Annal: 1971 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1971.

Book:In a Free State

In a Free State: A Novel

V.S. Naipaul

No writer has rendered our boundariless, post-colonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives.

In the beginning it is just a car trip through Africa. Two English people—Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys, and Linda, a supercilious “compound wife”— are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital. But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin’s Uganda. And the farther Naipaul’s protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims. Alongside this Conradian tour de force are four incisive portraits of men seeking liberation far from home. By turns funny and terrifying, sorrowful and unsparing, In A Free State is Naipaul at his best.

Book:The Big Chapel

The Big Chapel

Thomas Kilroy

Book:Briefing for a Descent into Hell

Briefing for a Descent into Hell

Doris May Lessing

A fascinating look inside the mind of a man who is supposedly “mad.”

Book:Goshawk Squadron

Goshawk Squadron

Derek Robinson

For Stanley Woolley, commanding officer of Goshawk Squadron, the romance of chivalry in the clouds is just a myth. The code he drums into his men is simple and savage: shoot the enemy in the back before he knows you’re there. Even so, he believes the whole squadron will be dead within three months.

Book:Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

Elizabeth Taylor

Mrs. Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently flawed and eccentric. Together, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper. Then one day Mrs Palfrey encounters the handsome young writer, Ludo.

Book:St. Urbain's Horseman

St. Urbain's Horseman

Mordecai Richler

St. Urbain’s Horseman is a complex, moving, and wonderfully comic evocation of a generation consumed with guilt—guilt at not joining every battle, at not healing every wound.

Thirty-seven-year-old Jake Hersh is a film director of modest success, a faithful husband, and a man in disgrace. His alter ego is his cousin Joey, a legend in their childhood neighbourhood in Montreal. Nazi-hunter, adventurer, and hero of the Spanish Civil War, Joey is the avenging horseman of Jake’s impotent dreams. When Jake becomes embroiled in a scandalous trial in London, England, he puts his own unadventurous life on trial as well, finding it desperately wanting as he steadfastly longs for the Horseman’s glorious return.

Irreverent, deeply felt, as scathing in its critique of social mores as it is uproariously funny, St. Urbain’s Horseman confirms Mordecai Richler’s reputation as a pre-eminent observer of the hypocrisies and absurdities of modern life.

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