Annal: 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction

Results of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in the year 2010.

Book:The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters

Tatjana Soli

A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men. 

On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen’s infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh’s secret keeper, boss and truest friend. …[more]

Book:The Invisible Bridge

The Invisible Bridge: A Novel

Julie Orringer

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he promised to deliver. But when he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter’s recipient, he becomes privy to a secret that will alter the course of his—and his family’s—history. From the small Hungarian town of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in labor camps, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a family shattered and remade in history’s darkest hour.

Book:La Rochelle

La Rochelle: A Novel

Michael Nath

This darkly comic and highly original novel is set over two weeks in 2004, where we find protagonist Dr Mark Chopra, a chaste and passive neurologist. One evening Mark is summoned to help his intriguing friend Ian, whose girlfriend Laura has, simply, vanished. When we learn of the images of Laura that play in the film-roll of Mark’s mind, we realise that this disappearance has bigger consequences than initially meets the eye. Always more ready to read than to act, Mark draws on the lessons of the great philosophers and generals as both men settle in to the comfort of a drink as they try to figure out what it all might mean.

What are the triggers that can free such a man from his passive state and transform him into a gallant knight and go after his beloved Laura? Uneasily inhabiting a world which has the air of being orchestrated around him, Mark must accept assistance from extraordinary people in unexpected places, and sift enchantment from whatever might pass for reality if he is to learn the lessons of Don Quixote and La Rochelle.

Book:The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel

David Mitchell

The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, and costly courtesans comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in Holland. But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken—the consequences of which will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings.

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