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Storytime: Hallowe'en

Saturday, October 30th 2010 at 11:00 AM

Who is afraid of noises that creek and things that go bump in the night? Today we are reading scary, gory stories to get us in the Halloween mood. You can bring your flashlight with to help find the monsters under the carpet…

 

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Guardian First Book Award Shortlist

Friday, October 29th 2010 at 1:29 PM

Books that challenge orthodoxy and readers’ expectations dominate the shortlist for this year’s Guardian First Book Award, which includes a novel influenced by the African tradition of sung history, and a study of error that argues we should celebrate our ability to get things wrong.

Three novels and two non-fiction works are vying for the £10,000 prize. The shortlist was chosen by a judging panel that includes the biographer Richard Holmes, the actor Diana Quick and the novelist Adam Foulds, plus Waterstone’s reading groups in Oxford, Bath, Leeds, Covent Garden and Edinburgh West, exercising one vote between them.

The Guardian’s literary editor, Claire Armitstead, who chairs the judging panel, said: “This brilliant shortlist reflects one of the year’s big literary themes – how to tell stories in our new era. Each of these books provides its own very different answer, and it is thrilling that our judges and the Waterstone’s reading groups have chosen five such rich and challenging works.”

The Shortlist is:

Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed

Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman

Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

Being Wrong: Adventures on the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper by Alexandra Harris

This is the 12th year of the award, which replaced the Guardian fiction prize created in 1965. Previous winners include Jonathan Safran Foer, Zadie Smith, and Petina Gappah, who won last year with the short story collection An Elegy for Easterly.

Richard Holmes, one of the judges, described the first prize win, or shortlisting, as “a champagne moment” for a new writer. He said: “You know at last that you are being taken seriously, you have readers out there, and most important of all – when the bubbles settle – you have confidence to go quietly back to your desk and write even better.”

Also on the judging panel are the ICA director, Ekow Eshun, and the Guardian deputy editor Katharine Viner. The views of the Waterstone’s reading groups are represented by the book chain’s literary events co-ordinator Stuart Broom.

The winner of the prize will be announced on 1 December.

Megan, Friday 29th October 2010

Paul S. Landau: Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948

Thursday, October 28th 2010 at 5:30 PM

Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948 offers a newly inclusive vision of South Africa’s past. Drawing largely from original sources, Paul Landau presents a history of the politics of the country’s people, from the time of their early settlements in the elevated heartlands, through the colonial era, to the dawn of Apartheid. A practical tradition of mobilisation, alliance, and amalgamation persisted, mutated, and occasionally vanished from view; it survived against the odds in several forms, in tribalisms, Christian assemblies, and other, seemingly hybrid movements; and it continues today. Landau treats southern Africa broadly, concentrating increasingly on the southern highveld and ultimately focusing on a transnational movement called the ‘Samuelites’. He shows how people’s politics in South Africa were suppressed and transformed, but never entirely eliminated.

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Bloody Parchment – Horrorfest comes to the Book Lounge

Wednesday, October 27th 2010 at 5:30 PM

 
 

The South African Horrorfest proudly brings you the second annual Bloody Parchment event. Hear some of Cape Town’s best authors share their snippets of horror and dress up as your favourite creature, spook, witch or wizard to celebrate Halloween, with prizes for the best dressed.
 
 

Featuring (amongst others) Sarah Lotz, Nerine Dorman, Maya Fowler, Catherine Shortridge, Paul Blom, Sally Partridge and our very own Werner Pretorius!
 
 
 

 

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Lucia Saks: Cinema in a Democratic South Africa – The Race for Representation

Tuesday, October 26th 2010 at 5:30 PM

Lucia Saks uses South African cinema as a lens through which to view cultural changes resulting from the end of apartheid in 1994. She examines how media transformed the meaning of race and nation during this period and argues that, as apartheid was disbanded and new racial constructs allowed, South Africa quickly sought a new mode of representation as a way to distance itself from the violence and racism of the half-century prior, as well as to demonstrate stability amid social disruption. This rapid search for a new way to identify and portray itself is what Saks refers to as the race for representation. She contextualizes this race in terms of South African history, the media, apartheid, sexuality, the economy, community, early South African cinema, and finally speculates about the future of ‘counter-cinema’ in present-day South Africa.
Lucia Saks is Assistant Professor in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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Random House acquires rights to Salman Rushdie Memoir, due 2012

Tuesday, October 26th 2010 at 1:34 PM

In one of the most far-reaching multi-national and multi-language book-publishing deals by one publisher for a single title, Random House has acquired rights to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie in each of its territories across the world. Markus Dohle, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Random House worldwide, announced the acquisition of hardcover, paperback, audio, and e-book rights. Mr. Rushdie expects to complete his manuscript by the end of next year for publication by Random House in 2012.

 Mr. Dohle brought together the publishing and editorial leadership from each of the company’s international divisions for this acquisition, which is unprecedented in scope for the world’s largest trade book publisher.  Random House is planning a simultaneous publication of the memoir in each of its territories in physical, digital and audio formats.  “This extraordinary work merits an extraordinary publishing effort on our part,” said Mr. Dohle. “It offers Random House, on behalf of one of the world’s great writers, the opportunity to harness our tremendous international creative and logistic capabilities, which will support the focused, customized publishing campaigns each of our publishers will execute locally.”

Random House Struik will publish the memoir in South Africa while its associated imprints within Random House will do so abroad in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, in English; Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, in German; and  Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, and Uruguay, in Spanish.  

Salman Rushdie is one of the world’s most revered and honoured writers. His memoir will be an evocation of his public and personal life: his outsider’s experience at British public school and Cambridge; his evolution as a writer; his relationships as a husband and a father; and his years in hiding following the fatwah issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini after the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988.  Mr. Rushdie currently is working on the film version of his classic novel Midnight’s Children , which won the Booker Prize in 1981.

Random House Struik’s Managing Director, Stephen Johnson, said in Cape Town today, “The prospect of publishing the most significant tale told thus far by the greatest story teller of our time, to celebrate all that he is and stands for, to share this extraordinary life from within: it all generates an excitement about a book to come such as I have seldom experienced. For Random House Struik to be closely involved with this unprecedented, momentous book event on so great an international scale is more than sufficient cause to look forward to bringing to the occasion of publication in 2012 every ounce of passion and commitment that we can.” 

Mr. Rushdie observed, “I’m absolutely delighted that Random House, my longtime publisher, has agreed to publish my memoir in the English-language world, as well as in Spanish, and for the first time in German. I couldn’t wish for a better home for my work. I have waited a long time to write this memoir, until I felt I was ready to do it. I’m ready now.”   

Mr. Rushdie’s latest work of fiction, Luka and the Fire of Life, will be published by Random House Struik in South Africa in November 2010.

October 2010

Tuesday, October 26th 2010 at 9:01 AM

Book of the Month

 

 The Hand of the Designer/La Mano del Designer

The Hand of the Designer is a unique and beautiful volume containing 450 original sketches which were donated to the Italian National Trust, by 150 of the most brilliant and prestigious international designers working today – among them Bouroullec Brothers, Michael Graves, Hella Jongerius, Karim Rashid, Fernando Campana, Giuseppe Amato, Javier Mariscal, Alessandro Mendini, Ross Lovegrove, Setsu & Shinobu Ito.

The project is an intimate look at the creative process of the designer, and a celebration of the everlasting power of free hand sketching even in the AutoCAD® era. Quick sketches, graphic signs, paper collages are all tools used to express each individual designer’s idea – and the freedom given to designers in choosing the materials to send results an diverse and powerful collection. This lovely volume comes with a Moleskine Folio Sketchbook, for your very own flights of imagination!

The book The Hand of the Designer was launched in Italy, in conjunction with a special exhibition including all the original sketches, at Villa Necchi Campiglio and Triennale Bovisa, during the Salone del Mobile Furniture Fair in Milan. Organised by the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the Italian National Trust), the proceeds all go to the restoration of the Palladian Villa Necchi.

 

Book Lounge Giveaway

 

 Noma

by Rene Redzepi

Rene Redzepi has been widely credited with re-inventing Nordic cuisine. His Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, was recognised by the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards as the best in the world and received the unique Chef’s Choice award at the same ceremony in 2009. Redzepi operates at the cutting edge of gourmet cuisine, combining an unrelenting creativity and a remarkable level of craftsmanship with an inimitable and innate knowledge of the produce of his Nordic terroir. At Noma, which Redzepi created from a derelict eighteenth-century warehouse in 2003 after previously working at both elBulli and The French Laundry, diners are served exquisite concoctions, such as Newly-Ploughed Potato Field or The Snowman from Jukkasjarvi, all painstakingly constructed to express their amazing array of Nordic ingredients. Redzepi’s fascination with giving his diners a real taste of their food’s environment extends to serving dishes on pebbles found in the same fields as his produce. His search for ingredients involves foraging amongst local fields for wild produce, sourcing horse-mussels from the Faroe Islands and the purest possible water from Greenland. Redzepi has heightened the culinary philosophy of seasonally and regionally sourced sustainable ingredients to an exquisite level, and in doing so has created an utterly delicious cuisine.

 

We have one copy of this beautiful book to give away to one very lucky reader. To enter simply email your details to booklounge@gmail.com. Closing date 15/11/2010.
Very many thanks to Book Promotions for these.

 

Food Glorious Food 

 

With Christmas around the corner, our thoughts turn to our stomachs – and there is a veritable feast of new cookery books to keep us inspired!

 

 

Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home

by Nigella Lawson

A big, comfortable, informative and utterly engaging book, Kitchen brings us feel-good food for cooks and eaters, whether express-style and exotic-easy during the week, or leisurely and luxuriating (in the spirit of How to be a Domestic Goddess and Feast) at weekends or for occasions. Divided into two parts – Kitchen Quandaries and Kitchen Comforts – Nigella gives us the wherewithal to tackle any situation and satisfy all nourishment needs. But real cooking is often about leftovers, too, so here one recipe can lead to another…from ham hocks to pea soup and pasties, from chicken to Chinatown salad. This isn’t just about being thrifty but about demonstrating how recipes come about, and giving new inspiration for last-minute meals and souped-up storecupboard suppers. As well as offering the reader new recipes, Nigella rounds up her kitchen kit must-haves (telling us, too, what equipment we don’t need) and highlights individual ingredients – both basic essentials and modern-day life-savers. But above all, she reminds the reader how much pleasure there is to be had in real food, in reclaiming the traditional rhythms of the kitchen and creating simple recipes to make life less complicated and more delicious. A real pleasure to read and use.

 

 Summer Food in Provence

by Marita van der Vyver

Some of the most famous food writers and chefs owe their culinary awakening to time spent in France. Marita too discovered a passion for cooking in Provence through her husband, Alain.
They are an average family with an average income and average children (among them teenagers who wouldn’t hesitate to choose bought hamburgers and frites over any French gastronomic offerings). They don’t have the time, energy or money to make complicated and pretentious dishes with expensive ingredients such as truffles or foie gras, and the children have no interest in snails, frogs’ legs or other French specialities. As a result, Marita and Alain’s cookery is down-to-earth, honest, affordable – yet delicious.
In this book Marita shares the recipes that her large family and their friends enjoy every summer under the plane tree in their front garden – dishes of Provençal, Mediterranean or general French origin that may just as easily be enjoyed under a jacaranda or a kiepersol in South Africa. It is a mixture of imagination and common sense, gastronomic delights and everyday practicality, and will delight and inspire both experienced cooks and novices in the kitchen.

 

Once Upon a Chicken Pie and Other Food Tales 

by Johan de Villiers and Len Straw

Definitely a cookbook with a difference, Once Upon a Chicken Pie and Other Food Tales comprises a collection of stories around the food, personalities and occasions that inspired the featured recipes. Based on the travels of authors Johan de Villiers and Len Straw through Greece, Morocco, Turkey, South Africa, Italy and Egypt, and reflecting their love of the unusual, the funny, the whimsical and great food, each chapter is named after a traditional nursery rhyme with a relevant food theme.

This cookbook travelogue is liberally peppered with an array of mementos in the form of travel snaps, maps and some original handwritten recipes to accompany the fabulous food photography. Johan is a raconteur par excellence and, together with Len, brings the tales to life with inspirational recipes that will delight even the most jaded of armchair cooks (and travellers) and entice them into the kitchen.

 

Food From Many Greek Kitchens

by Tessa Kiros

In Greece, everyone has a vasilopita (cake) at New Year. The wonderful thing about this cake is that a flouri (coin) is added before baking. If you’re lucky to get the piece with the coin, you’ll be blessed for the year. Don’t you love that sense of celebration the Greeks have?” No one captures the spirit and soul of a place quite like Tessa Kiros. Her bestselling cookbooks Twelve, Piri Piri Starfish and Venezia took her global audience of readers, keen cooks and armchair travellers on magical journeys through Tuscany, Portugal and Venice respectively. So who better than Greek-Cypriot Tessa to take you on a colourful journey into the Greek kitchens of her friends and family, cataloguing the traditional foods for fasting, festivals and feast days in her own enchanting way.

 

Non-fiction

 

The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe

by Peter Godwin

In mid-2008, after thirty years of increasingly tyrannical rule, Robert Mugabe, the eighty-four-year-old ruler of Zimbabwe, met his politburo. He had just lost an election. But instead of conceding power, he was persuaded to launch a brutal campaign of terror to cower his citizens. Journalist and author Peter Godwin was one of the few observers to slip into the country and bear witness to the terrifying period that Zimbabweans call, simply, the Fear.

Following on from his compelling and moving memoirs, Mukiwa and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, this is a personal journey through the country Peter Godwin grew up in and knows so well – a landscape and a people grotesquely altered – laid waste by a raging despot.

At considerable risk, he travels widely to see the torture bases, the burned villages, the death squads, the opposition leaders in hiding, the last white farmers, the churchmen and the diplomats putting their own lives on the line to stop the carnage.

Told with Godwin’s brilliant eye for character and natural story-telling gifts, this dark story of Africa’s corruption and violence is populated by extraordinary characters whose lives have been shaped by the Fear.

Godwin has become the pre-eminent chronicler of his country’s tragic past decade… Godwin himself took considerable risks by reporting illegally from Zimbabwe during that period and at one point had to flee the country, but he has excellent connections and a remarkable ability to be in the right place at the right time. He is also a compelling writer who leavens the horror with an endless array of colourful characters, wry insights and amusing anecdotes.’”         The Times

 

Radical Middle: Memoirs of an Accidental Revolutionary

by Denis Beckett

Denis Beckett is a man on a mission, and as these memoirs show, always has been. These recollections of his start in a career of journalism, first with various newspapers in the ‘70’s and then with his idiosyncratic magazine Frontline in the ‘80’s, show the curve of a man who was never willing to compromise his own vision, integrity and curiosity in favour of the reigning pieties (whether left or right) of the time. In the current climate where media freedom is once again under something like a siege, it is instructive and timely to revisit the struggles of someone who had to go through it all the first time round, and Beckett is an unusually witty and irreverent companion through his own trajectory. However, what makes this more than just an entertaining portrait of a period and an interesting individual, is the larger project Beckett has been driving since those days: the vision of a radically democratic society that is as far out of reach now as it was then. Beckett is rueful and self-deprecating about his failure (then as now) to win widespread adherence to this vision, but it is such an attractive one that it is no mystery why, despite the costs of his almost fanatical devotion to it, he is still not willing to let it go. Beckett is a singular man, and this is a singular book that entertains and edifies in equal measures.

 

Steeped in Blood: The Life and Times of a Forensic Scientist

by David Klatzow

Bloody crimes of passion, political assassinations, sinister poisonings, investment fraud and mass mining disasters…Dr David Klatzow has seen it all. During his extraordinary twenty-six-year career as South Africa’s foremost independent forensic scientist, he has investigated countless high-profile and notorious cases.

Steeped in Blood provides gripping accounts of dozens of these cases, including the infamous deaths of Brett Kebble and Inge Lotz, the Helderberg aeroplane crash and the frustrating investigations of the brutal apartheid years. From the Gugulethu Seven and Trojan Horse massacres to the assassination of David Webster, Klatzow’s investigations reveal his fierce determination to unveil the truth in spite of overwhelming state obstructions, police bungling and cover-ups. Unfazed by controversy and unwilling to accept no for an answer, Klatzow’s tenacity, fearlessness and forensic know-how are used to brilliant effect in these fascinating cases.

This book exposes a demanding and sinister world where the rewards are equalled only by the frustrations, and where the truth is always elusive. But the truth is out there, and David Klatzow will find it.

 

Are We Related? The New Granta Book of the Family  

by Liz Jobey

Granta magazine has published some of the best writing about family and relationships in the English language. Over the years, its writers have dealt with the most difficult, the most important and the most personal relationships of their lives. Since Granta Books’ publication, in 1993, of Blake Morrison’s And When Did You Last See Your Father?, Granta has carried pieces of non-fiction and fiction about the family from writers including Doris Lessing, Jane Anne Phillips, Hanif Kureishi, Jackie Kay, Helen Simpson, Linda Grant, Orhan Pamuk, Graham Swift, Ian Jack, Justine Picardie, Edmund White, Joy Williams, John McGahern, Jon McGregor, Paul Theroux, A.L. Kennedy, Siri Hustvedt and David Goldblatt. The New Granta Book of the Family collects together a stunning variety of pieces about every member of the family.

 

School Blues

by Daniel Pennac

Daniel Pennac has never forgotten what it was like to be a very unsatisfactory student, nor the day one of his teachers saved his life by assigning him the task of writing a novel. This was the moment Pennac realized that no-one has to be a failure forever. In School Blues, Pennac explores the many facets of schooling: how fear makes children reject education; how children can be captivated by inventive thinking; how consumerism has altered attitudes to learning. Haunted by memories of his own turbulent time in the classroom, Pennac enacts dialogues with his teachers, his parents and his own students, and serves up much more than a bald analysis of how young people are consistently failed by a faltering system. School Blues is not only universally applicable, but it is unquestionably a work of literature in its own right, driven by subtlety, sensitivity and a passion for pedagogy, while embracing the realities of contemporary culture.

Every education minister, every teacher, every parent should read this.”            Michael Morpurgo

Explodes every cliché about schoolchildren with brilliant vitality.”            Elle

 

The Happiness Equation: The Surprising Economics of Our Most Valuable Asset

by Nick Powdthavee
 

How do we account for what makes us happy? Everybody wants to be happy. But how much happiness – precisely – will each life choice bring? Should I get married? Am I really going to feel happy about the career that I picked? How can we decide not only which choice is better for us, but how much it’s better for us? The result of new, unique research, The Happiness Equation brings to a general readership for the first time the new science of happiness economics.

Dr. Nattavudh (Nick) Powdthavee is a researcher in applied microeconometrics, happiness data, health economics, labour economics, experimental and behavioural economics at the University of York.

 

The German Genius : Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution and the Twentieth Century  

by Peter Watson

From the end of the Baroque age and the death of Bach in 1750 to the rise of Hitler in 1933, Germany was transformed from a poor relation among western nations into a dominant intellectual and cultural force more influential than France, Britain, Italy, Holland, and the United States. In the early decades of the 20th century, German artists, writers, philosophers, scientists, and engineers were leading their freshly-unified country to new and undreamed of heights, and by 1933 they had won more Nobel prizes than anyone else and more than the British and Americans combined. But this genius was cut down in its prime with the rise and subsequent fall of Adolf Hitler and his fascist Third Reich-a legacy of evil that has overshadowed the nation’s contributions ever since. Yet how did the Germans achieve their pre-eminence beginning in the mid-18th century? In this fascinating cultural history, Peter Watson, author of Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud, goes back through time to explore the origins of the German genius, how it flourished and shaped our lives, and, most importantly, to reveal how it continues to shape our world. As he convincingly demonstrates, while we may hold other European cultures in higher esteem, it was German thinking-from Bach to Nietzsche to Freud-that actually shaped modern America and Britain in ways that resonate today.

 

The Tiger

by John Vaillant

It’s December 1997, and a man-eating tiger is on the prowl outside a remote village in Russia’s Far East. The tiger isn’t just killing people, it’s annihilating them, and a team of men and their dogs must hunt it on foot through the forest in the brutal cold. As the trackers sift through the gruesome remains of the victims, they discover that these attacks aren’t random: the tiger is apparently engaged in a vendetta. Injured, starving, and extremely dangerous, the tiger must be found before it strikes again.

As he re-creates these extraordinary events, John Vaillant gives us an unforgettable portrait of this spectacularly beautiful and mysterious region. We meet the native tribes who for centuries have worshipped and lived alongside tigers, even sharing their kills with them. We witness the arrival of Russian settlers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, soldiers and hunters who greatly diminished the tiger populations. And we come to know their descendants, who, crushed by poverty, have turned to poaching and further upset the natural balance of the region.

This ancient, tenuous relationship between man and predator is at the very heart of this remarkable book. Throughout we encounter surprising theories of how humans and tigers may have evolved to coexist, how we may have developed as scavengers rather than hunters, and how early Homo sapiens may have fit seamlessly into the tiger’s ecosystem. Above all, we come to understand the endangered Siberian or Amur tiger, a highly intelligent super-predator that can grow to ten feet long, weigh more than six hundred pounds, and range daily over vast territories of forest and mountain.

Beautifully written and deeply informative, The Tiger circles around three main characters: Vladimir Markov, a poacher killed by the tiger; Yuri Trush, the lead tracker; and the tiger himself. It is an absolutely gripping tale of man and nature that leads inexorably to a final showdown in a clearing deep in the taiga.

Few writers have taken such pains to understand their monsters, and few depict them in such arresting prose.”               New York Times Book Review

A remarkable story, exceptionally well told.”    Financial Times

“…read this fine, true book in the warmth, beside the flicker of firelight. Read it and be afraid. Be very afraid.”                   Simon Winchester

 

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

by Kathryn Schulz

Being wrong is an inescapable part of being alive. And yet, we go through life tacitly assuming (or loudly insisting) that we are right about nearly everything – from our political beliefs to our private memories, from our grasp of scientific fact to the merits of our favourite team. Being Wrong looks at why this conviction has such a powerful grip on us, what happens when this conviction is shaken, and how we interpret the moral, political and psychological significance of being wrong. Drawing on philosophies old and new and cutting-edge neuroscience, Kathryn Schulz offers an eloquent exploration of the allure of certainty and the necessity of fallibility in four main areas: in religion (when the end of the world fails to be nigh); in politics (where were those WMD?); in memory (where did I leave my keys?); and in love (when Mr or Miss Right becomes Mr or Miss Wrong).

In this lovely book the forbiddingly clever and vexingly wise journalist Kathryn Schulz argues passionately for the value of error.”           Guardian

A brilliant new manifesto urging us to reassess our relationship with our own mistakes.”             Independent

Firmly in the Gladwellesque genre of applying savvy journalistic technique to produce insights.”             Financial Times

An insightful and delightful discussion of why we make mistakes and why we don’t know we are making them.”                             International Herald Tribune

A compelling meditation on the human condition … Schulz exposes the psychological tricks we play on ourselves.”             New Scientist

 

Under the Ivy: The Story of Kate Bush 

by Graeme Thomson

This is the first ever in-depth study of Kate Bush’s life and career. Under the Ivy features over 70 unique and revealing new interviews with those who have viewed from up close both the public artist and the private woman: old school friends, early band mates, long-term studio collaborators, former managers, producers, musicians, video directors, dance instructors and record company executives. Under the Ivy undertakes a full analysis of Bush’s art. From her pre-teen forays into poetry, through scores of unreleased songs. Every crucial aspect of her music is discussed from her ground-breaking series of albums to her solo live tour. Her pioneering forays into dance, video, film and performance. Combining a wealth of new research with rigorous critical scrutiny, Under the Ivy offers a string of fresh insights and perspectives on her unusual upbringing in South London, the blossoming of her talent, her enduring influences and unique working methods, her rejection of live performance, her pioneering use of the studio, her key relationships and her gradual retreat into a semi-mythical privacy.

 

Fiction

 

Nourishment

by Gerard Woodward

With her children evacuated and her husband at the front, Tory Pace is grudgingly sharing the family home with her irascible mother; working at the local gelatine factory – to help the war effort – and generally doing just about as well as could be expected in difficult times. Her quiet life is thrown into turmoil, however, when her prisoner-of-war husband, Donald, makes an outrageous demand for sexual gratification. He wants a dirty letter, by return of post! Horrified, at first, that Donald is being turned into some sort of monster by the Nazis, Tory’s disgust gradually gives way to a sense of marital duty, and taking in the libraries, bookshops, public conveniences and barbers’ shops of South-East London, she begins a quest to master the language of carnal desire: a quest that takes a sudden and unexpected turn into far more dangerous territory.

Beginning with an act of unintentional cannibalism, and flirting with a scheme to end world hunger by the use of protein pills, Nourishment ranges widely across the Continent and yet always returns home: to family, to people, to relationships. Woodward offers a prescient examination of the ways in which we both nurture and consume each other in the face of adversity.

Beautifully written, with a surprisingly comic undertow, Nourishment is a study of family, comfort, endurance and adversity, as well as being a super page-turner! Highly recommended.

A compendium of long-held secrets, Nourishment excels in sharp plot turns and surprise chapter endings. As the action moves on, then loops back, from startling set piece to dramatic revelation…Woodward’s imagination is highly original…his bizarre scenarios shed an unsparing light on a period that is more often seen as a cosy backdrop to individual heroism or romantic love.”         Sunday Times

“[Woodward] began as a poet, and the virtues of English lyric poetry are carried over into his prose: verbal precision, detailed visual observation, arresting simile and metaphor…line by line it is consistently inventive and witty, and there are great set pieces throughout…The gifts and facilities of a highly original writer are all on display.”                Guardian

“[Nourishment] is engrossing and witty…Woodward has a gift for describing unorthodox behaviour…a deeply satisfying book – more akin to a filling roast dinner than to some of the gelatinous concoctions currently on the market.”         Times Literary Supplement

 

Blood Meridian

by Cormac McCarthy

Before man was, war waited for him.” Judge Holden.

Cormac McCarthy’s epic retelling of how the real American west was won crosses the border of beautiful fiction and violent parable to become an epic meditation on the brutal hearts of men. Based on actual events in the Mexico/Texas desert of the 1850’s, it retraces the journey of ‘The Kid’, a runaway who joins a gang of outlaws and scalp-hunters in the employ of the government to clear the frontierland of Indians. But as their mission becomes increasingly deranged, their path a warpath, it is soon made clear that the only master they follow is really the god of war himself. Led by the Mephisto-like figure of Judge Holden, a hairless, murdering giant who seems to possess both supernatural knowledge and strength, the desert they inhabit becomes a bloody stage upon which men are reduced to brute forces of nature and the iconoclasm of mankind is played out. The writing is breathtaking and it is hard to believe that McCarthy wasn’t there, or at least hasn’t lived in the desert on bread and water for extended periods. The attention to detail of the land and its creatures is masterful and it reads as if Faulkner, Dante and Melville saddled up, went berserk on raw tequila and carnage and decided to write about it. Not for the faint hearted but highly, highly recommended.

 

The Death of King Arthur

by Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd’s retelling of Le Morte d’Arthur – an immortal story of chivalry, treachery and death brought to new life for our times. The legend of King Arthur has retained its appeal and popularity through the ages: Mordred’s treason, the knightly exploits of Tristan, Lancelot’s fatally divided loyalties and his love for Guenevere, the quest for the Holy Grail. Now retold by Peter Ackroyd with his signature clarity, charm and relish for a good story, the result is not only one of the most readable accounts of the knights of the Round Table but also one of the most moving.

I thought Peter Ackroyd’s Morte d’Arthur was masterful. The quality I admired most was the absolute clarity of the storytelling. This story – or set of stories – has to move with both swiftness and dignity, and yoking those two qualities together is not an easy task; but Ackroyd does it with ease. I think he can probably do anything. I admire this version enormously.”                      Phillip Pullman

 

Super Sad True Love Story

by Gary Shteyngart

New York, Summer, Very near future, Economic collapse, tanks in the streets, riots in Central Park, defeat in Venezuela, books are quaint artefacts, what’s left of the indebted United States is about to be parcelled out to the rising nations of Finance-London and China-Worldwide, and what’s left of interpersonal relations can be summarized by a couple of flashing statistics on attractiveness and wealth. But Lenny Abramov is too in love to notice any of it. The son of working-class Russian immigrants, a bumbling minor functionary in a company that just may hold the secret to eternal life, and the reluctant star of a show called “101 People We Need To Feel Sorry For”, he has fallen way too hard for the imperious Eunice Park, a blistering, beautiful Korean-American, a seductive shopper and brilliant money-spender who still knows how to speak in sentences, and a true child of her times. As the country around them explodes into a million glittering pieces, the two will discover whether love is still possible in a world where words have lost their meaning, and where every touch, embrace and kiss could be mistaken for a commodity. By the author of Absurdistan.

Gary Shteyngart’s wonderful new novel is a supersad, superfunny, superaffecting performance.”           Scotland on Sunday

 

Fame

by Daniel Kehlmann

In the first of Fame‘s nine stories, the technician Ebling whose high point of the week is the Wiener Schnitzel on the office canteen menu, at last succumbs to the blandishments of the mobile phone and through an error is assigned the number of the actor Ralf Tanner. Soon he is taking Tanner’s calls, making his decisions and talking to his girlfriends without any responsibility – with disastrous consequences.
The main theme of this clever novel is switching identity amidst the effects of modern changing technology and the confusing game of deception played between reality and fiction. The characters fear obscurity, they dream of recognition and of being the inspiration for famous stories…

By the author of Measuring the World.

Who would have thought contemporary Central European literature could be so fun and so funny? Daniel Kehlmann is who. The young Austrian prodigy has given us a real beauty of a book, farcical, satiric, melancholic, and humane. Modern fame may have been invented in America, but nobody has dramatized its paradoxes and heartbreaks more entertainingly than the European Kehlmann does here.”           Jonathan Franzen

 

The Death Instinct

by Jed Rubenfeld

A wonderful literary thriller about terror, war, greed, and the darkest secrets of the human soul, by the author of the million-copy bestseller, The Interpretation of Murder. September 16, 1920.  Under a clear blue September sky, a quarter ton of explosives is detonated in a deadly attack on Wall Street. Fear comes to the streets of New York.

Witnessing the blast are war veteran Stratham Younger, his friend James Littlemore of the New York Police Department, and beautiful French radiochemist Colette Rousseau.  A series of inexplicable attacks on Colette, a secret buried in her past, and a mysterious trail of evidence lead Younger, Littlemore, and Rousseau on a thrilling international and psychological journey – from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Dr Sigmund Freud to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, and ultimately to the hidden depths of our most savage instincts.  As the seemingly disjointed pieces of Younger and Littlemore’s investigations come together, the two uncover the shocking truth about the bombing – a truth that threatens to shake their world to its foundations.

 

Short Stories

 

The Lottery and Other Stories

by Shirley Jackson

An unknown band, Pencil Tin, had an album called A Gentle Hand to Guide You, and that is the best way to describe the most amazing experience which is reading a Shirley Jackson short story. Her writing is so gentle and precise that it feels as if you are on a guided art tour. And where she takes you is so unexpected that you fall under her spell straightaway. Jackson was a housewife and wrote most of her work between the late 40s early 50s. Her unnerving love of horror catches you off guard. She carves open the underbelly of suburban small town America with an electric meat cleaver and dishes it up on such fine china that you can’t decline a second helping. The title story in this collection, The Lottery and Other Stories is the story she is best known for. Neil Gaiman and Stephen King are on her fan list and after reading this book, you will be too.

 

 

Something Special

 

In Still Light

by Marc Stanes

In Still Light is a beautiful,  individually numbered limited edition publication featuring a carefully considered selection of Stanes’ most memorable studio still life photographs from the last 20 years. The book is a exploration of Stanes’ fascination with the beauty, sculptural quality and abstract construction of the natural world. Since his first solo still life photographic exhibition in London in 1994, Stanes’ works have frequently been shown in the USA, UK and SA and enjoy representation in both private and public collections across the globe.

 

Human Chain

by Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney’s twelfth collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present – the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, as lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems which stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other ‘hermit songs’ which weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet’s early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled ‘Route 110’ plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s adolescence to the birth of the poet’s first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead – friends, neighbours and family – which is yet wholly and movingly vernacular. Human Chain also adapts a poetic ‘herbal’ by the Breton poet Guillevic – lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things which excludes human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included.

 

Street Knowledge

by King Adz

This eye-catching encyclopaedia of street culture includes old-school graffiti legends, avant-garde street artists, film-makers, DJ’s, designers, writers and poets who have influenced urban culture and shaped urban cool. From the ground-breaking New York artists of the 1980s to the unique work of modern-day Iranians – this book shows how street culture has penetrated every aspect of modern life.

Street Knowledge includes work and exclusive interviews from some of the world’s most famous artists and talents, such as Banksy, David LaChapelle, Kelsey Brookes, Quik, Tony Kaye, Tama Janowitz, The KLF, Shawn Stussy, Obey, Irvine Welsh, Martha Cooper and Benjamin Zephaniah, as well as lesser-known and up-coming talents who are literally coming up from the streets to a gallery, cinema, clothes shop or mp3 player near you.

It also looks at the cities where all this is happening right now and gives the reader a mini city-guide to where the hottest spots are to be found and where to eat sleep shop drink and check out the freshest art, design and fashion. This is the first comprehensive and in-depth look at street culture which covers so many different media. Completely brilliant.

 

Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool

by Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka

One of the most influential and internationally renowned artists working today. Best known for his images of devilishly cute and sometimes menacing animals and children, Nara’s work relates not only to Japanese kawaii (cute) popular culture, but also reflects the sensibilities of youth subcultures worldwide with their focus on alienation and rebellion. This beautiful, boxed volume assembles twenty years worth of paintings, sculptures, photographs and drawings that map Nara’s artistic evolution, and makes connections between Nara’s work and Rock and Punk music, which have been both the inspiration and subject of many of his works. It includes new artworks from his collection, along with ephemera and playlists that have been selected by the artist to accompany the viewing of this artwork. The text contributions come from many of Nara’s previous collaborators, including noted art critic Matsui Midori, curators Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka, associate editor of ArtForum, Michael Wilson, musician Ira Kaplan from Yo La Tengo, and design collective director Hideki Toyoshima.

 

The Lost Diaries

by Craig Brown

The Lost Diaries is a wide-ranging anthology of the world’s greatest diarists, each of them channelled onto paper through the considerable psychic force that is Craig Brown – the inimitable parodist at Private Eye.

Arranged on a day-to-day basis, spread throughout an entire year, these diary extracts form a patchwork quilt of observation, reflection, contemplation and, above all, self-promotion. As the months unfold, different diarists offer their insights on the events that pass: John Prescott on going to Royal Ascot, Nigella Lawson on preparing Christmas lunch, W.G. Sebald on enjoying an ice lolly by the beach, Karl Lagerfeld on the need for an umbrella in Spring.

Among over 200 diarists featured are Martin Amis, Jordan, The Duchess of Devonshire, President Barack Obama, Philip Roth, HM the Queen, Heather Mills McCartney, Victoria Beckham, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sir Cecil Beaton, Harold Pinter, Yoko Ono, Barbara Cartland, Jeremy Clarkson, Jeanette Winterson, Sylvia Plath and Keith Richards.

 

Afrikaanse Hoekie

Die Sneeuslaper

deur Marlene van Niekerk

 Die hart het redes wat die Rede nie ken nie”, het Pascal eens gesê, en in die vier stories (vermom as onderskeidelik, ‘n Professorale intreerede, ‘n ‘n begrafnisrede, ‘n veldwerkverslag en ‘n lesing) lê Marlene van Niekerk hierdie verhouding uit soos stellig niemand anders in die Afrikaanse letterkunde dit kan doen nie. Die vier stories hier versamel is verweef met mekaar, met karakters en leitmotifs (soos lewerikke en spieëls) wat hulle met mekaar verbind. Maar eintlik is die geheel hier tematies – Van Niekerk ondersoek die soorte troos wat storievertel kan bring, en daar is ‘n rare emosionele diepte by hierdie ongewone vertellinge wat net versterk word deur die selfbewuste refleksie wat sy terselfdertyd tot die vertel van die stories bring. Die stories gaan naamlik nie net om die gebeure daarin verhaal nie, maar ook veral om hoe en die hoekom en die waar en die waarom en die wie van die vertelling self. Die stories is diepsinnig, maar veral dieproerend – “geen begeerte sonder tegniek” sê Van Niekerk herhalend, en hierdie is ‘n meestersklas in die skryfkuns sonder gelyke.

 

Lovely Children’s Books

Great new children’s books with amazing illustrations have been popping onto our shelves this month.

Olivia Goes to Venice

by Ian Falconer

The first one to highlight would of course be the new Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer. As gorgeous as ever, Olivia and her family go on vacation to Venice and if the pigeons don’t attack her, she stuffs herself with ice cream. Venice might be a spectacular city, but with Olivia’s added flair, there is magic everywhere! As funny as always, Olivia remains our number one stylish girl-pig.

 

Children Make Terrible Pets

by Peter Brown

 Then a new kid on the picture book block, is the adorable Peter Brown’s book Children Make Terrible Pets. When a little bear strolls through the woods and finds a lost boy, she thinks he would be the most adorable pet and decides to take him home. She calls him Squeaker and tries to get him to do all kinds of hilarious things with her. When Squeaker goes missing she is heartbroken, until she finds him back with his “own kind”.  The illustrations are old-school magical and the twist of the story great for children who want pets!

 

Up and Down

by the Wonderful Oliver Jeffers

Next book to rave about has to be the new Oliver Jeffers, Up and Down. Oliver Jeffers has a huge fan club (and that is not just the staff) and has done a bit of sequel to Lost and Found, the story of a boy and his penguin. In the new book, Penguin wants to be like other birds and fly and the boy tells his friend that this is not possible. The Penguin decides to run away and reach his dream on his own, but he cannot shake the loneliness of not having the Boy around… Jeffers writes the most beautiful friendship stories and along with his water colour illustrations, he has another winner on his hands.

Come and visit and we will show you all the other cool new books – there’s not even enough space here to draw a picture of how amazing they all are!

Anthony Butler: Paying for Politics

Monday, October 25th 2010 at 5:30 PM

The relationship between money and politics is at the heart of South Africa’s democracy. A healthy democracy needs strong political parties and vibrant election campaigns. But the money needed to pay for democratic competition can place undue power in the hands of wealthy individuals and companies. It can also promote corruption and the abuse of state power.
Paying for Politics explores the challenges of party funding reform in South Africa today. It first investigates experiences elsewhere in the South. Chapters by leading international specialists focus on middle income developing countries such as Mexico, Botswana, Russia, Brazil and Malaysia, and on the lessons they have to share with our own political leaders. Key controversies in South African party finance reform – including one-party dominance, party controlled businesses, corruption, and public financing – are explored in the second half of the book by leading analysts, academics and journalists.

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Storytime: Counting

Saturday, October 23rd 2010 at 11:00 AM

One, two, three, four, five…and so it goes. Counting to ten is one of the first things we learn. Today we will read some counting tales and have fun with numbers.

 

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Tony Fitzjohn: Born Wild @ the Taj Cape Town

Thursday, October 21st 2010 at 8:00 AM

Tony Weaver and the Cape Times will host lion man Tony Fitzjohn at an event at the Taj Cape Town on Thursday October 21 at 7.30 for 8am until 9.30am.

Fitzjohn, who worked with George Adamson at Kora Reserve for 18 years, is now based in Tanzania where he and his family have established a National Park, working with rhino and wild dogs. The cost of the event is R170 which includes a glass of Krone Borealis Cap Classique on arrival, breakfast, parking and a R10 donation to the Cape Times’s “a library in every school” initiative.

Credit card details essential; 48-hour cancellation required; no-shows will be billed; please specify dietary requirements.

To book call 021 819 2066 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, or email jacqueline.faria@tajhotels.com

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