Books of the Month
The Enchantress of Florence
by Salman Rushdie
This new novel from Mr Rushdie is a beautiful, exuberant, mischievous and colourful story of love, deception and power – written in a prose that is sensuous and playful, daring and grand. A tall, beautiful, yellow-haired European traveller arrives at the court of the Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar – he claims he is the child of a lost Mughal princess, and therefore related to the Emperor himself. He spins a tale of beautiful princesses, daring warriors, pirates and thieves; of golden cities and their people; of philosophers and friends. His tale mesmerises the Emperor’s court – but there are those who would have him executed as a liar and a traitor – and we, along with the Emperor, must decide if he tells the truth. Megan absolutely loved this book!
A Time To Keep Silence
by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Patrick Leigh Fermor is one of our greatest living travel writers. Described as a cross between James Bond, Indiana Jones and Graham Greene, he walked, as a very young man, across Europe to Constantinople (which resulted in two books – A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water), then explored the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago (Mani and Roumeli), as well as joining the Irish Guards and fighting in Albania, Greece and Crete during World War II. A Time to Keep Silence is a record of a quieter, more inward-looking period in which he spent time in some of Europe’s oldest monasteries. Written in sparse and achingly beautiful prose, this is much more than a travel journal – a meditation on the meaning of silence and solitude in modern life. Re-issued with beautiful illustrations by John Craxton, this is a precious book indeed.
“In the seclusion of a cell…the troubled waters of the mind grow still and clear, and much that is hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the surface and can be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a state of peace that is unthought-of in the ordinary world.”
Some Super New Fiction
by Michael KrÃ¼ger
From acclaimed German poet, novelist and publisher Michael KrÃ¼ger comes The Executor – a witty and charming commentary on writers, their books and their long-suffering friends. When Rudolph, an internationally famous writer, dies, he leaves behind a vast library of books. Buried underneath all this is his magnum opus – a work he held to be so great, that it would be ‘the world’s last novel’. In trying to carry out Rudolph’s last wishes his best friend must negotiate Rudolph’s wife, secretary, lover and pets – each of which throws up a unique challenge!
All the Sad Young Literary Men
by Keith Gessen
The engaging and hilarious story of three young men and their circuitous paths through sex, love, betrayal, and the writing of books. A charming yet scathing portrait of young adulthood at the opening of the twenty-first century, we follow the lives of Sam, Mark and Keith as they overthink their college years, underthink their love lives, and struggle through the encouragement of the women who love and despise them to find a semblance of maturity, responsibility, and even literary fame.
by Nancy Huston
Sol is a highly gifted but also scarily un-childlike six-year-old whose adoring mother believes he is destined for greatness. He bears the same birthmark as his father, grandmother and great-grandmother before him. When Sol and his family make an unexpected trip to Germany, terrible secrets start to emerge.
“Nancy Huston is a brilliant, lyrical, unforgettable writer.” Janet Turner Hospital
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
by Rebecca Miller
Pippa Lee is a thoroughly modern heroine. She is the devoted wife of a brilliant man, proud mother of grown-up twins, and adored friend and neighbor. But where she was once contented, she finds her life beginning to unravel – and she starts to wonder how did she find herself in this place? This is the story of wild youth, unexpected encounters, affairs and betrayals – and all the possibilities of modern life. Now a film starring Keanu Reeves, for what it’s worth.
The Cathedral of the Sea
by Ildefonso Falcones
Already a two-million-copy bestseller in Europe, this is an epic drama of love and war in fourteenth-century Spain. Medieval Barcelona is enjoying a golden age of prosperity, and a magnificent cathedral is being built over the harbour – the Cathedral of the Sea. Arnau, a young serf struggles to earn his freedom, but he is rewarded for courage and his luck begins to turn. His rise from slave to nobleman parallels the struggle between good and evil that will turn Church against State, and the people against each other.
The Lay of the Land
by Richard Ford
New in paperback, this is the third installment of the Frank Bascombe series, which started with The Sportswriter and Independence Day. Bascombe has arrived at a state of optimistic pragmatism that he calls the Permanent Period of life. Epic mistakes have already been made, dreams downsized, and he reflects that there are at least now fewer opportunities in life to get things wrong – but that just shows how wrong one can be!
“My great book of the year…so wonderfully written in every breath of every sentence.” Hermione Lee, The Guardian
And some super new Non-Ficiton
by Eric Hobsbawm
Four essays by one of our most celebrated and respected historians, looking at the world situation and some of the major political problems confronting us at the start of this third millennium.
“The fact is that no other living historian of whatever political affiliation has the intellectual firepower – the range and depth of knowledge, the analytical skill – to bring off a book like this.” Niall Ferguson
The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth
by Frances Wilson
From the acclaimed writer of The Courtesan’s Revenge, a new biography of Wordsworth’s beloved sister, collaborator and muse. Often presented as a self-effacing virgin or sacrificial saint, Dorothy was, in truth, a talented writer and an exceptional, wild and bohemian woman. Her writings reveal a strange, intangible love between brother and sister, culminating in her dramatic collapse on the day of William’s wedding, and her tragic descent into madness.
Laying Ghosts To Rest
by Mamphela Ramphele
Business leader, activist and academic Mamphela Ramphele tackles the ghosts of our past head-on in her frank discussion of the state of our democracy – covering racism, sexism, affirmative action and problems of delivery and capacity. She makes a strong plea for active citizenship, for channelling anger into creative energy. Unflinching and inspirational, Laying Ghosts To Rest is a powerful call to action.
The Lost Massey Lectures: Recovered Classics From Five Great Thinkers
The CBC Massey Lectures, Canada’s preeminent public lecture series, are a highly anticipated annual feast of ideas. Yet tragically some of the finest lectures, by some of the greatest minds of modern times, have been lost for many years – unavailable in any form to the public. Now, though, a selection of the best is available to the public – and what a selection. Here are lectures by John Kenneth Galbraith on economics and poverty, Paul Goodman on the moral ambiguity of America, Jane Jacobs on Canadian cities and Quebec separatism, Eric W. Kierans on globalisation and the nation state and Martin Luther King Jr. on racial prejudice and non-violent civil disobedience.
You Can Save the Planet
by Rich Hough
A new look at the things we can all be doing to make a difference to the future of the world. As well as providing all the facts on important issues – from carbon footprints to Fairtrade and food miles – this book takes you through an average day, and gives you advice on what you can do differently. From the bathroom and breakfast in the morning to technology in the office to eating out in the evening. Full of simple and practical tips for all.
Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art
by Lewis Hyde
By the author of the highly acclaimed The Gift – a book that brings to life the playful and disruptive side of the human imagination as it is embodied in the trickster mythology. Most at home on the road or on the twilight edge of town, tricksters are consummate boundary-crossers, slipping through keyholes, breaching walls, subverting defence systems. Always out to satisfy their inordinate appetites, lying, cheating and stealing, tricksters are a great bother to have around, but paradoxically they are also indispensable heroes.
“A glorious grab-bag stuffed with necessary loot, a joyful plum pudding rich in treasures. Once more we are indebted to him.” Margaret Atwood
A History of Reading
by Alberto Manguel
This is a wonderful celebration of the human race – from the clay tablet to the CD-ROM, from book thieves to book burners, bibliophiles, book fools and saints. Manguel follows the quirky and passionate 6000-year history of the written word, whose true hero is you – the reader. If you love reading, this, at long last, is your story.
“Ingenious…a veritable museum of literacy. One feels envious of his passion…through it, his gift becomes our own.” New York Times Book Review
A Russian Diary
by Anna Politkovskaya
This is the book that Anna Politkovskaya had recently finished when she was murdered in a contract killing in her apartment block in Moscow (almost certainly on orders from the Putin regime). It covers the period from the 2003 parliamentary elections to the aftermath of the Beslan School siege in 2005. Politkovskaya’s passion for telling the truth about her country, and the plight of her people, was unrivalled – and it may well have killed her. This is an important book, and an honest portrait of the ˜New Russia’ of Vladimir Putin.
“…a Solzhenitsyn for the 21st Century…Very few were telling a similar truth in her lifetime and even fewer will tell it now she is dead.” Observer
The Devil in the White City
by Erik Larson
Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Larson’s spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men – the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World’s Fair, and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure the victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.
An Old Favourite
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me
by Richard FariÃ±a
This funny, beautiful, hip classic of the 1960s is often overlooked, as the author tragically died two days after it was published. FariÃ±a perfectly captures the early 60s – the spirit of change, the unwillingness to conform and the uncertainty about the future. In Gnossos Pappadopoulis we have a brilliant anti-hero – wild, unconventional, irreverent and oh so cool. As Thomas Pynchon writes in his introduction, this book “comes on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch“. It’s a lot of fun and simply brilliant.
Jonny’s New York Choice
The Shock Doctrine
by Naomi Klein
Around the World in Britain, the United States, Asia and the Middle East, there are people with power who are cashing in on chaos; exploiting bloodshed and catastrophe to brutally remake the world in their image. They are the shock doctors. This revelatory and thrilling book exposes these global profiteers, and the connections that shocked even Klein herself – how comprehensively the shock doctors’ beliefs dominate our world. Raking billions out of the tsunami, plundering Russia, exploiting Iraq – this is the chilling tale of how a few are making a killing while so many more are being killed.
“Impassioned, hugely informative, wonderfully controversial and scary as hell.” John Le CarrÃ©
This Month’s Sounds
For a long time in the Cape Town music scene, the flame of the leftfield was kept burning by Open Records, the company that grew up alongside the now-defunct band, Benguela. The beautifully-packaged music put out by this label still sounds fresh as ever, and is now available at The Book Lounge. Label boss Ross Campbell was the drummer in legendary live act Benguela, and both available albums (Sputnik and Digital Inability) do a great job of capturing the excitement, virtuosity and creativity of this trio, arguably the godfathers of post-rock in South Africa. Because Benguela believed strongly in improvisation and the organic growth of their grooves, these are live affairs and convey all the interest and excitement of never quite knowing what’s going to happen next. Campbell’s drumming is instinctual and ranges from brief brushes to thunderous barrages; Brydon Bolton’s electric (upright) bass alternately thrums and moans, sings like a whale and groans like a tectonic plate, while Alex Bozas and assorted effects pedals milks the electric guitar for an incredible range of sounds. This is music that manages to experiment without compromising on melody, that is at once cerebral and visceral, and that sweeps you along in exactly the way its moniker suggests. Immerse yourself.
Also note that – with every Open Records album bought – you will receive a complimentary Open Records sampler. There’s a lot more to explore!
The Things They Said
“It’s dark and lonely work and no-one has to do it” Richard Ford, on being a novelist
W Somerset Maugham was so underwhelmed with Spencer Tracy in the movie version of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde that he remarked at one point in the movie “Which one is he playing now?”
“Be careful about reading health books – you may die of a misprint“! Mark Twain
Thankyou for reading – see you soon!