Review: ‘Annabel’ by Kathleen Winter

As it is on the Orange Prize shortlist 2011, Annabel was another novel I had to read as part of my role as an Orange Prize youth judge. It is the powerful story of a hermaphrodite born in 1968 into the remote north-east coast of Canada. Although the baby’s parents decide to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne, as Wayne grows up his stifled shadow-self – a girl he thinks of as Annabel – begins to cry out.

Kathleen Winter captures the loneliness of the stark environment beautifully – a loneliness which is mirrored in Wayne, who must navigate the difficulty of hiding the woman inside him. Although Wayne has some support, nobody really understands him.

In an attempt to label him, to slot him into society’s rigid norms, a whole half of who Wayne is is suppressed. The compassionate novel raises issues concerning not only gender, but of individuality and belonging: Winter questions our perception of what ‘normal’ is, and the effects of our categorical culture.

The novel is beautifully written: understated but all the more moving because of that. Winter does not indulge the characters with sympathy but tells their story in a delicate manner which allows the reader to understand their situation all the better.

M x.x

If you want to find out more about the Orange Prize, go to http://www.orangeprize.co.uk/ or go to their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/orangeprize

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Books

One response to “Review: ‘Annabel’ by Kathleen Winter

  1. Another excellent review! (it would have taken me 2,000 words to say the same thing…)

    -Unseen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s