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ManBooker Prize 2004: Alan Hollinghurst

abstract:Stymied on what to read? Challenge your book group and pick up this year's winner of the ManBooker Prize; it is sure to provide all the elements for a great discussion.


October 21, 2004

History of the Booker

The Booker rewards the best novel of the last 12 months by a British, Irish or Commonwealth writer. BookBuffet reported the hotly contested shortlist (Aug. 30, 2004

It has been won over the years by such renowned authors as Salman Rushdie and Nobel literature prizewinner J.M. Coetzee, it can lead to lucrative film and television contracts as well as instant literary stardom.

Critics have in the past attacked the Booker judges for picking obscure winners who may dazzle academics but fail to attract general readers. But the last two winners before Hollinghurst—Canadian Yann Martel's Life of Pi and DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little proved to be popular page-turners that attracted a wide audience.  This is the first gay novel to win the Booker in its 36-year history.

The Line of Beauty, Picador (2004) is Hollinghurst's fourth novel. It is about Oxford University graduate, Nick Guest, who is living in the London house of a high-flying Conservative parliamentarian at the height of Margaret Thatcher's power. Set in the boom years of the 1980s, Guest has a passionate affair with a black council worker before falling in love with a cocaine-addicted millionaire.  

Alan Hollinghurst was one of Granta magazine’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ in 1993, and worked on the staff of the Times Literary Supplement from 1982-95. As one might therefore expect, his writing is clever and highly literary. It is also seductive: his three novels so far each have a kind of dark allure, elegance and erudition, passages of dream-like beauty. Alongside all this lies sexual explicitness in depicting gay men’s lives. (

Alan is teaching at Princeton this fall.

A previous novel The Folding Star, Chatto & Windus (1994) was shortlisted for this same prize in 1994. 



Links & Resources

Biographical Information

Guardian Interview

The ManBooker Prize Website



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