Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oranges Or Lemons?

So it starts, yes I am all finished with the utterly superb thriller/crime novel (which I will review later today – I know two blogs in one day I really am spoiling you) and now am all focused on the Orange Short List. I did actually really toy with the idea of reading the freshly arrived latest Sarah Waters novel ‘The Little Stranger’ but then thought “hang on I have already now got a backlog of six books that I need to read in just over two weeks… have I really got time? Actually I am still waiting on Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden and also The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (which is all about Alzheimer’s a subject very close to my heart as I often go to an Alzheimer’s home to see my Great Uncle) but they are on their way and it give me a chance to get through the others. Maybe I can treat myself to Sarah Waters along the way, maybe at the midway point? I am interested with the selection as until the shortlist was announced I had only heard of two and had only wanted to read one of the books on the list which is Kamila Shamshie’s Burnt Shadows, purely down to a few rave reviews and a wonderful cover. I should really put down the entire list just in case any of you don’t know it (highly unlikely) so the contenders are…

Scottsboro – Ellen Feldman
The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey
The Invention of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt
Molly Fox’s Birthday – Deirdre Madden
Home – Marilynne Robinson
Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie

I am wondering if there will be some complete lemons in the mix of oranges, time will tell. I already have an inkling which one will win, but I am holding fire on saying in case it turns out to be a complete lemon. I also have two favourites in my head (neither which I think are the winner pre-reading them) just from the storyline’s alone. Isn’t it funny what judgements you can make on books without having read a single word!?! Will I be right? I am not sure to be honest as I have only read two of the winners the first was On Beauty by Zadie Smith which I think is possibly one of the most boring books I have ever read and on the complete opposite spectrum Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half A Yellow Sun which sits in my Top Ten Books of All Time. If I can I will try and fit in a few other winners along the journey but I do only have 15 days I must try and stay realistic. I shall announce who is my winner before 9am on Wednesday 3rd of June as it’s announced that evening. I can’t cheat as I will be on a plane to Switzerland at 7am that morning which also means you will all know the winner before I do! I don’t think it will make world news?

What are your predictions? Have you read any so far (no plot spoilers please)? What has been your favourite of the Orange Winners so far? Oh and most controversially, do we still need the Orange Prize and is it sexist to have an award just for women?

9 comments:

Candy Schultz said...

As readers we have to make fairly ridiculous judgments on books all the time. I never want to spend too much time deciding as I'd rather be reading. Having said that, until the advent of the internet all I had to go by was the NYT Book Review and they never seem to like any of the books they review. It's a lot easier now. Just go to the blogs whose judgment hasn't let you down and there you go.

I'm not doing this list. The Booker is coming along soon and I have to decide how much of that I'm going to try this year.

I, however, have started the Sarah Waters. I've never read her before but I love ghost stories.
And, yes, I think you should allow yourself a break to read it. You read fast enough to get through that list in no time and you might need a break then.

But you don't have to listen to me or anyone else.

claire said...

I haven't read any one of them, but would really love to try The Wilderness and Burnt Shadows sometime, most likely after the winner has been announced, though. Good luck on finishing all of them! I hope it will be rewarding. I also just read Half of a Yellow Sun and really loved it, too.

farmlanebooks said...

I've found more lemons than oranges so far - I've nearly finished the list now (only 1 and a half books to go) but there are a couple of good books in there - I think you'll love 4/6.

I look forward to hearing about your thoughts on them.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have Little Stranger ordered on audio. I'm not even 100% sure the library has it yet, but they've ordered it and I'm second in line. I can't believe you have the strength to hold out and not read it! Just slip it in there...nobody will notice! I don't have any predictions on the winner of the list of books...I've read none of them. I don't know how you guys read so much. I'm slowly working my through my reading challenges!

Jo said...

I'm not going to read the list, I intended to but I didn't leave myself enough time. I'd like to read Burnt Shadows and Molly Fox's birthday though, and I'llprobably read the winner if it's not one of those!

As to whether the orange prize is sexist, I've never thought about it, but I think if there was a prize only open to male authors, women would be up in arms about it!

Victoria said...

I've read The Wilderness, which is an interesting exercise. I wouldn't call it enjoyable really - it is about alzheimers after all - but Harvey is a good writer with big ambitions. I'm now half way through Samantha Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else (thumbs down at the moment) and have nearly finished Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows (which I have loved, somewhat to my surprise). I too think I know who will win...

Couldn't agree more about On Beauty by the way. It was a complete travesty that it won when Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith all had cracking novels on the shortlist that year. The Accidental was robbed IMHO. :-)

As for whether it is sexist to have an award for just women... By definition I suppose it is, but only in the politest possible way, and with some cause. Is it necessary? Absolutely, in my opinion. Look at the shortlist for the IMPAC Dublin award this year. Out of the eight shortlisted books a whopping none are by women. Not one. Out of all the books published in English *for the last two years*. In the 13 years the prize has been running it has only been won by a woman 3 times. Grrrrrr...

Savidge Reads said...

Candy - I do trust all of your opinions though you see, I know I dont have to but it helps to have a soundboard. I am thinking of doing the Man Booker longlist but will have to see nearer the time.

Claire - Those two are possibly the ones I am most looking forward to. Half a Yellow Sun is amazing.

Jackie - Oh no I dont like lemons... this could be very very interesting.

Sandy - Part of my "job" is reading so I am a bit of a lucky so and so, plus I have the house pretty much to myself as the Non Reader works odd hours and I am not a big fan of the telly!

Jo - I dont mean to imply that the Orange is sexist as it was started with the right intentions totally, I just think its interesting and liek you said if it was only men...

Victoria - I had forgotten what On Beauty was up against which has made me even more angry about it. How can you win an award for retelling a story!? Actually Ali Smith should have won endless awards doing that with Girl Meets Boy, but with On Beauty I was flabberghasted!

Anonymous said...

I have read Home which I already mentioned was ace and also Scottsboro which I found really interesting but sometimes a bit too 'history book' rather than story for me. Definitely worth reading though, which is good as it appears to be the first one on your list...

Lge (Lucy)

Lizzy Siddal said...

I've read 4/6: 1 stunner, 2 cracking reads and one not so perfectly executed. #5 is shaping up well also. No lemons so far.