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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Patchett wins 30,000 Orange Prize
Bel Canto
Bel Canto is Patchett's fourth novel
A novel combining a terrorist siege and the world of opera has won the Orange Prize for Fiction, an award given to the best novel written by a woman.

US author Ann Patchett has won 30,000, one of the largest literary prizes around, for her novel Bel Canto.

The book beat off competition from previous winner Helen Dunmore's The Siege and four other novels penned in English by women.

Bel Canto tells the tale of a group of Latin terrorists who storm an international gathering promoting foreign trade, only to find the president, their intended target, has stayed at home to watch his favourite soap opera.

Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is no stranger to awards

The story revolves around the many characters held hostage, mixing comedy with a love story as an opera star and a Japanese tycoon try to overcome the language barrier.

Patchett's previous work includes the critically acclaimed The Magician's Assistant and her first novel The Patron Saint of Liars.

Bel Canto recently won the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a Book Critics Circle Award finalist.

Anonymous donor

On the judging panel for the Orange Prize was former Radio 4 Today presenter Sue MacGregor, actress Fiona Shaw, novelist AL Kennedy, professor of English literature at Cambridge University Gillian Beer, and Julie Wright, senior book buyer at WH Smith.

The top prize is given each year by an anonymous donor.

Dunmore won the first Orange Prize in 1996, for her novel A Spell of Winter Viking.

Last year Australian novelist Kate Grenville won the award for The Idea of Perfection.

The winner was chosen from a shortlist of six:

  • Anna Burns - No Bones
  • Helen Dunmore - The Siege
  • Maggie Gee - The White Family
  • Chloe Hooper - A Child's Book of True Crime
  • Ann Patchett - Bel Canto
  • Sarah Waters - Fingersmith

See also:

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