Rohinton Mistry is the only author whose every novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995) and Family Matters (2002) are all set in India's Parsee community. Recognised as one of the most important contemporary writers of postcolonial literature, Mistry's subtle yet powerful narratives engross general readers, excite critical acclaim and form staple elements of literature courses across the world. This study provides an insight into the key features of Mistry's work. It suggests how the author's writing can be read in terms of recent Indian political history, his native Zoroastrian culture and ethos, and the experience of migration, which now sees him living in Canada. The texts are viewed through the lens of diaspora and minority discourse theories to show how Mistry's writing is illustrative of marginal positions in relation to sanctioned national identities. In addition, Mistry utilises and blends the conventions of oral storytelling common to the Persian and South Asian traditions, with nods in the direction of the canonical figures of modern European literature, sometimes reworking and reinflecting their registers and preoccupations to create a distinctive voice redolent of the hybrid inheritance of Parsee culture and of the postcolonial predicament more generally.
James Kelman is Scotland's most influential contemporary prose artist. This is a book-length study of his groundbreaking novels, analysing and contextualising each in detail. It argues that while Kelman offers a coherent and consistent vision of the world, each novel should be read as a distinct literary response to particular aspects of contemporary working-class language and culture. Historicised through diverse contexts such as Scottish socialism, public transport, emigration, ‘Booker Prize’ culture and Glasgow's controversial ‘City of Culture’ status in 1990, the book offers readings of Kelman's style, characterisation and linguistic innovations. This study resists the prevalent condemnations of Kelman as a miserable realist, and produces evidence that he is acutely aware of an unorthodox, politicised literary tradition which transgresses definitions of what literature can or should do. Kelman is cautious about the power relationship between the working-class worlds he represents in his fiction, and the latent preconceptions embedded in the language of academic and critical commentary. In response, the study is self-critical, questioning the validity and values of its own methods. Kelman is shown to be deftly humorous, assiduously ethical, philosophically alert and politically necessary.
Amsterdam: McEwan’s ‘spoiler’
Appraisal of Amsterdam, McEwan’s BookerPrize-winning novella,
has been clouded by its perception as an inferior Booker winner: when
an established writer is awarded a literary prize for a book that is not
representative of his/her best work, there is the suspicion that the
award is made for the author’s accumulated efforts, rather than for
the book in question. McEwan had previously been short-listed, in
1981, for The Comfort of Strangers, and again in 1992, for Black
Dogs. Enduring Love, however, did not make the shortlist in 1997
I N Jack Maggs , an orphan becomes a criminal; in True History of the Kelly Gang , Carey’s second BookerPrize winning novel, Ned loses his father and is abandoned by his mother to become a highwayman and killer. Significant sections of Jack Maggs are given over to Maggs’s justification of himself to his adopted son, while the majority of True History is Ned’s letter of self-explanation to his daughter whom he has never seen. Both these historical novels explore what Carey has called the ‘patterns […] of abandonment, orphans’ in
explicitly designed to contrast its predecessor
in every way; Utz is a small novel concerning a sedentary Eastern European porcelain collector. It was, however, greeted with similar acclaim,
and received a nomination for the Bookerprize in 1988.2
In a 1987 review of The Songlines for the New York Times, Andrew
Harvey captured the general sense of appreciation which swirled around
the author: ‘Nearly every writer of my generation in England has
wanted, at some point, to be Bruce Chatwin; wanted, like him, to talk
of Fez and Firdausi, Nigeria and Nuristan, with equal
won three of the major Australian literary prizes and was shortlisted for the British BookerPrize.
Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australian history with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. The result is a novel with energy, panache and sardonic vision, which mixes family history with satirical fable and fantasy in an abundance of play and arraignment. Like Bliss, Illywhacker transgresses and undermines presumptions of formal continuity and genre coherence: it both entertains
‘motley’ over them to explore timeless emotions (qtd. in Koval, 2008 ). Like its architectural counterpart, literary adaptive reuse
covers a continuum from partial replication to total re-fabrication.
A. S. Byatt’s BookerPrize winning Possession: A Novel (1990)
offers a striking example of this practice. The novel’s numerous plot twists are
interspersed with an abundance of lucky coincidences, including the present-day academic
Roland Michell’s chancing upon a draft letter by the (fictional) Victorian poet
taking the Green Road
Five Irish Women
Anne Enright, one of Ireland’s most celebrated writers, the first Irish
female winner of the Man Bookerprize (in 2007) for her novel The
Gathering, and from 2015 to 2018 the inaugural Laureate for Irish
Fiction sponsored by the Arts Council, cannot be usefully addressed
or described as a confessional artist in the style of Edna O’Brien or
Sinéad O’Connor. However, she has discussed aspects of her own life
in interviews, reviews and essays, including numerous contributions
to the Guardian, the Diary
Focusing through the concept of influence, this collection considers the entire breadth of Alan Hollinghurst’s Booker Prize-winning writing. It addresses critical issues threaded through the work of Britain’s most important contemporary novelist. Chapters encompass provocative and timely subjects ranging from gay visual cultures and representations, to Victorian, modernist and contemporary literature, as well as race and empire, theatre and cinema, eros, translation and economics. Revealing the often troubled tissue of weighty affect that lies beneath the poise and control of Hollinghurst’s writing, this book addresses readers interested in question of subjectivity, history and desire, as well as those curious about biography and literary experimentation. Alongside contributions by distinguished international critics, the book includes an unpublished interview with Hollinghurst and the eminent biographer Hermione Lee. With critical energy and creative flair, Alan Hollinghurst: Writing Under the Influence provokes a new account of Hollinghurst’s work that is both authoritative and innovative.
This is a comprehensive and definitive study of the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson. It offers lucid, detailed and nuanced readings of each of Jacobson’s novels, and makes a powerful case for the importance of his work in the landscape of contemporary fiction. Focusing on the themes of comedy, masculinity and Jewishness, the book emphasises the richness and diversity of Jacobson’s work. Often described by others as ‘the English Philip Roth’ and by himself as ‘the Jewish Jane Austen’, Jacobson emerges here as a complex and often contradictory figure: a fearless novelist; a combative public intellectual; a polemical journalist; an unapologetic elitist and an irreverent outsider; an exuberant iconoclast and a sombre satirist. Never afraid of controversy, Jacobson tends to polarise readers; but, love him or hate him, he is difficult to ignore. This book gives him the thorough consideration and the balanced evaluation that he deserves.