Debut Author Téa Obreht Wins Orange Prize

The sixteenth annual Orange Prize was announced this afternoon in London. Twenty-five-year-old Serbian American author Téa Obreht became the youngest writer to receive the thirty-thousand-pound prize, for her debut novel, The Tiger's Wife (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). (The novel was published in the United States by Random House in March.)

"Obreht's powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable," says chair of judges Bettany Hughes. "By skillfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms. The book reminds us how easily we can slip into barbarity, but also of the breadth and depth of human love."

Obreht's book won out over the favorite, Emma Donoghue's Room (Picador), which took the Youth Prize yesterday. Also on the shortlist for the prize, given annually to a woman novelist, were The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury), Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (Sceptre), Great House by Nicole Krauss (Viking), and Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Jonathan Cape).

In the video below, Obreht discusses her book, and how she had to return to the places of her nomadic youth to create it, on PBS's NewsHour.


Re: 25 year old literary winner.

At first glance, I was put off by a 30 thousand pound prize going to a kid for a debut novel. I was thinking, wow, these things are getting easier and easier to win. With what, the prize going to a 25 year old that hasn’t lived long enough to scratch beyond the surface?

I have since bent my opinion, however, to include a desire to read the winning entry with it being an account of life in the Balkan’s, what could I learn? What do I think I know?