Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Man Booker Prize bibliography - 1975

In 1975 only two novels were shortlisted, the smallest number of novels to feature in the prize list in any year.


Heat and Dust, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. John Murray, London, 1975. Easily available at £15-20.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, CBE (born May 7, 1927) is a Booker prize-winning novelist, short story writer, and two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter. She is perhaps best known for her long collaboration with Merchant Ivory Productions, made up of director James Ivory and the late producer Ismail Merchant. Their films won six Academy Awards. Jhabvala was born in Cologne, Germany. Her father, a lawyer, was of Polish-Jewish origin and her mother was German-Jewish. Jhabvala attended Jewish segregated school before she emigrated in 1939 with her family to Britain. The family settled in Hendon, northwest London, where Jhabvala attended Hendon Country School. In her new home country she switched from German to English at the age of twelve. During the war years she read the works of Dickens; Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind she took with her during the bombings of London to an air raid shelter. Jhabvala's father committed suicide in 1948 after learning that the rest of his family had died in the Holocaust. In 1948 Jhabvala became a British citizen. She studied English literature at the University of London, receiving her MA in 1951 from Queen Mary College. In the same year she married a Parsee architect, C.S.H. Jhabvala, with whom she moved to India. For the next 24 years she lived in New Delhi. Increasingly disenchanted with India Jhabvala moved in 1975 to New York City, dividing in the following years her time between two countries. Later Jhabvala also became a US citizen.

Her first novel, To Whom She Will, appeared in 1955, and she has published almost twenty novels and volumes and short stories. She has also worked actively as a screenwriter, winning two Oscars. Her collaboration with Merchant and Ivory started in the 1960s, and she developed many of their screenplays, including A Room with a View.

“This novel tells the parallel stories of two young English women, living in India at different time periods. Anne visits the country in the 1970s, well after Indian independence in 1947, but long before India became the economic power it is today. Anne is there to learn more about her grandfather's first wife, Olivia, who lived there in the 1920s, during British colonial rule. Olivia ran off with the Nawab (a Muslim prince), bringing scandal down upon the family. The novel alternates between the two time periods and points of view. Anne deciphers Olivia's story from her letters, written primarily to her sister. She visits places Olivia used to live. Houses have become places of business; only the British cemeteries are left standing as a memorial to earlier times.”

Gossip from the Forest, Thomas Keneally, John Collins, London, 1975. Readily available at £10 – 20.

Thomas Keneally was born in Sydney, in October, 1935, and educated at St Patrick's College, Strathfield, where a writing prize was named after him. He entered St Patrick's Seminary, Manly to train as a Catholic priest but left before his ordination. He worked as a Sydney schoolteacher before his success as a novelist, and he was a lecturer at the University of New England (1968-70). He has also written screenplays, memoirs and non-fiction books. Keneally was known as "Mick" until 1964 but began using the name Thomas when he started publishing, after advice from his publisher to use what was really his first name. He is most famous for his Schindler's Ark (1982) (later republished as Schindler's List), which won the Booker Prize and is the basis of the film Schindler's List. Many of his novels are reworkings of historical material, although modern in their psychology and style. Keneally has also acted in a handful of films. He had a small role in the film of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and played Father Marshall in the Fred Schepisi movie, The Devil's Playground (1976). He is a strong advocate of the Australian republic, meaning the severing of all ties with the British monarchy, and published a book on the subject Our Republic in 1993. Several of his Republican essays appear on the web site of the Australian Republican Movement. Keneally is a keen supporter of rugby league football, in particular the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles club of the NRL.

“The unimaginable slaughter that has become the First World War has continued unabated since August 1914, and now, in the late fall of 1918, on an obscure railway siding at Compi├Ęgne, France, a group of intractable old men gather to negotiate an armistice. With Allied victory a certainty, monumental old Marshall Foch, flanked by Maxime Weygand and British Admiral Wemyss, seeks to crush the enemy at the negotiating table. With the Kaiser in seclusion, idealist Matthias Erzberger has been dispatched to pick what shards of mercy he can from the wreckage of the old order. As the Allied leaders press for total submission, Erzberger, haunted by the prospect of famine and revolution in the gathering German winter, angles for better terms. And so they talk on and on, as the guns roar and men continue to die. With the acute historical sensibility that is the hallmark of his work, Thomas Keneally has re-created the forging of the armistice in an illuminating and intimate portrayal of personal prejudice and political obstinacy."

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