Annal: 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2002.

Book:Atonement

Atonement: A Novel

Ian McEwan

On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.

By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.

In each of his novels Ian McEwan has brilliantly drawn his reader into the intimate lives and situations of his characters. But never before has he worked with so large a canvas: In Atonement he takes the reader from a manor house in England…[more]

Book:The Darts of Cupid and Other Stories

The Darts of Cupid and Other Stories

Edith Templeton

In The Darts of Cupid, Edith Templeton, now eighty-five, gives us a sweeping and intimate exposé of her century, and of the lives of women caught in the historic and personal contingencies it engendered. The unforgettable title story was celebrated upon its original publication in The New Yorker for its explicit portrayal of the relationship between a young British woman and her American superior in a provincial war office during World War II—a love affair that lasted only two nights but changed the narrator’s life forever, and is still haunting today, more than thirty years after the story was written. Other pieces take us from the tumbledown glamour of a Bohemian castle between the first and second world wars to an apartment on the coast of Italy in the 1990s, where a rich widow’s decision to sell her husband’s prized silver becomes a bewitching tale of menopausal longing. …[more]

Book:Middlesex

Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls’ school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blond classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them—along with Callie’s failure to develop—leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia—back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City and Prohibition, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie’s grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.

Book:Nowhere Man

Nowhere Man

Aleksandar Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon, author of The Question of Bruno, one of the most celebrated debuts in recent American fiction, returns with the mind- and language-bending adventures of his endearing protagonist Jozef Pronek.

This is what we know about Jozef Pronek: He is a young man from Sarajevo who left to visit the United States in 1992, just in time to watch war break out at home on TV. Stranded in the relative comfort of Chicago, he proves himself a charming and frankly perceptive observer of – and participant in – American life. With Nowhere Man, Pronek, accidental urban nomad, gets his own book.

Aleksandar Hemon lovingly crafts Pronek into a character who is sure to become an enduring literary icon. From the grand causes of his adolescence – principally, fighting to change the face of rock and roll and, hilariously, struggling to lose his…[more]

Book:Roscoe

Roscoe

William Kennedy

You’ve never met a politician like Roscoe (or have you?): a suave Falstaffian in a double-breasted white Palm Beach suit, unscrupulous, brilliant, exploding with courtly romance. It’s V-J Day, the war’s over, and Roscoe, after twenty-six years as chief braintruster of Albany’s notorious political machine, decides to quit politics forever. But there’s no exit, only new political wars, mysterious death, self-destructive party feuds, and scandalous threats to his beloved and her family.

Roscoe, the chivalrous warrior, turns his own life, and everybody else’s, inside out to cope with the erupting disasters and finds fraudulence an extremely effective combat weapon. “Righteousness doesn’t stand a chance against the imagination,” he concludes. Every step forward leads Roscoe back to the past-to the early loss of his true love, his own peculiar heroics in the First World War, the takeover of city hall, the fight with FDR and Al Smith to elect a governor, and the methodical assassination…[more]

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