Annal: 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2005.

Book:Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Memories of My Melancholy Whores: A Novel

Gabriel García Márquez, Edith Grossman

On the eve of his ninetieth birthday, our unnamed protagonist—an undistinguished journalist and lifelong bachelor—decides to give himself “the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.”

The virgin, whom an old madam procures for him, is splendidly young, with the silent power of a sleeping beauty. The night of love blossoms into a transforming year. It is a year in which he relives, in a rush of memories, his lifetime of (paid-for) sexual adventures and experiences a revelation that brings him to the edge of dying—not of old age, but, at long last, of uncorrupted love.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is a brilliant gem by the master storyteller.

Book:Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore: A Novel

Haruki Murakami

With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.

This magnificent new novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch the reader. A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout…[more]

Book:A Long Way Down

A Long Way Down: A Novel

Nick Hornby

New Year’s Eve at Toppers’ House, North London’s most popular suicide spot. And four strangers are about to discover that doing away with yourself isn’t quite the private act they’d each expected.

Perma-tanned Martin Sharp’s a disgraced breakfast TV presenter who had it all—the kids, the wife, the pad, the great career—and wasted it away. Killing himself is Martin’s logical and appropriate response to an unliveable life.

Maureen has to do it tonight, because of Matty being in the home. He was never able to do any of the normal things kids do—like walk or talk—and loving-mum Maureen can’t cope any more. Dutiful Catholic that she is, she’s ready to commit the ‘biggest sin of all’.

Half-crazed with heartbreak, loneliness, adolescent angst, seven Bacardi Breezers and two Special Brews, Jess’s ready…[more]

Book:The March

The March: A Novel

E.L. Doctorow

In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant. Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched.

The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characters–white and black, men, women, and children, unionists and rebels, generals and privates, freed slaves and slave owners. At the center is General Sherman himself; a beautiful freed slave girl named Pearl; a Union regimental…[more]

Book:Veronica

Veronica: A Novel

Mary Gaitskill

As a teenager on the streets of San Francisco, Alison is discovered by a photographer and swept into the world of fashion-modeling in Paris and Rome. When her career crashes and a love affair ends disastrously, she moves to New York City to build a new life. There she meets Veronica—an older wisecracking eccentric with her own ideas about style, a proofreader who comes to work with a personal “office kit” and a plaque that reads “Still Anal After All These Years.” Improbably, the two women become friends. Their friendship will survive not only Alison’s reentry into the seductive nocturnal realm of fashion, but also Veronica’s terrible descent into the then-uncharted realm of AIDS. The memory of their friendship will continue to haunt Alison years later, when she, too, is aging and ill and is questioning the meaning of what she experienced and who she became during that time.

Masterfully layering time and space, thought and sensation, Mary Gaitskill dazzles the reader with psychological insight…[more]

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