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Lily Allen to judge Orange women's fiction award

Royal Society of Literature unimpressed

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Brit songstress Lily Allen has been selected a judge for next year's Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, joining chair Kirsty Lang, Guardian Review editor Lisa Allardice, novelist Philippa Gregory and novelist, journalist and children’s author Bel Mooney on the panel for the women-only £30k award.

Lang, described as a "journalist and broadcaster", enthused: "I was extremely honoured to be asked to chair this year’s Orange Broadband Prize if not a little daunted by the task. However I do have a very strong line-up of judges which should make for some lively debates."

The line is not, however, as "strong" as some might like. Maggie Gee, chair of the Royal Society of Literature, protested to the Telegraph: "Where is the seriousness here? Lily would be fine as the light relief, her songs are great. But the chair herself is not an author. There is a shortage of serious writers on this panel.

"It seems to be another consequence of this obsession with celebrity. We seem to have to have them on panels like this whether they know anything about books or not. If Lily reads a lot, whole books and serious books, then she is a fair choice. But that is not something she is known for.

"If she has just been chosen for her celebrity then that seems to be a ridiculous thing."

Last year's prize was awarded to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Half of a Yellow Sun, described as a novel about "about Africa, about moral responsibility, the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race, and about how love can complicate all these things".

Ms Allen is herself no stranger to telco-sponsored plaudits. Back in 2006, she secured "best pop artist" at the BT Digital Music Awards, and hasn't looked back since with her accessible yet thoughtful musings on how love can complicate just about anything. ®

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