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Orange Prize: there's good news and bad news

An article for the Independent discusses the recently announced longlist for Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, a prize for women writers, and the overall disappointment that this year’s chair, Muriel Gray, feels about the books that were submitted this year.

Gray says the works “lacked imagination, and focused too narrowly on their own lives and personal issues,” calling the tendency “rural schoolteacher syndrome.” These are strange comments when looking at the longlist, which includes the Booker Prize-winning The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and Costa winner Stef Penney’s The Tenderness of Wolves. However, Gray does not want her comments taken out of context.

It might seem odd for a chair of a prize celebrating women’s fiction, but she was careful to position her remarks in the context of the “more level playing field” for women’s writing that has been created in part by the Orange Prize. The prize was necessary, not because women writers were “different or inferior, but because the publishing world, the media and the marketplace treated them as if they were”, said Gray. Must try harder, girls.

The article counters Gray’s argument with a brief survey of women writers who refute her point, and of male authors who also are guilty of writing about their own lives, and looks at how this year’s nominees measure up to Gray’s accusations.

For the complete list of the Orange Prize nominees click here.