Barbara Kingsolver Gets Revenge
Congratulations to Barbara Kingsolver for winning the Orange Prize for Fiction this year for her novel "The Lacuna."

The annual Orange Prize goes to the best book published in the UK by a person who was born as a woman.

Here is a synopsis for "The Lacuna" from the Orange website:

"Born in the US and reared in a series of provincial households in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is mostly a liability to his social-climbing mother, Salomw; his fortunes remaining insecure as Salomw finds her rich men-friends always on the losing side of the Mexican Revolution."

"Harrison aims for invisibility, observing his world and recording everything in his notebooks with a peculiar selfless irony. Life is what he learns from servants putting him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs on the streets. Then, one day, he ends up mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist, Diego Riviera -- which leads to a job in Riviera's house, where Harrison makes himself useful to the muralist, his wife Frida Kahlo and the exiled Bolshevik leader, Lev Trotsky."

"A violent upheaval sends him to the US. In Carolina, he remakes himself in America's hopeful image and finds an extraordinary use for his talents of observation. But political winds continue to volley him between north and south, in a story that turns many times on the unspeakable breach -- the lacuna -- between truth and public presumption."

A lacuna is any gap. It can also mean a piece of text missing from a narrative, or an area of activity that is not covered by law in which people can get away with awesome criminal activity.

By winning the Orange Prize, Kingsolver got her revenge against Hilary Mantel, whose novel "Wolf Hall" won the Man Booker, the National Book Critics Circle Award, AND the Tournament of Books -- book awards where both sexes are allowed to compete.

Funding for the prize comes from a company called "Orange Broadband," making this kind of like the "Cablevision Prize for Fiction."

The Orange Prize is only one of many literary prizes to be funded by and named after dubious companies. In addition to the Orange Prize, there is also:

--The IMPAC Dublin Award, which is the largest single prize for fiction (100,000 pounds!) and is funded by some Florida productivity improvement company.
--The Costa Book Awards, which are sponsored by Costa Coffee and are really prestigious for some reason

Coffee, broadband, and productivity improvement: these are the enduring market vectors for the modern fiction writer.

Posted by miracle on Sun, 13 Jun 2010 12:28:00 -0500 -- permanent link

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