A great month for fiction…
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire.
Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs – the dreamers. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter’s daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer’s apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love…
A fabulous, fin-de-siècle feast for the senses and a life-affirming love story, The Night Circus is a captivating novel that will make the real world seem fantastical and a fantasy world real.
“The Night Circus made me happy. Playful and intensely imaginative, Erin Morgenstern has created the circus I have always longed for and she has populated it with duelling love-struck magicians, precocious kittens, hyper-elegant displays of beauty and complicated clocks. This is a marvelous book.” Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife
“Pure pleasure…Erin Morgenstern is a gifted, classic storyteller, a tale-teller, a spinner of the charmed and mesmerising — I had many other things I was supposed to be doing, but the book kept drawing me back in and I tore through it. You can be certain this riveting debut will create a group of rêveurs all its own.” Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
“A riveting debut.The Night Circus pulls you into a world as dark as it is dazzling, fully-realized but still something out of a dream. You will not want to leave it.” TéaObreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife
“Don’t imagine this is a light, frothy tale. For all her humorous touches, Morgernstern…has produced something darker than night…deliciously inventive.” Scotsman
“Lush, evocative, dreamlike prose, with all the sights and scents of the circus…Morgenstern’s writing, when it comes to magical creations, is delectable, addictive stuff…The Night Circus is an accomplished and refreshingly unusual debut, which leaves a tang of smoky caramel in the air as it ends, and an undeniable urge to go to the circus.” Sunday Times
“Enchanting, and affecting…I was compelled by the world itself – by its saturated colours and textures, its unexpected smells and tastes. It is – a surprisingly rare thing in fiction – a strikingly beautiful world, in spite of its darkness.” Guardian
The Drowning Pool by Syd Moore
After her world is shaken by a series of unexplained events, young widow Sarah Grey soon comes to realise that she is the victim of a terrifying haunting by her 19th century namesake…A classic ghost story with a modern twist by a talented new writer in the genre.
Relocated to a coastal town, widowed teacher Sarah Grey is slowly rebuilding her life, along with her young son Alfie. But after an inadvertent séance one drunken night, her world is shaken when she starts to experience frightening visions. Her attempts to explain them away are dashed whenAlfie sees them too, and Sarah believes that they have become the targets of a terrifying haunting.
Convinced that the ghost is that of a 19th Century local witch and namesake, Sarah delves into local folklore and learns that the witch was thought to have been evil incarnate. When a series of old letters surface, Sarah discovers that nothing and no-one is as it seems, maybe not even the ghost of Sarah Grey…
An engaging, chilling and gripping story of a thoroughly modern woman with a link to a very troubled past. Highly recommended.
“…a stunning reinvention of the ghost story and an exploration of a 19th-century Essex witch hunt.” Guardian
“…a goose-pimply old-fashioned ghost story.” Christopher Fowler
The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth
The stunning sequel to the 1992 Booker-winning Sacred Hunger, The Quality of Mercy opens in the spring of 1767. It follows the fortunes of two central characters from that book: Sullivan, an Irish fiddler, and Erasmus Kemp, the son of a disgraced Liverpool slave-ship owner who hanged himself.
To avenge his father’s death, Erasmus Kemp has had the rebellious sailors of his father’s ship, including Sullivan, brought back to London to stand trial on charges of mutiny and piracy. But as the novel opens, a blithe Sullivan has escaped and is making his way on foot to the north of England, stealing and scamming as he goes. His destination is the colliery village where his dead shipmate, Billy Blair, lived: he has pledged to tell the family how Billy met his end.
In this village, Thorpe, in the East Durham coalfields, live Billy’s sister Nan and her miner husband, James Bordon. Their three sons are all destined to follow their father down the pit. The youngest, only 7, is enjoying his last summer above ground. The terrible conditions in which mineworkers laboured are vividly evoked, and Bordon has dreams of escaping the mine with his family. Meanwhile in London a passionate anti-slavery campaigner, Frederick Ashton, gets involved in a second case relating to the lost ship. Erasmus Kemp is claiming financial compensation for the cargo of sick slaves who were thrown overboard to drown, and Ashton is representing the insurers who dispute his claim.
This is evocative historical writing at its best. Whatever subject, theme or period Unsworth turns his hand to comes beautifully alive, with characters whose passion and tragedy stay with the reader long after the book has been closed.
“Here, immediately, you know that you are in the hands of a master…The Quality of Mercy is the work of one who is both artist and craftsman. There is not a page without interest, not a sentence that rings false. It is gripping and moving, a novel about justice which is worthy of that theme. In short, it is a tremendous achievement, as good as anything this great novelist has written.” Allan Massie, Scotsman
“He is a historical novelist of a reliably old-fashioned sort: the writer who offers a plausible recreation of a bygone age and animates it with people whose motivations are consistent with the tenor of their time…the fact that his characters never turn into moral ciphers is one of his greatest strengths. [The Quality of Mercy] has all these qualities in spades.” DJ Taylor, Independent
“The big theme is power…Unsworth’s 18th-century setting finds a correspondingly 18th-century feel in the fabric of his story: it is deeply sentimental, at time robustly comic…a silkily written potboiler, wonderfully well-realised, entirely engrossing.” Sam Leith, Financial Times
Trackers by Deon Meyer
A housewife running from years of domestic abuse. A bodyguard hired to escort a smuggled rhinoceros. A group of Islamic terrorists based in a quiet residential street. A secret government agency threatened with amalgamation within a bigger department. A retired policeman trying to get used to his new career in the private sector.
Each of these strands of a brilliant narrative is populated with superbly-drawn characters, and woven into a stunningly exciting drama by the undisputed king of South African suspense fiction. Not only a heart-pounding thriller, but also a love story and a fabulous kaleidoscopic picture of South African society, this is the finest novel yet from an author whose reputation is growing all around the world.
“Smuggling, missing persons and an edgy post-apartheid South Africa interlace in a riveting crime novel…This is the author’s most accomplished novel to date. Following the thrilling plot of his bestselling Thirteen Hours was always going to be a challenge but he’s visibly gained confidence, showing his technical skill and handling the different sections of the new book with effortless ease. It’s a mesmerising read, and a startling revelation at the very end suggests that we haven’t heard the last of these engaging characters.” Sunday Times
“Publishers and booksellers trumpet…that Deon Meyer is ‘South Africa’s Answer to Stieg Larsson’. He’s not – he’s far better…With TrackersI would suggest he has moved into the John le Carré class, and not simply because one of the plot lines is about the workings of a South African security department and the political in-fighting involved, but mainly because this is a book which is a great thriller and a fine novel of characterisation.” Shots
“South African thrillers arrive with racial baggage, and it’s a mark of Meyer’s talent to see just how well the issues are balanced with a smashing story. Imposing a strict time limit and a tight location on his plot, he ramps up the suspense to an unbearable degree. Best of all, his sharply drawn characters really feel part of the new South Africa, where loyalties and beliefs must always be questioned.” Financial Times
Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne
From the author of Submarine. Kate and Albert, sister and brother, are not yet the last two human beings on earth, but Albert is hopeful. The secluded communal farm they grew up on is – after twenty years – disintegrating, taking their parents’ marriage with it. They both try to escape: Kate, at seventeen, to a suburbia she knows only through fiction and Albert, at eleven, into preparations for the end of the world – which is coming, he is sure.
And then there is Don: father of the family, leader and maker of elaborate speeches. Faced with the prospect of saving his community, his marriage, his son from apocalyptic visions and his daughter from impending men, he sets to work on reunifying the commune by bringing it into the modern age, through self-sufficiency, charisma and a rave with a 10k soundsystem.
The last day on earth is coming. Bring your own booze.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
The very eagerly-awaited new novel from the author of Sci-Fi classics such as Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash and others – five-time New York Times Bestseller and multiple prize-winner.
Across the globe, millions of computer screens flicker with the artfully coded world of T’Rain – an addictive internet role-playing game of fantasy and adventure. But backstreet hackers in China have just unleashed a contagious virus called Reamde, and as it rampages through the gaming world spreading from player to player – holding hard drives hostage in the process – the computer of one powerful and dangerous man is infected, causing the carefully mediated violence of the on-line world to spill over into reality. A fast-talking, internet-addicted mafia accountant is brutally silenced by his Russian employers, and Zula – a talented young T’Rain computer programmer – is abducted and bundled on to a private jet. As she is flown across the skies in the company of the terrified boyfriend she broke up with hours before, and a brilliant Hungarian hacker who may be her only hope, she finds herself sucked into a whirl of Chinese Secret Service agents and gun-toting American Survivalists; the Russian criminal underground and an al-Qaeda cell led by a charismatic Welshman; each a strand of a connected world that devastatingly converges in T’Rain. An inimitable and compelling thriller that careers from British Columbia to South-West China via Russia and the fantasy world of T’Rain, Reamde is an irresistible epic from the unique imagination of one of today’s most individual writers.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
“There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.” Anthony Trollope
It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead – charismatic loner and college Darwinist – suddenly turns up in a seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus – who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange – resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.
Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to re-evaluate everything they have learned. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.
Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.
Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by AS Byatt
The latest in the highly-acclaimed Canongate Myths Series comes from one of the UK’s most treasured authors – a retelling of one of the great Norse myths.
Recently evacuated to the British countryside and with World War Two raging around her, one young girl is struggling to make sense of her life. Then she is given a book of ancient Norse legends and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. Intensely autobigraphical, this book is a landmark work of fiction from one of Britain’s truly great writers. Timely and prescient it is a book about how stories can give us the courage to face our own demise. The Ragnarok myth, otherwise known as the Twilight of the Gods, plays out the endgame of Norse mythology. It is the myth in which the gods Odin, Freya and Thor die, the sun and moon are swallowed by the wolf Fenrir, the serpent Midgard eats his own tale as he crushes the world and the seas boil with poison. It is only after such monstrous death and destruction that the world can begin anew. This epic struggle provided the fitting climax to Wagner’s Ring Cycle and just as Wagner was inspired by Norse myth so Byatt has taken this remarkable finale and used it as the underpinning of this highly personal and politically charged retelling.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what’s been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
The Language of Flowers is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.
“A moving and beautifully written portrayal of the frailty – and the hardiness – of the human spirit.” Sunday Telegraph
“Diffenbaugh proves to be an exciting new talent, one who writes with clarity and warmth and the fact that she fosters children herself is evident from her sensitive portrayal of the troubled Victoria.” Sunday Express
Submission by Amy Waldeman
Ten years after 9/11, a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel reimagines its aftermath
A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name—and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country’s.
The memorial’s designer is an enigmatic, ambitious architect named Mohammad Khan. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the self-possessed and mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, she finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself—as unknowable as he is gifted. In the fight for both advantage and their ideals, all will bring the emotional weight of their own histories to bear on the urgent question of how to remember, and understand, a national tragedy.
In this deeply humane novel, the breadth of Amy Waldman’s cast of characters is matched by her startling ability to conjure their perspectives. A striking portrait of a fractured city striving to make itself whole, The Submission is a piercing and resonant novel by an important new talent.
“A powerful, intelligent and moving study of the world post-9/11, with all its political, racial and religious tensions, bigotry, idealism and grief…What Waldman has achieved in her commanding first novel is to explore the grief of a nation in all its contradictory, sometimes bigoted, often ugly, detail.” Scotsman
“The novel comes alive in the dramatic scenes…Convincing and graceful.” Independent
“It is a mark of Waldman’s skill that she marshals disparate forces in the service of a coherent, timely and fascinating examination of a grieving America’s relationship with itself. Waldman, a former New York Times reporter, excels at involving the reader in vibrant dialogues in which the level of the debate is high and the consequences significant…Counterbalancing the wit and philosophical forays is a recurring scene of genuine pathos…Brilliantly, Waldman gives us back our own world…The lineage of post-9/11 novels is illustrious…Amy Waldman takes this literary line forward, and it is through her respect for history that her novel stands so proudly within it.” Chris Cleave, Washington Post
The Book of Human Skin
The Book of Human Skin is a large volume with many pages of villainy writ upon it. There are people who are a disease, you know. 13 May, 1784, Venice: MinguilloFasan, heir to the decaying, gothic Palazzo Espagnol, is born. Yet Minguillo is no ordinary child: he is strange, devious and all those who come near him are fearful. Twelve years later Minguillo is faced with an unexpected threat to his inheritance: a newborn sister, Marcella. His untempered jealousy will condemn his sister to a series of fates as a cripple, a madwoman and a nun. But in his insatiable quest to destroy her, he may have underestimated his sister’s ferocious determination, and her unlikely allies who will go to extraordinary lengths to save her…
“This book is fabulous – funny, horrific, subversive – in short a wholly addictive read. I don’t think I have enjoyed anything as much since Perfume.” Joanne Harris
“If it doesn’t scoop all the prizes, we live in an unjust world. It’s an absolute corker…It’s years since I enjoyed a novel this much – or felt such strong envy of an author for having the breadth and richness of imagination to create such a world.” A.N. Wilson
“This is, essentially, a love story told by a delightfully riotous collection of characters and voices…Fantastically gripping.” Marie Claire
“A witty, exciting, over-the-top page-turner which becomes increasingly addictive… Quite unlike anything else around – and all the better for that.” Daily Mail
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman
A magical short novel from the author of All My Friends are Superheroes.
A robber charges into a bank with a loaded gun, but instead of taking any money he steals an item of sentimental value from each person. Once he has made his escape, strange things start to happen to the victims.
A tattoo comes to life, a husband turns into a snowman, a baby starts to shit money. And Stacey Hinterland discovers that she’s shrinking, a little every day, and there is seemingly nothing that she or her husband can do to reverse the process.
Can Stacey and the other victims find a solution before it is too late?
The Tiny Wife is a weird and wonderful modern fable. Small, but perfectly formed, it will charm, delight and unnerve in equal measure.
The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
The eagerly awaited new novel from the author of The Tenderness of Wolves. Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he had promised to find Rose Janko. Rose was married to the charismatic son of a travelling gypsy family, Ivo Janko. When Ray starts to investigate her disappearance he’s surprised that her family are so hostile towards him. The Jankos have not had an easy past. They are a clan touched by tragedy – either they are cursed, or they are hiding a terrible secret. Could it be that Rose’s discovery of that secret led to her disappearance all those years ago? Soon Ray wishes that he’d never asked the question.
“Penney is a good storyteller. She unfurls various mysterious plot possibilities and unearths the insecurities that lurk in families and relationships. She imagines the Romany world carefully, avoiding cliché or judgement or anything too negative … there are moments of transcendence here, moments where Penney’s writing really excels.” Sunday Times.
“If her debut was a literary Western, then her new tale is something of a bookish version of a Bogart puzzler. As a film graduate, Penney’s approach to prose is cinematic and inclusive.” Independent on Sunday.
“The mystery element of the story is adroitly handled, as clues and subtle inconsistencies in the Janko story are dropped in. Yet its destination is a total surprise, and if that is because it stretches the bounds of credibility, Penney is confident enough to let her characters say exactly that. The Invisible Ones is a book about love, deception, growing up, belonging, being an outsider and about how all our presents are haunted by our pasts. Its author is a supreme story-teller on top form.” The Times.
“The skill and dedication to her craft shines through in her second novel…the intrigue that is introduces in the first few pages rarely wears thin. The book’s fluidity and pace is generally maintained by Penney’s excellent characterisation. Lovell is a flawed but likeable lead with stereotypical traits that have been presented many times before but rarely this well…this time around Penney has aimed for a character piece. Her characters are her environment: deep and well developed…Happily Penney has crafted an arresting tale that is engrossing and leaves space to amuse the reader… After writing a bestseller at her first attempt, Penney has avoided second book syndrome, delivering a dark and remarkably gripping novel.” Big Issue
A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones
Anyone’s life can change in an instant. In Matthew F. Jones’s acclaimed novel, one man’s world is overturned with a single shot.
Trespassing on what was once his family’s land, John Moon hears a rustle in the brush and fires. But instead of the deer he was expecting, he finds the body of a young woman, killed by his stray bullet. A terrible dilemma is made worse when he stumbles upon her campground – and the piles of drugs and money concealed there.
Moon makes his choice: he hides the corpse, and takes the cash. His decision will have consequences he can neither predict or control.
“A backwoods drama that is part Crime and Punishment, part Deliverance, and all white-knuckled suspense…it packs a helluva punch.” People
“A harrowing literary thriller…a powerful blend of love and violence, of the grotesque and the tender.” New York Times Book Review
“A terrific novel…you can hardly breathe while you’re reading this book….his crisis evokes every palm-sweating, heart-stopping, seemingly undoable mistake you’ve ever made.” Los Angeles Times
My Heroes: Extraordinary Courage, Exceptional People by Sir Ranulph Fiennes
In My Heroes the ‘world’s greatest living explorer’ (Guinness Book of Records), writes about the people who have inspired him – from explorers to policemen, families to freedom fighters.
Wherever in the world Ranulph gives one of his lectures or motivational speeches, someone always asks: ‘Who inspired you to do all the crazy things you’ve done?’ For the first time he explores this idea by revealing his own personal heroes and what lessons their actions may have taught him in his own often hazardous profession.
This book describes the extraordinary and often horrific events that led to these ordinary individuals becoming Ranulph’s great heroes. From polar survivor to knifed-and-beaten policeman, from a woman missionary to a special forces soldier, these wonderful people will make you proud to be part of the human race.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes was the first man to reach both poles by surface travel and the first to cross the Antarctic Continent unsupported. Fiennes has led over 30 expeditions including the first polar circumnavigation of the Earth, and in 2003 he ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in aid of the British Heart Foundation. In 1993 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for ‘human endeavour and charitable services’ because, on the way to breaking records, he has raised over £14 million for charity. He was named Best Sportsman in the 2007 ITV Great Briton Awards. In 2008 he became the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Everest.
DarkMarket: CyberThieves, CyberCops and You by MishaGlenny
The benefits of living in a digital, globalised society are enormous; so too are the dangers.
The world has become a law enforcer’s nightmare and every criminal’s dream. We bank online, shop online, date, learn, work and live online. But have the institutions that keep us safe on the streets learned to protect us in the burgeoning digital world? Have we become complacent about our personal security – sharing our thoughts, beliefs and the details of our daily lives with anyone who cares to relieve us of them?
In this fascinating and compelling book, MishaGlenny, author of McMafia, explores the three fundamental threats facing us in the 21st century: cybercrime, cyber warfare and cyber industrial espionage. Governments and the private sector are losing billions of dollars each year, fighting an ever-morphing, often invisible, often super-smart new breed of criminal: the hacker.
Glenny has trawled the world,and has tracked down and interviewed all the players – the criminals, the geeks, the police, the security experts and the victims – and he places everyone and everything in a rich brew of politics, economics and history.The result is unputdownable and authoritative. It’s a must-read for everyone who uses a computer: the essential crime book for our times.
“Misha Glenny’s journey through the undergrowth of cybercrime is a dark read. But this most assiduous of writers manages a deft feat He has turned a subject that could be geekish, dull and frightening into an enjoyable page-turner…Glennypresents a host of extraordinary characters as he tells the story of the past 20 years of online crime… This is a gripping tale, brilliantly researched.” Sunday Times Culture
“Glenny knows how to make this baffling world of DDoS attacks, botnets and bulletproof hosting into compulsive, thriller-paced reading. And beyond the DarkMarket story, he highlights how, in this fraught virtual space that we are increasingly tied to, privacy and surveillance concerns bounce painfully against crime prevention – and the cybercriminals are superhighways ahead of any attempt to stop them.” Metro
Beautiful and Clever!
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True by Richard Dawkins
What are things made of?What is the sun?
Why is there night and day, winter and summer?
Why do bad things happen?
Are we alone?
Throughout history people all over the world have invented stories to answer profound questions such as these. Have you heard the tale of how the sun hatched out of an emu’s egg? Or what about the great catfish that carries the world on its back? Has anyone ever told you that earthquakes are caused by a sneezing giant? These fantastical myths are fun – but what is the real answer to such questions?
The Magic of Reality, with its explanations of space, time, evolution and more, will inspire and amaze readers of all ages – young adults, adults, children, octogenarians. Teaming up with the renowned illustrator Dave McKean, Richard Dawkins answers all these questions and many more. In stunning words and pictures this book presents the real story of the world around us, taking us on an enthralling journey through scientific reality, and showing that it has an awe-inspiring beauty and thrilling magic which far exceed those of the ancient myths.
We encounter rainbows, our genetic ancestors, tsunamis, shooting stars, plants, animals, and an intriguing cast of characters in this extraordinary scientific voyage of discovery. Richard Dawkins and Dave McKean have created a dazzling celebration of our planet that will entertain and inform for years to come.
“It’s the clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I’ve ever read. Again and again I found myself saying “Oh! So that’s how genes work!” (or stars, or tectonic plates, or all the other things he explains). Explanations I thought I knew were clarified; things I never understood were made clear for the first time.” Philip Pullman
“From the first sentence it reads with the force and fluency of a classic…a luminous, authoritative prose that transcends age differences.” The Times
“A charming and free-ranging history of science.” Sunday Times
“I wanted to write this book but I wasn’t clever enough. Now I’ve read it, I am.” Ricky Gervais
“Stunning in appearance…the book is a triumph.” New Scientist
“Prodigiously illustrated and beautifully designed…I cannot think of a better, or simpler, introduction to science.” Guardian
The Brutal Simplicity of Thought by Maurice Saatchi
Simplicity looks easy. It’s not. It’s easier to complicate than simplify. This book presents stunningly simple examples of concepts that have changed the world – from the single piece of paper that became the American Declaration of Independence, giving birth to the most powerful nation in the history of the world, to the symbol and line that enables us to write music. Thought-provoking and incisive, Brutal Simplicity of Thought is the distillation, in words and pictures, of the Saatchi method of creativity, presented in his own inimitable words and style – blunt, precise and often funny.
Alan Moore: Storyteller
Alan Moore: Storyteller is the first serious examination of the life, career and work of one of the UK’s most distinctive and popular creative voices. It traces Moore’s creative development from his modest contributions to Northampton Arts Lab fanzines and local newspaper strips to the very top of his field, writing some of the most widely read and critically acclaimed comics and graphic novels ever produced: Swamp Thing, Watchmen, From Hell, Lost Girls, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta. The book provides an unparalleled insight into the mind and work of this enigmatic and at times controversial creator. Moore’s extraordinary body of work is examined in depth, with rare and previously unseen material, glimpses into unfinished and abandoned projects and new light shed on overlooked masterpieces. With co-operation from Moore, and full access to his archives, Gary Spencer Millidge has written a book which will not only be essential reading for Moore’s many fans, but for anyone interested in contemporary literature, pop culture and graphic art.
MC Escher Pop -Ups
The graphic art of Maurits Cornelis Escher is like that of no other artist. Instantly recognisable to millions around the world, his works represent an endlessly fascinating marriage of art and mathematics. Exploring themes of infinity and paradox, impossible geometry and warped perspective, Eschers world is one of playful imagination and the unexpected, executed with precision and exquisite attention to detail. This outsized, lavish book’s pop-up format adds even more intrigue, bringing his dazzling, baffling designs to life.
Cape Town: Up Close and Personal by Mia Feinstein
After several years of absence photographing celebrities and their dogs in the fashion centres of the world, young photographer, Mia Feinstein, returns to South Africa to rediscover the place of her birth – Cape Town.
Through the lens of this talented artist, the city is distilled into a photographic masterpiece: hidden angles are uncovered, often-missed features are laid bare and old favourites are presented in a new light. Be it a photograph of a pedestrian passing poignant graffiti, stately doorways and forgotten façades parading in side streets, or the inescapable natural splendour of this coastal city, her images reveal a Cape Town few have seen and even fewer have stopped to discover.
From a selection of glorious bird’s-eye views, her camera descends to street level where she captures the vitality of the city’s street life. It is here, too, that her viewfinder seeks out the people of Cape Town in all their unconscious charm. Cape Town Up Close & Personal is a fine tribute to a city that ranks among the best in the world, and a great book for Capetonians and visitors alike.
Beneath: Exploring the Unconscious in Individuals by Helene Smit
Beneath is a comprehensive introduction to the subject of depth psychology, using an integration of photography, illustration, poetry and prose. This school of psychology (developed by people like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Melanie Klein) studies the part of the human psyche that is not immediately available to conscious thought, but nevertheless seems to have a profound impact on human behaviour. It attempts to understand the deepest roots of our engagement with the world.
In an accessible, but academically rigorous way, Beneathprovides some very useful answers to why we do the things we do, and how we can change ourselves. It explains the logic of mental structuring and resultant behaviour in a way that assists individuals to gain a greater understanding of their psychological make-up, and be able to answer fundamental questions such as:
▪ How do my character traits develop?
▪ Why do I sometimes sabotage myself?
▪ How can I change behaviours that I do not like?
▪ How do I access my creativity?
▪ How can I achieve my full potential?
“With Beneath, Hélène Smit offers us a unique summary and interpretation of a vast field, and I think the inclusion of the Arctic and Antarctic visions help to explain and break the work so one is always coming at old or new concepts, depending on the reader, with a fresh mind and eye.”
Arthur D. Colman, M.D, Jungian Analyst and Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco
Great New History
Foundation: A History of England Part I by Peter Ackroyd
Having written enthralling biographies of London and of its great river, the Thames, Peter Ackroyd now turns to England itself. This first volume of six takes us from the time that England was first settled, more than 15,000 years ago, to the death in 1509 of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII.
In it, Ackroyd takes us from Neolithic England, which we can only see in the most tantalising glimpses – a stirrup found in a grave, some seeds at the bottom of a bowl – to the long period of Roman rule; from the Dark Ages when England was invaded by a ceaseless tide of Angles, Saxons and Jutes, to the twin glories of medieval England – its great churches and monasteries and its common law. With his extraordinary skill for evoking time and place, he tells the familiar story of king succeeding king in rich prose, with profound insight and some surprising details. The food we ate, the clothes we wore, the punishments we endured, even the jokes we told are all found here, too.
“The title choice of article – `The History’, not `A History’ – is telling. With `Foundation’, Ackroyd makes a compelling case to be the country’s next great chronicler…As he moves from the Neolithic age to the death of Henry V11 in 1509, he creates such colourful images of hunters, gatherers, kings, knights, peasants and ploughman that we can imagine he lived through every century himself…Five volumes more of this? I can’t wait.” Book of the Week, Time Out
“Ackroyd’s trademark insight and wit, and the glorious interconnectedness of all things, permeate each page.” Observer
“Every page throngs with chewy quotations, unexpected facts and conjectures, granular detail. His richly coloured prose – he has a showman’s forgivable weakness for the superlative – wraps it all up compellingly…” Spectator
“In a few lines he can capture the colour and flavour of medieval life. In the tenth century, he tells us, men wore their hair long; to cut someone’s hair was ‘as criminal as cutting off a nose or ear’.“ Prospect
“Foundation is not only written with great clarity and wit, it also presents a subtly persuasive account of English and identity. He leaves England poised at one of its great turning points, as it welcomes the succession of the head strong humanist Henry VIII and celebrates the departure of his suspicious, prudent father.” The Times
“It prises your eyes open to the past…but it has the urgency and colour of a novel. It even has cliffhangers…One notable thing about Foundation is that it doesn’t only feature priests, noble folk and queens, but farmers, iron-mongers and revolting peasants demanding, via pitch fork, a better deal in life.” Big Issue
In the Garden of Beasts: Love and Terror in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Smit
The extraordinary true story of intrigue and emerging terror at the American embassy in Berlin during the tumultuous twelve months that witnessed Hitler’s rise to ultimate power in Germany – by the author of the phenomenal The Devil in White City.
Berlin, 1933 – William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered academic from Chicago, has to his own and everyone else’s surprise, become America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, in a year that proves to be a turning point in history.
Dodd and his family, notably his vivacious daughter, Martha, observe at first-hand the many changes – some subtle, some disturbing, and some horrifically violent – that signal Hitler’s consolidation of power. Dodd has little choice but to associate with key figures in the Nazi party, his increasingly concerned cables make little impact on an indifferent U.S. State Department, while Martha is drawn to the Nazis and their vision of a ‘New Germany’ and has a succession of affairs with senior party players, including first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.
But as the year darkens, Dodd and his daughter find their lives transformed and any last illusion they might have about Hitler is shattered by the violence of the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ in the summer of 1934 that established him as supreme dictator. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the times, and with brilliant portraits of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Himmler amongst others, Erik Larson’s new book sheds unique light on events as they unfold, resulting in an unforgettable, addictively readable work of narrative history.
“Larson’s best and most enthralling work of novelistic history…rich with incident, populated by fascinating secondary characters, tinged with rising peril and pityingly persuasive…powerful, poignant…a transportingly true story.” New York Times
“Reads like an elegant thriller…utterly compelling…an excellent and entertaining book that deserves to be a bestseller.” Washington Post
“Compelling…the kind of book that brings history alive to readers and proves why Larson’s Isaac’s Storm and The Devil in the White City were such hits.” USA Today
“Larson has meticulously researched the Dodds’ intimate witness to Hitler’s ascendancy…has all the pleasures of a political thriller: innocents abroad, the gathering storm…a fresh picture of these terrible events.” New York Times Book Review
“Larson writes history like a novelist. He presents a familiar story through fresh eyes, conveying quite wonderfully the electrically charged atmosphere of a whole society turning towards the stormy dark.” Sunday Telegraph
“A compelling tale…a narrative that makes such a brave effort to see history as it evolves and not as it becomes.” Spectator
A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival by Caroline Moorehead
On an icy dawn morning in Paris in January 1943, a group of 230 French women resisters were rounded up from the Gestapo detention camps and sent on a train to Auschwitz – the only train, in the four years of German occupation, to take women of the resistance to a death camp.The youngest was a schoolgirl of 15, the eldest a farmer’s wife of 68; there were among them teachers, biochemists, sales girls, secretaries, housewives and university lecturers.
The women turned to one another, finding solace and strength in friendship and shared experience. They supported and cared for one another, worked together, and faced the horror together. Friendship, almost as much as luck, dictated survival. Forty-nine of them came home.
Caroline Moorehead’swonderful new book is the story of these women – the first time it has been told. It is about who they were, how and why they joined the resistance, how they were captured by the French police and the Gestapo, their journey to Auschwitz and their daily life in the death camps – and about what it was like for the survivors when they returned to France. A Train in Winter covers a harrowing part of our history but is, ultimately, a portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and endurance, and of friendship.
“A story of stunning courage, generosity and hope.They risked their lives to defeat Fascism, by printing subversive literature, hiding Jewish friends or, in the case of one girl, simply insulting a French youth because he had decided to co-operate with the Nazis. The price they paid for their bravery was terrible. A Train in Winter could have been a sad, almost morbid book. In Moorhead’s expert hands it is a triumphant one.” Mail on Sunday
Tutu: The Authorised Portrait of Desmond Tutu, with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Mpho Tutu and Alistair Sparks
Tutu: The Authorised Portrait is a celebration of eighty years of the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an icon whose humanity and compassion have touched the lives of millions around the world.
Born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, and trained as a teacher because his family could not afford to send him to medical school, Desmond Tutu was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1960. He vigorously opposed apartheid and has dedicated his life to fighting all forms of oppression, advocating non-violence, peaceful reconciliation and social justice for all.
This extraordinary book features a biography by legendary South African journalist Allister Sparks, authorised by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and includes over forty interviews conducted by Tutu’s daughter Reverend Mpho Tutu with close family, friends, colleagues, comrades and critics. Complemented by an unprecedented collection of images and unpublished artefacts drawn from Tutu’s private files, this is a phenomenal story of one man’s life-long commitment to the liberation of the oppressed.
Includes interviews with Kofi Annan, Daw Aung San SuuKyi and President Barack Obama.
At the Deep End by Morgan Tsvangirai
A founding member and leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai came to prominence as a political force in the late 1990s. Over the next ten years he would be harassed, tortured, charged with treason and labelled a traitor, but he would also come to be globally regarded as a courageous and indefatigable symbol of resistance in the face of brutal repression.
From teenage mine worker to trade union leader to Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in a coalition government, his autobiography traces Tsvangirai’s political development and activism, laying bare the challenges and frustrations of his political life, up to and including the power-sharing agreements with President Robert Mugabe. At the Deep End is the story of a man who, through everything he has endured, has remained committed to working for peace and democracy for all in his country, and in the process become a beacon of hope for a beleaguered nation. Written in collaboration with his spokesperson, veteran journalist and editor T. William Bango, this book contains rich documentation of both Morgan Tsvangirai s political career and of the changing socio-historical context of Zimbabwe. As his personal assistant, advisor and spokesperson, T William Bango has shared a lot with Morgan Tsvangirai over the last seven years not least the infamous 2007 beatings that nearly cost them both their lives at the hands of Mugabe s Zanu militia. Prior to this, Bango spent 23 years in journalism. He also lectured journalism at the Institute for Advancement of Journalism. He has recently completed an MPA from Harvard University in the USA.
Great South African Teachers by Jonathan Jansen
A tribute to South Africa’s great teachers from the people whose lives they have changed.
At a time when our newspapers are full of the woes of the South African education system and stories of teachers who let the children in their classes down, this book is a celebration of heroic teachers who have struggled, often against great odds, to give children a chance of success. Great South African Teachers celebrates the massive contribution of remarkable teachers working in South African schools, past and present. The stories, contributed by over 100 South Africans in response to advertisements placed in the Sunday Times, pay tribute to the teachers who changed their lives. The contributions reflect the full range of South African schools – rich, poor, white, black, schools under apartheid, schools urban, rural, schools past & present.
“The overriding purpose of this book is to convey a message of hope: there are still powerful teacher models on which we can draw to rebuild a faltering school system.” Jonathan Jansen
Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness tells the story of the author’s mother, Nicola Fuller. Nicola Fuller and her husband were a glamorous and optimistic couple and East Africa lay before them with the promise of all its perfect light, even as the British Empire in which they both believed waned. They had everything, including two golden children – a girl and a boy. However, life became increasingly difficult and they moved to Rhodesia to work as farm managers. The previous farm manager had committed suicide. His ghost appeared at the foot of their bed and seemed to be trying to warn them of something. Shortly after this, one of their golden children died. Africa was no longer the playground of Nicola’s childhood. They returned to England where the author was born before they returned to Rhodesia and to the civil war. The last part of the book sees the Fullers in their old age on a banana and fish farm in the Zambezi Valley. They had built their ramshackle dining room under the Tree of Forgetfulness. In local custom, this tree is the meeting place for villagers determined to resolve disputes. It is in the spirit of this Forgetfulness that Nicola finally forgot – but did not forgive – all her enemies including her daughter and the Apostle, a squatter who has taken up residency in her bananas with his seven wives and forty-nine children. Funny, tragic, terrifying, exotic and utterly unself-conscious, this is a story of survival and madness, love and war, passion and compassion.
Currently dystopian novels are casting long shadows over teen fiction, really making one look at the shape of the world we inhabit and what will remain. There are many great reads such as the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Matched by Ally Condie and Divergent by Veronica Roth. New book on the scene, Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done reads like a teen Godfather. It is set in New York in the 2080s and many things have become illegal, such as chocolate. The story centres around a mob family within the chocolate trade and the oldest daughter, Anya. She is trying to keep her family together as they have lost both parents and it becomes more tricky once she is arrested for an attempted murder. Really fastpace read with interesting family dynamics, Gabrielle Zevin tells a great tale of l, love and loyalty, which remains central to our being, no matter what the timeline.
Then there is XVI by Julia Karr, which is even further into the future, nearing 2170. At the age of 16 everyone becomes legal and for all girls this mean sex is legal and encouraged. But what if you aren’t ready and what if you don’t want to be thrown to the wolves? Our young heroine has to fend for herself and her little sister after disaster strikes and soon she is not sure who to trust. Very much a young 1894, all thoughts are monitored and soon Nina finds out things about her parents she is not sure she wanted to know. There is definitely a bit of a love interested in a young guy, Sal, who seems to know more about Nina’s past than he should and she has to trust him to keep her sister safe. A great look at the values we so often take for granted in our current society, free will, freedom of speech, right to choice. A nailbiting read with a very realistic ending makes this one a winner.
For little people
Hector: A Dog Who Draws His Dreams written by Mark Barry and illustrated by Sarah Aspinall
Hector is dog that likes to draw pictures. He is also a dreamer. Hector’s friends come together to help him make his dream car and Hectar draws all the places he’d like to go. When it’s finally time to say goodbye to his friends, however, Hector’s friends decide to join him, and they all go together to the faraway places of Hector’s dreams. A lovely story with bright and busy illustrations.
Again! written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Emily Gravett’s newest offer Again! offers both parents and young ones a hilarious insight into the challenges that bedtime stories can bring for both parties. With characteristically beautiful illustrations Again! is sure to be a new favourite at bedtime.
Mr Underbed written and illustrated by Chris Riddell
Just as Jim is about to fall asleep there is a rumble and wobble from under his bed. It’s Mr Underbed complaining about the cramped space under Jim’s bed. Jim allows Mr Underbed to get in under the covers, but soon he has to make room for more visitors. Illustrated in Chris Riddell’s characteristic sweet and colourful style, Mr Underbed will make you ask if you would share your bed with a furry creature or two?
Last thought – Philip Hensher on fiction…
“A wonderful Canadian academic and psychologist, Keith Oatley, has carried out some research on readers and non-readers of fiction, and has questioned this widespread assumption. Speaking to the Today programme this week, he shared his conclusion that habitual readers of novels were much better at coping with social situations and with a wide range of human beings. The usual image of the thick-lensed bookworm who can’t cope with people – Philip Larkin’s character who says “when getting my nose in a book/cured most things short of school” – is far from reality.
Psychologists can offer explanations of behaviour, but they can’t explain why people sometimes act out of character, or against their own interests. Even so subtle an analyst of behaviour as Erving Goffman, say, would struggle to account for the moment at the end of Vanity Fair where Becky Sharp hands Amelia Osborne the letter, destroying her own interests. And yet we know it to be true in the deepest sense.
The writer Marc Abrahams has shared an amusing encounter with a psychologist, who told him: “Whenever any group of really good research psychologists gets together socially, after a few drinks they always – and I do mean always – talk about why novelists are so much better at it than we are.”
It’s true. No psychologist is as good a psychologist as Graham Greene, let alone Tolstoy. And it’s also true that no social life contains the range and interest of a shelf of novels. We love our friends: human beings fascinate us endlessly; and to teach us how they work, there are always novels. I’ve never met anyone remotely like Emma Bovary, Miss Flite, or Belinda, the madcap genius of the Fourth Form at Malory Towers. But one day, they’ll come along, and when they do, I’ll recognise them instantly.”