Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding
With delicacy of perception and memory, humour and pathos, Carson McCullers spreads before us the three phases of a weekend crisis in the life of a motherless twelve-year-old girl. Within the span of a few hours, the irresistible, hoydenish Frankie passionately plays out her fantasies at her elder brother's wedding. Through a perilous skylight we look into the mind of a child torn between her yearning to belong and the urge to run away.
'I used to be human once. So I'm told. I don't remember it myself, but
people who knew me when I was small say I walked on two feet just like a
human being'.....But now Jaanvar - Animal - walks on all fours, the
catastrophic result of what happened on That Night when, thanks to an
American chemical company, the Apocalypse visited his slums. He lives a
hand-to-mouth existence, with a crazy old nun called Ma Franci; Nisha,
the daughter of a local musician; and his dog Jara. Each of them had
their lives irreversibly changed on That Night.
Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk about Kevin"'Once in a while, a stunningly powerful novel comes along, knocks you sideways and takes your breath away: this is it... a horrifying, original, witty, brave and deliberately provocative investigation into all the casual assumptions we make about family life, and motherhood in particular' Daily Mail 'This startling shocker strips bare motherhood... the most remarkable Orange prize victor so far' Polly Toynbee, Guardian 'One of the most striking works of fiction to be published this year. It is Desperate Housewives as written by Euripides... A powerful, gripping and original meditation on evil' New Statesman"
Don DeLillo, The NamesReading the fiction of Don DeLillo is an utterly original experience: powerful, prescient, perceptive. Writing in a prose that is both majestic and muscular, his unerringly accurate vision penetrates deep into the soul of America and consistently leaves readers with a fresh perspective on the world. Since the publication of his first novel, in 1971, he has been acknowledged across the globe as one of the greatest writers of his generation. DeLillo’s seventh is an exotic thriller. Set mostly in Greece, it concerns a mysterious ‘language cult’ seemingly behind a number of unexplained murders. Obsessed by news of this ritualistic violence, an American risk analyst is drawn to search for an explanation. We follow his progress on an obsessive journey that begins to take over his life and the lives of those closest to him. In addition to offering a series of precise character studies, The Names explores the intersection of language and culture, the perception of America from both inside and outside of its borders, and the impact that narration has on the facts of a story. Meditative and probing, DeLillo wonders: how does one cope with the fact that the act of articulation is simultaneously capable of defining and circumscriptively restricting access to the self?
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
The ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it's relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Throughout, Holden dissects the 'phony' aspects of society, and the 'phonies' themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection. Lazy in style, full of slang and swear words, it's a novel whose interest and appeal comes from its observations rather than its plot intrigues (in conventional terms, there is hardly any plot at all). Salinger's style creates an effect of conversation, it is as though Holden is speaking to you personally, as though you too have seen through the pretences of the American Dream and are growing up unable to see the point of living in, or contributing to, the society around you. Written with the clarity of a boy leaving childhood, it deals with society, love, loss, and expectations without ever falling into the clutch of a cliche.
Louis de Bernieres, The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal GuzmanWhen the economy of his small South American country collapses, President Veracruz joins his improbable populace of ex-soldiers, former guerillas, unfrocked priests and reformed - though by no means inactive - whores, in a bizarre search for sexual fulfilment. But for Cardinal Guzman, a man tormented by his own private demons, their stupendous, hedonistic fiestas represent the epicentre of all heresies. Heresies that must be challenged with a horrifying new inquisition destined to climax in a spectacular confrontation
Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman‘Flann O’Brien learned from Joyce the art of tuning language to a lyrical pitch, which he could then turn to his purpose, whether it was to be plain foolery, unconcealed indignation or high comedy. The best of his contemporaries and many subsequent Irish writers have much to thank him for.’ Sunday Times
‘Flann O’Brien is inventive, his storytelling is swift and sure, making the eccentric seem natural and the commonplace hilarious.’ The Times ‘Even with “Ulysses” and “Finnegans Wake” behind him, James Joyce might have been envious.’ The Observer ‘Wonderful. “The Third Policeman” is a great masterpiece of black humour.’ George Mackay Brown
Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were OrphansChristopher Banks, the protagonist of Kazuo Ishiguro's fifth novel, When We Were Orphans, has dedicated his life to detective work but behind his successes lies one unsolved mystery: the disappearance of his parents when he was a small boy living in the International Settlement in Shanghai. Moving between England and China in the inter-war period, the book, encompassing the turbulence and political anxieties of the time and the crumbling certainties of a Britain deeply involved in the opium trade in the East, centres on Banks's idealistic need to make sense of the world through the small victories of detection and his need to understand finally what happened to his mother and father.
This new novel, however, is the deliberate antithesis of the classic English detective story--the hermetic country-house worlds of Agatha Christie, the classic "locked room" puzzles in which order and sanity is restored at the story's end. Ishiguro mimics the functional style and clipped speech patterns of the genre, ironising its reliance on melodrama and stereotype, while developing a narrative of subtlety, great emotional depth, and political and cultural acuity: what we get is a negative image of classic detective fiction, in which the solved crimes are mentioned in passing and the real mystery is played out in the psychology of the detective himself. The act of detection, Ishiguro suggests, is one we all perform on our own past, struggling to marshal clues and evidence whilst trying to construct the story of ourselves; the one mystery Banks seems unable to solve is his own.