Bloomsbury has three titles on this year’s Orange Prize shortlist, while novels published by independent publishers account for five of the six nominations.
The Bloomsbury titles are Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Georgina Harding’s Painter of Silence. Two other indie titles come from the Canadian author Esi Edugyan with Half Blood Blues, published by Serpent’s Tail, while Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies is from Atlantic Books. The sole entrant from a Big Four publisher is Irish author Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, which is published by the Random House imprint Jonathan Cape.
Miller is the only début novelist on the shortlist and Ozick is the most published of the runners: Foreign Bodies is her seventh book.
Foyles web editor Jonathan Ruppin said: “It’s an absorbing shortlist and just what literary prizes, and in particular the Orange Prize, are all about: nudging readers towards something unfamiliar but very special.
“These are all authors with the potential to delight many more readers than they currently have, even Anne Enright with her Man Booker win in 2007 . . . I’m tipping Georgina Harding, with a side-bet on dark horse debutante Madeline Miller.”
In its 22nd year, the Orange Prize is being judged by author and chair Joanna Trollope; writer, novelist and broadcaster Lisa Appignanesi; journalist Victoria Derbyshire; writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes; and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky.
Trollope said: “This is a shortlist of remarkable quality and variety. It includes six distinctive voices and subjects, four nationalities and an age range of close on half a century. It is a privilege to present it. My only regret is that the rules of the prize don’t permit a longer shortlist. However, I am confident that the 14 novels we had to leave out will make their own well-deserved way”.
The winner will be presented with a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze statue known as “the Bessie” created by artist Grizel Niven.