Madeline Miller, the 8-1 outsider last night won the 2012 – and last – Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Song of Achilles (Bloomsbury), becoming the fourth American in a row to take home the £30,000 cheque and the bronze “Bessie” figurine, both anonymously endowed.
Joanna Trollope, Chair of Judges, described it as “more than worthy winner – original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her.” The newly celebrated author seemed genuinely surprised and slightly over-wrought. “I’m shaking,” she admitted, as she stepped to the microphone looking for a moment as if she might cry, before revealing that she was wearing a dress loaned to her by Ann Patchett. “I’m humbled and overwhelmed, truly.”
Miller is a classicist who teaches Latin and Greek to high school students.