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9. Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)

The novel opens on a summer day in 1935, when 13-year-old Briony shows her mother a play she's written to perform with her three cousins the next evening. "Briony was hardly to know it then, but this was the project's highest point of fulfillment," McEwan writes. "Nothing came near it for satisfaction, all else was dreams and frustration."That evening, Briony witnesses her 15-year-old cousin Lola being assaulted in the darkened woods. Her testimony implicates Robbie, her sister Cecilia's boyfriend from Cambridge and son of the family house maid, and he is jailed. In a second section, McEwan gives a panoramic account of the harrowing evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, with Robbie among those saved. Realising she has ruined Cecilia and Robbie's lives, Briony works as a nurse during the Blitz in a third section. As McEwan follows these characters through six decades, Briony's search for redemption evolves into a meditation on the power of art. (Anchor)


10. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)

In her audacious and vividly imagined second novel, Adichie drew upon her ancestral past to write about the Biafra conflict, which traumatised her country and her family for three years after the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967. The novel is told from the perspectives of twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, a 13-year-old houseboy and Richard, a British expatriate who is in love with Kainene. Olanna's academic boyfriend, who favours secession, is also a key character as Adichie shows the repercussions of postcolonial power struggles on individual lives. Adichie’s 2013 novel Americanah also ranked high in the poll, but missed out on a spot in the top 12 by one vote. (Anchor)

11. Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)

Smith, then a 23-year-old prodigy, wowed the literary world with her first novel, which introduced a writer of inimitable wit and scope. White Teeth, which won Whitbread and Guardian first book awards, is set in London, where Archie Jones and Samal Iqbal, friends who met while serving in WWII, have settled to raise their families. Smith opens as Archie, divorced by his second wife, sits in his "fume-filled Cavalier Musketeer Estate face down on the steering wheel". He's chosen suicide on New Year's Day 1975, his car parked in front of a halal butcher's shop, only to be saved by the owner. As White Teeth unfolds, it is chockablock with vivid scenes and characters, a portrait of postcolonial multicultural London: "Children with first and last names on a direct collision course. Names that secrete within them mass exodus, cramped boats and planes, cold arrivals, medical checks", Smith writes. (Vintage)

12. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974," Eugenides writes in the opening lines of his novel. At 14, Calliope Stephanides discovers she has a rare recessive mutation that renders her a pseudo-hermaphrodite. Claiming her "male brain", she shifts genders and becomes Cal. In often exuberant language, Eugenides layers questions of fate and free will onto Cal's coming-of-age story and the tale of the entrepreneurial rise of his parents, Desdemona and Lefty. (They have their own genetic secret.) Ultimately Cal’s condition gives him a near mythic gift – “the ability to communicate between the genders, to see not with the monovision of one sex but in the stereoscope of both". Middlesex bridged the gap between critical and commercial acclaim, as well, winning a Pulitzer and selling millions of copies. (Picador)
作者这样开篇:“我拥有两次生命:第一次是1960年1月,一个晴朗无雾的日子作为一个女婴出生在底特律;第二次是1974年8月在密歇根佩托斯基的一个急诊室里作为一个男孩重生。 ”14岁的卡莉欧碧·斯迪芬奈兹患上了罕见的基因隐性突变,使她成为了一名阴阳人。卡莉欧碧考虑到自己的男性本性,她变性成了卡尔。尤金尼德斯用意趣盎然的语言讲述了卡尔的成长故事,以及卡尔父母列夫提和苔丝狄蒙娜的创业经历(他们也有自己不为人知的基因缺陷)。最终,卡尔的基因问题却让他拥有了一项神奇的能力——“他能自由地游走在两性世界之间,从双性的立体角度思考问题而不仅仅站在单性的角度”。《中性》不仅荣获了普利策奖,而且销量百万,在文学成就和商业成就上都表现地很突出。(Picador出版社)

(来源:英国广播公司 编辑:许晶晶)

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