Last year we had fun comparing the U.S. and U.K. book cover designs of a sample of the Rooster contenders, so I decided to do it again with this year’s batch. There are all sorts of marketing considerations behind these designs, and it’s interesting to see how designing for these two similar markets can result in very different looks. The American covers are on the left, and clicking through takes you to a larger image. Your equally inexpert analysis is welcomed in the comments.
1. In grade school it is not uncommon for an English teacher, attempting to instill an appreciation for the glories of description, to say, “Get out a pen and paper and describe what I have placed here without naming it.” For example, a banana, a poster of a Cézanne forest, a Bunsen burner. To honor bygone writing exercises, I offer the following: It is about three and a half inches long and mostly black. It has a cap that, when removed, reveals a small silver point, out of the end of which comes black ink. There is a window of clear plastic on the body of the object through which you can monitor how quickly said ink disappears. The general shape is cylindrical. Its diameter is less than one centimeter and fits nicely between the fingers of a woman who is 5’4” tall with slightly oversized hands for her height. The decorative elements are minimal, but there are some advertorial ones. These read: “Pilot. Precise V5. Rolling Ball. Extra Fine.” 2. Pens are often considered a fetish item of neurotics with disposable income, but a Mont Blanc sensibility is not my point. Despite being reliably cash-poor, writer-types are often as particular about their pens as they are about their fonts. (When Helvetica—the trend, the font, the film, the MoMA exhibition—was the rage, Slate published a piece asking writers about their favorite fonts and those queried had cultivated preferences at the ready; Courier, mostly, since those writers who may not fetishize the pen fetishize the typewriter instead.) We care about what our words look like because we somewhere believe that this says something about who we are beyond font or scrawl. We think we can detect gender and personality, childhood traumas, future ambitions deep-seated hang-ups, sophistication and intelligence from the way a person’s hand puts ink to paper. “Real typeface is rhythm; it’s contrast; it comes from handwriting,” says Erik Speikermann in Helvetica, the film. “Poets don’t draw,” Jean Cocteau said. “They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.” The starting point of handwriting is no doubt neurological, but pens have been, historically speaking, what has gotten us from capital letter to full stop. Hence, the fabled image of writer bent over desk, pen to paper, deep thoughts flowing like wine down the esophagus. The pen’s place in a writer’s self-image is somewhat sacred. For better or worse, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to venture that some are as likely to pony up for pens as for health insurance. The Pilot Precise V5 with an extra fine rolling ball and black ink is my pen. I grew up with it. My handwriting developed with it. With it, I perfected the signature that appears on the title page of the book I have written in my daydreams and anxiety-induced nightmares. Friends have tried to convert me with pens that have finer points or a perhaps less prosaic shape, ones that are reusable and more earth friendly, or that can survive a change of cabin pressure when flying. Yet I remain firm in my attachment. I enjoy the simplicity of the Pilot’s shape and decoration. The angles are right angles and the color palette is basic: black and white with a subtle grey belt. Uncapping it to begin writing, the separation of the two pieces of plastic makes a satisfying snap. The pen is smooth, firm, and room temperature between my fore and middle fingers, which are just far enough apart from one another thanks to the heft of it, to feel as though they are not hanging on to just themselves, but to something real. My handwriting arrives in tall, loose, right-leaning lines (everything, ironically, I am not in person, either physically or politically) and the ink takes up residence on the page as if it belonged there, not as if it had been pressed there against its will, as with ballpoints. Like my preferred working font (Garamond) I imagine that, to others, my pen preference indicates some unflattering personal traits. Pretentiousness, perhaps. Or boringness. Or rigidity. Or snobbishness. I, of course, prefer to believe it is evidence of more flattering qualities. An appreciation of simplicity, for example. Or elegance. Or understatement. 3. There’s no small amount of vanity wrapped up in handwriting. We place value on the handwritten word even as it dissolves. The old-fashioned letter is now a novelty item that seems romantic, cool, twee, or pointless, depending on your perspective. We look at the inscriptions of secondhand books and at the notes in their margins, wondering why some person who owned the book before us circled the words, “Made love” twice and wrote “light-skinned boy” in the margins. If you’ve ever made a foray into the land of special collections, you know what it means to hold the correspondence of Joe Hill and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn as Hill sat in prison, waiting around to die. You think those letters would feel different if they were typed. You think the intimacy would be lost, not just between Hill and Flynn, but among the three of you and across the years. You think of Edith Wharton writing in bed and tossing the pages of her manuscripts to the floor as she finished them for a maid to collect and order. You think of Lish’s marks through Carver’s stories. Handwriting isn’t business. It’s personal and it’s a fact: Penmanship is dying. Those schoolbooks filled with your grandmother’s tidy, feminine script resemble terrariums nursing strange and delicate plants. One day will they be more akin to drawers lined with lost insects pinned to linen and labeled alphabetically by their Latin names? Although its gradual disappearance is a possibility and one we must consider as a time becomes foreseeable when formal thank you notes and credit card receipts are rendered obsolete, we still notice the handwritten word, value it and judge it. I’m no different and won’t lie. If I like your handwriting, I like you better. If I don’t, there is a small part of me who likes you less. For example, I do not like handwriting in odd colors or with a disregard for lines, the hard geometry of the alphabet. This I would have known about you promptly when I was fifteen, whereas now it might take months, even years, to learn. Either way, I cannot name a close friend who commits either sin. This may make me old-fashioned. It may also make me peculiar or obnoxious or a jerk. It may also make me like you. 4. I was not paid to write this by Pilot Corporate: I come by my enthusiasm honestly, from having picked up other, lesser pens, put them down and left them there. As usual, there was no shortage of experiments on the road to discovery. Pens were everywhere growing up. They were by the telephone and bedside tables. They were on my parents’ desks, as well as on my own and my sister’s. Pens were in my father’s pockets, my mother’s purse, my sister’s hair, at the bottom of my backpack. They were left on the floor and chewed by the dog and they were put away uncapped to leave a stain on the left breast. We are a family of bleeding hearts and I distinctly remember those hearts bleeding ink. Our pens were picked up and put back again even when tapped out. They were discovered later and complained about to whoever would listen because, “Jesus. Where have all the working pens gone?” They were everywhere because they were with what we wrote. We wrote thank-you letters and notes to one another about who had called or where we had gone and when we would be back. We wrote copious telephone lists and filled in our address books and calendars. My older sister and I composed homework assignments and diary entries and little stories and poems and drawings of horses and dogs. My parents wrote to-do lists and grocery lists and checks. A surface wasn’t a surface if it didn’t boast a Post-It somewhere with a reminder of something our lives required in order to carry on. “Does anyone have a pen?” was not a relevant question. Everyone had a pen because functionality depended on it. The heavy fountain pen my father kept hidden in the breast pocket of his blazer was the first of the pens I recall with any specificity. With this, the precise, strong-lined print he was taught in architecture school became heavier and more authoritative than under the spill of ink from less substantial pens. It would appear and disappear on his person as mysteriously as a quarter between a street magician’s thumb and forefinger. Occasionally, I would ask to borrow it for a duel of tic-tac-toe, and he would hand it over eyeing it all along, saying I had a knack for losing things already. Sometimes he would withhold it from me for fun, saying I wasn’t prepared for the kind of responsibilities a pen in hand implied. Lucky for him, I had opinions about pens even then and I didn’t like this one: the ink flow was unpredictable, arriving too quickly one minute and not at all the next. He tried to tell me the trick was in the angle, but I didn’t have patience for eccentric pens; if it required a course in “how to,” I was over it. My mother kept a variety of brands at her disposal, and it was culling through her collection that my education in the common pen began: Bic, Caliber, Papermate, Uni-Ball, Pentel, and Pilot. I learned the pros and cons of each in turn. Bics encouraged my unfortunate fondness for chewing on cheap plastic and were left mutilated in my wake to likely give me cancer in forty years. Uni-Balls were almost what I was looking for but fell slightly on the wrong side of flimsy. I thought Pentels were just plain ugly and that Calibers looked like they were designed for engineers. Not the look I was going for. Papermates seemed alternately sophomoric and reminiscent of the pen handed to you at the drugstore when you need to charge a late night box of emergency tampons. The Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine was The One because those were the ones I was always saddest to lose. Its virtues were revealed over time: it said, “classy but not rich,” the weight was satisfying without being overwhelming, the ink flow was solid without being sloppy, and the plastic did not awaken my oral fixation. By college, it was my pen. 5. I remember learning to write, Mrs. Ozbey standing over me, forcing my recalcitrant fingers into position around the six sides of a number 2 pencil. I would grasp that rod of wood and graphite so intently that when I released the thing my middle finger would be red and dented and my hand would need to shake it out. We were given large sheets of lined paper, the lines of which were extra wide with a dotted line down the center indicating the boundary above which lower case letters were not supposed to wander. Cursive was introduced two years later. Master this complicated new art, they said, and it would save us untold time in the future. Print wasted precious seconds; cursive was the way of writing we would take with us into adulthood. Even then the idea seemed dated and by the time I was in sixth grade our teachers had stopped trying to make us write in cursive, trying instead to teach us to type. There was a new physical position we were supposed to learn that had nothing to do with holding something in our hands. Our hands should now live this way and over a keyboard. Use all your fingers on both your hands. Yes, even your pinkies. Don’t look down; look straight ahead. This was when screens were black and words were green and those of us being taught to type didn’t understand what was happening. It wasn’t until college that I accepted my keyboard, not my hand, as my primary writing tool. Only then and almost without noticing, did I switch out the printed word for the typed one. Except, that is, when the process was creative. Then, I kept the partnership of hand and pen intact. I wrote poems in college and I wrote those poems by hand, crossing out and rewriting, switching out words, finally typing up the stanzas, only to continue writing and revising by hand. That was not a relationship or a process (which is it?) I was ready to upend. As if doing so would be akin to cutting in on Fred Astaire when he’s dancing a waltz with Ginger Rogers, the cameras rolling. 6. I teach writing to college freshman. One of the first things I tell them as I attempt to instill the virtues of the essay is that “Writing is thinking.” This is not lip service, but something I believe: that the more you write and rewrite, the further you push your ideas on the page, the further you push them in your mind and the more deeply you comprehend and understand your thoughts and feelings about the world and your place in it. My freshmen are more than ten years younger than I am and they write—compose and think—exclusively on their computers. Watching toddlers with iPhones, I suspect it’s the only way they’ve ever really known. With computers, the physicality of the writing process has largely been eliminated. You think a string of words and they appear in front of you; the relationship of brain to hand to keyboard to screen is almost effortless. So many laments and odes have been written about how the new ways we are reading affect us for better or worse, that I sometimes consider how the ways we write have changed and whether this matters. Even our vocabulary reflects this: we don’t technically write any more, but “word process.” The tap of the keyboard is a white noise nearly as familiar as a breath entering my own body and the feeling of a key succumbing to the pressure of my fingers is almost as natural as a spoken sound. Almost. That said, I don’t wish for the time when I thought of writing in terms of the cramping in my hand and the annoyance of running out of ink at the wrong moment. The vague and constant fear that my computer will crash and I will lose everything is something I am willing to live with if it means I have a tool that allows my body to keep up with my mind. I’m as reliant now on the machine as the next person. There remains, however, an ineffable peculiarity about that duo of hand and pen that I cannot come between. Or don’t want to. I somehow believe that because it was with a pen between my fingers that I learned to write that this is the way I do that best and always will. Fred and I switch off with Ginger these days. He cuts in, then I cut in on him. I type first drafts, then edit by hand, type in the edits, then edit the edits by hand. Of course, it’s difficult to know whether this is a simple cause and effect relationship, since writing by hand keeps me focused and safe from the internet, or whether there is some connection between my brain and my hand that only a pen can access. As for the Pilot Precise in particular, maybe my thoughts are indeed more confident and clear when a piece of paper is at the mercy of its point. Maybe, too, it is just my idea of a lucky penny. In this way I keep it in my coat pocket. I fiddle with it there throughout the day, taking the cap on and off, clutching it, feeling it between my fingers, pulling it out sometimes to show it the light of day. 7. An edited history my family’s handwriting lies packed away in the attic. If I went through the bins long enough I could trace two childhoods via a timeline assembled with marks my sister and I once made on paper. Sometimes I even stumble across evidence of our parents’ early days as living, thinking, writing human beings: a short story in my mother’s small script, a handmade book of dog breeds (illustrated and alphabetized) from my father’s Boy Scout days. If I ever cobble together a family of my own, we won’t have this history of our handwritten words. I remain uncertain how I feel about that. I know I am prone to fits of nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses, and I know too that this is not a habit to coddle, but rather one to hold, examine, accept as part of myself, but then to move past because to do otherwise would be counterproductive. These days I know enough writers, but I don’t know anyone who composes anything by hand more than a note stuck under a glass that says “Rent’s due!” The image of writer bent over desk with pen and paper has been supplanted by the image of writer at coffee shop with laptop and latte. The alternative seems precious. Now when someone looks up and asks, “Does anyone have a pen?” the answer is not so simple. There is a rush to check pockets and bags and, seven times out of ten, it seems, the answer is, “No, sorry…” I fall at the tail end of Generation X, on the cusp of Generation Y. As it is with cusps of astrological signs, those of us on this generational cusp exhibit characteristics of both X and Y which can sometimes confuse us as to where we fall in the larger cultural picture. This sense of rose-tinted glasses worn with an awareness of the fashion’s irrelevance is part of this cusp, of relating to both the before and after when it comes to the computer age. Yet the similarities that those of us who were born in the ’79, ’80, ’81 range share with the Gen Xers sometimes seem more profound. We remember the Challenger explosion and the fall of the Berlin Wall in a way that those born in ’83, ’84, and ’85 do not. We also remember a time when computers were not part and parcel of our lives, the way we thought, wrote, communicated. We are savvy with technology and to most we appear self-assured with it, prone to internet addiction and a knack for communicating more effectively over email than in conversation. But not a few of us, I imagine, are quite as fluent as our friends born just after us. In some ways we were outdated before we hit puberty. For this group of us there remains a lingering sense of “this newfangled thing in this brave new world” that we felt the first time when we were six or eight or ten and staring at the black screen with the green cursor blinking at us, as if into oblivion. Though we’ve spent the rest of our lives trying to prove otherwise, the strangeness of this second language persists even as our accents may remain imperceptible to anyone’s ears but our own. (Image: In reply to @rockbandit, this is my favorite pen. A Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine. from brandonpapworth's photostream; Image 2 courtesy the author.)
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In January I posted scans of a bunch of fantastic new editions of classic books from Penguin with covers designed by famous comic book artists. I'd heard that another batch was on the way, and I finally got my hands on the images so here they are. They come out this fall:Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Cover by Yoshihiro TatsumiWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Cover by Thomas Ott The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, Cover by JasonLady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence, Cover by Chester Brown Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, Cover by Frank MillerPhilosophy in the Boudoir by Marquis de Sade, Cover by Tomer HanukaSee the full-size pictures hereSome other notes: I first saw some of these covers posted at the Fantagraphics blog. Tomer Hanuka has a really cool post about designing his cover at his blog Tropical Toxic.
In my freshman year of college, I learned that a kid down the hall had never seen Star Wars. None of it. He had actually never heard of Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or R2-D2 — I don’t know how; he seemed normal enough. Once my roommates and I overcame our shock, we plopped him down in our common room for a marathon viewing: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, with no digital enhancements — the complete series, at the time. We sat like anthropologists, observing our perfect test subject, completely silent to avoid spoiling anything, watching him discover this strange new world. “Wait, this is the beginning?” he asked as the intro scrolled across the screen “Why does it say Episode IV?” And then: “Whoa, they just blew up the whole planet?” And: “He can strangle people with his mind?” And: “Oh my god, they’re freezing Han?” By the time we got to the most famous line, the line, the spoiler it’s virtually impossible not to hear at some point growing up — “Luke, I am your father” — the look on my friend’s face was one of pure wonder. I could not remember a time when I didn’t know who Luke’s father was, and I envied the excitement he was feeling, the unadulterated thrill of discovering something that, though verging on the cliché for me, was completely fresh territory for him. I kept thinking, How lucky he is to get to see this for the first time now. As adults, it’s easy for us to feel that everything fun is already finished, that all the worlds have already been thoroughly mapped, especially when it comes to books. The last time I felt that childlike glee of discovering a new world was with Harry Potter, and by that time I was already in college. Now Harry has vanquished Voldemort. Aslan has fought Last Battle. Frodo has destroyed the One Ring. Katniss has — well, in case you’re waiting for the movies, I won’t spoil it for you. But really, you don’t have to be young to experience that excitement. Here are five children’s series you might have missed when you were younger (and please add your favorites in the comments, too). Each offers a thoroughly imagined world that’s immersive enough to make you feel like a kid again, with writing sharp and smart enough to satisfy a book-loving adult. If they’re unfamiliar, I envy you: how lucky you are to get to read them for the first time now. 1. The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken (12 books starting with 1962’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) Aiken’s series is set in an alternate version of 19th century England, in which James II was never deposed and the Hanoverians — that would be the ancestors of today’s royal family — scheme against the rightful ruler, James III. Stay with me.You don’t need to know or even like history to enjoy this series, which centers around a plucky, streetwise Cockney girl named Dido and her younger sister, Is, and includes a healthy dash of fantasy while still being grittily real. Wolves roam London at night. There are hot-air-balloon chases, plots hatched on Nantucket whaling ships, and hypnotic puppet shows. In The Stolen Lake, Dido journeys to a strange country ruled by Queen Ginevra — better known as Guinevere — who has been awaiting the return of her husband, King Arthur, for hundreds of years. In Is Underground, Is ventures into the terrifying mines — worked by kidnapped children — to rescue her missing cousin. Aiken’s series is hardly known in the U.S., and I don’t know why: she’s the forebear of steampunk and all kinds of other historical-fantastical mashups. Oh, and did I mention that Edward Gorey did the book covers? Yeah. 2. Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones Can two books count as a series? I vote yes, because these are too good to leave off the list. Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Hayao Miyazaki in 2004, but even the master couldn’t capture all the incredible flourishes of the book. Sophie, the eldest of three daughters and certain she’s therefore doomed to be a failure, is transformed by an angry witch into an old woman. Forced to flee her home, she talks her way into in the moving castle of the title: inhabited by Howl, a youngish, temperamental, and very vain wizard; his apprentice Michael; and a curious and powerful fire demon named Calcifer. Sophie and Calcifer strike a bargain: he’ll take the spell off her if she can break a mysterious bargain he’s made with Howl — but what is the bargain, and what will it cost to break it? The novel is slyly funny, with gentle sendups of both fairy-tale tropes and modern-day life — at one point, Sophie and crew end up in a small town in Wales. (Don’t ask; just get the book, trust me.) Lit-nerds will delight in the John Donne poem that plays a central role in the plot. It’s clever and deeply satisfying, as is its sequel, Castle in the Air, which gives the same treatment to Arabian Nights territory. 3. The Stanley Family series (The Headless Cupid, The Great Stanley Kidnapping Case, Blair's Nightmare, and Janie's Private Eyes) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder Zilpha Keatley Snyder is surprisingly unknown, given how prolific she is: she’s written more than forty books (three of them Newbery Honor books) and is still going. As a kid, I read all of them I could find, but my favorites are — and still were — the four books about the kids in the Stanley family: sensible David, precocious Janie, stolid Esther and her eccentric, prescient twin Blair, and cranky, adolescent stepsister Amanda, whose arrival shakes up the family. In the first book, The Headless Cupid, Amanda arrives at the Stanley house, bored, bitter at her mother for remarrying, and — wait for it — obsessed with the occult. Her prosaic new stepsiblings decide they want to learn about the dark arts as well, but things start to get a little creepy when they learn about the poltergeist that once haunted their house. Snyder’s vivid characters keep the series firmly grounded in reality, though, and the series could be a master class for writers in any genre: create interesting and dynamic people, put them together, and let the sparks fly. In the following books, there’s a kidnapping in rural Italy, a (possible) monster roaming the neighborhood, and a mysterious rash of dognappings, but at heart the focus is always on the dynamics of this quirky family. 4. The Half Magic Series (Half Magic, Knight’s Castle, Magic by the Lake, and The Time Garden) by Edward Eager The three series I’ve mentioned above could be considered YA from a time before “YA” was a thing, but the Half Magic series by Edward Eager are clearly meant for children Despite the younger audience, though, adults — especially book-loving adults — will still adore these stories of unabashed magic. Each takes a traditional chestnut of children’s lit — the magic talisman, a wish-granting animal, time travel — and gives it a fresh twist. For instance, in Half Magic, four brothers and sisters find a magic charm that grants them exactly half of what they ask for, and in Knight’s Castle, a boy discovers that his toy castle comes to life at night. Jo and the Little Women, Merlin, Ivanhoe, and many more literary figures have cameos, making these books parents and kids will enjoy on different levels. Each book stands alone, but figuring out how the stories are connected — and then watching them overlap—is part of the fun. 5. The Vesper Holly series by Lloyd Alexander (Six books starting with 1987’s The Illyrian Adventure) Many people know Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, including The Black Cauldron (and if you don’t, get thee to a bookstore or library). But fewer people are familiar with his marvelous heroine Vesper Holly and her adventures. Vesper is a teenage orphan, ferociously intelligent, insatiably curious, and completely unfazable; picture a teenage, female, red-headed Indiana Jones. She drags her elderly and devoted guardian, Brinnie, across the globe to just-barely-made-up lands — Illyria, torn by centuries-old civil war; El Dorado, where Indian tribes grapple with encroaching industrialization; Jedera, a desert land with an immense, ancient library under siege. In her first adventure, she makes an archnemesis, Dr. Helvitius; in each book, she thwarts another of his plots. These are fun, smart books, with witty characterization and sparkling writing. Growing up, I wanted to be Vesper, and now that I’m grown up, I still kind of do.
With the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award last week, the 2008/2009 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners. Though literary prizes are arbitrary in many ways, our prizewinners post is compiled in the same spirit that one might tally up batting titles and MVPs to determine if a baseball player should be considered for the Hall of Fame. These awards nudge an author towards the "canon" and secure them places on literature class reading lists for decades to come. Most notably, after being named to the IMPAC shortlist, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz has joined the ranks of the most celebrated novels of the last 15 years, making it, along with the other books near the top of the list, something of a modern classic. Here is our methodology: I wanted to include both American books and British books, as well as the English-language books from other countries that are eligible to win some of these awards. I started with the National Book Award and the Pulitzer from the American side and the Booker and Costa from the British side. Because I wanted the British books to "compete" with the American books, I also looked at a couple of awards that recognize books from both sides of the ocean, the National Book Critics Circle Awards and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The IMPAC is probably the weakest of all these, but since it is both more international and more populist than the other awards, I thought it added something. The glaring omission is the PEN/Faulkner, but it would have skewed everything too much in favor of the American books, so I left it out. I looked at these six awards from 1995 to the present, awarding three points for winning an award and two points for an appearance on a shortlist or as a finalist. Here's the key that goes with the list: B=Booker Prize, C=National Book Critics Circle Award, I=International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, N=National Book Award, P=Pulitzer Prize, W=Costa Book Award [formerly the Whitbread] bold=winner, red=New to the list or moved up* the list since last year's "Prizewinners" post *Note that the IMPAC considers books a year after the other awards do, and so this year's IMPAC shortlist nods added to point totals from last year in the case of three books. 11, 2003, The Known World by Edward P. Jones - C, I, N, P 9, 2001, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - C, I, N, P 8, 1997, Underworld by Don DeLillo - C, I, N, P 8, 2007, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz - C, P, I 7, 2005, The March by E.L. Doctorow - C, N, P 7, 2004, Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst - B, C, W 7, 2002, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - I, N, P 7, 2001, Atonement by Ian McEwan - B, C, W 7, 1998, The Hours by Michael Cunningham - C, I, P 7, 1997, Last Orders by Graham Swift - B, I, W 7, 1997, Quarantine by Jim Crace - B, I, W 6, 2005, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - B, C 6, 2004, Gilead by Marilynn Robinson - C, P 5, 2008, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry - B, W 5, 2008, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - C, P 5, 2007, Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson - N, P 5, 2006, The Road by Cormac McCarthy - C, P 5, 2006, The Echo Maker by Richard Powers - N, P 5, 2005, Europe Central by William T. Vollmann - C, N 5, 2005, The Accidental by Ali Smith - B, W 5, 2004, The Master by Colm Toibin - B, I 5, 2003, The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard - I, N 5, 2001, True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey - B, I 5, 2000, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon - C, P 5, 2000, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - B, I 5, 1999, Waiting by Ha Jin - N, P 5, 1999, Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee - B, C 5, 1999, Being Dead by Jim Crace - C, W 5, 1998, Charming Billy by Alice McDermott - I, N 5, 1997, American Pastoral by Philip Roth - C, P 5, 1996, Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge - B, W 5, 1996, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser - N, P 5, 1995, The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie - B, W 5, 1995, The Ghost Road by Pat Barker - B, W 5, 1995, Independence Day by Richard Ford - C, P 5, 1995, Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth - N, P 4, 2008, Home by Marilynn Robinson - C, N 4, 2008, The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon - C, N 4, 2007, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid - B, I 4, 2007, Animal's People by Indra Sinha - B, I 4, 2005, Veronica by Mary Gaitskill - C, N 4, 2005, Arthur and George by Julian Barnes - B, I 4, 2005, A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry - B, I 4, 2005, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - B, C 4, 2005, Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie - I, W 4, 2004, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - B, C 4, 2003, Brick Lane by Monica Ali - B, C 4, 2003, Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor - B, I 4, 2003, The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut - B, I 4, 2003, Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins - N, P 4, 2002, Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry - B, I 4, 2002, The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor - B, W 4, 2001, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry - B, I 4, 2001, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - I, N 4, 2001, John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead - N, P 4, 2001, Oxygen by Andrew Miller - B, W 4, 2000, The Keepers of Truth by Michael Collins - B, I 4, 2000, When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro - B, W 4, 2000, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates - N, P 4, 1999, Our Fathers by Andrew O'Hagan - B, I 4, 1999, Headlong by Michael Frayn - B, W 4, 1999, The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin - B, I 4, 1997, Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid - C, I 4, 1997, Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty - B, W 4, 1997, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan - I, W 4, 1997, The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick - I, N 4, 1996, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - B, I 4, 1995, In Every Face I Meet by Justin Cartwright - B, W