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Hollinghurst, Alan

(British, 1954– )

Born in Stroud and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, Hollinghurst is among the best of gay male authors. His novels all deal with gay life, although the clarity, stylishness, and precision of his writing have universal appeal. The Swimming Pool Library (1988) looks at the relationship between a younger and older man, and casts a sombre look backwards at the effect of anti-homosexual legislation. The Folding Star (1994), set in Belgium, is a somewhat darker novel, its narrator as much consumed by lust as by love. The Spell (1998) deals with the pursuit of pleasure by some slightly older gay men, the writing being lighter in tone. The Folding Star was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize.

Hollinghurst won the Booker in 2004 with The Line of Beauty, set in the mid-1980s and offering a satirical take on Thatcher's Britain. A young Oxford graduate stays in London with the family of a new Tory MP, and witnesses the public and private lives of the ruling class. Fictional characters mingle with real historical figures to explore a period of profound social change in a novel by turns poignant, funny, nostalgic, and scathing.

Adam Mars-Jones, Patrick Gale, Edmund White  SA/JR

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ha-Ke)