Last night in London, American author A. M. Homes won the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) for her most recent novel, May We Be Forgiven. She will receive £30,000 (approximately $46,000).
Founded in 1996, the Women’s Prize for Fiction is given annually for a novel written in English by a woman and published in the previous year. Homes beat out finalist Hilary Mantel, two-time Man Booker Prize recipient, whose Bring Up the Bodies—the second in her much-lauded Cromwell trilogy—was projected to win. The other finalists were Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, who won the Women’s Prize in 2010 for The Lacuna; Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; NW by Zadie Smith, who won the Women’s Prize in 2006 for On Beauty; and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.
“Our 2013 shortlist was exceptionally strong and our judges’ meeting was long and passionately argued,” said chair of judges Miranda Richardson, “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. This is a book we want to read again and give to our friends.”
“This award is super special to me,” Homes said at the ceremony. “It's the first actual book award I've won. I've always been in awe of this prize and I've always dreamed I would win it.” May We Be Forgiven, the author’s tenth book and seventh novel, was published by Viking last October.
After last year’s announcement that the prestigious prize would end its three-year partnership with telecommunications company Orange, Women’s Prize cofounder and director Kate Mosse announced on Tuesday that, beginning next year, Bailey’s liqueur will serve as the new sponsor for the prize.
While the award has received criticism for both its all-female focus and for the choice of partnership, Homes says the prize remains important. “Despite a lot of change and growth, we still live in a world where the work of male writers dominates,” she said in an interview with the Telegraph. “But more importantly, it’s important to read the hundreds of books that are submitted for this kind of prize and to look at the range of work of women writers, and produce a shortlist that shows that women are writing substantial, powerful, big ideas—historical work, that goes beyond gender and resonates throughout the culture.”