The 2012 Orange Prize shortlist was announced last night. The Orange is the UK’s annual prize for fiction written by a woman, celebrating ‘excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world.’

There are six titles in the shortlist, down from a longlist of twenty. American novelists make up half the list — Madeline Miller, Cynthia Ozick and Ann Patchett — with British (Georgina Harding), Canadian (Esi Edugyan) and Irish (Anne Enright) authors making up the other half.

In terms of publishers, Bloomsbury seems to be the winner here, with three of its novels — Painter of Silence, The Song of Achilles and State of Wonder — on the shortlist.

A debut novelist, Madeline Miller, makes it onto the list, and with Téa Obrent taking out the prize last year for her first novel The Tiger’s Wife, it will be interesting to see if a debut novelist can win again. The list also includes a previous Orange Prize winner, Ann Patchet, who won in 2002 with Bel Canto.

The six shortlisted novels are:

  • Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues
  • Anne Enright The Forgotten Waltz
  • Georgina Harding Painter of Silence
  • Madeline Miller The Song of Achilles
  • Cynthia Ozick Foreign Bodies
  • Ann Patchett State of Wonder

In a statement on the site, Orange Chair of judges Joanna Trollope commented: ‘This is a shortlist of remarkable quality and variety. It includes six distinctive voices and subjects, four nationalities and an age range of close on half a century. It is a privilege to present it.’

‘My only regret is that the rules of the prize don’t permit a longer shortlist. However, I am confident that the fourteen novels we had to leave out will make their own well-deserved way.’

The overall winner for 2012 will be announced on 30 May.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey