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Booker Books

Frank Kermode, 22 November 1979

... The National Book League, on behalf of Booker McConnell, announces in a press release that one of five named novelists ‘will be £10,000 richer at 7 p.m. on 23 October’. The other four will have to be content with leatherbound copies of their books; one of the ways in which this competition differs from a golf tournament is that nobody gets appearance money ...

Rules of the Game

Jon Elster, 22 December 1983

Mémoires 
by Raymond Aron.
Julliard, 778 pp., frs 120, September 1983, 9782260003328
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Clausewitz: Philosopher of War 
by Raymond Aron, translated by Norman Stone and Christine Booker.
Routledge, 418 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9009 9
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Clausewitz 
by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... Raymond Aron died of a heart attack on 17 October, a few weeks after the publication of his memoirs. He died on the steps of the Paris courthouse where he had been testifying on behalf of his friend Bertrand de Jouvenel, who had been violently attacked in a book on French Fascism. The case was not a simple one, as de Jouvenel had said and done some imprudent things in the Thirties ...

In the Potato Patch

Jenny Turner: Penelope Fitzgerald, 19 December 2013

Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 508 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 7011 8495 7
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... Nobody expected Penelope Fitzgerald to win the Booker Prize in 1979 for her novel Offshore. Keneally was also on the shortlist, with Naipaul’s A Bend in the River the clear frontrunner. Julian Barnes remembers Paul Theroux, who was judging, saying he would ‘skim out into the pampas’ the candidates he considered non-starters; back from Patagonia, there he sat at the Booker dinner, ‘a polite smile on his face ...

Boulevard Brogues

Rosemary Hill: Having your grouse and eating it, 13 May 1999

Girlitude: A Memoir of the Fifties and Sixties 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1999, 0 224 05952 1
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... at marriage was foolhardy, for in Chapter 9 she reveals: ‘I Married a Satirist.’ Christopher Booker, her second husband, enables her to be part of the satire boom, and its ‘sudden, unblinking stare at reality’. Private Eye, Christine Keeler, That Was the Week that Was all duly happen, but Tennant is not, as she ...

Whomph!

Joanna Biggs: Zadie Smith, 1 December 2016

Swing Time 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 453 pp., £18.99, November 2016, 978 0 241 14415 2
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... hardback and discussed it at a book group and even stole a placard of its very pretty cover from a Booker Prize party I snuck into; NW I read in a proof passed around the LRB office, and I tried out my thoughts on her experimental turn with colleagues in the same tentative way that she played with numbered paragraphs and their juxtaposition. This is just my ...

Enthusiasts

Anita Brookner, 3 February 1983

Where I Used to Play on the Green 
by Glyn Hughes.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 575 02997 8
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Virginie 
by John Hawkes.
Chatto, 212 pp., £8.50, January 1983, 0 7011 3908 0
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Ancient Enemies 
by Elizabeth North.
Cape, 230 pp., £7.95, November 1982, 0 224 02052 8
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Dancing Girls 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 01835 3
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Master of the Game 
by Sidney Sheldon.
Collins, 495 pp., £8.95, January 1983, 0 00 222614 6
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... Fiction Prize in 1982, yet it received not a tenth of the publicity awarded to winners of the Booker and the Whitbread. This is a pity, for it is a fine achievement, although too dour a story to command affection in the media. It reminds us not only that the past is a foreign country but that England, too, is a foreign country and perhaps never more so ...

The Collage Police

Christian Lorentzen: Ali Smith, 8 March 2018

Autumn 
by Ali Smith.
Penguin, 272 pp., £8.99, August 2017, 978 0 241 97331 8
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Winter 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 241 20702 4
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... now published two novels of her projected ‘Seasonal Quartet’: Autumn, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Winter. These books don’t share characters or continuity but constitute a rapid-response literary gloss on the Brexit crisis. Within the fictional United Kingdom of these novels, the referendum is discussed at the dinner table, street-level ...

Do you think he didn’t know?

Stefan Collini: Kingsley Amis, 14 December 2006

The Life of Kingsley Amis 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 996 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 224 06227 1
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... Swansea years, he had been intermittently working on a novel, provisionally titled ‘Dixon and Christine’, but initial efforts to find a publisher met with rejection. His 30th birthday found him bewailing his lot: ‘What am I doing here? Or anywhere for that matter. If only someone would take me up, or even show a bit of interest. If only someone would ...

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