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G: a Novel (Booker Prize Winner)

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G: a Novel (Booker Prize Winner)


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G: a Novel (Booker Prize Winner) by John Berger
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In this luminous novel — winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize — John Berger relates the story of "G.," a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him.

All of this Berger sets against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi and the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War, and the first flight across the Alps, making G. a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in history's private moments.


Winner of Guardian Fiction Prize 1972.
Winner of Booker Prize for Fiction 1972.

Critical Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews UK
Booker Prize Winner in 1972. Berger's novel centres on G, who seems impervious and oblivious to everything around him; with the blitheness of Don Juan, his interests are purely sexual and he sees fulfilment as his only ideal. In the end, however, these politics of mere desire suffice to expose the criminal politics of oppression. When accepting his prize, Berger took the opportunity to condemn its givers, Booker McConnell, as imperialists and promised half the money to the Black Panthers. (Kirkus UK)
Kirkus Reviews US
G. as anonymously archetypal as the use of the initial suggests, is the novel or rather anti-novel of the prominent British art critic and Marxist humanist. Berger is a man of bold and profligate talents and the work which is equally diverse (philosophical, social, moral) is capable of many readings. Superficially - a dangerous trap indeed - it is an almost contemporary retelling of the Don Juan myth. The book doses on the eve of World War I. G. is the illegitimate son of a gross merchant of Livorno and a fragile and uncertain Englishwoman whom he cannot marry. She takes the child back to England where before long he is abandoned to the care of others and after early episodes of sexual initiation (a governess, a tutor, his surrogate mother) becomes (in retaliation or because he has no other roots?) a womanizer. In his pursuit of the wife of a Parisian car manufacturer, the didactic eroticism leads to far broader-ranging speculation on the inseparability of romantic love and sexuality - on the act of submission which is again the bestowal of freedom and on sex as an equivalent of death - that familiar little death which is so "absurdly short-lived." Death encroaches more and more as the novel reaches its final inset in Trieste where G. becomes the circumstantial whim of the events taking place all around him; ahistorical, apolitical, he is used and betrayed by just those historical and political forces and only in dying perhaps achieves the answer to the lack of identity imposed on him since the beginning. Paradox abounds throughout the novel which Berger annotates with epigrammatic asides ("The writer's desire to finish is fatal to the truth") or evasive ones ("Yet we know there is a mystery. . . . I am writing this book in the same dark"). As for the rest, his style is aggressively visual and animated by its inexorable present tense. Ultimately (and ignoring the common reader whom it will defeat) it is an arresting, inordinately vital, impersonal, and remarkable work. (Kirkus Reviews)
Release date Australia
September 25th, 1992
Country of Publication
United States
Vintage Books
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