American author Madeline Miller has won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 for her debut novel The Song of Achilles, an epic tale of love and friendship.
The Orange Prize-winning book, published by Bloomsbury, is Miller’s debut novel and tells the story of Patroclus, an awkward young prince who is taken under the wing of the ancient Greek hero Achilles. As their tentative companionship develops into something deeper, word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped and Patroclus follows Achilles into the Trojan War, little realising what awaits.
As the announcement was made at last night’s ceremony in London, a visibly shocked Miller was welcomed on stage and into the arms of Orange Prize chair Joanna Trollope. Full of praise for Miller’s debut, Trollope described The Song of Achilles as: “A more than worthy winner - original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her." Meanwhile, Miller said she was "completely thrilled and so honoured" to have been awarded the prize, which comes with a £30,000 cheque.
Now in its seventeenth year, the Orange Prize for Fiction is the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by women. See this year's long-listed books here.
Miller joins a celebrated list of previous winners, including Téa Obreht for The Tiger's Wife (2011), Zadie Smith for On Beauty (2006) and Lionel Shriver (who was in attendance on the night along with fellow author Helen Fielding, Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray and actress Helen Ledderer) for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2005).
What do you think? Have you read The Song of Achilles and loved it? Is there another shortlisted book you would have voted to win? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.