Jeanette Winterson to write memoir

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The Independent Culture

Jeanette Winterson, who wrote about her childhood in her Whitbread-winning first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, is set to publish a memoir in October 2011, announced The Bookseller on September 24.

Oranges, first published in 1985, is a semi-autobiographical novel about a lesbian girl who grows up as the adopted daughter of Pentecostal evangelists. Published when Winterson was 26 years old, the book won a Whitbread Award and was later turned into a BAFTA-winning BBC television special.

Rachel Cugnoni, deputy publisher of Random House imprint CCV, said Winterson's memoir would focus on the author's early years, which play out much like the protagonist in Oranges. The memoir will be entitled Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, the question her mother asked when Winterson left home at 16 after announcing she was a lesbian.

Cugnoni told The Bookseller: "She was adopted by a woman who was very charismatic but not the most obviously loving person, and that has had reverberations throughout her life. It's no secret that she has struggled and had relationships which broke down. It's something she addressed originally through fiction, but now she wants to strip it down a layer further."

In the UK, the book will be published by Cape in October 2011. Winterson will bring the book to international publishers during the Frankfurt Book Fair, scheduled for October 6 through 10.

Jeanete Winterson has gone on to write several more novels, numerous short stories that have been published in The New Yorker and other journals, and recent children's books. In 2006 she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.