Home > Uncategorized > What’s the best British novel in the past 25 years?

What’s the best British novel in the past 25 years?

September 16, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

First place

Disgrace (1999)
JM Coetzee

Coetzee became the first writer to win the Booker Prize for a second time with this exploration of post- apartheid South Africa, which centres on Professor David Lurie, in self-imposed exile at his daughter’s remote farm after an ill-advised affair with a student.

Second place

Money (1984)
Martin Amis

Super-charged, anarchic and full of narrative acrobatics, Money burst on to the Eighties literary scene leaving a trail of imitators and devotees in its wake, not least because of its formidable, if frequently repulsive narrator, ad director John Self .

Joint third place

Earthly Powers (1980)
Anthony Burgess

Homosexual writer Keith Toomey is asked to write the memoirs of the late Pope Gregory XVII – a commission that takes him on a whirlwind recap of the major events of the 20th century.

Atonement (2001)
Ian McEwan

Opening in 1935 , Atonement focuses on Briony Tallis , at first as a 13-year-old implicated in the conviction of a family friend for rape and, latterly, an elderly novelist on the brink of losing her memory.

The Blue Flower (1995)
Penelope Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s final novel is frequently cited as her masterpiece. It recreates the life of the 18th-century German poet and philosopher Novalis , focusing on his romance with a 12-year-old girl .

The Unconsoled (1995)
Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro’s intricate, dream-like fourth novel marked a radical departure from the more conventional narratives of his earlier work, evoking the great European masters of film as much as fiction.

Midnight’s Children (1981)
Salman Rushdie

Rushdie’s second novel not only won the Booker prize but was also awarded the ‘Booker of Bookers’ in 1993. It unites powerful subject matter – the partition of India – with a dazzling, playful style.

Joint eighth place

The Remains of the Day (1989)
Kazuo Ishiguro

Stevens , a butler at Darlington Hall, takes a trip to the West Country . His memories – particularly of the late Lord Darlington , revealed as a Nazi sympathiser – throw into sharp relief the novel’s themes of collusion, betrayal and repression.

Amongst Women (1990)
John McGahern

A powerful meditation on 20th-century Irish history, particularly focusing on the Troubles, this novel was a runner-up for the Booker prize of 1990, and a national bestseller, confirming its author’s reputation as Ireland’s leading novelist.

That They May Face the Rising Sun (2001)
John McGahern

A study of a rural community in Ireland, the changing seasons and the gradual creep of modernity. A genre-bending fiction that incorporates memoir, history, folklore and a therapeutic reprise of the author’s own career.

Other nominations

Hawksmoor (1985) Peter Ackroyd

The Old Devils (1986) Kingsley Amis

Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995) Kate Atkinson

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) Margaret Atwood

An Awfully Big Adventure (1989) Beryl Bainbridge

The Wasp Factory (1984) Iain Banks

The Untouchable (1997) John Banville

The Regeneration Trilogy (1991-95) Pat Barker

Flaubert’s Parrot (1984) Julian Barnes

A Long, Long Way (2005) Sebastian Barry

Ill Seen Ill Said (1981) Samuel Beckett

Possession: A Romance (1990) AS Byatt

True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) Peter Carey

A Perfect Spy (1986) John le Carre

Nights at the Circus (1984), Wise Children (1991) Angela Carter

Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), Age of Iron (1990), Masters of Petersburg (1994) JM Coetzee

The Barrytown Trilogy (1987-91) Roddy Doyle

Gwendolen (1989) Buchi Emecheta

Birdsong (1993) Sebastian Faulks

The Beginning of Spring (1988) Penelope Fitzgerald

To the Ends of the Earth: A Sea Trilogy (1980-89) William Golding

Unlikely Stories, Mostly (1983), 1982, Janine (1984) Alasdair Gray

Transit of Venus (1981) Shirley Hazzard

Ridley Walker (1980) Russell Hoban

The Line of Beauty (2004) Alan Hollinghurst

Never Let Me Go (2005) Kazuo Ishiguro

A Disaffection (1989), How Late It Was, How Late (1994) James Kelman

The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) Hanif Kureishi

English Passengers (2004) Matthew Kneale

The Life of Pi (2002) Yann Martel

As Meat Loves Salt (2001) Maria McCann

The Comfort of Strangers (1981), Enduring Love (1997) Ian McEwan

No Great Mischief (1999) Alistair MacLeod

Fugitive Pieces (1996) Anne Michaels

The Restraint of Beasts (1998) Magnus Mills

A Fine Balance (1995) Rohinton Mistry

Mother London (1988) Michael Moorcock

The Enigma of Arrival (1987) VS Naipaul

After You’d Gone (2000) Maggie O’Farrell

His Dark Materials Trilogy (1995-2000) Philip Pullman

I Was Dora Suarez (1990) Derek Raymond

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2005) JK Rowling

The God of Small Things (1997) Arundhati Roy

A Suitable Boy (1993) Vikram Seth

Hotel World (2001) Ali Smith

A Far Cry From Kensington (1988) Muriel Spark

The White Hotel (1981) DM Thomas

Restoration (1989) Sacred Country (1992) Rose Tremain

Omeros (1990) Derek Walcott

The Passion (1987) Jeanette Winterson





Robert McCrum The Observer,

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 29, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I give up – the Hobbit? Was that written so recently? I lived near Tolkien in Oxford.

  2. aggsliterature
    November 30, 2008 at 1:50 pm


  1. September 24, 2008 at 3:19 pm

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