Byline: LOUISE JURY
THE Road Home, a novel by Rose Tremain which has won the [pounds sterling]30,000 OrangeBroadband Prize For Fiction, is to be turned into a television film.
The London writer, 64, secured the deal with the BBC just 24 hours beforewalking away with the biggest literary prize of her much-lauded career.
The novel is the story of Lev, an economic migrant from an unspecified easternEuropean country and his encounters with a London that is wasteful, obese andexpensive.
It was hailed as "a powerfully imagined story and a wonderful feat of emotionalempathy told with great warmth and humour" by broadcaster Kirsty Lang whochaired the Orange Prize judges.
Tremain afterwards revealed it is now to be made into a 90-minute one-offdrama. "That's good," she said at the ceremony at the Southbank centrewhere a memorable scene in her story is set.
But while her book made her hero's origins deliberately vague as an Everymanexample of the immigrant experience, TV producers had already identified theneed to "make specific a non-specific country".
It would be probably filmed "wherever it is cheapest," she admitted.
Tremain, who splits her life between London and Norfolk where she talked toimmigrant fruit pickers, said the issue had hotted up since she wrote thebook.The story had become politicised as a consequence. It would be "wonderful"if the book had a legacy of greater understanding, she said, but feared thatwas too ambitious a hope for a work of fiction.
"What needs to happen immediately is a tolerance of people coming here insearch of a better life," she said. Few of them wanted to become British,unlike emigrants to America who had traditionally embraced the American dream.
"Our economy is, I think, on a downward spiral. There's no doubt that theeconomies of Poland, Hungary, Estonia, eastern Europe, are rising. People comehere for a while to learn skills and the language and then they take the roadhomeand that might be to our loss." Tremain said she had worked on her loser'ssmile. "Winning feels wonderful but it feels unexpected to me," she said.
The Orange Prize had in its 13 years earned a reputation for often honouringwriters near the beginning of their careers. She had believed debut novelistSadie Jones would win.
She defended the award against the criticism of many menand some women. In her acceptance speech, she said: "Come on you guys, stopgrumbling." This year Al (Alison) Kennedy had won the Costa, Anne Enright tookthe Man Booker and Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. …