It took the panel of judges three hours wrestle with the ‘impractical difficulty’ of deciding on the winner of what would be the final Orange Prize for Fiction, after the mobile phone giants announced that they were to withdraw their sponsorship for the competition.
Joanna Trollope announced from the stage of the Royal Festival Award that the final judging meeting had not involved ‘robust discussion’ but that the tone was more painful than argumentative. She went on to describe the winning novel as, ‘Inventive, passionate, uplifting and different. It will appeal to all ages. It is a book which, despite some of the stiffest competition in the writing world is a truly worthy winner.’
Recipient, Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles took to the stage shaking and dressed suitably in orange paisley, to rapturous applause, which suggested the approval of her peers. Nine years in the writing, drawing on all her experience as a Classics graduate, and in the adaptation of Classic plays for a modern audience, her novel tackles the ambitious subject of love between Ancient Greek Patroclus and the warrior Achilles. She follows Téa Obreht (The Tiger’s Wife) as the second debut novelist in a row to win the prestigious award for women writing in the English Language.