Annal: 1981 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1981.

Book:Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children

Salman Rushdie

In the moments of upheaval that surround the stroke of midnight on August 14—15, 1947, the day India proclaimed its independence from Great Britain, 1,001 children are born—each of whom is gifted with supernatural powers. Midnight’s Children focuses on the fates of two of them—the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman and the male heir of a wealthy Muslim family—who become inextricably linked when a midwife switches the boys at birth.

An allegory of modern India, Midnight’s Children is a family saga set against the volatile events of the thirty years following the country’s independence—the partitioning of India and Pakistan, the rule of Indira Gandhi, the onset of violence and war, and the imposition of martial law. It is a magical and haunting tale, of fragmentation and of the struggle for identity and belonging that links personal life with national history.

In collaboration with Simon Reade, Tim Supple and the Royal Shakespeare Society, Salman Rushdie has adapted his masterpiece for the stage.

Book:The Comfort of Strangers

The Comfort of Strangers

Ian McEwan

As their holiday unfolds, Colin and Maria are locked into their own intimacy. They groom themselves meticulously, as though someone is waiting for them who cares deeply about how they appear. When they meet a man with a disturbing story to tell, they become drawn into a fantasy of violence and obsession.

Book:Good Behaviour

Good Behaviour

Molly Keane

Behind the gates of Temple Alice, the aristocratic Anglo-Irish St Charles family sinks into a state of decaying grace. To Aroon St Charles, the large and unlovely daughter of the house, the fierce forces of sex, money, jealousy, and love seem locked out by the ritual patterns of good behavior. But crumbling codes of conduct cannot hope to save the members of the St Charles family from their own unruly and inadmissible desires.

This elegant and allusive novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, established Molly Keane as the natural successor to Jean Rhys.

Book:Loitering with Intent

Loitering with Intent

Muriel Spark

“How wonderful to be an artist and a woman in the twentieth century,” Fleur Talbot rejoices. Happily loitering about London, c. 1949, with intent to gather material for her writing, Fleur finds a job “on the grubby edge of the literary world,” as secretary to the peculiar Autobiographial Association. Mad egomaniacs, hilariously writing their memoirs in advance—or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? Rich material, in any case. But when its pompous director, Sir Quentin Oliver, steals the manuscript of Fleur’s new novel, fiction begins to appropriate life. The association’s members begin to act out scenes exactly as Fleur herself has already written them in her missing manuscript. And as they meet darkly funny, pre-visioned fates, where does art start or reality end?

Book:Rhine Journey

Rhine Journey

Ann Schlee

Book:The Sirian Experiments

The Sirian Experiments

Doris May Lessing

The Sirian Experiments is the third volume in Doris Lessing’s celebrated space fiction series. “Canopus in Argos: Archives”. In this interlnked quintet of novels, she creates a new, extraordinary cosmos where the fate of the Earth is influenced by the rivalries and interactions of three powerful galactic empires, Canopus, Sirius and their enemy, Puttiora. Blending myth, fable and allegory, Doris Lessing’s astonishing visionary creation both reflects and redefines the history of own world from its earliest beginnings to an inevitable, tragic self-destruction.

The Sirian Experiments chronicles the origins of our planet, the three galactic empires fight for control of the human race. The novel charts the gradual moral awakening of its narrator, charts the charts the gradual moral awakening of its narrator, Ambien II, a ‘dry, dutiful, efficient’ female Sirian administrator. Witnessing the wanton colonisation of land and people, Ambien begins to question her involvement in such insidious experimentation, her faith in the possibility os human progress itself growing weaker every day.

Book:The White Hotel

The White Hotel

D.M. Thomas

By turns a dream of electrifying eroticism recounted by a young woman to her analyst, Sigmund Freud, and a horrifying yet calmly unsensational narrative of the Holocaust, this PEN Silver Pen winner is now recognized as a modern classic that reconciles the nightmarish with the transcendent.

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