Book of the Month
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The extraordinary sequel to the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall.
“My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he’ll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he’ll cut off your leg,’ says Walter Cromwell in the year 1500. ‘But if you don’t cut across him he’s a very gentleman. And he’ll stand anyone a drink.”
By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.
In Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn.The book steeps the reader in the cloying and paranoid atmosphere of Henry’s court, its delicate politics and machinations, and grips and alarms without remorse. While a ‘sequel’ to Wolf Hall, it can also be read as a stand-alone novel on this most extraordinary of periods. It is an exhilarating and truly great novel that stays with the reader for a long time after it is finished.
“Picks up the body parts where Wolf Hall left off…literary invention does not fail her: she’s as deft and verbally adroit as ever.” Margaret Atwood, Guardian
“Bring Up The Bodies succeeds brilliantly in every particle of this: it’s an imaginative achievement to exhaust superlatives.” Spectator
“A richly self-sufficient pleasure. Mantel’s particular and original talent is to stand outside her characters, and display them to her readers as though she were taking us on an expert talking-tour of the Tudor room in the National Portrait Gallery; at the same time, she makes us feel we are a part of their lives…Historical novel? Of course, and probably the best to be published since Wolf Hall.” Andrew Motion, The Times
“An outstandingly good read…Fans of Wolf Hall will relish this book, but Bring Up the Bodies also stands alone.” Economist
“This is a great novel of dark and dirty passions, public and private. It is also an exploration of what still shocks us…A truly great story, it rolls on.” James Naughtie, Financial Times
Stonemouth by Iain Banks
Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth. After five years in exile his presence is required at the funeral of patriarch Joe Murston, and even though the last time Stu saw the Murstons he was running for his life, staying away might be even more dangerous than turning up.
An estuary town north of Aberdeen, Stonemouth, with its five mile beach, can be beautiful on a sunny day. On a bleak one it can seem to offer little more than seafog, gangsters, cheap drugs and a suspension bridge irresistible to suicides. And although there’s supposed to be a temporary truce between Stewart and the town’s biggest crime family, it’s soon clear that only Stewart is taking this promise of peace seriously. Before long a quick drop into the cold grey Stoun begins to look like the soft option, and as he steps back into the minefield of his past to confront his guilt and all that it has lost him, Stu uncovers ever darker stories, and his homecoming takes a more lethal turn than even he had anticipated.
Tough, funny, fast-paced and touching, Stonemouth cracks open adolescence, love, brotherhood and vengeance in a wonderful rite of passage novel.
“To create an emotionally satisfying while intellectually convincing ending is a rare achievement…Beguiling.” Guardian
“Banks at his waspish, intelligent, nuanced best. His fans will give thanks.” Scotland on Sunday
The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, a secret love story, and the fate of the world are all brought to life in this haunting novel from the much-loved Peter Carey. London 2010, Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the unexpected death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man she has to grieve in private. One other person knows their secret, the director of the museum, who arranges for Catherine to be given a special project away from prying eyes. Mad with grief, the usually controlled and rational Catherine discovers a series of handwritten notebooks telling the story of the man who originally commissioned the extraordinary and eerie automata she has been asked to bring back to life. With a precocious new assistant, Amanda, at her side, she starts to piece together both the clockwork puzzle and the story of the mechanical creature which was commissioned in 19th century Germany by an English man, Henry Brandling, as a ‘magical amusement’ for his consumptive son. Having been asked to leave his home by his wife, Henry turns his hurtful departure into an adventure that he records for his young child. But it is Catherine Gehrig, in a strangely stormy and overheated London nearly two hundred years later, who will find comfort and wonder in reading Henry’s story. And it is the automata, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that will link two strangers confronted with the mysteries of life and death, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention and the body’s astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.
“Everything is burnished with vitalisingly poetic images. The Chemistry of Tears isn’t only about life and inventiveness: it overflows with them.” Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
“I loved this book for its mysteries, its hinted back stories, its reserve, and its underlying complexity.” Daily Telegraph
Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion
July, 1802. In the marshy eastern reaches of the Thames lies the Hispaniola, an inn kept by Jim Hawkins and his son. Young Jim spends his days roaming the mist-shrouded estuaries, running errands for his father and listening to his stories in the taproom; tales of adventures on the high seas, of curses, murder and revenge, black spots and buried treasure – and of a man with a wooden leg.
Late one night, a mysterious girl named Natty arrives on the river with a request for Jim from her father – Long John Silver. Aged and weak, but still possessing a strange power, the pirate proposes that Jim and Natty sail to Treasure Island in search of Captain Flint’s hidden bounty, the ‘beautiful bar silver’ left behind many years before. Silver has chartered a ship and a hardy crew for this purpose, whose captain is waiting only for the map, now locked away at the Hispaniola.
Making haste from London, Jim and Natty set off in the footsteps of their fathers, their tentative friendship growing stronger day by day. But the thrill of the ocean odyssey gives way to terror as the Nightingale reaches its destination, for it seems that Treasure Island is not as uninhabited as it once was…
Featuring a cast of noble seamen, murderous pirates, and stories of love, valour and terrible cruelty, Silver is a worthy sequel to Treasure Island – one of the greatest adventure stories ever told – and a work of extraordinary authenticity and imaginative power from one of England’s outstanding writers.
“Like Stevenson, Motion has achieved that very difficult thing: a children’s novel that works even better for adults. Look to your laurels, Rowling.” The Times
“Silver’s plot twists and turns and introduces elements beyond even Stevenson’s imagination. The result is a fascinating and richly coloured novel that can be read by children with an appetite for adventure and adults who will relish reliving the glory days of youth.” Herald
The Apartment by Greg Baxter
“She was always in many places at once, invested deeply in a hundred different notions, and of all the things I liked about Saskiathat was the thing I liked most.”
One snowy morning in an old European capital, a man wakes in a hotel room. A young local woman he has befriended calls to the hotel, and the two of them head out into the snow to find the man an apartment to rent.
Greg Baxter’s astonishing first novel tells the story of these two people on this day – and the old stories that brought them to where they are. Its subtle and intense narrative takes them across the frozen city and into the past that the man is hoping to escape, and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future. The Apartment is a book about war, the relationship between America and the rest of the world, and the brittle foundations of Western culture; but above all it is a book about the mysteries and alchemies of friendship – truthful, moving and brilliant.
“Admirable for its scope, ambition and unashamed seriousness of purpose, as well as its willingness to take stylistic and structural risks.” Julie Myerson Observer
“Imagine you’re on a roller-coaster…suddenly, without warning, it tips vertiginously, so quickly that your chest constricts and while you’re there, suspended, momentarily, at the apex of this roller-coaster, you’re aware suddenly of a kind of clarity, a totally new perspective on everything below. Greg Baxter’s The Apartment is a bit like this … Full of unshowy wisdom and surprising moments of beauty.” Sunday Telegraph
“Baxter’s superbly elegant, understated writing explores the dynamics of America’s relationship with the rest of the world.” The Times
“His protagonist is not merely struggling beneath the weight of the violence in his own life story; he grapples with the larger sense of history that infuses the text with an effect that recalls WG Sebald…There’s a maturity to The Apartment not often found in debut novels.” Independent
“The Apartment is a small novel – but it’s actually huge. Clever, entertaining, brave; it stretches the rules while following a man through one day of his life. I loved it.” Roddy Doyle
“The Apartmentis a wonderfully beguiling novel, evoking to perfection that sense of eerie possibility one has when in a strange city. Its account of a new friendship poised on the edge of love is superbly sure-footed.” Adam Thorpe
Tanuki Ichiban by ZinaidMeeran
Tanuki Ichiban is a daring and extraordinary tale from novelist ZinaidMeeran, award-winning author of Saracen at the Gates. Geronimo Chanboom and Darius Coochoomber III set out to impress girls at underground dinner parties and strive to smuggle and cook every rare critter in the Cites endangered species roster. Super NGO-ho nymphet, Corsicana, nursing a crush on retired circus orangutanLahnee-O, spearheads the campaign to have the great apes declared human. Just who is the tanuki ichiban? Next day at work, Corsicana fancied she felt hungover. She had forgotten her third kidney, as her hardass boss at the Institute for the Study of Vice, Prof.SofieJasat, called the one point five litre plastic bottle of tapwater Corsicana lugged around with her at all times. Corsicana, in secret, called Sofie the Office Octopus. It was a fearful sight — her future — Corsicana realised with a jolt. She hoped she could preserve her looks as her monomaniac mentor had. It was a thing of wonder that Sofie, who drank coffee like it was water, ate only Nik-Naks, got hopelessly sozzled at Friday post-work drinks and never slept more than four hours a night, showed her fifty years only through two stripes of silver along her ink black bangs, like Susan Sontag or a highly cerebral polecat.
A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash
Religion is supposed to shield children from the evil of the world . . .
“We never should’ve gone up there…”
One Sunday, nine-year-old Jess Hall watches in horror as his autistic brother is smothered during a healing service in the mountains of North Carolina.
The unimaginable violence that follows must be untangled by a local sheriff with his own tragic past.
A Land More Kind Than Home is a spellbinding, heartbreaking story about cruelty and innocence, and the failure of religion and family to protect a child.
It is a novel thick with stories and characters connected by faith, infidelity, and a sense of hope that is both tragic and unforgettable.
“People out in these parts can take hold of religion like it’s a drug, and they don’t want to give it up once they’ve got hold of it. It’s like it feeds them, and when they’re on it they’re likely to do anything these little backwoods churches tell them to do.
Then they’ll turn right around and kill each other.”
Grandad There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill
Who do you tell when you wake up to find a severed head on your resort-front beach in the morning? For frustrated ex-crime reporter JimmJuree it means action. With her former cop grandfather as back up, she sets out to discover how the poor fellow ended up where he did – and why. On their journey, with the rest of their disjointed family in tow, they uncover gruesome tales of piracy and slavery, violence and murder in the Gulf of Thailand. Are the authorities uninterested because they’re involved, or because the victims aren’t Thai? Whatever the reason, Jimm and her team are going it alone and their lives are under threat. And who exactly are those two elegant women in cabin three and why has the engine number of their car been filed away? Airport hostages and hand grenades, monkeys and naked policemen – once more the sublime and the ridiculous clash at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant – it could only be Colin Cotterill!
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
Jean Patrick Nkuba dreams of becoming the first Rwandan to run in the Olympics. But Jean Patrick is a Tutsi and his kind are not supposed to win. When the president’s assassination plunges the country into sudden and bloody chaos Hutu against Tutsi, neighbour against neighbour Jean Patrick is left without protection and without any choice. Now he must run: from his home, from his family, from the woman he loves. Finding them again will be the race of his life. Evoking the raw beauty of Rwanda and the tragedy of its recent past, Running the Rift is an evocative novel of a people’s trauma, of lives lost, and of loves salvaged.
“This is truly fearless writing: ambitious, beautiful, unapologetically passionate.” Barbara Kingsolver
“It is a testament to Benaron’s skill that a novel about genocide about neighbours and friends savagely turning on one another conveys so profoundly the joys of family, friendship, and community.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
A tender, quietly comic, life-affirming and very British coming of (old) age novel from a powerful new voice in fiction.
When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other.
He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone.
All he knows is that he must keep walking.
To save someone else’s life.
“A wonderful book …Full of sadness, hope, and ultimately love. I found it very moving.” Esther Freud
“From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn’t want to leave him. Impossible to put down…This book may follow a pattern set by another radio dramatist-turned-novelist, David Nicholls, whose One Day has now sold more than a million copies and been made into a successful film simply because one reader said to another `I love this book’ over and over again. So I’m telling you now: I love this book.” Erica Wagner, The Times
“A magical, moving and uplifting tale about a man’s journey across Britain and into his own heart.” Deborah Moggach
“I loved this book. I loved its purity, its brutality and unerring honesty. I don’t think I have read such richly composed metaphors before. They are like shooting stars glittering across each page. I can’t believe this is her first novel- I wait with bated breath for her next.” NataschaMcElhone
“The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching.” Claire Tomalin
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
Vermont, New Year’s Eve, 1987. All Jude wants to do is get high. All Teddy wants to do is get out. One of them won’t live to see 1988. In the wake of this death, three teenagers will try to find a way of honouring their lost friend. Is clean living the answer? Is parenthood? Or the simplicity of carrying out a last wish?
“Henderson’s writing is warm, engaged, and precise…Ten Thousand Saints is the offspring of Lester Bangs and Anne Tyler, and who wouldn’t want to read that baby?” Nick Hornby.
“Henderson does not hold back once: she writes the hell out of every moment, every scene, every perspective, every fleeting impression, every impulse and desire…she is never ironic or underwhelmed; her preferred mode is fierce, devoted and elegiac.” New York Times.
“The best thing I’ve read in a long time.” Ann Patchett (winner of the Orange Prize).
Seven Years by Peter Stamm
Alex has spent the majority of his adult life torn between two very different women-and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, beautiful, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart. Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland’s most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.
“How many writers have written with this degree of brutal perceptiveness and wisdom about the indeterminate depths of heterosexual desire? Wharton, Roth (sometimes), James Salter, Kundera. Stamm inscribes his name on that august list.” The Times
“I love this novel…It has the makings of an existential classic.” Sunday Telegraph
Sunday Sessions Vinyl – Philip Larkin
Uniquely printed on 500 vinyl records – a collection of twenty-six of Larkin’s best-known poems, read by the poet.
The Sunday Sessions consists of twenty-six poems, the contents of two tapes recorded by Philip Larkin in Hull in February 1980 – reportedly, each on a Sunday, after lunch with John Weeks, a sound engineer and colleague of the poet. The tapes, which contain work from Larkin’s first major collection, The North Ship, as well as poems from his best-known collections, The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows, remained ‘lost’ for over two decades, lying on a shelf in the garage in which they were recorded. Since their rediscovery they have been the subject of widespread media attention, including a BBC Radio 4 Archive Hour documentary. Their contents are now available in full for the first time.
Things to Make you Go Hmmm…
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
“Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?”
“Did Anne Frank write a sequel?”
“Do you have a copy of Nineteen Eighty-Six?”
“Do you sell Christmas trees?”
“If I were to meet the love of my life in a bookshop…what section do you think he would be standing in…?”
First started as a blog, this is a collection of some of the strange/funny/downright odd things that booksellers have been asked in bookshops around the world. And every single one of them is true. Welcome to our world!!
Amazing and Extraordinary Facts: Trains and Railways by Julian Holland
A charming compendium containing everything the railway buff in your life needs to know (and more) about trains and railways in the UK, from the steam age to the present day. In addition to the fascinating lists of railway trivia such as longest tunnels, widest bridges and most powerful locomotives, discover more about the crucial role railways and train travel have played in the history of Britain. From the sublime to the ridiculous and the euphoric to the poignant, every railway enthusiast is catered for. Brief accessible and entertaining pieces on a wide variety of subjects makes it the perfect book to dip in to.
I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis
Iain Thomas, writing as pleasefindthis, has put together a beautiful melange of prose poetry and photography in this exquisite book. Through his blog, twitter feed and various other web-based media he has built up a dedicated fanbase worldwide, and it’s not hard to see why.
These images and elegantly sculpted words combine wonderfully for a poignant, romantic, breathtaking collection that feels like a kiss on a bruise.
To get an idea of the wonderful effects this unique combination of words and images can produce, have a look at his blog, but for the full cumulative effect, you can’t go wrong with this collection, where every page will keep you hungry to turn the next…
As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-1980 by Susan Sontag
This, the second of three volumes of Susan Sontag’s journals and notebooks, begins where the first volume left off, in the middle of the 1960s. It traces and documents Sontag’s evolution from fledgling participant in the artistic and intellectual world of New York City to world-renowned critic and dominant force in the world of ideas with the publication of the groundbreakingAgainst Interpretation in 1966.
As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh follows Sontag through the turbulent years of the late 1960s – from her trip to Hanoi at the peak of the Vietnam War to her time making films in Sweden – up to 1981 and the beginning of the Reagan era. This is an invaluable record of the inner workings of one of the most inquisitive and analytical thinkers of the twentieth century at the height of her power. It is also a remarkable document of on individual’s political and moral awakening.
“An exceptionally vivid, and often moving account of a young woman’s painful journey towards acceptance of her own nature.” Sunday Telegraph
“Inspirational. Sontag shows us not just the importance, but the exhilaration of being earnest.” New Statesman
“What ultimately matters about Sontag…is what she has defended: the life of the mind, and the necessity for reading and writing as ‘a way of being fully human.” Hilary Mantel, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Arab Awakening: Islam and the New Middle East by Tariq Ramadan
Tariq Ramadan is one of the most acclaimed figures in the analysis of Islam and its political dimensions today. In The Arab Awakening he explores the opportunities and challenges across North Africa and the Middle East, as they look to create new, more open societies. He asks: Can Muslim countries bring together Islam, pluralism and democracy without betraying their identity? Will the Arab world be able to reclaim its memory to reinvent education, women’s rights, social justice, economic growth and the fight against corruption? Can this emancipation be envisioned with Islam, experienced not as a straitjacket, but as an ethical and cultural wealth? Arguing that the debate cannot be reduced to a confrontation between two approaches – the modern and secular versus the traditional and Islamic – Ramadan demonstrates that not only are both of these routes in crisis, but that the Arab world has an historic opportunity: to stop blaming the West, to jettison its victim status and to create a truly new dynamic. Tariq Ramadan offers up a challenge to the Middle East: What enduring legacy will you produce, from the historic moment of the Arab Spring?
“Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim Martin Luther.” Washington Post
“One of the most important innovators for the twenty-first century.” Time
Best of Le Monde Diplomatique 2012
Le Monde Diplomatique is one of the most highly respected independent periodicals. Published monthly in French and English, it brings together a diverse range of high-calibre writers from across the world.
This book collects the paper’s highlights from the last year. The articles have been carefully selected and are arranged around the key themes in our changing world including US imperialism, the financial crisis and the Arab Spring. Among the contributors are SlavojŽižek, James K Galbraith and Philip S. Golub.
“Le Monde Diplomatique offers a cool, reasoned, different view of the world’s most pressing issues.” New York Review of Books
“Le Monde Diplomatique is more than ever indispensable to readers who want to know what governments and consensus media will not tell them.” Eric Hobsbawm
“Le Monde diplomatique is a crusading voice in journalism with especially good foreign coverage.” William Dalrymple
“To make sense of what is happening in the world, behind the misinformation, Le Monde Diplomatique is essential reading, every month, every year.” John Berger
“Unique, invaluable, reliable, the English edition is wonderful news for those who hope to understand the world or change it for the better.” Noam Chomsky
Colonel Gaddafi’s Hat by Alex Crawford
Colonel Gadaffi’s Hat is a gripping and moving account of the Libyan uprising from the lone journalist who was able to report from the rebel army convoy that captured Green Square, in the heart of Tripoli.
Alex Crawford’s daring reports were broadcast across news networks around the globe; and against a dramatic backdrop of celebratory gunfire, Alex and her team showed the world the final symbolic moments of the fall of a regime that had held power for more than 40 years.
The euphoria and chaos of that atmosphere of jubilation was soon overcome by the realities of conflict, and the story of the following days that Alex so viscerally tells in this remarkable account is both shocking and touching.
Crawford’s book on the end of Gaddafi’s regime is an extraordinary insight into modern political conflict and the nature of journalism. The first journalist to be on the scene at a number of key points in the Libyan conflict, Alex has been arrested, shot at, tear gassed and interrogated in the course of her career, and paints a fascinating picture of war journalism.
She is the only journalist to have won the Royal Television Society’s Journalist of the Year Award three times. She has also won an Emmy, two Golden Nymphs, the Bayeux War Correspondents Award, and the prestigious James Cameron Award, being cited by the judges for her ‘work as a journalist that combined moral vision and professional integrity’. After growing up in Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Alex began her career at the Wokingham Times before moving to the BBC and eventually Sky News, where she is currently Special Correspondent specialising in the Gulf, Middle East and Africa.
Just Transitions: Explorations of Sustainability in and Unfair World by Mark Swilling
Current economic growth strategies around the world are rapidly depleting the natural resources and ecosystem services that we depend on. Just Transitions provides a comprehensive overview of these challenges from a Global South perspective. The authors ask: How do developing countries eradicate poverty via economic development, while at the same time facing the consequences of global warming and dwindling levels of cheap oil, productive soils, metals, clean water supplies, and forest products? How do they address widening inequalities in income as well as the need to rebuild ecosystem services and natural resources? The book considers the theme of a just transition, which reconciles the sustainable use of natural resources with a pervasive commitment to sufficiency (where overconsumers are satisfied with less so that underconsumers can secure enough). It explores a range of different viewpoints and ideas and synthesizes them to illuminate new ways of thinking from a sustainability perspective. It rethinks development with special reference to the greening of the developmental state, explores the key role that cities could play in the transition to a more sustainably urbanized world, and highlights the neglect of soils in the global discussions around the potential of sustainable agriculture to feed the world. Case studies drawn from the African continent detail the challenges, but they are set in the context of global trends. The authors conclude with their experiences in building a community that aspires to live sustainably.
Cities with Slums by Marie Huchzermeyer
Unplanned, informal settlements absorb the majority of urban population growth. They are commonly understood as both a response and a witness to extensive urban poverty. They also signal a failure of and an explicit exclusion in urban governance. Increasingly, informal settlements have gained international attention through the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defined in the year 2000. For the purposes of the MDGs, the term ‘slum’ has been used for such settlements, most notably in the Cities Without Slums campaign. The title of this book deliberately suggests a critique of the Cities Without Slums campaign, which has unwittingly legitimised large-scale evictions from informal settlements in many African cities, from Abuja in Nigeria to Cape Town in South Africa. The African continent often looks to South African urban policy for a solution to what is perceived as the escalating ‘problem’ of slums. South African cities’ global competitiveness in attracting investment, their hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup and their determination to eradicate informal settlements by 2014 are promoted as best practice. And yet, the South African target to eradicate informal settlements by 2014 is perhaps the most tragic misinterpretation and abuse of the Millennium Goal to ‘significantly improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020′, to which the unfortunate slogan of Cities Without Slums is attached. The repressive eradication of informal settlements under the banner of Cities Without Slums has not gone unchallenged. In South Africa, rights-based litigation on ‘slum eradication’ has reached the Constitutional Court. A line of constructive critique and promotion of alternatives has emerged collectively, but has not been articulated in an accessible way. This book draws on the experience and the alternative discourse in South Africa to which the author has contributed directly. It also incorporates the author’s experience of other African countries, and challenges the dominance of Latin American and Asian experiences in international interpretations and ‘solutions’ of urban informality. The title brings together urban policy and politics, urban litigation and urban practice in a way that is relevant beyond the borders of South Africa, to a range of sectors from grassroots groupings to political decision-makers.