Annal: 1985 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1985.

Book:The Bone People

The Bone People: A Novel

Keri Hulme

In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon’s feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality.

Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge.

Book:The Battle of Pollock's Crossing

The Battle of Pollock's Crossing

J.L. Carr

“No, not if ten Vice-Presidents and each with two heads on his neck were coming to unveil it,” Mr.Gidner said sourly. “God willing—and I’m pretty sure he is—I never again shall set foot in your United States. Never! Guest of Honour? Honour! What has honour to do with Pollocks Crossing? And this monument you go on about!…Well, get the inscription right. What about this? Henry Fairwell and James Ardvaak Hereabouts done to death by their countrymen. July 5th 1930.”

A story recounted by an English school teacher of his experience in drought-ravaged South Dakota during the 1930’s. The conflict between the liberals and the dominant conservatism of the mid-West points out disturbing elements in the American world.

Book:The Good Apprentice

The Good Apprentice

Iris Murdoch

Edward Baltram is overwhelmed with guilt. His nasty little prank has gone horribly wrong: He has fed his closest friend a sandwich laced with a hallucinogenic drug and the young man has fallen out of a window to his death. Edward searches for redemption through a reunion with his famous father, the reclusive painter Jesse Baltram.

Funny and compelling, The Good Apprentice is at once a supremely sophisticated entertainment and an inquiry into the spiritual crises that afflict the modern world.

Book:The Good Terrorist

The Good Terrorist

Doris May Lessing

In a London squat a band of bourgeois revolutionaries are united by a loathing of the waste and cruelty they see around them as they try desperately to become involved in terrorist activities far beyond their level of competence.

Only Alice seems capable of organising anything. Motherly, practical and determined, she is also easily exploited by the group and ideal fodder for a more dangerous and potent cause. Eventually their naïve radical fantasies turn into a chaos of real destruction, but the aftermath is not as exciting as they hoped. Nonetheless, while they may not have changed the world, their lives will never be the same again.



Peter Carey

In Australian slang, an illywhacker is a country fair con man, an unprincipled seller of fake diamonds and dubious tonics. And Herbert Badgery, the 139-year-old narrator of Peter Carey’s uproarious novel, may be the king of them all. Vagabond and charlatan, aviator and car salesman, seducer and patriarch, Badgery is a walking embodiment of the Australian national character—especially of its proclivity for tall stories and barefaced lies. As Carey follows this charming scoundrel across a continent and a century, he creates a crazy quilt of outlandish encounters, with characters that include a genteel dowager who fends off madness with an electric belt and a ravishing young girl with a dangerous fondness for rooftop trysts.

Boldly inventive, irresistibly odd, Illywhacker is further proof that Peter Carey is one of the most enchanting writers at work in any hemisphere.

Book:Last Letters from Hav

Last Letters from Hav

Jan Morris

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