Brooklyn by Colm Toibin Penguin, HK$121 Having missed out on 2004's Man Booker with The Master, Colm T?ib?n missed out on last year's short-list completely with Brooklyn (although it did win 2010's Costa Best Novel Prize). Central to Toibin's beautiful tale of a young Irish girl emigrating to New York in the 1950s is his main character, Eilis Lacey. Dowdy in comparison to her older sister Rose, she takes a bookkeeping course, fails to dance with Dublin's most eligible bachelors and wonders what to do with her life. The answer comes when a recently emigrated priest, Father Flood, suggests that Eilis joins him in America where 'there would be plenty of work for someone like you and with good pay'. As this is T?ib?n, Eilis' American dream is more like a sorrowful nightmare, defined by farewells, arduous journeys and that Toibin staple, heart-breaking alienation. 'Eilis would have given anything now to have been with them, dressed like them, to be glamorous herself, too easily distracted by the jokes and smiles of those around her to watch anyone with the same breath-filled intensity as she was watching them.' Arguably his best book, Brooklyn is sumptuous, emotional and gloriously written.