LONDON, Nov 26 ― Looking for a gift to buy an avid reader? Maybe you have a favorite novel of your own you’d like to pass along, but if not, take inspiration from this international list of some of the biggest literature prize-winners of 2017.
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing
This road novel set in modern-day rural Mississippi revolves around the family life of a 13-year-old boy whose father has been released from prison. Ward, who won the National Book Award, said the book reflects “the realities of being black and poor in the South” while serving as “a celebration of the black family and familial love.”
George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
Saunders won the Man Booker Prize with his first full-length novel, which is set in 1862 and is based on the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie. Unfolding in the graveyard where the elder Lincoln mourns, it follows Willie into a sort of purgatory populated by a chorus of ghosts who lend their voices to the story.
David Grossman, A Horse Walks Into a Bar (translated by Jessica Cohen)
Israeli author Grossman took this year’s Man Booker International Prize. This book is set during the final stand-up show of a caustic comedian named Dovaleh, who begins to fall apart on stage as he divulges painful episodes and guilt from his past. The prize team called it “a shocking and breathtaking read.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
Released to great acclaim in 2016 and winner of a Pulitzer Prize this year, this novel tells the story of two young slaves who attempt to escape to freedom via an underground railroad -- not a metaphor but an actual railroad, run by engineers and conductors -- in a state-by-state odyssey with a slave catcher on their heels.
Sebastian Barry, Days Without End
With a Costa Book Award win announced early this year, Barry tells the story of a young man who flees Ireland for the US, where he fights in the Indian Wars and the Civil War and forms a relationship with brother-in-arms John Cole. Costa judges called it “one of the most wonderful depictions of love in the whole of fiction.”
José Eduardo Agualusa, A General Theory of Oblivion (translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn)
The Angolan author’s novel won this year’s International Dublin Literary Award. Reflecting on xenophobia, it tells the story of a woman who bricks herself into her apartment on the eve of Angolan independence and remains there for 30 years, alone, until the day a young boy from the street climbs up to her terrace.
Anuk Arudpragasam, The Story of a Brief Marriage
Released in late 2016, this debt novel by the Colombo-born writer won the 2017 DSC South Asian Literary Award. Set over a single day and night, it tells the story of a young man named Dinesh living in a makeshift evacuee camp during Sri Lanka’s civil war, when a man proposes that Dinesh marry his daughter.
Michael Redhill, Bellevue Square
The Canadian author won this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for his story about a mother of two who runs a Toronto bookstore. After two customers say they’ve seen her doppelganger, she sets out to find her, aided by a motley crue of locals. But when some of them disappear, she fears her double has a sinister agenda. The jury called it “warm, and funny, and smart.” ― AFP-Relaxnews