Annal: 1998 Orange Prize for Fiction

Results of the Orange Prize in the year 1998.

Book:Larry's Party

Larry's Party

Carol Shields

The San Diego Tribune called The Stone Diaries a “universal study of what makes women tick.” With Larry’s Party Carol Shields has done the same for men.

Larry Weller, born in 1950, is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator’s perception, irony, and tenderness. Larry’s Party gives us, as it were, a CAT scan of his life, in episodes between 1977 and 1997, that seamlessly flash backward and forward. We follow this young floral designer through two marriages and divorces, and his interactions with his parents, friends, and a son. Throughout, we witness his deepening passion for garden mazes—so like life, with their teasing treachery and promise of reward. Among all the paradoxes and accidents of his existence, Larry moves through the spontaneity of the seventies, the blind enchantment of the eighties, and the lean, mean nineties, completing at last his quiet, stubborn search for self.

Larry’s odyssey mirrors the male condition at the end of our century with targeted wit, unerring poignancy, and faultless wisdom.

Book:Lives of the Monster Dogs

Lives of the Monster Dogs

Kirsten Bakis

Here is a first novel like no other: a spellbinding tale that both creates its own fully realized world perspective and provides an incisive look at the ways that humans and animals resemble each other. A group of elegant monster dogs in top hats, tails, and bustle skirts become instant celebrities when they come to New York in 2008. Refugees from a town whose residents had been utterly isolated for a hundred years, the dogs retain the nineteenth-century Germanic culture of the humans who created them. They are wealthy and glamorous and seem to lead charmed lives—but they find adjusting to the modern world difficult, and when a young woman, Cleo Pira, befriends them, she discovers that a strange, incurable illness threatens them all with extinction. When the dogs construct their dream home, a fantastic castle on the Lower East Side, and barricade themselves inside, Cleo finds herself one of the few human witnesses to a mad, lavish party that may prove to be the final act in the drama of the lives of the monster dogs.

Book:Love Like Hate Adore

Love Like Hate Adore

Deidre Purcell

What happens if your brother is accused of rape? Through her narrator, Angela Devine, the author defends against intense media and public pressure on a young male in a date rape case.

Book:The Magician's Assistant

The Magician's Assistant

Ann Patchett

What is to become of a magician’s assistant without her magician? This is the question Sabine asks herself after the death of Parsifal, the magician she worked with for more than 20 years and her husband for only a few months.

Parsifal loved men, especially Phan, and though Sabine loved Parsifal, she contented herself with his friendship. Now Parsifal and Phan are both gone, and Sabine is left with full responsibility for their possessions and their histories. Always the assistant, her life is still defined by service to Parsifal. But in the world of illusion Sabine has occupied for her entire life, things are rarely what they seem. According to Parsifal, he had no living relatives. Now, with his death, comes the news that he has a mother and two sisters living in Alliance, Nebraska. Inevitably, the strangers will meet and Sabine will be carried away from her beloved Los Angeles to seek the truth of Parsifal’s past in the bitterly windswept steppes of Nebraska in winter. It is here…[more]

Book:The Ventriloquist's Tale

The Ventriloquist's Tale

Pauline Melville

Pauline Melville conjures up vivid pictures both of savanna and forest and of city life in South America where love is often trumped by disaster. Unforgettable characters illuminate theme and plot: Sonny, the strange, beautiful and isolate son of Beatrice and Danny, the brother and sister who have a passionate affair at the time of the solar eclipse in 1919; Father Napier, the sandy-haired evangelist whom the Indians perceive as a giant grasshopper; Chofy McKinnon the modern Indian, torn between savanna life and urban future. This is a novel that embraces nearly a century, large in scope but intimate as a whisper, where laughter is never far from the scene of tragedy; a parable of miscegenation and racial elusiveness, of nature defying culture, magic confronting rationalism and of the eternally rebellious nature of love.

Book:The Weight of Water: A Novel

The Weight of Water: A Novel

Anita Shreve

More than a century after someone murders two people on a small island off the coast of New Hampshire, a photographer comes to shoot a photo essay about the famous crime. As she investigates the bleak, isolated lives of the victims, she comes to identify with their spiritual loneliness. For her own marriage is falling apart, crumbling into nights of heavy drinking and terrible silences.

Incited by the chaotic forces that blasted the island years ago, this modern woman is drawn inexorably toward the violence of the past, toward choices that will destroy all she has ever valued. With exquisitely stylish prose and arresting psychological insight, Anita Shreve captures one woman’s journey into the farthest extremes of emotion.

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