Friday, June 08, 2007

Wednesday 6 June

To the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers ceremony at the refurbished Royal Festival Hall, prior to its official reopening.

Booktrust administers the prizes, which means sorting submissions from publishers; sending titles to the judges; attending longlist and shortlist meetings; and - perhaps most importantly - remembering to bring along to the ceremony the winners' cheques and the Bessie statuette. Our head of IT also plays a key role in maintaining and updating the Orange Prize website.

Kate Mosse, founder of the prize, generously praised us in her speech for the behind-the-scenes role we play.

The winner of the OANW was Canadian writer Karen Connolly, who gave an impromptu speech about the Burmese people who had inspired her and her book (The Lizard Cage), and also praised - in this era of digitisation - that perfect piece of technology: the book.

Then a huge cheer greeted the announcement of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction for Half of a Yellow Sun. Chimamanda's surprise was all the greater because her handbag had been stolen the day before (thanks, London), which she had convinced herself was a bad omen.

Spotted at the ceremony: Bianca Jagger; Gerald Scarfe and Jane Asher; India Knight; authors Romesh Gunesekera, Zadie Smith and Nick Laird, the lovely Joanna Briscoe and equally lovely Charlotte Mendelson.

By happy coincidence, it was also my 40th birthday, but Kate forgot to mention that ...