Téa Obreht has won the Orange Prize for her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife. I was sure Room would win, and was excited that for once, I would have read the winner before it was announced. But when I read the prize announcement, instead of being disappointed I felt a surge of excitement. Why? Because at 25, Obreht is the youngest author ever to win the prize. And she wrote The Tiger’s Wife while still a student at Cornell University. I looked at her photo and thought, “my goodness, she could be my daughter.”
Kate wrote her first story when she was six. It was very simple, and illustrated by hand. But her teacher loved it, and produced laminated copies for the entire class. And from that moment, Kate knew she wanted to be a writer. Next week she will graduate from high school, and in August she will begin pursuing her dream at university.
And suddenly the Orange Prize, already one of my favorite literary prizes, has entirely new meaning for me. Every generation of women has benefited from those who came before, paving the way and serving as role models. The Orange Prize has always provided inspirational role models for women writers. And now, young women writers like Kate can “see” themselves in the prize.
So thank you, Téa Obreht. And good luck, Kate!