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WORD: Zadie Smith takes Orange Prize, debutant Naomi Alderman wins award for new writers

British authors dominated this year’s Orange Prize for women, as Zadie Smith won the eleventh Orange Prize for Fiction with her third novel On Beauty (Hamish Hamilton) and Naomi Alderman took the Orange Award for New Writers with her debut novel Disobedience (Viking).

Zadie Smith took home a £30,000 prize and the 'Bessie', a limited edition bronze figurine for her novel about an English teacher at a college town in New England. On Beauty delves into his family struggles as well as racial issues with an African-American wife and three teenage children.

The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction written by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible. The Orange Prize is awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman.

The 31-year-old Smith earned her first Orange Award after coming close in prior books, and is the first odds-on favorite to win after several years in which underdog candidates ended up winning. She is the author of White Teeth and The Autograph Man, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. On Beauty was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005.

Meanwhile, Naomi Alderman’s novel Disobedience shows she’s an emerging voice to watch out for. Judges noted that Alderman "offers a contemporary take on the search for love, faith and understanding in a world filled with conflicting morals and sexual ideals."

With the win, she earned a prize of £30,000 for three years (£10,000 per year) from sponsor Arts Council England.

All first works of fiction, including novels, short story collections and novellas written in English by a woman of any age or nationality and published as a book in the UK are eligible. First time authors can be entered for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Orange Award for New Writers in any one year.

Previous winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction include Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2005), Andrea Levy for Small Island (2004), Valerie Martin for Property (2003).


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