Annal: 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 2003.

Book:Vernon God Little

Vernon God Little: A 21st Century Comedy in the Presence of Death

D.B.C. Pierre

In the town jail of Martirio, Texas — under the terrifying care of the dynastic Gurie family, and wearing only his New Jack trainers and underpants — fifteen-year-old Vernon Little is in trouble. His friend has just blown away sixteen of his classmates before turning the gun on himself. And Vernon has become the focus of the whole town’s need for vengeance, and the media’s appetite for sensational content — true or not. When the tricky Mr. Lesdema arrives in town — with a covert mission to promote himself from TV repairman to crack CNN reporter — Vernon thinks he has an ally. In fact, Lesdema is a villain of Machiavellian proportions. Vernon soon realizes that in this modern world innocence is definitely no defense. One distasteful arrangement with old Mr. Deutschman and $300 later, Vernon is headed for the border, for freedom and Mexico, and a much-anticipated date with the nigh-mythical Taylor Figueroa. But Texas isn’t finished with Vernon yet. Vital, riotously funny, and energetic, Vernon God Little puts lust for vengeance, materialism, and trial by media squarely in the dock. Vernon himself emerges as the lovable upholder of love, truth, and homespun wisdom in a world gone mad.

Book:Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Clare Morrall

“When is the right time to tell someone they’re not who they think they are?” Caught in an over-vivid world as a result of synaesthesia (a condition in which emotions are seen as colours), Kitty Wellington is tipped off-centre by the loss of a child. And as children all around become emblems of hope and longing and grief, she’s made shockingly aware of the real reasons for her pervasive sense of her own “non-existence.”

What mystery at the heart of Kitty’s family makes her four older brothers so vague about her mother’s life? And why does her artist father splash paint on canvas rather than answer his daughter’s questions? On the edges of her dreams, Kitty glimpses the kaleidoscope hippie van that took her sister Dinah away and wonders how this event may link to the dim corridors of her own childhood, a childhood in which she had no tangible sense of her mother. …[more]

Book:Brick Lane

Brick Lane: A Novel

Monica Ali

Monica Ali’s gorgeous first novel is the deeply moving story of one woman, Nazneen, born in a Bangladeshi village and transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage. Already hailed by the London Observer as “one of the most significant British novelists of her generation,” Ali has written a stunningly accomplished debut about one outsider’s quest to find her voice.

What could not be changed must be borne. And since nothing could be changed, everything had to be borne. This principle ruled her life. It was mantra, fettle, and challenge.

Nazneen’s inauspicious entry into the world, an apparent stillbirth on the hard mud floor of a village hut, imbues in her a sense of fatalism that she carries across continents when she is married off to Chanu, a man old enough to be her father.…[more]

Book:The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor

Damon Galgut

A taut, intense tale of the dashed hopes of the post-apartheid era and the small betrayals that doom a friendship, The Good Doctor is an extraordinary parable of the corruption of the flesh and spirit. It assures Damon Galgut’s place as a major international talent. When Laurence Waters arrives at his new post at a deserted rural hospital, staff physician Frank Eloff is instantly suspicious. Laurence is everything Frank is not—young, optimistic, and full of big ideas. The whole town is beset with new arrivals and the return of old faces. Frank reestablishes a liaison with a woman, one which will have unexpected consequences. A self-made dictator from apartheid days is rumored to be active in cross-border smuggling and a group of soldiers has moved in to track him, led by a man from Frank’s own dark past. Laurence sees only possibilities—but in a world where the past is demanding restitution from the present, his ill-starred idealism cannot last.

Book:Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake: A Novel

Margaret Atwood

A stunning and provocative new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize, Margaret Atwood’s new novel is so utterly compelling, so prescient, so relevant, so terrifyingly-all-too-likely-to-be-true, that readers may find their view of the world forever changed after reading it. With breathtaking command of her shocking material and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into a conceivable future of our own world, an outlandish yet wholly believable place left devastated in the wake of ecological and scientific disaster and populated by characters who will continue to inhabit your dreams long after the book is closed. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers. For readers of Oryx and Crake, nothing will ever look the same again.

Book:What Was She Thinking?

What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel

Zoë Heller

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has known none but the most solitary of lifestyles until Sheba Hart joins St. George’s. Starting by sharing lunches, then family events, the new art teacher draws Barbara into a touching confidence. Unbeknownst to their colleagues, however, another relationship blossoms meanwhile: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When the details come to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend’s defense—revealing not only Sheba’s secrets but her own.

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