The Man Booker Prize is awarded each year to one novel judged to be the best of the year by a panel of judges.
In 1971, no prize was awarded for the best book of 1970, as it was no longer being awarded retrospectively.
This year, it was decided that there would be a special one-time award for a novel written in 1970. These are the six finalists, although only one is available in audiobook format at this time.
The Birds on the Trees by Nina Bawden follows Toby Flower as he is expelled from school for taking drugs after exhibiting unusual behaviors. He is eventually hospitalized for mental illness and falls in love with his psychiatrist’s daughter, who becomes pregnant. His relationship with his parents dissolves when they push her to have an abortion. I want to read this. I really do.
J.G. Farrell’s Troubles is the only title I could find on audio, narrated by Sean Barrett. Troubles is the first book in his Empire trilogy, a series that examines the Irish fight for independence from Britain. This novel was made into a TV film in 1988 with Sean Bean.
The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard follows Jenny, a young woman who leaves England to go to Italy. She follows up on a letter of introduction and meets a writer and film director as well as a Scotsman. Her life becomes entwined with theirs and must face her past.
The Vivisector by Patrick White won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The protagonist, Hurtle Duffield, is adopted by a wealthy Australian family. He coldly examines all around him, including his deformed sister and his first real love, a prostitute. He becomes an artist and uses his keen examinations in his art. The cover of one version of this book is an illustration of an eye surgery… It’s very creepy.
Mary Renault’s Fire from Heaven is historical fiction. Alexander the Great’s childhood revealed his gifts that would make him a king. His parents fought over his loyalty and taught him politics, vengeance, and trust. Supposedly, this novel served to inspire the film Alexander in 2004.
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark is the last title on the short list. Rather than the usual take on mystery, Spark doesn’t focus on WHO the murderer is, but rather WHY the events take place. Lise, a woman working in an accountancy firm, is searching for her ideal death. Will she find it?
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