Oranges & Lemons by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

Oranges & Lemons


When the Orange Prize for Fiction was created in 1995, Auberon Waugh, formerly of this parish, rechristened it the Lemon Prize. The first literary prize to exclude men was denounced by Simon Jenkins as ‘sexist’ and A S Byatt said it ‘ghettoised’ women. Nearly thirteen years on and the prize is still with us and looking increasingly redundant. In 2007 female authors cleaned up all the major literary awards – the Booker (Anne Enright), the Costa Book of the Year (A L Kennedy) and the Nobel (Doris Lessing). There may have been an argument for championing women's fiction back when Martin Amis, Rushdie, Barnes et al exerted such a stranglehold on the market, but those days have long since gone. Women don't need a leg-up any more.

Last year I rather facetiously pointed out in a newspaper column that as the Orange Prize was about to enter its teenage years it would be only fitting for it to start flirting with the opposite sex. Rather than have an all-female judging panel, why not let men have a

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