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This year's Orange Prize longlist, now with extra cheer

March 19, 2010 |  6:30 am

The Orange Prize for Fiction, a $45,000 award presented annually to a female writer, announced the long list of those in the running for the 2010 prize this week. It includes bestseller Barbara Kingsolver for "The Lacuna," Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning "Wolf Hall" and two women who will be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, Attica Locke and Laila Lalami.

Locke is a finalist for the L.A. Times book prize in mystery for her debut novel, "Black Water Rising." Lalami, an occasional L.A. Times contributor, is nominated for "Secret Son," her second book and first novel.

Years ago I sat with Lalami at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, back when she was writing mostly for academia and her blog, Moorishgirl, and it's a thrill to see her work receive this recognition.

But this year's Orange Prize longlist is not without controversy. Author Daisy Goodwin, chair of the judging panel, went public with her complaints about the selection. It wasn't the process that was so bad: it was the product -- too much "misery literature." She told the Independent:

There was very little wit, and no jokes. If I read another sensitive account of a woman coming to terms with bereavement, I was going to slit my wrists.

The misery memoir has transformed into misery literature. There were a large number of books that started with a rape, enough to make me think ‘Enough.’ Call me old fashioned but I like a bit of foreplay in my reading... I turned my face against them....

The pleasure of reading counts for something. I don’t think editors think enough about this pleasure [when they publish a book]. The reader gets forgotten, and the absorption and pleasure of reading.

The 15 books that made the longlist, apparently, provide enough of the kind of pleasure the judges hoped to find. The complete list is after the jump.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

"Savage Lands" by Clare Clark

"Hearts and Minds" by Amanda Craig

"The Way Things Look to Me" by Roopa Farooki

"The Twisted Heart" by Rebecca Gowers

"This is How" by M.J. Hyland

"Small Wars" by Sadie Jones

"The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver

"Secret Son" by Laila Lalami

"The Long Song" by Andrea Levy

"Black Water Rising" by Attica Locke

"Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel

"The Wilding" by Maria McCann

"Black Mamba Boy" by Nadifa Mohamed

"A Gate at the Stairs" by Lorrie Moore

"The White Woman on the Green Bicycle" by Monique Roffey

"The Still Point" by Amy Sackville

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

"The Little Stranger" by Sarah Waters

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Florida oranges. Credit: Matt Stroshane / Bloomberg