Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Alternative Orange Prize

Congratulations to Bernardine Evaristo, whose novel, Blonde Roots, has won the ‘alternative Orange prize’. A group of six specially-appointed 16-19 year-olds read all the books on the Orange longlist and chose Blonde Roots as their favourite. Bernardine is very supportive of other writers and was kind enough to write the endorsement on the cover of The Opposite of Cabbage. It’s great to see her novel getting such recognition from younger readers. The winner of the official Orange Prize will be announced later today. What’s intriguing is that the young people’s shortlist contained none of the books in the official shortlist. I was amused to read in the Guardian:

‘They weren't impressed with the final six books on the official shortlist, with comments on the online teen book community Spinebreakers, which recruited the readers, ranging from "don't like the shortlist. It just looks like a bunch of books women would read", to "shoddy work grownups" and "grrr I'm not happy with the judges' shortlist! Not happy at all."’

I haven’t read the short-listed books to judge the veracity of those claims, but they are interesting, especially, “It just looks like a bunch of books women would read” (italics my own, as I’m sure that is what’s meant). Heh.

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