Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2011 Costa Winner

Pure by Andrew Miller


Publisher: Sceptre

Length: 352 pages

About: Pre-Revolution Foul-Smelling Parisan Cemetery Removal

Style: 3rd person

Where: France (paris)

When: 1785



Publisher’s synopsis:

Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it.
At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.





He finds Lecoeur and they walk in silence to the sexton's house. They stand by the kitchen fire.
After a minute or two, lecoeur, speaking to the fire, says softly, 'Sweet Christ.'
Tomorrow will be easier,' says jean-Baptiste.
Lecoeur turns, suddenly grins at him. 'Tomorrow will break our hearts,' he says.






Intelligent, serious and thought-provoking, but also entertaining, Andrew Miller's Pure is the best kind of historical novel.
Reading it, you feel as if you are in Paris before the revolution, a city at once decaying and on the cusp of momentous change, a place of disgusting smells and odd subcultures, at once recognisable and utterly foreign.

William Sidelsky, Guardian Blog, 25th January 2012


Not so good

It is disappointing, given the vitality of the novel's setting and set-up, that Miller fails to achieve corresponding dynamism in the development of plot and character. The destruction of Les Innocents consumes the novel, from first line to last, but the consequences of the project are never made to matter to the reader as much as they matter to the engineer; the dark results are not dark enough. As a prose writer, Miller appears averse to taking risks, which means no pratfalls – but no glory either. The engineer's progress and his setbacks are narrated in a patient, tight-lipped present tense, and just as the novel rarely concerns itself with anything that doesn't impinge on the destruction of Les Innocents, so it rarely deviates from its obsessive regime of description and dialogue.

Lee Robson, The Observer, 17th July 2011



About the author

Born in Bristol on 29 April 1960, Miller grew up in the West Country and has lived in Spain, Japan, Ireland and France.
After gaining a first class degree in English at Middlesex Polytechnic,Miller studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 1991. In 1995 he wrote a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing at Lancaster University.


LAST          NEXT

<2010> -  <2012>

















Page turner









Age guide: 18








Books by same author:



















None to date














2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

Click here


Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page
© Prize Winning Fiction