Annal: 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 2004.

Book:Line of Beauty

Line of Beauty

Alan Hollinghurst

In the summer of 1983, twenty-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens: conservative Member of Parliament Gerald, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their two children, Toby-whom Nick had idolized at Oxford-and Catherine, highly critical of her family’s assumptions and ambitions.

As the boom years of the eighties unfold, Nick, an innocent in the world of politics and money, finds his life altered by the rising fortunes of this glamorous family. His two vividly contrasting love affairs, one with a young black clerk and one with a Lebanese millionaire, dramatize the dangers and rewards of his own private pursuit of beauty, a pursuit as compelling to Nick as the desire for power and riches among his friends. Richly textured, emotionally charged, disarmingly comic, this U.K. bestseller is a major work by one of our finest writers.

Book:Bitter Fruit

Bitter Fruit

Achmat Dangor

This novel provides insight into the intricacies of a changing South Africa at the end of the 1990s. Silas Ali, a former political activist, now a middle-aged civil servant working on the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, is shopping in the Killarney Mall in Johannesburg when he bumps into a ghost from his past-Lieutenant François du Boise, a retired security policeman. This chance encounter brings back a memory that Silas and his wife Lydia have been avoiding for 20 years. The past erupts into the present, cracking off the shell of normalcy that encloses their family life.

This story of Silas, Lydia, and their son Mikey, a university student with a curious mind and a calculating will, provides an understanding of the politics of race, the brittle surface of urban life in postapartheid South Africa, and the deeper, more disturbing historical currents that run beneath it.

Book:Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas: A Novel

David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, inveigles his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. And onward, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.” But the story doesn’t even end there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

Book:The Electric Michelangelo

The Electric Michelangelo

Sarah Hall

Opening on the windswept front of Morecambe Bay, on the remote north-west coast of England, The Electric Michelangelo is a novel of love, loss and the art of tattooing.

In the uniquely sensuous and lyrical prose that has already become her trademark, Sarah Hall’s remarkable new novel tells the story of Cy Parks, from his childhood years spent in a seaside guest house for consumptives with his mother, Reeda, to his apprenticeship as a tattoo-artist with Eliot Riley—a scraper with a reputation as a Bolshevik and a drinker to boot.

His skills acquired and a thirst for experience burning within him, Cy departs for America and the riotous world of the Coney Island boardwalk, where he sets up his own business as “The Electric Michelangelo”. In this carnival environment of roller-coasters and freak-shows, while the crest of the Edwardian amusement industry wave is breaking, Cy becomes enamoured with Grace,…[more]

Book:I'll Go to Bed at Noon

I'll Go to Bed at Noon

Gerard Woodward

Colette Jones has had drink problems in the past, but now it seems as though her whole family is in danger of turning to alcohol. Her oldest son has thrown away a promising musical career for a job behind the counter in a builders’ merchants, and his drinking sprees with his brother-in-law Bill, a pseudo-Marxist supermarket butcher who seems to see alcohol as central to the proletarian revolution, have started to land him in trouble with the police. Meanwhile Colette’s recently widowered older brother is following an equally self-destructive path, having knocked back an entire cellar of homemade wine, he’s now on the gin, a bottle a day and counting. Who will be next? Her youngest son had decided to run away to sea, but when her own husband hits the bottle Colette realises she has to act. As the pressure builds on Colette to cope with these damaged people, her own weaknesses begin to emerge, and become crucial to the outcome of all their lives. …[more]

Book:The Master

The Master

Colm Tóibín

Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Tóibín captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Brilliant and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of Henry James, a man born into one of America’s first intellectual families two decades before the Civil War. James left his country to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers.

In stunningly resonant prose, Tóibín captures the loneliness and longing, the hope and despair of a man who never married, never resolved his sexual identity, and whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. The emotional intensity of Tóibín’s portrait of James is riveting. Time and again, James, a master of psychological subtlety in his fiction, proves blind to his own heart and incapable of reconciling his dreams of passion with his own fragility. …[more]

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