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Mistaken or Doomed

Thomas Jones: Barry Unsworth, 12 March 2009

Land of Marvels 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hutchinson, 287 pp., £18.99, January 2009, 978 0 09 192617 5
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... Over the course of his 43-year, 16-novel writing career, Barry Unsworth has demonstrated a considerable knack for producing historical novels of timely pertinence. In 1992, for example, the year that six days of riots erupted in Los Angeles after four white police officers were acquitted of using excessive force in the act of arresting Rodney King, a black man, Unsworth won half the Booker Prize – the other half went to Michael Ondaatje for The English Patient – for a novel that in its unsparing portrayal of life aboard an 18th-century slave ship looked back to the colonial and commercial origins of racial tensions in North America ...
After Hannibal 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hamish Hamilton, 242 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 241 13342 4
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... I was here. We don’t simply holiday and go home, we dream in brick and stucco and terracotta. Barry Unsworth’s new novel is set in this DIY world inhabited by the suddenly self-made, the restless retired, the seekers of salvation in the soil – someone else’s soil, however, some corner of a foreign field. We’re in Umbria, in the sticks, not ...

Guts Benedict

Adam Bradbury, 11 June 1992

The Wrecking Yard 
by Pinckney Benedict.
Secker, 195 pp., £7.99, March 1992, 0 436 20062 7
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Sacred Hunger 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 241 13003 4
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The Butcher Boy 
by Patrick McCabe.
Picador, 217 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 9780330323581
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... who says: ‘Without me the freaks are just ugly. With me they got romance, they got dash.’ Barry Unsworth spent some time in Sugar and Rum having a laugh at the dash and romance turned out by his protagonist’s creative writing students and examining the writer’s propensity to make ‘meanings’. Early in that novel Benson was rebuked for ...

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