Annal: 1999 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1999.

Book:Disgrace

Disgrace

J.M. Coetzee

From the author of Waiting for the Barbarians and the Booker-Prize-winning Life & Times of Michael K, a dazzling new novel—his first in five years

Disgrace—set in post-apartheid Cape Town and on a remote farm in the Eastern Cape—is deft, lean, quiet, and brutal. A heartbreaking novel about a man and his daughter, Disgrace is a portrait of the new South Africa that is ultimately about grace and love.

At fifty-two Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire but lacking in passion. An affair with one of his students leaves him jobless and friendless. Except for his daughter, Lucy, who works her smallholding with her neighbor, Petrus, an African farmer now on the way to a modest prosperity. David’s attempts to relate to Lucy, and to a society with new racial complexities,…[more]

Book:The Blackwater Lightship

The Blackwater Lightship: A Novel

Colm Tóibín

A beautifully written, deeply resonant story about three generations of an estranged family reuniting to mourn a tragic, untimely death—from the author Nick Hornby called “one of the most promising novelists writing in the English language.”

It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother Lily, and her grandmother Dora have come together, after a decade of estrangement, to tend to Helen’s beloved brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. Under the crumbling roof of Dora’s old house in Ireland, Declans’ two friends join the women as each waits for the end. All six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other.

In spare, luminous prose, Toibin explores the nature of love and the complex emotion inside an unhappy family. The Blackwater Lightship is a novel about morals and manners, and the clashes of culture and personality. But most of all, it is a novel about stories, and their incomparable capacity to heal the deepest wounds.

Book:Fasting, Feasting

Fasting, Feasting

Anita Desai

Anita Desai’s new book, hailed as “unsparing, yet tender and funny,”* brilliantly confirms her place among today’s foremost Indian writers. Fasting, Feasting takes on Desai’s greatest theme: the intricate, delicate web of family conflict. It tells the moving story of Uma, the plain older daughter of an Indian family, tied to the household of her childhood and tending to her parents’ every extravagant demand, and of her younger brother, Arun, across the world in Massachusetts, bewildered by his new life in college and the suburbs, where he lives with the Patton family. Published in Britain to rave reviews, Fasting, Feasting is “rich in the sensuous atmosphere, elegiac pathos, and bleak comedy at which the author excels” (The Spectator). From the overpowering warmth of Indian culture to the cool center of the American family, it captures the physical—and emotional—fasting and feasting that define two distinct cultures. *(Times Literary Supplement)

Book:Headlong

Headlong: A Novel

Michael Frayn

An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old Master.

Invited to dinner by the boorish local landowner, Martin Clay, an easily distracted philosopher, and his art-historian wife are asked to assess three dusty paintings blocking the draught from the chimney. But hiding beneath the soot is nothing less-Martin believes-than a lost work by Bruegel. So begins a hilarious trail of lies and concealments, desperate schemes and soaring hopes as Martin, betting all that he owns and much that he doesn’t, embarks on a quest to prove his hunch, win his wife over, and separate the painting from its owner.

In Headlong, Michael Frayn, “the master of what is seriously funny” (Anthony Burgess), offers a procession of superbly realized characters, from the country squire gone to seed to his giddy, oversexed young wife. All are burdened by human…[more]

Book:The Map of Love

The Map of Love

Ahdaf Soueif

At either end of the twentieth century, two women fall in love with men outside their familiar worlds. In 1901, Anna Winterbourne, recently widowed, leaves England for Egypt, an outpost of the Empire roiling with nationalist sentiment. Far from the comfort of the British colony, she finds herself enraptured by the real Egypt and in love with Sharif Pasha al-Baroudi. Nearly a hundred years later, Isabel Parkman, a divorced American journalist and descendant of Anna and Sharif has fallen in love with Omar al-Ghamrawi, a gifted and difficult Egyptian-American conductor with his own passionate politics. In an attempt to understand her conflicting emotions and to discover the truth behind her heritage, Isabel, too, travels to Egypt, and enlists Omar’s sister’s help in unravelling the story of Anna and Sharif’s love.

Joining the romance and intricate storytelling of A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Ahdaf Soueif has once again created a mesmerizing tale of genuine eloquence and lasting importance.

Book:Our Fathers

Our Fathers

Andrew O'Hagan

Hugh Bawn was a modern hero, a dreamer, a Socialist, a man of the people who revolutionized Scotland’s residential development after World War II. Now he lies dying on the eighteenth floor of one of the flats he built, flats that are being demolished along with the idealism he inherited from his mother. Hugh’s final months are plagued by memory and loss, by bitter feelings about his family and the country that could not live up to the housing constructed for it. His grandson, Jamie, comes home to watch over his dying mentor and sees in the man and in the land that bred him his own fears. He tells the story of his family-a tale of pride and delusion, of nationality and strong drink, of Catholic faith and the end of the old Left. It is a tale of dark hearts and modern houses, of three men in search of Utopia. Andrew O’Hagan’s story is a poignant and powerful reclamation of the past and a clear-sighted look at our relationship with personal and public history. Our Fathers announces the arrival of a major writer.

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