Annal: 1987 Whitbread Book Award for Novel

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 1987.

Book:The Child in Time

The Child in Time

Ian McEwan

Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children’s books, is confronted with the unthinkable: his only child, three-year-old Kate, is snatched from him in a supermarket. In one horrifying moment, Stephen must absorb the deadly realization that she is gone.

With extraordinary tenderness and insight, McEwan takes us in the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate’s absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on separate paths. For Stephen, time seems to slow down, and ultimately, to turn on itself, to his own childhood. As Stephen struggles with his own grief, he also witnesses a descent into madness that is the result of a childhood never known.

McEwan explores in haunting and beautiful prose the complicated logic of time: the distorted time of panic, time as we experienced it in love in bereavement, and time as it is lived by children, for whom the present always seems infinite. Eloquent and passionate, the novel concludes in a triumphant scene of love and hope that gives full rein to the author’s remarkable gifts.

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