Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2006.
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]
Irene Beckman appears to have a perfect life: two grown children, a house in a prosperous suburb of Copenhagen, and a successful career as a family lawyer. She is cool, sophisticated, and still exotically good-looking, the dyed hair her only concession to time.
Then her husband announces that he’s leaving her, and her mother reveals some unexpected information about Irene’s father. Suddenly, Irene Beckman is neither wife nor daughter. Nor, she realizes, is it at all clear who she has been all these years. It is time to find out.
From the internationally acclaimed author of Silence in October, An Altered Light is another fascinating exploration of the nature of chance and relationships-between parents and children, husbands and wives, friends and strangers.
This brilliant novel chronicles the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. Central to the story is one Chinese family: Claude, raised to be more British than the British and ashamed of his own heritage; his father, Humphrey, whose Anglophilia blinds him to possible defeat and his wife’s dalliances; and the redoubtable Grandma Siok, whose sage advice falls on deaf ears.
Expatriates, spies, fifth columnists, and nationalists—including the elusive young woman Ling-Li—mingle in this exotic culture as the Japanese threat looms. Beset by the horror of war and betrayal and, finally, torture, Claude must embrace his true heritage. In the extraordinary final paragraphs of the novel, the language itself breaks into Chinese. With penetrating observation, Vyvyane Loh unfolds the coming-of-age story of a young man and a nation, a story that deals with myth, race, and class, with the ways language shapes perceptions, and with the intrigue and suffering of war. Reading group guide included.
The characters of The Rotters’ Club—Jonathan Coe’s nostalgic, humorous evocation of adolescent life in the 1970s—have bartered their innocence for the vengeance of middle age in a story that is very much of the moment, charged with such issues as 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.
On New Year’s Eve of 1999, with Tony Blair presiding over a glossy new version of Britain, Benjamin Trotter watches the celebration on television in the same Birmingham house where he’d grown up. Watches, in fact, his younger brother Paul, now a member of Parliament and a rising star of New Labour, glad-handing his way through the festive crowd at the Millennium Dome. Neither of them could guess their lives are about to implode.
Paul begins an affair with his young assistant, soon realizes he has made the fatal mistake of falling in love with her,…[more]
A rainy day, a slippery street. A skidding car collides with a motor scooter ridden by Angela, a fifteen-year-old girl. Gravely injured, she’s brought to the hospital where her father, Timoteo, is a surgeon. As his daughter lies near death, the handsome, cultivated, eminently respectable Timoteo unpacks a sordid burden of sin and guilt he has long borne in silence.
Fraught with sexual obsession, degradation, and devotion, his confession is the tale of a man who for his whole life has been “afraid to live”—with one passionate exception. Silently addressing Angela, Timoteo bares his soul, and the events of the year before her birth open like a wound.
As Timoteo’s tale begins, he’s driving from the city to the beach house where his beautiful, accomplished wife, Elsa, is waiting for him. Car trouble forces him to make a detour into a dingy suburb, and there he meets Italia—unbeautiful, unpolished,…[more]
In this dazzling debut by a singular new talent, the sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of crime. Thus begins his odyssey into the dangerous underworld of Lagos, guided by his friend Redemption and accompanied by a restless hybrid of voices including The King of Beggars, Sunday, Innocent and Comfort. Ultimately, young Elvis, drenched in reggae and jazz, and besotted with American film heroes and images, must find his way to a GraceLand of his own.
Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, Abani has created a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.
The time is the early seventeenth century, as the quarrel between Royalists and Parliamentarians turns toward civil war, and that between Catholics and Protestants leads toward bloody religious tyranny; the place is a town in northern England, set in a grim landscape swept by crop failures, plague and rumors of war, in which rigid Puritans have taken over government and imposed their own rules.
At the center of the novel is John Brigge, the Coroner and a Governor of the town, though not by any means as convinced a zealot as his fellow governors have become. Married and deeply in love with Elizabeth, who is pregnant with their first child, he has a guilty secret to hide in his affection for Dorcas, his wife’s ward—a secret which, in the world of religious prejudice and extremism toward which England is moving, can be lethal. …[more]
“The particular volume I’m looking for is nameless, lacking a cover, title page, or any other outward markings of identity. Over the centuries its leaves have known nothing but change. They have been removed, replaced, altered, lost. The nameless book has been bound, taken apart, and reassembled with the pieces of other dismembered volumes, until one could ask whether there is anything left of the original. Or if there ever was an original.”
So begins Thomas Wharton’s book about books. What follows is a sequence of variations on the experience of reading and on the book a physical and imaginative object. One tale traces the origins of a fictional card game. Another tells of a duel between two margin scribblers. Roving across the globe and from parable to mystery, Wharton positions his reader between the covers of a book that is not. How are we to read the pieces that follow? As extraneous to the nameless book, as parts of it in its original…[more]
Jugnu and his lover, Chanda, have disappeared.
Though unmarried, they had been living together, embracing the contemporary mores of the English town where they lived but disgracing themselves in the eyes of their close-knit Pakistani community. Rumors about their disappearance abound, but five months go by before anything certain is known. Finally, on a snow-covered January morning, Chanda’s brothers are arrested for the murder of their sister and Jugnu.
Shock and disbelief spread through the community, and for Jugnu’s brother, Shamas, and his wife, Kaukab, it is a moment that marks the beginning of the unraveling of all that is sacred to them. As the novel unfolds over the next twelve months, we watch Kaukab struggle to maintain her Islamic piety as the effects of the double murder prove increasingly corrosive to the life of her family.
Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this extraordinary novel takes readers into the lives of two couples: Mohsen, who comes from a family of wealthy shopkeepers whom the Taliban has destroyed; Zunaira, his wife, exceedingly beautiful, who was once a brilliant teacher and is now no longer allowed to leave her home without an escort or covering her face. Intersecting their world is Atiq, a prison keeper, a man who has sincerely adopted the Taliban ideology and struggles to keep his faith, and his wife, Musarrat, who once rescued Atiq and is now dying of sickness and despair.
Desperate, exhausted Mohsen wanders through Kabul when he is surrounded by a crowd about to stone an adulterous woman. Numbed by the hysterical atmosphere and drawn into their rage, he too throws stones at the face of the condemned woman buried up to her waist. With this gesture the lives of all four protagonists move toward their destinies. …[more]