A.M. Homes, 50, bested a mix of Brits and Americans to win the annual Women's Prize for Fiction, the fifth American to win it in as many years. Other finalists were U.K. writers Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel, and Zadie Smith, along with U.S. authors Barbara Kingsolver and Maria Semple.
Homes's winning novel, May We Be Forgiven, is her first in six years and as Mike Berlin described in Out: "the macabre undercurrent of suburbia tugs as forcefully as ever, but there's a gentle wash of optimism, too. The tale is of Harry Silver, an out-of-touch history professor, and his attempt to cope with a series of traumas, both sexual and violent."
Homes, who has dated both men and women, also balks at those who try to define her. "I don't think I fit anybody's sense of gender," she says. "I don't think I fit anybody's sense of sexuality. I've had to live in that space in between places forever."
The author told the Telegraph she likes the idea of a book prize only for women, at a time when some others have criticized the concept as sexist. "I do think it's a good thing," she said. "Despite a lot of change and growth, we still live in a world where the work of male writers dominates. But more importantly, it's important to read the hundreds of books that are submitted for this kind of prize and to look at the range of work of women writers, and produce a shortlist that shows that women are writing substantial, powerful big ideas -- historical work that goes beyond gender and resonates throughout the culture. That's a very valid and important thing to take note of."