American novelist A.M. Homes has won this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction with her sixth novel, May We Be Forgiven.
Homes beat award winning writer Hilary Mantel and three other finalists for the $ 45,000 prize, previously known as the Orange Prize.
Miranda Richardson, who chaired a panel of judges, praised Home’s novel, as a “dazzling, original, viscerally funny black comedy” and a “subversion of the American dream.”
It defeated Mantel’s Tudor saga Bring Up the Bodies, (the bookmaker’s favourite), Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Zadie Smith’s NW, and Marie Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
The award, in its 18th year, celebrates writing by women in English from around the world.
by A.M. Homes
Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper.They have been uneasy rivals since childhood.Then one day George loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life. In May We Be Forgiven, Homes gives us a darkly comic look at 21st century domestic life – at individual lives spiraling out of control, bound together by family and history.
The cast of characters experience adultery, accidents, divorce, and death. But this is also a savage and dizzyingly inventive vision of contemporary America, whose dark heart Homes penetrates like no other writer – the strange jargons of its language, its passive aggressive institutions, its inhabitants’ desperate craving for intimacy and their pushing it away with litigation, technology, paranoia.
At the novel’s heart are the spaces in between, where the modern family comes together to re-form itself. May We Be Forgiven explores contemporary orphans losing and finding themselves anew; and it speaks above all to the power of personal transformation – simultaneously terrifying and inspiring.
A.M. Homes has been the recipient of numerous awards including Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, NYFA, and The Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, along with the Benjamin Franklin Award.
She is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the best selling memoir, The Mistress’s Daughter along with a travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist’s book Appendix A:
A.M. Homes was born in Washington D.C., she now lives in New York City and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton
by Kate Atkinson
In 1910, Ursula Todd is born during a snowstorm in England, but two parallel scenarios occur – in one, she dies immediately. In the other, she lives to tell the tale. As the possibility of having a second chance at life opens up, the novel unfolds, following Ursula as she lives through the events of the twentieth century again and again. What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.
She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.
Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature.
by Barbara Kingsolver
Discontented with her life of poverty on a failing farm in the Eastern United States, Dellarobia, a young mother, impulsively seeks out an affair. Instead, on the Appalachian mountains above her farm, she discovers something much more profoundly life-changing – a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature. As the world around her is suddenly transformed by a seeming miracle, can the old certainties they have lived by for centuries remain unchallenged?
Flight Behaviour is a captivating, topical and deeply human novel touching on class, poverty and climate change. It is Barbara Kingsolver’s most accessible novel yet, and explores the truths we live by, and the complexities that lie behind them.
Barbara Kingsolver’s thirteen books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction include the novels The Bean Trees and the international bestseller The Poisonwood Bible which, amongst other accolades, won the 2005 Penguin/Orange Reading Group Book of the Year award. Her most recent novel The Lacuna, won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.
by Hilary Mantel
By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.
In Bring up the Bodies, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is a speaking picture, an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.
Hilary Mantel is one of our most important living writers. She is the author of twelve books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Giving Up the Ghost, Beyond Black, which was shortlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize, and Wolf Hall, which won the 2009 Man Booker Prize.
by Maria Semple
A wildly imaginative, laugh-out-loud but also very poignant novel.
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she’s his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she’s a menace. To design experts, she’s a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum.
Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a compulsively readable, irresistibly written, deeply touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s place in the world.
Maria Semple worked in Los Angeles as a television writer for 15 years, working on hit shows including Ellen, Saturday Night Live, Mad About You and Arrested Development. She lives in Seattle.
by Zadie Smith
Hobbes, Smith, Bentham, Locke and Russell.
Five identical blocks make up the Caldwell housing estate in North West London.
If you grew up in this relic of seventies urban design, the plan was to get out and get on, to something better, somewhere else. Thirty years later, Caldwell kids Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan have all moved on, with varying degrees of success – whatever that means. Living only streets apart, they occupy separate worlds, and navigate an atomized city in which few care to be their neighbour’s keeper.
Then one April afternoon a stranger comes to Leah’s door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, and forcing Leah out of her isolation . . .
From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, where the main streets hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end, NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters.
Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975, and continues to live in the area. White Teeth is her first novel and won awards for Best Book and Best Female Newcomer at the BT Emma Awards (Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards), the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread Prize for a first novel in 2000, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction 2000, the WH Smith Book Award for New Talent, the Frankfurt eBook Award for Best Fiction Work Originally Published in 2000 and both the Commonwealth Writers First Book Award and Overall Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Her other novels are The Autograph Man and On Beauty, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005 and won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. She also edited the collection of contemporary short fiction The Book of Other People, and wrote Changing My Mind, a collection of personal and cultural essays.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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