Contemporary Novels by Prize-Winning Authors: Dr Sharon Priestley

"On this short discussion-based course, we will analyse two recent novels written by authors who have won prestigious awards for fiction. What are current topics, narrative styles, structures and messages in these contemporary novels? We will address this question and others as we discuss two excellent examples of the genre. The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson, won the Man Booker Prize in 2010. This is a witty and wise look at life in modern Britain from a Jewish point of view, but any reader can appreciate the hero's concerns. How to be Both (2014), by Ali Smith, won the Costa book Award and Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. In this innovative work, Smith interweaves two stories—one of a present-day troubled teenager, the other an Italian Renaissance fresco painter--to stunning effect. One critic has described this as a 'gender-bending, genre-blurring’ novel that bounces across the centuries. Both rewarding novels offer thought-provoking views about life in Britain today."

Tutor: Dr Sharon Priestley

"Dr Sharon Priestley has presented literature courses for the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education, The Letchworth Settlement, the REC and elsewhere. The topics of her courses range from the novels of Jane Austen to novels that have won the Man Booker Prize, classic and contemporary short stories, poetry, women's writings and children's literature. She also lectures on James Boswell and Samuel Johnson and has given papers focused on those fascinating individuals at the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conferences and Literary London conferences."