Annal: 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction

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

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:The Dream Life of Sukhanov

The Dream Life of Sukhanov: A Novel

Olga Grushin

A brilliantly crafted novel about one man’s betrayal of his talent, his friends, and his principles-a work of demon energy, startling imagery, and utter originality.

At fifty-six, Anatoly Sukhanov has everything a man could want. Nearly twenty-five years ago, he traded his precarious existence as a brilliant underground artist for the perks and comforts of a high-ranking Soviet apparatchik. Once he created art; now he censors it. His past is a shadow, repressed to the point of nonexistence. But a series of increasingly bizarre events transforms his perfect world into a nightmare. Buried dreams return to haunt him, his life begins to unravel, new political alignments in the Kremlin threaten to undo him, and little by little, he finds himself losing everything he sold his soul to gain.

Told in dream sequences that may be true, in real time that may be nightmares, in shifting time frames and voices, Olga Grushin’s novel is a highly sophisticated, often surreal exploration of self-dissolution, faithlessness, and transformation.

Book:Garner

Garner: A Novel

Kirstin Allio

Landlocked, sail-shaped Garner, New Hampshire, is a town delineated by its Puritan ethics and its “Live Free or Die” mentality. Like the forbidding landscape of Wharton’s Ethan Frome, this New England outpost keeps its secrets and shapes its inhabitants. Frances Giddens, a spirited, elusive girl born at the dawn of the twentieth century and now approaching womanhood, moves through the forests and rivers that mark Garner’s borders as easily as she befriends its stoic residents.

In the summer of 1925, with Garner’s economic prospects in decline, a group of wealthy New Yorkers descends on the Giddens farm for summer leisure. Even as Frances is drawn to the romance the newcomers represent, darker forces are unleashed. When her body is found in rain-swollen Blood Brook, this deeply private community begins to unravel.

Garner chronicles the mystery of Frances’ sudden death and the demise of a picture-perfect New England town threatened…[more]

Book:John Crow's Devil

John Crow's Devil

Marlon James

This stunning debut novel tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in 1957. With language as taut as classic works by Cormac McCarthy, and a richness reminiscent of early Toni Morrison, Marlon James reveals his unique narrative command that will firmly establish his place as one of today’s freshest, most talented young writers.

In the village of Gibbeah—where certain women fly and certain men protect secrets with their lives—magic coexists with religion, and good and evil are never as they seem. In this town, a battle is fought between two men of God. The story begins when a drunkard named Hector Bligh (the “Rum Preacher”) is dragged from his pulpit by a man calling himself “Apostle” York. Handsome and brash, York demands a fire-and-brimstone church, but sets in motion a phenomenal and deadly struggle for the soul of Gibbeah itself. John Crow’s Devil is a novel about religious mania, redemption, sexual obsession, and the eternal struggle inside all of us between the righteous and the wicked.

Book:A Sudden Country

A Sudden Country: A Novel

Karen Fisher

A vivid and revelatory novel based on actual events of the 1847 Oregon migration, A Sudden Country follows two characters of remarkable complexity and strength in a journey of survival and redemption.

James MacLaren, once a resourceful and ambitious Hudson’s Bay Company trader, has renounced his aspirations for a quiet family life in the Bitterroot wilderness. Yet his life is overturned in the winter of 1846, when his Nez Perce wife deserts him and his children die of smallpox. In the grip of a profound sorrow, MacLaren, whose home once spanned a continent, sets out to find his wife. But an act of secret vengeance changes his course, introducing him to a different wife and mother: Lucy Mitchell, journeying westward with her family.

Lucy, a remarried widow, careful mother, and reluctant emigrant, is drawn at once to the self-possessed MacLaren. Convinced…[more]

Views: 1,032 • Modified: • Elapsed: 0.017 sec