Though I'm firmly in the camp who believes that Hilary Mantel deserves all of the praise and prizes that a grateful readership can bestow on her, I was delighted to see another one of my favorite books from 2012—and a definite underdog—nab the "Prize Formerly Known as Orange" for 2013 (next year, the prize will be sponsored by Bailey's Irish Cream).
Yes, the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 winner was none other than A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven, a picaresque, darkly funny tale of one man's journey to acceptance.
The chair of the judges, actress Miranda Richardson, did a good job of summing up the book's appeal: "It is a book where we all found ourselves laughing out loud on trains or wherever we were reading," she told the crowd at London's festival hall, where the £30,000 prize was awarded. "You're laughing in kind of fear or horror as much as anything else. It's relentless, but great."
This year's shortlist was incredibly strong, and included, along with Homes and Mantel, Kate Atkinson, Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver and Maria Semple.
Though they may have been a bit overshadowed in the U.S. by yesterday's Pulitzer announcement, this week has also brought two important literary news items from the UK.
First, the shortlist for the prize formerly known as the Orange Prize and now known simply as the Women's Prize for Fiction. It's an incredible list—Hilary Mantel seems to be up against her toughest competition yet. Will she sweep all three of the U.K.'s major awards?
Speaking of Zadie Smith, she also figures in the second item of literary news from the U.K: She's one of the 2013 "20 under 40" list from Granta magazine. Created every 10 years, the list honors the most promising 20 British writers under the age of 40. It's Smith's second time on the list, which for the first time contains a majority of female authors—12/20. It's also the most international list yet.
Click on the author's name to see their author page on BookPage.com.