Ever since the Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist was announced back in April, we’ve been waiting to find out who would be crowned the winner with baited breath. So we were delighted to hear that Serbian/American author Téa Obreht has was awarded the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction for her debut novel The Tiger’s Wife.
At 25, she is the youngest-ever author to receive the award – fighting off five other talented female authors (including the bookies’ favourite, Room author Emma Donoghue) for the coveted £30,000 prize.
Celebrating its sixteenth anniversary this year, the Orange Prize for Fiction is the only award to truly celebrate female literary talent, and has become the most prestigious accolade for female authors around the world, with previous winners including Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy and Lionel Shriver.
At a glamorous awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall last night (8 June), Bettany Hughes, Chair of Judges said of the winner: “Obreht's powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable. By skilfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms with a bittersweet vivacity.”
Born in former Yugoslavia, Téa Obreht learnt to read English whilst living in Egypt, and moved to the United States, where she studied at the University of Southern California and Cornell University before settling in Ithaca, New York . Her winning novel tells the evocative tale of Natalia, a young doctor working in a Balkan country ravaged by conflict. After discovering the loss of her grandfather, her journey to uncover the reasons behind his death leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.