Warwickshire's own Orange Prize Winner 2012 is announced!
29 May 2012 / 1 Comment
Warwickshire Libraries' Super Reading Group has been shadowing the Orange Prize for Fiction. Jan, from Warwickshire Libraries and a member of Warwickshire's Super Reader's Group, tells us who they picked as their winner two days before the winner of the Orange Prize 2012 is announced.
After much debate, the winner is . . .
Warwickshire Libraries' Super Reading Group, shadowing the Orange Prize, have chosen the Warwickshire Winner! After much deliberation and animated debate, Georgina Harding's Painter of Silence has been chosen.
At a final meeting last night at Southam Library, the group discussed each book in turn, and then voted. It was not a unanimous verdict but, working on a points system (6 for favourite, down to 1 least favourite) Painter of Silence won the most points.
The discussions on each book were well-considered, differing greatly with each person (so much so that sometimes it was hard to believe they were discussing the same book!) There was some passionate disagreement too, with each book generating strong feelings within the group.
The group's verdict on the books
The voting for each was close ̶ results as follows:
Painter of Silence: 42 points
Half Blood Blues: 34 points
State of Wonder: 28 points
Forgotten Waltz: 26 points
The Song of Achilles: 22 ponts
Foreign Bodies: 18 points
The group also did a quick vote on which book they thought the judges will pick, with Half Blood Blues the winner with 5 votes and Painter of Silence coming second with 2 votes. They are waiting excitedly to see if they are right!
And what they thought exactly . . .
For those of you interested in reading their opinions, here is a brief resume of discussions.
Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
The book was not an easy one for some, particularly in it's style of language, known as 'jive talk'. It was a little confusing at times, moving as it does backwards and forwards in time and place. Characterisation was mixed; Sid was not a great protagonist, and there was never enough knowledge about Hiero - he was more of a ghost than a real person. It was sometimes hard to see him beyond his talent - this being the most important element to him. The evocation of Paris in the thirties is very vivid, capturing the spirit of 'degenerate art' at this time, and the complexities of being a black person under the Nazi regime, but also speaking only German, is cleverly portrayed. Many people enjoyed the book for its 'difference'.
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
The group labelled this the 'Marmite' book - either loving or hating it! It is beautifully written, with such poetic phrases. It takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster. Evie is such a central character in the book, but she is never really known, a shadow throughout, and yet so pivotal to the story. The character of Gina was felt by many to be brilliantly portrayed, flawed and funny at the same time. The background of the book, set as it is in a changing Ireland and addressing contemporary issues, lends an authentic voice to the work. A small, understated, poetic story.
The Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
Many group members found this the best, most beautifully written story. They admired the research which has obviously gone into the book, around the issues of deafness, education and self-awareness. Some members did not engage with the characters until the end but the pre-war setting came over authentically. A story to savour, to think about at leisure, to re-read, and one which will have lasting memories.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Illiad re-told, but far more accessible and readable than the original. The language is good, written for a modern audience, and yet still retaining the echo of ancient worlds. The characters all come over as very human and realistic, and the book has the feel of a 'best-seller'. Well-received by many in the group.
Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
Some group members found this a difficult to read; a complex book with many good elements. The fact that it is based on Henry James' The Ambassadors spoilt it for some. The background of the 1950s did not come over well - there was not enough to indicate the period, within the story. The psychological damage which people can do to others is vividly captured, and the book itself becomes a tragedy, but a very cerebral one. There is little passion in it. Cleverly written, evocative, with strong characters - but the fact that there is so little plot disappointed a few.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
As a contrast, this book is full of plot, a gripping story which engages from the start. Set in the Amazon, amidst insects, heat and dangerous wildlife, it is very atmospheric, and the reader lives and breathes the rain forest with the characters. It is Heart of Darkness again, which was a detraction for some. It raises many questions of an ethical, moral and spiritual nature, but some of the group thought it did not pursue these adequately. A little conventional in its structure, but a marvellous, unexpected story, fairly romping along.
All over now - at least for another year. Everyone has had lots of fun, and they will all miss the challenge and stimulation of reading to a deadline. Do check out our blog, where you can read everyone's comments. We look forward to telling you all what Warwickshire Super Readers get up to next year!
Is your reading group or book club shadowing the Orange Prize?
Let us know who you think is going to win by logging in and adding a comment below, or tweeting your winner, using #orangeprize.
Read Hertfordshire Book Group's reviews of Song of Achilles.
Read Half Blood Blues and Song of Achilles? Tell us what you thought here.