Author Barbara Kingsolver wins Orange Prize for women

Wed Jun 9, 2010 2:37pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. author Barbara Kingsolver won the Orange Prize for Fiction on Wednesday for "The Lacuna," chosen from a shortlist of books by six female writers that included Booker Prize winner "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel.

Daisy Goodwin, chair of the judges, praised The Lacuna's "breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy.

"It wasn't a unanimous decision in the sense that we all said this was the winner, but I think it was fashionably consensual in that we all listened to each others' point of view," she told Reuters.

"We decided to go for the book which aroused the most passion in the most people rather than settle for everyone's second choice."

The Independent newspaper's reviewer said The Lacuna was "the first book in a long time that made me swap my bike for public transport, just so I could keep reading."

The story centers around Harrison Shepherd, who follows his mother from household to household as she chases rich Mexican men and who comes into contact with real historical figures like the artist Frida Kahlo and Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

The narrative crosses between Mexico and the United States and comes to the reader in the form of memoirs, letters and press cuttings kept by Shepherd's stenographer despite his wish that they be burned.

"Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach -- the lacuna -- between truth and public presumption," the U.S. publisher's precis reads.   Continued...