Serbian/American author Téa Obreht has won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Tiger’s Wife . At 25, Obreht is the youngest-ever author to take the Prize. Celebrating its sixteenth anniversary this year, the Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.
At an awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, hosted by Orange Prize for Fiction Co-Founder and Honorary Director, Kate Mosse, the 2011 Chair of Judges, Bettany Hughes, presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. Both are anonymously endowed.
Bettany Hughes, Chair of Judges, said: “’The Tiger’s Wife is an exceptional book and Téa Obreht is a truly exciting new talent. 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.”
She continues, “The book reminds us how easily we can slip into barbarity, but also of the breadth and depth of human love. Obreht celebrates storytelling and she helps us to remember that it is the stories that we tell about ourselves, and about others, that can make us who we are and the world what it is.”
The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction written by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible. The Orange Prize is awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman. Téa Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia and raised in Belgrade. In 1992 her family moved to Cyprus and then to Egypt, where she learned to speak and read English, eventually immigrating to the United States in 1997. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Téa received her MFA in Fiction from the Creative Writing Program at Cornell University in 2009. Téa was featured in The New Yorker’s Top 20 Writers under 40 Fiction Issue (June 2010) and at 24, was the youngest on the list. Her short story, The Laugh, debuted in The Atlantic fiction issue and was then chosen for The Best American Short Stories 2010, a further short story, The Sentry, featured in the Guardian Summer Fiction Issue. Her journalism has appeared in Harper’s magazine and she lives in Ithaca, New York.
Tea Obreht in conversation, on PBSNewsHour.