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Launch of Tess by Tracey Farren

Tuesday, February 21st 2017 at 5:30 PM

tess

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February 2017

Tuesday, February 21st 2017 at 9:16 AM

Fiction

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, sing snatches of songs as they while away the time.

But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction.

In a story told from multiple perspectives and in razor-sharp prose, we gradually learn more about this act, and the way its violence, love and memory reverberate through the life of every character in Idaho.

 

Writing that has the cool sharpness of lemonade… Unflinching, unfrilly, multi-layered storytelling that is both beautiful and devastating”                 Rachel Joyce

“Idaho, Emily Ruskovich’s debut novel, is about not only loss, grief and redemption, but also, most interestingly, the brutal disruptions of memory… you’re in masterly hands here… will remind many of the great Idaho novel, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping… wrenching and beautiful.”                           New York Times Book Review

Devastating… a textured, emotionally intricate story of deliverance… Ruskovich’s writing is a deft razor.”                    O, The Oprah Magazine

In this stunning debut novel, Emily Ruskovich introduces us to Ann and Wade, who have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho. But as Wade’s memory begins to fade, Ann becomes determined to learn more about her husband’s first wife, Jenny, and their daughters. What Ann discovers is a mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives. Hauntingly brilliant, this book will stay with you for days after you’ve put it down.”                 Evening Standard, 2017 Books of the Year

Haunting, propulsive and gorgeously written, this is a debut not to be missed.”                People Magazine

Riveting… exquisitely rendered with masterful language and imagery. You leave Idaho feeling as though you have been given a rare glimpse into the souls of genuinely surprising and convincing people, as E.M. Forster would have characterized the inhabitants of this world. Idaho is a powerful and deeply moving book, an impressive debut that portends good, even great, things to come”                          Washington Post

 

 

Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo

National Bestseller and a New York Times 2016 Notable Book
In these pages, Richard Russo returns to North Bath, the Rust Belt town first brought to unforgettable life in Nobody’s Fool. Now, ten years later, Doug Raymer has become the chief of police and is tormented by the improbable death of his wife–not to mention his suspicion that he was a failure of a husband. Meanwhile, the irrepressible Sully has come into a small fortune, but is suddenly faced with a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he only has a year or two left to live.
As Sully frantically works to keep the bad news from the important people in his life, we are reunited with his son and grandson . . . with Ruth, the married woman with whom he carried on for years . . . and with the hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren’t still best friends. Filled with humor, heart, and hard-luck characters you can’t help but love, Everybody’s Fool is a crowning achievement from one of the great storytellers of our time.

 

Buoyantly unsentimental . . . You hold his books to your heart.”                Boston Globe

Elegiac but never sentimental. . . . Russo s compassionate heart is open to the sorrows, and yes, the foolishness of this lonely world, but also the humor, friendship and love that abide.”                   San Francisco Chronicle

A writer of great comedy and warmth, Russo is living proof that a book can be profound and wise without aiming straight into darkness. [His] voice can play in any register, any key, any style [in this] portrait of an entire community, in all its romance and all its grit.”                     USA Today

A delightful return . . . to a town where dishonesty abounds, everyone misapprehends everyone else and half the citizens are half-crazy. It’s a great place for a reader to visit, and it seems to be Russo s spiritual home.”                       New York Times

How could twenty-three years have slipped by since Nobody s Fool? . . . Russo is probably the best writer of physical comedy that we have [but] even the zaniest elements of the story are interspersed with episodes of wincing cruelty. . . . The abiding wonder [is that] Russo s novel bears down on two calamitous days and exploits the action in every single minute . . . mudslides, grave robbery, collapsing buildings, poisonous snakes, drug deals, arson, lightning strikes and toxic goo. North Bath is a sleepy little town that never sleeps [and] no tangent ever feels tangential. Ron Charles, The Washington Post

The Fool books represent an enormous achievement, creating a world as richly detailed as the one we step into each day of our lives. . . . Sully in particular emerges as one of the most credible and engaging heroes in recent American fiction. . . . Bath is real, Sully is real, and so is Hattie s and the White Horse Tavern and Miss Peoples s house on Main, and I can only hope we haven t seen the last of them. I’d love to see what Sully’s going to be up to at 80.”             T. Coraghessan Boyle,  New York Times Book Review

 

 

 

Kingdom of Twilight by Steven Uhly

HISTORICAL FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH – THE TIMES

One night in autumn 1944, a gunshot echoes through the alleyways of a small town in occupied Poland. An S.S. officer is shot dead by a young Polish Jew, Margarita Ejzenstain. In retaliation, his commander orders the execution of thirty-seven Poles – one for every year of the dead man’s life. First hidden by a German couple, Margarita must then flee the brutal advance of the Soviet army with her new-born baby. So begins a thrilling panorama of intermingled destinies and events that reverberate from that single act of defiance. Kingdom Of Twilight follows the lives of Jewish refugees and a German family resettled from Bukovina, as well as a former S.S. officer, chronicling the geographical and psychological dislocation generated by war. A quest for identity and truth takes them from Displaced Persons camps to Lübeck, Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York, as they try to make sense of a changed world, and of their place in it. Hypnotically lyrical and intensely moving, Steven Uhly’s epic novel is a finely nuanced and yet shattering exploration of universal themes: love, hatred, doubt, survival, guilt, humanity and redemption.

 

A novel about the aftermath of the war, the tribulations of uneasy peace and the violent birth of Israel . . . Kingdom Of Twilight is powerful and original.”                       Antonia Senior, The Times

Uhly skilfully unrolls an epic canvas yet rarely loses sight of the individual details that bring his characters to life.”                         Sunday Times
A gripping, thoroughly researched novel . . . Steven Uhly’s Kingdom of Twilight should be at the centre of literary debate.”                      Süddeutsche Zeitung

 

Dancing the Death Drill by Fred Khumalo

Paris, 1958. An Algerian waiter at the world famous restaurant, La Tour d’Argent, is arrested for the murder of two customers. As he awaits trial, his long-time friend, celebrated jazz musician and artist Jerry Moloto, is hounded by an opportunistic and ambitious journalist hoping to make a name for himself by being the first to reveal the real story behind the waiter’s sudden extreme act of violence. Culling details from memory and from the waiter’s own journals, the story emerges that he is actually Pitso Motaung, a mixed race South African who had volunteered to fight for the British army in the First World War. Through a tragic twist of fate, Pitso finds himself enlisted aboard the ill-fated SS Mendi the formidable warship sunk off the coast of the Isle of Wight, killing 646 people, including many black South African soldiers. Pitso witnesses many tragic events during the crossing and at the time of the sinking but one particularly cruel moment will stay with him for the rest of his life, resurfacing decades later to devastating effect. Commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, Dancing the Death Drill paints a brilliant picture of a moment in history and brings to life some of the stories from the many who perished as well as of those who survived.

 

 

Dark Circle by Linda Grant

 

Image result for dark circle linda grantThe Second World War is over, a new decade is beginning but for an East End teenage brother and sister living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent to learn the way of the patient, they find themselves in the company of army and air force officers, a car salesman, a young university graduate, a mysterious German woman, a member of the aristocracy and an American merchant seaman. They discover that a cure is tantalisingly just out of reach and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched.

 

Exhilaratingly good . . . This is a novel whose engine is flesh and blood, not cold ideas . . . Grant brings the 1950s – that odd, downbeat, fertile decade between war and sexual liberation – into sharp, bright, heartbreaking focus.”                        Guardian

A writer whose language crackles with vitality and whose descriptive powers are working at such a high level.”                        Spectator

 

The Dark Circle is, beneath its narrative surface, fiercely political. She poses a large, naggingly relevant, question. What would (will?) privatisation of the NHS mean? Read this fine, persuasive, moving novel and contemplate – if you can dare to – that awful possibility.”                   The Times

Fascinating . . . a revealing insight: both funny and illuminating, it is a novel about what it means to treat people well, medically, emotionally and politically.”                        Observer

Contemporary issues linger ominously in Grant’s margins, silently enriching what’s already an astonishingly good period piece.”                Independent

 

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

When army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows that it is time to leave. As he travels towards Lagos, he becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a better life.

Their arrival in the city coincides with the eruption of a political scandal. The education minister, Chief Sandayo, has disappeared and is suspected of stealing millions of dollars from government funds.

After an unexpected encounter with the Chief, Chike and his companions must make a choice. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is desperate for information. But perhaps the situation is more complex than it appears.

As moving as it is mesmerising, Welcome to Lagos is a novel about the power of our dreams for the future and the place of morality in a sometimes hostile world.

 

“[A] fine novel … worlds―rich and poor, urban and rural, privileged and powerless, Muslim and Christian, Igbo and Yoruba―collide to spectacular effect as their paths cross and power shifts hands in surprising and unexpected ways, and then does so again, and again. It is an unlikely plot, but Ms Onuzo pulls it off, revealing the fault lines in her country’s society―or indeed those of any half-formed democracy. Though drenched in Lagosian atmosphere, the book wears its Nigerian setting lightly: it is clearly the work of a pan-African and an internationalist―and is all the better for it.”                    Economist

“[A] hugely accomplished tragicomic farce about life in Nigeria, written by one of the country’s brightest young stars. Nothing evades Onuzo’s biting prose and whipsmart humour. From the allegedly corrupt ministers who run the country, to the BBC journalists covering breaking news, and from the idealistic newspaper editor trying in vain to hold the country to account, to the beleaguered army officer who would rather be homeless than follow orders, all show the multifaceted shades of humanity that creates the kaleidoscope of Lagos.”                Herald

With Nollywood-like storylines and clever turns in plot, the book paints an entertaining and funny picture of Lagos life and Nigerian politics … impressive.”                   Guardian

“[H]ugely accomplished…Nothing evades Onuzo’s biting prose and whipsmart humour.”              Independent

 

 

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan Island, 1746. One rainy evening, a charming and handsome young stranger fresh off the boat from England pitches up to a counting house on Golden Hill Street, with a suspicious yet compelling proposition — he has an order for a thousand pounds in his pocket that he wishes to cash. But can he be trusted? This is New York in its infancy, a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself afresh, fall in love, and find a world of trouble . . .

 

Golden Hill is a novel of gloriously capacious humanity, thick-woven with life in all its oddness and familiarity, a novel of such joy it leaves you beaming, and such seriousness that it asks to be read again and again … this novel is verifiable gold.”                       Sunday Telegraph

The intoxicating effect of Golden Hill is much more than an experiment in form. [Spufford] has created a complete world, employing his archivist skills to the great advantage of his novel … This is a book born of patience, of knowledge accrued and distilled over decades, a style honed by practice. There are single scenes here more illuminating, more lovingly wrought, than entire books.”                 Financial Times

A cunningly crafted narrative that, right up to its tour de force conclusion, is alive with tantalising twists and turns … This is a dazzlingly written novel. Little brilliances of metaphor and phrasing gleam everywhere.”                  Sunday Times

Like a newly discovered novel by Henry Fielding with extra material by Martin Scorsese. Why it works so well is largely down to Spufford’s superb re-creation of New York … His writing crackles with energy and glee, and when Smith’s secret is finally revealed it is hugely satisfying on every level. For its payoff alone Golden Hill deserves a big shiny star.”                                    The Times

Splendidly entertaining and ingenious … Throughout Golden Hill, Spufford creates vivid, painterly scenes of street and salon life, yet one never feels as though a historical detail has been inserted just because he knew about it. Here is deep research worn refreshingly lightly … a first-class period entertainment.”                  Guardian

Golden Hill shows a level of showmanship and skill which seems more like a crowning achievement than a debut … [Spufford] brings his people and situations to life with glancing ease … They all live and breathe with conviction … His descriptive powers are amazing … Spufford’s extraordinary visual imagination and brilliant pacing seems to owe more to the movies than anything else.”                       Evening Standard

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.

A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry – and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he’s been summoned to this performance.

 

This is a virtuoso piece of writing, a whirlwind of laughter and tears that sucks you in and makes you holds your breath.”                        Daily Mail

A writerly tour de force that would be unbearably painful, were it not also so generously humane.”                               New Statesman, Book of the Year

A short, shocking masterpiece.”                   Adam Lively, Sunday Times

David Grossman’s new novel runs on a high voltage line, operated by a frantic, mesmerising and almost unbearable energy. An ongoing feeling of astonishment accompanies you throughout the read, and it is linked to Grossman’s bravado and to his innovation as a storyteller… A Horse Walks into a Bar…is unlike anything Grossman has written, or anything I have read. It is a packed explosive, multi-resonant, daring and exciting.”                      Ha’aretz

A fine Israeli writer… It takes an author of Mr Grossman’s stature to channel not a failed stand-up but a shockingly effective one.”                    Economist

 

 

Graphic

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran

 


Troll Bridge, 
a tale from the mind of Sunday Times bestselling writer Neil Gaiman, has been beautifully adapted for the first time by Eisner Award-winning writer/artist Colleen Doran. This striking graphic novel will delight fans of Alan Moore, Dave McKean and beyond.

Young Jack’s world is full of ghosts and ghouls, but one monster – a ravenous and hideous troll – haunts him long into manhood. As the beast sups upon a lifetime of Jack’s fear and regret, Jack must find the courage within himself to face the fiend once and for all.

 

 

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler & John Jennings

 


Kindred
, Octavia Butler’s literary science-fiction masterpiece first published in 1979, tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and mysteriously transported from her home in 1970s California to the antebellum South. Dana moves between worlds: one in which she is a free woman and another where she is part of a complicated familial history on a southern plantation, forced to interact with and save the life of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of her ancestors. Frightening, compelling and richly detailed, Kindred takes an imagined yet unstinting look at our complicated social history. Adapted as a graphic novel by celebrated academics Damian Duffy and John Jennings with the full co-operation of the Butler estate, Kindred explores the violence, sexuality, loss of humanity and twisted relationships engendered by slavery, in a format that introduces the work to a new generation of readers.

 

Everything the literature of science fiction can be.”                       Walter Mosley

 

That rare magical artifact . . . the novel one returns to again and again.”                        Harlan Ellison

 

 

 

Non-fiction

Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

#1 New York Times Bestseller

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE – Oscar Nominated For Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay

 

Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program.

Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘colored computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.

 

Clearly fueled by pride and admiration, a tender account of genuine transcendence and camaraderie. The story warmly conveys the dignity and refinements of these women.”                  New York Times Book Review

 

Much as Tom Wolfe did in ‘The Right Stuff’, Shetterly moves gracefully between the women’s lives and the broader sweep of history … Shetterly blends impressive research with an enormous amount of heart in telling these stories … Genuinely inspiring book.”                Boston Globe

 

Exploring the intimate relationships among blackness, womanhood, and 20th-century American technological development, Shetterly crafts a narrative that is crucial to understanding subsequent movements for civil rights.”                        Publishers Weekly

 

This an is incredibly powerful and complex story, and Shetterly has it down cold. The breadth of her well-documented research is immense, and her narrative compels on every level. The timing of this revelatory book could not be better, and book clubs will adore it.”                Booklist

 

 

Conversations with a Gentle Soul by Ahmed Kathrada

Without much fanfare Ahmed Kathrada worked alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other giants in the struggle to end racial discrimination in South Africa. He faced house arrest and many court trials related to his activism until, finally, a trial for sabotage saw him sentenced to life imprisonment alongside Mandela and six others.

Conversations with a Gentle Soul has its origins in a series of discussions between Kathrada and Sahm Venter about his opinions, encounters and experiences. Throughout his life, Kathrada has refused to hang on to negative emotions such as hatred and bitterness. Instead, he radiates contentment and the openness of a man at peace with himself. His wisdom is packaged within layers of optimism, mischievousness and humour, and he provides insights that are of value to all South Africans.

 

 

 

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt

The essays in this volume – all written between 2011 and 2015 – are in three parts. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women brings together penetrating pieces on particular artists and writers such as Picasso, Kiefer and Susan Sontag as well as essays investigating the biases that affect how we judge art, literature, and the world in general. The Delusions of Certainty is an essay about the mind/body problem, showing how this age-old philosophical puzzle has shaped contemporary debates on many subjects and how every discipline is coloured by what lies beyond argument-desire, belief, and the imagination. The essays in the final section, What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition, tackle such elusive neurological disorders as synesthesia and hysteria. Drawing on research in sociology, neurobiology, history, genetics, statistics, psychology and psychiatry, this section also contains a profound consideration of suicide and a towering reconsideration of Kierkegaard. Together they form an extremely stimulating, thoughtful, wide-ranging exploration of some of the fundamental questions about human beings and the human condition, delivered with Siri Hustvedt’s customary lucidity, vivacity and infectiously questioning intelligence.

 

It is obvious that hers is a great mind that is constantly exploring, searching, “becoming” . . . An impressive collection by a novelist who clearly loves the humanities, the sciences and the ancient art of storytelling. But Hustvedt is not only a writer. She is also a passionate reader and therein lies the secret of this book . . . Here is a great book that invites reading . . . not only to ‘look at a woman writer looking at men looking at women’, but also to look within, deep inside the recesses of our minds, so as to recognise the fascinating complexity but also the heartbreaking fragility of human existence.”                        Elif Shafak, Observer

“Few writers eviscerate bias and flawed logic as elegantly and ruthlessly as Hustvedt . . . she expertly flays assertions about biological and psychological sex differences . . . Hustvedt does not resolve her many questions, but her exhilarating conclusion testifies to the virtues of doubt . . . Her work is cerebral but also warm, deeply felt.”                Washington Post

 

 

Of All That Ends by Günther Grass

The final work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Günter Grass – a witty and elegiac series of meditations on writing, growing old, and the world.

Suddenly, in spite of the trials of old age, and with the end in sight, everything seems possible again: love letters, soliloquies, scenes of jealousy, swan songs, social satire, and moments of happiness.

Only an ageing artist who had once more cheated death could get to work with such wisdom, defiance and wit. A wealth of touching stories is condensed into artful miniatures. In a striking interplay of poetry, lyric prose and drawings, Grass creates his final, major work of art.

A moving farewell gift, a sensual, melancholy summation of a life fully lived.

 

As subtle and as delicate as the many feathers depicted through its pages, Of All That Ends is a glorious gift, a final salute true to the singular creativity of the most human, and humane, of artists.”                 Irish Times

There is a lovely diversity to these pieces… His intelligence and intellectual engagement remain fiercely undimmed.”                 Financial Times

This beautiful, ironic and often funny final collage of asides and meditations sums up the fabulist’s genius.”                 Irish Times, Book of the Year

Autumnal, elegiac and tinged with a twilight charm.”                     Boyd Tonkin

 

 

 

The Great Soul of Siberia by Sooyong Park

There are five races of tiger on our planet and all but one live in tropical regions: the Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica is the exception. Mysterious and elusive, and with only 350 remaining in the wild, the Siberian tiger remains a complete enigma. One man has set out to change this.

Sooyong Park has spent twenty years tracking and observing these elusive tigers. Each year he spends six months braving sub-zero temperatures, buried in grave-like underground bunkers, fearlessly immersing himself in the lives of Siberian tigers. As he watches the brutal, day-to-day struggle to survive the harsh landscape, threatened by poachers and the disappearance of the pristine habitat, Park becomes emotionally and spiritually attached to these beautiful and deadly predators. No one has ever been this close: as he comes face-to-face with one tiger, Bloody Mary, her fierce determination to protect her cubs nearly results in his own bloody demise.

Poignant, poetic and fiercely compassionate, The Great Soul of Siberia is the incredible story of Park’s unique obsession with these compelling creatures on the very brink of extinction, and his dangerous quest to seek them out to observe and study them. Eloquently told in Park’s distinctive voice, it is a personal account of one of the most extraordinary wildlife studies ever undertaken.

 

If you read one nature book this year, make it this one.”                Mark Cocker, Spectator

 

Wonderful … deserves to become a classic of wildlife literature.”             The Times

 

A wonderful evocation of the land and the habits of the desperately endangered Siberian tiger.”                       Independent

 

Subtly intense … Park has a deep sense of oneness with the world around him. His close engagement with the forest ecology is the most extraordinary element of this remarkable book.”                      New Statesman

 

It’s a masterpiece. One of the most moving outdoor texts I’ve read in years. This is a book about love – one exceptional human being’s love for the wild, beautiful and persecuted creatures to which his life is dedicated. It also comprehends a fortitude and hardihood so far beyond the everyday I was left shaking my head in astonished admiration.”               Great Outdoors

 

Sooyong’s magical prose led me into little-known and breathtakingly beautiful forests, exposed me to the bitter cold of long winter months, and revealed the secret life of that most mysterious of cats, the Siberian tiger.”                  Jane Goodall

 

The book is a love letter … To read it is to hear the voice of a remarkable man.”             Daily Telegraph

 

 

We Do Things Differently: The Outsiders Rebooting Our Brain by Mark Stevenson

 

Our systems are failing. Old models – for education, healthcare and government, food production, energy supply – are creaking under the weight of modern challenges. As the world’s population heads towards 10 billion, it’s clear we need new approaches. Futurologist Mark Stevenson sets out to find them, across four continents.

From Brazilian favelas to high tech Boston, from rural India to a shed inventor in England’s home counties, We Do Things Differently travels the world to find the advance guard re-imagining our future. At each stop, he meets innovators who have already succeeded in challenging the status quo, pioneering new ways to make our world more sustainable, equitable and humane.

Populated by extraordinary characters, We Do Things Differently paints an enthralling picture of what can be done to address the world’s most pressing dilemmas, offering a much needed dose of down-to-earth optimism. It is a window on (and a roadmap to) a different and better future.

 

 

 

Solidarity Road by Jan Theron

The events leading to the Marikana massacre not only shattered South Africa’s image of itself as a democracy in which workers had a respected place, but also the image of Cosatu and its largest affiliate at the time. Subsequent events confirm that South Africa’s pre-eminent trade union federation has lost its way. To understand why this has happened, Theron argues, it is necessary to understand the choices made by the trade unions that formed it in the 1980s.

The Food and Canning Workers’ Union (FCWU) was perhaps the most famous of these, and had produced some of the country’s most prominent labour leaders. But by 1976, when Theron became its general secretary, it was on its last legs and riddled with corruption. Solidarity Road is an uncompromising account of a struggle to overcome corruption, as well as to revive a tradition of non-racial solidarity. A demonstration of non-racial solidarity by the workforce of Fatti’s and Moni’s in Cape Town catapulted the union into national prominence, in the same week as government tabled its race-based labour “reforms” in Parliament.

FCWU’s unprecedented victory in this strike meant it was well-placed to initiate the talks that eventually led to the formation of Cosatu. This was to be an independent federation, allied to political organisations fighting to end apartheid. However, for FCWU the basis of independence was always financial self-sufficiency coupled with zero tolerance of corruption. In this regard it was unlike the other trade unions involved in these talks. This is a story about the values that shaped the trade union struggle and the decisions and practices which undermined them.

 

 

Afrikaner Odyssey: The Life and Times of the Reitz Family by Martin Meredith

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Southern Africa was a jumble of British colonies, Boer republics and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. Into this frontier world came the Reitz family, Afrikaner gentry from the Cape, who settled in Bloemfontein and played a key role in the building of the Orange Free State.

Frank Reitz, successively chief justice and modernising president of the young republic, went on to serve as State Secretary of the Transvaal Republic. In 1899, he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Paul Kruger to resist Britain’s war of conquest in Southern Africa. At the heart of this tale is the extraordinary life of Deneys Reitz, third son of Frank Reitz and Bianca Thesen. The young Reitz’s account of his adventures in the field during the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), published as Commando, became a classic of irregular warfare. After a period of exile in Madagascar, he went on become one of South Africa’s most distinguished lawyers, statesmen and soldiers. Martin Meredith interweaves Reitz’s experiences, taken from his unpublished notebooks, with the wider story of Britain’s brutal suppression of Boer resistance.

Concise and readable, Afrikaner Odyssey is a wide-ranging portrait of an aristocratic Afrikaner family whose achievements run like fine thread through these turbulent times, and whose presence is still marked on the South African landscape.

 

 

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

 


The Princess Diarist
 is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved―plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time―and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

 

It’s an eye-opener for fans, but it also shows a gifted writer even at a young age. There was a lot going on between Princess Leia’s hair buns.”               USA Today

Smart and funny…the pages crackle with one-liners.”                     Guardian

Fisher offers a thoughtful, sardonic meditation on the price of fame, cost-of-living adjustments included.”                    New York Times Book Review

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair

 


The Secret Lives of Colour 
tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh’s chrome yellow sunflowers or punk’s fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.

 

A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.”                      Simon Garfield

 

 

Ayesha’s Gift: A Daughter’s Search for the Truth about Her Father by Martin Sixsmith

From the author of the bestselling Philomena, made into the award-winning film starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, comes the story of a young woman, born in Pakistan, living in Britain, whose life is thrown into desperate turmoil by the violent death of her father.  The Pakistani authorities talk of suicide, but why would Ayesha’s happy, gentle father kill himself?
Ayesha’s quest to find the truth takes her right away from her safe London existence.  She meets with threats, intimidation and smiling perjurers who resent her intrusion into their world. She is warned that her life is in danger; powerful, ruthless men have reasons to want her silenced.   But there are things she needs to know, that compel her to press on with her search for the truth.
Was her father an innocent victim?  Can she continue to revere the image of him she grew up with, that of a good, loving parent?  Or will she be forced to accept that her father was not the person she thought he was?
Ayesha decides that the only way forward is to fly to Pakistan and confront his killers.    When she goes, Martin Sixsmith goes with her.   The denouement of their journey together is extraordinarily moving, with unforeseen repercussions for them both.

 

Written at thriller pace, Ayesha’s Gift . . . exposes a terrifying web of gangsters and terrorists.”                         Telegraph

Martin Sixsmith, of Philomena fame, has done it again with a wonderful new book, Ayesha’s Gift, which mixes autobiography with the story of a hunt to reveal a dark mystery in Pakistan…  What I find so striking about Ayesha’s Gift is that it’s a book in which the writer is changed by the writing of the book. I’m trying to think of other examples of that but I can’t come up with any at all.”                      Andrew Marr

 

 

Hanging on a Wire – Photographs by Sophia Klaase

Sophia Klaase first used a camera in 1999, as a teenage participant in a photography project in Paulshoek, a village in Namaqualand. She continued with the project for the next sixteen years, chronicling her life in this arid northwest corner of South Africa. Her images are a frank exploration of her relationship to family, community and the landscape.

A foreword by Zoë Wicomb, and essays by Ben Cousins, Timm Hoffman, Siona O’connell, Virginia MacKenny and Rick Rohde describe the environmental, socio-economic and political contexts in which Klaase’s work was produced. Her photographs and this book demonstrate the intellectual and aesthetic rewards of true collaboration and sustained investigation, and introduce Sophia Klaase’s name into the tradition of South African documentary and vernacular photography.

 

The Holocaust: A New History by Laurence Rees

Groundbreaking … You might have thought that we know everything there is to know about the Holocaust but this book proves there is much more.”                  Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

 

By far the clearest book ever written about the Holocaust, and also the best at explaining its origins and grotesque mentality, as well as its chaotic development.”    Antony Beevor

 

This landmark work answers two of the most fundamental questions in history – how, and why, did the Holocaust happen?

Laurence Rees has spent twenty-five years meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Holocaust. Now, in his magnum opus, he combines their enthralling eyewitness testimony, a large amount of which has never been published before, with the latest academic research to create the first accessible and authoritative account of the Holocaust in more than three decades.

This is a new history of the Holocaust in three ways. First, and most importantly, Rees has created a gripping narrative that that contains a large amount of testimony that has never been published before. Second, he places this powerful interview material in the context of an examination of the decision making process of the Nazi state, and in the process reveals the series of escalations that cumulatively created the horror. Third, Rees covers all those across Europe who participated in the deaths, and he argues that whilst hatred of the Jews was always at the epicentre of Nazi thinking, what happened cannot be fully understood without considering the murder of the Jews alongside plans to kill millions of non-Jews, including homosexuals, ‘Gypsies’ and the disabled.

Through a chronological, intensely readable narrative, featuring enthralling eyewitness testimony and the latest academic research, this is a compelling new account of the worst crime in history.

 

Anyone wanting a compelling, highly readable explanation of how and why the Holocaust happened, drawing on recent scholarship and impressively incorporating moving and harrowing interviews need look no further than Laurence Rees’s brilliant book.”                     Professor Ian Kershaw

A fine book. Rees is a gifted educator, who can tell a complex story with compassion and clarity, without sacrificing all nuances…it comes alive through the voices of victims, killers and bystanders.”                   Guardian

Absorbing, heart-breaking…he has drawn skilfully on speeches, documents and diaries of the Third Reich, and on the vast library of secondary literature, to weave together a powerful, inevitably harrowing revelation of the 20th century’s greatest crime.”                  Sunday Times

Rees has distilled 25 years of research into this compelling study, the finest single-volume account of the Holocaust. It is not a book for the faint-hearted. Some of the first-hand testimony is both shocking and heart-rending. Yet it has important things to say about human nature – what our species is capable of doing if not prevented by civilized laws – and demands to be read.”                   Saul David, Telegraph

 

LGBTQ Stats by David Deschamps & Bennett L. Singer

 

LGBTQ STATS chronicles the ongoing LGBTQ revolution, providing critical statistics, and draws upon and synthesizes newly collected data. Deschamps and Singer provide chapters on family and marriage, workplace discrimination, education, youth, criminal justice, and immigration, as well as evolving policies and laws affecting LGBTQ communities. A lively, accessible, and eye-opening snapshot, LGBTQ STATS offers an invaluable resource for activists, journalists, lawmakers, and general readers who want the facts and figures on LGBTQ lives in the twenty-first century.

 

The Road to Ruin: The Global Elite’s Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis by Jason Rickards

 

The New York Times bestseller that reveals how investors can prepare for the next financial panic – and why it’s coming sooner than you think.

The global economy has made what seems like an incredible comeback after the financial crisis of 2008. Yet this comeback is artificial. Central banks have propped up markets by keeping interest rates low and the supply of money free-flowing. They won’t bail us out again next time. And there will be a next time – soon.

In The Road to Ruin, bestselling author James Rickards identifies how governments around the world are secretly preparing an alternative strategy for the next big crisis: a lockdown. Instead of printing money to reliquify markets and prop up assets, governments are preparing to close banks, shut down exchanges and order powerful asset managers not to sell. They’re putting provisions in place that will allow them to do so legally. What’s more, the global elite has already started making their own preparations, including hoarding cash and hard assets.

When the next one comes, it will be the average investor who suffers most – unless he or she heeds Rickards’ warning and prepares accordingly.

 

 

 

Poetry

Like the Untouchable Wind: An anthology of Poems edited by Makhosozana Xaba

 

A slim volume it may be, but it is full of the life, experience and visions of African lesbians. These seven women take a chance on the reader, that we are curious about their journeys and are willing to engage with the lives they choose to share with us. Sometimes humorous, sometimes angry, they are defiant and resolute in defending themselves and their communities from violence, attack and marginalization. On these pages, I’ve met women who have loved, who have suffered but also women who have stood firm in their sexuality and activism. Freedom fighters. They are women who are living their lives and building a movement, they are women I want to know. Read this work and wake up to their world.

 

Happy reading!