US author Barbara Kingsolver won Britain's Orange Prize for Fiction, which honours English-language novels by women from around the world, on Wednesday with her sixth novel The Lacuna.
The book is about Harrison Shepherd, a young man born in the United States but who grows up around Mexico, where he meets artist Frida Kahlo and Soviet Bolshevik exile Leon Trotsky.
He later returns to the United States and is investigated because of his association with such figures.
"We had very different tastes on the panel, but in the end we went for passion not compromise," said chair of the judges Daisy Goodwin.
"We chose The Lacuna because it is a book of breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy."
The book is the first in nine years by Kingsolver, who is best known for The Poisonwood Bible.
Kingsolver beat off competition from five other authors including Britain's Hilary Mantel, who had been favourite to win with Wolf Hall. The prize includes a 30,000 pound (36,000 euro, 43,000 dollar) cheque.