Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2000.
During his commute to a job spraying weed killer outside of London, Ronny passes a man standing on a bridge, waving at the cars—every day, no matter what the time or the weather. One day, when Ronny drives by, the man is hanging over the bridge, as if he might jump. Instinctively, Ronny pulls over and begins talking to the stranger. Ronny discovers the man is also named Ronny, wears his kind of white shoes, and knows his older brother Nathan.
The rest of Wide Open’s characters are as intriguingly peculiar as the two Ronnies. Nathan, the son of a pedophile, works in the Underground’s Lost Property department logging missing items. Sara is Ronny’s neighbor in the beach town of Sheppey, where she runs the family boar farm. Lily is her precocious teenaged daughter, born without fully formed organs or properly clotting blood. Luke, a handsome neighbor who swims in the nude and smells of fish, is a former pornographic photographer. Connie, Sara’s niece, is a visiting optician searching out her father’s past with a bundle of strange letters.
Billy Lynch’s family and friends have gathered at a small Bronx bar. They have come to comfort his widow and to eulogize one of the last great romantics, trading tales of his famous humor, immense charm, and unfathomable sorrow. As they linger on into this extraordinary night, their voices form Billy’s tragic story and their mourning becomes a gentle homage to all the lives in their small community fractured by grief, shattered by secrets, and sustained by the simple dream of love.
A daring, deeply affecting third novel by the author of A Home at the End of the World and Flesh and Blood.
In The Hours, Michael Cunningham, widely praised as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair. The narrative of Woolf’s last days before her suicide early in World War II counterpoints the fictional stories of Samuel, a famous poet whose life has been shadowed by his talented and troubled mother, and his lifelong friend Clarissa, who strives to forge a balanced and rewarding life in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family.
Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, this is Cunningham’s most remarkable achievement to date.
I Married a Communist is the story of the rise and fall of Ira Ringold, a big American roughneck who begins life as a teenage ditch-digger in 1930s Newark, becomes a big-time 1940s radio star, and is destroyed, as both a performer and a man, in the McCarthy witchhunt of the 1950s.
In his heyday as a star—and as a zealous, bullying supporter of “progressive” political causes—Ira marries Hollywood’s beloved silent-film star, Eve Frame. Their glamorous honeymoon in her Manhattan townhouse is shortlived, however, and it is the publication of Eve’s scandalous bestselling exposé that identifies him as “an American taking his orders from Moscow.”
In this story of cruelty, betrayal, and revenge spilling over into the public arena from their origins in Ira’s turbulent personal life, Philip Roth—who Commonweal calls the “master chronicler of the American twentieth century—has written a brilliant fictional protrayal of that treacherous postwar epoch when the anti-Communist fever not only infected national politics but traumatized the intimate, innermost lives of friends and families, husbands and wives, parents and children.
“Rumors had been whispered for more than a year. Outrages that had been accumulating all along took shape as evidence. A mother was knocked down the stairs by her cold-eyed daughter. Four damaged infants were born in one family. Daughters refused to get out of bed. Brides disappeared on their honeymoons. Two brothers shot each other on New Year’s Day. Trips to Demby for VD shots common. And what went on at the Oven these days was not to be believed…The proof they had been collecting since the terrible discovery in the spring could not be denied: the one thing that connected all these catastrophes was in the Convent. And in the Convent were those women.”
In Paradise—her first novel since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature—Toni Morrison gives us a bravura performance. As the book begins deep in Oklahoma early one morning in 1976, nine men from Ruby (pop. 360), in defense of “the…[more]
In the early years of the century, Nathan Walker leaves the Okefenokee swamps of his native Georgia for New York City and the most dangerous job in America. A sandhog, he burrows beneath the East River, digging the underground tunnel that will carry trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan. In the bowels of the riverbed the sandhogs—black, white, Irish, Italian—dig together; above ground, though, the men keep their distance until a spectacular accident welds a bond between Walker and his fellow sandhogs that will bless and curse the next three generations.
Years later, Treefrog, a homeless man driven below by a shameful secret, endures a punishing winter deep in his subway nest. In tones ranging from bleak to dark to disturbingly funny, Treefrog recounts his strategies of survival—killing rats, scavenging for soda cans, washing in the snow, sleeping through the cold—in New York’s netherworld.
Between Nathan Walker and Treefrog stretch seventy years of ill-fated loves, unintended crimes, and social taboos. The two stories fuse to form a tale of family, race, and redemption.
Jackie Kay’s mesmerizing and powerfully moving first novel is about the extraordinary life and seeming dissolution of a family—about the boundaries of identity and the essential nature of love.
At its center is Joss Moody, a celebrated jazz trumpeter who created music that convinced everyone who heard it that they knew the man who made it. But Joss’s death has proved them all wrong: Joss Moody lived his life inside a stunning secret. His wife, Millie, had known about it. But their adopted son, Colman, now in his thirties, has just learned of it. With everything he understood about himself and his family thrown into question, Colman forms an uncomfortable alliance with a journalist intent on telling Joss’s story her own way. Millie, grieving and besieged by the press, secludes herself in their home in a small Scottish village, sinking into the aching solace of memory. …[more]