Women’s Prize for Fiction: Miranda Richardson hits out at vitriol aimed at Hilary Mantel’s on-going awards success
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Tuesday 16 April 2013
Actress Miranda Richardson, chair of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, has hit out at the vitriol aimed at Hilary Mantel’s on-going awards success, calling it a “hideous” British trait.
Mantel is chasing an unprecedented hat-trick of major literary awards for her novel Bring Up the Bodies, after she was named on the six-strong shortlist for the Women’s Prize yesterday.
On a heavyweight shortlist she is up against two former winners in the form of Zadie Smith, for her novel NW, and Barbara Kingsolver for Flight Behaviour. No novelist has ever won the prize twice.
Richardson said she was “thrilled” Mantel had made the shortlist after fearing there would be dissent among the judges “because of the hoo-ha” around the author.
Critics had called on the judges at the Costa Awards in January to give a less celebrated author a chance after Mantel had won the Man Booker Prize for Bring Up the Bodies and its predecessor Wolf Hall.
Yet, in her Costa acceptance speech in January, Mantel was defiant, saying she was “not going to apologise” for her success.
Richardson and her fellow judges of the Women’s Prize – formerly known as the Orange Prize – were aware of the sentiment.
“You get negative comments, with people saying: “Hasn’t she won enough?” the chair of the judging panel said. “It’s not about that. If it’s a great book, a great story, brilliantly told. This is about excellence and originality. Why wouldn’t she be there?”
She talked of “tall poppy syndrome” in relation to Mantel, hearing “particularly in Britain, ‘you’ve already had too much, you can’t have any more. Go away and die now’.” The actress added it was a particularly British trait: “I think it’s hideous.”
Kate Atkinson has also been shortlisted this year for Life After Life alongside AM Homes for her book May We Be Forgiven. The list is rounded out by Maria Semple for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. John de Falbe, bookseller at John Sandoe, said: “This is a good solid list by serious writers.”
Novelist Kate Mosse, who set up the prize, called it a “real powerhouse” shortlist adding “There are some amazing novels this year from amazing writers.”
Following Mantel’s success, and this week’s publication of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, which had more women than men for the first time, Mosse said: “We are part of a changing publishing world. Everyone has played a different part in that. It’s a very encouraging landscape; the sun is on the hills, rather than the clouds.”
Asked whether the prize was still relevant, given the success of female authors in the past year, Mosse said: “The prize is to celebrate excellent writing by women. Why would you stop? It has been unparalleled in its success in promoting writers’ careers and works of excellence from all over the world.”
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Three-year-old boy shoots pregnant mother and father in New Mexico
- 2 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 3 Jewish community urged to boycott Cornwall village after residents vote for 'Hitlers Walk' sign to be reinstated
- 4 Benedict Cumberbatch's Alan Turing gay-rights campaign snubbed by Prince William and Kate Middleton
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Daniel Radcliffe deemed 'not marketable' without his English accent
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign