Annal: 1998 Whitbread Book Award for Novel

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 1998.

Book:Leading the Cheers

Leading the Cheers: A Novel

Justin Cartwright

After Dan Silas’s advertising company is bought out, his invitation to his thirty-year high school reunion arrives with perfect timing, and he leaves London to return to the small Michigan town he has not seen since 1968. With wit, humor, and compassion, Whitbread Award-winner and Booker Prize-nominee Justin Cartwright takes Dan through the mounting stages of both culture shock and mid-life crisis. Back in Michigan, he discovers his best friend now believes he is a reincarnated Shawnee Indian and his high school sweetheart claims she had a daughter by him—who has just been murdered by the Hollybush’s new celebrity, a small-town serial killer. With brilliantly evoked characters and crackling dialogue, Leading the Cheers comically explores what people want out of life—and what they get instead.

Book:The Catastrophist

The Catastrophist

Ronan Bennett

The Catastrophist is a haunting novel set in the politically charged landscape of the Belgian Congo just before independence. At its heart is the passion between novelist James Gillespie and the fiery idealistic journalist Inès, whom he follows to Africa as their affair begins to fray. They are as unlike as lovers can be; he is willfully apolitical and desperate for her love, while she is obsessed with the unfolding drama, caught up in history, hero-worship, and soon, a new passion. In a country that will self-destruct upon giving birth to itself, Gillespie is plunged into violence and betrayal, and moved by love to a final act of nobility.

In his ravishing U.S. debut, Ronan Bennett delivers heart-stopping suspense, profound moral questioning, and a searing depiction of a doomed love.

Book:The Travelling Hornplayer

The Travelling Hornplayer

Barbara Trapido

The delightful and quirky world of Barbara Trapido’s novels has gained her a broad following over more than a decade, hitting bestseller lists in Britain and eliciting raves both there and in the US. Her Brother of the More Famous Jack was hailed by the San Francisco Examiner as “wise and warm, full of charm” and by the Los Angeles Times as “modern and hip” while The Wall Street Journal praised “her sharp sense of social nuances” and how she “manages to make the improbable surprisingly possible.” Trapido’s witty, intelligent, heartbreakingly human characters now reappear in her latest tale of love, marriage, family, and other absurdities of the human comedy.

The Travelling Hornplayer, the story of two sisters and the intricate connections of their lives, is a wonderful dance of death and love, of human misunderstandings and their farcical, sometimes tragic consequences.

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