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A.M. Homes’ novel "May We Be Forgiven" wins Women’s Fiction Prize


Steve Runk     
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

The novel May We Be Forgiven, by A.M. Homes, a Lecturer in Creative Writing in Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, has received the Women’s Fiction Prize, previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. The winner was announced at an awards ceremony at Royal Festival Hall in London on June 5.

The Women’s Fiction Prize was launched in 1996 and celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The Prize is awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman. The award carries a £30,000 prize and the “Bessie,” a limited edition bronze figurine and was presented by actress Miranda Richardson, chair of the 2013 panel of judges.

In presenting the award, Richardson notes, “Our 2013 shortlist was exceptionally strong and our judges’ meeting was long and passionately argued, 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.”

Among those shortlisted along with Homes’ novel are works by Kate Atkinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Hilary Mantel, Maria Semple, and Zadie Smith.

The 2013 panel of judges for the Women’s Fiction Prize, in addition to Richardson included novelist Jojo Moyes; feminist writer and human rights activist Natasha Walter; author, editor and journalist Rachel Johnson; and BBC broadcaster and journalist Razia Iqbal.

Homes is the author of two collections of short stories, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the novels Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, Jack and the bestselling This Book Will Save Your Life, and the highly acclaimed memoir, The Mistress’s Daughter. She is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and writes frequently on arts and culture for several magazines and newspapers. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and The Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, along with the Benjamin Franklin Award, and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. Homes resides in New York City.

In a review for NPR, Michael Schaub wrote: “May We Be Forgiven is both a narrative masterwork and an impassioned cry of conscience against the selfishness and anomie of the digital generation. It's not just one of the best novels of the past few years, it's also the most deeply, painfully American.”

Previous winners of the Women’s Fiction Prize include Madeline Miller for The Song of Achilles (2012), Téa Obreht for The Tiger’s Wife (2011), Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna (2010), Marilynne Robinson for Home (2009), Rose Tremain for The Road Home (2008), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Half of a Yellow Sun (2007), Zadie Smith for On Beauty (2006),  Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2005), Andrea Levy for Small Island (2004), Valerie Martin for Property (2003), Ann Patchett for Bel Canto (2002), Kate Grenville for The Idea of Perfection (2001), Linda Grant for When I Lived in Modern Times (2000), Suzanne Berne for A Crime in the Neighbourhood (1999), Carol Shields for Larry’s Party (1998), Anne Michaels for Fugitive Pieces (1997), and Helen Dunmore for A Spell of Winter (1996).

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Photo caption:  A.M. Homes, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts, whose novel, May We Be Forgiven, has received the prestigious Women’s Fiction Prize
Photo credit: Photo by Marion Ettlinger

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