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Previous Winners and Nominees
The 1999 Winner
INGENIOUS PAIN tells of the rise, fall, and redemption of an extraordinary man whose lack of compassion is physical: He is unable to feel pain. Born in the West Country in the mid-18th century, at the dawn of the Enlightenment, James Dyer grows up to become a brilliant surgeon. The novel takes us from England, through Europe, across to Russia, as Dyer travels to St. Petersburg. En route, he meets a witchlike woman who proves both his nemesis and savior. At one level an exciting adventure story, INGENIOUS PAIN is also a novel of ideas, packed with detail, with a wonderful sense of period.
Through an unnamed narrator, we view the lives of a group of Romanian students living under the repressive Ceaucescu regime. The poverty, regimentation, and depressing grayness take their toll on our young narrator and her friends, with death the only release for some.
A new bride commits suicide, and her widowed groom marries her sister. The couple has a son, whose efforts to discover the truth behind the death of his father's first wife are recounted in this novel.