Annal: 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction

Results of the Orange Prize in the year 2004.

Book:Small Island

Small Island: A Novel

Andrea Levy

Hortense shared Gilbert’s dream of leaving Jamaica and coming to England to start a better life. But when she at last joins her husband, she is shocked by London’s shabbiness and horrified at the way the English live. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was. Queenie’s neighbours do not approve of her choice of tenants, and neither would her husband, were he there. Through the stories of these people, Small Island explores a point in England’s past when the country began to change.

Book:The Colour

The Colour

Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain’s new novel is a saga of love and greed set during the mid-nineteenth-century gold rush in New Zealand. Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England, along with Joseph’s mother, Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of “the colour,” rush to their destinies.

Harriet decides to pursue her own journey toward an uncertain future. But nothing has prepared her for what happens to her when she arrives at the gold diggings. Amid squalor and confusion, burning heat and icy flood, Harriet comes face-to-face with…[more]

Book:The Great Fire: A Novel

The Great Fire: A Novel

Shirley Hazzard

The Great Fire is Shirley Hazzard’s first novel since The Transit of Venus, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981. The conflagration of her title is the Second World War. In war-torn Asia and stricken Europe, men and women, still young but veterans of harsh experience, must reinvent their lives and expectations, and learn, from their past, to dream again. Some will fulfill their destinies, others will falter. At the center of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. His counterpart, a young girl living in occupied Japan and tending her dying brother, falls in love, and in the process discovers herself.

In the looming shadow of world enmities resumed, and of Asia’s coming centrality in world affairs, a man and a woman seek to recover self-reliance, balance, and tenderness, struggling to reclaim their humanity.

Book:The Ice Road

The Ice Road

Gillian Slovo

Loyalties, beliefs, love, family ties: all are tested to the limit in one of the most devastating moments of human history: the siege of Leningrad during World War II.

Boris Aleksandrovich, a well-meaning bureaucrat, thinks he can negotiate between idealism and politics. His daughter, Natasha, learns otherwise when, as a young woman in love, she is almost crushed by her father’s compromises. Watching all this unfold is Irina. Wise, ironic, marvelous Irina, whom Boris had persuaded to go on an ill-fated voyage to the Arctic Circle, where she barely survived. When she arrives back in Leningrad, he feels honor bound to find her a position within his family circle. Irina comes to understand how love for another may, in the end, be more powerful and more profound than blind loyalty to an idea.

Exciting and heroic, peopled with wonderfully complex characters, Ice Road is a masterpiece.

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:Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From the outside, fifteen-year-old Kambili has the perfect life. She lives in a beautiful house, has a caring family, and attends an exclusive missionary school. She’s completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less than perfect in her wealthy Nigerian home. Although her papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home. He looms over his family’s every move, severely punishes Kambili and her older brother, Jaja, if they’re not the best in their classes, and hits their mama if she disagrees with him. Home is silent and suffocating.

But everything changes once Kambili and Jaja visit Aunty Ifeoma outside the city. For the first time they experience freedom from their papa. Jaja learns to garden and work with his hands, and Kambili secretly falls in love with a young, charismatic…[more]

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