Thursday, March 09, 2006

2006 Orange Prize Long list Announced

On Monday, this year’s long list was announced at the London Book Fair. The Orange Prize for Fiction is awarded to a woman writer yearly for an outstanding book published in the UK in past year. While entries must be published in the UK, the authors must not necessarily be British. In 2003, Nigeria’s own Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was nominated for her book "Purple Hibiscus."

Since I tend to read according to my tastes and moods rather than following bestseller lists, I have not read any of the books on this year’s long list. Browsing the list every year, though, introduces me to authors who otherwise might not have surfaced on my literary radar. In the year, Chimamanda lost, I discovered Andrea Levy, who took the prize for her book "Small Island." Although I didn’t like the book much, I enjoyed her writing style and am drawn to the themes of her books. So, I will be checking some of her other work in the future.


Anonymous said...

the orange prize is a great way to promote women's writing. Last year Diana Evans (a half/Nigerian/half/English) won the Orange new writers award for her stunning book 26A. It is beautifully written. The language is fresh and vibrant. I strongly recommend it. I hear that she is coming to Nigeria sometimes this year to promote the book. Does anyone know if this is true or not? I really hope so.


Ore said...

Hmmm, I just bought a copy of 26A and will be reading it sometime soon.

It would be great if she comes here. I am enjoying the new culture here of book readings.

sokari said...

I too did not really enjoy Small Island - see under "books" category in Black Looks for my review. I also went to a reading by her and Buchi Emechta quite a few years back now in London. I found AL very "English" and rather reserved and shy but she was a listener so having a conversation was a lot easier than with Buchi - the contrast between these two African women was oceans apart literally and figuratively speaking.

Anonymous said...

has the been more book reading since Chiemanda's Purple Hibscus?

Pilgrimage to Self said...

Funny, but I really enjoyed Small Island, although Hortense irritated me no end sometimes.

I just bought 26a by Diana Evans three days ago but haven't started it yet.

Ore said...

Andrea Levy is shy? Wow, that's interesting, because she doesn't come across that way in the interviews I have heard with her. I'd love to attend a book reading of hers.

@Anonymous: There was a series of Sefi Atta readings late last year. That's the last one I've been for.

Anonymous said...

I interviewed her for her first book years ago - and she was very shy, but confident. I was in my 20s then and she made it very easy for me. I really enjoyed Small Island. Hortense reminds me of so many of my Caribbean friends. I was in Jamaica for about 3 months a few years ago and reading SI brought back fond memories of many of the older women I met.

I loved 26A. and I hope she gets to come to Nigeria. She is so humble, down to earth and committed to working with young people. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Chimanda. I went to see her at yellow Chilli (in Lagos)and she was most conceited and disrespectful. Again, I met some people who had seen her in Abuja and they find her condocending. So many people were put off by her. Similarly, I have had a few friends in the publishing world and fellow writers describe her as a prima donna. I very much enjoyed purple Hibiscus, but not the writer. Then again, it doesn't matter.

I compare people Chi with writers like Alice Walker and Maya Angeleou who are just delightful to meet. I guess with age she will mellow out and come into her own.


Anonymous said...

If Chimamanda was a man, would he be described as ‘conceited’ and ‘disrespectful?’

Maybe you are referring to something personal between you and Chimamanda but I am very surprised to read this.

I was at Yellow Chili and thought she was intelligent, honest and confident. What Ambassador Olusola said at the end was true and many people agreed. Chimamanda is somebody who likes to challenge ideas and ask questions but she was really interested in people and what they had to say. I have seen her at other events. She smiles and laughs a lot, with a wry sense of humour and sometimes makes fun of herself. I do not always agree with her positions (like Igbocentrism) but she expresses them eloquently and honestly.

Anybody with a strong personality especially in Nigeria will have detractors but I wonder if there is a part of us that still does not approve of strong women? Why should she become mellow? Does it mean submissive and quiet? Should she be seen and not heard? Should Dora Akunyili become mellow? Should Joke Silva? Should Okonjo-Iweala?

I hope that Chimamanda will remain the intelligent, strong, confident thinker that she is. She has inspired many people, writers and non-writers. I know her publisher and he has only the highest praise for her. Purple Hibiscus has its flaws but it is a remarkable book. It doesn’t always happen but I think in this case the writer is as remarkable as the book.


grace said...

F, I am so glad you said that, I was getting a little worried. I haven't met Chimamanda, yet I was also wondering whether what is considered arrogance may not just be strength and intelligence. I definitely agree that our modern society does not accept women who are forceful and opinionated and intelligent. No one is calling Wole Soyinka condescending and arrogant, yet he is always insulting people and politicians in the public arena. And even if some people don't like him, I doubt they would be calling him "Prima Donna".

I also hope Ngozi Adichie continues to do her thing. She is a true role model and is inspiring young african women to speak their truth with boldness. I am definitely proud of her, even if she's mean.