2011 Orange Prize Shortlist

Here are the finalists for the 2011 Orange Prize. Surprisingly, I’ve already read two of the six (the ones with links below). I’ve read an exceprt from The Tiger’s Wife and wasn’t a fan, though I note that many many many people are praising it. I have no interest in reading Room or The Memory of Love, and know little about Grace Williams Says It Loud.

  • Room, by Emma Donoghue
  • The Memory of Love, by Aminatta Forna
  • Grace Williams Says It Loud, by Emma Henderson
  • Great House, by Nicole Krauss
  • The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht
  • Annabel, by Kathleen Winter

Of the two I read, I think I liked Annabel more as a story, but I think Great House touched deeper and was written better, if not to great cumulative effect. I suppose, then, that I’m rather indifferent to the prize this year.

11 thoughts on “2011 Orange Prize Shortlist

  1. Winter and Forna were my two favorites from the longlist, so I am not complaining. I’m not a Room fan either, but understand those who are. I have the Krauss on hand because of your review, but know from that that it will take a particular reading frame of mind for me to appreciate it.

    The Obreat is one of those novels where I think I have to wait for the hype to ease before I decide whether to try it.

  2. I was a Room and Tiger’s Wife out of the three from that list I’ve read (I really feel strongly about Great House–I think it failed as a novel, overall.

    My vote would have to be with Tiger’s Wife however. That is a book I will be talking about and recommending for sometime. The story and the language transported me into unfamiliar territory, and ultimately, touched me the most.

  3. Right, I am definitely in the minority here. Of the six novels, I’ve read three and disliked each of them. I swore I wouldn’t read Room but then did. I found it creepily compelling at first but then it just fell apart. I also read Great House, which I found seriously annoying and blogged thus:
    and I read The Tiger’s Wife, which left me wondering, considering all the hype the book has received, “is it me?” I blogged on it:

  4. Liz: If you are in the minority, I think I am there with you. We agree on Room, and your thoughts on Great House and The Tiger’s Wife might be enough to convince me to leave them unread. I know, I’d be abandoning Trevor if I skip Krauss, but I can’t let him sway me all the time (cf. A Visit From The Goon Squad).

  5. I tried The Tiger’s Wife, which did my head in, and I gladly abandoned it after 50 pages or so. I need add nothing to the Room comments! Wasn’t Swamplandia in the longlist?

  6. Well now, David Abrams, whose praise turned me to Alan Heathcock (whom I will praise on here in due time), has major praise for The Tiger’s Wife:

    January Magazine has posted my review of The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. To say that I liked the book is like saying “sipping chilled wine and eating French pastries while floating on a raft in a swimming pool on a butter-warm day under robin’s-egg-blue skies as your poolside wife reads The Wall Street Journal aloud, reciting the rising numbers of your stocks, while on the other side of the lawn the members of the London Philharmonic you’ve hired for the day play your favorite Strauss waltz” is just an “okay experience.”

    Yes, I loved The Tiger’s Wife.

    It might just be the most finely-crafted novel I’ve ever read. Ever.

    For the first time since I read the excerpt in The New Yorker, I’m interested. And I must say that I really enjoyed Obreht’s piece published in The New Yorker last year. Hmmm, undecided.

  7. Well, I didn’t finish it to be fair…though such gushing praise prompts predictable thoughts such as: should I have? I genuinely found it annoying for some reason. I’d be happy to find I was way off the mark at some point in the future. But I just can’t see the issues that put me off being resolved…

  8. Well, if I like it, it will be a nice counter to my general disappointment with Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! (which was on the longlist, Lee). I really like Russell’s short work, but was disappointed in her novel. Perhaps it’ll be the other way around with Obreht (though I did quite like “Blue Water Djinn”).

  9. Well, Lee, the folks at Random House are swift: I just got the email saying it’s on its way. Here’s to hoping it’s at least half as good as David Abrams says! Might be a while before my review pops up here, as I have read much more than I’ve had time to review this year, but I’ll do my best.

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