8 Jun 2011

Orange Prize for Fiction 2011: the contenders

Orange Prize co-founder Kate Mosse tells Channel 4 News the award “still matters” in a publishing world dominated by men, as the six nominees read extracts from their books.

Orange Prize for Fiction 2011: the nominees.

The Orange Prize for Fiction is 16 years old this evening but the award – for women authors only – is very much needed in a literary world still dominated by men, co-founder Kate Mosse has told Channel 4 News.

Explaining why the prize was set up in the first place, she said: “For whatever reason – and we didn’t know the answer – often books by women didn’t make it onto the shortlists of the very well established well-respected literary prizes.

“We though that mattered because prizes are the way that readers find out about fantastic books.

“It’s a way of just saying this is the best in the world, international writing by women: have a go. If you don’t like it, fine, put it down.”

She added: “People often ask me if there’s still a need for this prize after 16 years…

“There are still many debates about what reading is, what writing is, whether there is a difference between male writing and female writing, male reading and female reading, issues about who gets reviewed, who chooses what matters, if you like.

Culture blog: Sexism debate still dominates Orange Prize for Fiction

“But at the heart of it all is still the reader, telling the reader about fantastic books.”

The 2011 shortlist is made up of six writers from all over the world.

They are: Emma Donoghue for her novel Room (Picador), Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love (Bloomsbury), Emma Henderson with Grace Williams Says It Loud (Sceptre), Nicole Krauss for Great House (Viking), Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife (Weidenfeld and Nicolson) and Kathleen Winter’s Annabel (Jonathan Cape).

More shortlist details here: Orange Prize for Fiction nominees

Below you can hear each author reading an extract from their nominated works of fiction. The winner will be announced at 7.15pm.

Your Facebook.com/Channel4News comments:
David Andrew Cowan: To be honest I don't think anyone particularly cares outside of the media/literary world about this prize.
Mary Fitzpatrick: I read books written by men and women. What matters is whether it interests me and is well written with a good plot.
Andy Felipe: The name doesn't make much difference. I read books by Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir & Naomi Klein. If it's good I'll read it regardless of gender. Having said that, the simple fact is that women tend to write on subjects of interest to women and vice versa, so it's natural that men will tend to read books written by men.
Ruby Kay: Yes we do still need this award - women need all the praise they can get in this 'male' dominated world!!
John Nicholson: I cant read women as they are a complete mystery to me