Annal: 1980 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1980.

Book:Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

William Golding

In the early 1800s, Edmund Talbot, a young and rather priggish Englishman, takes passage on a boat heading for Australia where he is to be an official in the colonial government. In addition to Talbot, many of the eccentric passengers—a sexually predatory sailor, the aging coquette Miss Zenobia Brocklebank, the ship’s tyrannical captain—undergo profound changes in the course of the voyage, during which a naive clergyman is victimized and, finally, pushed to suicide. These events are described in the diary Talbot keeps en route.

Book:The Beggar Maid

The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose

Alice Munro

In this series of interweaving stories, Munro recreates the evolving bond between two women in the course of almost forty years. One is Flo, practical, suspicious of other people’s airs, at times dismayingly vulgar. the other is Rose, Flo’s stepdaughter, a clumsy, shy girl who somehow leaves the small town she grew up in to achieve her own equivocal success in the larger world.

Book:Clear Light of Day

Clear Light of Day: A Novel

Anita Desai

Set in India's Old Delhi, Clear Light of Day is Anita Desai's tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. At the novel's heart are the moving relationships between the members of the Das family, who have grown apart from each other. Bimla is a dissatisfied but ambitious teacher at a women's college who lives in her childhood home, where she cares for her mentally challenged brother, Baba. Tara is her younger, unambitious, estranged sister, married and with children of her own. Raja is their popular, brilliant, and successful brother. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding.

Book:Earthly Powers

Earthly Powers

Anthony Burgess

Book:A Month in the Country

A Month in the Country

J.L. Carr

In J.L. Carr’s deeply charged poetic novel, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the Great War and a broken marriage, arrives in the remote Yorkshire village of Oxgodby where he is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by the resplendent countryside of high summer, and laboring each day to uncover an anonymous painter’s extraordinary depiction of the apocalypse, Birkin finds that he himself has been restored to a new, and hopeful, attachment to life. But summer ends, and with the work done, Birkin must leave. Now, long after, as he reflects on the passage of time and the power of art, he finds in his memories some consolation for all that has been lost.

Book:No Country for Young Men

No Country for Young Men

Julia O'Faolain

Set in present day Dublin, this story of contemporay passion and bygone adventure involves an Irish-American targeted for elimination by terrorists, an unsolved 1922 murder, a moving love affair, a mad nun, and what happens to society when memory displace

Book:Pascali's Island

Pascali's Island

Barry Unsworth

The year is 1908, the place, a small Greek island in the declining days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. For twenty years Basil Pascali has spied on the people of his small community and secretly reported on their activities to the authorities in Constantinople. Although his reports are never acknowledged, never acted upon, he has received regular payment for his work. Now he fears that the villagers have found him out and he becomes engulfed in paranoia. In the midst of his panic, a charming Englishman arrives on the island claiming to be an archaeologist, and charms his way into the heart of the woman for whom Pascali pines. A complex game is played out between the two where cunning and betrayal may come to haunt them both.

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