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The Cleft by Doris Lessing
  

The Cleft

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Shortlisted for Author of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2008.

This is such an interesting take on how we might have all evolved and an insightful comment on how human beings can act and react in ignorance. Disturbing at times but thought provoking and would be great material for any reading group.

If you like Doris Lessing you might also like to read books by Patrick Flannery and Ian Holding.

Synopsis

The Cleft by Doris Lessing

An old Roman senator, contemplative at his late stage of life, embarks on what will likely be his last endeavour: the retelling of the story of human creation. He recounts the history of the Clefts, an ancient community of women living in an Edenic, coastal wilderness, confined within the valley of an overshadowing mountain. The Clefts have no need, or knowledge, of men – childbirth is controlled, like the tides that lap around their feet, through the cycles of the moon, and their children are always female. But with the unheralded birth of a strange, new child – a boy – the harmony of their community is suddenly thrown into jeopardy.

At first, in their ignorance, the Clefts are awestruck by this seemingly malformed child, but as more and more of these threateningly unfamiliar males appear, now unfavourably nicknamed Squirts, they are rejected, and are exposed on the nearby mountainside; sacrificed to the patrolling eagles overhead, the sentinels of their female haven. Unbeknownst to the Clefts, however, these baby males survive, aided by the very eagles sent to kill them, and thrive on their own on the other side of the mountain. It is not until an unusually curious young Cleft named Maire goes beyond the geographical, and emotional, divide of the mountain that this disquieting fact is uncovered – a discovery that forces the Clefts to accept and realign themselves to the prospect of a now shared world, and the possible vengeance of the wronged males.

In this fascinating and beguiling novel, Lessing confronts head-on the themes that inspired much of her early writing: how men and women, two similar and yet thoroughly distinct creatures, manage to live side by side in the world, and how the specifics of gender affect every aspect of our existence.

Reviews

‘Lessing skilfully manipulates multiple perspectives…a bold, inventive and challenging book from a writer who continues to enlighten and astonish as she approaches her tenth decade.’ Independent

‘The author's reach continues to thrill…there's witchery in the Old She yet.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A narrative with the compelling stamp of Lessing's late tales.’ The Times

‘Doris Lessing writes movingly of the human desire for change…she conveys a powerful belief in the impermanence of any situation in which human beings find themselves and the paradoxically unchanging nature of human relations.’ Observer

About the Author

Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the second half of the 20th-century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. For over fifty years she has been writing provocative, inventive and influential works, ranging from novels, short stories and science fiction to autobiography, drama, poetry, essays and operas. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950, and her international reputation has flourished since then. Among her other celebrated novels are The Golden Notebook, The Summer Before the Dark and Memoirs of a Survivor. She has also published two volumes of her autobiography, Under my Skin (which received the James Tait Black Prize) and Walking in the Shade. Her recent publications include the novels The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog and The Cleft, and Time Bites, a collection of essays. Ms Lessing's collection of short novels, Five, earned her the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954. The French translation of The Golden Notebook (1962) won the Prix Medici in 1976. In 1982 she received the Austrian State Prize for Literature and the Shakespeare Prize, Hamburg. Doris Lessing has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times: Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971), The Sirian Experiments (1981) and The Good Terrorist (1985) and won the WH Smith Award in 1985. In August 1991, she received an honorary title of Distinguished Fellow in Literature in the School of English and American Studies conferred by University of East Anglia. In 2001 she was awarded the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, the David Cohen British Literature Prize and received a Companion of Honour from the Royal Society for Literature. She was recently short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize and received S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature. Doris Lessing died in November 2013.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th January 2008

Author

Doris Lessing

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Author's Website

www.dorislessing.org/index....

Publisher

Harpercollins Publishers

Format

Paperback
288 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780007233441

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