Sunday, June 12, 2011

Robert McCrum in The Observer yesterday

Has Keri got a bone to pick with VS Naipaul!

VS Naipaul's remarks about Jane Austen and other female writers have finally stirred a fellow Booker prize winner – who has been silent for decades – into action. Keri The Bone People Hulme, who lives on the South Island of New Zealand amid sheep and fisher folk, has told her New Zealand audience: "VS Naipaul is a misogynist prick whose works are dying. He accurately foresaw their relevance three decades ago: 'They will not survive me.' As he ages, his nasty behaviour - and judgments - become ever more wince-making. Many thousand women writers both outrank and will out-survive this slug." The language of literary criticism clearly has a different register in the Antipodes, but Hulme's indignation was shared by many of the guests, some in ebullient spirits, at a gathering prior to the Orange prize.

Téa's Tiger feat walks away with the prize

And so to London's Festival Hall for the 16th year of the Orange prize, Britain's popular and reader-friendly prize for fiction. Orange's global reach now rivals Booker and the international shortlist, from Aminatta Forna to Nicole Krauss, reflected that. True to form, the favourite, Emma Donoghue's Room, was pipped at the post. The Tiger's Wife by Serbian-American Téa Obreht is a powerful account of the Balkan war, a novel acclaimed by prize chair Bettany Hughes as the work of "a truly exciting new talent". Among the onlookers, Tim Waterstone was talking up the appointment of James Daunt to the ailing book chain and Obreht's publisher, Weidenfeld, celebrated its good fortune. Obreht is the youngest-ever winner of this important trophy. For her, in a changing marketplace, the future's bright.

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