Lloyd Jones is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed author. Mr Pip has received universal critical acclaim and is being published world-wide. His novel The Book of Fame (2000) won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 2001 Montana Book Awards and the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize in 2003, and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2003. His novel, Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance, was joint runner-up of the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 2002 Montana Book Awards. It was co-published in Australia by Penguin Books. Lloyd Jones's other books include the controversial Biografi (1993), a travel book set in Albania in the aftermath of Communism. Biografi was judged one of the best books of the year in 1993 by the New York Times. His collection of short stories, Swimming to Australia (1991), was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards. Choo Woo (1998), a dark and disturbing novel on the subject of child abuse, was published in New Zealand and Australia. Lloyd Jones lives in Wellington and publishes essays by New Zealand writers under his imprint the Four Winds Press.
The Man Booker Prize is the British version of the National Book Award; this year the honor went to Anne Enright for her novel The Gathering, but also worth considering is finalist Mister Pip (Dial: Random. 2007. ISBN 978-0-385-34106-6. $20) by Lloyd Jones. Set on a Pacific island near New Guinea in the 1990s, this is a tale of war, love, literature, and the power of belief. With the island engulfed in civil strife and the white people having fled, Mr. Watts, the remaining white man, who is married to a native, volunteers to become the schoolteacher and reopens the village school. His text of choice is Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. Matilda, one of his students, is enraptured by the story, finding the fate of Pip a needed escape from the horrors of her own existence. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
A promising though ultimately overwrought portrayal of the small rebellions and crises of disillusionment that constitute a young narrator's coming-of-age unfolds against an ominous backdrop of war in Jones's latest. When the conflict between the natives and the invading "redskin" soldiers erupts on an unnamed tropical island in the early 1990s, 13-year-old Matilda Laimo and her mother, Dolores, are unified with the rest of their village in their efforts for survival. Amid the chaos, Mr. Watts, the only white local (he is married to a native), offers to fill in as the children's schoolteacher and teaches from Dickens's Great Expectations. The precocious Matilda, who forms a strong attachment to the novel's hero, Pip, uses the teachings as escapism, which rankles Dolores, who considers her daughter's fixation blasphemous. With a mixture of thrill and unease, Matilda discovers independent thought, and Jones captures the intricate, emotionally loaded evolution of the mother-daughter relationship. Jones (The Book of Fame; Biografi) presents a carefully laid groundwork in the tense interactions between Matilda, Dolores and Mr. Watts, but the extreme violence toward the end of the novel doesn't quite work. Jones's prose is faultless, however, and the story is innovative enough to overcome the misplayed tragedy. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.