''Orange Prize should be scrapped for being sexist''

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London, Mar 18 (UNI) A prominent British novelist has urged that Orange Prize for Fiction, which is Britain's leading literary award for women, should be scrapped for being sexist and discriminatory.

Novelist Tim Lott yesterday said it was no longer possible to say that women were a mistreated minority in the literary world and the 30,000 pounds Orange Prize was ''discriminatory, sexist and perverse''.

''Women are predominant, in terms of numbers and power, in most of the major publishing houses and agencies, they sell most of the books, into a market that largely comprises women readers,'' the Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The Orange Prize for fiction was created in 1995 in response to a growing awareness that often the considerable achievements of women novelists were frequently being passed over by the major literary prizes. The Prize is judged exclusively by women, who choose the year's best novel in English written by a woman.

Mr Lott, who won the rival Whitbread First Novel Award in 2000 for White City Blues, said a lot of writers he had spoken to find the prize ridiculous and unfair.

''Could the establishment of a men-only prize, with men-only judges, be justified given their level of relative exclusion in schools and the marketplace? Can you imagine the derision with which it would rightly be met?'' The Orange Prize, which announced its list of 20 entries yesterday also includes 2007 Booker Prize winner 'The Gathering' by Anne Enright.

When it was founded, the late Auberon Waugh nicknamed it the Lemon Prize and the feminist Germaine Greer sneered at the idea of restricting awards, saying that it would not be long before someone founded a prize for writers with red hair.

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