Honor roll: Fiction books

Each of these Fiction books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:The Stories of John Cheever

The Stories of John Cheever

John Cheever

Here are sixty-one stories that chronicle the lives of what has been called “the greatest generation.” From the early wonder and disillusionment of city life in “The Enormous Radio” to the surprising discoveries and common mysteries of suburbia in “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill” and “The Swimmer,” Cheever tells us everything we need to know about “the pain and sweetness of life.”

Book:Watership Down

Watership Down

Richard Adams

One of the most beloved novels of our time, Richard Adams’s Watership Down takes us to a world we have never truly seen: to the remarkable life that teems in the fields, forests and riverbanks far beyond our cities and towns. It is a powerful saga of courage, leadership and survival; an epic tale of a hardy band of adventurers forced to flee the destruction of their fragile community…and their trials and triumphs in the face of extraordinary adversity as they pursue a glorious dream called “home.”

Watership Down is a remarkable tale of exile and survival, of heroism and leadership…the epic novel of a group of adventurers who desert their doomed city, and venture forth against all odds on a quest for a new home, a sturdier future,

Book:The Executioner's Song

The Executioner's Song

Norman Mailer

In what is arguably his greatest book, written in 1979, America’s most heroically ambitious writer follows the short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of America’s prisons who—after robbing two men and killing them in cold blood—insisted on dying for his crime. To do so, he had to fight a system that seemed intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death.

Norman Mailer tells Gilmore’s story—and those of the men and women caught up in his procession toward the firing squad—with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gilmore’s Utah.

The Executioner’s Song is a towering achievement, impossible to put down, impossible to forget.

Book:The Honourable Schoolboy

The Honourable Schoolboy

John le Carré

John le Carré’s classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge and have earned him—and his hero, British Secret Service agent George Smiley—unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

In this classic masterwork, le Carré expands upon his extraordinary vision of a secret world as George Smiley goes on the attack.

In the wake of a demoralizing infiltration by a Soviet double agent, Smiley has been made ringmaster of the Circus (aka the British Secret Service). Determined to restore the organization’s health and reputation, and bent on revenge, Smiley thrusts his own handpicked operative into action. Jerry Westerby, “The Honourable Schoolboy,” is dispatched to the Far East. A burial ground of French, British, and American colonial cultures, the region is a fabled testing ground of patriotic allegiances—and a new showdown is about to begin.

Book:G

G: A Novel

John Berger

In this luminous novel—winner of Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize—John Berger relates the story of “G.,” a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan’s success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him. All of this Berger sets against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi and the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War, and the first flight across the Alps, making G. a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in history’s private moments.

Book:The Ghost Writer (Philip Roth)

The Ghost Writer

Philip Roth

The Ghost Writer introduces Nathan Zuckerman in the 1950s, a budding writer infatuated with the Great Books, discovering the contradictory claims of literature and experience while an overnight guest in the secluded New England farmhouse of his idol, E. I. Lonoff.

At Lonoff’s, Zuckerman meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background who turns out to be a former student of Lonoff’s and who may also have been his mistress. Zuckerman, with his active, youthful imagination, wonders if she could be the paradigmatic victim of Nazi persecution. If she were, it might change his life.

The first volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound, The Ghost Writer is about the tensions between literature and life, artistic truthfulness and conventional decency—and about those implacable practitioners who live with the consequences of sacrificing one for the other.

Book:The Year of the French

The Year of the French

Thomas Flanagan

In 1798, Irish patriots, committed to freeing their country from England, landed with a company of French troops in County Mayo, in westernmost Ireland. They were supposed to be an advance guard, followed by other French ships with the leader of the rebellion, Wolfe Tone. Briefly they triumphed, raising hopes among the impoverished local peasantry and gathering a group of supporters. But before long the insurgency collapsed before a brutal English counterattack.

Very few books succeed in registering the sudden terrible impact of historical events; Thomas Flanagan’s is one. Subtly conceived, masterfully paced, with a wide and memorable cast of characters, The Year of the French brings to life peasants and landlords, Protestants and Catholics, along with old and abiding questions of secular and religious commitments, empire, occupation, and rebellion. It is quite simply a great historical novel.

Book:Darkness Visible

Darkness Visible

William Golding

At the height of the London blitz, a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire. Miraculously saved yet hideously scarred, tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him: twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political violence, Sophy in sexual tyranny.

As Golding weaves their destinies together, as he draws them toward a final conflagration, his book lights up both the inner and outer darknesses of our time.

Book:Sophie's Choice: A Novel

Sophie's Choice: A Novel

William Styron

“[One morning] in the early spring, I woke up with the remembrance of a girl I’d once known, Sophie. It was a very vivid half-dream, half-revelation, and all of a sudden I realized that hers was a story I had to tell.” That very day, William Styron began writing the first chapter of Sophie’s Choice.

First published in 1979, this complex and ambitious novel opens with Stingo, a young southerner, journeying north in 1947 to become a writer. It leads us into his intellectual and emotional entanglement with his neighbors in a Brooklyn rooming house: Nathan, a tortured, brilliant Jew, and his lover, Sophie, a beautiful Polish woman whose wrist bears the grim tattoo of a concentration camp…and whose past is strewn with death that she alone survived.

Sophie’s Choice is a passionate, courageous book…a philosophical novel on the most important subject of…[more]

Book:The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp

John Irving

This is the life and times of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields—a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes—even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with “lunacy and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries—with more than ten million copies in print—this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases”.

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