Orange Prize for Fiction awarded to Tea Obreht

Tea Obreht is the youngest author to scoop the prize

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Serbian-American author Tea Obreht has won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction for her debut novel The Tiger's Wife.

The 25-year-old, who is the youngest author to scoop the honour, was praised by the judges as a "truly exciting new talent" for her "exceptional book".

Set in the Balkans, The Tiger's Wife tells the story of a young doctor who traces the life of her grandfather.

The £30,000 annual prize recognises the work of fiction written in the English language by women.

Born in the former Yugoslavia in 1985 and raised in Belgrade, Obreht emigrated to the United States in 1997.

She was featured in The New Yorker's Top 20 Writers under 40 Fiction Issue and her debut novel was published in March this year.

"Obreht's powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable," said broadcaster Bettany Hughes, chair of the judges.

"By skilfully spinning a series of magical tales, she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms with a bittersweet vivacity.

"Obreht celebrates storytelling and she helps us to remember that it is the stories that we tell about ourselves, and about others, that can make us who we are and the world what it is," she added.

The other nominees were Kathleen Winter for Annabel, Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson, Emma Donoghue's Room, Aminatta Forna's The Memory of Love and Great House by Nicole Krauss.

US author Barbara Kingsolver won the prize last year for her sixth novel, The Lacuna.

Previous winners of the prize, which has been running since 1996, include Helen Dunmore, Zadie Smith and Rose Tremain.

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