American author AM Homes has been announced as the 2013 winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction at a ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall.
The writer of TV series The L Word is the fifth American in a row to win the prestigious £30,000 prize for her sixth novel May We Be Forgiven. The novel, which is a dark satire on contemporary America has been described by the judging panel, which is headed up by actress Miranda Richardson, as a “dazzling, original, viscerally funny black comedy”.
Homes’ win has prevented controversial author Hilary Mantel from pulling off a hat trick of wins with her novel Bring up the Bodies. Mantel had won the Mann Booker Prize and the Costa Book of the Year, however she has never one this award which was previously known as the Orange Prize.
The other books on the shortlist were:
Kate Atkinson - Life After Life
Barbara Kingsolver - Flight Behaviour
Maria Semple - Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Zadie Smith – NW
May We Be Forgiven focuses on how a shocking act of violence changes the lives of Harry Silver, a historian and Nixon scholar, and his brother George, a high-flying TV executive with a beautiful wife and two children.
Speaking to the BBC, actress Richardson described May We Be Forgiven as a work of “untrammelled imagination”.
"It’s 21st Century but with ancient themes," she said. "It’s not a re-working of anything. It’s original and viscerally funny and, in the end, irresistible."
The judges’ deliberations, which lasted almost four hours on Tuesday night, had been “passionately argued”, she said.
Mantel’s previous wins for Bring Up The Bodies had not affected the final decision, Richardson added: “Our concern never can be about what other people think - it’s what we think. Inevitably, the prize each year is about the individual and collective taste and opinions of whoever the judges are.”
AM Homes previous novels include The End of Alice (1996), about an imprisoned paedophile and his correspondence with a teenage girl. This Book Will Save Your Life (2006), a Los Angeles-set tale about one man’s efforts to find redemption.
Her 2007 memoir The Mistress’s Daughter told of her adoption and her subsequent reunion with her biological parents when she was in her early thirties.
Other winners of the prestigious award, which will be known as the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction following a three year deal with the liqueur brand, include Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2005) and Zadie Smith for On Beauty (2006).