How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman (1994): "An ex-convict has returned to Glasgow and tried to make some form of life for himself. He does a bit of this and that, mainly shoplifting." Doesn't sound like it's going too well, does it?
In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul (1971): "Bobby is a government officer; Linda is the wife of a colleague. Neutral, white, protected, they have both in their different ways found liberation in Africa, and they too might be said to be 'in a free state.' But their neutrality will not last; there is danger on the open road." Based on this blurb, I'm hooked already.
G. by John Berger (1972): "[This,] in addition to its vividly portrayed characters and the crashing immediacy of its historical settings--is a complex novel of ideas that sets off in the reader meditations about sex, history and the nature of the novel." Sounds good to me.
The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell (1973): "[This] tale is unfolded with the utmost clarity beginning with Hopkins the Collector--the Chief Administrator who stands at the heart of the book, a man of truly Victorian gloom and paternalism with rigid views of duty, yet of heroic stature. It is his job to protect the other Europeans in the [Krishnapur] settlement from a fate he suspects may indeed prove worse than death." Nothing like good old-fashioned colonialism to keep things interesting.
Substituted: Staying On by Paul Scott (1977): "In 1972, Colonel 'Tusker' Smalley (Indian Army, Ret.) and his wife, Lucy ('Little Me'), are living in Pankot, one of India's hill stations. Twenty-five years after the rest of the British left India they are still at Smith's Hotel, or rather in its diminutive annex. Tusker, for reasons that become clearer to the reader than they have ever been to Lucy, elected to 'stay on' in 1947." Substituted in late 2010 to ensure that I could finish; guess Vernon will still be waiting for me in 2011, alas.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009): "In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power." The historical novel is decidedly not my cup of tea, but I do like Sir Thomas More, and I'm sure he's in here somewhere. Maybe this won't be too bad.
Substituted: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993): "It is 1968. Patrick Clarke is ten. He loves George Best, Geronimo and the smell of his hot water bottle. He hates zoos, kissing and the boys from the Corporation houses. . . . He wants to stop his da arguing with his ma. He's confused: he sees everything but he understands less and less." This could be the usual childhood stuff, but I read a sample page and somehow I suspect that it won't be. (Not to mention, since I made this double-switch change of books in November: it's short enough that I can finish it in just a few days.)
I may find 3 novels from the 70's to be a bit much, and have purposely chosen to mingle in some more contemporary ones. And the challenge allows lists to be changed at any time, so as long as I make 6 in some form I should be in good shape.
It's weird how challenge reading allows me to crack the whip on myself. Perhaps that should be the subject of another post.