The nominations are in and we are pleased to reveal the shortlist which is made up of books published by women writers in the past year which come recommended by members of the PG CWWN Facebook group and our followers on Twitter.
The only stipulations for nominated texts were that they must not have been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and that they must have been published in the last year. Even given the broadness of the field, we were surprised by the diversity of genres and texts nominated which in turn is a positive representation of recent women’s writing.
Caitlin Moran’s bestselling How to Be a Woman (Ebury Press, 2011) received three nominations. PG CWWN Steering Group members Amy Rushton and Claire O’Callaghan blogged about the memoir-come-polemic and felt that ‘its importance to contemporary women’s writing cannot be overlooked […] How To Be A Woman derives its power from writing about feminism in such an accessible, informal way that it seems like an utterly commonsensical concept.’. Over on Facebook, Karen Dodsworth agreed, ‘I would most certainly vote for this, had me guffawing in bed many a night, makes a change, its normally my husband who does that! (Caitlin Moran would be proud of that one!)’.
Some of the nominated texts have a clear link to the study of women’s writing. Tina van den Boheemen nominated Olivia Laing’s To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface (Canongate Books, 2011) on Facebook. This tells the story of the author walking with the River Ouse from source to sea, exploring its history and mythology (those familiar with Virginia Woolf’s biography will know this is the river she drowned herself in). Tina supports her nomination by telling us why she likes this book: ‘Well, firstly, it’s the Woolf allusion. I really like personal intertextuality in books. Above all, it’s a beautifully written account of a both physical and intellectual 42 mile journey along a river.’
Kate Garner nominated another text with a link to the study of women’s writing, Susannah Clapp’s A Card from Angela Carter (Bloomsbury, 2012). This is an exploration of Carter and Clapp’s friendship through the medium of postcards, sent between the two over many years. Kate says ‘I loved it – a thoroughly enjoyable and succinct celebration of Carter’s writing (and Clapp and Carter’s friendship) bringing image and text together in wonderfully illuminating ways.’
Alison Graham-Bertolini nominated her own recently published study Vigilante Women in Contemporary American Fiction (Palgrave, 2011). This study develops a dynamic model of vigilante heroines using literary and feminist theory and applies it to important texts to broaden our understanding of how law and culture infringe upon women’s rights.
Poetry collections make a strong showing on our shortlist. Leontia Flynn’s Profit and Loss (Cape, 2011) was nominated by PG CWWN steering group member Alex Pryce on this blog, for containing poems which are ‘humourous […] dark [… and] darkly humourous. She also calls upon the might of other critics who claim that ‘Flynn impresses without trying’. Mark Anthony Owen (@MarkAnthonyOwen) on Twitter also selected Flynn’s ‘wonderful’ third collection and he is ‘hoping she takes home the chunks. Or slices. Or however you’re serving the pineapple (with cheese?).’
Finbar McLoughlin (@insinbad on Twitter) nominated The Juno Charm (Salmon, 2011) by award-winning Irish poet, novelist and short fiction writer Nuala Ní Chonchúir. This book of poetry explores the worlds of two marriages – one waning, one waxing – and the pain of pregnancy loss and fertility struggles. Finbar explains that he nominated it because it is ‘wonderful poetry about love, body, place and new life’.
On Facebook, Katrina Naomi nominated Judy Brown’s debut poetry collection Loudness (Seren, 2011). This collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2011, and follows Brown’s earlier pamphlet publication and appearences in anthologies such as Identity Parade (Bloodaxe, 2010). Katrina says she is nominating Loudness ‘because it takes risks, both in subject matter and language, and it’s clever without being too ‘knowing’. It’s one of my favourite recently-published poetry collections’.
PG CWWN steering group member Emma Young nominated Gemma Seltzer’s first short story collection Speak to Strangers (Penned in the Margins, 2011) on Twitter and took to our blog to tell us why. This is a collection of one hundred 100 word short stories which depicts the experience of observing and interacting with strangers in London. Emma argues that this book should win the prize because ‘The structure of the book and stories challenges the boundaries of the form as the culmination of blog, poetry and narrative all intertwine to provide a thought-provoking and surprisingly vivid reading experience’.
On Facebook, Djuna Phoebe nominates Mez Packer’s The Game is Altered (Tindal Street Press, 2012). This is a speculative novel, set in the near future, where the thriller narrative moves across both the virtual and real world. In support of her nomination, Djuna says ‘Mez’s voice(s) remind(s) me of Zadie Smith. I really like the rich, heavy style used to render differing realities – this is writing with some serious ovaries’.
PG CWWN steering group member Cat McGurren nominated Scarlett O’Kelly’s Between the Sheets (Penguin Ireland, 2012) on our blog. Cat admits that selecting an account of a middle class woman’s year spent as a high-class escort is a ‘controversial’ choice. However, Cat thinks that it will challenge ‘assumptions about modern prostitution and the men who use them. This book deserves to win the Pineapple Prize because it is brave and feminist, and very much a part of the zeitgeist’.
Alex Pryce, University of Oxford
Pineapple Prize 2012 Nominees
Judy Brown, Loudness, Seren, 2011.
Susannah Clapp, A Card from Angela Carter, Bloomsbury, 2012.
Leontia Flynn, Profit and Loss, Cape, 2011.
Alison Graham Bertolini, Vigilante Women in Contemporary American Fiction, Palgrave, 2011.
Olivia Laing, To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface, Canongate Books, 2011.
Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman, Ebury Press, 2011.
Nuala Ní Chonchúir, The Juno Charm, Salmon, 2011.
Scarlett O’Kelly’s, Between the Sheets, Penguin Ireland, 2012.
Mez Packer, The Game is Altered, Tindal Street Press, 2012.
Gemma Seltzer, Speak to Strangers, Penned in the Margins, 2011.