The Orange Prize has announced its 2012 shortlist.
This year sees one British author make the cut, Georgina Harding for her novel Painter of Silence. The others shortlisted are the Canadian Esi Edugyan for Half Blood Blues, Irish novelist and Man Booker prizewinner Anne Enright for The Forgotten Waltz and three American novels: State of Wonder by Anne Patchett, Cynthia Ozick's Foreign Bodies and The Song of Achilles, the debut of Madeline Miller.
The UK's only annual book award for fiction written by a woman is now in its 17th year, and the winner will be chosen from a shortlist of six women writers.
This year's shortlist is also a success for Bloomsbury publishing house, who have three novels nominated.
The five judges for the 2012 prize include broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky and novelist Lisa Appignanesi and are chaired by writer Joanna Trollope. Trollope says of the list was of "remarkable quality and variety" and is "a privilege to present.” However, the writer noted that it was a "regret that the rules of the prize don't permit a longer shortlist."
Of the prize, Jonathan Ruppin of Foyles bookshops comments: "[The shortlist] is just what literary prizes, and in particular the Orange Prize, are all about: nudging readers towards something unfamiliar but very special.
“There are some exceptional writers who’ve not made the cut, but that’s down to the strength of the competition – the judges must have found it really tough this year. I’m tipping Georgina Harding, with a side-bet on dark horse debutante Madeline Miller.”
Irish writer Emma Donoghue, whose novel Room was a finalist in 2010's Man Booker prize, told HuffPost UK: "It can be harder to get taken as seriously [as a woman writer]. So the Orange Prize, by highlighting the range and muscle of international fiction by women every year, is a splendid thing."
The winner of this year's prize will be awarded on 30 May, and will join a prestigious list of female writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith and Lionel Shriver, who have taken home the prize since it was launched in 1996 to celebrate and promote women's fiction from around the world.