Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 2006.
Kiran Desai’s first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was published to unanimous acclaim in over twenty-two countries. Now Desai takes us to the northeastern Himalayas where a rising insurgency challenges the old way of life.
In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga lives an embittered old judge who wants to retire in peace when his orphaned granddaughter Sai arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s chatty cook watches over her, but his thoughts are mostly with his son, Biju, hopscotching from one New York restaurant job to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS, forced to consider his country’s place in the world. When a Nepalese insurgency in the mountains threatens Sai’s new-sprung romance with her handsome Nepali tutor and causes their lives to descend into chaos, they, too, are forced to confront their colliding interests. The nation fights itself. The cook witnesses the hierarchy being overturned and discarded. The judge must revisit his past, his own role in this grasping world of conflicting desires-every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal.
A novel of depth and emotion, Desai’s second, long-awaited novel fulfills the grand promise established by her first.
Carry Me Down is an engrossing story that at its heart examines an adolescent’s difficulties navigating the world. John Egan is a misfit — a twelve-year-old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant — who diligently keeps track of the lies large and small that are told to him. John’s been able to detect lies for as long as he can remember; it’s a source of power but also great consternation for someone so young. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of World Records, a keenly inquisitive mind, and a kind of faith, John remains hopeful despite the unfavorable cards life deals him. John is like a tuning fork, sensitive to the vibrations within himself and the trouble that this creates for him and his family, and when his sanity reaches near collapse, a frightening family catastrophe threatens to destroy them.
Carry Me Down is a restrained, emotionally taut, and sometimes oddly funny portrait whose drama drives toward, but narrowly averts, an unthinkable disaster.
Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn’t he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie?
Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand—where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father’s cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions…[more]
Writing with the scathing wit and bright perceptiveness for which he has become known, celebrated English author Edward St. Aubyn creates a complex family portrait that examines the shifting allegiances between mothers, sons, and husbands. The novel’s perspective ricochets among all members of the Melrose family—the family featured in St. Aubyn’s widely praised trilogy, Some Hope—starting with Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and convincing account of being born; to Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favor of his sons; to Mary, who’s consumed by her children and overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of her own mother. All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangle this once illustrious family—whose last vestige of wealth, an old house in the south of France—is about to be donated by Patrick’s mother to a New Age foundation. An up-to-the-minute dissection of the mores of child-rearing, marriage, adultery, and assisted suicide, Mother’s Milk showcases St. Aubyn’s luminous and acidic prose—and his masterful ability to combine the most excruciating emotional pain with the driest comedy.
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit liasons, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of Londoners: three women and a young man with a past-whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in ways that are surprising not always known to them. In wartime London, the women work-as ambulance drivers, ministry clerks, and building inspectors. There are feats of heroism, epic and quotidian, and tragedies both enormous and personal, but the emotional interiors of her characters that Waters captures with absolute and intimacy.
Waters describes with perfect knowingness the taut composure of a rescue worker in the aftermath of a bombing, the idle longing of a young woman her soldier lover, the peculiar thrill convict watching the sky ignite through the bars on his window, the hunger a woman stalking the streets for encounter, and the panic of another who sees her love affair coming end. At the same time,…[more]
The Orange Prize-winning author Kate Grenville recalls her family’s history in an astounding novel about the pioneers of New South Wales. Already a best seller in Australia, The Secret River is the story of Grenville’s ancestors, who wrested a new life from the alien terrain of Australia and its native people. London, 1806. William Thornhill, a Thames bargeman, is deported to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. In this new world of convicts and charlatans, Thornhill tries to pull his family into a position of power and comfort. When he rounds a bend in the Hawkesbury River and sees a gentle slope of land, he becomes determined to make the place his own. But, as uninhabited as the island appears, Australia is full of native people, and they do not take kindly to Thornhill’s theft of their home.
The Secret River is the tale of Thornhill’s deep love for his small corner of the new world, and his slow realization that if he wants to settle there, he must ally himself with the most despicable of the white settlers, and to keep his family safe, he must permit terrifying cruelty to come to innocent people.