Sunday, June 17th, 2012
My apologies for taking so long to post the news here, but I hope better late than never. It is my huge honor to announce that on May 30th, I was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. I was then, and still feel now, completely humbled, bowled over, and struck dumb with joy. Simply going to the reception for the shortlistees felt like such an honor–I was sharing the shortlist with Ann Patchett (more on how amazing she is coming up), as well as Georgina Harding, Anne Enright, Cynthia Ozick and Esi Edugyan. Each of their books is terrific.
It was a particularly poignant evening because the Orange Prize is going to be Orange no more; the telecommunications company Orange has decided to stop sponsoring the prize (no word yet on who the new sponsor will be). It was such a privilege to meet Kate Mosse, one of the original founders of the prize, and hear stories from its early days. It was a privilege too to hear her speak about the Orange Prize’s mission: bringing great fiction by women writers to everyone. In a world where often two or three men are getting reviewed for every woman, the Orange Prize serves a vital function.
This year’s Prize Chair was the novelist Joanna Trollope, whose grace, thoughtfulness and smarts were an inspiration. Here she is announcing the prize, followed by my acceptance speech. Which is a good time to mention the lovely Ann Patchett again, whose dress I was wearing. Ann, as you may know, already won the Orange Prize once, for her terrific Bel Canto. This time around (she was nominated for State of Wonder), she unfortunately couldn’t make it to the reception because of previous book obligations. So she had contacted me and said that she had a great orange dress, and did I want to wear it? My answer was an emphatic yes, especially after discovering that luckily/strangely, we are exactly the same size. As I said above: an amazing, and incredibly generous, woman.
I only had a few moments at the podium to thank the enormous number of people who were so helpful to me in writing this book; I didn’t even make it through half of everyone who deserved mention. So let me take a moment now to name three groups that I especially wanted to thank: my teachers, from grade school through graduate school, who supported and nurtured my love of Classics, literature and writing. My amazing students, whom I feel so lucky to know every single day. And my readers (and if you’re reading this, I think you count). In the wake of the prize, I received such a moving flood of notes from people offering congratulations and kind words about my work. After so many years spent writing in solitude, it is deeply meaningful to me to hear that people have connected to these characters. Thank you. And I will try to reply to everyone, it just might take a bit of time for me to do it.
I promise to post some pictures soon from my UK trip, and to return to Myths of the Week once I catch my breath a bit. In the meantime, I am hard at work on a short story set in Homer’s world, due to be published next month. More on that to come!