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O'Donnell wins Commonwealth Book Prize

The Commonwealth Book Prize has been won by UK debut author Lisa O'Donnell, while the Short Story Prize has been awarded to two joint winners.

The prizes-£10,000 for the Book Prize, and £2,500 to each of the Short Story Prize winners-were presented at the Hay Festival this evening [31st May] by author John le Carre.

O'Donnell's The Death of Bees, published by Random House, was praised by Godfrey Smith, the prize's chair, for being "effortlessly fresh and original; it is fiction that provokes and shocks; it is innovative in its narrative style and told in a natural convincing voice". It tells the story of two young sisters living on a Glasgow estate, trying to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Meanwhile, Canadian author Eliza Robertson and Sharon Miller, from Trinidad and Tobago, were jointly awarded the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, for their stories "We Walked on Water" and "The Whale House" respectively.

Chair of the Short Story Prize, journalist Razia Iqbal, said: "It is a measure of the quality we had to choose from in the shortlist, that we unanimously settled on two joint winners. It was impossible to decide between them, though each one is quite distinctly different from the other. Both fulfilled our criteria of excellence in style, originality and tone."

Iqbal praised the "lush descriptions of landscapes as well as emotion" in Millar's story, which is about a boy who loses his twin sister during the Ironman competition held in Penticton, British Columbia, and the "strikingly beautiful" descriptive writing in "We Walked on Water", about the relationship between a brother and sister, both competitive swimmers.