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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 4, 2009 @ 9:42 am

    Here’s to you, Ms Robinson

    Fiona McCann

    American author Marilynn Robinson has won the 2009 Orange Prize for fiction, for her third novel, Home. Having recently read both Housekeeping and Gilead, I am new to the joys of Robinson, but find her books unfold with a slow and moving grace. Gilead, at first, was a struggle. I’m out of the habit of letting things happen at such a pace, of contemplating life with that pause and measure that seems from another generation. But Gilead made it so, slowed me down, had me reflect, and gave up such moments of sweet, human beauty that I was converted. Housekeeping offered its own joys and pleasures, characters and images that will stay with me ever like a long, night-time walk across  train tracks over a dark, inviting river. And now to Home, which picks up the story of Jack Boughton, who also appeared in Gilead, and was described in this newspaper’s review as “charged with a gritty, hard-won hope. Robinson insists on the impossibility of love yet celebrates its manifestation on every page in the small, exquisite gestures of grace her flawed characters manage, in their failure, to bestow on one another.” To read Mary Morrissy’s review of Home in full, click here.  I need to find a quiet space to read it, but welcome comments from any of you who have.

    The Orange Prize for Fiction, established in 1996, is an annual award in the UK for fiction written exclusively by women, and is open to women writers from anywhere in the world who are writing in English. This year’s shortlist included Irish author Deirdre Madden for her novel Molly Fox’s Birthday. Robinson’s win garners her a cool £30,000 (€34,000), as well as a bronze statue known as a Bessie. Anyone out there disagree with this year’s judges?

    • Michael O'Donnell says:

      Is it just me or does ANYONE else not recognise that fixtures such as the Orange Prize, the Flora Women’s Mini-Marathon and Virago Publishing are intrinsically sexist? As such they should be fought rather than embraced by all feminists who truly seek gender equality.

    • JC says:

      The foregoing comment. Well, what to say? No, it had not occurred to me that the Flora mini-marathon was sexist. I assume Mr. O’Donnell is politically opposed to all identity politics, affirmative action, etc. Am I correct? All competitions/events must be open to all entrants? It is a position that has the appeal of extremism: if Apartheid is wrong, then so is the Orange Prize. But we’re not talking about political enfranchisement or access to vital services; we’re talking about literary prizes and fun runs. The wider context matters here. Myself, I am working towards equality, not gender-blindness. Does Mr. O’Donnell feel oppressed by his exclusion from these events? I am a US citizen and therefore ineligible to win the Booker Prize (let’s assume for now that nationality is my only impediment). Should I contact a lawyer?


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