Annal: 1997 Orange Prize for Fiction

Results of the Orange Prize in the year 1997.

Book:Fugitive Pieces

Fugitive Pieces

Anne Michaels

It is a story of World War II as remembered and imagined by one of its survivors: a poet named Jakob Beer, traumatically orphaned as a young child and smuggled out of Poland, first to a Greek island (where he will return as an adult), and later to Toronto. It is the story of how, over his lifetime, Jakob learns the power of language—to destroy, to omit, to obliterate, but also to restore and to conjure, witness and tell—as he comes to understand and experience what was lost to him and of what is possible for him to regain.

Profoundly moving, brilliantly written—as sensual and lyric as it is emotionally resonant—Fugitive Pieces delves into the most difficult workings of the human heart and mind: the grief and healing of remembrance. It is a first novel of astonishing achievement.

Book:Accordion Crimes

Accordion Crimes: A Novel

Annie Proulx

Rarely has a literary novel so captured the hearts and minds of readers across America and the world as E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Now we have Proulx’s new novel, Accordion Crimes, a masterpiece of storytelling that spans a century and a continent.

Accordion Crimes opens in 1890 in Sicily as an accordion maker completes his finest instrument and dreams of owning a music store in America. He and his eleven-year-old son, carrying little more than the accordion, voyage to the teeming, violent port of New Orleans. Within a year, the accordion maker is murdered by an anti-Italian lynching mob, but his instrument carries Proulx’s story as it falls into the hands of various immigrants who carry it from Iowa to Texas, from Maine to Louisiana, looking for a decent life. The music is their last link with the past—voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance—but it, too,…[more]

Book:Alias Grace

Alias Grace: A Novel

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood takes us back in time and into the life and mind of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century. Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, the wealthy Thomas Kinnear, and of Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence after a stint in Toronto’s lunatic asylum, Grace herself claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story, from her family’s difficult passage out of Ireland into Canada, to her time as a maid in Thomas Kinnear’s household. As he brings Grace closer and closer to the day she cannot remember, he hears of the turbulent relationship between Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery, and of the alarming behavior of Grace’s fellow servant, James McDermott. Jordan is drawn to Grace, but he is also baffled by her. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend, a bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she a victim of circumstances?

Book:Hen's Teeth

Hen's Teeth: A Kellen Stewart Crime Thriller

Manda Scott

At midnight in Glasgow, Dr. Kellen Stewart learns that her ex-lover Bridget—who was only 41—died of cardiac arrest. With the help of her pathologist friend, Kellen follows the evidence to Bridget’s farm, where she encounters a strange menagerie of priceless hens, lethal eggs, vanishing corpses, and bio-medical marvels to die for.

Book:I Was Amelia Earhart

I Was Amelia Earhart

Jane Mendelsohn

In this brilliantly imagined novel, Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea one glorious, windy day in 1937. And she tells us about herself.

There is her love affair with flying (“The sky is flesh”)…

There are her memories of the past: her childhood desire to become a heroine (“Heroines did what they wanted”)…her marriage to G.P. Putnam, who promoted her to fame, but was willing to gamble her life so that the book she was writing about her round-the-world flight would sell out before Christmas.

There is the flight itself—day after magnificent or perilous or exhilarating or terrifying day (“Noonan once said any fool could have seen I was risking my life but not living it”).

And there is, miraculously, an island (“We named it Heaven, as a kind of joke”).

And, most important, there is Noonan…

Book:One By One in the Darkness

One By One in the Darkness

Deirdre Madden

A story about three Northern Irish sisters. It has a double narrative, part of which describes their childhood and shows the impact of the political changes and the violence of the late-1960s upon the people of Ulster, as the wholeness and coherence of early childhood gradually break down.

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