Adichie Wins U.K. Book Prize

Associated Press
Thursday, June 7, 2007

LONDON, June 6 -- Nigeria's Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won Britain's Orange Prize for fiction by women, becoming the first African and the youngest author to take the award in its 12-year history, organizers said Wednesday.

Adichie, 29, won the prize for "Half of a Yellow Sun," set during the Nigeria-Biafra conflict of the 1960s.

"I can only tell you how profoundly happy I am," she said, collecting the award at a London ceremony. "Now I have to go and make a phone call to Nigeria."

She beat out finalists including India's Kiran Desai and American Anne Tyler for the $60,000 prize, awarded for a novel by a woman published in English. "Yellow Sun" was a finalist earlier this year for the National Book Critics Circle fiction prize.

"The judges and I were hugely impressed by the power, ambition and skill of Adichie's novel," said Muriel Gray, head of the judging panel. "It's astonishing, not just in the skillful subject matter, but in the brilliance of its accessibility. This is a moving and important book by an incredibly exciting author."

Adichie had previously been a finalist for her debut novel, "Purple Hibiscus," in 2004.

The award's full title is the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, after its sponsor, the telecommunications company Orange.

This year's finalists also included first-time British novelist Jane Harris for "The Observations," China's Xiaolu Guo for "A Concise Chinese-American Dictionary for Lovers," and Britain's Rachel Cusk for "Arlington Park."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company