Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Orange Prize longlist in full

Anita Amirrezvani* The Blood of Flowers
Stella Duffy The Room of Lost Things
Jennifer Egan The Keep
Anne Enright The Gathering
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs
Tessa Hadley The Master Bedroom
Nancy Huston Fault Lines
Gail Jones Sorry
Sadie Jones The Outcast
Lauren Liebenberg The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam
Charlotte Mendelson When We Were Bad
Deborah Moggach In The Dark
Anita Nair Mistress
Heather O'Neill Lullabies for Little Criminals
Elif Shafak The Bastard of Istanbul
Dalia Sofer The Septembers of Shiraz
Scarlett Thomas The End of Mr Y
Carol Topolski Monster Love
Rose Tremain The Road Home
Patricia Wood Lottery

*I met Anita at the Adelaide festival and liked her very much. She is an Iranian-American whose parents left at the time of the 1979 revolution.

Discussion of the longlist here. and here. As usual there is the conventional moaning about the list excluding men, moaning which is curiously absent when it comes to any of the other literary prizes and their exclusions. I'd love to win the Pulitzer but as I'm not an 'American author', I can't.

Maureen Freely on the Guardian books blog, has an excellent piece addressing the inanities of the 'sexism' complaint:

In my view, the most significant thing about the Orange Prize is not that it is only for women. The prize's great virtue is that it is for all women writing in English. Most prizes, most notably the man Booker, respect (and so enforce) national boundaries. This despite the fact that national boundaries in Anglophone fiction became less significant with every passing day.

A quick look at the 2008 Orange long list bears this out. There are seven countries represented, eight if you include both nationalities claimed by the US/Iranian first novelist Anita Amirrezvani. Dalia Sofer, listed as an American author, is also Iranian by birth. Elif Shafak, though she carries a Turkish passport, was born in France. Later in life, she spent many years in the US. Though she writes mostly in Turkish, The Bastard of Istanbul, her seventh novel, is her second novel in English. Like so many of their readers, these authors are hybrids, and they are much better served by a panel that isn't bothered by that.
I've often wondered how many of our national treasures here in Britain would fare if they were pitted against a shortlist that included writers such as Roth and Ford or Orhan Pamuk and David Grossman.

News of shoes

I got it into my head while I was travelling, that on my return I would buy a new pair of shoes, having consigned to a hotel waste bin, for reasons of expediency, a pair that looked shabby and were perhaps not such a great idea in the first place. Though inexpensive. After the hairdresser's I walked up Sloane Street to Salvatore Ferragamo, where, legend has it, they make very good quality classic shoes, perhaps not the dernier cri, but wearable. I was not looking for flats, or sensible walking shoes, but day-to-nights: shoes I could wear to a smart lunch or a party, but no bling.


The bastards have done it again. First we had kitten heels. Then we had clumpy heels. Then we had high clumpy heels we couldn't walk in. Now we have high stilettos we can't walk in. There being almost nothing to try on in Ferragamo, I went to Fratelli Rossetti. Same thing. So I went to Harvey Nicks' shoe department and the dreadful truth was revealed. We are back to needle thin points. There were a few pairs of shoes of high clumpy heels, but not many. There were no shows with medium height points. The wedges were tall and wooden, make them too heavy to walk in.

Eventually, with the assistance of a very helpful Lithuanian sales assistant, I bought a pair of black patent Dolce e Gabbana peep-toe shoes, with a wearable clumpy high heel. I think I can walk in them. Just. They do fit. They cost £300, making them the most expensive shoes I have ever owned, though beautifully made. Of course they're cheaper in America, on Raffaelo.

I have no idea when I will next be able to buy any more shoes, if this is what faces us for the next couple of seasons, or more.

These are the shoes I bought, but in black patent - does anyone think I should have got the white instead? I couldn't decide in the shop, and thought I should be sensible and get the black, But now I'm not sure . . .

Thought for the day

There are skilled dyers and weavers in Masahiro's household, and when it comes to dress, whether it be the colour of his under-robe or the style of his cloak, he is more elegant than most men; yet the only effect of his elegance is to make people say, 'What shame someone else isn't wearing those things.' Sei Shonagon c. 966 -c. 1013