Longlist in full
A lyrical and deeply moving novel by a twice Orange-listed rising star, set in pre-Independence Sudan, Egypt and post-war Britain.
With Mahmood Bey at its helm, the family can do no wrong. But when Mahmood’s son, Nur – the brilliant, charming heir to his business empire – suffers a near-fatal accident, his hopes of university and a glittering future are dashed. Subsequently, his betrothal to his cousin and sweetheart, Soraya is broken off, another tragedy that he is almost unable to bear.As British rule is coming to an end and the country is torn between modernising influences and the call of traditions past, the family is divided. Mahmood’s second wife, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and leave behind her the dust of ‘backward-looking’ Sudan. His first wife, Waheeba, lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors and resents Nabilah’s influence on Mahmood. Meanwhile, Nur must find a way to live again in the world and find peace. Moving from the villages of Sudan to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated post-colonial Britain, this is a sweeping tale of loss, faith and reconciliation.
About The Author: Leila Aboulela was born in 1964 in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. She came to England to study at the LSE and now lives between Doha and Aberdeen.
London, 1857: after surviving an encounter with an escaped tiger on the streets of Bermondsey, nine-year-old Jaffy stumbles into a job for its owner, the wild animal collector, Mr Jamrach.
Commissioned by Jamrach to find and collect a sea dragon, Jaf soon joins a ship bound for the South Seas, and so begins a wonder-filled voyage of discovery.
But when things start to go awry, Jaf’s journey becomes a fight for survival which will push faith, love and friendship to their outermost limits.
Brilliantly written and utterly compulsive, Carol Birch’s novel evokes the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century from the squalor of London to the islands of the South Seas. This historical adventure is a major literary accomplishment and will delight fans of Michel Faber and Sara Gruen.
About the Author: Carol Birch is the author of ten previous novels including Scapegallows and Turn Again Home.
The story of a mother, her son, a locked room and the outside world
Jack is five and, like any little boy, excited at the prospect of presents and cake. He’s looking forward to telling his friends it’s his birthday, too. But although Jack is a normal child in many ways – loving, funny, bright, full of energy and questions – his upbringing is far from ordinary: Jack’s entire life has been spent in a single room that measures just 12 feet by 12 feet; as far as he’s concerned, Room is the entire world.
He shares this world with his mother, with Plant, and tiny Mouse (though Ma isn’t a fan and throws a book at Mouse when she sees him). There’s TV too, of course – and the cartoon characters he thinks of as his friends – but Jack knows that nothing else he sees on the screen is real. Old Nick, on the other hand, is all too real, but only visits at night – like a bat – when Jack is meant to be asleep and hidden safely in Wardrobe. And only Old Nick has the code to Door, which is otherwise locked…
Told in Jack’s voice, Room is the story of a mother’s love for her son, and of a young boy’s innocence.
It all started in August 1968 when Babo, with curly hair and jhill mill teeth, became the first member of the Patel family to leave Madras and fly on a plane all the way to London to further his education. His father should have known there would be trouble: on the morning of the departure he had his first and only dream, in which strange ghosts threw poison-tipped arrows and all his family was lost. But off Babo went, and now here he is, in a flat off the Finchley Road, untraditionally making love to a cream-skinned girl from Wales, Sian Jones, who he fell head over heels for as soon as he saw the twirl of red ribbon in her hair.
Ba-ba-boom, ba-ba-boom, ba-ba-boom-boom-boom. Theirs is a mixed-up love in a topsy-turvy world, and their two families will never be the same again. Meet the Patel-Joneses: Babo, Sian, Mayuri and Bean, in their little house with orange and black gates next-door to the Punjab Women’s Association.
As the twentieth century creaks and croaks its way along – somewhere out there Jim Morrison commits suicide; Charles and Diana get hitched; Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her own bodyguards; cable TV arrives in India – these four navigate their way through the uncharted territory of a ‘hybrid’ family: the hustle and bustle of Babo’s relatives, the faraway phone-line crackle of Sian’s, the eternal wisdom and soft bosom of great-grandmother Ba, the perils of first love, lost innocence and old age, and the big question: what do you do with the space your loved ones leave behind? In this tender, lyrical and uplifting debut, Tishani Doshi, a prizewinning poet, effortlessly captures the quirks and calamities of one unusual clan in a story of identity, family, belonging and all-transcending love.
About The Author: Tishani Doshi is a poet and dancer based in Madras, India. Her first collection of poetry, Countries of the Body, won the Forward Poetry Prize for best first collection in 2006. The Pleasure Seekers is her first novel.
I stare at the photo. I try to read his gaze, each fold on his face, the slight frown. I study the photo in the same way that a spy might study the face of a counterpart in a rival organization.
I am calm as I make this promise: I am going to find out what you love, then whatever it is, I am going to track it down and I am going to take it away from you. Two police officers knock on Laura’s door and her life changes forever. They tell her that her nine-year old daughter Betty has been hit by a car and killed.
When justice is slow to arrive, Laura decides to take her own revenge and begins to track down the man responsible. Laura’s grief also re-opens old wounds and she is thrown back to the story of her passionate love affair with Betty’s father David, their marriage and his subsequent affair with another woman. Haunted by her past, and driven to breaking point by her desire for retribution, Laura discovers the lengths she is willing to go to for love.
‘Whatever You Love’ is a heart-wrenching novel of revenge, compulsion and desire from acclaimed novelist Louise Doughty.
Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal.
Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life – divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house – and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang – who thrived and who faltered – and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.
“A Visit from the Goon Squad” is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both – and escape the merciless progress of time – in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.
A heartbreaking story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances by acclaimed writer Aminatta Forna.
Freetown, Sierra Leone: a devastating civil war has left an entire populace with terrible secrets to keep. In the capital’s hospital Kai, a gifted young surgeon is plagued by demons that are beginning to threaten his livelihood. Elsewhere in the hospital lies Elias Cole, a university professor who recalls the love that obsessed him and drove him to acts that are far from heroic. As past and present intersect, Kai and Elias are drawn unwittingly closer by Adrian, a British psychiatrist with good intentions, and into the path of one woman at the centre of their stories. The Memory of Love is a heartbreaking story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
About the Author: Aminatta Forna was born in Scotland and raised in West Africa. Her first book The Devil that Danced on the Water was runner-up for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. Her novel Ancestor Stones was winner of the 2008 Hurston Wright Legacy Award, the Liberaturpreis in Germany, was nominated for the International IMPAC Award and selected by the Washington Post as one of the most important books of 2006. In 2007 Vanity Fair named Aminatta as one of Africa’s most promising new writers. Aminatta has also written for magazines and newspapers, radio and television, and presented television documentaries on Africa’s history and art. Aminatta Forna lives in London with her husband.
“The London Train” is a novel in two parts, separate but wound together around a single moment, examining in vivid detail two lives stretched between two cities. Paul lives in the Welsh countryside with his wife Elise, and their two young children. The day after his mother dies he learns that his eldest daughter Pia, who was living with his ex-wife in London, has moved out from home and gone missing.
He sets out in search of Pia, and when he eventually finds her, living with her lover in a chaotic flat in a tower block in King’s Cross, he thinks at first he wants to rescue her. But the search for his daughter begins a period of unrest and indecision for Paul: he is drawn closer to the hub of London, to the excitements of a life lived in jeopardy, to Pia’s fragile new family. Paul’s a pessimist; when a heat wave scorches the capital week after week he fears that they are all ‘sleep-walking to the edge of a great pit, like spoiled trusting children’.
In the opposite direction, Cora is moving back to Cardiff, to the house she has inherited from her parents. She is escaping her marriage, and the constrictions and disappointments of her life in London. At work in the local library, she is interrupted by a telephone call from her sister-in-law and best friend, to say that her husband has disappeared.
Connecting both stories is the London train, and a chance meeting that will have immediate and far-reaching consequences for both Paul and for Cora. “The London Train” is a vivid and absorbing account of the impulses and accidents that can shape our lives, alongside our ideas; about loyalty, love, sex and the complicated bonds of friends and family. Penetrating, perceptive, and wholly absorbing, it is an extraordinary new novel from one of the best writers working in Britain today.
About the Author: Tessa Hadley teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University College and lives in Cardiff. Her first novel, ACCIDENTS IN THE HOME, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.
A startling, first-person debut and a unique, spirit-soaring love story.
This isn’t an ordinary love story. But then Grace isn’t an ordinary girl.
‘Disgusting,’ said the nurse.
And when no more could be done, they put her away, aged eleven.
On her first day at the Briar Mental Institute, Grace meets Daniel. He sees a different Grace: someone to share secrets and canoodle with, someone to fight for. Debonair Daniel, who can type with his feet, fills Grace’s head with tales from Paris and the world beyond.
This is Grace’s story: her life, its betrayals and triumphs, disappointment and loss, the taste of freedom; roses, music and tiny scraps of paper. Most of all, it is about the love of a lifetime.
About the Author: Emma Henderson ran a ski chalet in France for several years. She now lives in London and this is her first novel.
The narrator of “The Seas” lives in a tiny, remote, alcoholic, cruel seaside town. An occasional chambermaid, granddaughter to a typesetter, and daughter to a dead man, awkward and brave, wayward and willful, she is in love (unrequited) with an Iraq War veteran thirteen years her senior. She is convinced that she is a mermaid.
What she does to ease the pain of growing up lands her in prison. What she does to get out is the stuff of legend. In the words of writer Michelle Tea, “The Seas” is ‘creepy and poetic, subversive and strangely funny, [and] a phenomenal piece of literature’.
About the Author: Samantha Hunt was born in 1971 in Pound Ridge, New York. The Seas is her debut novel – it won the National Book Foundation’s award for writers under 35 and was voted one of the Top 27 Books of 2004 by the Voice Literary Supplement. She is also the author of The Invention of Everything Else which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2009. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Esquire, A Public Space, Cabinet, Tin House, Seed Magazine, New York Magazine, Blind Spot, Harper’s Bazaar, and The Believer. Her work has been translated into seven languages. Samantha Hunt teaches writing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Through the interwoven stories of four very different characters, The Birth of Love explores the intense, conflicting emotions of motherhood as few contemporary novels have dared to do.
Vienna 1865: Dr Ignaz Semmelweis has been hounded into a lunatic asylum, ridiculed for his claim that doctors’ unwashed hands are the root cause of childbed fever. The deaths of thousands of mothers are on his conscience and his dreams are filled with blood. 2153: humans are birthed and raised in breeding centres, nurtured by strangers and deprived of familial love. Miraculously, a woman conceives, and Prisoner 730004 stands trial for concealing it.
London in 2009: Michael Stone’s novel about Semmelweis has been published, after years of rejection. But while Michael absorbs his disconcerting success, his estranged mother is dying and asks to see him again. As Michael vacillates, Brigid Hayes, exhausted and uncertain whether she can endure the trials ahead, begins the labour of her second child. A beautifully constructed and immensely powerful work about motherhood that is also a story of rebellion, isolation and the damage done by rigid ideologies.
About the Author: Joanna Kavenna grew up in various parts of Britain, and has also lived in the USA, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Her first book The Ice Museum was about travelling in the North. Her second book, a novel called Inglorious, won the Orange Prize for New Writing. Kavenna’s writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the Guardian and Observer, the Times Literary Supplement, the International Herald Tribune, the Spectator and the Telegraph, among other publications. She has held writing fellowships at St Antony’s College, Oxford and St John’s College, Cambridge. She currently lives in the Duddon Valley, Cumbria.
For twenty-five years, a solitary American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father’s study, plundered by the Nazis from Budapest in 1944.
Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or give it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.
Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children, and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?
Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.
About the Author: Nicole Krauss was born in New York in 1974. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, also to be published by Penguin, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire and Best American Short Stories. The History of Love has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Nicole Krauss lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Na Ga was always in search of a better life. But now she sits, alone, in a hotel room in Wanting, a godforsaken town on the Chinese-Burmese border. Plucked from her wild life as a rural eel-catcher, Na Ga is first abandoned by her would-be rescuers in Rangoon.
Later, as a teenager, she finds herself chasing the dream of a new life in Thailand – where further betrayals and violations await. Yet it seems that her fighting spirit will not be broken. But for how long can Na Ga belong nowhere and with no one? In the dingy hotel in Wanting, she is forced to confront her compulsion to keep running, and to ask herself why, until now, she’s resisted the journey home.
About the Author:Wendy Law-Yone was born in Mandalay, Burma, and grew up in Rangoon, where her father founded the leading English-language daily, The Nation. Wendy was exiled to the United States where she published two novels, The Coffin Tree and Irrawaddy Tango, before her move to the UK following a David T.K. Wong creative writing fellowship at the University of East Anglia. She lives in London and Rye.
‘Tea Obreht is the most thrilling literary discovery in years.’ – Colum McCann (and she’s only 24!).
As Natalia and a friend travel across the former Yugoslavia, immunising villagers, the body of her grandfather turns up in a hospital in the middle of nowhere. She and her family have no idea why.
Recalling stories he told her as a child, she becomes convinced that he went in search of the Deathless Man, a mythical figure, that her grandfather claimed to have met a number of times in his life.
In her quest to find out how her grandfather, a man of hard fact and science, could turn to this fantasy, she discovers something particular about his childhood: a tiger escaped from a zoo during World War II bombings and wandered deep into the woods, settling just outside his peasant village. It terrorized the town, the devil incarnate to everyone, except for her grandfather and ‘the tiger’s wife’…
About the Author: Tea Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia and was raised in Belgrade. In 1992, her family moved to Cyprus, eventually emigrating to the US in 1997. She was the youngest author on The New Yorker’s Top 20 Writers under 40 List and one of the youngest authors ever to be extracted in the magazine. She lives in Ithaca, New York.
In September 1937 Andras, a young Hungarian student, leaves his family and heads for Paris on a scholarship to study architecture. Before he sets off he is given a mysterious letter to post on arrival in Paris. It is addressed to an Hungarian woman and no reason is given why it cannot be posted from Budapest.
When Andras arrives in Paris he becomes vitally aware of his poverty, particularly when he enters the home of a richer Hungarian emigre Klara Morgenstern. She is a young widowed woman, and he finds himself falling in love with her. As they begin to meet regularly it is clear that Klara is hiding a terrifying secret, related to the mysterious letter that Andras posted on arrival, which means she is trapped in Paris as war looms closer. And, as Andras and his fellow students’ lives become ever more vulnerable in the shadow of war, the group must shatter in order to survive.
Andras is forced home to a labour camp, his brother disappears and Klara risks everything to return to Hungary to be close to her lover.
A transgressive love story by a singular new voice.
A secretive child by nature, Susanna makes a covert list of everything she knows about her absent father, determined that one day she will find him. Unable and unwilling to adapt to life in her mother’s unsympathetic household, she distances herself as much as possible.When she finally discovers her father’s whereabouts and seeks him out, in the free and unconventional atmosphere of 1970s Chelsea, she conceals her identity, beginning an illicit affair that can only end in disaster.
Repeat it Today with Tears is in many ways a traditional love story, as well as a skilful evocation of radical times and desires. It is a fever dream that examines our need to be loved and accepted and a piercing portrait of madness. Anne Peile is a striking new voice in fiction.
About the Author:Anne Peile was born in London; she has lived in the South West and Belfast and worked as a cook, writing emails for the BBC and in educational support. She lives on a houseboat and works for Foyle’s bookstores.
A triumphant debut novel and follow-up to Karen Russell’s universally acclaimed short story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.
The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline and Swamplandia!, their island home in the Florida Everglades and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as The World of Darkness. Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve year old, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamplandia!’s legendary and beautiful star attraction, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her Grandpa Sawtooth has been sent to the mainland to an old folk’s home; her brother has secretly defected to The World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep the family afloat; and her father, the Chief, is AWOL. To save them, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine.
Swamplandia! is a dark and mythic story, bursting with energy and an unstoppable inventiveness, by a writer with an astonishingly original and exuberant imagination.
About the Author: Karen Russell has been featured in both The New Yorker’s debut fiction issue and New York magazine’s 25 People to Watch Under the Age of 25. She is a graduate of the Columbia M.F.A. program and the 2005 recipient of the Transatlantic/Henfield Foundation Award; her fiction has recently appeared in Granta. Twenty-four years old, she lives in New York City.
To the dismay of her overbearingly ambitious mother, Bolanle marries into a polygamous family, where she is the fourth wife of a rich, rotund patriarch, Baba Segi. She is a graduate and therefore a great prize, but even graduates must produce children and her husband’s persistent bellyache is a sign that things are not as they should be. Bolanle is too educated for the ‘white garment conmen’ Baba Segi would usually go to for fertility advice, so he takes her to hospital to discover the cause of her barrenness.
Weaving the voices of Baba Segi and his four competing wives into a portrait of a clamorous household of twelve, Lola Shoneyin evokes an extraordinary Nigerian family in splashes of vibrant colour.
Forty-three year old Ria is used to being alone. As a child, her life changed forever with the death of her beloved father and since then, she has struggled to find love.That is, until she discovers the swimmer.
Ben is a young illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka who has arrived in Norfolk via Moscow. Awaiting a decision from the Home Office on his asylum application, he is discovered by Ria as he takes a daily swim in the river close to her house. He is twenty years her junior and theirs is an unconventional but deeply moving romance, defying both boundaries and cultures – and the xenophobic residents of Orford. That is, until tragedy occurs.
About the Author: Roma Tearne fled Sri Lanka at the age of ten, travelling to Britain where she has spent most of her life. She gained her Master′s degree at the Ruskin Shool of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford, and was Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She was recently awarded a fellowship in the visual arts by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain. She lives and works in Oxford.
An incredibly moving first novel about a young hermaphrodite growing up in the frozen Canadian wilderness.
In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador in the far north-east of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret – the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-male hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self – a girl he thinks of as ‘Annabel’ – is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. As Wayne approaches adulthood, and its emotional and physical demands, the woman inside him begins to cry out. The changes that follow are momentous not just for him, but for the three adults that have guarded his secret.
Haunting and sweeping in scope, this is a first novel as much concerned with its characters as it is with their predicament, as much about humanity as it is about a rigidly masculine culture that shuns the singular and the unique. Told with great elegance and empathy, Annabel is the powerfully moving story of one person’s struggle to discover the truth and the strength to change, to find tenderness in a severe and unforgiving land.
About the Author: Kathleen Winter has written dramatic and documentary scripts for Sesame Street and CBC Television. Her first collection of short stories, boYs, was the winner of both the Winterset Award and the Metcalf–Rooke Award. A long-time resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal.
Now in its sixteenth year, the Orange Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman, celebrating excellence, innovation and accessibility and the best of outstanding international fiction in women’s writing.
The judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 are:
Bettany Hughes, (Chair), Broadcaster, Author and Historian
Helen Lederer, Actress and Writer
Liz Calder, founder-director of Bloomsbury Publishing and Full Circle Editions
Susanna Reid, Journalist and Broadcaster
Tracy Chevalier, Novelist
Bettany Hughes, commented: “I am always amazed by the worlds — mental, physical and intellectual — that new works of fiction can open up and am already revelling in the pleasure of reading the range of writing submitted to this years Orange Prize for Fiction. Looking back over the narrative of women in world civilisation over the last 5000 years, and the struggle they have had to hold centre stage, there’s no doubt that the Orange Prize adds hugely to that story.”
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.