Follow @book_lounge
Subscribe here to receive invitations to our events and our monthly Newsletter
* = required field

February 2016

Tuesday, February 2nd 2016

Fiction

Slade House by David Mitchell

slade houseBorn out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.

Turn down Slade Alley – narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn’t quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.

A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t.

This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe’en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a ‘guest’ is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs…

Manically ingenious … Each fresh product of Mitchell’s soaring imagination functions as an echo chamber for both his previous ideas and his oeuvre to come.”              Liz Jensen, Guardian

Chilling and dazzling … but the real skill of the book is in its emotional impact. Mitchell makes you care about each of the narrators.”                      Scotland on Sunday

Packed with heady ideas and pulsing with dark energy . . . both dazzlingly inventive and compulsively readable.”              Financial Times

An elegant fright-fest of the highest order . . . Mitchell masterfully, humorously, combines the classic components of a scary story – old house, dark alley, missing persons – with a realism, when describing the lives of the victims, that is pacy, funny and true.”                       Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

A deliciously creepy story to be read for plot and for pleasure, with your heart racing, and your eyes involuntarily skipping forwards to find out what happens.”                      Sunday Times

Genuinely good, genuinely scary.”                Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail

“[Mitchell] seamlessly brings together his clashing parallel realities through wordplay so dazzling it seems to defy its own gravitational rules.”                        Metro

Mitchell’s most pleasurable book to date, which also features some of his finest writing.”                     Literary Review

Plants died, milk curdled, and my children went slightly feral as I succumbed to the creepy magic of David Mitchell’s Slade House. It’s a wildly inventive, chilling, and – for all its other-worldiness – wonderfully human haunted house story. I plan to return to its clutches quite often.”                  Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

 

The Ghost Network by Catie Disaboto

One minute insanely famous pop singer Molly Metropolis is on her way to a major performance in Chicago, and the next, she’s gone.

A journalist who’s been covering Molly joins the singer’s personal assistant in an increasingly desperate search to find her, guided by a journal left behind in her hotel room, and possible clues hidden in her songs – all of which seem to point to an abandoned line in the Chicago subway system.

It leads them to a map of half-completed train lines underneath Chicago, which in turn leads them to the secret, subterranean headquarters of an obscure intellectual sect—and the realisation that they’ve gone too far to turn back. And if a superstar can disappear without a trace … what can happen to these young women?

Suspenseful and wildly original, The Ghost Network is a novel about larger-than-life fantasies – of love, sex, pop music, amateur detective work, and personal reinvention. Debut novelist Catie Disabato bursts on the scene with an ingeniously plotted, witty, haunting mystery.

A smart and thorny debut novel… Truly contemporary… The Ghost Network presents the maze of modern culture with all its dead ends and truncations, but reveals treasure to those who walk the path.”                 New York Times Book Review

A nerve-jangling mash-up of conspiracy theories and ingeniously plotted existential mystery.”                        O, the Oprah Magazine, The Season’s Best

Ambitious, digressive and occasionally overstuffed, The Ghost Network is a rewarding read — in other words, it’s a rabbit hole well worth falling down.”              Chicago Tribune

A high-energy, pop meta-mystery.”              Boston Globe, Summer Reading Picks

A bumpy, challenging narrative ride, one that’s worth taking until the end of the line.”             KQED, Beach Reads for Rebels

A perceptive look at celebrity and personal branding in the digital age… The Ghost Network, like a great pop song, is an intricate system and a lavish spectacle at the same time.”              Chicago Reader

 

From Man to Man or Perhaps Only by Olive Schreiner

Olive Schreiner, is perhaps most famous for her work The Story of an African Farm (1883). Her penultimate book, From Man to Man (1926), is arguably more important and relevant, not only because it is a more mature study of early racial and imperial relations but also because of its more modern characterisation.

It is the story of two white women brought up in the Cape of Good Hope at the end of the 19th century. One marries and has children, the other is led into a life of prostitution. Asking questions about the relation between marriage and prostitution in a world where women are valued only for their bodies, the novel portrays one woman’s struggle to re-create herself and to educate her children, including her black foster-child, in such a way as to enable them to pursue a more humane and fulfilled destiny than was open to her. This powerful novel, in advance of its time, is about the human capacity to dream of a society no longer regulated by damaging racial and gender relations.

The previous edition of this work was edited and completed posthumously by Schreiner’s husband. This new edition, edited by Prof Dorothy Driver, renowned academic, editor, and literary critic, who believes that Cronwright-Schreiner misread the author’s intention, adds another ending, written by Schreiner in her own words in a letter to a friend. She also repairs the editorial and proofreading errors introduced by Cronwright-Schreiner.

 

Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

As we grow older – most of all, in what we remember and what we dream – we live in the past. Sometimes, we live more vividly in the past than in the present.

As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but his dreams and memories will travel with him; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico. ‘An aura of fate had marked him,’ John Irving writes. ‘The chain of events, the links in our lives – what leads us where we’re going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don’t see coming, and what we do – all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious.’

Avenue of Mysteries is the story of what happens to Juan Diego in the Philippines, where what happened to him in the past – in Mexico – collides with his future.

From the first page to the last, there is a goodness to this novel, a tenacious belief in love and the redemptive power of human connection, unfettered by institutions and conventions. This belief, combined with good old-fashioned storytelling, is surely why Irving is so often described as Dickensian. But John Irving is his own thing, and so is his new novel. Avenue of Mysteriesis thoroughly modern, accessibly brainy, hilariously eccentric and beautifully human.”                                           New York Times

Irving has packed so much detail in . . . And yet he has not run out of what has endeared him to so many for so long: immense charm, an appetite to hurtle headlong at the biggest questions and the altogether unfashionable belief that sentimentality is not a crime against art.”                        Guardian

Irving has embarked on his dark phase, as did Dickens. It will be interesting, if melancholy, to follow him down that gloomy avenue.”                     The Times

A typically idiosyncratic Irving novel: at times exhausting, at other times rambling and self-indulgent, but always readable, impassioned and thought-provoking.”                                 Mail on Sunday

 

 

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

This book of dark secrets opens with a blaze. On the morning of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family – her present, her past and her future. Fleeing from the carnage, stricken and alone, June finds herself in a motel room by the ocean, hundreds of miles from her Connecticut home, held captive by memories and the mistakes she has made with her only child, Lolly, and her partner, Luke.

In the turbulence of grief and gossip left in June’s wake we slowly make sense of the unimaginable. The novel is a gathering of voices, and each testimony has a new revelation about what led to the catastrophe – Luke’s alienated mother Lydia, the watchful motel owners, their cleaner Cissy, the teenage pothead who lives nearby – everyone touched by the tragedy finds themselves caught in the undertow, as their secret histories finally come to light.

Lit by the clarity of understanding that true sadness brings, Did You Ever Have a Family is an elegant, unforgettable story that reveals humanity at its worst and best, through loss and love, fracture and forgiveness. At the book’s heart is the idea of family – the ones we are born with and the ones we create – and the desire, in the face of everything, to go on living.

Full of small-town secrets and whispers, Bill Clegg has woven a richly textured tale of loss and healing. This is a deeply optimistic book about the power of human sympathy to pull us from the wreckage of our fate.”                Anne Enright, winner of the Man Booker Prize)

The force, range, and scope of Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family grab you with its opening line, and don’t let go until its final one. I can’t recall another novel that so effortlessly weds a nuanced, lyrical voice to an unflinching vision of just how badly things can go for people. I read it deep into the night, all the way through, telling myself it was getting late, I could finish the book in the morning. I finished it that night, however, slept a few hours, and then, in the morning, started reading it again.”                        Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

Like the question it poses, Did You Ever Have a Family is brutally direct yet it’s got an enormous symbolic power. You hold in your hands a great book of kindness – every restrained, exquisite sentence comes loaded for bear. It’s been a lot of years since a novel has so moved me. Number Bill Clegg among that endangered species: major American writer.”               Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and Half a Life

Masterly…The vignettes provide deft reprieves, a mosaic of a community and its connection to the tragedy. And connection—the way people and their lives fuse—is this novel’s main concern.”                         New York Times Book Review

A propulsive but tightly crafted narrative… reveal[s] the fine-grained sorrows of the human condition, rendered in polished, quietly captivating prose. As the stories emerge, so do their connections—and the idea of connection itself…. Readers may come to this debut novel because of agent/memoirist Clegg’s reputation, but they’ll stay for the stellar language and storytelling. Highly recommended.”                Library Journal, starred review

In this sorrowful and deeply probing debut novel, literary agent and memoirist Clegg (Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man) delivers a story of loss and its grueling aftermath . . . it’s Clegg’s deft handling of all the parsed details—missed opportunities, harbored regrets, and unspoken good intentions—that make the journey toward redemption and forgiveness so memorable.”       Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

Little Suns by Zakes Mda

‘There are many suns,’ he said. ‘Each day has its own. Some are small, some are big. I’m named after the small ones.’

It is 1903. A lame and frail Malangana – ‘Little Suns’ – searches for his beloved Mthwakazi after many lonely years spent in Lesotho. Mthwakazi was the young woman he had fallen in love with twenty years earlier, before the assassination of Hamilton Hope ripped the two of them apart.

Intertwined with Malangana’s story, is the account of Hope – a colonial magistrate who, in the late nineteenth century, was undermining the local kingdoms of the eastern Cape in order to bring them under the control of the British. It was he who wanted to coerce Malangana’s king and his people, the amaMpondomise, into joining his battle – a scheme Malangana’s conscience could not allow.

Zakes Mda’s fine new novel Little Suns weaves the true events surrounding the death of Magistrate Hope into a touching story of love and perseverance that can transcend exile and strife.

Golden Age by Jane Smiley

Golden Age is the third novel in the dazzling Last Hundred Years Trilogy from the Jane Smiley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

  1. A visit from a long-lost relative brings the Langdons together again on the family farm; a place almost unrecognisable from the remote Iowan farmland Walter and Rosanna once owned. Whilst a few have stayed, most have spread wide across the US, but all are facing social, economic and political challenges unlike anything their ancestors encountered.

Richie Langdon, finally out from under his twin brother’s shadow, finds himself running for congress almost unintentionally, and completely underprepared for the world-changing decisions he will have to make. Charlie, the charmer, recently found, struggles to find his way. Jesse’s son, Guthrie, set to take over the family farm, is deployed to Iraq, leaving it in the hands of his younger sister, Felicity, who must defend the land from more than just the extremes of climate change.

Moving through the 1990s, to our own moment and beyond, this last instalment sees the final repercussions of time on the Langdon family. After a hundred years of personal change and US history, filled with words unsaid and moments lost, Golden Age brings to a magnificent conclusion the century-long portrait of one unforgettable family.

Rush Oh! By Shirley Barrett

When Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure.

It’s a season marked not only by the sparsity of whales and the vagaries of weather, but also by the arrival of John Beck, an itinerant whaleman with a murky past, on whom Mary promptly develops an all-consuming crush. But hers is not the only romance to blossom amidst the blubber…

Swinging from Mary’s hopes and disappointments, both domestic and romantic, to the challenges that beset their tiny whaling operation, Rush Oh! is a celebration of an extraordinary episode in Australian history when a family of whalers formed a fond, unique alliance with a pod of frisky killer whales – and in particular, a killer whale named Tom.

Beautiful and brutal, witty and kind, Rush Oh! is a story of great surprises and a beating heart – a book never to forget.”              Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief

Hugely funny and peopled with a cast of characters I came to love like my own friends, Rush Oh! reminded me why I love reading.”                   Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites

Cinematic. The tale of a whaling family, its scope is ambitious and its heart big. You’ll fall in love.”             Marie Claire, Australia

 

Time of the Locust by Morowa Yejide

Sephiri is an autistic boy who lives in a world of his own making, where he dwells among imagined sea creatures that help him process information in the “real world” in which he is forced to live. But lately he has been having dreams of a mysterious place, and he starts creating fantastical sketches of this strange, inner world.

Brenda, Sephiri’s mother, struggles with raising her challenged child alone. Her only wish is to connect with him – a smile on his face would be a triumph. Sephiri’s father, Horus, is serving a life sentence in prison, making the days even lonelier for Brenda and Sephiri. Yet prison is still not enough to separate father and son. In the seventh year of his imprisonment and at the height of his isolation, Horus develops extraordinary mental abilities that allow him to reach his son. Memory and yearning carry him outside his body, and through the realities of their ordeals and dreamscape, Horus and Sephiri find each other-and find hope in ways never imagined.

Deftly portrayed by the remarkably talented Morowa Yejidé, this “unique and astounding debut” (bestselling author Lalita Tademy) is a harrowing, mystical, and redemptive journey toward the union of a family.

At times almost mystical in its intensity, Yejidé’s prose brings lyricism to her dark subject matter and unhappy characters, eventually introducing a kind of magical restoration to her shattered fictional family.”                Kirkus

There are characters who hook you from the second you meet them on the page. Sephiri, the autistic boy at the heart of Time of the Locust is one of them.”              Essence Magazine

Yejidé is a talented writer … [Time of the Locust] is strong and original, and even the minor characters come alive.”   Washington Post

“Time of the Locust is jaw-dropping awesome. A superb debut work of magic realism and finalist for the Pen/Bellwether Prize for socially engaged fiction, this is the book for you, your friends and your book club. From the world of the autistic prepubescent son, to the mother who raises him and the father that sired him, and the situation that connects and separates them all, this story will cause you to look at the world around you differently whenever you look up from it. Read it!”                         Ebony Magazine

Beautiful prose conveys the sadness and fractured selves of these characters, who are both strong and fragile. The depth of pain can make for difficult reading, but the rendering of Sephiri’s interior life, in particular, is arresting, and the novel is challenging and memorable.”                   Publishers Weekly

 

 

Marauders by Tom Cooper

When the BP oil spill devastates the Gulf coast, those who made a living by shrimping find themselves in dire straits. For the oddballs and lowlifes who inhabit the sleepy, working class bayou town of Jeannette,  these desperate circumstances serve as the catalyst that pushes them to enact whatever risky schemes they can dream up to reverse their fortunes. At the center of it all is Gus Lindquist, a pill-addicted, one armed treasure hunter obsessed with finding the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. His quest brings him into contact with a wide array of memorable characters, ranging from a couple of small time criminal potheads prone to hysterical banter, to the smooth-talking Oil company middleman out to bamboozle his own mother, to some drug smuggling psychopath twins, to a young man estranged from his father since his mother died in Hurricane Katrina. As the story progresses, these characters find themselves on a collision course with each other, and as the tension and action ramp up, it becomes clear that not all of them will survive these events.

Sad, grotesque, hilarious, breathtaking…stands with ease among the work of such stylistic predecessors as Twain, Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard. One thing that gives The Marauders its own clear hallmark is its quicksilver prose. The book’s other standout aspect is how it demands and earns sympathy for all but its most evil characters and for the fate-blasted but nature-blessed locale they inhabit. You might not want to retire there, but you’ll savor this visit.”                  Wall Street Journal

Excellent, finely written and funny – an admirable novel from a very promising writer.”                       USA Today

It’s always the voice, the singular sound of a place like none other, that draws you into a regional mystery. In Tom Cooper’s first novel, The Marauders, that beguiling music comes out of the Louisiana bayous, where a raucous chorus of shrimp fishermen, marijuana growers, treasure hunters, professional crooks and common thieves fight to be heard…It hurts to laugh at the preposterous get-rich-quick schemes of these swamp denizens, but laugh we must, if only to find some relief from the grim realism of Cooper’s portrait of life in these coastal communities.”                  New York Times Book Review

 

 

Non-Fiction

John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman

Over half a century since The Spy Who came in from the Cold made John le Carré a worldwide, bestselling sensation, David Cornwell, the man behind the pseudonym, remains an enigma. He has consistently quarried his life for his writing, and his novels seem to offer tantalising glimpses of their author – but in the narrative of his life fact and fiction have become intertwined, and little is really known of one of the world’s most successful writers.

In Cornwell’s lonely childhood Adam Sisman uncovers the origins of the themes of love and abandonment which have dominated le Carré’s fiction: the departure of his mother when he was five, followed by ‘sixteen hugless years’ in the dubious care of his father, a man of energy and charm, a serial seducer and conman who hid the Bentleys in the trees when the bailiffs came calling – a ‘totally incomprehensible father’ who could ‘put a hand on your shoulder and the other in your pocket, both gestures equally sincere’. And in Cornwell’s adult life – from recruitment by both MI5 and MI6, through marriage and family life, to his emergence as the master of the spy novel – Sisman explores the idea of espionage and its significance in human terms; the extent to which betrayal is acceptable in exchange for love; and the endless need for forgiveness, especially from oneself.

Written with exclusive access to David Cornwell himself, to his private archive and to the most important people in his life – family, friends, enemies, intelligence ex-colleagues and ex-lovers – and featuring a wealth of previously unseen photographic material, Adam Sisman’s extraordinarily insightful and constantly revealing biography brings in from the cold a man whose own life has been as complex and confounding and filled with treachery as any of his novels. ‘I’m a liar,’ Cornwell has written. ‘Born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practised in it as a novelist.’

This is the definitive biography of a major writer, described by Ian McEwan as ‘perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the twentieth century in Britain’.

Ultimately it’s about love … this is a very emotional book. John le Carré had an utterly heartbreaking childhood … This is the best biography of 2015 – a rare achievement that invites rereading.” Independent

Compendious and compelling…Sisman is excellent at the nuts and bolts of writing and of being published…it must be difficult to write the life of a man who is still very much with us, and in the public eye, no matter how much liberty the biographer has been given to tell the story, warts and all. Sisman – a very fine and astute biographer – has done an excellent, not to say exemplary, job under the circumstances … it is impossible to imagine this Life being bettered.”                   William Boyd, New Statesman

This is the way to do it. Why this admirably balanced, patiently detailed biography of John le Carré is not on the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction shortlist beats me … Sisman does full justice to [the] rawness at the heart of le Carré.”                David Sexton, Evening Standard

Balanced, focused and compelling.               Economist

The spy novelist’s life is explored and explained with immaculate care and attention to detail.”                        Sunday Times

This book is testament to Sisman’s skill and perseverance . With his excellent grasp of the wider history, Sisman is good at anchoring Cornwell in this shadowy environment, as he guides his readers through the models for various characters . Sisman brings admirable clarity to what could have been a meander in a wilderness of mirrors.”              Andrew Lycett, Spectator

 

 

1914: Goodbye to All That curated by Lavinia Greenlaw

A wide-ranging collection of reflective essays, to mark the centenary of the conflict that changed the world.

In this collection of essays, ten leading writers from different countries consider the conflicts that have informed their own literary lives. 1914-Goodbye to All That borrows its title from Robert Graves’s ‘bitter leave-taking of England’; in which he writes not only of the First World War but the questions it raised: how to live, how to live with each other, and how to write.

Interpreting this title as broadly and ambiguously as Graves intended, these essays mark the War’s centenary by reinvigorating these questions. The book includes Elif Shafak on an inheritance of silence in Turkey, Ali Smith on lost voices in Scotland, Xiaolu Guo on the 100,000 Chinese sent to the Front, Daniel Kehlmann on hypnotism in Berlin, Colm Tóibin on Lady Gregory losing her son fighting for Britain as she fought for an independent Ireland, Kamila Shamsie on reimagining Karachi, Erwin Mortier on occupied Belgium’s legacy of shame, NoViolet Bulawayo on Zimbabwe and clarity, Ales Steger on resisting history in Slovenia, and Jeanette Winterson on what art is for.

Tender, compassionate humanity.”   Peter Conrad, Observer

A global gathering of essayists here reimagine the war from a variety of vantage points.”                    Guardian

This superb collection of essays by some of today’s leading writers stands out among the many books commissioned to mark the centenary of the First World War.”              The Lady

We Are All Stardust by Stefan Klein

World-leading natural and social scientists shed light on their discoveries and lives in conversation with an award-winning science writer. When acclaimed science writer Stefan Klein asks Nobel Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann what sets scientists apart, Hoffmann says, ‘First and foremost, curiosity.’ In this collection of intimate conversations with 19 of the world’s best-known scientists, Klein lets us listen in as today’s leading minds reveal what they still hope to discover – and how their paradigm-changing work entwines with their lives outside the lab. From the sports car that physicist Steven Weinberg says helped him on his quest for ‘the theory of everything’ to the jazz musicians who gave psychologist Alison Gopnik new insight into raising children, scientists explain how they find inspiration everywhere. Hear from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on selfishness; anthropologist Sarah Hrdy on motherhood; primatologist Jane Goodall on animal behaviour; neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran on consciousness; geographer Jared Diamond on chance in history; and other luminaries!

The dazzling clutch of scientific minds caught in mid-thought here makes for a read that provokes thought in its turn … This collection sees science writer Stefan Klein interview the likes of anthropologist Sarah Hrdy and astronomer Martin Rees. Delights abound.”                       Nature

Klein has chosen an eclectic group to tackle everything from expected questions about their areas of study to issues concerning religion, morality, pain, and parenthood … He is exceedingly well read in the work of his interviewees, and they exchange ideas with ease, moving readily from deeply technical concepts to pop culture, making for an exceedingly welcome volume that will expose readers to all manner of topics that are likely new to them in a manner that focuses first on the lively personalities of the scientists, while slowly diving into their work … Truly enjoyable.”              Booklist

“[A] comprehensive book of ideas, distilled in language that even a layperson can understand.”                        Sunday Age

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. Every fall, her father would pack the family into the car and they would drive across the country, in search of their next adventure. The seeds were planted: Steinem would spend much of her life on the road, as a journalist, organizer, activist, and speaker. In vivid stories that span an entire career, Steinem writes about her time on the campaign trail, from Bobby Kennedy to Hillary Clinton; her early exposure to social activism in India; organizing ground-up movements in America; the taxi drivers who were “vectors   of modern myths” and the airline stewardesses who embraced feminism; and the infinite contrasts, the “surrealism in everyday life” that Steinem encountered as she travelled back and forth across the country. With the unique perspective of one of the greatest feminist icons of the 20th and 21st centuries, here is an inspiring, profound, enlightening memoir of one woman’s life-long journey.

Unlike some, she has never recanted, changed sides, expressed regret or given up…as this book demonstrates, she is truer to herself and her causes than she has ever been.”                     Observer

A personal, beautiful look at the deceptively radical act of travel and how it formed one of our most important voices for human rights…By delving deeper into her own thrilling story, Steinem shows us that we all have a fighter inside us.”                     Lena Dunham

She writes powerfully… a history of the fight for gender equality… also serves as a reminder of the battles feminists have not yet won.”                    Economist

Brilliant, warm and challenging.”                   Independent on Sunday

There is not a minority whose cause she has not espoused, a person in need she has passed by in the street…what would the USA be without Gloria Steinem?”                Spectator

A lucid, lively history of the American feminist movement over the past half-century, and of the author herself…Steinem emerges as a champion listener with a phenomenal memory. The more personal detail is full of wonderful detail…a life very well lived, crammed with action, devoid of laziness and buoyed by humour and a capacity for wry self-criticism.”                       Sunday Times

What a joy it is – a book of life, a book of travels, a seamless interweaving of her enduring message of equality for all laced through the story of her life.”             Harper’s Bazaar

A spirited account… fascinating… the warmth and inclusiveness that characterises Steinem’s accounts of the nascent activism of the early 60s is at once heartening and somewhat enviable…compellingly immediate… this geographical and intellectual adventuress here proves a thoughtful analyst of her own experiences, mistakes included; and an alert, inspiring chronicler.”                        Independent

Boss of Bosses: The Life of the Infamous Toto Riina by Attilio Bolzoni

This is the true story of Totò Riina, the Cosa Nostra boss who rose from nothing to become the most powerful man in Sicily. The picture emerges of a bloodthirsty, power-hungry monster who, despite his lowly beginnings, is able to outmanoeuvre the other Mafia chiefs and take control of the organisation. However, the story is not just that of Riina, but also of Sicily itself. D’Avanzo and Bolzoni have transformed a complex series of events spanning several decades into a gripping narrative.

In prison for 18 years now, Totò Riina still remains the dictator of the Cosa Nostra. This book tells the haunting and disturbing tale, with thorough investigation and testimony of the Sicilian Corleone.

Letters of Stone by Stephen Robins

This is a most exceptional and unforgettable book.” Antjie Krog

As a young boy growing up in Port Elizabeth in the 1960s and 1970s, Steven Robins was haunted by an old photograph of three unknown women on a table in the dining room. Only later did he learn that the women were his father’s mother and sisters, photographed in Berlin in 1937, before they were killed in the Holocaust. Steven’s father, who had fled Nazi Germany before it was too late, never spoke about the fate of his family who remained there.

Steven became obsessed with finding out what happened to the women, but had little to go on. In time he stumbled on official facts in museums in Washington DC and Berlin, and later he discovered almost one hundred letters sent to his father and uncle from the family in Berlin during the Nazi terror. The women in the photograph could now tell their story. Letters of Stone tracks Steven’s journey of discovery about the lives and fates of the Robinski family, in southern Africa, Berlin, Riga and Auschwitz. It also explores the worldwide rise of eugenics and racial science before the war, which justified the murder of Jews by the Nazis and caused South Africa and other countries to close their doors to Jewish refugees.

Most of all, this book is a poignant reconstruction of a family trapped in an increasingly terrifying and deadly Nazi state, and of the immense pressure on Steven’s father in faraway South Africa, which forced him to retreat into silence.

 

 

Stories of Our Lives by the NEST Collective

In June 2013, Kenyan multidisciplinary group ‘The NEST Collective’ travelled across Kenya, recording over 250 personal accounts of persons identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex in Kenya. This book presents a selection from the resulting archive – in an attempt to explore the consciousness, ambition and expression of many queer Kenyans in their daily interactions with family, friends, schools, workplace, religion and ideas of the future, and in diverse social contexts in Kenya. Through these stories, the self-representing queer Kenyan grants the reader permission to explore private and intimate worlds – where the vagaries of queer publicness, silence, intimacy, militancy and love happen.

I Call Myself a Feminist: The View from 25 Women Under 30 edited by Victoria Pepe

Is feminism still a dirty word? We asked twenty-five of the brightest, funniest, bravest young women what being a feminist in 2015 means to them.
We hear from Laura Bates (of the Everyday Sexism Project), Reni Eddo-Lodge (award-winning journalist and author), Yas Necati (an eighteen-year-old activist), Laura Pankhurst, great-great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and an activist in her own right, comedian Sofie Hagen, engineer Naomi Mitchison and Louise O’Neill, author of the award-winning feminist Young Adult novel Only Ever Yours. Writing about a huge variety of subjects, we have Martha Mosse on how she became a feminist, Alice Stride on sexism in language, Amy Annette addressing the body politic and Samira Shackle on having her eyes opened in a hostel for survivors of acid attacks in Islamabad, while Maysa Haque thinks about the way Islam has informed her feminism and Isabel Adomakoh Young insists that women don’t have to be perfect. There are twelve other performers, politicians and writers who include Jade Anouka, Emily Benn, Abigail Matson-Phippard, Hajar Wright and Jinan Younis.
Is the word feminist still to be shunned? Is feminism still thought of as anti-men rather than pro-human? Is this generation of feminists – outspoken, funny and focused – the best we’ve had for long while? Has the internet given them a voice and power previously unknown?

Full of spirit, candour and good sense . . . provocative in all kinds of ways.”                       Telegraph

It’s a real joy to see young women taking up feminism in such positive ways.”                   Herald

Refreshing and eye-opening and much-needed … I Call Myself a Feminist might be specifically targeted at younger women but readers of any age stand to learn a whole lot from this anthology.”             Independent

There are many chapters here that enlighten, cheer, or rightly anger. Some have real style and swagger … the best are often those that refract wider social questions through the prism of personal experience … I Call Myself a Feminist provides a lively and heartfelt introduction to many of the flash points of feminism, and manages to be both relatable and inspirational.”                  Independent on Sunday

Tetralogue: I’m Right & You’re Wrong by Timothy Williamson

Four people with radically different outlooks on the world meet on a train and start talking about what they believe. Their conversation varies from cool logical reasoning to heated personal confrontation. Each starts off convinced that he or she is right, but then doubts creep in.

In a tradition going back to Plato, Timothy Williamson uses a fictional conversation to explore questions about truth and falsity, and knowledge and belief. Is truth always relative to a point of view? Is every opinion fallible? Such ideas have been used to combat dogmatism and intolerance, but are they compatible with taking each opposing point of view seriously? This book presupposes no prior acquaintance with philosophy, and introduces its concerns in an accessible and light-hearted way. Is one point of view really right and the other really wrong? That is for the reader to decide.

“Tetralogue has an abundance of merits. It is lively and frequently incisive. It pursues several important philosophical issues efficiently and without remaining on well-trodden ground. It does not require any academic background. It could contribute usefully to undergraduate courses that address any of its topics.”                       Notre Dame Philosphical Review

Tetralogue is presented as an accessible, fun-to-read introduction to philosophical themes for the non-initiated; at the same time, the initiated may enjoy seeing these topics embedded in apparently mundane discussions.”                  Times Higher Education Supplement

 

 

The Economics of Inequality by Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty – whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century pushed inequality to the forefront of public debate – wrote The Economics of Inequality as an introduction to the conceptual and factual background necessary for interpreting changes in economic inequality over time. This concise text has established itself as an indispensable guide for students and general readers in France, where it has been regularly updated and revised. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer, The Economics of Inequality now appears in English for the first time.

Piketty begins by explaining how inequality evolves and how economists measure it. In subsequent chapters, he explores variances in income and ownership of capital and the variety of policies used to reduce these gaps. Along the way, with characteristic clarity and precision, he introduces key ideas about the relationship between labor and capital, the effects of different systems of taxation, the distinction between “historical” and “political” time, the impact of education and technological change, the nature of capital markets, the role of unions, and apparent tensions between the pursuit of efficiency and the pursuit of fairness.

Succinct, accessible, and authoritative, this is the ideal place to start for those who want to understand the fundamental issues at the heart of one of the most pressing concerns in contemporary economics and politics.

Britannia Obscura: Mapping Hidden Britain by Joanne Parker

The outline of the British Isles is instantly recognisable. But jostling within that familiar profile are countless vying maps of the country. Some of these maps are founded on rock, or on the natural features of the land. Far more are built on dreams – on human activity, effort, and aspiration.

From investigations of caves and megaliths to canals and airspace, Joanne Parker reveals a country with countless competing centres and ceaselessly shifting borders – a land where one person’s sleepy, unexceptional province will always be the busy heart of another’s map.

Britannia Obscura opens our eyes to the infinitely layered, rich and surprising landscape of Britain.

This prodigious book takes us on a fascinating excursion around a Britain obscure to most of us.”                         Daily Mail

Original and engaging.”                        Gillian Tindall, Literary Review

Parker’s tour is conducted with a light touch in prose which makes learning from her a pleasure. She makes delightful connections between eras and activities, and is conscious of the value of the unknown and uncertain in our lives… At twice the length this book would have been no less enjoyable.”              Horatio Clare, Daily Telegraph

 

Pacific: The Ocean of the Future by Simon Winchester

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world’s largest body of water, and – in matters economic, political and military – the ocean of the future.

The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future.

The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America – which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea – while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states – North Korea most notoriously today – suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world’s most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester’s thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Gripping … This might be his best [book] yet … Like all good writers, Winchester knows that specificity is all … stirring stuff. The variety of material is astonishing … As all good books must, this one shifts from the long-lens to the close-up shot, and from the tragic to the absurd.”                      Literary Review

“[Simon Winchester] is a terrific helmsman, both confident and smooth.”                 Daily Telegraph

Last Interview Series

A brilliant new series which gives insight into some of the great writers of the 20th century. Including their last interview as well as the best interviews from their glittering careers, we already have Kurt Vonnegut, Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. With Philip K Dick, Nora Ephron, Ernest Hemingway and James Baldwin to follow.

Somthing Beautiful

The Graphic Canon

A gorgeous, one-of-a-kind trilogy brings classic literature of the world together with legendary graphic artists and illustrators. Volume 1 whirls from eye-popping renditions of the great epics like The Odyssey and The Canterbury Tales; to Robert Crumb’s rarely seen adaptation of Boswell’s London Journal; from the Book of Esther from the Old Testament to Hinduism’s Bhagavad Gita; from three of Shakespeare’s greatest plays (including a manga Macbeth) to Gulliver’s Travels; all the way to the decadent French classic Dangerous Liasons. And much, much, much more. There is even a companion volume to Children’s Literature

The Graphic Canon, Volume 2 gives us a visual cornucopia based on the wealth of literature from the 1800s. Several artists—including Maxon Crumb and Gris Grimly—present their versions of Edgar Allan Poe’s visions. The great American novel Huckleberry Finn is adapted uncensored for the first time, as Twain wrote it. The bad boys of Romanticism – Shelley, Keats, and Byron – are visualized here, and so are the Brontë sisters. We see both of Coleridge’s most famous poems: “Kubla Khan” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (the latter by British comics legend Hunt Emerson). Philosophy and science are ably represented by ink versions of Nietzsche’sThus Spake Zarathustra and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Volume 3 showcases literature of the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st, including a Sherlock Holmes mystery, an illustrated guide to the Beat writers and a disturbing meditation on Naked Lunch.

 In the follow-up volume, young people’s literature through the ages is given new life by the best comics artists and illustrators. Fairy tales, fables, fantastical adventures, young adult novels, swashbuckling yarns, your favorite stories from childhood and your teenage years? they’re all here, in all their original complexity and strangeness, uncensored and unsanitised.

Mengelmoes 5

The latest in the series of popular SA comics from local artist Willem Samuel. Life is meaningless for Willem, especially now that Milli has left for the UK. Drugs, music, the art job at the graphic agency: pointless, futile and empty. Willem needs something to fill his life. Something to… lift him up.

 

The Mind’s Eye: An Introduction to Making Images by Judith Mason

This is not a how-to book. It is a how-to-think-about-how-to book. In it I bombard you with images and metaphors with never a photograph or diagram in sight. Your mind’s eye will create all the images in this text, and each mind is unique. Getting these, and other images, down on paper will provide you with fun, frustration, joy and despair. Like life.”                     Judith Mason

Abandoned Places: 60 Stories of Places Where Time Stopped by Richard Happer

Ghost towns, empty streets, crumbling ruins and lost empires this book reveals these and other deserted places. Many places featured were once populated and now sit unoccupied, modern day ruins, sitting in decay.

Stories, facts and photographs of 60 beautiful and eerie abandoned places from throughout the world. Time has stopped and nature is taking resident in these places mainly due to natural disasters, war or economic reasons.

Places include:

  • Severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Six Flags Jazzland has been abandoned since. Several of the rides still stand, a testimony to the resilience of New Orleans.
  • Shicheng in China has been under water for 53 years since the Xin’an River Hydro Plant flooded the area. The city was founded 1,300 years ago.
  • Chernobyl was totally abandoned after the nearby nuclear disaster in 1986. Due to radiation, it has been left untouched ever since the incident and will be for many thousands of years into the future. Nature now rules the city in what resembles an apocalyptic movie.
  • Poveglia is an island in the Venetian Lagoon which under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte became a dumping ground for plague victims and later an asylum for the mentally ill.
  • Plymouth was the capital of the island of Montserrat. The town was overwhelmed by volcanic eruptions starting in 1995 and was abandoned.
  • St Kilda a remote Scottish Island may have been permanently inhabited for at least two millennia, the population probably never exceeding 180. The entire population was evacuated in 1930.

 

For younger readers…

What Pet Should I Get by Dr Seuss

A brand new, never-before-seen rhyming romp of a picture book from the legendary Dr. Seuss!

This never-ever-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss about making up one’s mind is the literary equivalent of buried treasure! A brother and sister visit a pet shop to pick a pet, but can’t decide which one to go for. Sometimes making a choice can seem impossible to a child, and What Pet…? explores how it is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it! The cliffhanger ending will also fire children’s imaginations and provoke discussion about their own choices.

A Publisher’s Note at the end discusses the thrilling recent discovery of this new manuscript and illustrations, exploring Dr Seuss’ creative process and the inspiration of his own life in his work.

The Fox & the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

From an award-winning designer comes an original fable about need and loss

Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend had been Star, who lit the forest paths each night. But then one night Star was not there, and Fox had to face the forest all alone.

The Fox and the Star is a work of prose and design, each page thoughtfully created by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Brilliant … A delight.”                 Philip Pullman

Intricate, exquisite… An outstanding gift for five-plus readers.”                      Amanda Craig, ‘Picture Book of the Year’, New Statesman

“[A] brief, beautiful book about overcoming grief … If ever there was a reason to down the Kindle and go back to paper, this is it … An object of sheer gorgeousness … Every page is visually stunning, bringing her fable to life … It would, I think, act as a wonderful salve to anyone of any age who has experienced love and loss.”                   Alex O’Connell, The Times

It’s great … Individual, elegantly and impeccably designed, and with a touching story; and it’s technically and graphically intriguing.”                      David Gentleman

The Fox and the Star is not a Christmas book, but it does have a Christmas feel and, with its decorative clothbound cover, makes a per­fect gift. The design and drawing are so beautifully considered that I would like to frame each page.”             Lauren Child, Guardian ‘Books of the Year’

 

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

When her parents unexpectedly divorce, Mim Malone is dragged from her beloved home in Ohio to the ‘wastelands’ of Mississippi, where she lives in a haze of medication with her dad and new (almost certainly evil) stepmom.

But when Mim learns her real mother is ill back home, she escapes her new life and embarks on a rescue mission aboard a Greyhound bus, meeting an assortment of quirky characters along the way. And when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

“[Mosquitoland] boasts a funny, gutsy, straight-talking heroine with a distinctive voice, whose company is a blast of fresh air.”                       Daily Mail

“[Mim’s] endless wise-cracking (on a road trip by Greyhound bus to visit her sick mother) is a joy.”                           Independent – Best YA novels of 2015

Invigorating and humourous… At last a Kerouacian adventure for teenage girls.”                       Independent

At times heartwarming, heartbreaking and hilarious, but always maintaining a distinctly innocent brilliance.”                      USA Today

“[A] sparkling, startling, laugh-out-loud debut novel.”                 Wall Street Journal

“[A] captivating first novel… illuminating.”               Washington Post

A breath of fresh air… [a novel that] bucks the usual classifications and stands defiantly alone.”                        Entertainment Weekly

 

 

HAPPY READING!