Here is what I like about this year’s Orange Prize list. Although I really don’t need much convincing on this one: reading the OP backlist is an ongoing pet project of mine.

Levy Long SongFirst:
Rebecca Gowers’ The Twisted Heart
Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs
(Because I’ve already read them and they were good Orange stuff. It was my first of Lorrie Moore’s, although I’d sampled some short stories, and my second Rebecca Gowers: she’s terrific.)

Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall
M.J. Hyland’s This is How
Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna
Amanda Craig’s Hearts and Minds
(Because I’ve already read at least one other book of theirs — with the case of Waters and Hyland and Kingsolver, everything else there is, I think — and this is a great excuse to read their latest, which, otherwise, I might be inclined to hoard.)

Andrea Levy’s The Long Song
Kathryn Stockett’s The Help
(Because I’ve picked up their books many times and this is a great excuse to make time for one of them, a la Deborah Moggach in 2008 and Rose Tremain in 2008.)

Roopa Farooki’s The Way Things Look to Me
Laila Lalami’s The Secret Son
Sadie Jones’ Small Wars
(Because I’ve read fragments of their writing and this is a great excuse to really give them a solid Orange go, as 2004’s prize urged me to do with Gillian Slovo and 2008’s having forced me to take the Linda Grant plunge, which I likely should have done with her first nomination in 1997.)

Attica Locke’s Black Water Rising
Rosie Alison’s The Very Thought of You
Clare Clark’s Savage Lands
Amy Sackville’s The Still Point
Maria McCann’s The Wilding
Monique Roffey’s The White Woman on the Green Bicycle
Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal
Nadifa Mohamed’s Black Mamba Boy
(Because I’ve not heard of them at all and so it could be another Kate Grenville — as in 2001 — or another Charlotte Mendelson — from 2008, both favourites that I first took note of via the Orange Prize list.)

It looks as though six of these will be somewhat more challenging to find, but it’s only March, so I’m still hopeful. So far I am planning on Orange Thursdays through April and May but obviously there are more books than Thursdays, so if I am lucky enough to find all of them, and luckier still to find time to read all of them, something will have to give.