; and a ten-year-old named Brooke. The thing is, none of these people knows Miles more than slightly. How much is it possible for us to know about a stranger? And what are the consequences of even the most casual, fleeting moments we share every day with one another?


So which ones on the longlist have you read? Which ones would you like to read?
    Here's the complete longlist:
  • Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg
  • On the Floor by Aifric Campbell
  • The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen
  • The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
  • Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan 
  • The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
  • The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki
  • Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  • Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
  • Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
  • The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay
  • The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • There but for the by Ali Smith
  • The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard
  • Tides of War by Stella Tillyard
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for this heads-up to the Orange Prize. I've just watched the movie We Need to Talk about Kevin, based on Lionel Shriver's 2005 Oranger Prize winning novel. Have you read that book? I'm curious to know the response of those who have.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I've read that book but I didn't like it very much. I'd like to see the film though.

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  2. I've The Forgotten Waltz from the library, but haven't started. Another one I want to read is Half Blood Blues, since it's Canadian and the 2011 Giller Prize winner.

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  3. I think I want to read the whole 2012 Orange Longlist!
    Beth :-)

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  4. I hope I will be able to read the last 4 of the 8 you mentioned. What I want to read is a whole different story.. The longer I think about it, the more I'd like to read them all.

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  5. Oh thanks for posting the list. I'm so glad Ann Patchett made it and I hope she gets onto the shortlist. Loved State of Wonder!

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  6. Thanks for sharing the list! Your choice of books is very intriguing. Will be looking forward to your reviews.

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  7. I'm reading The Song of Achilles at the moment and I'm enjoying it. I know what you mean about The Night Circus, but I thought that the setting was so wonderful that I was prepared to forgive any other flaws - I loved it.

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    1. Many people loved it just like you so I think I'll just have to give it another go.

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  8. Thanks so much for posting the list. Currently I am struggling through State of Wonder. I wanted to enjoy it, but it is leaving me aching for a plot I enjoy. Nevertheless, it is well written. I look forward to The Song of Achilles, The Forgotten Waltz, and Island of Wings. Next on the list is "My Struggle" by Karl Ove Knausgaard. I opened it at the bookstore, browsed a little too long, and fell in love.

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