Annal: 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction

Results of the Orange Prize in the year 2002.

Book:Bel Canto

Bel Canto

Ann Patchett

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots.

Without the demands of the world to shape their days, life on the inside becomes more beautiful than anything they had ever known before. At once riveting and impassioned, the narrative becomes a moving exploration of how people communicate when music…[more]

Book:A Child's Book of True Crime

A Child's Book of True Crime

Chloe Hooper

Kate Byrne is having an affair with the father of her most gifted fourth grader, Lucien. Her lover’s wife has just published Murder at Black Swan Point, a true crime story about the brutal slaying of a young adulteress in a nearby town. When Lucien begins to display violent imagery in his crayon drawings, Kate wonders how well her pupil understands his mother’s grisly work and why he’s been exposed to it. Suspecting this account of Black Swan Point’s murder to be inaccurate, Kate imagines another version of the story—for children, and narrated by Australian animals. But will her fixation with the crime—and Lucien’s family—align her fate with that of the murdered girl?

In A Child’s Book of True Crime, Chloe Hooper brilliantly portrays a young woman reluctant to enter or conform to the world of adults. Kate Byrne is enthralled by the lives of her nine-year-old students, while remaining a misfit among their…[more]

Book:Fingersmith

Fingersmith

Sarah Waters

From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Tipping the Velvet and the award-winning Affinity: a spellbinding, twisting tale of a great swindle, of fortunes and hearts won and lost, set in Victorian London among a family of thieves.

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves-fingersmiths-for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives-Gentleman, a somewhat elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be left to live out her days in…[more]

Book:No Bones

No Bones

Anna Burns

A shattering and blackly funny debut in the tradition of Roddy Doyle, No Bones follows a young woman growing up in a Belfast beset by the Troubles. This is a book about feelings, family, sex, and Ireland—but don’t tell Amelia that. She’s the one growing up in the mad family, in the mad society, who doesn’t want to know what’s going on. But things are going on: eight-year-olds collecting very peculiar treasure; babies who might be, or might not be, bombs; schoolgirls bringing guns into schoolyards; and, of course, lots of food and bad, bad sex. If Amelia is to live she needs to change. Can she, though, in a place where people don’t know how to look after themselves, and so wouldn’t know how to look after one another?

Book:The Siege

The Siege: A Novel

Helen Dunmore

The Siege is Helen Dunmore’s masterpiece. Her canvas is monumental—the Nazis’ 1941 winter siege on Leningrad that killed six hundred thousand—but her focus is heartrendingly intimate. One family, the Levins, fights to stay alive in their small apartment, held together by the unlikely courage and resourcefulness of twenty-two-year-old Anna. Though she dreams of an artist’s life, she must instead forage for food in the ever more desperate city and watch her little brother grow cruelly thin. Their father, a blacklisted writer who once advocated a robust life of the mind, withers in spirit and body. At such brutal times everything is tested. And yet Dunmore’s inspiring story shows that even then, the triumph of the human heart is that love need not fall away.

Amid the turmoil of the siege, the unimaginable happens—two people enter the Levins’ frozen home and bring a kind of romance where before there was only bare survival. A sensitive young doctor becomes Anna’s devoted partner, and her father is allowed a transcendent final episode with a mysterious woman from his past.

Book:The White Family

The White Family

Maggie Gee

This ambitious, groundbreaking novel takes on the taboo subject of racial hatred as it looks for the roots of violence within the family and within British society.

The Whites are an ordinary British family. Alfred White, a London park keeper, still rules his home with fierce conviction and inarticulate tenderness. May, his clever, passive wife loves Alfred but conspires against him. Their three children are no longer close; the elder son has left for America and the youngest son is a virulent racist. The daughter is involved in an interracial relationship with a black social worker. When the father’s sudden illlness forces the children to come together, their deep fears and prejudices come to the surface, raising issues about kinship, trust, and hatred.

Maggie Gee expertly illustrates the tensions and prevailing social problems of modern day England in this fascinating novel.

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