There is a new imprint in children’s books, called Nosy Crow. They are printing great new books for all ages of young ones and today we will be welcoming them to the bookworld by reading some of their stories. Yeah for more books!
Saturday, July 30th 2011 at 11:00 AM
Thursday, July 28th 2011 at 5:30 PM
Please join editor Arja Salafranca and a number of the contributors for the Cape Town launch of this wide-ranging collection of South African short fiction. Contributors who will be here on the evening include: Liesl Jobson, Karina Magdalena Szczurek, Jenna Mervis, Jennifer Lean, Margie Orford, Aryan Kaganof, Rosamund Handler, Tiah Beautement, Jeanne Hromnik and Silke Heiss.
Wednesday, July 27th 2011 at 5:30 PM
Come celebrate the launch of new teen novels by S.A. Partridge (Dark Poppy’s Demise) and Maya Fowler (As jy ’n ster sien verskiet). These are two great young adult novels that really deals with teen issues head on.
Verushka Louw from The Book Lounge will interview the authors, after which there will be an acoustic performance by Mr. Cat & The Jackal.
This event will be at El Burro Restaurant, 81 Main Road, Greenpoint.
Wednesday, July 27th 2011 at 8:54 AM
The longlist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction – the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ – was announced yesterday, Tuesday 26 July. The 13 books on the list include: one former Man Booker Prize winner; two previously shortlisted writers and one longlisted author; four first time novelists and three Canadian writers. The list also includes three new publishers to the prize – Oneworld, Sandstone Press and Seren Books. The Shortlist will be announced on Tuesday 6th September.
Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape – Random House)
Sebastian Barry – On Canaan’s Side (Faber)
Carol Birch – Jamrach’s Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt – The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan – Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail – Profile)
Yvvette Edwards – A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
Alan Hollinghurst – The Stranger’s Child (Picador – Pan Macmillan)
Stephen Kelman – Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
Patrick McGuinness – The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
A.D. Miller – Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Alison Pick – Far to Go (Headline Review)
Jane Rogers – The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
D.J. Taylor – Derby Day (Chatto & Windus – Random House)
Tuesday, July 26th 2011 at 9:50 AM
July 2011 Newsletter
Book of the Month
The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg
Based on the tragic true story of a Jewish ghetto in WW2, this is an epic novel following the dark and flawed authoritarian ruler of Łódz.
In February 1940, the Nazis established what would become the second largest Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Łódz. Its chosen leader: Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a sixty-three-year-old Jewish businessman and orphanage director, and the elusive, authoritarian power sustaining the ghetto’s very existence. From one of Scandinavia’s most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors, The Emperor of Lies chronicles the tale of Rumkowski’s monarchical rule over a quarter of a million Jews. Driven by a titanic ambition, he sought to transform the ghetto into a productive industrial complex and strove to make it – and himself – indispensable to the Nazi regime. Drawing on the chronicles of life in the Łódz ghetto, Steve Sem-Sandberg captures the full panorama of human resilience, and questions the nature of evil. He asks the most difficult questions: Was Rumkowski a ruthless opportunist, an accessory to the Nazi regime driven by a lust for power? Or was he a pragmatic strategist who managed to save Jewish lives through his collaboration policies?
“Sem-Sandberg has achieved something monumental, but with a strange and necessary lightness of touch. The Emperor of Lies is sobering, scarifying, and, in its hunger for the truth, enthralling.” Sebastian Barry, author of The Secret Scripture
“Majestic…Frankly speaking it’s an amazing novel…Part of the great achievement here is owed to how masterfully Steve Sem-Sandberg has managed to filter his material to a story with both cinematic flexibility and graphic clarity.” Mikael van Reis, Göteborgs-Posten
“Sem-Sandberg’s achievement is that this history becomes but a background to a multitude of vivid characters, the ordinary Jewish people of the ghetto, whose experiences he weaves expertly into a mesmerising whole…Dickens would have been very pleased with this novel.” Carmen Callil, Guardian
“Translated from the Swedish, The Emperor of Lies is a brilliantly sustained work of historical fiction. At its terrible heart is a warning to those delivering facile judgments of condemnation: only those who survived Łódz have the right to forgive or condemn, and even they are not properly fit to do so, for those who fathomed the degradation did not come back to tell the tale.” Daily Telegraph
We have three copies of this wonderful book to give away. To enter the draw, email us at email@example.com. Winners will be drawn on 10th August. Many thanks to Book Promotions for these.
Last Man in the Tower by Aravind Adaga
Ask any Bombaywallah about Vishram Society – Tower A of the Vishram Co-operative Housing Society – and you will be told that it is unimpeachably pucca. Despite its location close to the airport, under the flight path of 747s and bordered by slums, it has been pucca for some fifty years. But Bombay has changed in half a century – not least its name – and the world in which Tower A was first built is giving way to a new city; a Mumbai of development and new money; of wealthy Indians returning with fortunes made abroad. When real estate developer Dharmen Shah offers to buy out the residents of Vishram Society, planning to use the site to build a luxury apartment complex, his offer is more than generous. Initially, though, not everyone wants to leave; many of the residents have lived in Vishram for years, many of them are no longer young. But none can benefit from the offer unless all agree to sell. As tensions rise among the once civil neighbours, one by one those who oppose the offer give way to the majority, until only one man stands in Shah’s way: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher, once the most respected man in the building. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbours – friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co-conspirators – may stop at nothing to score their payday. A suspense-filled story of money and power, luxury and deprivation; a rich tapestry peopled by unforgettable characters, not least of which is Bombay itself, Last Man in Tower opens up the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of a great city – ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows none.
“Savage, sordid and ever so sad….a dizzying portrait of Mumbai.” Sunday Telegraph
“This is a very fine novel, wonderfully rich in detail and the evocation of everyday life…It has a range, ambition and humanity which one rarely finds in contemporary British or US fiction: further evidence that the true successors of the European novelists of the 19th century are now to be found in the Indian sub-continent and the Arab world.” Allan Massie, The Scotsman
“As well paced as any crime story but so much more. Every one of the huge cast of characters is brilliantly drawn. I am aghast with admiration. There is no one writing fiction as good as this in Britain or America.” AN Wilson
“Adiga’s writing is rich and lush…The scope, in this novel teeming with life and skulduggery, is indeed Dickensian, although the characterisation is anything but…Adiga’s characters are bundles of moral ambivalence… He is a writer who is evocative, entertaining and angry.” Daily Telegraph
“This is what makes Last Man in Tower as honest a book as it is entertaining: funny and engaging as he can be, Adiga never forgets the seriousness of his subject, or the general corruption.” The Times
“Last Man in Tower retains The White Tiger’s dynamism and adds some of the finesse of Between the Assassinations… Dominating the narrative is Mumbai itself, once again one of the mightiest cities on earth… Adiga lays out this most frenetic of megalopolises before us, by turns fascinating, sensual and horrifying, as his writing takes an impressive step onwards.” Independent
River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
The long-awaited sequel to Sea of Poppies – Part II of the Ibis Trilogy – has finally arrived!
In September 1838 a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared – two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall? Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces?
On the grand scale of an historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together. All struggle to cope with their losses – and for some, unimaginable freedoms – in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th century Canton. As transporting and mesmerizing as an opiate induced dream, River of Smoke will soon be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first century literature.
Smut: Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett
“When you are as old as Canon Mollison,” Mr Forbes said patiently, “one of the few perks of the job is talking to young people about the sexual act. What in any other context would probably get him arrested, in the vestry passes for spiritual advice.”
Two Stories – The Shielding of Mrs Forbes: Graham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother, who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. Although her own husband isn’t all that satisfactory either. Still, this is Alan Bennett, so what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately more true to people’s predilections.
The Greening of Mrs Donaldson: Mrs Donaldson is a conventional middle-class woman beached on the shores of widowhood after a marriage that had been much like many others: happy to begin with, then satisfactory and finally dull. But when she decides to take in two lodgers, her mundane life becomes much more stimulating…
“Smut offers plenty of Bennett’s trademark pleasures…consistently amusing and full of witty turns of phrase.” Guardian
“Amusingly peculiar…tender and comic…joyous anarchism…It is good, old-fashioned British humour with the lightest of subversive twists.” Independent
“Unmitigated delight.” The Times
“Alan Bennett continues to surprise and delight.” Sunday Telegraph
The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
In the rainswept summer of 1968, Rose sets off for the United States from Kentish Town to meet a man she knows as Washington Harold, in her suitcase a polka-dot dress and a one-way ticket. In a country rocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King and a rising groundswell of violence, they are to join forces in search of the charismatic and elusive Dr Wheeler – oracle, guru and redeemer – whom Rose credits with rescuing her from a terrible childhood, and against whom Harold nurses a silent grudge. As they trail their quarry, zigzagging through America in a camper van, the odd couple – Rose, damaged child of grey postwar Britain, and nervous, obsessive, driven Harold – encounter a ragged counter-cultural army of Wheeler’s acolytes, eddying among dangerous currents of obscure dissent and rage. But somewhere in the wide American darkness, Dr Wheeler is waiting.
“It is as a last excursion into a unique fictional terrain that this spirited, spiky and vividly personal book most irresistibly appeals.” Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
“A tour de force, well able to take its place alongside two other books that I judge to be her masterpieces, An Awfully Big Adventure and Master Georgie.” Financial Times
“The atmosphere of Bainbridge’s early books returns in this last novel…The unease is extensive, it comes out, mingled brilliantly with light, Chekhovian comedy.” The Times
“A superb and memorable work of fiction.” Melvyn Bragg, Observer
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
There were people on the banks of the river. Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women forever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh, Anders’s colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders’s wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend’s steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest. What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination. Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough.
Pure by Andrew Miller
A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting priests.
A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love…
A year unlike any other he has lived.
Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it.
At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.
“Every so often a historical novel comes along that is so natural, so far from pastiche, so modern, that it thrills and expands the mind. Pure is one…Miller’s newly minted sentences are arresting, often unsettling and always thought-provoking. Exquisite inside and out, Pure is a near-faultless thing: detailed, symbolic and richly evocative of a time, place and man in dangerous flux. It is brilliance distilled, with very few impurities.” Telegraph
“It is an audacious novelist who can so knowingly prefigure the symbolism at the heart of his own work without threatening the success of the entire enterprise. It is fortunate, then, that Miller is a writer of subtlety and skill…Unlike many parables, however, Pure is neither laboured nor leaden. Miller writes like a poet, with a deceptive simplicity – his sentences and images are intense distillations, conjuring the fleeting details of existence with clarity. He is also a very humane writer, whose philosophy is tempered always with an understanding of the flaws and failings of ordinary people…Pure defies the ordinary conventions of storytelling, slipping dream-like between lucidity and a kind of abstracted elusiveness… As Miller proves with this dazzling novel, it is not certainty we need but courage.” Guardian
“One of the most brilliant aspects of Miller’s writing is his ability to question unobtrusively, through style alone, sentimentality about both life under the Bourbons and the creative destruction of revolution…he has an instinctive knack for casting bright similes, never overextended, that ripple suggestively…The writing throughout is crystalline, uncontrived, striking and intelligent. You could call it pure.” Review
Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
It is an ordinary afternoon in 1938 for the celebrated American novelist St John Fox, hard at work in the study of his suburban home – until his long-absent muse wanders in. Mary Foxe (beautiful, British and 100% imaginary) is in a playfully combative mood. “You’re a villain,” she tells him. “A serial killer… can you grasp that?”
Mr Fox has a predilection for murdering his heroines. Mary is determined to change his ways. And so she challenges him to join her in stories of their own devising, and the result is an exploration of love like no other.
It isn’t long before Mrs Daphne Fox becomes suspicious, and St John is offered a choice: a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit. Can there be a happy ending this time?
Mr Fox is a magical book, as witty as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.
“An outstanding addition to an impressive body of work, this is Oyeyemi’s best, most beautiful novel yet.” Independent on Sunday
“Her depiction of Mr Fox’s hard-boiled swagger and Mary s life as a lonely English governess is funny and fresh.” Daily Telegraph
“The dialogue zips along and Oyeyemi reveals a twinkling sense of humour…Lovers of metafiction, magic realism and all things fabulist will find Oyeyemi’s energetic imagination a delight.” Independent
“Funny, deep, shocking, wry, heart-warming and spine-chilling. She offers a phantasmagorical rendering of the deepest emotional truths, not least among which is a razor-sharp dissection of the topsy-turvy logic of misogyny that blames women for the violence inflicted on them. She’s not real, honey, St John assures Daphne about Mary. ‘She’s only an idea. I made her up.’ Oyeyemi breathes life into ideas like nobody else.” Guardian
Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer
Tree of Codes, is a haunting new story by best-selling American writer, Jonathan Safran Foer. With a different die-cut on every page, Tree of Codes explores previously unchartered literary territory. Initially deemed impossible to make, the book is a first – as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling. Inspired to exhume a new story from an existing text, Jonathan Safran Foer has taken his favourite book, The Street of Crocodiles by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz (also in stock at the Book Lounge) and used it as a canvas, cutting into and out of the pages, to arrive at an original new story told in Safran Foer’s own acclaimed voice. Tree of Codes is the story of ‘an enormous last day of life’. As one character’s life is chased to extinction, Safran Foer layers the story with immense, anxious, at times disorientating imagery, crossing both a sense of time and place, making the story of one person’s last day everyone’s story. The book has a broad appeal: to both literary audiences, intrigued by Safran Foer’s new way of writing and to design and art audiences who will revel in the book’s remarkable and unique visual experience.
Open City by Teju Cole
“The past, if there is such a thing, is mostly empty space, great expanses of nothing, in which significant persons and events float. Nigeria was like that for me: mostly forgotten, except for those few things that I remembered with outsize intensity.”
Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. Though he is navigating the busy parts of town, the impression of countless faces does nothing to assuage his feelings of isolation. But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius criss-crosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey – which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognisable facets of his own soul. A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss, dislocation, and surrender, Open City seethes with intelligence. Written in a clear, rhythmic voice that lingers, this book is a mature, profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our world.
A Match for Dr Koekentapp
And now for something completely different on the South African book scene: a slapstick Jewish comedy set in the Jo’burg northern suburbs. GP Dr Koekentapp is called to the Levy home to attend to a Mr Levy’s kidney stone. Mrs Levy sets her eyes on the young doctor, spotting the perfect marriage material for her daughter Sylvia and is delighted when the two of them are immediately attracted. But to her horror, Mrs Levy discovers that Dr Koekentapp is not Jewish. The tale complicates, involves her scheming and plotting to convert him to Judaism (witness the scene where he is circumsised to the accompaniment of a Scottish pipe band), the bizarre roles played by her family and friends to achieve this end, and the frenetic interference and bewildering hitches in his life and medical practice. Broadly funny and ribald comedy that delights in lewd word plays and allusions in which goy and Jewry alike will find common purpose
Monsieur Linh and His Child by Philipe Claudel
Traumatised by memories of his war-ravaged country, and with his son and daughter-in-law dead, Monsieur Linh travels to a foreign land to take the child in his arms to safety. The other refugees in the detention centre are unsure how to help the old man; his caseworkers are compassionate, but overworked. Monsieur Linh struggles beneath the weight of his sorrow, and becomes increasingly bewildered and isolated in this strange, fast-moving town. And then he encounters Monsieur Bark. Neither speaks the other’s language, but Monsieur Bark is sympathetic to the foreigner’s need to care for the child. Recently widowed and equally alone, he is eager to talk, and Monsieur Linh knows how to listen. The two men share their solitude, and find friendship in an unlikely dialogue between two very different cultures.
Delicate and restrained, but with an extraordinary twist, Monsieur Linh and His Child is another limpid, immensely moving novel of perfect simplicity, by the author of Brodeck’s Report.
The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
The Story of Beautiful Girl is an enthralling love story – with many obstacles thwarting the lovers from being together for decades.
The story begins with Lynnie a young and beautiful disabled white woman with limited speech abilities and Homan, a deaf-mute African American man, who have escaped from the Pennsylvania State School of the Incurable and Feebleminded in the last 1960′s. Lynnie is pregnant and it is imperative to the two that the baby not be born under those circumstances.
The rainy night the baby is born, the two stumble upon a farmhouse of retired grade-school teacher, Martha Zimmer. Hiding in her attic, they are discovered, Lynnie is captured and returned to the school, Homan escapes and in secret, the baby is left behind, in the hopes that Martha will look after her. And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia: lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.
This is an eye-opening look at the treatment of disabled individuals in the mid-twentieth century. Institutionalised, mistreated, and forgotten, Lynnie and Homan are two people who manage not only to survive but to set themselves free. If you liked The Help, you would love this.
Sublime Short Stories
White Collar, Blue Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work edited by Richard Ford
This important collection of stories about work will be a lasting chronicle of how Americans are employed, how they find work and leave it, refuse it or scorn it, how it defines, fascinates, frustrates and ennobles us. Richard Ford’s anthology is not only compelling, but very timely. During this harrowing and protracted economic crisis, unprecedented in the lifetimes of America’s current workforce, our jobs have taken on increased significance as a means not only to carve out progress through the tiers of society, but as the key to personal confidence, hope for the future, and faith in the Nation. As unemployment peaks across the world, and headlines heralding job losses dominate the news media, this collection could not be more relevant or necessary. Contributing writers for Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar range from contemporary Pulitzer Prize winners like Edward P. Jones to iconic short story masters such as Tobias Wolff, and include the voices of many newer writers. The stories encompass a wide range of contemporary literary styles, and the writers represent a range of ages, ethnic backgrounds, and geographical locations, which come together to inspire.
Richard Ford is one of America’s most lauded writers of literary fiction, and the first individual to win both the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for the same work: Independence Day. In addition, Ford has edited anthologies such as The Granta Book of The American Short Story, The Complete Stories of Anton Chekov, and The Best American Short Stories. His critical acclaim positions Ford among America’s most respected living writers.
Cabin Fever and Other Stories by Diane Awerbuck
Short stories have the ability to be so crafty that you get sucked into the scene as a voyeur, feeling the emotions coming at you, but not being able to take part because it all happens so fast. They sweep you up and then leave you next to the road like an unwanted hithchiker. Well done Diane Awerbuck, your collection kicks ass!
Narratives – stretching from graffiti-loving teenage boys to nude swimming grannies – entwine the reader’s world in such a way that each character becomes someone you think you might know. Awerbuck is often inspired by real events – things she read in the paper, stories she has heard – and then mixes this truth with her own sense of mythology. Her choice of words are well thought out, the reader can see that she handpicked them to carry with them the emotions she wants you to feel, often with heart-stopping last sentences. There is a dark beauty in this collection that makes you hope no-one ever sees the flaws in your life under such a well-worded microscope.
Mr Briggs’ Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain’s First Railway Murder by Kate Colquhoun
In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was travelling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner. He entered a First Class carriage on the 9.45pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks entered the carriage and discovered blood in the seat cushions; also on the floor, windows and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain. The race to identify the killer and catch him as he fled on a boat to America was eagerly followed by citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the nation – this is a must for anyone who loved The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.
“Deploying her skill as a historian, Colquhoun turns a single curious murder case into a fascinatingly quirky portrait of the underside of mid-Victorian London. I found it unputdownable.” Daily Telegraph
“(A) thrilling book, which reads at times like a good Victorian novel…an utterly compelling did-he-do-it.” Sunday Times
“An enthralling account of a real life mystery…Her well-told tale would stand up in court – unlike much of the evidence in the case.” Independent
Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How War, Porn and Fast Food Created Technology as We Know it by Peter Nowak
War. Fast Food. Pornography. Pervasive in our culture, these three obsessions may seem to represent the worst qualities of humankind. But what have our lust, greed and rage driven us to achieve? In this surprising and original book, Peter Nowak argues that most of the major technological advances of the last sixty years have stemmed from the trio of billion-dollar industries that cater to our basest impulses. From clingfilm to aerosols, digital cameras to cold medicine and GM foods to Google, many of the gadgets and conveniences we enjoy today can be traced back to either the porn, military or fast food industry. Nowak reveals such unexpected links as: how the inventors of toys like Barbie and the Slinky perfected their creations with military-tech know-how; why “one giant leap for mankind” brought us better hospital meals and stricter food quality control guidelines; and how innovations in the adult-film industry will help us build better robotic limbs.
“We’re living in the age of Eat, Slay, Love.” The Times
“A satisfying and compelling read…the book shines a light on some genuinely surprising realms of idea-generation.” New Scientist
“Gives Malcolm Gladwell a run for his money.” Word Magazine
James Joyce: A Biography by Gordon Bowker
In almost every recent poll, Ulysses has been acclaimed the greatest novel of the twentieth century. It is generally regarded as one of the outstanding landmarks of literary modernism, as important as T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in expressing the experimental and international spirit of post-war Europe in the 1920s. Of all the modernists, James Joyce has had probably the most lasting effect on serious fiction. Indeed, Eliot said he had ‘killed the nineteenth century’. Joyce’s life followed the classic ‘flight into exile’ path taken by many creative writers in search of a broader vision. His fight against Irish parochial prejudices and censoriousness, his self-imposed exile from the country he loved, his stoical endurance of near-blindness, cast him in a heroic light. He was fine singer who could have had a successful career in opera and the concert hall. His dedication to authorship also picks him out as a writer in the romantic tradition of total commitment, suffering near-poverty and financial dependency for much of his life in his determination simply to write. He was fortunate in his benefactors.Four women in particular (Harriet Shaw Weaver, Margaret Anderson, Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier), through their generosity, ensured that Joyce was able to focus fully and continuously on his great literary projects, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Richard Ellmann’s much admired biography of Joyce first appeared in 1959 and was republished in 1982. But new material continues to emerge, and this new biography draws on that and attempts to get beyond the exterior life to explore the inner landscape of a writer who continues to influence and fascinate, well over a century after his birth.
“This biography is both learned and readable; it is an attractive monument to a brilliant, kind-hearted, often unfortunate man.” Sunday Times
“A scrupulously researched, entertainingly readable biography of a maddeningly protean, contradictory genius.” Independent
“A sound and readable telling of the writer’s tale for newcomers, into whose hands it may be given without a qualm.” Literary Review
“Bowker’s biography – packed as it is with incidents, ideas and sympathy – proves inspiring.” Sunday Telegraph
A Sangoma’s Story by Melanie Reeder
“My body has two lives, the spiritual as well as the physical”. These are the words of Elliot Ndlovu, a traditional healer (sangoma) who lives deep in the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal. He lives two lives, dividing time between his rural homestead and a worldclass hotel and spa, constantly bridging the differences between these opposing worlds. As a young man, he was awoken in the dead of night by an apparition sent by his ancestors. In terror, he fled to a river where he was submerged until sunrise. On the bottom of a riverbed, he claimed to acquire all the knowledge of his cultural heritage to heal bodies and minds. Ndlovu is a natural conservationist and leader who believes in the preservation of indigenous flora, in the strength of community, and in ubuntu, the philosophy that the universal bonds of humanity are what bind us. KwaZulu-Natal’s violent path to democracy mirrored his own turbulent journey through mental illness – his uthwasa, the necessary process of suffering to become a traditional healer. But torment and tragedy led to consultations with Oscar nominees in Hollywood, a meeting with the British Queen, and a Christmas visit from a former state president. Ndlovu’s tales of storm-chasing and magical serpents may be challenging for some, but the poignancy of his story and unwavering belief in African traditional healing are what endear him to the most hardened cynic. Melanie Reeder has captured the essence of this modern sangoma. She sheds light on the beauty of Zulu culture, and clarifies misconceptions about traditional healing.
Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane
“If Charles Darwin sprang from his grave, I would give him this fine book to bring him up to speed. It’s a breathless bulletin from the accelerating rush of news about the secrets of life on planet earth.” Matt Ridley
Powerful new research methods are providing fresh and vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining the atomic structure of proteins and looking into the geochemistry of rocks have all helped to explain creation and evolution in more detail than ever before. Nick Lane uses the full extent of this new knowledge to describe the ten greatest inventions of life, based on their historical impact, their role in living organisms today and relevance to current controversies. DNA, sex, sight and consciousnesses are just four examples. Lane also explains how these findings have come about, and the extent to which they can be relied upon. The result is a gripping and lucid account of the ingenuity of nature, and a book which is essential reading for anyone who has ever questioned the science behind the glories of everyday life.
“This is a science book that doesn’t cheat: the structure is logical, the writing is witty, and the hard questions are tackled head on.” Guardian
“The most coherent and convincing summary of the dawn of life and of DNA that I have ever read.” New Scientist
“With clarity and vigor Lane smoothly pulls in evidence from genetics to show how complex life could have developed.” New York Times
What?: Are These Really the Twenty Most Important Questions in Human History? by Mark Kurlansky
What is What? Could it be that noted author Mark Kurlansky has written a very short, terrifically witty, deeply thought-provoking book entirely in the form of questions? A book that draws on philosophy, religion, literature, policy – indeed, all of civilization – to ask what may well be the twenty most important questions in human history? Or has he given us a really smart, impossibly amusing game of twenty questions? Kurlansky considers the work of Confucius, Plato, Shakespeare, Descartes, Nietzsche, Freud, Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, the Talmud, Charles de Gaulle, Virginia Woolf, and others, distilling the deep questions of life to their sparkling essence. What? supplies endless fodder for thoughtful conversation but also endless opportunity to ponder and be challenged by – and entertained by – these questions in refreshingly original ways. As Kurlansky says – in a world that seems devoid of absolute certainties, how can we make declarative statements? Without asking the questions, how will we ever get to the answers?
Music and Lights
The Blue in the Air by Marcello Carlin
The best music writing has always been intensely personal, and a large part of the rapid success of the music blog Marcello Carlin set up in early 2008 was the intersection between his highly-literate and deep knowledge of music, and his honesty about what the music meant to him personally. Specifically, he was using the music to channel both his own recovery from the trauma of his first partner’s early death from cancer, his rediscovery of love with another fellow music-lover and writer, and his keen sense of epochal change and renewed optimism as the Obama campaign started taking shape. For this “best-of” compilation of essays from his blog, he has picked 50 essays that not only show the diversity of his interests, but that also create an emotional narrative charting this story. The musical ground he covers ranges from Karlheinz Stockhausen to Britney Spears, Jay-Z’s performance at Glastonbury to Orson Welles’s music-saturated War of the Worlds, Barry Manilow to Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd. The pieces collected here form, above all, a rousing testament to the power of music to make us feel.
Great Folk Discography Vol.1: Early Legends by Martin Strong
If there ever were a bible of folk music this would be it. Compiled by Martin Strong, who has documented Metal, Psychedelic, Indie and Rock discographies for over 25 years, it includes bios of every folk legend since the 1920′s, with lyrics, chart placings, who they influenced and who they were influenced by.
You may ask why in the digital age one would bother with such a cumbersome tome (over 600 pages) when with the click of a button wikipedia can tell you anything you need to know on the subject. Well for the same reason that vinyl is still better than digital downloads.
Not the Movie of the Week by Shaun de Waal
Shaun de Waal’s movie reviews are an iconic part of the Mail & Guardian. His short pieces on great (and awful) movies are masterpieces in the genre of reviews, and have become celebrated for their wit and insight. But even more so, his reviews give readers a glimpse into the mind of South Africans when they watch movies about faraway New York, London or Spain, or a familiar District 9.
The collection includes almost 100 reviews – of classics and trash, blockbusters and art films – organised by theme: Africa on the screen, Stories about love and family, Sex, God and fantasy, Hollywood and the world, and Politics and war.
De Waal also includes his lists of top films in various genres (and worst). The defining South African book about close-ups, red carpets and sad endings.
Shaun de Waal is Assistant Editor, Comment & Analysis of the Mail & Guardian. He is also a well-known film and theatre critic and author in his own right.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch
After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading. There were obligations she couldn’t put on hold – a husband, four kids, three cats, and piles of dirty laundry – but everything else would have to wait. Sankovitch devoted herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading in which she found joy, healing, and wisdom. With grace and deep insight, Sankovitch weaves together poignant memories from her family’s history with the unforgettable lives of the characters she reads about. She finds a lesson to be learned in each book, ultimately realising the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences – reading as therapy. In an era when we are constantly bombarded by technology and instant gratification is the norm, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is a reminder of the wisdom to be found in books and proof of the all-encompassing power and delight of reading. Thoughtful, accessible, and moving, this book will touch the bibliophile in all of us.
2 Ennerdale Avenue : Unauthorised Biography by Rosa Ainley
One of the genres in which some of the most interesting literary work is being done at the moment – as anticipated and beautifully described by David Shields in his formidable Reality Hunger – is that of literary memoirs and histories both of place and family. A good example of the rich vein of material writers are discovering in these stories, and the way they are using a ragbag of different literary forms and source materials to add multiple layers to otherwise rather banal stories. 2 Ennerdale Drive is the house in which Rosa Ainley’s family lived and continues to live. She herself has a background in fiction writing, but also in cultural analyses of architecture and photography, and she uses all these tools to describe the various milieux – physical, social, emotional and psychic – that go to make up a family and a home. This is a detailed and deeply-felt, but also an intellectually stimulating exposure of roots and belonging.
Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing by Alan Paul
Expanded from Paul’s award-winning ‘The Expat Life’ columns for WSJ.com, Big in China traces Alan’s three and a half years in China – a time of life-changing experiences during which he reinvented himself, most prominently as the leader of a Chinese blues band called Woodie Alan. The band quickly achieved great success, and Paul found himself and his bandmates touring China, being named Beijing Band of the Year, and recording a CD that has earned praise from American musical luminaries from the Allman Brothers Band to ZZ Top. However, as exhilarating as the band’s success was, it was only one part of the expat experience that was invigorating for Paul’s entire family. Paul also reveals the challenges they faced living in a foreign land – including trying not to become stuck inside the expat bubble so many construct around themselves when living abroad. Big in China is a book for anyone who wants to go on a journey, or who merely wants to come along on one.
With the Kisses of His Mouth by Monique Roffey
Monique Roffey had found her soulmate. But then the love affair she had always longed for came to a sudden and heartbreaking end. Devastated, Monique felt that she could never love again. But as time went on, she began to ask questions. Does ruling out love have to mean ruling out sex? Can you have great sex without love? And, conversely, can a great love survive without sex?
This is an eye-opening, inspiring story of one woman’s quest to heal a broken heart and to find her own answers to some powerful and resonant questions. It takes her from the personal ads to a libertine’s resort in the south of France to tantra workshops and beyond – until she finds that she might just be able to love again, after all…
“Honest, self-exposing.. a candid exploration of the vulnerability of middle-age, as well as a fairly brutal examination of the human heart and its endless capacity to be broken…I want to stick up for this book. It is astoundingly brave. It is funny. It speeds along. It has magic at its heart – that indefinable sliver of human warmth and hope that all the best, most searching memoirs seem to have. Moreover, Roffey’s somehow irrepressible willingness to share begins to seem generous, infectious even. As she finally manages to let go of her ex and view their intense, yet largely platonic, love affair as something to celebrate rather than regret, I found myself knocked off course in a rather moving and indescribable way…
Isn’t this exactly what we need writers – the brightest, most adventurous and self-scrutinising ones, like Parks and Roffey – to do: to take that same darkness and turn it into something so blazingly alive that it can shine a little light on the rest of us?” Julie Myerson, Observer
For the Young At Heart
Cookiebot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure by Katie van Camp and Lincoln Andrew
What do you do if your mother has stashed the cookie jar on an inconveniently high shelf? Well you build a Cookiebot to get it of course! That’s what Harry, with help from his best friend Horsie, does in this direst of emergencies. But things don’t go the way he planned – and soon the Cookiebot is raging OUT OF CONTROL trying to eat all the cookies in the world! What can they do to save the cookies?
Well you’ll just have to read it to find out. A delightful second adventure for Harry and Horsie, with sly nods to sci-fi classics of the 1950s (not least King Kong) – this is a fun read for children of ALL ages!
Of Lamb by Matthea Harvey
Lamb and Mary were alike. Unbalanced. Flat-footed. High-strung. This is their story like you’ve never heard it—the tale of a loopy shepherdess and a depressive farm animal. In this version of the children’s nursery rhyme, Lamb and Mary fall in love. They swoon, they are smitten. Then Mary has second thoughts. Lamb is a lamb, after all, not a man. Lamb, heartbroken, turns to drinking. Lamb goes to a madhouse. Mary buries her feelings. And then somehow, Lamb pulls it together. He leaves the madhouse mature – saddened but more dignified, ready for another chance to win Mary’s heart. But will Mary let Lamb back into her life?
Award-winning poet Matthea Harvey offers a story told in short packets of verse, and artist Amy Jean Porter brings each stanza vividly to life with her eye-popping illustrations. The collaboration yields a beautiful, off-the-wall tale of a lamb who wants only to be human, and a human who wants the love of a lamb.
“Of Lamb is a work of such subtle, haunting, spellbinding beauty it is virtually impossible to describe it. Fantastical and yet, so strangely, achingly ‘real’ in its tracking of love, loss, grief, and again love—an astonishing collaboration between a poet (Matthea Harvey) and an artist (Amy Jean Porter) that defies all categories except Unique.” Joyce Carol Oates
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (from an idea by Siobhan Dowd)
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.
Dark Poppy’s Demise by SA Partridge
All Jenna wants is for someone to notice her, but all everybody sees is a gawky teenager with an overactive imagination. But she leads a double life. As Dark Poppy, she can be herself. Her online friends see her for who she truly is: a sensitive, creative young woman with a talent for photography. When she receives a friend request from Robert Rose on Facebook, she doesn’t hesitate to start up a friendship.
But then, why shouldn’t she? He’s the hottest guy she’s ever seen; with emerald green eyes that seem to stare right through the computer screen…
Dark Poppy’s Demise is S.A. Partridge’s third novel for young people.
A Feast for the Eyes
Cakebread, Pudding and Pie by Callie Maritz and Marie-Louise Guy
Cookbooks have come a long way. No longer the stiff upper-lipped work of a master chef – who thinks you could never make anything in his book anyway, because he is the only genius. Callie Maritz and Marie-Louis Guy are excellent examples of people having so much fun in the kitchen that it is contagious! With their second book, Cakebread, Pudding and Pie they not only show us more mouthwatering sweet treats, but have added a tasty savoury side from Jamaican Pies to Bobotie Tarts (I’m getting hungry just typing this), not to mention the breads.
This Cape Town duo tells a bit of their own story in between the recipes and in the end you are left feeling like you had a great afternoon in their home. If tastiness came in stars, this book could get oodles of them.
We have 2 copies of this mouthwatering treat to give away. To enter the draw just mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org. The winners will be drawn on August 10th. Many thanks to Random House Struik for these.
Paper Cutting by Laura Heyenga
In recent years there hass been an explosion of talent and amazing artwork produced in the medium of cut paper. This gorgeous volume features work from a selection of 35 international artists and crafters who are creating beautiful contemporary work of astonishing intricacy, using little more than paper and blade.
Laura Heyenga is an editor and image researcher at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Natalie Avella is an authority on the subject of paper cutting. Rob Ryan is one of the most popular paper cut artists working today. Includes such popular artists as Thomas Allen (known for his cut-outs of pulp novel covers), Yulia Brodskaya (author of the Chronicle journal Ran Out of Ideas Now What?), Nikki McClure, and Matthew Sporzynski (of Real Simple magazine).
Human Anatomy: Depicting the Body from the Renaissance to Today by Benjamin A Rifkin, Michael J Ackerman and Judith Folkenberg
Around the turn of the 16th century it was not the physicians of the age breaking new ground in the science of human anatomy, but rather the artists. Spurred on by their enlightened impulses, figures such as Leonard Da Vinci and Jacopo Berengario da Carpi found themselves literally at the cutting edge of anatomical research as they began to probe and dissect cadavers, often with astonishing results.
The images produced were the closest at the time to our modern X-rays and computer images, and were also infinitely more beautiful and bizarre. Inspired by this strange new world within, and imbued with the mysticism and drama of the rennaisance, artists like Frederick Ruysch created such wonders as “Foetal skeletons in arterial tree” and “Flayed man holding a dagger and his skin”.
This book beautifully presents over 300 of the original engravings, woodcuts and paintings of the period, and follows the development of human anatomy as told by artists to the present day. It is truly a wonder to behold, and would be a welcome addition to the libraries of Doctors and creatives alike.
Source book of Contemporary Green Architecture
Lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs, drawings, floor and aerial plans, The Sourcebook of Contemporary Green Architecture features today’s most noteworthy environmentally-friendly architectural projects. A range of sustainable design ideas are covered, from bioclimatic strategies to more complex off-the-grid constructions that include passive designs, prefab systems, water-harvesting mechanisms, and green renovations. Projects include building eco-certifications and eco-design solutions that utilize advanced technologies as well as cost management plans. All projects included in “The Sourcebook of Contemporary Green Architecture” have been completed or are ongoing in the twenty-first century and were chosen as highly successful examples of green architects meeting the individual needs and tastes of their clients. It is the perfect resource for architects, city-planners, engineers, and designers looking for both knowledge and inspiration.
And finally – tee hee…
Illustrated Winespeak: Ronald Searle’s Wicked World of Winetasting
The tortuous phrases that are frequently used when trying to describe music, fade into insignificance beside the agonising and often excruciating acrobatics of those whose duty it is to enlighten the baffled consumer regarding the more esoteric aspects of, say, a Merryvale Merlot.
The art of winetasting has its own band of remarkable poets – alas, as rare as the greatest vintages they sample for our benefit. The rest, snobbish, incestuous and inarticulate do as much harm to the world of wine as they do to the English language. Their day will come.
First published in 1983, during the first great wine boom in the UK, when everyone suddenly became an expert on the nose/tannin/hint of chocolate and artichoke in a wine, all the phrases are absolutely genuine. Still entirely relevan today, this is a witty and absolutely wicked accompaniment to any bottle of claret.
The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionised Language, Changed History, and made Wordplay more than Some Antics by John Pollack.
Puns, as John Pollack ruefully acknowledges in this wildly entertaining and erudite trip through slips of the tongue and sleights of mouth, are often described as the lowest form of humour – but if they are the basest form of humour, they also form the basis of it. In fact, as he points out, their use – and utility – are not confined to humour at all, but the mental faculties we need to both construct and understand them are in fact essential to our abilities to deal with the complexities of language as such, and the world which it purports to describe. Puns depend on the ability of language to mean more than one thing at a time, and that is in fact what makes language possible at all; the ability to look beyond the primary meaning of a word or sentence to descry the pun below is an essential tool for all kinds of critical thinking. But this is no dry and scholarly linguistic exegesis. One can sense the glee with which Pollack employs his considerable linguistic dexterity (or is that dexterous linguality?) to bring together form and content in a style that zips and pops with puns. Anyone who appreciates the playful side of language will find this an appallingly appealing read, enlightening and delightful both.
Open Book Author of the Month – Hari Kunzru
Hari Kunzru is a highly talented author and journalist, best known for his novels The Impressionists, Noise, Transmission and My Revolutions. His new novel, Gods Without Men, which we are delighted to be launching at Open Book is, we think, his best one yet, which he himself describes as follows -
“Formally it’s the most ambitious thing I’ve done yet. It’s the story of a couple whose four year old son goes missing in a national park in the Mojave Desert. Around this story of absence and loss are other stories – the earliest action in the book is in the 1770’s and it threads numerous stories and story fragments around the main narrative.”
He has also had a notable career as a journalist, writing for Wired, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Time Out and Wallpaper. He won a Betty Trask Award and the Somerset Maugham Award for The Impressionist, and his second novel Transmission was named one of the New York Times’ notable books of the year. In 2003 he was named as one of Granta’s 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’.
Although he was also awarded The John Llewellyn Rhys prize for writers under 35, the second oldest literary prize in the UK, he turned it down on the grounds that it was backed by the Mail on Sunday whose “hostility towards black and Asian people” he felt was unacceptable. In a statement read out on his behalf, he stated, “As the child of an immigrant, I am only too aware of the poisonous effect of the Mail’s editorial line… The atmosphere of prejudice it fosters translates into violence, and I have no wish to profit from it.” He further went on to recommend that the award money be donated to the Refugee Council. He is Deputy President of English PEN, about which he says “I want to stand in solidarity with the many other writers who don’t have that luxury. Also, since I work in English, I have access to a large audience. Many other writers don’t. Pen supports translation.”
Saturday, July 23rd 2011 at 11:00 AM
We have been arguing about who is best – cats or dogs ,and today Jody and Verushka will read off against each other to help you decide who you love best, a furry kitten or a barking puppy… We need you to help us make up our minds! Cats vs Dogs – the final frontier!
Thursday, July 21st 2011 at 5:30 PM
Ashlee Neser will be here to launch her book, Stranger at Home:The Praise Poet in Apartheid South Africa, which examines the defiant career of Xhosa imbongi David Manisi. Manisi refused to toe the line of silence demanded by Apartheid South Africa, in order to be true to the imbongi‘s vocation to diagnose and criticise society’s ills.
Ashlee Neser will be in conversation with Duncan Brown.
Saturday, July 16th 2011 at 11:00 AM
So it still hasn’t been a rainy day, but we are having wintery story time today. Books about storms and that pesky wind that just blows in Vredehoek till you think your hat will blow away and then we will make our own paper umbrellas. You could even wear your wellies if you want to!
Thursday, July 14th 2011 at 7:30 PM
Pieter Toerien is bringing this ever-popular play by Alan Bennett to South Africa for the first time at The Theatre on the Bay in July, under the direction of Alan Swerdlow.
Tickets are normally R150, but for one night only (Thursday, 14 July), Book Lounge regulars can not only get tickets for the special price of R100, but there will also be a Q&A with the Director and Cast after the performance.
There are only around 250 seats available, so we suggest you book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Bookings can be made only through the Theatre on the Bay Box Office, at 021 438 3300, on mentioning the code “Book Lounge PTP”, or at the Theatre itself. All telephonic reservations are payable on booking by credit card.
This is not be missed!”
Thursday, July 14th 2011 at 5:30 PM
This is the story of their life together, and of Anton’s murder. But it is also the story of how Gabrielle found the courage to deal with the legacy of this tragic event.
Gabrielle will be in conversation with Mondaine Mia De Jager, and introduced by her daughter Nadia