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Reading the Decades 1980s

It was a decade that began with the election of a former movie cowboy to the White House and ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In between came Zimbabwean independence, democracy in much of Latin America, Live Aid and the horrors of shoulder pads. It was a fantastic time for fiction: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale presented a classic of dystopian fiction, In Anthills of the Savannah Chinua Achebe exposed the dark heart of new African democracy and Kenzaburo Oe's The Silent Cry questioned the rigidity of Japanese family traditions.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera; Michael Henry Heim
 
A novel of irreconcilable loves and infidelities, which embraces all aspects of human existence, and addresses the nature of twentieth-century 'Being'.
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Nights at the Circus
Angela Carter
Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe's capitals, part swan ...or all fake? Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of...
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Schindler's Ark
Schindler's Ark (Paperback)
Thomas Keneally
 
Winner of the Booker Prize and international bestseller
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Anthills of the Savannah
Chinua Achebe; Maya Jaggi
 
Chris, Ikem and Beatrice are like-minded friends working under the military regime of His Excellency, the Sandhurst-educated President of Kangan. In the pressurized atmosphere of oppression and intimidation they are...
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Moon Tiger
Moon Tiger (Paperback)
Penelope Lively; Anthony Thwaite
 
Claudia Hampton lies dying in hospital. There is Gordon, her adored brother; Jasper, the charming, untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool, conventional daughter; and Tom, her one great...
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Lanark: A Life in Four Books
Alasdair Gray; William Boyd
 
Set in the disintegrating cities of Unthank and Glasgow, this book tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw, while offering a modern vision of hell. Its playful narrative...
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Hotel du Lac
Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
Anita Brookner
 
Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and...
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The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood
 
Offers offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even...
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An Awfully Big Adventure
Beryl Bainbridge
 
It is 1950 and Stella has been taken on as assistant stage manager for a Liverpool rep company. She quickly becomes obsessed with their dissolute director, but when the celebrated...
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Stanley and the Women
Kingsley Amis
 
Stanley Duke thinks it is safe to sink into middle age, his son goes insane. As if that wasn't terrible enough, Stanley finds himself beset on all sides by women...
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Money: A Suicide Note
Martin Amis
This is the story of John Self, consumer extraordinaire. Rolling around New York and London, he makes deals, spends wildly and does reckless movie-world business, all the while grabbing everything...
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The Satanic Verses
The Satanic Verses (Paperback)
Salman Rushdie
 
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Waiting for the Barbarians
J. M. Coetzee
 
For decades the Magistrate has run the affairs of a tiny frontier settlement, ignoring the impending war between the barbarians and the Empire, whose servant he is.
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The Woman in Black
The Woman in Black (Paperback)
Susan Hill
 
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs...
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The Fifth Child
The Fifth Child (Paperback)
Doris Lessing
 
A classic tale from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, of a family torn apart by the arrival of Ben, their feral fifth child.
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Waterland
Waterland (Paperback)
Graham Swift
 
Graham Swift's multilayered chronicle set in the Cambridgeshire Fens is widely regarded as one of the finest British novels of the 1980s.
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