The Orange Prize longlist was announced yesterday. I like to follow this but actually I’ve read very few of the books listed in previous years. The ones I have read have been outstanding, so maybe I should pay more attention to the lists, but looking at this article in the Guardian I can’t say that the subjects are attractive:
Debut novelists will make up nearly half of the Orange prize for fiction longlist, which this year tackles strikingly difficult subjects: incest, sadistic cruelty, polygamy, child bereavement, hermaphroditism and mental illness. There is, though, also alligator wrestling in the 20-strong list, and Susanna Reid, the BBC Breakfast news presenter and judge for this year’s prize, insisted there was much joy to be derived from the books.
I’ve read just one book from this year’s longlist: Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty, which is about Laura whose nine-year old daughter, Betty has been killed by a hit and run driver. I found it to be well written but a harrowing book to read that is startling and shocking in parts.
The only other book that I know anything about is Room by Emma Donoghue, about a mother and son imprisoned in a room. I’ve seen several reviews and read the opening pages, which didn’t make me want to continue with the rest of the book. So far my knowledge of the books seems to confirm that they’re filled with depressing reading, but will I find the joy that Susanna Reid is talking about?
I’m looking at the other books on the list and there is a gallery with summaries of the books on this Guardian page. You can also download free samples from the Kindle Store on Amazon.