U.S. writer A.M. Homes denies Hilary Mantel literary treble

Wed Jun 5, 2013 5:43pm EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters) - The American novelist A.M. Homes beat double Man Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel to the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction on Wednesday with a tale of murder, sibling rivalry, adultery and absolution.

Homes's "May We Be Forgiven", which follows a violent change in the lives of a historian and his high-flying younger brother, secured the 30,000 pound ($45,900) award for Homes despite bookmakers heavily favoring a triple sweep for Mantel's bestselling "Bring Up the Bodies", already winner of the Booker and Costa awards.

Homes told Reuters that the prize was an enormous affirmation for a woman writer whose narratives are often written from the male perspective, and who feels she falls in a gap between male and female writers.

"To be given this award in particular is an incredible vote of confidence in the range of writing that women do and in the seriousness of that writing," she said.

The chair of the judges, Miranda Richardson, said the panel argued long and passionately over a shortlist that also included former winners Briton Zadie Smith and U.S. novelist Barbara Kingsolver, as well as U.S. screenwriter-turned-novelist Maria Semple and British writer Kate Atkinson.

"But in the end we agreed that 'May We Be Forgiven' is a dazzling, original, viscerally funny black comedy - a subversion of the American dream," she said.

The darkly comic story follows the historian Harold Silver, who has spent a lifetime watching his taller, smarter and more successful younger brother George acquire a covetable wife, two children and a beautiful home in New York.

But George has a murderous temper and when he loses control the two brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they must both seek absolution.   Continued...

A.M. Homes, author of "May We Be Forgiven", poses for photographers before the announcement of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction at the Royal Festival Hall in London June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor