Book Prize Panel Defends Allen

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The organisers of a British book competition have defended their decision to choose pop star Lily Allen as a judge - insisting she was only dropped from the panel because her "life got in the way".
The Smile singer signed up to the judging panel for the $60,000 (GBP30,000) Orange Prize for Fiction in December (07), but failed to show up for an important meeting last month (Mar08) because she was too "depressed" after suffering a miscarriage.
Allen was eventually dropped as a judge earlier this month (Apr08).
But panel chairman Kirsty Lang has hit out at the critics who disparaged Allen after her withdrawal from the panel - calling them "snobby and elitist" and insisting she has no regrets about the decision to bring the 22-year-old on board.
She says, "She reads, she writes her own songs, she's a wordsmith. Life got in the way.
"She lost a baby, her boyfriend left her and she was launching a new TV show. She was under a hell of a lot of pressure. She found the pressure of judging a major book prize on top of everything else too much."
The competition is one of the U.K.'s most prestigious literary awards for female authors, with previous winners including novelists Zadie Smith and Lionel Shriver.


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