Rushdie's novel idea may win ex-wife a prize

Two of the six books shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, the new women-only novel award which carries the most valuable literary prize, are written from a man's viewpoint.

Julia Blackburn's The Book Of Colour is written from the point of view of her father and grandfather, who lived on Mauritius, while Marianne Wiggins's Eveless Eden tells of the love affair of Noah John, a journalist on a New York newspaper.

The book world will wait with glee to see if Ms Wiggins wins the pounds 30,000 award, because - in a further irony - the original suggestion for the prize came from her estranged ex-husband, Salman Rushdie.

They have had little contact since she left her husband after spending five months in hiding with him, and accused him of being self-obsessed and a coward. They divorced in 1993.

The Orange Prize is open to women of all nationalities who write in English, and two of the other three shortlisted are American: Anne Tyler for Ladder Of Years, and Amy Tan for The Hundred Secret Senses.

The final places on the shortlist have been taken by Helen Dunmore for A Spell Of Winter and Pagan Kennedy for her first novel Spinsters.

The Orange Prize has attracted controversy since it was announced in January, with accusations of sexism and ghettoism fuelled by its value; it is worth pounds 10,000 more than the Booker and pounds 9,000 more than the Whitbread award.

Kate Mosse, chairwoman of the judges, said at the launch that the prize had been partly inspired by the Booker's 1991 shortlist when all six authors - including Martin Amis, Ben Okri and Roddy Doyle - were men.

"Just imagine what people would say if Booker released a shortlist with only women. Everyone would see it as an enormous political statement," Ms Mosse said then.

"We're not complaining, stamping our feet and saying, `This isn't fair'. But whether from taste, tradition or expectation most women don't find their way on to shortlists and even fewer actually win."

AS Byatt, herself a Booker winner, has said that the reason few women have won is because they have not in general been as good as men.

The longlist for the Orange Prize, leaked to the Bookseller this week, yields an interesting selection of writers who did not make the shortlist. They include Pat Barker, who won the Booker last year for The Ghost Road, a book about a typically male subject, war, and with a cast of largely male characters.

The first Orange Prize will be awarded on 15 May.

Polly Toynbee, page 15

David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Administrative Assistant

£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Secondary Geography Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments