Taking the Orange at second bite: Zadie Smith’s On Beauty wins £30,000 fiction prize

From The Guardian:Smith1_2

Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty last night triumphantly passed the “desert island” test of a good read by winning the £30,000 Orange prize for fiction. After a record three-hour judges’ meeting, she narrowly beat exceptionally strong contenders by Hilary Mantel and Sarah Waters to take the first major literary award to match her prodigious celebrity.

She had the additional joy of finally winning the prize which first gave her recognition. She broke into the limelight as a 25-year-old when her debut – the exuberantly youthful, instantly bestselling White Teeth – was shortlisted for the Orange. On Beauty is the fruit of her early maturity and of her marriage to the poet Nick Laird.


Here they all were. Howard indulged in a quick visual catalogue of their interesting bits, knowing that this would very likely be the last time he saw them. The punk boy with black-painted fingernails, the Indian girl with the disproportionate eyes of a Disney character, another girl who looked no older than fourteen with a railroad on her teeth.

And then, spread across this room: big nose, small ears, obese, on crutches, hair red as rust, wheelchair, six foot five, short skirt, pointy breasts, iPod still on, anorexic with that light downy hair on her cheeks, bow-tie, another bow-tie, football hero, white boy with dreads, long fingernails like a New Jersey housewife, already losing his hair, striped tights – there were so many of them that Smith couldn’t close the door without squashing somebody. So they had come, and they had heard. Howard had pitched his tent and made his case.

More here.