Annal: 1997 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 1997.

Book:In the Rogue Blood

In the Rogue Blood

James Carlos Blake

The offspring of a whore mother and a homicidal father, Edward and John Little are driven from their home in the Florida swamplands by a sching parent’s treacheries, and by a shameful, horrific act that will haunt their dreams for the rest of their days. Joining the swelling ranks of the rootless—wandering across an almost surreal bloodland populated by the sorrowfully lost and defiantly damned—two brothers are separated by death and circumstance in the lawless “Dixie City” of New Orelans, and dispatched by destiny to opposing sides in a fierce and desperate territorial struggled between Mexico and the United States. And a family bond tempered in hot blood is tested in the cruel, all-consuming fires of war and conscience.

With soaring and masterful prose, James Carlos Blake brings to life an enthralling historical time and place—and a cast of memorable characters—in a stunning tale of dark instinct, blood reckoning, and fates forged in the zeal of America’s “Manifest Destiny.”

Book:California's Over

California's Over: A novel

Louis B. Jones

California’s Over leads us down an unmarked road to the coast and then deep into the rotten, labyrinthine house where James Farmican, the famous poet, shot himself to death years ago, leaving behind a legacy of adulation and bankruptcy. Now his family is leaving, and the young narrator—who calls himself Baelthon—has been hired to haul the furniture onto the lawn and sort through the attic and basement. But as Baelthon excavates, he also discovers layers of family mystery and comedy and cruelty, all of it piled too deeply for anyone to sort out: the unexplained disappearance of Farmican’s ashes, the unfinished novel that may actually be his suicide note, the opera about cannibalism that his son is writing to rescue himself from obscurity, and, finally, the family’s migration to the Nevada desert to claim their inheritance.

And Baelthon discovers Wendy, Farmican’s sixteen-year-old daughter who keeps her checkers pieces taped to the board…[more]

Book:The Ordinary Seaman

The Ordinary Seaman

Francisco Goldman

The ordinary seaman is Esteban, a nineteen-year-old veteran of the war in Nicaragua who has come to America with fourteen other men to form the crew of the boat Urus. Docked on a desolate Brooklyn pier, the Urus turns out to be a wreck, the men - without the ability to return to their homes—become its prisoners, and the city of New York is transformed into a mysterious and alluring world they cannot penetrate. Esteban, haunted by his dead lover from the war, eventually gathers the courage to escape from the ship and embarks on a quest for a new life and love in the city. The Ordinary Seaman is both a richly human story of abandonment, loss, betrayal, and the power of love and a modern fable about America’s hidden immigrant culture.

Book:The Reader

The Reader: A Novel

Bernhard Schlink, Carol Brown Janeway

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

Book:Reading in the Dark

Reading in the Dark: A Novel

Seamus Deane

Seamus Deane’s first novel is a mesmerizing story of childhood set against the violence of Northern Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s.

The boy narrator grows up haunted by a truth he both wants and does not want to discover. The matter: a deadly betrayal, unspoken and unspeakable, born of political enmity. As the boy listens through the silence that surrounds him, the truth spreads like a stain until it engulfs him and his family. And as he listens, and watches, the world of legend—the stone fort of Grianan, home of the warrior Fianna; the Field of the Disappeared, over which no gulls fly—reveals its transfixing reality. Meanwhile the real world of adulthood unfolds its secrets like a collection of folktales: the dead sister walking again; the lost uncle, Eddie, present on every page; the family house “as cunning and articulate as a labyrinth, closely designed, with someone sobbing at…[more]

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