Annal: 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2007.

Book:Be Near Me

Be Near Me: A Novel

Andrew O'Hagan

Always trust a stranger,“ said David’s mother when he returned from Rome. ”It’s the people you know who let you down."

Half a life later, David is Father Anderton, a Catholic priest with a small parish in Scotland. He befriends Mark and Lisa, rebellious local teenagers who live in a world he barely understands. Their company stirs memories of earlier happiness—his days at a Catholic school in Yorkshire, the student revolt in 1960s Oxford, and a choice he once made in the orange groves of Rome. But their friendship also ignites the suspicions and smoldering hatred of a town that resents strangers, and brings Father David to a reckoning with the gathered tensions of past and present.

In this masterfully written novel, Andrew O’Hagan explores the emotional and moral contradictions of religious life in a faithless age.

Book:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: A Novel

Junot Díaz

This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today.

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú—the curse that has haunted the Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican–American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.

Book:Last Night at the Lobster

Last Night at the Lobster: A Novel

Stewart O'Nan

Stewart O’Nan has been called “the bard of the working class” and has now crafted a frank and funny yet emotionally resonant tale set within a vivid workaday world seldom seen in contemporary fiction.

Perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall, The Red Lobster hasn’t been making its numbers and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift. With only four shopping days left until Christmas, Manny must convince his near-mutinous staff to hunker down and serve the final onslaught of hungry retirees, lunatics, and holiday office parties. All the while, he’s wondering how to handle the waitress he’s still in love with, his pregnant girlfriend at home, and the perfect present he still needs to buy.

Last Night at the Lobster is a poignant yet redemptive look at what a man does when he discovers that his best might not be good enough.

Book:Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses

Per Petterson

We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and one of the first days of July.

Trond’s friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on “borrowed” horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day—an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.

Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.

Book:The Shadow Catcher

The Shadow Catcher: A Novel

Marianne Wiggins

The Shadow Catcher dramatically inhabits the space where past and present intersect, seamlessly interweaving narratives from two different eras: the first fraught passion between turn-of-the-twentieth-century icon Edward Curtis (1868-1952) and his muse-wife, Clara; and a twenty-first-century journey of redemption.

Narrated in the first person by a reimagined writer named Marianne Wiggins, the novel begins in Hollywood, where top producers are eager to sentimentalize the complicated life of Edward Curtis as a sunny biopic: “It’s got the outdoors. It’s got adventure. It’s got the do-good element.” Yet, contrary to Curtis’s esteemed public reputation as servant to his nation, the artist was an absent husband and disappearing father. Jump to the next generation, when Marianne’s own father, John Wiggins (1920-1970), would live and die in equal thrall to the impulse of wanderlust. …[more]

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