To begin at the beginning

Maybe not quite at the beginning but I’m starting my Booker quest with the novel that won in 1970. In The Elected Member,  Bernice Rubens looks at the damage caused to a close-knit Jewish family in London’s East End when their barrister son  descends into drug induced paranoia.  Norman enjoys a brilliant career as a barrister until, at the age of 41, he becomes an addict  confined to a bedroom he believes is infested with silver-fish.

According to Rubens’ obituary, she once wrote that: “The acid test of a good piece of writing, even if it is of violence and cruelty, is that it must make one’s ears water.”  I’m not far enough into the book to experience any watery eyes yet though the opening chapters describing Norman’s hallucinations did capture my attention.

Reading the introductory blurb, I was surprised to find Bernice Rubens came  from my part of the world. She was born in Cardiff, Wales in July 1928. She turned to  writing in her mid thirties when her children started nursery school.  The Elected Member, was her fourth novel. She was shortlisted for the same prize again in 1978 for A Five Year Sentence. Her last novel, The Sergeants’ Tale, was published in 2003. She was an honorary vice-president of International PEN and served as a Booker judge in 1986. Bernice Rubens died in 2004 aged 76.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on February 15, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This is a great place to start. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I didn’t like the inaugural winner nearly as much!


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