Kathleen Winter, Emma Donoghue vie for Orange Prize

Kathleen Winter's Annabel and Emma Donoghue's Room, among 2010's top Canadian novels, are vying for the Orange Prize.
Kathleen Winter has been longlisted for the Orange Prize for her debut novel Annabel. (Chris Yong/Canadian Press)

Kathleen Winter's Annabel and Emma Donoghue's Room, two of 2010's most buzzed-about Canadian novels, are in the running for the prestigious Orange Prize.

Organizers of the £30,000 (about $47,000 Cdn) fiction honour — which celebrates female writers — announced their longlist for the 2011 edition in London Wednesday.

Irish-born Donoghue, who is now lives in London, Ont., explores a dark tale in Room. The story, told in the voice of a five-year-old boy, is a harrowing portrait of a mother and child living imprisoned in a locked room. It was nominated for a raft of awards — including the Man Booker Prize. It won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize as well as a regional Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Emma Donoghue's novel Room is also a semi-finalist for the Orange Prize. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Annabel, the debut novel from Montreal-based Newfoundland writer Winter, was also a multiple prize-nominee in 2010. It explores the themes of duality, identity and alienation in its story of an intersex child growing up in a small Labrador town in the 1970s.

American writer Jennifer Egan's novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the U.S. National Book Critics Circle award  for fiction last week, is also an Orange Prize contender.

Others on the long list are:

  • Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
  • Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch (U.K.)
  • The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi (India)
  • Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty (U.K.)
  • The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (U.K./Sierra Leone)
  • The London Train by Tessa Hadley (U.K.)
  • Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (U.K.)
  • The Seas by Samantha Hunt (U.S.)
  • The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna (U.K.)
  • Great House by Nicole Krauss (U.S.)
  • The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone (U.S.)
  • The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht (Serbia/U.S.)
  • The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (U.S.)
  • Repeat it Today with Tears by Anne Peile (U.K.)
  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (U.S.)
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin (U.K./Nigeria)
  • The Swimmer by Roma Tearne (U.K.)

"As a panel we had works of searing originality and epic scale in front of us — plus books that were intimate and sometimes magical," jury chair Bettany Hughes said in a statement.

"What we have is a gorgeous, widely varied longlist — we'll certainly enjoy re-reading each and every one as we make tough choices to select the Orange Prize shortlist for 2011."

The short list of finalists will be announced April 12, with a winner announced at gala at London's Royal Festival Hall on June 8.

Established in 1996 to promote female fiction authors writing in the English language, the prize has previously gone to such authors as Barbara Kingsolver, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Carol Shields and Anne Michaels.