Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Double Whammy for Andrea Levy

Okay, I always love it when someone who seems like they were once a slacker makes good. Andrea Levy has become the first author in history to win both the Whitbread Award and the Orange Prize in the same year. She walked away with the honors for her novel Small Island, the story of Jamaican immigrants to England in the 1940s who fight with the English against Hitler but then find their own country less than welcoming.

Levy barely passed her English A-level (British college entry exam; correct me if I'm wrong, British readers). All right, I know that doesn't NECESSARILY MEAN she used to be a slacker. But I kind of like to think she was.

Also, I TOTALLY ADORE THE FACT that British bookies make ODDS on LITERARY AWARDS. What do you s'pose the Vegas odds are on Marilynne Robinson winning the National Book Critics Circle Award? Anyone? Anyone?

From the article:

"Although she has recalled being 'too busy sitting in the toilets talking about boys' at school, the combination of a second-generation immigrant and British working-class perspective in her writing has led to her being compared to British Asian writers such as Hanif Kureishi and Meera Syal, as well as novelists such as Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby....

"In just a few months, she went from being the 7-1 outsider to win the Orange Prize for fiction to being the bookies’ favourite for the Whitbread after she beat such literary grandes dames as Rose Tremain, Margaret Atwood and Gillian Slovo to win the Orange Prize.

"She then won the Whitbread novel award against heavyweights such as the 2004 Booker winner, Alan Hollinghurst, and Louis de Bernières."

Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen. I have a feeling this novel is coming to a book club near you.