Townrow is a 31-year-old Fund Distributor stealing from the fund he is in charge of. He is contacted by the widow of an old friend, Elie Khoury. They had met in 1946, in Port Said in Cairo after he had fallen off a horse in front of the Khoury’s beach hut. Mrs Khoury wants Townrow to go to see her in Cairo because she believes her husband was murdered.
After thinking it through, Townrow accepts Mrs Khoury’s offer of a plane ticket to Cairo. He stops over in Rome where he argues with two men, defending the British Government from its involvement in Nazi Germany’s Final Solution campaign. The discussion ends on a friendly note.
In Cairo, Townrow makes a joke about marrying Mrs Khoury for her money to an immigration officer, which leads his being interrogated. He is kept in a cell and is released once his train has departed. In Port Said, Townrow doesn’t go straightaway to see Mrs Khoury, instead opting to stay in a hotel. Here he considers having no one who really cares about him in his life.
Townrow visits a bar he used to frequent while serving as a sergeant. The owner of the bar, Christous, recognises him and kicks out his clientele for some privacy. Townrow asks about Elie’s death. Christous tells him that Mrs Khoury, with great difficulty, took her husband’s body back to Lebanon to be buried. Because of her actions, Colonel Nasser took the Suez Canal as Egypt’s.
Iris Murdoch - The Sea, the Sea
Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors-some real, some spectral-that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.
A. S. Byatt - Possession
Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets.Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.
Ben Okri - The Famished Road
Set in an unnamed African country at an unspecified time (though the similarities with Nigeria in the early 1960s are unmistakable), The Famished Road is narrated by Azaro, an African spirit-child or abiku who, in the folklore of southern Nigeria, is destined to move continually between life and spiritual paradise in an unending cycle of infant death and rebirth. Azaro, however, is tired of never staying long enough to experience life, and decides on this occasion to remain, "to put", he says, "a smile on my mother's face". Pursued by vengeful spirits, and endowed with special powers that lead him into mischief, Azaro introduces us to a whole world of wonders -- to his mother and father, an impoverished market trader and a load carrier struggling courageously to keep their dignity and their independence; to Madame Koto, the local bar owner whose journey from innocence to corruption mirrors the realities unfolding around her; to the politics, poverty and brutal reality of life in a shanty town in post-colonial Africa; and to Azaro's own intensely imagined visions. As political corruption becomes endemic and as old tribal traditions clash with the forces of urbanisation, the author shows us the extraordinary mix of hope and despair that characterises his community and the sheer vitality of a society where, as Okri has said, "the consequences of your actions are immediate and unavoidable". Deftly mixing mythical visions with naturalistic portrayal, the result is a book of huge scope and originality which works on many levels -- as political parable, social critique, cultural guidebook and spiritual inspiration -- but whose central triumphis its depiction of tight-knit family relations and the entrancing oddity of everyday life.
Ian McEwan - Saturday
Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.
Virginia Woolf - A Haunted House and Other Short Stories
Acclaimed on its first publication, rich in fictional delights, this complete collection of Virginia Woolf's shorter fiction ranges from 1906 until the month before she died in 1941. The volume offers us an invaluable insight into Virginia Woolf's development as a writer, vividly demonstrating her evolving characterisations, narrative methods and themes, often elaborated in her novels, to which this book serves both as a fascinating introduction for new readers and companion for old.
Virginia Woolf - Essays of Virginia Woolf I-IV.
I. Nonfiction pieces dating from 1904, when she was twenty-three, to 1912, the year of her marriage to Leonard Woolf. "These are polished works of literary journalism-shrewd, deft, inquisitive, graceful, and often sparkling" (Library Journal). II. Essays beginning at the time of her marriage to Leonard Woolf and ending just after the Armistice. More than half have not been collected previously. "In these essays we see both Woolf's work and her self afresh" (Chicago Tribune). III. During the period in which these essays were written, Woolf published Night and Day and Jacob's Room, contributed widely to British and American periodicals, and progressed from straight reviewing to more extended critical essays. "Excellently edited, the essays reconfirm [Woolf's] major importance as a twentieth-century writer" (Library Journal). IV. This fourth volume of the first complete edition of Virginia Woolf's essays and reviews celebrates her maturing vitality and wonderfully reveals her prodigious reading, wit and original intelligence. Written while she worked on TO THE LIGHTHOUSE and ORLANDO, these pieces explore subjects ranging from the world's greatest books to obscure English lives. THE COMMON READER, First Series, in which she influentially revives women's place in history, comprises a quarter of the volume. Contributions to American journals for the first time in her career outnumber those to the Times Literary Supplement, and so her pieces in the Nation & Athenaeum, under Leonard Woolf's literary editorship. The volume also includes her moving introduction to the Modern Library Edition of MRS. DALLOWAY, not previously published. In his superb notes, McNeillie this time adds variations in her essays as they appeared in different versions: for example, the lines later omitted from her essay on Joseph Addison: "our range of delights. persuade us that the whole business of life is better worth while." Virginia Woolf's creativity and industry in these three years bespeak astonishing gifts, remarkable robustness, and a passion for "the whole business of life" that inspires.
William Golding - Rites of Passage
In the cabin of an ancient, stinking warship bound for Australia, a man writes a journal to entertain his godfather back in England. With wit and disdain he records mounting tensions on board, as an obsequious clergyman attracts the animosity of the tyrannical captain and surly crew.
John Banville - The Sea
Incandescent prose. Beautifully textured characterisation. Transparent narratives. The adjectives to describe the writing of John Banville are all affirmative, and The Sea is a ringing affirmation of all his best qualities. His publishers are claiming that this novel by the Booker-shortlisted author is his finest yet, and while that claim may have an element of hyperbole, there is no denying that this perfectly balanced book is among the writer's most accomplished work. Max Morden has reached a crossroads in his life, and is trying hard to deal with several disturbing things. A recent loss is still taking its toll on him, and a trauma in his past is similarly proving hard to deal with. He decides that he will return to a town on the coast at which he spent a memorable holiday when a boy. His memory of that time devolves on the charismatic Grace family, particularly the seductive twins Myles and Chloe. In a very short time, Max found himself drawn into a strange relationship with them, and pursuant events left their mark on him for the rest of his life. But will he be able to exorcise those memories of the past? The fashion in which John Banville draws the reader into this hypnotic and disturbing world is non pareil, and the very complex relationships between his brilliantly delineated cast of characters are orchestrated with a master's skill. As in such books as Shroud and The Book of Evidence, the author eschews the obvious at all times, and the narrative is delivered with subtlety and understatement. The genuine moments of drama, when they do occur, are commensurately more powerful. --Barry Forshaw
David Storey - Saville (angol)
Set in South Yorkshire, against the background of war, this is the story of Colin's struggle to come to terms with his family - his mercurial, ambitious father, his deep-feeling, long-suffering mother - and to escape the stifling heritage of the raw mining community into which he was born. This book won the 1976 Booker Prize.
Virginia Woolf - Mrs. Dalloway (angol)
This brilliant novel explores the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman’s life. Direct and vivid in her account of the details of Clarissa Dalloway’s preparations for a party she is to give that evening, Woolf ultimately managed to reveal much more. For it is the feeling behind these daily events that gives Mrs. Dalloway its texture and richness and makes it so memorable. Foreword by Maureen Howard. "Mrs. Dalloway was the first novel to split the atom. If the novel before Mrs. Dalloway aspired to immensities of scope and scale, to heroic journeys across vast landscapes, with Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf insisted that it could also locate the enormous within the everyday; that a life of errands and party-giving was every bit as viable a subject as any life lived anywhere; and that should any human act in any novel seem unimportant, it has merely been inadequately observed. The novel as an art form has not been the same since. "Mrs. Dalloway also contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive and idiosyncratic sentences ever written in English, and that alone would be reason enough to read it. It is one of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century." --Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
Virginia Woolf - Orlando (angol)
Virginia Woolf's exuberant 'biography' tells the story of the cross-dressing, sex-changing Orlando who begins life as a young noble in the sixteenth century and moves through numerous historical and geographical worlds to finish as a modern woman writer in the 1920s. The book is in part a happy tribute to the 'life' that her love for Vita Sackville-West had breathed into Virginia Woolf's own day-to-day existence; it is also Woolf's light-hearted and light-handed teasing out of the assumptions that lie behind the normal conventions for writing about a fictional or historical life. In this novel, Virginia Woolf plays loose and fast: Orlando uncovers a literary and sexual revolution overnight.
Iris Murdoch - The Black Prince
"The Black Prince" is both a remarkable thriller and a story about being in love. Bradley Pearson, narrator and hero, is an elderly writer with a 'block'. Finding himself surrounded by predatory friends and relations - his ex-wife, her delinquent brother, a younger, deplorably successful writer, Arnold Baffin, Baffin's restless wife and engaging daughter - Bradley attempts to escape. His failure to do so and its aftermath lead to a violent climax and a most unexpected conclusion.
Iris Murdoch - The Bell
A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an enclosed order of nuns. A new bell,legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. Dora Greenfield, erring wife, returns to her husband. Michael Mead, leader of the community, is confronted by Nick Fawley, with whom he had disasterous homosexual relations, while the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercies discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved whatever that may mean...Iris Murdoch's funny and sad novel is about religion, the fight between good and evil and the terrible accidents of human frailty.
Ian McEwan - Atonement
In this rich novel by the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel "Amsterdam", a young girl unwittingly tells a tale that turns her family upside down. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, "Atonement" is at its center a profound--and profoundly moving--exploration of shame and forgiveness, of atonement and the difficulty of absolution.
Bernice Rubens - The Elected Member
In this 1970 Booker Prize-winning novel, Norman is the clever one of a closely-knit Jewish family in London's East End. Infant prodigy, brilliant barrister, the apple of his parents' eyes—until at 41 he becomes a drug addict, confined to his bedroom, at the mercy of his hallucinations and paranoia.
Anthony Burgess - A Dead Man in Deptford
Set in Elizabethan England, Burgess's first novel for four years centres on the life of Christopher Marlowe, who was killed in suspicious circumstances in a tavern brawl in Deptford 400 years ago. It portrays a theatre genius riven by sexual and political conflicts.
Stanley Middleton - Holiday
Edwin Fisher is on holiday at the English seaside - but this revisiting of childhood haunts is no ordinary holiday. Edwin is seeking to understand the failure of his marriage to Meg, but it turns out that her parents are staying at the same resort - whether by accident or design - and are keen to patch up the relationship. As the past and his enigmatic wife loom larger, deeper truths emerge and the perspective shifts in unexpected ways. This is an extremely subtle story, a consummate portrait of English provincial life told with all Stanley Middleton's artistry and depth of feeling. It was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974.
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
'The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.' When Charles Marlow agrees to captain a steamer up the Congo in search of the elusive ivory trader Mr Kurtz, it becomes a terrifying journey into both the unknown and his own subconscious. As he travels deeper and deeper into the dense jungle, he begins to sense the presence of this extraordinary and terrible man, and to question the horrifying realities of European imperialism and of human nature itself.
Paul Scott - Staying on
In this sequel to The Raj Quartet, Colonel Tusker and Lucy Smalley stay on in the hills of Pankot after Indian independence deprives them of their colonial status. Finally fed up with accommodating her husband, Lucy claims a degree of independence herself. Eloquent and hilarious, she and Tusker act out class tensions among the British of the Raj and give voice to the loneliness, rage, and stubborn affection in their marriage. Staying On won the Booker Prize in 1977 and was made into a motion picture starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in 1979. "Staying On far transcends the events of its central action. . . . [The work] should help win for Scott . . . the reputation he deserves--as one of the best novelists to emerge from Britain's silver age."--Robert Towers, Newsweek "Scott's vision is both precise and painterly. Like an engraver cross-hatching in the illusion of fullness, he selects nuances that will make his characters take on depth and poignancy."--Jean G. Zorn, New York Times Book Review "A graceful comic coda to the earlier song of India. . . . No one writing knows or can evoke an Anglo-Indian setting better than Scott."--Paul Gray, Time "Staying On provides a sort of postscript to [Scott's] deservedly acclaimed The Raj Quartet. . . . He has, as it were, summoned up the Raj's ghost in Staying On. . . . It is the story of the living death, in retirement, and the final end of a walk-on character from the quartet. . . . Scott has completed the task of covering in the form of a fictional narrative the events leading up to India's partition and the achievement of independence in 1947. It is, on any showing, a creditable achievement."--Malcolm Muggeridge, New York Times Book