Published June 20th, 2011
Two terrific novels, Colum McCann’s gravity-defying Let the Great World Spin, set in New York city in 1974 as Philippe Petit high-wire walks between the twin towers, and The Tiger’s Wife, youngster Tea Obrecht’s rich family saga set in the war-torn Balkans, have both garnered prizes this month. If you haven’t already, we suggest adding both to your Summer Reading list.
Raised in Dublin, living in New York for the last decade, McCann brought the International Impac Dublin literary award, richest in the literary world, home to his native city on Wednesday night, June 15. Judges called Let the Great World Spin, which also won the National Book Award in 2009, “In the opening pages of Let the Great World Spin, the people of New York City stand breathless and overwhelmed as a great artist dazzles them in a realm that seemed impossible until that moment; Colum McCann does the same thing in this novel, leaving the reader just as stunned as the New Yorkers, just as moved and just as grateful.” Previous winners include Gerbrand Bakker (The Twin) and Per Petterson (Our Stealing Horses).
Earlier this month Serbian-American New Yorker and wunderkind Tea Obrecht, walked away with the 16th Orange Prize, the youngest ever to garner this award (she’s only 25) for her powerful account of war in the Balkans, which mixes a family saga with myth, folklore and the gritty realism. Historian and chair of the judging panel Bettany Hughes said about The Tiger’s Wife, “opened the doors and allowed us into the houses of people who have lived in the Balkans and suffered generations of chronic conflict and it asked what do you do, as a society, to deal with that? One of the things you do, to deal with that level of suffering, is you tell stories. For a prize which is a celebration of fiction and literature, it seems good to be honoring a book that puts storytelling at its heart.” Launched in 1996, the Orange Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. Barbara Kingsolver won in 2010 for The Lacuna and previous winners include Rose Tremain (The Road Home), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) and Andrea Levy (Small Island).