Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a semi-autobiographical novel by Jeannette Winterson, first published in 1985. It draws on Winterson’s own experience growing up in the Elim Pentecostal Church of England.The protagonist and narrator of the book shares Winterson’s first name, religious denomination, and desire to be a missionary. Apart from religious matters, the two are also similar due to their sexual orientation. Winterson came out as a lesbian when she was 16, and her experience with sexuality has a clear influence on the narrator’s own.
However, Winterson denies that the novel is entirely autographical. She also denies that it is a “lesbian novel,” claiming instead that even straight readers are able to connect to the characters, themes, and conflicts central to the book’s narrative. Winterson expresses her feelings about the matter on her website, saying that she has “never understood why straight fiction is supposed to be for everyone, but anything with a gay character or that includes gay experience is only for queers.”
Winterson won a Whitbread Book Award for a First Novel for Oranges the same year the book was published. Five years later, in 1990, Oranges was adapted as a three-episode BBC television drama. The miniseries won three BAFTA awards (including the award for Best Drama Serial) as well as various other awards.