Barbara Kingsolver won the Orange Prize for Fiction, receiving 30,000 pounds ($43,700) and a bronze statuette after overcoming competition from Hilary Mantel and four other novelists in the U.K. literary award for women.
The American author was honored during a ceremony this evening at London’s Royal Festival Hall for her novel “The Lacuna” (Faber), which tells the story of a man torn between two nations, Mexico and the U.S., in the middle of the 20th century. Prince Charles’s wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, was on hand to present the award to Kingsolver, who called the moment a “Cinderella day.”
“In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that beautiful works of art can be ranked,” Kingsolver said. “Every author on the shortlist deserves this prize.”
The judges said in a statement that their decision was guided by “passion not compromise.”
“We chose ‘The Lacuna’ because it is a book of breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy,” said the head of the judging panel, author and television producer Daisy Goodwin.
First awarded in 1996, the prize was founded to celebrate fiction by women worldwide. This year’s shortlisted books were written in a range of genres by both established and debut novelists. They included Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” (Fourth Estate), a biography of Thomas Cromwell that had already won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and a National Book Critics Circle award.
The other finalists were Rosie Alison for “The Very Thought of You” (Alma); Attica Locke for “Black Water Rising” (Serpent’s Tail); Lorrie Moore for “A Gate at the Stairs” (Faber); and Monique Roffey for “The White Woman on the Green Bicycle” (Simon and Schuster).
In presenting the award, the Duchess of Cornwall extolled the joys of reading and said she had “yet to embrace the joys of the Kindle and the iPad.”
“The old-fashioned book,” she said, “is blissfully unaffected by battery life, thank goodness.”
In a second prize granted this evening, Irene Sabatini won the Orange Award for New Writers for her novel “The Boy Next Door” (Sceptre).
Previous Orange Prize recipients have included Marilynne Robinson, Rose Tremain and Zadie Smith.