Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 19:38 UK

Robinson takes home Orange Prize

Marilynne Robinson. Photo: Nancy Cramp
Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2004 novel Gilead

Marilynne Robinson has won this year's Orange Prize for Fiction for her third novel, Home.

The US author beat five other writers to take the £30,000 prize during a ceremony at London's Royal Festival Hall, on Wednesday.

The award, which recognises the work of fiction written by women around the world, was set up in 1996.

Author Francesca Kay took the New Writers award for her debut novel, An Equal Stillness.

Broadcaster Fi Glover, chair of judges, praised Robinson's "kind, wise, enriching novel" as "exquisitely crafted".

She said: "We were unanimously agreed - it is a profound work of art."


Robinson is the author of two other novels, Housekeeping (1981), which was chosen as one of the Observer's 100 greatest novels of all time and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and Gilead (2004), which won the Pulitzer and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

She has also written two works of non-fiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam, and teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Lyrical power

Home centres on Jack, the prodigal son of the Boughton family, who returns home looking for refuge and tries to make peace with a past littered with trouble and pain.

Jonathan Ruppin, from Foyles bookshop, said: "Robinson is simply one of the outstanding prose stylists of recent years; she will undoubtedly come to be seen as essential as Nabokov or Conrad.

"In picking this as this year's winner, the judges have made a real statement about lyrical power of fiction, beyond its basic function to tell stories."

Robinson beat fellow US writer Ellen Feldman for her novel Scottsboro, Samantha Harvey for The Wilderness, Samantha Hunt for The Invention of Everything Else, Deirdre Madden for Molly Fox's Birthday and Kamila Shamsie for Burnt Shadows.

Previous winners of the main Orange Prize include Zadie Smith's On Beauty, Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun.

Last year, Rose Tremain scooped the prize for her book The Road Home.

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