Annal: 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 2008.

Book:The White Tiger

The White Tiger: A Novel

Aravind Adiga

Meet Balram Halwi, the ‘White Tiger’: servant, philosopher, entrepreneur, murderer. Born in a remote Indian village, the son of a rickshaw-puller, Balram is taken out of school by his family and put to work in a teashop. As he smashes coals and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape, of breaking away from the banks of Mother Ganga into whose murky depths have seeped the remains of a hundred generations.

When a rich village landlord hires him as a chauffeur for his son and daughter-in-law, Balram’s re-education begins. Behind the wheel of a Honda, Balram comes to New Delhi. There he finds himself among cockroaches and traffic-jams, slums and shopping malls, 21st-century technology and medieval superstition. Trapped between his instinct to be a loyal son and servant, and his desire to better himself, and under the scrutiny of 36,000,005 gods, he discovers a new morality at the heart of the new India. Gradually Balram comes to see how the Tiger might escape his cage…

Book:The Clothes on Their Backs

The Clothes on Their Backs

Linda Grant

In a red brick mansion block off the Marylebone Road, Vivien, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from both past and present by her timid refugee parents. Then one morning a glamorous uncle appears, dressed in a mohair suit, with a diamond watch on his wrist and a girl in a leopard-skin hat on his arm. Why is Uncle Sandor so violently unwelcome in her parents’ home?

This is a novel about survival—both banal and heroic—and a young woman who discovers the complications, even betrayals, that inevitably accompany the fierce desire to live. Set against the backdrop of a London from the 1950s to the present day, The Clothes on Their Backs is a wise and tender novel about the clothes we choose to wear, the personalities we dress ourselves in, and about how they define us all.

Book:A Fraction of the Whole

A Fraction of the Whole: A Novel

Steve Toltz

Martin Dean spent his entire life analyzing absolutely everything—from the benefits of suicide to the virtues of strip clubs and passing on his self-taught knowledge to his son, Jasper. But now that his father’s dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the man who raised him in intellectual captivity, and the irony is this: theirs was a great adventure.

As he recollects the extraordinary events that led to his father’s demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries—about his infamous criminal uncle, his mysteriously absent mother, and Martin’s constant battle to leave his mark on the world. From the Australian bush to the cafes of Paris; from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition, this is an unforgettable, rollicking and deeply moving family story.

Book:The Northern Clemency

The Northern Clemency: A Novel

Philip Hensher

From the author of The Mulberry Empire: a new novel of great dramatic and emotional depth—a sweeping, powerfully engaging story of ordinary lives that are profoundly shaped by the larger forces of history.

In 1974, the Sellers are transplanted from London to Sheffield in northern England. On the day they move in, the Glover household across the street is in upheaval: convinced that his wife is having an affair, Malcolm Glover has suddenly disappeared. The reverberations of this rupture will be felt for years as the connection between the families deepens. But it will be the particular crises of ten-year-old Tim Glover—set off by two seemingly inconsequential but ultimately indelible acts of cruelty—that will erupt, full-blown, decades later.

These lives unfold against a brilliantly rendered backdrop of twentieth-century English history at the dawn of the Thatcher…[more]

Book:Sea of Poppies

Sea of Poppies

Amitav Ghosh

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a freespirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, the exotic backstreets of China. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive—a masterpiece from one of the world’s finest novelists.

Book:The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture: A Novel

Sebastian Barry

A gorgeous new novel from the author of the Man Booker finalist A Long Long Way

As a young woman, Roseanne McNulty was one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland. Now, as her hundredth year draws near, she is a patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, and she decides to record the events of her life.

As Roseanne revisits her past, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards in her bedroom, she learns that Roscommon Hospital will be closed in a few months and that her caregiver, Dr. Grene, has been asked to evaluate the patients and decide if they can return to society. Roseanne is of particular interest to Dr. Grene, and as he researches her case he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne’s life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt…[more]

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