Bernardine Evaristo is teenage favourite
London, 2nd June 2009: On the eve of the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction awards ceremony, the six members of the Orange Prize youth panel have chosen Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton) as their overall winner.
“This is such a lovely surprise,” said Bernardine Evaristo, “and I’m absolutely delighted to receive this recognition for Blonde Roots. It’s also a great new Orange Prize initiative to embrace and encourage the readers of the future.”
The three girls and three boys, aged between 16 – 19, were recruited via teenage website, spinebreakers.co.uk, and the panel forms part of a campaign to engage younger readers with the Orange Prize.
The panel read the 20 books longlisted for the 2009 Orange Prize before meeting to choose their shortlist of six. The members have also been sharing their experiences of judging a book prize publicly online at Spinebreakers since they began reading in March.
The shortlist chosen by the youth panel was:
Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold, Tindal Street Press
Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo, Hamish Hamilton
The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser, Chatto & Windus
A Mercy by Toni Morrison, Chatto & Windus
The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight by Gina Oscher, Portobello Books
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews, Faber and Faber
The group met yesterday to decide their overall winner. The meeting was facilitated by Kate Mosse, author and Honorary Director of the Orange Prize.
Bernardine Evaristo is the author of the novels-in-verse Lara, and The Emperor’s Babe and the novel with verse Soul Tourists. She co-edited the Granta/British Council annual anthology NW15 (New Writing 15) with the novelist Maggie Gee. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and the Royal Society of Literature, and has written for radio and theatre
About Blonde Roots, Hamish Hamilton
Welcome to a world turned upside down. Welcome to the word of Doris. One minute she’s playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields behind their cottage. The next, someone puts a bag over her head and she ends up in the stinking hold of a slave ship sailing to the New World.
When she eventually arrives on a strange tropical island, Doris discovers she is, in fact, a pig-ugly savage with a brain the size of a pea, whose only purpose in life is to please her mistress. Things don’t get any better when she becomes personal assistant to the formidable Bwana, a.k.a. Chief Kaga Konata Katumba I, or when she experiences the horrors of life in the sugarcane fields, where slaves are worked to death under the blazing sun. And all the while she dreams of escape, of finding those she has loved and lost, and returning home to her motherland, England…
The official winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009 will be announced tomorrow evening at an awards ceremony in The Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, central London.