Three debuts make the Orange Prize shortlist

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Three first-time novelists tackling macabre subjects – the aftermath of conflict in the Balkans, a love affair in a mental institution, and the story of a hermaphrodite baby called Wayne – feature in this year's shortlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife, Emma Henderson's Grace Williams Says It Loud, and Kathleen Winter's Annabel made the shortlist announced yesterday for the £30,000 prize for women writers.

They join Emma Donoghue's Room – the tale of a five-year-old boy held in captivity – The Memory of Love – a Sierra Leone love story by Aminatta Forna – and the sprawling cross-continental narrative of Great House by Nicole Krauss.

"It's a very interesting line-up," said Donoghue, the bookies' favourite. "It's still important to be up for awards like this. I've bought several books including Valerie Martin's Property, which won the prize in 2003, because of their association with it. The list of previous winners, including Lionel Shriver and Zadie Smith, is very strong; that's what gives it the glamour."

A surprise omission from the shortlist is Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, a postmodern exploration of the interplay between time and music, which beat Jonathan Franzen's Freedom to win the US National Books Critics Circle fiction prize last month.

Obreht, 25, is the youngest on the shortlist. She was discovered by the New York literary agent Seth Fishman, himself only 30, and was edited by Random House's Noah Eaker, 26. Excerpts were published in The New Yorker's 20 under 40 issue.

"Our judging meeting fizzed for many hours with conversations about the originality, excellence and readability of the books in front of us, credit to the calibre of submissions this year," said judges' chair Bettany Hughes.

The longlist, when it appeared in March, featured the largest number of debuts in 11 years. The prize was set up in 1996 to promote fiction by women around the world. Lionel Shriver won for We Need to Talk About Kevin in 2005, Valerie Martin for Property in 2003, and Zadie Smith for On Beauty in 2006.

Donoghue said her next book would tackle a murder in 1870s San Francisco. "It's nice to be doing something completely different to Room; some writers get caught up in weird simulacrum of their previous novel and it's good to be plunging into a completely different world," she said.

Six of the best: Judges' selection

Annabel, Kathleen Winter

A mysterious baby, Wayne, is born in 1960s Labrador, Canada. Wayne is neither boy nor girl. The baby's parents raise it as a boy, but it is constantly haunted by 'feminine parts of its nature'.

Grace Williams Says it Loud, Emma Henderson

Henderson, a graduate of Yale and Oxford universities, taught English in London comprehensives and had a family before writing her first novel. It is a love story about an epileptic, Daniel, and Grace, whom he meets in a mental home.

Great House, Nicole Krauss

This narrative takes in three sub-plots: the arrest of a Chilean poet, a man caring for his dying wife in London, and a Jerusalem-based antiques dealer. Krauss's previous works include the international bestseller, 2005's The History of Love.

Room, Emma Donoghue

The story of five-year-old Jack, a boy living in a locked room with his mother. Donoghue acknowledges the book was inspired by the story of Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter imprisoned for 24 years. It was also shortlisted for last year's Man Booker prize.

The Memory of Love, Aminatta Forna

Adrian Lockheart, a psychologist, leaves England to live in Sierra Leone. He falls in love with a local surgeon and becomes embroiled in the life of one of her elderly patients. Forna was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone and the UK.

The Tiger's Wife, Téa Obreht

This novel draws on the author's background growing up in the Balkans in the civil wars. It is a journey of discovery about a young doctor coming to terms with her grandfather's death. The author learned English by watching Disney films.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions