When Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty won the Booker Prize in October 2004, it sealed the arrival in fiction of a retrospective exploration of the 1980s which had already been unmistakable in British culture. While the political continuities from Margaret Thatcher’s social revolution have been a central topic in the analysis of Tony Blair’s administrations, the return of the 1980s in popular culture has also been evident for years. Literature has not been insulated from this climate. Since the turn of the millennium Nicola Barker’s Five Miles From Outer Hope (2001), Tim Lott’s Rumours of a Hurricane (2002) and David Peace’s GB84 (2004) have been prominent examples of the ‘neo-1980s’ novel in Britain. It is on Hollinghurst’s book, however, that this essay will focus. To whose 1980s does The Line of Beauty return us? What is at stake
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