Orange win makes Obreht the hottest name in fiction
The first-time novelist Téa Obreht's book The Tiger's Wife, a surreal, seductive meander through recent history in the Balkans, has turned the 25-year-old into the latest literary superstar after she was crowned the youngest winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction yesterday.
Obreht, who speaks English as a second language, was an outside choice for the award for women's writing, the most prestigious in fiction alongside the Man Booker. Pundits had named the Canadian author Emma Donoghue the prize's favourite for Room, her chilling account of a boy and mother imprisoned in a bedroom.
After her acceptance of the award, Obreht said: "I was stunned and I did not expect it and I did not prepare anything. I'm really still not processing it. It is a tremendous honour." She added she was glad her book was being translated into Serbo-Croatian so her grandmother could read it.
Judging chair, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes said the decision to recognise Obreht with the £30,000 award was "brave", revealing that it was not a unanimous decision.
"There's something special about the book, as it changed the way the judges looked at the world, which is really quite extraordinary," she said. "The Balkans really is a territory which flashes past many people's lives very quickly but this book gives us an intimate understanding of the place."
Obreht's story is as extraordinary as her novel's. She lived in Belgrade until she was seven. Her family then moved to Cyprus, Cairo, and the US, and she began writing the novel, the story of a young doctor coping with her grandfather's death, after graduating from the University of Southern California.
Her agent, Seth Fishman, is only 30, while her editor, Random House's Noah Eaker, was only 26 when he acquired the work.
Obreht spent three years writing the work and is currently working on her second novel. While the follow-up will be keenly watched, the news of her win may not be accompanied by the usual scrum over film rights. "It's a terrific result, but it's a very difficult one to imagine as a film," said the literary agent Caroline Michel.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Church of Scientology allegedly sent threatening letters to film distributors and festivals showing damning documentary
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl performs with broken leg seated on massive throne made of guitars
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture