U.S. novelist Robinson wins Orange Prize for women

Wed Jun 3, 2009 2:23pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. novelist Marilynne Robinson won the Orange Prize for Fiction on Wednesday for "Home," the companion piece to her acclaimed "Gilead."

Britain's annual award to the best novel written in English by a woman, worth 30,000 pounds ($50,000) to the winner, follows a Pulitzer Prize for Gilead, which appeared in 2004.

Home takes the reader back to the town of Gilead, and tells the story of Glory, who returns home to nurse her ailing and aging father, Reverend Boughton.

Approaching middle age, she is also nursing the wounds of a failed engagement that makes a lonely, unhappy future all the more likely.

"What an embarrassment that was, being somewhere because there was nowhere else for you to be," her character reflects. "All those years of work and nothing to show for it."

She is joined by her brother Jack, a modern-day prodigal son who is back after an absence of 20 years to seek refuge from his troubles. Adored by his father, the reformed alcoholic struggles to understand why anyone could care so much for him.

Fi Glover, broadcaster and chair of the Orange Prize judging panel, called Home "a kind, wise, enriching novel, exquisitely crafted. We were unanimously agreed -- it is a profound work of art."

Home is Robinson's third novel. Her first, "Housekeeping," appeared in 1980 and won her an instant following as well as a Pulitzer Prize nomination.   Continued...