(This article was published in The Journal of English
Language and Literature Volume 45 No. 4, Winter 1999 pages 955 - 968)
It is not easy to find adequate paradigms for a critical discussion of contemporary British fiction. There has been no time for a clear canon to establish itself and the authors' ongoing careers inevitably mean that works are open to approaches influenced more by knowledge of the writer's current reputation and personal characteristics than by any more enduring literary criteria. Steven Connor has suggested making contemporary British social history a major category for such discussions, but that is virtually impossible, since even if all the works were about Britain, the main lines of recent British history cannot be read with any assurance. We very quickly end up with mere stereotypes of some kind of political correctness, although it is certain that contemporary social issues, either local or universal, inform a great deal of what is being written.
Allan Massie and others have suggested the categories of class-setting and type of narratorial voice as ways of linking and distinguishing between various forms of fiction. Formalistic accounts certainly have the advantage of inclusiveness, so in the present study we will explore the way various contemporary writers work within these three perspectives : historical- social themes, setting, and voice. The varieties of narratorial strategy offer a useful overall framework, while the list of works winning or shortlisted for the Booker Prize may serve as an initial guide to works of acknowledged value, although other works have also to be included.
First-person narratives are a particularly intriguing form of fiction because they claim so boldly to be reporting the true experiences of real people. When first-person narrators tell us what they did, felt and thought, and inform us that there were many things they did not know or understand, we feel less unwilling to question the limited information we are given. We mostly prefer to believe what we are told, and hope that it is true, especially if it sounds convincing. The stories we read in works of fiction with first-person narrators sound little different from the reports of 'real life' we read in newspapers, hear in everyday life on radio or television, and tell our friends about from our own experiences.
In the opening essay of his The Practice of Fiction (1996), "The
Novelist Today," David Lodge suggests some general features of modern British
fiction. He finds that in the early 1990s, most novels continue to be written
using "the discourse mode of traditional realism, employing either first-person
character-narrators or covert authorial narrators in a way designed to
create an illusion of the reality of the story that is not fundamentally
challenged or questioned within the text" (10). He distinguishes between
this traditional realistic mode and other kinds of fiction: "fabulation"
covering works of fantasy in which the limits of realistic mimesis are
freely ignored, "non-fictional fiction" (also known as "faction") in which
empirical fact is mingled with fictional elements, and "metafiction" in
which the reader is made aware in some way of the problematic nature of
Lodge notes that although 1970s critics often proclaimed the death of realism, in fact it has continued to thrive: "The contemporary writer is interested in communicating" (16). Indeed, it is the avant-garde that has virtual ly disappeared, with techniques that were once considered amazingly post-modern being used today quite naturally in popular realistic narratives. He is struck by the relatively large proportion of novels using a first-person narrator: "First- person narration appeals to contemporary novelists because it permits the writer to remain within the conve ntions of realism without claiming the kind of authority which belongs to the authorial narrative method of the classic realist novel" (10).
We will survey some of the ways in which a few major novelists of the 1990s have used narratorial voices and strategies, beginning with first-person narratives but going on to examine a limited number of works employing other forms of narrative voice. Some novellists choose to stay very close to history, Beryl Bainbridge's Every Man for Himself (1996) depicts the journey of the Titanic through the eyes of one (imaginary) passenger. The emotional tone is un dramatic, determined as it is by the point of view of the narrator who is a rather detached observer of a limited number of relationships among mostly first-class passengers. The disaster and sinking itself covers only the book's final quarter, while the main impact of the work depends on the ambivalent narrator's only lightly-defined character and the stylistic beauty of the text as events unroll in the ironic shadow of the coming disaster that the reader cannot forget.
In recent years, after establishing herself as one of Britain's finest writers, culminating in the Booker shortlisted An Awfully Big Adventure of 1990, Beryl Bainbridge has produced several books of fictionalized history. Where An Awfully Big Adventure was a delightful fantasy set in the larger- than- life world of the theatre, The Bir thday Boys (1991) retells the story of the fatal expedition to the South Pole led by Captain Scott in 1912. Each of the five members of the team that perished during the return from the Pole tells one part of their journey; we see events and relationships from a variety of view-points. The book ends as Captain Oates relates his own last moments, after he walks out of the tent in a self-sacrificing gesture well- known through the journal that Scott kept until his own death . More overtly poetic than Every Man for Himself, the evocations of the team's responses to the dreadful beauty of the Antarctic, perceived in the midst of unimaginable hardship, and their private thoughts about one another, compose a most powerful narrative.
Yet neither of these can compare with Bainbridge's most recent work, Master Georgie (1998). Here three characters take turns in telling moments in which their lives coincide with a fourth, the Master Georgie of the title. The novel is divided into six separate photographic 'plates' dating from 1846 to 1854, related by the various narratorial cha racters. The four of them find themselves drawn into the Crimean War, where they undergo extreme privation and hardship with quite amazing fortitude.
Barry Unsworth is a talented and prolific writer. His Morality Play (1995) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Again a historical novel, but this time set in a lightly documented Middle Ages, the fundamental structure is tha t of the mystery novel, a 'who-dunnit' with the role of the narrator -detective supplied by a priest who has left his chu rch work and has joined company with a troupe of wandering players. A child has been discovered murdered outside a small town they have come to play in and a woman has been accused. The players feel sure that she is innocent and prepare a morality play in which they explore the case, only to discover that the secret lies far higher in society than they had realized. The murdered boy is only the last in a series of victims of the sadistic son of the local lord.
As might be expected, in a story with such a title, there is a latent polarity of good and evil, an exploration of the strangeness of the destructive violence that claims the lives of the innocent. As in other works by Unsworth, there is a metaphysical dimension of divine absence. The point of view here is given by the first-person narrator, a young pr iest who is in revolt against the sterility of the clerical activities he has been asked to undertake. His voice gives immediacy to the narrative, and an added dimension of potential metaphysical interrogation.
The use of multiple voices to relate the various sections of a story deeply rooted in history is also exploited by Caryl Phillips in his two most recent works, Crossing the River (1993) and The Nature of Blood (1997), centered respectively in the Slave Trade and the Holocaust. Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts, in the West Indies, and growing up in England he developed a very strong sense of his African origins, of being part of a Diaspora. This is a fundamental theme of his writing. Crossing the River, Phillips' fifth novel is composed of four completely separate sections, written in quite different modes. All that unites them is a brief preface and conclusion recalling the fact that African Americans are all necessarily descended from people who were born in Africa but were taken to America and sold into slavery.
Multiple voices are also exploited by Caryl Phillips in his most recent
work, The Nature of Blood (1997). It offers an immensely powerful
narrative, with a complex structure. The first half of the book traces
the destiny of a Jewish girl who survives Auschwitz but proves unable to
return to normal life. It is mainly told in the form of her inner monologue,
which includes lengthy recollections of her family life before the terror
came. Abruptly, with no structural markers apart from a couple of blank
lines, the story shifts to a third-person tale of 15th century Venice where
false charges arising from popular prejudices about the Jews bring about
the execution of three innocent Jewish men.
This leads equally abruptly into another first-person narrative, in which a black prince from Africa (Othello, of course, but never named), describes his arrival in that same Renaissance Venice, where he briefly encounters the Jews in their Ghetto. The daughter of one of the Venetian rulers invites him to tell her about his life, and they decide to marry without seeking her father's permission, just as he is about to be sent to Cyprus to lead the Venetian campaign again st the Turk. He senses that he too is an outsider in white society, thanks in part to the hostility shown by his Ensign- servant. The final section of the book consists of short sections continuing and mingling together these different strands. The meditation on the fruits of prejudice is clear but this novel is above all a powerful study in human love and pain.
Where Caryl Phillips narrates the Holocaust through a complex knot of voices, extending as far as Othello's, Martin Amis in Time's Arrow (1991) approaches it in the only way we today can, from afterwards. The fundamental conceit of this remarkable novel is to make the first-person narrator die in the opening sentences. From that moment on, in a kind of Judgement, he moves backward through his own life, in reverse, devoid of personal memory. He sees events from within his own body, feels what it feels, dreams its dreams, but entirely in reverse, like a film running backwards. His involvement in the torture and murder of Jews during the Holocaust forms the central moment of his life; only all is now re-experienced in reverse, so that the dead come to life under his hands and he sees himself as a healer. The result is strange, hallucinatory, and the reader is at times forced to concentrate very hard.
Graham Swift's Last Orders (1996) tells a simpler story. A few old friends from London take the ashes of Jack, a friend who has died, down to the sea at Gravesend where he has asked that they be scattered. These are simple men , whose lives have been uneventful except for their service overseas during the war. They have rarely reflected on how happy they have been. We follow their journey, which echoes Chaucer's pilgrims' journey as it passes through Canterbury, through a narrative by Ray. These chapters have place-names as their titles. However, most of the book is composed of chapters with the name of one of the characters, in which one by one they recall their past relationship with Jack and his wife Amy, who has not come with them. They find themselves confronted with questions of love and mortality, of truth and the meaning of life.
Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark (1996) is an amazingly beautiful first-person narrative set in Northern Ireland. It too deals with serious themes as it traces the narrator's slow discovery of the tragedies that wounded his parents, and the way in which the shadows of the Irish past lay across his relationship with them as he grew up. It is essentially a Northern-Irish tale, of great power, and it is the author's first novel. His previous work is mainly poetry and literary criticism. The narrative unfolds slowly with no complexities, through a series of precisely dated chapters following the narrator's childhood.
Perhaps the use of a first-person narrator in a 'regional novel' offers a particularly powerful means of expression. It still seems possible to use the term 'regional novel' for works by Irish writers on Irish topics, although some might prefer to term such works 'Irish literature'. It is not at all certain that Irish literature is part of 'British lit erature,' any more than Australian or Canadian literature are, but so long as Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom, at least the writers from the North cannot be excluded, and it is difficult to make too categorical a distinction between North and South, especially when many writers living in the Irish Republic have British publishers. There is a richness, a specific texture, to the English spoken in Ireland that invites imitation in the printed text. At the same time, Ireland's long experience of pain, poverty, and survival offer a particularly rich subject matter for the novelist, with the pain of the individual always serving as a token for the collective inheritance that Koreans know as 'han'.
Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy (1992) explores this, with a setting in Ireland and a story told by a very particular voice. The narrator is a psychotic young boy with a disastrous family background who comes to realize his alienation by comparing his own life with that of the Nugent family, whose son Philip attends the same school. His mother drowns herself when he takes off for Dublin and we follow his increasingly hostile obsession with the Nugents until disaster strikes. For part of the novel he is sharing the house with his father's corpse, whose death he refuses to admit. Finally, the realization of his own family's wretchedness drives him to the murder we have been expecting, but by the time the climax comes, we have such a close understanding of the pain he harbours that no condemnation is possible. The main achievement of this work is its compassionate and convincing portrayal of the unimaginable.
Famous for the relatively simple first-person narrative of The Remains of the Day (Booker Prize, 1989), Kazuo Ishiguro's next, very eerie work The Unconsoled (1995) is told in first-person narrative by a famous pianist who has been invited to participate in a concert in a city somewhere in Europe. In many ways the best word for this Kafka esque novel is 'dreamlike'. The protagonist encounters a child which turns out to be his own son, and his mother, a woman who is his wife but from whom he is apparently estranged. This is a novel in which nothing happens. Preparations for the concert are made, yet the pianist never quite arrives anywhere. Much time is spent travelling, or waiting, missing appointments, while places quite remote from one another suddenly coincide. The effect is deeply upsetting, yet there are indications of affection, of longing for relationship and kindness.
Tibor Fischer's The Collector Collector (1997) has the most unexpected narratorial voice of all. The entire novel (a fabulation) is told from the point of view of an ancient pot, in fact the archetypal ancient pot, capable of transforming itself into a variety of forms and of mending itself if broken. It witnesses life in modern England with the benefit of centuries of accumulated experience. The main story line is therefore interrupted by a series of little tales from the pot's memories of its past. This novel is particularly important because it gives expression to an anarchic and surrealist aspect of British comedy that virtually none of the novels so far seen reflects adequately.
The reasons for employing first-person narrative are many. From Richardson onward, writers have seen that it opens a deeper relationship between the reader and the book's characters. We feel more vividly events and emotions reported in this mode. In modern perspectives, however, the strategy of multiple first-person voices offers a radical challenge to the old ideas of speaking reliable truth. Many writers invite their readers to see how subjective and potentially unreliable a narratorial voice can be. Withdrawing from the direct narratorial function, modern writers invest readers with added responsibility. They have to determine for themselves the reliability and ultimate truth of what they read.
That remains true in other forms of narrative too, of course. Third-person narrators continue to be popular, in books that otherwise bear a remarkable similarity in settings and themes to those already discussed. Other important writers beside Beryl Bainbridge have produced novels based on actual historical events, enough for this to be a recognizable category: the 'true-story historical' novel. Outstanding in this group are Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, (this brings together three novels: Regeneration (1991); The Eye in the Door (1993); The Ghost Rider (1 995)). Each of these works is at the same time a crafted novel and a closely-documented re-telling of more or less real events.
Pat Barker's three novels, published in a single volume in 1996, focus
on the true-life work of W. H. R. Rivers, a psychologist at the army's
Craiglockhart hospital, with victims of shell- shock who included the poets
Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen; Robert Graves is also introduced. They
evoke vividly the impact of the horrors of the First World War on sensitive
minds and portrays the way the search for love and truth continues to give
hope and meaning. The last of the novels ends with the battle in which
Wilfred Owen died just a few days before the Armistice that ended the war.
The author ends each novel with a note on the non-fictional features she has incorporated and some of the main documentary sources she has employed. The first note begins, 'Fact and fiction are so interwoven in this work that it may help the reader to know what is historical and what is not' (220). The effect is to stress the factuality of her fictional account, and yet the work is clearly a novel in its exploration of human psychology, not just a fictionalized version of a true story.
Caryl Phillips' works using first-person narrators, Crossing the River and The Nature of Blood, reflect the fact that both the Slave Trade and the Holocaust are areas of popular focus, as Steve Spielberg has perceived in choosing to make such films as Amistad and Schindler's List. In recent fiction we find the Slave Trade winning the 1992 Booker Prize in Barry Unsworth's Sacred Hunger, a novel far less experimental in form than Crossing the River and at 630 pages exceptionally massive. Unsworth's narratorial voice is detached, unlike the first-person narrators of Caryl Phillips' tales. The scope too is vaster, with part of the novel set in a utopian camp in the Floridan jungle where escaped slaves and white sailors live in peaceful harmony serving as a symbol of an alternative possibility to the unspeakable tragedy of slavery.
Critics have established connections between Unsworth and the works of William Golding and Joseph Conrad, seeing in his work a continuation of the great English tradition of the sea-story that goes back to Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random if not to Robinson Crusoe. There is also something very classic in the novel's device of a fundamental conflict between the two cousins Paris and Erasmus, which gives unity to the entire tale.
Another topic comparable in difficulty to slave trade and Holocaust must be all that happened in Cambodia under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. This is the setting that indirectly dominates Margaret Drabble's The Gates of Ivory. The third in a trilogy, it was preceded by The Radiant Way (1987) and A Natural Curiosity (1989). Its basic struc ture might best be termed a 'quest novel'. A novelist, Stephen Cox, has disappeared in South East Asia and the novel relates both the quest of his friends for news of him, and a privileged narrator's exposition of Stephen's own quest that led to his death by fever among the Khmer Rouge, a death not directly narrated in the text and only confirmed for his friends in a filmed interview with a witness of his death.
The elusive nature of all narrative is represented by the arrival, at the beginning of the novel, of a packet containing fragments of text, notes, and a mysterious finger-bone. The author uses this device to represent certain post-modern attitudes to the reliability (or even possibility) of coherent narrative. The whole novel is marked by a latent awareness of theoretical uncertainty about identity and discourse.
Another writer whose novels might well be termed 'ambitious' is A. S. Byatt, who is Margaret Drabble's sister. Her Possession: A Romance won the Booker Prize in 1990 and is certainly one of the decade's major works. It too is marked by an awareness of the uncertain nature of narrative. The central story traced in the work is the very secret love affair between a noted (fictional) Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash and a much less well-known (equally fictional) Victorian writer of mythical tales and children's stories Christabel LaMotte. The framework within which this passionate affair is traced is that of modern academic research, literary biography, with English and American scholars competing for access to documents and applying feminist and other theories to their work while trying to live their own professional and emotional lives as best they can. Possession is one of the only novels mentioned in this survey to have been translated into Korean.
In 1996, A. S. Byatt published another huge work, Babel Tower, over 600 pages long. It shows the same intense intelligence as Possession, and a similar delight in pastiche. It is written as the third of a planned quartet of novels, all centered on the life of Frederica, the central character, in later 20th century Britain. The main plot is centered on the breakdown of Frederica's marriage to a socially superior bully, and the struggle for custody of their son.
Interspersed are a series of chapters in a quite different, baroque style of voice from a work called Babbletower. It relates the search of a group of late-medieval utopians for a refuge from the world. They establish a kind of commune in a ruined castle, and radically rewrite the moral code in an epicurean direction, making pleasure the only definition of what is good, with a gradual decline into orgies of cruelty and anarchy. For a long time the reader is not informed about the origin of these pages. Finally they prove to be the work of a strange, marginal drifter figuring in the main plot. Babbletower is published and the author is put on trial for obscenity. At the same time, Frederica's contested divorce proceedings are evoked. The two trials focus on similar problems: the nature of truth, the possibility of telling it, the basis of values, the essential function of law in society.
In stark contrast, and in a strongly 'regional' mode, James Kelman's How Late it Was, How Late tells a horrifyingly 'realistic' story in an even more aggressively characterised voice. The whole novel is written in a transcript ion of the language spoken in modern Glasgow, the city in which the author was born and to the rougher sectors of which the narrator belongs. The novel uses the third-person 'he' to tell the story of a Glaswegian alcoholic who wakes from a drinking bout with almost total amnesia, and then after being beaten by the police suddenly becomes totally blind. Yet apart from the use of 'he,' this feels like a first-person narrative, with a marvelous flow between narrative and reported speech. The encounters with bureaucratic social workers and inane doctors are full of satiric overtones, and very comic in a grim way. The story ends as the main character sets out on a new life in England, alone and still blind, resolved not to surrender.
Most critics would have given the 1997 Booker Prize to Bernard Mac Laverty's wonderful novel Grace Notes. Mac Laverty was born in Northern Ireland, though he now lives in Scotland. The heroine of his novel is an Irish girl. She, like the narrator of Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark, suffers from poor communication with her parents. She becomes a pianist and composer, then enters into a relationship with a brutal alcoholic from whom she finally escapes. The central psychological tension of the work is provided by the unrecognized postnatal depression she suffers from after the birth of her daughter. Yet she finds the inner resources to compose a piece of music in which the divisions and hatreds of Northern Ireland are somehow brought into a kind of harmony. Mac Laverty writes with immense skill, capturing the essence of people and places in a kind of latent poetry.
Another remarkable Irish novel, that employs a third-person narrator who is at times dramatized as a school-master telling the story to a class of pupils, the readers, is Patrick McCabe's The Dead School. It tells the symbolical ly contrasted story of two Irish school teachers, Raphael Bell and Malachy Dudgeon. The former grew up in the newly inde pendent Eire of the 1920s, after seeing an English soldier kill his father, studies hard and becomes a traditional Irish school-master who lives in a cloud of romantic bliss.
Times change, and Malachy Dudgeon grows up in the swinging 1960s, emerging from a dreadful childhood just able to lie his way into a job as a teacher at the school Bell is in charge of. The two lives are portrayed separately in brief chapters and we follow the gradual decline of both; Bell is unable to adapt to the changes in modern, liberal Irish society, and resigns from the school in disgust while Dudgeon becomes a drug addict and is confined for a time in an institution . Alone in his house, which becomes in his mind the Dead School of the title, Raphael descends into madness.
Finally Malachy comes home to see his supposedly dying mother. At the novel's climax, a drunken Malachy breaks into Raphael's house just when he has reached the point of deciding to kill himself. As he climbs in, Malachy puts his foot on what he cannot know to be the rotting remains of the cat Setanta that died several chapters before. The name Setanta was explained almost 100 pages before as the name of a young Irish hero of ancient days, mighty in sports and battle, and the symbolism is plain. The old Ireland is dead and rotting, unnoticed and unlamented in the madness of today's. The first and last chapters, and by implication the entire story, are spoken by an unidentified first-person narrator, another school- teacher whose pupils are the readers, commenting on the contrast between past and present, and the story ends with Malachy looking after his senile mother and dreaming of lost love.
The 1998 Booker Prize winning novel, Amsterdam, displays the professional quality of all Ian McEwan's writing . The plot is elegantly organized so that the appalling climax, when it comes, is quite unexpected; the tone is delicately sardonic, the satire of contemporary attitudes is light but telling. The human experience explored in Amsterdam is tragic. The book follows the complicated relationship of two men, a famous musician and a noted journalist, who have both been lovers of a woman who dies before the novel starts, the victim of senile dementia. There is a political dimension, too, with the attempt to bring down a notoriously right-wing politician with a series of compromising photographs. The final catastrophe happens in Amsterdam because modern Holland is noted for the extreme liberalism of its laws concerning, among other matters, euthanasia. McEwan allows his narrator the omniscience needed to follow his two ageing heroes in their inner descent into homicidal rage against one another, and their gradual loss of rational perception with regard to their own work. The end, when both are dead, completes a perfectly balanced narrative structure.
Finally, one of Britain's most widely admired writers, Doris Lessing, published in Love, Again what may well be one of the most beautifully written novels of the decade, written in a poetic third-person voice. A woman already in her sixties, after twenty years of busy professional life during which she has had no husband or sexual partners, Sarah suddenly finds herself wildly in love, in various ways more or less physical, with a number of younger men who are equally in love with her. The story is made more complex by being set in a theatrical context. A play is being produced based on the story of a 19th-century French woman's romantic story; she was loved and abandoned for reasons of social respectability, and came to a tragic end after composing music of great beauty.
The novel explores with immense sensitivity the way in which romantic and sexual love survives undiminished into a woman's later years. At the same time, it reflects on the psychic torment certain people undergo within themselves at times of deep depression, a torment shared by the novel's main character and another male character who in the end, like the French woman whose absence haunts the novel, chooses suicide as the only issue. As so often in Lessing's work, past and present interweave.
It may be that no significant general conclusion is possible, at the end of such a brief survey. We have no room in which even to mention the work of major writers such as Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Jonathan Coe, or Kate Atkinson, to name but a few. The noteworthy fiction published and read in Britain in the 1990s goes far beyond the works mentioned. Besides, romantic fiction, science-fiction, detective fiction, and all that is categorized as 'popular fiction' have not been covered. The works included in the present study have been chosen because they seem particularly interesting as examples of narrative technique.
We have been discussing novels designed to appeal to an educated readership with considerable literary awareness. The authors are conscious of this and one main characteristic of all the works is their sheer intelligence. The complexity of the characters, the subtleness of the plot, the craft employed in narration, the delicacy of the irony, the deftne ss of the satire, and the elegance of the style all play a role in giving readers the impression that they have not wasted their time in reading such a piece of fiction.
Novels published in Britain today are written by people acutely aware of the deeper concerns of their readers: the uncertainties that underlie human relationships, the insecurities that threaten every kind of assumption about meaning and memory, the ever encroaching meanness and madness that civilization has always to find ways of exorcising and reject ing. At a time when many people no longer read anything at all, it is important not only to see how many writers continue to express their faith in the literary craft, for relatively little financial reward, but also to rejoice that some publishers are still prepared to produce books of such high quality. They have to earn their keep, of course, but they seem still to realize that society needs works of literature which will give renewed hope to those who read them.
(B = Booker Prize; S = Booker Shortlist)
Amis, Martin. Time's Arrow. Jonathan Cape.1991 (S)
Bainbridge, Beryl. Every Man for Himself. Duckworth. 1996 (S)
Bainbridge, Beryl. Master Georgie. Duckworth. 1998 (S)
Barker, Pat. Regeneration. Viking. 1991
Barker, Pat. The Eye in the Door. Viking. 1993
Barker, Pat. The Ghost Rider. Viking. 1995 (B)
Byatt, A. S. Possession. Chatto & Windus. 1990 (B)
Byatt. A. S. Babel Tower. Chatto & Windus. 1996
Deane, Seamus. Reading in the Dark. Jonathan Cape. 1996 (S)
Drabble, Margaret. The Gates of Ivory. Viking. 1991
Fischer, Tibor. The Collector Collector. Secker and Warburg. 1997
Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Unconsoled. Faber. 1995
Kelman, James. How Late it Was, How Late. Secker & Warburg. 1994 (B)
Lessing, Doris. Love, Again. Flamingo. 1997
Mac Laverty, Bernard. Grace Notes. Jonathan Cape. 1997 (S)
McCabe, Patrick. The Butcher Boy. Picador. 1992 (S)
McCabe, Patrick. Breakfast on Pluto. Picador. 1998 (S)
McEwan, Ian. Amsterdam. Jonathan Cape. 1998 (B)
Phillips, Caryl. Crossing the River. Bloomsbury. 1993 (S)
Phillips, Caryl. The Nature of Blood. Faber.1997
Swift, Graham. Last Orders. Picador. 1996 (B)
Unsworth, Barry. Sacred Hunger. Hamish Hamilton. 1992 (B)
Unsworth, Barry. Morality Play. Hamish Hamilton, 1995 (S)
Critical Works Consulted and Quoted
Connor, Steven. The English Novel in History 1950 - 1995. London: Routledge, 1996.
Lodge, David. The Practice of Writing. London: Secker & Warburg. 1996.
Massie, Allan. The Novel Today: A Critical Guide to the British Novel
1970 - 1989. London: Longman, 1990.
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