Granta is reprinting 60,000 copies of A M Homes' May We Be Forgiven after it scooped the Women's Prize for Fiction last night, with retailers predicting a sales "lift" for her titles.
Granta sales and marketing manager Brigid Macleod said she expected the reprint to sell out quickly. "We'll be talking in the next 24 hours to decide what to do from here, including internationally, because readers in Australia and New Zealand have really taken her to their heart, especially with this book, so I've had emails coming in from overnight from booksellers, publishers over there too."
On the potential of the prize to boost sales, Macleod said: "Because it is such a strong shortlist, with lots of established big sellers on there, one could look and ask, what difference will a prize make? It's a case of wait and see, I suspect we will be reprinting again very, very soon.
"With this book we reprinted Homes' backlist so people can really discover her now, that's the fantastic thing about a prize. It will bring her readers to her backlist. There is no bad news here."
Meanwhile, retailers praised the book; Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells said: "A M Homes always does well through our stores but this will give her sales a lift. The media attention hasn't been any less this year, despite the sponsorship question, so people will know about this book and will want to read it. I would expect to see this rise up the charts this week through Waterstones and at other retailers.”
He added: "May We Be Forgiven is I believe the only book that could ever have beat Bring Up the Bodies, for A M Homes’ breathless, chaotic yet utterly empathetic modern character study is the polar opposite of the classic prose of Mantel’s historical fiction. It’s a wonderful book, full of unforgettable characters and surreal set pieces. It’s her best novel to date—a darkly hilarious blast of fresh air."
Meanwhile, Foyles web editor Jonathan Ruppin described Homes' win as "the crowning achievement for a fascinating and unpredictable writer, one who fully deserves to be alongside contemporary American greats such as Cormac McCarthy and Richard Ford. It's a powerful exploration of where the American dream went wrong, laced with sharp observation, pathos and dark humour."
Homes was presented with the £30,000 prize and "Bessie" statuette at a ceremony last night (5th June) at the Royal Festival Hall at London's South Bank Centre.
Speaking to The Bookseller after the win, she said she felt the Women's Prize was still "really significant". She said: "People keep wanting to have this debate about should there be a women's prize, and I think to take the time each year to look at the incredible range of work by women writers, and an international group of women writers, you see that women produce books of incredible substance, historical relevance, comedy . . . There are different connotations for things [male and female writers] and to have a prize that is really about literature in the bigger sense, in terms of the literature that is written by women, is important. I am all for it."
On being the fifth American writer to win the award in a row, Homes said: "It feels fine. I think people are looking for more of a pattern. I think my observation is that actually in England, women writers have felt a greater freedom to write big books and to explore creative ideas . . . I think in that way America is very far behind and very much divided by gender."
Homes praised the other shortlisted authors, pointing to Hilary Mantel as a writer she highly admires. She praised Barbara Kingsolver as being "an incredible writer, a writer writing about big ideas, and she's also got lots of recognition but not as much as she should, she really is a very significant writer. Zadie [Smith] is incredible, and Kate Atkinson is doing things that are really hard to do, and Maria Semple, we noticed how much last night [at the Southbank shortlist readings] everyone was laughing, and making people laugh is a difficult thing."
Homes added that she is currently working on a book of short stories, which will be her next work to be published.