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March 2017

Monday, April 10th 2017

Fiction

You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

 
An existential thriller written in prose that points the way to the future.’               Zadie Smith

 

‘Fight Club for girls’                 Vogue

 

A lives with B.

B seems to be becoming more and more like A.

If A’s boyfriend, C, likes A because A is A, but now B is the same as A, where does that leave A?

And what has happened to the family across the street, who left one afternoon out of nowhere, covered in sheets with holes cut out for the eyes?

 

Comical, malignant and addictive.’               Adam Thirlwell

 

This book will unsettle you; this book will make you feel intensely alive.’               Buzzfeed

 

‘A powerful allegory of our civilization’s many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation.’                    New York Times Book Review

‘This debut novel by future superstar Alexandra Kleeman will be the thing to be seen reading this summer… Funny, perfectly weird, a hyperintelligent commentary on a culture obsessed with you and fame.’                                  Vanity Fair

‘This frequently impressive debut has some of George Saunders’ loony satire and some of Don DeLillo’s bone-deep paranoia… Kleeman has a singular, off-kilter style, and a distinct vision of the absurd horrors that can come with being trapped in a body.’                    New York Times

‘The smartest, strangest novel I’ve read in a while.’                         Paris Review, Staff Pick

Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

 

Joyful, funny and vividly alive.’                      Emily St John Mandel
‘The Lonely Hearts Hotel sucked me right in and only got better and better . . . I began underlining truths I had hungered for.’             Miranda July
Makes me think of comets and live wires . . . raises goosebumps.’             Helen Oyeyemi

 

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with a difference. Set throughout the roaring twenties, it is a wicked fairytale of circus tricks and child prodigies, radical chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians and brooding clowns, set in an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss.

It is the tale of two dreamers, abandoned in an orphanage where they were fated to meet. Here, in the face of cold, hunger and unpredictable beatings, Rose and Pierrot create a world of their own, shielding the spark of their curiosity from those whose jealousy will eventually tear them apart.

When they meet again, each will have changed, having struggled through the Depression, through what they have done to fill the absence of the other. But their childhood vision remains – a dream to storm the world, a spectacle, an extravaganza that will lift them out of the gutter and onto a glittering stage.

Heather O’Neill’s pyrotechnical imagination and language are like no other. In this she has crafted a dazzling circus of a novel that takes us from the underbellies of war-time Montreal and Prohibition New York, to a theatre of magic where anything is possible – where an orphan girl can rule the world, and a ruined innocence can be redeemed.

 

Because this book is so filled with delightful things – bold and complex sex; heartache and wickedness and glittering hearts – it would be easy to overlook how finely it is made. The Lonely Hearts Hotel sucked me right in and only got better and better, ultimately becoming much tougher, wiser than I was prepared for. I began underlining truths I had hungered for but never before read. By the end I was a gasping, tearful mess.’              Miranda July

A fairy tale laced with gunpowder and romance and icing sugar, all wrapped round with a lit fuse. Each of Heather O’Neill’s sentences pricks or delights. If you haven’t read her other books, start with this one and then read all of the rest.’                Kelly Link

A love story of epic proportions…this novel will cast a spell upon readers from page one.’                      Publisher’s Weekly

O’Neill is a mistress of metaphor and imagery … This is brilliant tragicomedy … in a melancholy love story that brings to life the bygone days of theatrical revues. It’s a little weird and a lot of fun.’                        Booklist

 

 

Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne

 

Image result for Retribution Road by Antonin VarenneBurma, 1852. Arthur Bowman, a sergeant in the East India Company, is sent on a secret mission during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. But the expedition is foiled – his men are captured and tortured. Throughout their ordeal, a single word becomes Bowman’s mantra, a word that will stiffen their powers of endurance in the face of unimaginable suffering: “Survival”. But for all that, only a handful escape with their lives.

Some years later in London, battling his ghosts through a haze of alcohol and opium, Bowman discovers a mutilated corpse in a sewer. The victim appears to have been subjected to the same torments as Bowman endured in the Burmese jungle. And the word “Survival” has been daubed in blood by the body’s side. Persuaded that the culprit is one of the men who shared his captivity, Bowman resolves to hunt him down.

From the Burmese jungle to the slums of London to the conquest of the Wild West, Antonin Varenne takes us on a thrilling journey full of sound and unabated fury, reviving the lapsed tradition of the great writers of boundless adventure. Sergeant Bowman belongs to that breed of heroes who inhabit the imaginations of Conrad, Kipling, Stevenson . . . Lost soldiers who have plunged into the heart of darkness and will cross the globe in search of vengeance and redemption.

 

Antonin Varenne’s Retribution Road is part Bernard Cornwell, part John le Carré and all of a hell of a read. Few authors have the chops to take on a historical epic, a serial killer thriller and an intimate character study but Varenne’s latest novel should place him at the very top of every reading list.”            Craig Johnson

 

 

 

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

 
On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.

As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written 4 3 2 1 is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer’s extraordinary career.

 

Auster truly is a master of his art.’                Harper’s Bazaar

‘[Auster is] … A joy to read.’               Economist

A master of the modern American fable.’                Independent

Auster’s writing is stunning.’             Spectator

A remarkable writer whose work needs to be read in totality.’                   Sunday Herald

 

 

The Shallows by Ingrid Winterbach

 
Painter Nick Steyn moves to the City Bowl in Cape Town after separating from his partner, Isabel. A young boarder moves in with Nick and they soon become friends. But one night she does not come home, and his attempts to trace her come to nothing. A few weeks later the prosperous artist Buks Verhoef makes an offer on Nick’s house. Is there a connection between these events, and if so, could Nick’s former friend, Victor Schoeman, the author of the outrageous novel The Shallows, have a hand in them? A parallel narrative concerns a nameless Stellenbosch woman who is writing a monograph on the famous Olivier brothers. One day she witnesses the murder of Buks Verhoef in a coffee shop; soon thereafter a sinister man starts stalking her. Could this also be Victor Schoeman? A fantastical, absurd yet haunting novel by the award-winning novelist Ingrid Winterbach. Translated as always by Michiel Heyns.

 

 

The Ninth Grave by Stefan Ahnhem

 
On the coldest day of the year, Sweden’s Minister for Justice steps out of Parliament House and into a blizzard – and disappears. That same night, across the Baltic Sea, a Danish celebrity finds a stranger lurking in her snow-bound home.

 

TWO KILLERS STALK THE STREETS.

One is a surgeon who carefully dissects his victims. The other is a brutal predator who targets women. Police in Stockholm and Copenhagen are closing in on their suspects. But as winter darkens and more people die, their investigations begin to unravel.

 

SOMETIMES MURDER IS JUST THE BEGINNING…

 

‘More gripping than Jo Nesbo, blacker than Stieg Larsson and more bleakly human than Henning Mankell.’                   Tony Parsons.

‘Atmospheric and complicated … with great cop characters and some imaginatively grisly perps.’                      Star Pick – The Sunday Times.

‘Swedish crime writer of the year. Bliss‘                     Irish Times.

‘Grips like a vice.’ Irish Independent.

 

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

 

Image result for The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenFrost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.

 

Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate.’                Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.’              Robin Hobb
A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.’               Naomi Novik

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

 

From age eighteen on, I had a partner, a kindred spirit. I had a friend. Someone bound and determined to keep me from the worst in myself.

 

At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. Sharon, ambitious but lacking confidence, arrives from rural Kentucky. Mel, brash and wildly gifted, brings her own brand of hellfire from the backwaters of Florida. Both outsiders, Sharon and Mel become fervent friends, bonding over their love of classic cartoons, their dysfunctional working-class families, and – above all – their craft: drawing. Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, living and working in Brooklyn, and poised on the edge of even greater success after the release of their first full-length feature. But with this success comes self-doubt, and cracks in their relationship start to form. When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

Funny and heartbreaking by turn, The Animators is a dazzling story of female friendship, the cost of a creative life, and the secrets that can undo us.

 

A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators.’              Elle
An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I’d written The Animators.’                 Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder 


A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth . . . That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker s formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time.’                    Cynthia D Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
A mix of Beaches, Girls, and Thelma & Louise . . . a complicated, sensual, sexy, raw nerve of a roller coaster through a tumultuous friendship . . . If you let this story happen to you, you’re gonna love it.’                    Glamour
“[A] tender, lively debut . . . [Kayla Rae] Whitaker’s nimbly created characters are as vibrant as the novel’s title suggests.”                    New Yorker

 

 

Human Solutions by Avi Silberstein

 
Chile, 1988. The Human Solutions team (a detective, a psychologist, and an actor) work together to engineer social situations to help their clients with anything they might need – until a case leaves one of them tangled in a cult run by an ex-Nazi with torturous ties to the Pinochet dictatorship.

To most people, Javier Gonzalez is an ordinary man. If you were to ask him, he would tell you that he runs an acting studio in Santiago, Chile, which is the truth, but not the whole story. Only a handful of people know that Javier also runs an unusual sort of business. With the help of a team of actors, Javier engineers social situations that meet the unique needs of his clients. If you want your boss to like you, he can help; if you want the weatherman to fall in love with you, he can arrange it. He calls his business Human Solutions, and that is exactly what he provides.

And he is good. Javier’s manipulations never fail because he controls every moment of every interaction – he is precise, observant and emotionally ruthless —and this has served him well. But then one day he slips. He falls for a woman, and against his better judgment, and the council of his associates, Javier takes on her case – a case he would never touch under ordinary circumstances. The woman’s name is Elena, and her son is locked behind the well-armed walls of a cult masquerading as an educational institution. She wants him out, so Javier agrees to go in.

Once behind the walls of the compound, Javier meets a man who is running a larger-scale social manipulation than he ever thought possible. The man is Peter Wenzel—or Uncle Peter, as he insists on being called—and as the charismatic leader of the cult he deftly manipulates his followers through a complicated system of fear, deception and brutality. Uncle Peter is an ex-Nazi, expelled from Germany for molesting children, and his ties with General Pinochet—Chile’s barbarous dictator—are extensive and terrifying. He is a man with no conscience or fear—and Javier quickly realizes that he may have met his match.

Avi Silberstein’s stunning debut is gripping, disturbing, darkly funny, and impossible to put down. The writing is taut and spare, creating a sharply etched portrait of 1980s Chile. Triumphant.”                 Carmen Aguirre, author of Something Fierce

 

 

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 


‘A powerful antidote to all the fearmongering and lies out there . . . A rich exploration of human identity, family ties and love and loss, never has a short story collection been timelier
.’                 Independent

In The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.
‘Nguyen’s eight heart-wrenching and hopeful stories ought to be required reading for every politician in this era of wall-building and xenophobia.’                      Guardian
‘Beautiful and heartrending.’                         Joyce Carol Oates in the New Yorker

 

‘[A] superb collection . . . exquisite stories . . . Nguyen crafts dazzlingly lucid prose.‘                     Observer

 

Poignant . . . Nguyen writes most movingly of the debt of safety and freedom . . . Nguyen’s stories are to be admired for their ability to encompass not only the trauma of forced migration but also the grand themes of identity, the complications of love and sexuality, and the general awkwardness of being. For all their serious qualities, they are also humorous and smart . . . The form of the short story seems to come to Nguyen effortlessly.’                         Financial Times

 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

 
A NO. 1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

‘It would be an understatement to call this novel an extraordinary tour de force.’              Sunday Times

The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?

 

A luminous feat of generosity and humanism.”                   Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review

A masterpiece.”                     Zadie Smith

Ingenious . . . Saunders–well on his way toward becoming a twenty-first-century Twain – crafts an American patchwork of love and loss, giving shape to our foundational sorrows.”                  Vogue

Saunders is the most humane American writer working today.”                 Harper’s Magazine

The novel beats with a present-day urgency–a nation at war with itself, the unbearable grief of a father who has lost a child, and a howling congregation of ghosts, as divided in death as in life, unwilling to move on.”              Vanity Fair .

 

 

The Draughtsman by Robert Lautner

 
Speak out for the fate of millions or turn a blind eye? We all have choices.

 

1944, Germany. Ernst Beck’s new job marks an end to months of unemployment. Working for Erfurt’s most prestigious engineering firm, Topf & Sons, means he can finally make a contribution to the war effort, provide for his beautiful wife, Etta, and make his parents proud. But there is a price.

Ernst is assigned to the firm’s smallest team – the Special Ovens Department. Reporting directly to Berlin his role is to annotate plans for new crematoria that are deliberately designed to burn day and night. Their destination: the concentration camps. Topf’s new client: the SS.

As the true nature of his work dawns on him, Ernst has a terrible choice to make: turning a blind eye will keep him and Etta safe, but that’s little comfort if staying silent amounts to collusion in the death of thousands.

This bold and uncompromising work of literary fiction shines a light on the complex contradictions of human nature and examines how deeply complicit we can become in the face of fear.

 

Absolutely exceptional. So beautifully written, with precision and wisdom and real emotional acuity…A remarkable achievement.’                 Stephen Kelman, author of Pigeon English

 

 

 

Migrations edited by Helen Moffett and Bongani Kona

 
From our ancestors’ first forays through the continent, to the contemporary diaspora spread around the world, people are eternally moving in, out and about the African continent. Not everyone leaves of their own volition, and not everyone comes with the best intentions: nevertheless, the story of Africa is the story of souls migrating, settling, unsettling, fleeing, seeking, resting, nesting and sharing stories, experiences and myths.

From treks both physical and spiritual, journeys both internal and across continents, from the comfort of ancient myth to the desperation of those currently fleeing their homes, Short Story Day Africa latest collection brings a fresh, urgent perspective to one of our most profound phenomena, and the basis of all our greatest stories.

The twenty-one exciting voices, both new and established, including Mirette Bhagat Eskaros, TJ Benson, Arja Salafranca, Sibongile Fisher, Fred Khumalo and Karen Jennings, make Migrations a moving, informative and immersive read.

 

 

 

Local Stories

Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson by Jonathan Ancer

 
In 1972 Craig Williamson, a big, burly, bearded man, walked onto Wits University and registered as a student. He joined the National Union of South African Students (Nusas), and was on the frontline in the war against apartheid. At one march he was beaten up, arrested and spent a year on trial. Williamson rose up through the student movement’s ranks to become the Nusas vice president. After being harassed by security police and having his passport seized, he decided to flee the country to continue his activism with the International University Exchange Fund (IUEF), an anti-apartheid organisation in exile. He was eventually appointed the Fund’s deputy director. As the IUEF’s money man, Williamson had access to powerful ANC and Black Consciousness leaders. He joined the ANC and formed his own unit to carry out clandestine work to topple the National Party government. But Williamson was not the anti-apartheid activist his friends and comrades thought he was. In January 1980, Captain Williamson was unmasked as a South African spy. His handler, Colonel Johan Coetzee, the head of South Africa’s notorious security branch, flew to Switzerland to bring him and his wife back home. Williamson was described as South Africa’s superspy who penetrated the KGB. Williamson returned to South Africa and during the turbulent 1980s worked for the foreign section of the South African Police’s security branch. Two years after he left Switzerland he returned to Europe under a false name and with a crack squad of special force officers to blow up the ANC’s headquarters in London. He was also responsible for a parcel bomb that killed Ruth First in Mozambique and the bomb that killed Jeanette Schoon and her 6-year-old daughter Katryn in Angola. He left the security branch to join Military Intelligence and finally the State Security Council. Apartheid’s spies didn’t have to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a lot of information about the spies has been buried, burnt or shredded. This episode of our country’s bitter past remains murky…

 

 

Being Chris Hani’s Daughter by Lindiwe Hani and Melinda Ferguson

 
When Chris Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party and heir apparent to Nelson Mandela, was brutally slain in his driveway in April 1993, he left a shocked and grieving South Africa on the precipice of civil war. But to 12-year-old Lindiwe, it was the love of her life, her daddy, who had been shockingly ripped from her life.

In this intimate and brutally honest memoir, 36-year-old Lindiwe remembers the years she shared with her loving father, and the toll that his untimely death took on the Hani family. She lays family skeletons bare and brings to the fore her own downward spiral into cocaine and alcohol addiction, a desperate attempt to avoid the pain of his brutal parting.

While the nation continued to revere and honour her father’s legacy, for Lindiwe, being Chris Hani’s daughter became an increasingly heavy burden to bear.

For as long as I can remember, I’d grown up feeling that I was the daughter of Chris Hani and that I was useless. My father was such a huge figure, such an icon to so many people, it felt like I could never be anything close to what he achieved – so why even try? Of course my addiction to booze and cocaine just made me feel my worthlessness even more.

In a stunning turnaround, she faces her demons, not just those that haunted her through her addiction, but, with the courage that comes with sobriety, she comes face to face with her father’s two killers – Janus Walus, still incarcerated, and Clive Derby Lewis, released in 2015 on medical parole. In a breathtaking twist of humanity, while searching for the truth behind her father’s assassination, Lindiwe Hani ultimately makes peace with herself and honours her father’s gigantic spirit.

 

 

Change: Organising Tomorrow Today by Jay Naidoo

 

Image result for Change: Organising Tomorrow Today by Jay NaidooUnless there is significant change, the world is heading for an explosion. The growing gap between rich and poor is dangerous and unsustainable. The plundering of resources is damaging our planet. Something has to be done.
In this book, Jay Naidoo harnesses his experience as a labour union organiser, government minister, social entrepreneur and global thought leader, and explores ways of solving some of the world’s biggest problems. Drawing from his experiences in South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh and other countries, he presents a variety of options for ending poverty and global warming, with a focus on organising in our communities and building change from below and beyond borders.
Naidoo’s message is unequivocal: significant action must be taken immediately if we want future generations to live in a world that we take for granted today.

 

 

Turning Point: South Africa at a Crossroads by Theuns Eloff

 

Living in South Africa isn’t easy − with crime, unemployment, poverty, racism, state capture, unrest at our universities …

Tempers flare. People take their anger to the streets.  As a country we are at a crossroads and the future is uncertain. How do we make sense of what is happening around us, and how can we help build the society we would like? Using the latest research and his years of experience in politics and business, Theuns Eloff asks critical questions:

What does South Africa’s balance sheet look like?

Are we already a failed state?

How strong is our democracy really?

What can we, as ordinary South Africans do?

This book gives perspective on burning issues, including education, the rule of law, lack of service delivery, the ailing economy, corruption, cronyism and the predator state. Eloff’s fresh, fact-based analysis tells us how South Africa really works  –  and how we can all pitch in to make it better.

 

A crucial book which opens up a conversation South Africa desperately needs.” – Ralph Mathekga

 

 

Memories of Love and Struggle by Fatima Meer

 
At just 17, Fatima Meer threw herself into resisting racism, the first public act of defiance in a long and pioneering political life. Despite assassination attempts, petrol bombs and the constant harassment of her family, she persevered on the courageous path she had chosen. In this intimate memoir, Fatima Meer shares her personal story of growing up and of love, joy, longing and loss. As Meer openly reflects on her regrets as well as her triumphs, an enchanting tale emerges of a rebellious, revolutionary woman who never shied away from the truth. “As long as we have persons of her calibre, South Africa will shine.” Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

Cult Sister: My Decade in a Secret Sect by Lesley-Anne Smailes

 
After matric Lesley took a gap year to the United States. Before she left, her mother, in jest or premonition, said: “Don’t get married and don’t join a cult” – but Lesley ended up in what is considered one of the most dangerous existing cults in America. In this book Lesley shares the story of her life-changing years with this group – living out of a backpack, an arranged marriage to a Brother, having home births, threats of losing her children and surviving in strange, glorious ways.

 

The book is told largely through a series of letters exchanged between Smailes and her mother.

 

 

 

 

Non-Fiction

Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes

 
Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle, where the idea is as potent as the historical fact. From the Qu’ran to Shakespeare, this city with three names – Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul – resonates as an idea and a place, and overspills its boundaries – real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between the East and West, it has served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was known simply as The City, but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a story.

In this epic new biography, Hughes takes us on a dazzling historical journey through the many incarnations of one of the world’s greatest cities. As the longest-lived political entity in Europe, over the last 6,000 years Istanbul has absorbed a mosaic of micro-cities and cultures all gathering around the core. At the latest count archaeologists have measured forty-two human habitation layers. Phoenicians, Genoese, Venetians, Jews, Vikings, Azeris all called a patch of this earth their home. Based on meticulous research and new archaeological evidence, this captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul is visceral, immediate and scholarly narrative history at its finest.

 

This is historical narrative brimming with brio and incident. Hughes’s portraits are written with a zesty flourish … Istanbul is a visceral, pulsating city. In Bettany Hughes’s life-filled and life-affirming history, steeped in romance and written with verve, it has found a sympathetic and engaging champion.’                     Justin Marozzi, Guardian

Her latest book, Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities, is a particular stroke of genius… The book is littered with historical echoes that…are impossible to ignore…there are wonderful anecdotes…She concludes with an encomium to Istanbul as a world city – literally, a cosmo-polis – where faiths and ethnicities are brought together by learning or trade.’              Richard Spencer, The Times

With a broadcaster’s delight, Bettany Hughes…throws herself into the gargantuan task of capturing the history of a city that spans 3,000 years, and whose story has been woefully neglected compared with other great urban centres…Hughes reconstructs Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul as living, breathing landscapes…her scholarship is impressive…her enthusiasm radiates…Her subject…is irresistibly rich…The tale she tells of the metropolis at the crossroads of the Earth is textured, readable and often compelling.’                 Louise Callaghan, Sunday Times

A magisterial new biography…Bettany Hughes transports the reader on a magic-carpet-like journey through 8,000 years of history…in a vivid narrative dotted with colourful characters and fascinating tangents…the quintessential historical overview of a city racing up the modern political agenda.’                      The Lady
 

 

 

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

 


I was twenty-six years old and an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America. That’s all that most people knew about me. But beneath the surface, I was full of secrets: I was a drug addict, for one. A pillhead. I was also an alcoholic-in-training who guzzled warm Veuve Clicquot after work alone in my boss’s office with the door closed; a conniving and manipulative uptown doctor-shopper; a salami-and-provolone-puking bulimic who spent a hundred dollars a day on binge foods when things got bad (and they got bad often); a weepy, wobbly, wildly hallucination-prone insomniac; a tweaky self-mutilator; a slutty and self-loathing downtown party girl; and – perhaps most of all – a lonely weirdo. But, you know, I had access to some really fantastic self-tanner
.

By the age of 15, Cat Marnell longed to work in the glamorous world of women’s magazines – but was also addicted to the ADHD meds prescribed by her father. Within 10 years she was living it up in New York as a beauty editor at Condé Nast, with a talent for ‘doctor-shopping’ that secured her a never-ending supply of prescriptions. Her life had become a twisted merry-go-round of parties and pills at night, while she struggled to hold down her high-profile job during the day.

Witty, magnetic and penetrating – prompting comparisons to Bret Easton Ellis and Charles Bukowski – Cat Marnell reveals essential truths about her generation, brilliantly uncovering the many aspects of being an addict with pin-sharp humour and beguiling style.

‘New York’s enfant terrible…Her talent has resided in her uncanny ability to write about addiction from the untidy, unsafe, unhappy epicentre of the disease, rather than from some writerly remove.’                     Telegraph

‘An unputdownable, brilliantly written rollercoaster.’                        Shappi Khorsandi

‘Brilliantly written and harrowing and funny and honest.’                 Times Magazine

‘Easily one of the most anticipated memoirs of the year…[Marnell’s] got an inimitable style (and oh my god, so many have tried) and a level of talent so high, it’s impossible not to be rooting for her.’                Nylon

 

Jaw dropping.”                      New York Post

“[Marnell’s] memoir brims with all the intoxicating intrigue of a thriller and yet all the sobering pathos of a gifted writer’s true life journey to recover her former health, happiness, ambitions and identity.”                      Harper’s Bazaar

A gutting, riveting read that peels back the shiny facade that often cloaks the fashion publishing business. At its core, How to Murder Your Life is a cautionary tale about how even the most gifted, determined talents can fall victim to the grip of addiction, but it’s also a peek behind the curtain at the inner workings of this competitive industry, and how the shiny world of magazines isn’t as glamorous as it often appears. At the end, one thing is for certain: Marnell’s storytelling abilities prove why so many of her editors took a chance on her despite the liability she became, and why she’s cemented her spot as one of the internet generation’s cult favorite writers.”                        Fashionista
 

The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents by David Priess

 
Every president has had a unique and complicated relationship with the intelligence community. While some have been coolly distant, even adversarial, others have found their intelligence agencies to be among the most valuable instruments of policy and power.

Since John F. Kennedy’s presidency, this relationship has been distilled into a personalized daily report: a short summary of what the intelligence apparatus considers the most crucial information for the president to know that day about global threats and opportunities. This top–secret document is known as the President’s Daily Brief, or, within national security circles, simply “the Book.” Presidents have spent anywhere from a few moments (Richard Nixon) to a healthy part of their day (George W. Bush) consumed by its contents; some (Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush) consider it far and away the most important document they saw on a regular basis while commander in chief.

The details of most PDBs are highly classified, and will remain so for many years. But the process by which the intelligence community develops and presents the Book is a fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels. David Priess, a former intelligence officer and daily briefer, has interviewed every living president and vice president as well as more than one hundred others intimately involved with the production and delivery of the president’s book of secrets. He offers an unprecedented window into the decision making of every president from Kennedy to Obama, with many character–rich stories revealed here for the first time.

 

Turns the potentially dour history of the president’s daily intelligence briefing into a stimulating, if uncritical, account… Readers accustomed to CIA skullduggery will be surprised to find it admiringly portrayed as an organization of experts devoted to delivering unbiased information to a grateful president.”                   Publishers Weekly

 

 

Megatech: Technology in 2050 edited by Daniel Franklin

 
Technology moves fast – so where will it have taken us by 2050? How will it affect the way we live? And how far are we willing to let it go?
In Megatech, distinguished scientists, industry leaders, star academics and acclaimed science-fiction writers join journalists from The Economist to explore answers to these questions and more.
Twenty experts in the field, including Nobel prize-winner Frank Wilczek, Silicon Valley venture-capitalist Ann Winblad, philanthropist Melinda Gates and science-fiction author Alastair Reynolds identify the big ideas, fantastic inventions and potentially sinister trends that will shape our future. Join them to explore a brave new world of brain-computer interfaces, vat-grown cruelty-free meat, knitted cars and guided bullets.
The writers predict the vast changes that technology will bring to everything from food production to health care, energy output, manufacturing and the military balance. They also consider the impact on jobs, and how we can prepare for the opportunities, as well as the dangers, that await.
Thought-provoking, engaging and full of insight from the forefront of tech innovation, Megatech is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand tomorrow’s world.

 

 

 

The Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra

 


‘His vision is unusually broad, accommodating and resistant to categorisation. It is the kind of vision the world needs right now…Pankaj Mishra shouldn’t stop thinking.’               
Christopher de Bellaigue, Financial Times
How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world – from American ‘shooters’ and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra answers our bewilderment by casting his gaze back to the eighteenth century, before leading us to the present.

He shows that as the world became modern those who were unable to fulfil its promises – freedom, stability and prosperity – were increasingly susceptible to demagogues. The many who came late to this new world or were left, or pushed, behind, reacted in horrifyingly similar ways: intense hatred of invented enemies, attempts to re-create an imaginary golden age, and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected that the militants of the 19th century arose – angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally.

Today, just as then, the wider embrace of mass politics, technology, and the pursuit of wealth and individualism has cast many more millions adrift in a literally demoralized world, uprooted from tradition but still far from modernity – with the same terrible results

Making startling connections and comparisons, Age of Anger is a book of immense urgency and profound argument. It is a history of our present predicament unlike any other.

 

In this urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely study, Pankaj Mishra follows the likes of Isaiah Berlin, John Gray and Mark Lilla by delving into the past in order to throw light on our contemporary predicament, when the neglected and dispossessed of the world have suddenly risen up in Nietzschean ressentiment to transform the world we thought we knew.’              John Banville

With a deep knowledge of both Western and non-Western history, and like no other before him, Pankaj Mishra comes to grips with the malaise at the heart of these dangerous times. This is the most astonishing, convincing, and disturbing book I’ve read in years.’                     Joe Sacco

Incisive and scary.. a wake-up call.’               Guardian

Around the world, both East and West, the insurrectionary fury of militants, zealots and populists has overturned the post-Cold-War global consensus. Where does their rage come from, and where will it end? One of the sharpest cultural critics and political analysts releases his landmark “history of the present”.’                    Boyd Tonkin, Newsweek

An original attempt to explain today’s paranoid hatreds…Iconoclastic…Mr. Mishra shocks on many levels.’                   Economist

 

 

 

Why I March: Images from the Women’s March Around the World

 

Image result for Why I March:9781419728853On January 21st, 2017, five million people in 82 countries and on all seven continents stood up with one voice. The Women’s March began with one cause, women’s rights, but quickly became a movement around the many issues that were hotly debated during the 2016 U.S. presidential race immigration, health care, environmental protections, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights, among others. In the mere 66 days between the election and inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, 673 sister marches sprang up across the country and the world. ABRAMS Image presents Why I March to honour the movement, give back to it, and promote future activism in the same vein. All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to non-profit organisations affiliated with the March.

 

 

 

The Vaccine Race: How Scientists Use Human Cells to Combat Killer Viruses by Meredith Wadman

 
The epic and controversial story of a major breakthrough in cell biology that led to the creation of some of the world’s most important vaccines.

Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant; there was no vaccine and little understanding of how the disease devastated foetuses. In June 1962, a young biologist in Philadelphia, using tissue extracted from an aborted foetus from Sweden, produced safe, clean cells that allowed the creation of vaccines against rubella and other common childhood diseases. Two years later, in the midst of a devastating German measles epidemic, his colleague developed the vaccine that would one day wipe out homegrown rubella. The rubella vaccine and others made with those foetal cells have protected more than 150 million people in the United States, the vast majority of them preschool children. The new cells and the method of making them also led to vaccines that have protected billions of people around the world from polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles, hepatitis A, shingles and adenovirus.

Meredith Wadman’s masterful account recovers not only the science of this urgent race, but also the political roadblocks that nearly stopped the scientists. She describes the terrible dilemmas of pregnant women exposed to German measles and recounts testing on infants, prisoners, orphans and the intellectually disabled, which was common in the era. These events take place at the dawn of the battle over using human foetal tissue in research, during the arrival of big commerce in campus labs, and as huge changes take place in the laws and practices governing who ‘owns’ research cells and the profits made from biological inventions. It is also the story of yet one more unrecognized woman whose cells have been used to save countless lives.

With another frightening virus imperilling pregnant women on the rise today, no medical story could have more human drama, impact, or urgency today than The Vaccine Race.

 

An extraordinary story and Wadman is to be congratulated, not just for uncovering it but for relaying it in such a pacy, stimulating manner. This is a first-class piece of science writing.”                 Observer

Extraordinary…The Vaccine Race is a tremendous feat of research and synthesis, its lucid technical explanations combined with forays into the business politics of big pharma, and portraits of the scientists whose work has saved untold lives.”               Steven Poole, Daily Telegraph

Marvellous…fascinating…Wadman doesn’t shy away from some very difficult and unpleasant truths…The Vaccine Race bears comparison with Richard Rhodes’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb. I can pay no higher compliment to Meredith Wadman and her fine book”                      Manjit Kumar, The Literary Review

A riveting tale of scientific infighting, clashing personalities, sketchy ethics and the transformation of cell biology from a sleepy scientific backwater to a high-stakes arena where vast fortunes are made.”                       Wall Street Journal

Riveting… invites comparison to Rebecca Skloot’s 2007 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks… Wadman stands back from the sources and material to guide the reader through a narrative that is no less captivating.”                        Nature

Meticulously researched and carefully crafted . . . The Vaccine Race, is an enlightening telling of the development of vaccines in the mid-20th century. . . . an intelligent and entertaining tome . . . [and] a comprehensive portrait of the many issues faced in the race to develop vaccines.”                   Science

Excellent… an important story, well told.”                Scotsman

“The Vaccine Race is an important read―for scientists, politicians, physicians, parents and everyone interested in how the world of medical research works… it is so important to read this book, to see how science works and how politics can and does interfere with what science does best and what is best for us.”                                 Huffington Post

 

 

 

Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait by Victor Sebestyen

 
Victor Sebestyen’s intimate biography is the first major work in English for nearly two decades on one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century. In Russia to this day Lenin inspires adulation. Everywhere, he continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and who created a new kind of state that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world.

Lenin believed that the ‘the political is the personal’, and while in no way ignoring his political life, Sebestyen focuses on Lenin the man – a man who loved nature almost as much as he loved making revolution, and whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of his ménage a trois with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of legend.

Told through the prism of Lenin’s key relationships, Sebestyen’s lively biography casts a new light on the Russian Revolution, one of the great turning points of modern history.

 

An excellent, original and compelling portrait of Lenin as man and leader.”                    Simon Sebag Montefiore
Richly readable … enthralling but appalling.”                     Francis Wheen
Victor Sebestyen brings the man’s complexities to life in Lenin the Dictator, balancing personality with politics in succinct and readable prose … Sebestyen describes particularly keenly how this ruthless, domineering, often vicious man depended on three women to sustain him.”                  David Reynolds, New Statesman

The attention to detail is flawless.”     Observer

The story of the Bolshevik revolution is fascinating in several ways, and Sebestyen does a good job of telling it … entertaining.”                         Tibor Fischer

 

 

 

Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917 by Helen Rappaport

 

Image result for Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917 by Helen Rappaport“[The] centenary will prompt a raft of books on the Russian Revolution. They will be hard pushed to better this highly original, exhaustively researched and superbly constructed account.”                     Saul David, Daily Telegraph

A gripping, vivid, deeply researched chronicle of the Russian Revolution told through the eyes of a surprising, flamboyant cast of foreigners in Petrograd, superbly narrated by Helen Rappaport.”                     Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs

Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in October, Petrograd (the former St Petersburg) was in turmoil. Foreign visitors who filled hotels, bars and embassies were acutely aware of the chaos breaking out on their doorsteps. Among them were journalists, diplomats, businessmen, governesses and volunteer nurses. Many kept diaries and wrote letters home: from an English nurse who had already survived the sinking of the Titanic; to the black valet of the US Ambassador, far from his native Deep South; to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had come to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women’s Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareava.

Drawing upon a rich trove of material and through eye-witness accounts left by foreign nationals who saw the drama unfold, Helen Rappaport takes us right up to the action – to see, feel and hear the Revolution as it happened.

 

Chronicles the events of 1917 through the eyes of foreigners resident in Petrograd ― diplomats, journalists, merchants, factory owners, charity workers and simple Russophiles… a wonderful array of observations, most of them misguided, some downright bizarre. What makes this book so delightful and enlightening is the depth of incredulity it reveals… [A] wonderful book.”                          The Times

Thoroughly-researched and absorbing… this book offers a compelling picture of life in Petrograd in this momentous and often terrible year… One gets a wonderful picture of the extraordinary and beautiful city… and a keen sense of the really grotesque inequality that has always existed there.”                     Allan Massie, Scotsman

 

 

 

The Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon

 

Image result for The Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon“A sensational memoir . . . brilliantly well written. Carly Simon is incapable of writing a boring sentence . . . you can forgive anything for the unparalleled brilliance of her writing.”           Lynn Barber, Sunday Times

 

Hugely affecting memoir . . . heartfelt and remarkable.”                Independent

 

Carly Simon is a household name. She was the staple of the ’70s and ’80s Billboard charts and was famously married to James Taylor with whom she has two children. She has had a career that has spanned four decades, resulting in thirteen top 40 hits, including the Number 1 song ‘You’re So Vain’, numerous Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. She was the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for her song ‘Let the River Run’ (from the film Working Girl).

Boys in the Trees is a rhapsodic, beautifully composed memoir of a young woman’s coming of age amongst the glamorous literati and intelligentsia of Manhattan (her father was Richard Simon, co-founder of publishing giant Simon & Schuster), a reflection on a life begun amidst secrets and shame, and a powerful story of the strength to leave that all behind and forge a path of art, music and love in the Golden Age of folk and rock.

At once an insider’s look into a life in the spotlight, a lyric reflection on a particular time in our culture’s history, and a beautiful memoir about the pains and joys of love and art, Boys in the Trees is the story Carly Simon has long been waiting to tell the world.

 

One of the best celebrity memoirs of the year … elegantly written and revealing.”                       Hollywood Reporter

 

Carly Simon could have gotten away with just the name-dropping. In her life, she’s crossed paths with an astonishing range of famous people, from Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix to Benny Goodman and Albert Einstein. So it’s a pleasant surprise that in her compelling new autobiography, Boys in the Trees, she lays out her naked emotions and insecurities, and that she proves to be a supple writer with a gift for descriptions.”                        Rolling Stone