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Kingsolver wins Orange Prize

American novelist Barbara Kingsolver beat out Man Booker prizewinner Hilary Mantel and four other writers to take the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel, The Lacuna.

American novelist wins prestigious British fiction award for her novel, The Lacuna

American novelist Barbara Kingsolver beat out Man Booker prizewinner Hilary Mantel and four other writers to take the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel, The Lacuna.

The £30,000 ($45,000 Cdn) Orange Prize for Fiction, now in its 15th year, is open to any novel by a woman published in English.

Kingsolver, 55, was shortlisted for the award in 1999 for her best-selling The Poisonwood Bible.

Her sixth novel, The Lacuna, is a 670-page epic that centres on writer Harrison Shepherd, who finds work with the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. When Leon Trotsky takes shelter with Rivera after fleeing Stalin, Harrison is taken by the ideals of the exiled Bolshevik leader.

The Daily Telegraph said the 2009 novel "invites comparisons between the anti-Communist purges of McCarthyism during the late 1940s and early 1950s, and post-9/11 America."

Starting point

In an earlier interview with the U.K. newspaper, Kingsolver said her starting point for the novel was wondering why Americans are wary of their political artists, while other countries such as Mexico celebrate them.

"Patriotism is tied up here [in the U.S.] with seeing our country as a perfect, finished product, not a work in progress,'' said Kingsolver, who was raised in the Republican heartland of rural Kentucky.

She accepted the prize from the Duchess of Cornwall at the London awards ceremony on Wednesday evening.

Author and television producer Daisy Goodwin, who chaired the Orange Prize judges, called the book a worthy winner.

"We chose The Lacuna because it is a book of breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy," she said.

The shortlisted titles were Wolf Hall, British writer Mantel's novel about Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of King Henry VIII; A Gate at the Stairs by U.S. writer Lorrie Moore; U.S. writer Attica Locke's debut thriller Black Water Rising; Britain's Rosie Alison's The Very Thought of You; and British-Trinidadian writer Monique Roffey's The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.

With files from The Associated Press

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