Annal: 2000 Whitbread Book Award for First Novel

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 2000.

Book:White Teeth

White Teeth: A Novel

Zadie Smith

On New Year’s morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie—working-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt—is calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie’s car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life and sets in motion this richly imagined, uproariously funny novel.

Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie’s best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless…[more]

Book:Born Free

Born Free

Laura Hird

Born Free tells the story of an ordinary family who are all trying to escape from something…and each other.

The interactions between Jake, Joni, Angie and Vic reveal a hellish cocktail of adolescent and mid-life crises; the savagery of sibling rivalry; the waking nightmare of a marriage gone cold—and, naturally, the unbridgeable, infernal chasm between the generations. It’s a story of everyday life.

Book:Danny Boy

Danny Boy

Jo-Ann Goodwin

Book:Under the Skin

Under the Skin

Michel Faber

Isserley picks up hitchhikers with big muscles. She, herself, is tiny-like a kid peering up over the steering wheel. She has a remarkable face and wears the thickest corrective lenses anyone has ever seen. Her posture is suggestive of some spinal problem. Her breasts are perfect; perhaps implants. She is strangely erotic yet somehow grotesque, vulnerable yet threatening. Her hitchhikers are a mixed bunch of men-trailer trash and travelling postgrads, thugs and philosophers. But Isserley is only interested in whether they have families and whether they have muscles. Then, it’s only a question of how long she can endure her pain—physical and spiritual—and their conversation.

Michel Faber’s work has been described as a combination of Roald Dahl and Franz Kafka, as Somerset Maugham shacking up with Ian McEwan. At once humane and horrifying, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory—our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion. A grotesque and comical allegory announcing the arrival of an exciting talent, rich and assured.

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