Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! I'm just thrilled - not only is she the youngest woman to win this annual award but she had tough competition on the shortlist, up against Booker winner Kiran Desai, Anne Tyler, Rachel Cusk, Xiaolu Guo (we're publishing her shortlisted novel this fall) and Jane Harris. Plus the book is fantastic. There's been a wonderful resurgence of books by African writers being published in the West in the last few years, but not that many by women. This novel deals with the Nigerian civil war in the late 1960s through the eyes of a houseboy, two sisters and their very different partners. You can read more coverage at the Guardian. Also check out Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus and you can read an online Q & A where she answers questions about both books here. There's always a lot of controversy around the Orange Prize being open only to women, but I'm all for it. Of the many literary prizes out there, this consistently has the most interesting long and short lists. I'm constantly being introduced to great international writers that I would perhaps never have heard of without the attention that this prize gives them. Just check out the list of previous winners, shortlists and longlists here and see how many names are now some of your favourite writers.
Also congratulations to Karen Connelly who won the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers. Her novel The Lizard Cage was one of my Dewey picks a few seasons ago (it was published earlier in Canada) a profoundly moving novel about a man imprisoned for protesting against the government through his songs, and how he endures his solitary confinement, helped by his relationship with a young boy. One would think that not much could happen in a novel set for the most part just in a tiny cell but I found this story completely enthralling. And I promise you that after reading it, you'll never look at a simple ballpoint pen the same way again.
This is one of those days when I'm so proud to be working for the company responsible for publishing these two terrific writers.