Annal: 2005 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction

Results of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in the year 2005.

Book:Saturday

Saturday

Ian McEwan

In his triumphant new novel, Ian McEwan, the bestselling author of Atonement, follows an ordinary man through a Saturday whose high promise gradually turns nightmarish. Henry Perowne—a neurosurgeon, urbane, privileged, deeply in love with his wife and grown-up children–plans to play a game of squash, visit his elderly mother, and cook dinner for his family. But after a minor traffic accident leads to an unsettling confrontation, Perowne must set aside his plans and summon a strength greater than he knew he had in order to preserve the life that is dear to him.

Book:The Accidental

The Accidental

Ali Smith

I was born in the year of the supersonic, the era of the multi-storey multivitamin multitonic, the highrise time of men with the technology and women who could be bionic, when jump jets were Harrier, when QE2 was Cunard,when thirty-eight feet tall the Princess Margaret stood stately in her hoverpad, the annee erotique was only thirty aircushioned minutes away and everything went at twice the speed of sound. I opened my eyes. It was all in colour. It didn’t look like Kansas anymore. The students were on the barricades, the mode was maxi, the Beatles were transcendental. It was Britain. It was great.

Book:Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation: A Novel

Uzodinma Iweala

In this stunning debut novel, Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. Haunted by his father’s own death at the hands of militants, which he fled just before witnessing, Agu is vulnerable to the dangerous yet paternal nature of his new commander.

While the war rages on, Agu becomes increasingly divorced from the life he had known before the conflict started—a life of school friends, church services, and time with his family still intact. As he vividly recalls these sunnier times, his daily reality spins further downward into inexplicable brutality, primal fear, and loss of selfhood. His relationship with his commander deepens even as it darkens, and his camaraderie with a fellow soldier lends a deceptive sense of normalcy to his experience.

In a powerful, strikingly original voice that vividly captures Agu’s youth and confusion, Uzodinma Iweala has produced a harrowing, deeply affecting novel. Both a searing take on coming-of-age and a vivid document of the dark face of war, Beasts of No Nation announces the arrival of an extaordinary new writer.

Book:Mother, Missing

Mother, Missing: A Novel

Joyce Carol Oates

When her mother uncharacteristically fails to return her phone calls, 31-year-old Nikki Eaton calls in to check up on her. She finds the house turned upside-down, and her mother lying dead, murdered, on the garage floor.

Single, sexually liberated and economically self-supporting, Nikki has never particularly thought of herself as a daughter. She learns to cope with the unexpected loss of her mother over the course of a tumultuous year of mourning that brings sorrow, and even, from an unexpected source, a nurturing love.

This is a candid, engaging and personal novel about mothers and daughters from one of the greatest American novelists alive today.

Book:Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go: A Novel

Kazuo Ishiguro

As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled…[more]

Book:Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis: A Novel

André Brink

A magical novel from a world class writer about a remarkable historical figure.

In his early years, growing up on a Dutch farm in the deep interior of the southern African Cape, Cupido Cockroach became the greatest drinker, liar, fornicator and fighter of his region. Coming under the spell of the soap-boiler Anna, and under the influence of the great Dr Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp of the London Missionary Society, Cupido is made the first Khoi or ‘Hottentot’ missionary ordained at the Cape of Good Hope.

Received into the fold of the Church, Cupido passionately turns against all his early beliefs. After being drawn into the fierce struggle between the missionaries and the Dutch colonists, he rises to some prominence and is appointed as missionary in a remote and arid region in the North-western Cape. But this also marks the beginning of his decline, as the Society abandons him…[more]

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