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Ayesha Kajee Interviews Sisonke Msimang, author of ‘Always Another Country’

Tuesday, November 28th 2017 at 11:35 AM

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Thank you to the Good Book Appreciation Society for allowing us to use this interview which took place in the comment section of a Facebook post – such a cool idea!

Ayesha Kajee (AK): Hi Sisonke. Thanks for agreeing to do this and be warned, I am still a bit star- and awe-struck!

Sisonke Msimang (SM): Thanks so much for having me. Star struck by me?? Lol! Please don’t be. You know everything about my life now.

AK: Let’s talk a bit about the writing process. You have described this memoir in my presence as ‘creative non fiction’. Has that given you more expressive freedom as a writer. Why the creative adjective? And has it protected you from any repercussions e.g. from people who hated what you said?

SM:  No the creative covers the fact that I am aware memory is subjective. And that there are conversations I remember differently than others. So it’s to preserve honesty in a sense.

AK: Ok. So this is still very much a true reflection of your childhood and adolescence in exile, and your homecoming and alienation of sorts in SA?

SM: Definitely.

AK:  I’m fascinated by your portrayal of Zambia and Nairobi particularly, by the freedom that was unthought of for black people in SA. Care to comment on that?

SM: Sure. There is something special about growing up in the demographic majority. And seeing black people in positions of power. Running their own businesses etc. You don’t have to be told you can do it. You just KNOW it in your bones.  It gave us extra confidence.

AK: The women particularly fascinate me in their fearlessness and feminism. Your mum, Gogo Lindi etc.

SM: Yes. I come from strong women. Not all of them claimed feminism as their word. But they all owned it in their actions.

AK: I saw her (Lindiwe Mabuza) at the ACT AWARDS on Friday and I swear I almost called her Gogo Lindi while everyone else was mum doctoring and sis Doctoring her.

SM: Haha!

AK: You’ve managed to make her so real to me!

SM: She is radiant in her 80s. And still as sharp as ever.

AK: Regal and magnificent indeed.

SM: She is indeed.

AK: My first reading of Always Another Country I gobbled it. Now am rereading it with savour. What was the hardest element for you to write about and what the most easy?

SM:  Easiest parts were the early chapters. My childhood memories were so vivid. The last section of the book I really struggled to communicate what I feel like I have learned about life through stories.

AK: And perhaps its easier to talk about the child because she’s not quite the you you are now?

SM: Exactly.  I also think the adult stuff was harder to explain because as we get older the challenges we face are more complex. Less easy to navigate as right or wrong.

AK: That’s a startling truth right there!

SM: And I guess because writing get is about stamina, I just struggled with the length and keeping it engaging.

AK: I love this honesty, Hate writers who make it all seem so easy . Or maybe I just envy them 🙂 Yet your homecoming to Jozi is just as vividly portrayed and as poignant. We see and smell the streets.

SM: Best trip ever!!!

AK: Though not quite what you anticipated. especially your first evening out….

SM: Meeting Joburg was phenomenal. And meeting my grandfather was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

AK: The ties that bind us even as we are only semi conscious of them?

SM: Yes. The idea of family was always very important to me as a kid. Because cousins and aunts and stuff were mainly chosen…

AK: For me I guess one of the most significant parts of the book is your analysis of the current ANC and how it feels to express your view particularly as someone whose entire life was shaped by the party…. It resonates for me as a former UDF person and gets to the heart of the contradictions so many of us grapple with…

SM: Yup. On the one hand I was raised to question everything. On the other I was raised to love the ANC. So erm, that has been a complicated one to say the least!

AK: So how do you think the narrative should be shaped into the future, by those whose loyalty was almost a bygone conclusion in the past?

SM: Great question. I’m hoping the narrative is shaped more by those who aren’t loyal in that old sense.

AK: How so, then?

SM:  I get sad seeing old people trying to revive the ANC or to be its conscience. So for me it’s about civic leadership.

AK: YASSS!!!! On fleek!

SM:  It’s about renewed political leadership that doesn’t over emphasise the ANC. 

AK: So the priorities should be?

SM:  We make them too important. They are exactly as important as the DA, EFF, etc. The structural issues of inequality that will make a real difference: quality education. Crime that focused on crimes against women and children and our poorest citizens,  and political party reform to make it harder for them all to keep lying to us.

AK:  While we’re on the subject of education, yours was varied and having been educated in so many different milieu, what stands out for you as a truly great educational principle or system, if anything? Political party reform and funding transparency too!

SM: My best educational experiences have been as an adult.

AK: Care to share one or two here?

SM: I spent a semester at Yale and couldn’t believe the resources there. The library was bigger than the hospital in my village!

AK:  I can only imagine– with more than a tinge of envy 🙂

SM: Also really loved my high school. Lots of leeway to think aloud and ask questions.  In high school we all were pushed intellectually and we rose to the challenge. I’ve been very very lucky.

AK: Wonderful and evident in your fearlessness!

SM: But I will say to my parents credit they never ever tried to stop me. They have always been proud of my outspokenness.

AK:  You describe a #metoo moment in the book, well more than one, But the Praisegood incident …. Your empathy and compassion for him was astounding to me…was that hard to write?

SM: It was easy to write weirdly. Because I’ve processed that event so much. I’ve had therapy, I’ve gone over and over it.

AK: Still, not too many survivors would show that level of empathy and compassion.

SM:  But a lot of survivors aren’t also writers 😉 My job is to pull deeper and voice it.  Lots of survivors I know have empathy because pain has a way of helping you to care. If that makes sense. It makes you sensitive to pain.

AK:  I love you . Star struck again!

SM: And for me the act of writing about your life only has value to others if you’re able to share what you’ve learned. If you are still in pain, then it’s not fair to yourself to share. And boring to others in terms of reading! Lol!

AK: The other thing that really really struck me about the latter part of your book, was the self-agonization about becoming a ‘madam’. A reality of SA today if you are middle class….

SM:  Black madam.  Yes it was important for me to put it out there because privilege is real. I expect a lot from my fellow South Africans. If I want white people to be honest about theirs I should be honest about mine.

AK: And it comes with responsibility – any type of privilege. And with that, let’s open up to the audience … anyone out there want to engage?

Audience member, Bea Reader: Hi Sisonke, amazing interview, I’m curious about what you’re working on now, and of course your process. Are you a full time writer? If not how do you fit it all in?

SM: Thank you! I’ve got a few ideas cooking. One is about murders in small towns – it would be a deeply researched book.

BR: Oooooh. That sounds fascinating. It’s always the small towns that have a dark side. Non-fic, or fic?

SM: Nonfiction.  I work 2 days a week (school hours) at a place called the Centre for Stories. The rest of the time I write.

BR:  Do you have a set process or word count, or is it just that you do what you can when you can?

SM:  To write this book I just wrote. Meaning I wrote 6 hours a day and treated it like a full time job. I edit my work pretty intensely. So it took longer to edit the draft than to write it. And I did that before finding the publisher. 

BR:  Who edited it for you ultimately?

SM: The wonderful Angela Voges. She was so good to work with.

Audience member, Paige Nick: How have you found the process of launching your book in South Africa?

SM: It was wonderful. Amazing response. Intimate gatherings. Enjoyed every event.

AK: Any plans for global or regional launches?

SM: So we are negotiating rights in the US and UK and once those are finalised then absolutely yes.

AK:  In the meantime, events in our neighbouring countries are getting lit, to be frank! Any thoughts on those Sisonke?

SM: I worked on Zim issues for many years. I hope we finally see a free and fair election for our neighbours.

AK: Yes. And interesting times in Angola too.

SM: Indeed. People always right the wrongs of the past.

AK:  If there are really no questions, we can wrap up. I just want to urge every person on here, especially every south african, to READ this book. It’s phenomenal not because of the politics, that’s by the way. This is a story that will hit you in your heart at times, your head at others and your gut times uncountable.

SM: Thanks so much! It was great ‘talking’!

 

 

November 2017

Monday, November 27th 2017 at 2:50 PM

Fiction

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron

 

Image result for The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia CorthronThe hotly anticipated first novel by lauded playwright and The Wire TV writer Kia Corthron, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter sweeps American history from 1941 to the twenty-first century through the lives of four men–two white brothers from rural Alabama, and two black brothers from small-town Maryland–whose journey culminates in an explosive and devastating encounter between the two families.

On the eve of America’s entry into World War II, in a tiny Alabama town, two brothers come of age in the shadow of the local chapter of the Klan, where Randall–a brilliant eighth-grader and the son of a sawmill worker–begins teaching sign language to his eighteen-year-old deaf and uneducated brother B.J. Simultaneously, in small-town Maryland, the sons of a Pullman Porter–gifted six-year-old Eliot and his artistic twelve-year-old brother Dwight–grow up navigating a world expanded both by a visit from civil and labor rights activist A. Philip Randolph and by the legacy of a lynched great-aunt.

The four mature into men, directly confronting the fierce resistance to the early civil rights movement, and are all ultimately uprooted. Corthron’s ear for dialogue, honed from years of theater work, brings to life all the major concerns and movements of America’s past century through the organic growth of her marginalized characters, and embraces a quiet beauty in their everyday existences.

Sharing a cultural and literary heritage with the work of Toni Morrison, Alex Haley, and Edward P. Jones, Kia Corthron’s The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter is a monumental epic deftly bridging the political and the poetic, and wrought by one of America’s most recently recognized treasures.

 

There are whole chunks of writing here that are simply sublime, places in which one gets swept away by the way she subverts the rhythm of language to illuminate the familiar and allow it to be seen fresh. … [Corthron] blindsides you. She sneaks up from behind. Sometimes, it is with moments of humor, but more often with moments of raw emotional power – moments whose pathos feels hard-earned and true…. [The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter] succeeds admirably in a novel’s first and most difficult task: It makes you give a damn. It also does well by a novel’s second task: It sends you away pondering what it has to say.”              New York Times Book Review

 

 

Thwala by Eve Clayton

 

Image result for Thwala by Eve ClaytonTHWALA – the abduction and forced marriage of a young girl to an older man in South African tribal custom… But could it also be a metaphor for the way in which colonialists took possession of the virgin nations of Africa, lusting after the mineral gifts of the soil, the possession of pristine countryside and innocent souls to be exploited in their quest for power?

 

This love story across the divide of age and colour, an older white farmer to a beautiful young Xhosa girl, set in the last days of apartheid, bears testimony to so many South African lives, twisted by the ruthless hand of political imperatives. It takes the reader into the mysterious and powerful world of Xhosa culture: thwala; igqira, the diviner; ceremonial marriage;circumcision, and the way in which these sacred institutions have been eroded by the ambivalent influence of Western values.

Can the meeting of these powerful forces really create the rainbow nation that South African people so deeply desire?

Follow the lives of Nosuthu Stokwe and Andrew Christy from the awe-inspiring rural South African countryside to the urban sprawl of Kayelitsha and the metropolis of Cape Town, to try and appreciate the complexity of the challenges faced by South African people today.

Can there be healing after “Thwala syndrome”?

 

 

 

The Secret of Vesalius by Jordi Llobregat

 

Image result for The Secret of Vesalius by Jordi LlobregatFrankenstein meets The Shadow of the Wind in a Gothic thriller set in the diabolical city of fin-de-siecle Barcelona.

Daniel Amat has left Spain and all that happened there behind him. Having just achieved a brilliant role in Ancient Languages at Oxford University and an even more advantageous engagement, the arrival of a letter – a demand – stamped Barcelona comes like a cold hand from behind.

He arrives back in that old, labyrinthine and near-mythic city a few days before the great 1888 World Fair, amid dread whispers of murders – the injuries reminiscent of an ancient curse, and bearing signs of the genius 16th century anatomist, Vesalius. Daniel is soon pulled into the depths of the crime, and eventually into the tunnels below Barcelona, where his own dark past and the future of science are joined in a terrible venture – to bring the secret of Vesalius to life.

Gothic and gripping, this historical thriller makes of Barcelona a diabolical character – emerging out of the dark into a new electrical age, aflame with spirit, superstition and science. Published in eighteen countries, Jordi Llobregat’s bestselling first novel mixes a passionate setting and cryptic mystery into a genre-crossing phenomenon.

 

An excellent and atmospheric historical thriller. I loved it.”                    Philip Kerr

 

 

 

Mother Land by Paul Theroux

 

Image result for mother land therouxA darkly hilarious portrait of one dysfunctional American family and its scheming matriarch

Everyone in Cape Cod thinks that Mother is a wonderful woman: pious, hard-working, frugal. Everyone except her husband and seven children. To them she is a selfish and petty tyrant – endlessly comparing her many living children to the one who died in childbirth, keeping a vice-like hold on her offspring even as they try to escape into adulthood.

Welcome to Mother Land: a suffocating kingdom of parental narcissism. This is an engrossing, hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of a modern family — the bickering, the conspiracies, and the drive to overcome the painful ties that bind.

 

Reading Mother Land is like watching a slow-motion car crash…Mother Land is an exercise in mean-spirited score-settling. It’s also fun…the clambake in the assisted living facility where (Mother) celebrates her 102nd (birthday) is downright hilarious…Theroux possesses a fabulously nasty sense of humor…As for me, I enjoyed Mother Land against my will… a version of his cozening, calculating mother can be found in many homes. But I also found a little bit of myself here. Theroux ends up assassinating all of his characters, but I still enjoyed the play.”                  Stephen King, New York Times Book Review

 

 

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

 

Image result for sparsholt affair alan hollinghurstHollinghurst has a strong, perhaps unassailable claim to be the best English novelist working today.”                       Guardian

In October 1940, the handsome young David Sparsholt arrives in Oxford. A keen athlete and oarsman, he at first seems unaware of the effect he has on others – particularly on the lonely and romantic Evert Dax, son of a celebrated novelist and destined to become a writer himself. While the Blitz rages in London, Oxford exists at a strange remove: an ephemeral, uncertain place, in which nightly blackouts conceal secret liaisons. Over the course of one momentous term, David and Evert forge an unlikely friendship that will colour their lives for decades to come . . .

Man Booker Prize-winning author Alan Hollinghurst’s masterly novel evokes the intimate relationships of a group of friends bound together by art, literature and love across three generations. It explores the social and sexual revolutions of the most pivotal years of the past century, whose life-changing consequences are still being played out to this day. Richly observed, disarmingly witty and emotionally charged, The Sparsholt Affair is an unmissable achievement from one of our finest writers.

 

Hollinghurst is a master storyteller … thrilling in the rather awful way that the best Victorian novels are, so that one finds oneself galloping somewhat shamefacedly through the pages in order to discover what happens next.”                      John Banville

 

 

Mrs Osmond by John Banville

 

Image result for Mrs Osmond by John BanvilleHaving fled Rome and a stultifying marriage, Isabel Osmond is in London, brooding on the recent disclosure of her husband’s shocking, years-long betrayal of her. What should she do now, and which way should she turn, in the emotional labyrinth where she has been trapped for so long? Reawakened by grief and the knowledge of having been grievously wronged, she determines to resume her youthful quest for freedom and independence.

Soon Isabel must return to Italy and confront her husband, and seek to break his powerful hold on her. But will she succeed in outwitting him, and securing her revenge?

Mrs Osmond is a masterly novel of betrayal, corruption and moral ambiguity, from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea.

 

A worthy sequel… His book is not only an impressive recreation of James’s atmospheres and pacing, but also full of minor cliff-hangers and page-turning suspenses that keep you guessing.”                        Observer

 

A brilliant feat of literary ventriloquism… Richly enjoyable and enthralling, this exercise in creative empathy is a sequel of very high finish.”               Sunday Times

 

 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

 

Image result for Manhattan Beach by Jennifer EganThis is a novel that will pull you in and under and carry you away on its rip tides . . . Its resonances continue to wash over the reader long after the novel ends.”                 Guardian

This is a novel that deserves to join the canon of New York stories.”               New York Times Book Review

The long-awaited novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon SquadManhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression.

‘We’re going to see the sea,’ Anna whispered.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have been murdered.

Mesmerising, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organised crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a magnificent novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.

Beautifully rendered . . . genuinely affecting and handsomely constructed. It moves for all the right reasons.”                     Independent

A gripping, modern version of a 19th century novel . . . such an absorbing read.”                         Evening Standard

 

 

 

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

 

Image result for rules of magic alice hoffmanIn this sparkling prequel we meet the Aunts from Practical Magic, sisters Frances and Jet, and Vincent, their brother. From the beginning their mother Susanna knew they were unique: Franny with her skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, who could commune with birds; Jet as shy as she is beautiful, who knows what others are thinking, and Vincent so charismatic that he was built for trouble. Susanna needed to set some rules of magic: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles and certainly, absolutely, no books about magic…

But the Owens siblings are desperate to uncover who they really are. Each heads down a life-altering course, filled with secrets and truths, devastation and joy, and magic and love. Despite the warning handed down through the family for centuries – Know that for our family, love is a curse – they will all strive to break the rules and find true love.

 

Shows the author at their best… She neatly intertwines their lives with a backdrop that brims with periodic detail. Gnomic maxims add to a wise, seductive, fabular tone… Thrilling and transportive.”                      Sunday Times

The Beast by Alexander Starritt

 

Image result for beast alexander starrittJeremy Underwood is a long-suffering subeditor on The Daily Beast, Britain’s mightiest tabloid. Returning from holiday, he notices two burqa-clad figures lurking outside the paper’s Kensington offices. Two male terrorism suspects have escaped from a mosque disguised as women; recently suspicion and fear have made everyone alert. Jeremy’s casual observation sets off a chain of events that spins out of control, as the great Beast feels that it is the next target of terrorism.

Alexander Starritt’s darkly funny novel is a vivid anatomy of that most uncontrollable of large creatures, the British tabloid newspaper. The ferocious professionalism and manic rivalries of a newsroom have rarely been so well described. And at the heart of the newsroom is the brooding, dictatorial figure of its editor, Charles Brython, the booming voice of Middle England. His world is under threat, and he will do whatever it takes to defend it. This is a story in which comedy teeters on the edge of horror.

 

A brilliant satire … Starritt’s novel skewers its targets with a thrilling accuracy. It needs urgently to be read.”             Ian Jack.

Eye-wateringly funny and uncannily well observed”                   Richard Addiss, Former Editor of the Daily Express and FT Weekend.

What Starritt gets vividly right, in a way I think no other fiction has managed, is the editing process that is so central to the success of any popular paper.”              Guardian

 

 

 

Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

 

Image result for bluebird bluebird attica lockeA powerful thriller about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice from a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV/Channel 4 show Empire

Dazzlingly good … a seriously impressive writer.”                         Observer

Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it’s stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

 

In Bluebird, Bluebird Attica Locke had both mastered the thriller and exceeded it.”                      Ann Patchett

 

A heartbreakingly resonant new novel about race and justice in America.”                        USA Today

 

 

 

Short Stories

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Euginedes

 

Image result for fresh complaint jeffrey eugenides‘What was it about complaining that felt so good? You and your fellow sufferer emerging from a thorough session as if from a spa bath, refreshed and tingling?’

The first-ever collection of short stories from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides presents characters in the midst of personal and national emergencies.

We meet Kendall, a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; and Mitchell, a lovelorn liberal arts graduate on a search for enlightenment; and Prakrti, a high school student whose wish to escape the strictures of her family leads to a drastic decision that upends the life of a middle-aged academic.

Jeffrey Eugenides’s bestselling novels Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides and The Marriage Plot have shown him to be an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, self-discovery and family love. These stories, from one of our greatest authors, explore equally rich and intriguing territory.

Narratively compelling and beautifully written, Fresh Complaint shows all of Eugenides’s trademark humour, compassion and complex understanding of what it is to be human.

 

“[An] excellent short story collection … Eugenides deploys his pronounced gifts for comedy and characterisation at the same time as he builds an overwhelming atmosphere of suffocation.”               Guardian

A very good short story writer…they are a breeze to read and Eugenides inhabits each new consciousness with easy confidence.”              The Times

 

 

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmouth by William Boyd

 

Image result for boyd dreams of bethany mellmothA philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs – seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth depicts the random encounters that bring the past bubbling to the surface; the impulsive decisions that irrevocably shape a life; and the endless hesitations and loss-of-nerve that wickedly complicate it. These funny, surprising and moving stories are a resounding confirmation of Boyd’s powers as one of our most original and compelling storytellers.

 

Boyd shows why he’s so often compared to Graham Greene…. brilliant and bewitching collection of stories.”                    Financial Times

Unfailingly amusing and clever.”                    Guardian

 

 

That Glimpse of Truth: The 100 Finest Short Stories Ever Written chosen by David Miller

 

Image result for That Glimpse of Truth: The 100 Finest Short Stories Ever Written chosen by David MillerProfound, lyrical, shocking, wise: the short story is capable of almost anything. This collection of 100 of the finest stories ever written ranges from the essential to the unexpected, the traditional to the surreal. Wide in scope, both beautiful and vast, this is the perfect companion for any fiction lover.

Here are childhood favourites and neglected masters, twenty-first century wits and national treasures, Man Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates.

Featuring an all-star cast of authors, including Kate Atkinson, Julian Barnes, Angela Carter, Anton Chekhov, Richmal Crompton, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Penelope Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Ian McEwan, Alice Munro, V.S. Pritchett, Thomas Pynchon, Muriel Spark and Colm Tóibín, That Glimpse Of Truth is the biggest, most handsome collection of short fiction in print today.

 

A treasure trove of short stories… A book to return to again and again.”                Sunday Independent

 

 

 

The Story: Love, Loss and the Lives of Women: 100 Great Stories chosen by Victoria Hislop

 

Image result for The Story: Love, Loss and the Lives of Women: 100 Great Stories chosen by Victoria HislopWitty, heartbreaking, shocking, satirical: the short story can excite or sadden, entice or repulse. The one thing it can never be is dull. Now Victoria Hislop, passionate ambassador for the art of the short story, has collected 100 stories from her favourite women writers into one volume.

Here are Man Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates, well-known feminists and famous wits, national treasures and rising stars. All handpicked by one of the nation’s best-loved novelists, there’s a story for every mood, mind-set and moment in life.

Featuring an all-star cast of authors including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Angela Carter, Margaret Drabble, Penelope Fitzgerald, Miranda July, Doris Lessing, Katherine Mansfield, Alice Munro, Dorothy Parker and Virginia Woolf, The Story is the biggest and most beautiful collection of women’s short fiction in print today.

 

Beautiful … glittering … The scope is wide, rich and often unexpected … it blows Bridget out of the water.”               Independent

 

 

 

Non-fiction

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.”                 Toni Morrison

Powerful and necessary, a state-of-the-nation portrait of America under Obama from the prize-winning, bestselling author of Between the World and Me

From 2008-2016, the leader of the free world was a black man. Obama’s presidency reshaped America and transformed the international conversation around politics, race, equality. But it attracted criticism and bred discontent as much as it inspired hope – so much so, that the world now faces an uncertain future under a very different kind of US President.

In this essential new book, Ta-Nehisi Coates takes stock of the Obama era, speaking authoritatively from political, ideological and cultural perspectives, drawing a nuanced and penetrating portrait of America today.

 

It’s this timeless timeliness – reminiscent of the work of George Orwell and James Baldwin – that makes Coates worth reading again and again.”                  Publishers Weekly

Fiercely passionate, intelligent and clear-eyed.”               Newsday

 

 

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: Zoo Quest Expeditions by Sir David Attenborough

 

Image result for Adventures of a Young Naturalist: Zoo Quest Expeditions by Sir David AttenboroughA marvellous book … unputdownable … utterly engaging.”     Telegraph
An elegant and gently funny writer.”                        The Times 
In 1954, a young David Attenborough was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to travel the world finding rare and elusive animals for London Zoo’s collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC for a new show called Zoo Quest.

This book records those voyages, which mark the very beginning of a career that spans decades and stretches across continents, from Life on Earth to Blue Planet II, from the deepest oceans, the darkest jungles and everywhere in between. Staying with local tribes while trekking in search of giant anteaters in Guyana, Komodo dragons in Indonesia and armadillos in Paraguay, he and the rest of the team battled with cannibal fish, aggressive tree porcupines and escape-artist wild pigs, as well as treacherous terrain and unpredictable weather, to record the incredible beauty and biodiversity of these regions. The methods may be outdated now, but the fascination and respect for the wildlife, the people and the environment – and the importance of protecting these wild places – is not.

Written with Attenborough’s trademark wit and charm, Adventures of a Young Naturalist is not just the story of a remarkable adventure, but of the man who made us fall in love with the natural world, and who is still doing so today.

 

Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry

 

Image result for Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen FryPerfect for the 21st Century. Ebullient, funny, Fry retells the Greek myths with elegance.”                    The Times

No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly and brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses. They are like us, only more so – their actions and adventures scrawled across the heavens above.

From the birth of the universe to the creation of humankind, Stephen Fry – who fell in love with these stories as a child – retells these myths for our tragic, comic, fateful age. Witness Athena born from the cracking open of Zeus’s great head and follow Persephone down into the dark realm of Hades. Experience the terrible and endless fate of Prometheus after his betrayal of Zeus and shiver as Pandora opens her jar of evil torments.

The Greek gods are the best and worst of us, and in Stephen Fry’s hands they tell us who we are. Mythos – smart, funny, and above all great fun – is the retelling we deserve by a man who has been entertaining the nation for over four decades.

 

A wondrous new immersion in ancient stories we only thought we knew. Page to page, Mythos is brilliant, funny, erudite, inventive, surprising and enthralling.”                  Richard North Patterson

 

 

Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process by Joe Fassler

 

Image result for Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process by Joe FasslerA stunning guide to finding creative inspiration and how it can illuminate your life, your work, and your art.

What inspires you? That’s the simple, but profound question posed to 46 renowned authors in Light the Dark, each one revealing what gets them started and what keeps them going with the creative work they love. Each writer begins with a favourite passage – from a novel, a song, a poem. From there, incredible lessons and stories of life changing encounters with art emerge, like how sneaking a volume of Stephen King stories into his job as a night security guard helped Khaled Hosseini learn that nothing he creates will ever be truly finished. Or how Junot Diaz learned that great art can be a friend to help us feel less alone in the world when he discovered Toni Morrison in college.

Light the Dark collects the best of The Atlantic’s much-acclaimed ‘By Heart’ series and adds brand new pieces from writers like Marilynne Robinson and Junot Diaz, each one paired with a striking illustration. A guide to creative living and writing for anyone who wants to learn how great writers find inspiration and how to find some of your own.


The collection’s best essays soar . . . The essays’ variety and the heart and intelligence evident in many of them add up to a valuable book.”   Publishers Weekly

 

The Tunnels: The Untold Stories of Escapes Under the Berlin Wall by Greg  Mitchell

 

A story with so much inherent drama… a kaleidoscopic cold war story.”                 Guardian

In the summer of 1962, one year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall.

Then, as the world’s press heard about the secret projects, two television networks raced to be the first to document them from the inside, funding two separate tunnels for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, manoeuvred to quash both documentaries.

As Greg Mitchell’s riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Berlin’s most wanted man; the tunneller who had already served four years in the East German gulag; the Stasi informer who betrays the ‘CBS tunnel’; the young East Berliner who escapes with her baby, then marries one of the tunnellers; and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel.

Capturing the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners, the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police, and the political tensions of the Cold War, The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive read whose themes still reverberate today.

 

A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era.”  Washington Post

The greatest strength of The Tunnels is in the details… Days after finishing the book I could not escape one of Mitchell’s images – of a hat with a small hole in it landing softly on the Western side of the border while its owner’s dead body fell back into the East, waiting for the guards to hurry it out of sight. For those who see walls as the answer to policy problems, this book serves as a stark reminder that barriers can never cut people off entirely but only succeed in driving them underground.”                   New York Times Book Review

 

 

The Rub of Time: Essays and Reportage by Martin Amis

 

Image result for The Rub of Time: Essays and Reportage by Martin AmisOf all the great novelists writing today, few show the same gift as Martin Amis for writing non-fiction – his essays, literary criticism and journalism are justly acclaimed. As Rachel Cusk wrote in the The Times, reviewing a previous collection, ‘Amis is as talented a journalist as he is a novelist, but these essays all manifest an unusual extra quality, one that is not unlike friendship. He makes an effort; he makes readers feel that they are the only person there.’

The essays in The Rub of Time range from superb critical pieces on Amis’s heroes Nabokov, Bellow and Larkin to brilliantly funny ruminations on sport, Las Vegas, John Travolta and the pornography industry. The collection includes his essay on Princess Diana and a tribute to his great friend Christopher Hitchens, but at the centre of the book, perhaps inevitably, are essays on politics, and in particular the American election campaigns of 2012 and 2016. One of the very few consolations of Donald Trump’s rise to power is that Martin Amis is there to write about him.

There is no one alive ― with the possible exception of Adam Mars-Jones ― who can hear an ailing sentence and diagnose its problems with such devastating and gleeful precision.”             Financial Times

 

 

American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury

 

Image result for American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury‘In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them.’ – Tamer Elnoury

Tamer Elnoury, a long-time undercover agent, joined an elite counterterrorism unit after September 11. Its express purpose is to gain the trust of terrorists whose goals are to take out as many people in as public and devastating a way as possible. It’s a furious race against the clock for Tamer and his unit to stop them before they can implement their plans. Yet as new as this war still is, the techniques are as old as time. Listen, record and prove terrorist intent.

Due to his ongoing work for the FBI, Elnoury writes under a pseudonym. An Arabic-speaking Muslim American, a patriot, a hero. To many people, it will be a revelation that he and his team even exist, let alone the vital and dangerous work they do keeping all of us safe.

It’s no secret that federal agencies are waging a broad, global war against terror. Now, for the first time, an active, Muslim American federal agent reveals his experience infiltrating and bringing down a terror cell in North America.

 

“American Radical is a kinetic account of Elnoury’s undercover career… about his life infiltrating Islamist terror cells, averting mass murder, bringing evil people to justice and so on. It is the first time an active FBI agent has published a book remotely like it.”                        The Times

 

 

 

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell

 

Image result for I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’FarrellAbsolutely, in every possible sense of the word, brilliant.”                     Max Porter

I Am, I Am, I Am is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Insightful, inspirational, intelligent, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.

It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

She is a breathtakingly good writer, and brings all her elegance and poise as a novelist to the story of her own life.”                  Guardian

 

 

The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel

 

Image result for The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-StempelDusk is filling the valley. It is the time of the gloaming, the owl-light.
Out in the wood, the resident tawny has started calling, Hoo-hoo-hoo-h-o-o-o.’

There is something about owls. They feature in every major culture from the Stone Age onwards. They are creatures of the night, and thus of magic. They are the birds of ill-tidings, the avian messengers from the Other Side. But owls – with the sapient flatness of their faces, their big, round eyes, their paternal expressions – are also reassuringly familiar. We see them as wise, like Athena’s owl, and loyal, like Harry Potter’s Hedwig. Human-like, in other words.

No other species has so captivated us.

In The Secret Life of the Owl, John Lewis-Stempel explores the legends and history of the owl. And in vivid, lyrical prose, he celebrates all the realities of this magnificent creature, whose natural powers are as fantastic as any myth.

 

 

 

Tis the Season – gifts and more…

Kilted Yoga: Yoga Laid Bare by Finlay Wilson

 

Lose yourself in the wilds of Scotland.

Reconnect with the natural world.

Learn the fundamentals of yoga in four simple sequences.

Kilt optional!

After recovering from an accident, Finlay Wilson found yoga was the best way to rebuild his strength. Now a qualified yoga instructor himself, he’s decided to bring a modern take to this ancient practice. Feast your eyes on his yoga moves and discover why his Kilted Yoga video became an instant global sensation. This beautiful book is both dramatic and inspirational, but also tongue in cheek, quirky and funny.

 

Yoga can feel elitist but the book does not alienate. Partly because of its gentle humour, and partly because the language does not assume any knowledge of terms or sequences. It’s straightforward and to the point. And the scenery beats a sterile yoga studio.”                   Evening Standard

Apparently there is something about the recipe of beards, kilts, butts and the Scottish highlands that just works.”                    Finlay Wilson

 

Museums (Reflections)

 

Image result for Museums (Reflections)According to Orham Pamuk, ‘Real museums are places where Time is converted into Space.’

In this lavishly illustrated title we investigate these spaces. Since Frank Gehry created the phenomenon that is The Guggenheim in Bilbao, thus transforming the city into a popular tourist destination, there has been a boom in the investment, both creative and financial, in the architecture of museums. They showcase contemporary and experimental architecture at its best. Fully illustrated with exterior and interior photography, Museums encircles the globe and highlights these modern showpieces alongside the timeless splendour of their more classical predecessors. The buildings presented represent a wide range of spatial and architectural concepts, from the modest to the massive, from the subtle to the show-stopping, from white cubes, to freestanding structural buildings, to lavish baroque masterpieces. The Reflections series by ROADS is a visual exploration of the spaces and buildings that mirror the cultures in which they play such a crucial part.

 

 

What a Great Idea! Awesome South African Inventions by Mike Bruton

 

WAGI (2)This is the ultimate book on South African innovations and inventions that every South African should own. It is crammed with information on the awesome variety of new products and services that South Africans, at home and abroad, have invented from pre-colonial times to the present. Written in a highly readable style and richly illustrated, it will astonish, surprise and inspire you! Everything from Wadley’s Loop to Musk’s Hyperloop, Louis Liebenberg’s Cybertracker to the unique Africanis dog, the first computerised ticketing system in the world to the world’s first digital laser. Read about dozens of items that we use every day but which had very humble beginnings. Did you know that the machine that was used to drill the tunnels for the first underground railway in England was invented by a South African, or that the first ‘computers’ in South Africa were women calculators working at the Royal Observatory in Cape Town? Everyone knows that the Kreepy Krawly, Pratley’s Putty, Dolos, CATscanner and Thawte Internet Security System were invented in South Africa, but what about the Sheffel Bogie, Oil of Olay, Q20, Policansky fishing reels, Lodox low-dose X-ray machine, Waste Shark, Wind-up Pulse Oximeters, Lithium ion batteries, DryBath, Acesco Breast Imaging System, and components of the SALT and SKA telescopes? Meet the new generation of South African inventors and innovators, including Brian Steinhobel, Mulalo Doyoyo, Jacques Blom, Elon Musk, Viness Pillay, Kelly Shibale, Tebello Nyokong, Gregory Maqoma, Kiara Nirghin, Tony Budden and Ludwick Marishane, and hear what they have to say about the climate for innovation in South Africa. Historic photographs, fascinating anecdotes and illuminating case studies light up the text and make it read like a detective novel. This book clearly shows that South Africans have punched well above their weight in international circles – now you have the opportunity to become an expert on what we have achieved through the ages.

 

 

World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke

 

Image result for World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron MahnkeA fascinating, beautifully illustrated guide to the monsters that are part of our collective psyche, from the host of the hit podcast Lore

They live in shadows – deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our mind. They’re spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives’ tales, passed down through generations. And yet, no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them. Werewolves and wendigos, poltergeists and vampires, angry elves and vengeful spirits.

In this beautifully illustrated volume, the host of the hit podcast Lore serves as a guide on a fascinating journey through the history of these terrifying creatures, and explores not only the legends but what they tell us about ourselves. Aaron Mahnke invites us to the desolate Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where the notorious winged, red-eyed Jersey Devil dwells. Mahnke delves into harrowing accounts of cannibalism-some officially documented, others the stuff of speculation . . . perhaps. He visits the dimly lit rooms where séances take place, the European villages where gremlins make mischief, and Key West, Florida, home of a haunted doll named Robert.

The monsters of folklore have become not only a part of our language but a part of our collective psyche. Whether these beasts and bogeymen are real or just a reflection of our primal fears, we know, on some level, that not every mystery has been explained, and that the unknown still holds the power to strike fear deep in our hearts and souls.

As Aaron Mahnke reminds us, sometimes the truth is even scarier than the lore…

Narrated by Mahnke in a style that evokes spooky campfire stories, Lore is a history lesson like no other.”–Esquire

 

 

 

 

Annie Leibowitz Portraits: 2005-2016

In this new collection from Annie Leibovitz, one of the most influential photographers of our time, iconic portraits sit side by side never-before-published photographs. Afterword by Annie Leibovitz.

Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 is the photographer’s follow-up to her two landmark books, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, 1970-1990 and A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005. In this new collection, Leibovitz has captured the most influential and compelling figures of the last decade in the style that has made her one of the most beloved talents of our time. Each of the photographs documents contemporary culture with an artist’s eye, wit, and an uncanny ability to personalize even the most recognizable and distinguished figures.

 

Getting your photograph taken by Annie is one of the great totems of success in America.”         Graydon Carter, Editor-in-chief, Vanity Fair

She’s a poet.”       Robert Wilson

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most aesthetically gifted photographers alive.”          Guardian

 

 

You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody)  by Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen

 

Image result for You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody) by Alec Baldwin and Kurt AndersenThe blisteringly funny satirical account of Donald Trump’s first year as President, as imagined by Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen.

‘I have the best words, beautiful words, as everybody has been talking and talking about for a long time. Also? The best sentences and, what do you call them, paragraphs. My previous books were great and sold extremely, unbelievably well–even the ones by dishonest, disgusting so-called journalists. But those writers didn’t understand Trump, because quite frankly they were major losers. People say if you want it done right you have to do it yourself, even when ‘it’ is a ‘memoir.’ So every word of this book was written by me, using a special advanced word processing system during the many, many nights I’ve been forced to stay alone in the White House–only me, just me, trust me, nobody helped. And it’s all 100% true, so true–people are already saying it may be the truest book ever published. Enjoy.’

You Can’t Spell America Without Me is presented by America’s foremost Trump scholar Kurt Andersen as well as America’s foremost mediocre Trump impersonator, Alec Baldwin.

 

 

Notes from the Sofa by Raymond Briggs

 

Image result for Notes from the Sofa by Raymond BriggsFrom Raymond Briggs, the beloved and bestselling author of The Snowman, comes his first book in a decade, now in an updated edition with new columns and illustrations.

Notes from the Sofa is a beautifully illustrated compilation of reflections on life and what it means to get older. Raymond dips into his past to remind us of scrumping apples, National Service, party lines on telephones, the torment of cinema organs and the endless obsession with laxatives, alongside his take on the absurdities of the modern world.

This collection gives us warm and memorable sketches of Raymond’s life now and reminds us why he is one of our best-loved storytellers.

 

 

 

Istanbul: Illustrated Edition by Orhan Pamuk

 

Like the Dublin of Joyce and Jan Morris’ Venice, Orhan Pamuk’s bestselling Istanbul: Memories of a Cityis a triumphant encounter of place and sensibility, beautifully written and immensely moving.

Since the publication of Istanbul, Pamuk has continued to add to his collection of photographs of Istanbul. Now, he has selected a range of photographs for Illustrated Istanbul, linking each new image to his memoir.

This lavish selection of 450 photographs features contributions from Ara Güler, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Istanbul’s characteristic photography collectors, and contains previously unpublished family photographs from the author’s archives.

 

This evocative book succeeds at both its tasks. It is one of the most touching childhood memoirs I have read in a very long time; and it makes me yearn – more than any glossy tourist brochure could possibly do – to be once again in Istanbul.”                           Noel Malcom, Sunday Telegraph

 

 

Penguin Book of Modern Speeches edited by Brian MacArthur

 

Whether it was Churchill rousing the British to take up arms or the dream of Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro inspiring the Cuban revolution or Barack Obama on Selma and the meaning of America, speeches have profoundly influenced the way we see ourselves and society.

Gathered here are some of the most extraordinary and memorable speeches of the last century. Some are well known, others less so, but all helped form the world we now inhabit.

Time and again, MacArthur satisfies the reader’s expectations. They are all here: Lloyd George’s fit country for heroes, Woodrow Wilson’s world made safe for democracy, Enoch Powell’s River Tiber foaming with much blood. Those who hate the sound of public men may still find it hard to listen to MacArthur’s voices and not be moved (The Times Literary Supplement)

 

 

How to be Human: The Ultimate Guide to Your Amazing Existence by New Scientist

 

Image result for How to be Human: The Ultimate Guide to Your Amazing Existence by New ScientistDid you know that half your DNA isn’t human? That somebody, somewhere has exactly the same face? Or that most of your memories are fiction?

What about the fact that you are as hairy as a chimpanzee, various parts of your body don’t belong to you, or that you can read other people’s minds? Do you really know why you blush, yawn and cry? Why 90 per cent of laughter has nothing to do with humour? Or what will happen to your mind after you die?

You belong to a unique, fascinating and often misunderstood species. How to be Human is your guide to making the most of it.

 

 

How to Swear by Stephen Walsh

 

Image result for 9781785036415Grasping how to swear is a crucial skill to any English-speaker, but it can be a tricky business. Owing to the rich and complex history of swearing, a single word can have a host of different meanings – from expressing surprise, excitement, anger, celebration, disgust or simply that you’re fucked off. If you don’t get it right, you could really be in the shit.

How to Swear, by graphic artist and swearing-connoisseur Stephen Wildish, uses all manner of charts and flow diagrams to teach you all you need to know, including: the building blocks of an effective insult; the adverbial uses of various types of animal excrement (horseshit, apeshit etc); and the different parts of speech a swear word can fulfil: ‘Fucking fuck, the fucking fucker’s fucked’. This charming (and rude) book will take you right to the heart of the wondrous world of swearing, with a lot of laughs on the way.

 

 

Ladybird Books for Grown-ups

These now perennial favourites and brilliant stocking fillers never disappoint. Along with old favourites such as The Hipster and Mindfulness, we have some new titles for this year’s stocking…

The Rock Star, The Baby, The Brother, The Nerd, The New You

 

 

Classic Art Memes

Hath thou seen thy Classic Art Memes?

This hilarious book is full of laugh-out-loud classic art memes to brighten your day.

From renaissance to baroque, rococo to romantics historical art is made hysterical with amusing modern wit.

 

 

Freedom to Express Yourself: An Inspiration Notebook by Amnesty International

 

Image result for Freedom to Express Yourself: An Inspiration Notebook by Amnesty InternationalIn partnership with Amnesty International UK, this striking notebook will explore themes of freedom through inspirational quotes and illustrations.

Focusing on ideas such as safety, home, family and much more, the book will feature artwork from a rich variety of illustrators and there is plenty of empty space for inspired readers to fill however they like.

With a diverse collection of quotes, from Bob Marley to Malala Yousafzai, and Mahatma Gandhi to Harper Lee, this notebook explores and encourages discussions around human rights.

Featuring illustrations from Sir Quentin Blake, Chris Riddell, David Shrigley, Meera Lee Patel and many more.

 

 

 

For the Foodie in Your Life

 

 

Recipes from an Italian Butcher: Roasting, Stewing, Braising by The Silver Spoon Kitchen

 

Image result for Recipes from an Italian Butcher: Roasting, Stewing, Braising by The Silver Spoon Kitchen150 inspiring and authentic Italian recipes for meat, poultry, and game – from the world’s most trusted authority on Italian cuisine.

The Italian approach to cooking with meat is to keep things straightforward and maximize the flavour. This book showcases simple, hearty dishes that are true to this tradition, from chicken cacciatore and braised beef with Barolo to osso buco and Roman lamb. With more than 150 recipes, most published for the first time in English, it’s comprehensive and authoritative, demystifying the different cuts, cooking methods, and techniques unique to each meat type – along with the side dishes that best complement them.

 

A charming and rustic collection of meat orientated recipes… What results is a cookbook where the running theme is respect… Recipes that at their core are simple, honest and often inexpensive [and] will make you want to go to your local butcher […] bring a piece of meat home and really do it justice, using the best fresh ingredients and age-old techniques.”―The Essential Journal

 

 

Jampacked by Tina Bester

 

Image result for Jampacked by Tina BesterAlways longed to create perfect pickles, relishes and jams? Jampacked shows you how to stock your pantry with an array of irresistible sweet and savoury preserves – and suggests a wealth of delicious ways to use them every day.

Cook with the seasons and fill your pantry with mouthwatering relishes, pestos, marinades, rubs and sauces that will add layers of flavour to your favourite dishes. Jampacked is crammed with easy, clever ideas for year-round culinary inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen by Richa Hingle

 

Image result for Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen by Richa HingleFrom delicious dals to rich curries, flat breads, savory breakfasts, snacks, and much more, this vegan cookbook brings you Richa Hingle’s collection of plant-based Indian recipes inspired by regional cuisines, Indian culture, local foods, and proven methods.

Whether you want to enjoy Indian cooking, try some new spices, or add more protein to your meals using legumes and lentils, this book has got it covered. You’ll explore some well-known and new Indian flavor profiles that are easy to make in your own kitchen. Learn the secrets of eclectic Indian taste and textures, and discover meals in which pulses and vegetables are the stars of the dish. And once you taste Richa’s mouth-watering desserts, they will likely become your new favorites.

 

With superbly spiced recipes, eye-catching photographs amd mouthwatering descriptions, this book will find a permanent place in your kitchen. Richa’s recipe for Quinoa Cauliflower biryani alone is worth the price of the book.”
Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice

 

 

Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour

 

Sabrina Ghayour’s Middle-Eastern-plus food is all flavour, no fuss – and makes me very, very happy.”                     Nigella Lawson

Image result for Feasts by Sabrina GhayourIn Feasts, the highly anticipated follow up to the award-winning Persiana & no. 1 bestseller Sirocco, Sabrina Ghayour presents a delicious array of Middle-Eastern dishes from breakfasts to banquets and the simple to the sumptuous. Enjoy menus and dozens of recipes for celebrations and occasions with family & friends, such as summer feasts, quick-fix feasts and brunch.

Sabrina Ghayour knows how to throw a party: serve big dishes of beautifully spiced food and let everyone dig in.”               Olive

 

 

 

Brunch Across 11 Countries: Recipes of a Private Chef by Alix Verrips

 

Image result for Brunch Across 11 Countries: Recipes of a Private Chef by Alix VerripsThis book includes the best brunch recipes from 11 countries & continents; the USA, England, the Bahamas, China, Monaco, the Greek Isles, Capri, Mexico, the Emirates, Africa and Spain. Although served for brunch, the recipes are suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try the spicy lamb kofta and fatoush from the Emirates or the delicious malva pudding cupcakes with salted caramel sauce and cream cheese icing from South Africa. As private chef Alix Verrips has cooked in employers’ homes in the Bahamas, St Tropez, Spain, the UK, the USA and Africa. Alix spent fifteen years in the yachting industry cooking for royalty, celebrities, oligarchs and industrialists. She is the only female chef to have been the Head Chef on four of the top twenty largest yachts in the world.

 

 

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2017

Monday, October 30th 2017 at 3:18 PM

Fiction

Munich by Robert Harris

 

Image result for Munich by Robert HarrisSeptember 1938. Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace.

The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there.

Munich.

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Führer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own.

Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again.

When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

 

A brilliantly constructed spy novel set amid the politicking of Chamberlain’s last-ditch negotiations with Hitler.”                         Observer

Harris’s cleverness, judgment and eye for detail are second to none . . . his research is so impeccable that he could have cut all the spy stuff and published Munich as a history book. Harris’s treatment of Britain’s most maligned prime minister is so powerful, so persuasive, that it ranks among the most moving fictional portraits of a politician that I have ever read.”                    Sunday Times

 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookshop by Matthew Sullivan

 

Image result for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Books by Matthew SullivanWhen a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favourite store clerk who must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has inherited his meagre worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long-buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu.

 

With Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew Sullivan has written – with great panache and suspense – a smart, twisty crime novel filled with compelling characters set in a world that book-lovers will adore.”              Jess Walter
A page-turner featuring a heroine bookseller who solves a cold case with clues from books – what is not to love?”                         Nina George

 

 

 

The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath

 

Image result for The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrathFrom the Bestselling Author of AsylumTrauma And Spider

Wonderfully sinister … a delight … you are in for a thrilling ride.”              Spectator

A brilliant evocation of the theatrical world’s seedy glamour, The Wardrobe Mistress is also a moving portrait of a woman struggling to make sense of her past and imagine a future for herself.”              Sunday Times

Ghosts of the theatre and the spectre of fascism haunt cold and grimy London in this atmospheric tale from a master of the grotesque.”                   Guardian

January 1947.

London is in ruins, there’s nothing to eat, and it’s the coldest winter in living memory.

To make matters worse, Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day, has suddenly died. His widow Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is beside herself with grief.

Then one night she discovers Gricey’s secret. Plunged into a dark new world, Joan realises that though fascism might hide, it never dies. Her war isn’t over after all.

McGrath has the gift, the storyteller’s gift, to compel attention, so that you gaze rapt into the fire and listen to the tale unfold.”                 Sunday Times

McGrath is one of the age’s most elegantly accomplished divers into the human psyche . . . a master writer.”             John Banville

McGrath is that rare yet essential thing, a writer who can expose our darkest fears without making us run away from them.”                 New Statesman

 

 

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

 

Image result for My Absolute Darling by Gabriel TallentThe year’s must read novel.”                        The Times

One of the most important books you’ll pick up this decade.”         Harper’s Bazaar

An outstanding book that could be this year’s A Little Life.”            Guardian

 

You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

Brutal yet beautiful, My Absolute Darling has floored me. Dear Turtle, a heroine amidst the horrorExceptional, unflinching storytelling.”                    Ali Land‏, author of Good Me Bad Me

An incandescent novel with an extraordinary, unforgettable heroine, both deeply contemplative and utterly thrilling.”                      Observer – Thriller of the month

There are books we like well enough to recommend, but there are a very few – To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22, The Things They Carried – that we remember forever. To my own shortlist I can now add My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent … The word “masterpiece” has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one.”     Stephen King

A heartrending debut that will shock, then shake, then inspire you.”                     Celeste Ng

An outstanding book that could be this year’s A Little Life.”                        Guardian

Tallent’s breathtaking debut is a harrowing and at times psychologically difficult journey on the scale of A Little Life or The Goldfinch, but it’s worth it . . . a true inspiration.”           Harper’s Bazaar

 

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

 

Image result for Uncommon Type by Tom HanksA collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A woman adjusting to life in a new neighborhood after her divorce. Four friends going to the moon and back in a rocket ship constructed in the backyard. A teenage surfer stumbling into his father’s secret life.

These are just some of the people and situations that Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction, a collection of stories that dissects, with great affection, humour and insight, the human condition and all its foibles.
Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.

 

Mr. Hanks turns out to be as authentically genuine a Writer with a capital W as ever touched a typewriter key. The stories in Uncommon Type range from the hilarious to the deeply touching…All with that extra quality of keenly observant and sympathetic intelligence that has always set Tom Hanks apart. I blink, bubble and boggle in amazed admiration.”              Stephen Fry

Reading Tom Hanks’s Uncommon Type is like finding out that Alice Munro is also the greatest actress of our time.”              Ann Patchett

All American life is here … Delightful … Hanks’s prose is impressive, with a strong voice and stylistic flair … so fluent, convincing and confident that you forget it belongs to Tom Hanks, movie star. He’s just a writer. And he’s going to write a great novel one day.”                      The Times

The central quality to Tom’s writing is a kind of poignant playfulness. It’s exactly what you hope from him, except you wish he was sitting in your home, reading it aloud to you, one story at a time.”                      Mindy Kaling

It turns out that Tom Hanks is also a wise and hilarious writer with an endlessly surprising mind. Damn it.”                   Steve Martin

 

 

 

Bare Ground by Peter Harris

 

Image result for Bare Ground by Peter HarrisAs the head of Wits Mining, the last major mining company to do an empowerment deal, Max Sinclair has a mandate from the board and a clear directive: to sell a share of the company to a black consortium. Born and bred in the city that remains, at heart, a mining camp built on gold and the greed of men, Max is used to being a player in the high-stakes game of deals and political influence, and he keeps his cards close to his chest.

There is no shortage of takers for the deal. A shareholding spells possible riches for some – like Sifiso Lesibe, geologist and newest member of the board – and increased influence for others. Support for the deal from government is crucial, particularly when it comes to mining and mineral rights. Politics, power and money are an irresistible combination. Mistrust is everywhere and nothing is as it seems.

Former human rights lawyer Musa Madondo has seen the rise and fall of many a former comrade and he knows he is not immune to the tug of temptation. When Walter Berryman, a former client and friend, comes to Musa for professional advice, in fear of his life after having stumbled across evidence of large-scale industry collusion, he finds himself drawn into an underworld of intrigue and sophisticated espionage every bit as ruthless and deadly in the present day as it was during the country’s struggle for liberation. And in Johannesburg, as in politics, things change in an instant.

 

 

The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott

 

Image result for The Fatal Tree by Jake ArnottLondon, the 1720s. Welcome to ‘Romeville’, the underworld of that great city. The financial crash caused by the South Sea Bubble sees the rise of Jonathan Wild, self-styled ‘Thief-taker General’ who purports to keep the peace while brutally controlling organised crime. Only two people truly defy him: Jack Sheppard, apprentice turned house-breaker, and his lover, the notorious whore and pickpocket Edgworth Bess.

From the condemned cell at Newgate, Bess gives her account of how she and Jack formed the most famous criminal partnership of their age: a tale of lost innocence and harsh survival, passion and danger, bold exploits and spectacular gaol-breaks – and of the price they paid for rousing the mob of Romeville against its corrupt master. Bess dictates her narrative to Billy Archer, a Grub Street hack and aspiring poet who has rubbed shoulders with Defoe and Swift. But he also inhabits that other underworld of ‘molly-houses’ and ‘unnameable sin’, and has his own story of subterfuge, treachery and doomed romance to deliver. As the gallows casts its grim shadow, who will live to escape the Fatal Tree?

By the acclaimed author of The Long Firm, this is a tour de force; inventive, atmospheric and rich in the street slang of the era. Drawing on real figures and a true history of crime, punishment and rough justice, it tells a heart breaking story of love and betrayal.

 

A work of dazzling imagination and linguistic inventiveness.”                    Observer

A rambunctious narrative of venery, theft, death and a devil-may-care braggadocio, its doomed love story undercuts and counterpoints the swagger with a touching melancholy.”                Elizabeth Buchan

Jake Arnott, who is probably best known for excellent novels such as The Long Firm about London gangsters in the 1960s, has done much more than update the work of his 18th-century predecessors. Unlike them, he shows the citizens of Romeville as people, not as folk heroes or bogeymen . . . Arnott explores what poor Bess calls ‘the felony of love’, a crime that is not on the statute book. The result is powerful, poignant and readable.”              Spectator
Bawdy and rich with vivid evocations of the past . . . The Fatal Tree is Arnott on beguiling form, with the libidinous Bess a wonderfully multifaceted character. Who would have thought that a cult crime writer would become the Daniel Defoe of our day?”                  Barry Forshaw, i News

 

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

 

I am loving Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Maybe my favorite novel I’ve read this year.”                        John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.”                       Reese Witherspoon
Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town – and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost…

 

Witnessing these two families as they commingle and clash is an utterly engrossing, often heartbreaking, deeply empathetic experience, not unlike watching a neighbour’s house burn….It’s this vast and complex network of affiliations – and the nuanced omniscient voice that Ng employs to navigate it – that make this novel even more accomplished and ambitious than her debut.”                       New York Times Book Review

Delectable and engrossing…A complex and compulsively readable suburban saga that is deeply invested in mothers and daughters…”      Boston Globe

Riveting…unearthing the ways that race, class, motherhood and belonging intersect to shape each individual…Perhaps Ng’s most impressive feat is inviting the reader’s forgiveness for Mrs. Richardson – a woman whose own mission for perfection, and strict adherence to rules ultimately become the catalyst for the maelstrom that ensues.”               Chicago Tribune

 

 

House with the Stained Glass Window by Zanna Sloniowska

 

Image result for House with the Stained Glass Window by Zanna Sloniowska“The House with the Stained-Glass Window is remarkable, a gripping, Lvivian evocation of a city and a family across a long and painful century, at once personal and political, a novel of life and survival across the ages.”               Philippe Sands, author of East West Street

In 1989, Marianna, the beautiful star soprano at the Lviv opera, is shot dead in the street as she leads the Ukrainian citizens in their protest against Soviet power. Only eleven years old at the time, her daughter tells the story of their family before and after that critical moment – including, ten years later, her own passionate affair with an older, married man.

Just like their home city of Lviv, which stands at the crossroads of nations and cultures, the women in this family have had turbulent lives, scarred by war and political turmoil, but also by their own inability to show each other their feelings. Lyrically told, this is the story of a young girl’s emotional, sexual, artistic and political awakening as she matures under the influence of her relatives, her mother’s former lover, her city and its fortunes.

Sloniowska writes subtly and beautifully – every phrase conjures up images, casting colourful lights just like the stained-glass window of the title.”                 Sylwia Chutnik

Sloniowska is a fascinating story-teller who also gives insight into the reality of life in Ukraine. This is an astonishing literary discovery.”                      Justyna Sobolewska, Polityka

 

 

2023: A Trilogy by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

 

Image result for 2023: A Trilogy by the Justified Ancients of Mu MuWell we’re back again, 
They never kicked us out, 
Twenty thousand years of 
SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT

Down through the epochs and out across the continents, generation upon generation of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have told variants of the same story – an end of days story, a final chapter story. But one with hope, even if the hope at times seems forlorn.

The story contained in this trilogy is the latest telling. Here it is presented as a utopian costume drama, set in the near future, written in the recent past.

Read with care.

REMEMBERED – TOLD – TRANSCRIBED
for Dead Perch Books

***

In the Spring of 2013, the undertakers Cauty & Drummond were on a tour of the Western Isles of Scotland. It was while staying at Jura’s one hotel that they came across a strange-looking book. The book was titled Back in the USSR and authored by someone using the name of Gimpo. Back in the USSR was the memoir of a young woman who had been a nurse in the Falklands War in 1982.

Gimpo ended up in Kiev in what was then the Soviet state of The Ukraine. Here she met with two women named Tat’jana and Kristina who went under numerous aliases, the most widely used being The KLF. Also in Back in the USSR it was claimed that Tat’jana and Kristina had been heavily influenced by a book originally written in English as The Twenty Twenty-Three! Trilogy by someone calling themselves George Orwell. But this George Orwell was in turn the pen name of Roberta Antonia Wilson.

What you are about to read is what they read – well, almost. As for Back in the USSR, if we are able to sell the initial edition of this book and make a return on our investment, we hope to publish that. As for the current whereabouts of Tat’jana and Kristina, we have no idea. They were last seen disappearing into the depths of the Black Sea in their decommissioned Project 865 Piranha submarine. This supposed disappearance happened on 23 August 1994. Rumour on the internet has it they would not reappear for another twenty-three years.

 

A brain-searing, gender-inverted metafiction that addresses the internet’s takeover of reality, the power of capital and the myths of birth.”                     Mojo

The KLF are officially back, as wicked and inscrutable as ever.”                 Pitchfork

Bill and Jimmy’s ill-behaved and darkly jocular meta-fictional spectacular . . . a bewildering-but-compelling cosmic joke of a book, a book which also offers sombre, sobering rumination on the catastrophic fairytale of our existence . . . [2023] is cast in the fluent, page-turning prose that Bill is known for.”                     Caught by the River

 

 

 

 

 

Non-fiction

Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years by Nelson Mandela and Mandla Langa

 

Image result for Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years by Nelson Mandela and Mandla LangaI have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”                       Long Walk to Freedom

In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa. Five years later, he stood down. In that time, he and his government wrought the most extraordinary transformation, turning a nation riven by centuries of colonialism and apartheid into a fully functioning democracy in which all South Africa’s citizens, black and white, were equal before the law.

Dare Not Linger is the story of Mandela’s presidential years, drawing heavily on the memoir he began to write as he prepared to finish his term of office, but was unable to finish. Now, the acclaimed South African writer, Mandla Langa, has completed the task using Mandela’s unfinished draft, detailed notes that Mandela made as events were unfolding and a wealth of previously unseen archival material. With a prologue by Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, the result is a vivid and inspirational account of Mandela’s presidency, a country in flux and the creation of a new democracy. It tells the extraordinary story of the transition from decades of apartheid rule and the challenges Mandela overcome to make a reality of his cherished vision for a liberated South Africa.

 

A rare human being who, in freeing himself of his demons, also became free to give his extraordinarily leadership to his country and the world.”                        Bill Clinton

Underneath the history that has been made, there is a human being who chose hope over fear–progress over the prisons of the past . . . Even as he became a legend, to know the man–Nelson Mandela–is to respect him even more.”                         Barack Obama

 

How to Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay – An Inside Account by Crispian Olver

 

Image result for How to Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay – An Inside Account by Crispian OlverHow to Steal a City is an insider account of an intervention, which lays bare how the administration was entirely captured and bled dry by a criminal syndicate, how factional politics within the ruling party abetted that corruption, and how a comprehensive clean-up was eventually conducted.

It is written as a gripping real-life thriller, taking the reader deeper and deeper into the rotten heart of the city. As a former senior government official and local government “fixer”, Crispian Olver was no stranger to dealing with dodgy politicians and broken organisations. Yet what he found was graft that went far beyond the dodgy contracts, blatant conflicts of interest and garden-variety kickbacks he had seen before. It had evolved into a web far more sophisticated and deep rooted than he had ever imagined, involving mazes of shell companies, assassinations, criminal syndicates, and compromised local politicians. The metro was effectively controlled by a criminal network, closely allied to a dominant local ANC faction. What he found was complete state capture—a microcosm of what has been happening in South Africa’s national government.

But there was a personal price to pay. Intense political pressure and threats to his personal safety took a toll on his mental and physical health. He had to have a full-time bodyguard, and never maintained a regular routine. He eventually lost much of his political cover. Olver ultimately had to flee the city as the forces stacked against him started to wreak their revenge.

 

 

A Short History of the Truth: Consolation for the Post-Truth World by Julian Baggini

 

Image result for A Short History of the Truth: Consolation for the Post-Truth World by Julian BagginiHow did we find ourselves in a “post-truth” world of “alternative facts”? And can we get out of it? A Short History of Truth sets out to answer these questions by looking at the complex history of truth and falsehood. It identifies ten types of supposed truth and explains how easily each can become the midwife of falsehood. There is no species of truth that we can rely on unquestioningly, but that does not mean the truth can never be established. Attaining truth is an achievement we need to work for, and each chapter will end up with a truth we can have some confidence in.

This history builds into a comprehensive and clear explanation of why truth is now so disputed by exploring 10 kinds of truth:

Eternal truths, Authoritative truths, Esoteric truths, Reasoned truths, Evidence-based truths, Creative truths, Relative truths, Powerful truths, Moral truths, Holistic truths.

Baggini provides us with all we need to restore faith in the value and possibility of truth as a social enterprise. Truth-seekers need to be sceptical not cynical, autonomous not atomistic, provisional not dogmatic, open not empty, demanding not unreasonable.

 

 

 

The Mother of All Questions: Further Feminisms by Rebecca Solnit

 

Image result for The Mother of All Questions: Further Feminisms by Rebecca SolnitFollowing on from the success of Men Explain Things to Me comes a new collection of essays in which Rebecca Solnit opens up a feminism for all of us: one that doesn’t stigmatize women’s lives, whether they include spouses and children or not; that brings empathy to the silences in men’s lives as well as the silencing of women’s lives; celebrates the ways feminism has shifted in recent years to reclaim rape jokes, revise canons, and rethink our everyday lives.

 

There’s a new feminist revolution – open to people of all genders – brewing right now and Rebecca Solnit is one of its most powerful, not to mention beguiling, voices.”                   Barbara Ehrenreich

These short, incisive essays that pack a powerful punch.”   Publishers Weekly

A keen and timely commentary on gender and feminism. Solnit’s voice is calm, clear, and unapologetic; each essay balances a warm wit with confident, thoughtful analysis, resulting in a collection that is as enjoyable and accessible as it is incisive.”                 Booklist

 

A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic by Peter Wadhams

 

Image result for A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic by Peter WadhamsAstonishing … beautiful, compelling and terrifying.”                       Observer

Wadhams’ writing sparkles … a lyrical sense of wonder at the natural world … essential reading … may be the best reader-friendly account of the greenhouse effect available to date.”              John Burnside, New Statesman

Ice is beautiful and complex. It regulates our planet’s temperature. And it is vanishing – fast. Peter Wadhams, the world’s leading expert on sea ice, draws on his lifetime’s research in the Arctic region to illuminate what is happening, what it means for the future, and what can be done.

This most experienced and rational scientist states what so many other researchers privately fear but cannot publicly say.”               Guardian

Wadhams brings huge expertise to his subject – and he is an excellent writer.”                Martin Rees

Utterly extraordinary.”                     Jonathon Porritt

 

 

 

 

Muslim Girl: a Coming of Age by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

 

Image result for Muslim Girl: a Coming of Age by Amani Al-KhatahtbehIn this New York Times Editor’s Pick, the brilliant founder of MuslimGirl.com shares her harrowing and candid account of what it’s like to be a young Muslim woman in the wake of 9/11, during the never-ending war on terror, and through the Trump era of casual racism.

At nine years old, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh watched from her home in New Jersey as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That same year, she heard her first racial slur. At thirteen, her family took a trip to her father’s native homeland of Jordan, and Amani experienced first-hand a culture built on the true peaceful nature of Islam in its purest form, not the Islamic stereotypes she heard on the news.

Inspired by her trip and after years of feeling like her voice as a Muslim woman was marginalised during a time when it seemed all Western media could talk about was, ironically, Muslim women, Amani created a website called Muslim Girl. As the editor-in-chief, she put together a team of Muslim women and started a life dedicated to activism.

Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age is the extraordinary account of Amani’s journey through adolescence as a Muslim girl, from the Islamophobia she’s faced on a daily basis, to the website she launched that became a cultural phenomenon, to the nation’s political climate in 2016 as Donald Trump wins the presidency. While dispelling the myth that a headscarf signifies neither radicalism nor oppression, she shares both her own personal accounts and anecdotes from the “sisterhood” of writers that serve as her editorial team at Muslim Girl. Amani’s “blunt…potent message…is a skillful unraveling of the myth of the submissive Muslim woman” (The New York Times Book Review) and a deeply necessary counterpoint to the current rhetoric about the Middle East.

 

 

 

What Happened by Hillary Clinton

 

Image result for What Happened by Hillary ClintonA compelling read.”               Financial Times
A sporadically absorbing, pleasingly vengeful and often darkly funny account of one woman’s bid for presidential history.”                       Sunday Times
What Happened is highly entertaining. It is spirited, well-written and informative.”         Guardian

In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.”         Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterwards. With humour and candour, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet – the rituals, relationships and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on democracy by a foreign adversary. By analysing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect their values and democracy in the future.

“What Happened is not one book, but many. It is a candid and blackly funny account of her mood in the direct aftermath of losing to Donald J. Trump. It is a post-mortem, in which she is both coroner and corpse. It is a feminist manifesto. It is a score-settling jubilee…. It is worth reading.”                   New York Times

“What Happened is a raw and bracing book, a guide to our political arena.”                      Washington Post

 

Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics by Mark Thompson

 

Image result for Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics by Mark ThompsonLonglisted for the Orwell Prize 2017

How do we discuss serious ideas in the age of 24-hour news? What was rhetoric in the past and what should it be now? And what does Islamic State have in common with Donald Trump?

We’ve never had more information or more opportunity to debate the issues of the day. Yet the relationship between politicians, the media and the public is characterised by suspicion, mistrust and apathy. What has gone wrong?

Enough Said reveals how political, social and technological change has transformed our political landscape – and how we talk about the issues that affect us all. Political rhetoric has become stale and the mistrust of politicians has made voters flock to populists who promise authenticity, honesty and truth instead of spin, evasiveness and lies.

Featuring Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin, Tony Blair and George Osborne, Silvio Berlusconi and many more star performers, Enough Said shows how public language is losing its power, and how an ominous gap is opening between the governed and those who govern. The result of decades of first-hand experience of politics and media, this is an essential, brilliant diagnosis of what we should stop doing and what we should start doing in order to reinvigorate Western democracy.

 

“[A] superb book… Thompson’s own experience in the media is brilliantly deployed throughout for insight… Thompson is a sharp and entertaining analyst of political language itself.”                         Guardian

He writes restlessly and compellingly… [An] intricately but also urgently argued book.”              Financial Times

“[An] important study … [Thompson] usually advances his case in cool, nuanced and forensic prose, but he is a blistering flame-thrower about the consequences of the digital revolution.”                      Andrew Rawnsley, Observer

 

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum

 

Image result for Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne ApplebaumThe momentous new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain.

In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events.

The book draws on a mass of archival material and first-hand testimony only available since the end of the Soviet Union, as well as the work of Ukrainian scholars all over the world. It includes accounts of the famine by those who survived it, describing what human beings can do when driven mad by hunger. It shows how the Soviet state ruthlessly used propaganda to turn neighbours against each other in order to expunge supposedly ‘anti-revolutionary’ elements. It also records the actions of extraordinary individuals who did all they could to relieve the suffering.

The famine was rapidly followed by an attack on Ukraine’s cultural and political leadership – and then by a denial that it had ever happened at all. Census reports were falsified and memory suppressed. Some western journalists shamelessly swallowed the Soviet line; others bravely rejected it, and were undermined and harassed. The Soviet authorities were determined not only that Ukraine should abandon its national aspirations, but that the country’s true history should be buried along with its millions of victims. Red Famine, a triumph of scholarship and human sympathy, is a milestone in the recovery of those memories and that history. At a moment of crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it also shows how far the present is shaped by the past.

 

Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine powerful, relentless, shocking, compelling – will cement her deserved reputation as the leading historian of Soviet crimes.”                Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

Magisterial and heartbreaking.”                  Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard

It remains a tragedy too little known. Applebaum’s book, compelling in its detail and in its empathy with those who suffered, will do much to remedy that ignorance and to place the current crises and confrontations in Ukraine into a longer historical context.”                    Sunday Times

Anne Applebaum has written an exhaustive, authoritative and eloquent book. She deals with questions that have hitherto lacked unequivocal answers.”                      Literary Review

 

 

RISISNGTIDEFALLINGSTAR by Philip Hoare

 

Image result for RISING TIDE FALLING STAR by Philip HoareRich and strange from the tip of its title to its deep-sunk bones.”              Robert Macfarlane

 

From the author of Leviathan, or, The Whale, comes a composite portrait of the subtle, beautiful, inspired and demented ways in which we have come to terms with our watery planet.

In the third of his watery books, the author goes in pursuit of human and animal stories of the sea. Of people enchanted or driven to despair by the water, accompanied by whales and birds and seals – familiar spirits swimming and flying with the author on his meandering odyssey from suburbia into the unknown.

Along the way, he encounters drowned poets and eccentric artists, modernist writers and era-defining performers, wild utopians and national heroes – famous or infamous, they are all surprisingly, and sometimes fatally, linked to the sea.

Out of the storm-clouds of the twenty-first century and our restive time, these stories reach back into the past and forward into the future. This is a shape-shifting world that has never been certain, caught between the natural and unnatural, where the state between human and animal is blurred. Time, space, gender and species become as fluid as the sea.

Here humans challenge their landbound lives through art or words or performance or myth, through the animal and the elemental. And here they are forever drawn back to the water, forever lost and found on the infinite sea.

 

Rarely have I read a book that felt as if it were speaking so directly, so confidentially to me. RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR is about books and about swimming, but most of all it does what all great books do: makes you feel that it’s a private conversation between you and the author. I finished it with an obscure feeling of privilege, to have been granted such access to Hoare’s most secret, intimate self … RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR is a masterpiece.”             Alex Preston, Observer

A rich and strange combination of memoir, travelogue and literary biography … RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR contains much of wonder in words strewn across its pages like treasures revealed on the sand by a retreating tide.”   Financial Times

This is an exquisite read, stuffed with dark myths and eerie legends, nourished by the author’s sublime gift for poetic description.”                Mail on Sunday

Hoare conveys a redemptive sense of the wide, continuous and beautiful world, in a remarkable book that sometimes feels rather loosely fitted together, but is always rich and strange.”                Guardian

His idiosyncratic tales of mariners, adventurers and the odd dilettante rise almost to the level of poetry … he evokes the sense of majesty that a seascape can inspire in us.”                   The Times

Wonderful…This beautifully written book is a delight.”                   BBC Radio 4

He is poetic and precise…a rich portrait of the sea as an imaginative landscape.”           TLS

 

 

Late Essays: 2006-2017 by JM Coetzee

 

Image result for Late Essays: 2006-2017 by JM CoetzeeThe subjects covered range from Daniel Defoe in the early eighteenth century to Coetzee’s contemporary Philip Roth. Coetzee has had a long-standing interest in German literature and here he engages with the work of Goethe, Hölderlin, Kleist and Walser. There are four fascinating essays on fellow Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett and he looks at the work of three Australian writers: Patrick White, Les Murray and Gerald Murnane. There are essays too on Tolstoy’s great novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, on Flaubert’s masterpiece Madame Bovary, and on the Argentine modernist Antonio Di Benedetto.

J.M. Coetzee, a great novelist himself, is a wise and insightful guide to these works of international literature that span three centuries.

 

“J.M. Coetzee’s essays are filtered through boundless reserves of knowledge, wisdom and reading…A spare, dry sense of humour…Not a single page goes by in this collection when you don’t learn something”              Spectator

Coetzee remains a highly original thinker, able to take a much-dissected novel such as Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and offer an appreciation that stretches the boundaries of the reading experience. The most intriguing essay is one on Philip Roth, a rare occasion where Coetzee tackles one of his contemporaries.”               Financial Times

 

 

Gift and more…

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

 

Image result for sun and her flowerFrom Rupi Kaur, the bestselling author of Milk and Honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. Illustrated by Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. It is a celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year 
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

Praise for Sunday Times bestseller Milk and Honey:

Kaur is at the forefront of a poetry renaissance.”    Observer

Kaur made her name with poems about love, life and grief. They resonate hugely.”                     Sunday Times

Poems tackling feminism, love, trauma and healing in short lines as smooth as pop music.”                    New York Times

 

Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld

 

Image result for Baking with Kafka by Tom GauldIn Baking with Kafka, Tom Gauld asks the questions no one else dares ask about civilisation as we know it.
– How do you get published during a skeleton apocalypse?
– What was the secret of Kafka’s lemon drizzle cake?
– And what plot possibilities does the exploding e-cigarette offer modern mystery writers?

A riotous collection of laugh-out-loud cartoons in his signature style, Baking with Kafka reaffirms Gauld’s position as a first-rate cartoonist, creating work infused with a deep understanding of both literary and cartoon history.

 

Tom Gauld might just be the Edward Gorey of our time, channelling his wry humour and macabre aesthetic through exquisite black-and-white illustrations.”      Maria Popova

Each single-page piece is a clever, funny, slightly bonkers riff on a literary theme . . . Sublime.”                         The Times

One of the best cartoonists around!”                        BoingBoing

At once hilarious and achingly melancholy . . . A quietly essential read.”   Wired

His economical art . . . is married to dry, incisive humor, making each strip a carefully composed marvel.”                  Publishers Weekly

Image result for Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld

 

 

 

Make Trouble by John Waters

 

Image result for Make Trouble by John WatersSo what if you have talent? Then what?

When John Waters delivered his gleefully subversive advice to the graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, the speech went viral, in part because it was so brilliantly on point about making a living as a creative person. Now we can all enjoy his sly wisdom in a manifesto that reminds us, no matter what field we choose, to embrace chaos, be nosy, and outrage our critics.

Anyone embarking on a creative path, he tells us, would do well to realize that pragmatism and discipline are as important as talent and that rejection is nothing to fear. Waters advises young people to eavesdrop, listen to their enemies, and horrify us with new ideas. In other words, MAKE TROUBLE!

Illustrated with slightly demented line drawings by Eric Hanson, Make Trouble is a one-of-a-kind gift, the perfect playbook for gaming the system by making the system work for you.

 

“…as funny as it is inspiring. Make Trouble is an injection of weirdness, joy, and provocation right into your brain.”                        San Francisco Book Review

 

“…simultaneously witty and inspirational, has the potential to top the best commencement speeches of all time. … a great read. With simple, imaginative illustrations, it inspires all outsiders who strive to change society one brushstroke, word or shot at a time.”                        Tufts Daily

 

 

200 Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World

 

Image result for 200 Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the WorldInterviews with 200 women from a variety of backgrounds provide a snapshot of female life around the globe. Each woman shares her unique reply to the same five questions: What really matters to you?, What brings you happiness?, What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?, What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with?

With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength-inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality.

Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project.

A percentage of the originating publisher’s revenue from book sales will be distributed to organizations nominated by the women featured in the book.

 

Featuring (amongst others) Jane Goodall, Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, Renée Montagne, Alicia Garza, Alfre Woodard, Marian Wright Edelman, Lydia Ko, Dolores Huerta, Alice Waters, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

This meticulously curated book is filled with interviews from women who’ve made their mark on the world in some way and asks them five crucial questions about happiness, sorrow and meaning. Quizzing the likes of Gillian Anderson, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Goodall, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Roxane Gay (just to name a few), it’s an inspiring book that’ll change the way you see the world. Plus, the best part is that a fraction of the proceeds go towards organisations that empower women around the world.”                        Marie Claire

Eminently Instagrammable, this book features women you might recognise – Margaret Atwood, Bobbi Brown – plus some you might not, but should.”                       Red Magazine

 

 

Vaya: Untold Stories of Johannesburg by Harriet Perlman

 

Image result for Vaya: Untold Stories of Johannesburg by Harriet PerlmanThis project represents hope and pride. I have endured and persevered to get here. My story matters.”                       David Majoka – storyteller and writer
Vaya the film is based on the lives of four young men from the Homeless Writer’s Project: David Majoka, Anthony Mafela, Madoda Ntuli and Tshabalira Lebakeng, and rooted in their experiences of coming to Johannesburg. Vaya the book brings you the people and stories that inspired the award-winning film.
The book provides a rare lens into life on the margins of Johannesburg. The stories are intimate and hard hitting, funny and heartbreaking, full of courage and humanity in a world that is both capricious and unforgiving. Stories of living on the street, of finding family and friendship in unusual places, and coming to the city full of hope and promise only to be betrayed by the very people one trusts most.
Mark Lewis’s haunting photographs bring into sharp focus life in the underbelly of the city.
Vaya will both shock and inspire.

 

 

 

World Atlas of Street Fashion by Caroline Cox

 

Image result for World Atlas of Street Fashion by Caroline CoxDiscover the inspirational world of global street styles and the fascinating stories behind them, accompanied by hundreds of stunning photographs.

Filled with eye-catching images of 100 styles from around the globe, The World Atlas of Street Fashion is a celebration of those who dare to think differently. Written by acclaimed fashion historian Caroline Cox, The World Atlas of Street Fashion celebrates the invention and creativity to be found in fashion all around the globe.

From the Chinese skinheads of Beijing to the feminist funkeiras of São Paolo, the raggare of Stockholm to the Junglists of Whistler, this is world street style as you’ve never seen it before. Organized geographically by continent, this book examines street style in all its international diversity, by tracing the many and varied ways in which it has developed in different regions of the world, from the streets to the catwalk.

From the famous to the niche, the rebellious to the downright revolutionary, The World Atlas of Street Fashion offers a ground-breaking portrait of world street style.

 

 

Words on Paper by Jeff Fisher

 

Image result for Words on Paper by Jeff FisherIf you like true stories about real people, are intrigued by serendipity, curious about curiosities, or maybe you are a collector yourself, then this book is for you.

The author’s passion for more than half a century has been for collecting handwritten, original letters, antique documents, manuscripts, old share certificates, fire insurance policies, photographs and maps.

The writers of these words on paper include kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, admirals and generals, actors and authors, judges and prisoners, philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and sportsmen. Some were famous, some infamous, some important, others less so. Many you will know about; with others, only their names may be familiar. There’s Admiral Nelson, and the Duke of Wellington; there are queens Elizabeth I and II and kings George III, IV and VI; presidents Eisenhower, Kruger, and Mandela are here; prime ministers Botha, Hertzog and Smuts; explorers Scott and Shackleton. There’s Faraday and De la Rey, and many more, including two controversial giants of history – Napoleon and Rhodes.

The chapters need not be read in any set order, although there is an underlying thread linking them to the life of the author that enabled this eclectic collection to evolve in the way it did.

 

 

 

In the Kitchen

Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi

 

Image result for Sweet by Yotam OttolenghiThere’s nothing like a perfectly light sponge flavoured with spices and citrus or an icing-sugar-dusted cookie to raise the spirits and create a moment of pure joy.

In his stunning new baking and desserts cookbook Yotam Ottolenghi and his long-time collaborator Helen Goh bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.

Sweet includes over 110 innovative recipes, from Blackberry and Star Anise Friands, Tahini and Halva Brownies, Persian Love Cakes, Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread, and Saffron, Orange and Honey Madeleines to Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut and Rosewater and Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs.

There is something here to delight everyone – from simple mini-cakes and cookies that parents can make with their children to showstopping layer cakes and roulades that will reignite the imaginations of accomplished bakers.

 

After winning us over with his savory offerings, Yotam Ottolenghi, with Helen Goh, comes to the sweet side with an international array of gorgeous cookies, cakes, candies, custards… I want to make everything in this luscious book!”              David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen and L’Appart

Yotam Ottolenghi’s additions to classic recipes make so much sense, you’ll wonder why you’ve never stirred tahini into brownies or orange flower water into amaretti–or why you’ve never even made your own amaretti! This is my kind of baking book; you’ll want to make everything.”                Elisabeth Prueitt, co-founder of Tartine Manufactory and author of Tartine All Day

Modern, creative, appealing, and, most importantly, fun–this is Ottolenghi at the top of his game.”                  Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Image result for Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi

 

 

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Sam Nosrat

 

Image result for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Sam NosratWhile cooking at Chez Panisse at the start of her career, Samin Nosrat noticed that amid the chaos of the kitchen there were four key principles that her fellow chefs would always fall back on to make their food better: Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat.

By mastering these four variables, Samin found the confidence to trust her instincts in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients. And with her simple but revolutionary method, she has taught masterclasses to give both professionals and amateurs the skills to cook instinctively.

Whether you want to balance your vinaigrette, perfectly caramelise your roasted vegetables or braise meltingly tender stews, Samin’s canon of 100 essential recipes and their dozens of variations will teach you how.

 

This beautiful, approachable book not only teaches you how to cook, but captures how it should feel to cook: full of exploration, spontaneity and joy. Samin is one of the great teachers I know, and wins people over to cooking with real food organic, seasonal, and alive with her irrepressible enthusiasm and curiosity.”                   Alice Waters, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Simple Food”

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a wildly informative, new-generation, culinary resource. Samin Nosrat’s wealth of experience comes together here in a pitch perfect combination of charm, narrative, straight-talk, illustration, and inspiration. Ticking all the boxes for new and seasoned cooks alike, this book meets you wherever you are in the kitchen, in all the right ways.”                        Heidi Swanson, New York Times bestselling author of Super Natural Cooking”

Everyone was impressed when Michael Pollan managed to summarize the huge and complex subject of what we should be eating in just seven words: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Samin Nosrat has managed to summarize the huge and complex subject of how we should be cooking in just four words: Salt, fat, acid, heat. Everyone will be hugely impressed.”             Yotam Ottolenghi, New York Times bestselling author of Jerusalem”

Image result for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Sam Nosrat

HAPPY READING!

 

 

Brand New Philip Pullman – Pre-order Special!! Plus – see below for a chance to get the His Dark Materials trilogy at a discounted price.

Friday, October 13th 2017 at 4:30 PM

La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Part One by Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman returns to the world of His Dark Materials with this magnificent first volume of The Book of Dust.

Image result for pullman la belle sauvageEleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .

We are offering 2 different editions of the book, each at 20% discount:
Trade paperback – Retails at R295, but you pay only R236 if you order and pay before Friday October 13th.
Hardback – Retails at R455, but you pay only R364 if you order and pay before Friday October 13th.

The book will be released worldwide on Thursday 19th October.
To order mail us on booklounge@gmail.com, or call on 021 462 2425.

Published by Penguin Random House

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Image result for his dark materials everyman's libraryFor the duration of the pre-order special (20th July – 13th October) we are offering the original His Dark Materials trilogy in this beautiful Everyman Library hardback edition at 20% discount.
Normally priced at R295, you will pay only R236
You can reserve your copy by mailing booklounge@gmail.com, or calling 021 462 2425

September 2017

Sunday, September 24th 2017 at 12:52 PM

Fiction

Legacy of Spies by John le Carré

 

Image result for legacy of spies le carrePeter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own story, John le Carré has given us a novel of superb and enduring quality.

 

Vintage le Carré as he ingeniously closes the circle of his long career … This is an immensely clever piece of novelistic engineering, of which its deviser can be justifiably proud. The ingenuity and skill with which the thing is brought off is breathtaking – really, not since The Spy Who Came in From The Cold has le Carré exercised his gift as a storyteller so powerfully and to such thrilling effect.”                           John Banville, Guardian

This novel offers more than one pleasure. It is not merely good in itself – vintage John le Carré. It gives the reader, at long last, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that have been missing for 54 years…. A Legacy of Spies does something remarkable. Le Carré takes a le Carré classic and thickens it into something different from what it was….Like wine, le Carré’s writing has got richer with age…Don’t wait for the paperback.”           The Times

Perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the 20th century in Britain. He will have charted our decline and recorded the nature of our bureaucracies like no one else has. He’s in the first rank.”                      Ian McEwan

 

It is a splendid novel…It is riveting, bitter and will be controversial…le Carré’s handling of dialogue remains perfectly fresh. Who else can tell you so much about so many people so quickly? Not a syllable is wasted.”    Andrew Marr, Sunday Times

The English canon has rarely seen an acclaimed novelist and popular entertainer sustain such a hot streak in old age….A Legacy of Spies achieves many things. Outstandingly, it is a defiant assertion of creative vigour…Cornwell is signing off with a poignant and brilliant au revoir to le Carré, his alter ego, a writer who is with the immortals.”            Observer

 

 

 

 

Sunset Claws by Brent Meersman

 

Image result for Sunset Claws by Brent MeersmanSunset Claws follows a generation of South Africans from 1976 to the millennium as they struggle to come to terms with  what the birth of a nation has both given and taken from them.

Told in three parts, the action moves from Cape Town in the turbulent 1980s to the civil war in KwaZulu-Natal in the  interregnum of the early 90s and burgeoning post-apartheid Johannesburg, where an optimistic new middle class is  being forged as the country enters the 21st century. But the cracks in reconciliation are already beginning to show.

The story starts in 1968, when Mfundi, a township teenager, sets off to join Umkhonto we Sizwe, later to return on a deadly mission that will have unforeseen repercussions. Two brothers from a poor white family choose very different paths – Frans joins the military and is slowly sucked into the darkest corners of the apartheid security forces, while Joe  dodges the draft and flees to London in the hope of becoming an artist and escaping his unwanted destiny.

Zukiswa, a young black woman battling to advance herself in the shacklands, will also go into exile and return to her native land almost a stranger. Bertie is the rich white kid who rebels against his conservative parents to become a human rights lawyer, a journey that will shake his idealistic beliefs to the core. Unexpected connections between them will set them on a collision course of war, romance, love and hate.

The story sheds light on the current state of the nation, painting a vivid yet subtle portrait of the nascent “New South Africa” with all its contradictions as its characters traverse the pivotal events that shaped a generation – from the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale to the killing fields of KwaZulu-Natal; from the release of Nelson Mandela and the first democratic election to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the writing of the new Constitution and the first steps to black economic empowerment.

Sunset Claws is an epic, well-observed psychological thriller set on a vast canvas. It is a monumental novel.

 

 

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

 

Image result for Golden House by Salman RushdieWhen powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities, taking ‘Roman’ names, and move into a grand mansion in downtown Manhattan. Arriving shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama, he and his sons, each extraordinary in his own right, quickly establish themselves at the apex of New York society.

The story of the Golden family is told from the point of view of their Manhattanite neighbour and confidant, René, an aspiring filmmaker who finds in the Goldens the perfect subject. René chronicles the undoing of the house of Golden: the high life of money, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis, the arrival of a beautiful woman, betrayal and murder, and far away, in their abandoned homeland, some decent intelligence work.

Invoking literature, pop culture, and the cinema, Rushdie spins the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years, hitting every beat: the rise of the birther movement, the Tea Party, Gamergate and identity politics; the backlash against political correctness; the ascendency of the superhero movie, and, of course, the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain wearing make-up and with coloured hair.

In a new world order of alternative truths, Salman Rushdie has written the ultimate novel about identity, truth, terror and lies. A brilliant, heartbreaking realist novel that is not only uncannily prescient but shows one of the world’s greatest storytellers working at the height of his powers.

 

“[A] complex and witty fable … Rushdie has always been an impish myth-manipulator, refusing to accept, as in this novel, that the lives of the emperors can’t be blended with film noir, popular culture and crime caper. On the evidence of The Golden House, he is quite right.”                 Observer

Intelligent and darkly funny…with a raw political edge.”                            The Times

A ravishingly well-told, deeply knowledgeable, magnificently insightful, and righteously outraged epic which pos­es timeless questions about the human condition… As Rushdie’s blazing tale surges toward its crescendo, life, as it always has, rises stubbornly from the ashes, as does love.”              Booklist

Rushdie writes with a Dickensian exuberance, always full of humour as well as striking scornful, tragic notes. Often he plays the role of satirist. His caricatures and outsize figures are full of life, wickedness and human energy: again, as in Dickens, grounded in a precise social and political scene.”                  Jereme Boyd Maunsell

Salman Rushdie is a writer of illimitable imagination and verbal ingenuity. He grips us with wild storylines, takes us on flights of fancy, brings us back down again, enthralled and dazed … The Golden House is an extraordinary book, a brooding meditation on the personal and political, on ethics, egotism, freedom and interdependence.”             Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

 

Lea: A Novel by Pascal Mercier

 

Image result for Lea: A Novel by Pascal MercierPascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon mesmerised readers around the world, and went on to become an international bestseller. Now, in Lea, he returns with a tender, impassioned, and unforgettable story of a father’s love and a daughter’s ambition in the wake of devastating tragedy.

It all starts with the death of Martijn van Vliet’s wife. His grief-stricken young daughter, Lea, cuts herself off from the world, lost in the darkness of grief. Then she hears the unfamiliar sound of a violin playing in the hall of a train station, and she is brought back to life. Transfixed by a busker playing Bach, Lea emerges from her mourning, vowing to learn the instrument. And her father, witnessing this delicate spark, promises to do everything and anything in his power to keep her happy.

Lea grows into an extraordinary musical talent―her all-consuming passion leads her to become one of the finest players in the country―but as her fame blossoms, her relationship with her father withers. Unable to keep her close, he inadvertently pushes Lea deeper and deeper into this newfound independence and, desperate to hold on to his daughter, Martin is driven to commit an act that threatens to destroy them both.

A revelatory portrait of genius and madness, Lea delves into the demands of artistic excellence as well as the damaging power of jealousy and sacrifice. Mercier has crafted a novel of intense clarity, illuminating the poignant ways we strive to understand ourselves and our families.

 

A novella about an artist’s development . . . genius and madness, love and betrayal, fury and self-destruction, all carefully arranged to make a stunning portrait.”                  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Perfectly constructed, exciting, entertaining, enigmatic, memorable.”     Buchkultur

 

 

 

A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman

 

Image result for A Twist of the Knife by Becky MastermanBlown away. What else can I tell you? Brigid Quinn is a heroine to cheer for, and Masterman writes like an angel who has seen far too many ungodly things.”  Linwood Barclay

 

Brigid Quinn is tough, determined, steely and sharper than sharp. As an ex-agent of the FBI she has seen it all, and survived. But nothing can cut her closer to the bone than family…

When Brigid gets a call from her mother saying her father is in hospital with pneumonia, she decides to check on her former colleague Laura Coleman who is living nearby. Having saved Brigid’s life, Laura is now working on an ‘innocence project’, investigating cold cases. And one in particular seems to have caught her attention. Fifteen years before, Marcus Creighton was accused of killing his wife and three children. Now the state governor has signed the warrant for his execution.

Worried that her friend is getting in too deep, Brigid promises to help. But what if her instincts are betraying her?

 

Chilling, smart, funny…what a voice she has.”                     Gillian Flynn

 

A crime novel that transcends the genre – a twisting, high-stakes story with characters so real and so recognizably human, that it breaks your heart a little. Brilliant.”              Shari Lapena, author of The Couple Next Door

 

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

 

Image result for The Readymade Thief by Augustus RoseIn his highly addictive and multi-aceted first novel, Augustus Rose pits an irrepressible and gritty young heroine against a sinister group of fanatics. The Readymade Thief is a kickass debut from start to finish.”            Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad

Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run.

Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the facade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.

Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city – empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families. But the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her–and why.

A novel of puzzles, conspiracies, secret societies, urban exploration, art history, and a singular, indomitable heroine, The Readymade Thief heralds the arrival of a spellbinding and original new talent in fiction.

 

“The Readymade Thief is smart and strange, full of lovely Duchampian tricks and treats. Augustus Rose has infused his thriller with the true Dada spirit, nothing is quite what it seems. I loved it.”                  Audrey Niffenegger

“The Readymade Thief is my favorite kind of book: an improbable one … A novel that’s unexpected, uncategorizable, unputdownable.”                 Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

A rewarding novel full of pleasures and surprises. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, it took me somewhere stranger and deeper than I could have imagined. A rich, heady mix of ideas and thrills.”                        Charles Yu
Augustus Rose shows that he has one of the steadiest hands in fiction … Rose has crafted something memorable, crackling with energy, a truly wonderful tale.”                     Kevin Wilson

 

 

Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes

 

Image result for Vernon Subutex by Virginie DespentesWHO IS VERNON SUBUTEX?

An urban legend. A fall from grace. The mirror who reflects us all.

 

Vernon Subutex was once the proprietor of Revolver, an infamous music shop in Bastille. His legend spread throughout Paris. But by the 2000s his shop is struggling. With his savings gone, his unemployment benefit cut, and the friend who had been covering his rent suddenly dead, Vernon Subutex finds himself down and out on the Paris streets.

 

He has one final card up his sleeve. Even as he holds out his hand to beg for the first time, a throwaway comment he once made on Facebook is taking the internet by storm. Vernon does not realise this, but the word is out: Vernon Subutex has in his possession the last filmed recordings of Alex Bleach, the famous musician and Vernon’s benefactor, who has only just died of a drug overdose. A crowd of people from record producers to online trolls and porn stars are now on Vernon’s trail.

 

 

You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann

 

Image result for You Should Have Left by Daniel KehlmannA thrilling exploration of psychological disturbance and fear from the bestselling and prize-winning author of Measuring the World.

 

On retreat in the wintry Alps with his family, a writer is optimistic about completing the sequel to his breakthrough film. Nothing to disturb him except the wind whispering around their glassy house. The perfect place to focus.

Intruding on that peace of mind, the demands of his four-year-old daughter splinter open long-simmering arguments with his wife. I love her, he writes in the notebook intended for his script. Why do we fight all the time?

Guilt and expectation strain at his concentration, and strain, too, at the walls of the house. They warp under his watch; at night, looking through the window, he sees impossible reflections on the snow outside.

Then the words start to appear in his notebook; the words he didn’t write.

Familiar and forbidding by turns, this is an electrifying experiment in form by one of Europe’s boldest writers. The ordinary struggles of a marriage transform, in Kehlmann’s hands, into a twisted fable that stays darkly in the mind.

Kehlmann is one of the brightest, most pleasure-giving writers at work today, and he manages all this while exploring matters of deep philosophical and intellectual import. (Jonathan Franzen)

Daniel Kehlmann is one of the great novelists for making giant themes seem light (Adam Thirlwell)

A well-crafted tale about one man unravelling due to forces beyond his control . . . You Should Have Left – part-horror, part-psychodrama – serves up effective shocks and thrills that keep us rapt and on the edge of our seats . . . Kehlmann brings that abyss ever closer and takes his narrator, and his reader, over the edge.”                Malcolm Forbes, National

Wry, eerie and increasingly terrifying . . . Daniel Kehlmann is certainly in complete mastery of an entertaining Everyman’s postmodernist Gothic guaranteed to unsettle.”      Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

It’s a masterclass in economical storytelling, meticulously attentive prose and imaginative agility. Kehlmann creates narrative complexity with the deftest of strokes. He’s also laugh-out-loud funny. This is both a highly readable novella and a subtly derisive challenge to readers to question the value of their own enjoyment.”              Literary Review

 

 

 

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

 

Image result for What We Lose by Zinzi ClemmonsA short, intense and profoundly moving debut novel about race, identity, sex and death

Thandi is a black woman, but often mistaken for Hispanic or Asian.

She is American, but doesn’t feel as American as some of her friends.

She is South African, but doesn’t belong in South Africa either.

Her mother is dying.

 

Zinzi Clemmons’s debut novel signals the emergence of a voice that refuses to be ignored.”                  Paul Beatty, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016

 

Navigates the many registers of grief, loss and injustice … acutely moving.”                    Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland

 

Luminescent.”           Independent

 

A lovely little headrush of a novel … if you enjoyed Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing then try this.”                      Sunday Times

 

Highly original. Zinzi Clemmons deftly explores grief, sex and identity.”               Elle

 

 

 

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist

 

Image result for In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom MalmquistThe prize-winning, bestselling tale of love, loss, family and the lives we live moment by moment, from a stunning new voice in European fiction.

Tom’s heavily pregnant girlfriend Karin is rushed to hospital with severe flu. While the doctors are able to save the baby, they are helpless in the face of what transpires to be acute leukemia, and in a moment as fleeting as it is cruel Tom gains a daughter but loses his soul-mate. In Every Moment is the story of a year that changes everything, as Tom must reconcile the fury of bereavement with the overwhelming responsibility of raising his daughter, Livia, alone.

By turns tragic and redemptive, meditative and breathless, achingly poignant and darkly funny, this heavily autobiographical novel has been described in its native Sweden as ‘hypnotic’, ‘impossible to resist’ and ‘one of the most powerful books about grief ever written’.

 

Beautiful . . . as more books are published and more stories get told, we increasingly seek out those writers who promise to give us something more than mere fiction. We want books made out of lives . . . The value of Malmquist’s book is precisely that it retains a trace of true human presence – carefully preserved by the author, but not his own.”                     Guardian

It is bound to invite comparison to Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, the autofiction sensation that has swept Norway and beyond. Both authors explore balancing fatherhood with a writing life. Both are concerned, to varying degrees, with an intentionally cultivated sense of artlessness. The prosaic stuff of life, such as family conversations, trifling arguments and ingredients for festive meals, is presented in a seemingly unfiltered manner. Perhaps more so than Knausgaard, Malmquist demonstrates over lengthy passages that he can relay life in an intense, heightened state. The result is exhilarating.”                        Financial Times

There’s a poet’s eye for small details . . . The present-day is intercut with the past, and this works well: it is arresting to have Karin alive then gone in everyday moments . . . a fine first novel.”                                 Scotsman

 

 

Non-fiction

Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi

 

Image result for Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo by Redi TlhabiIn May 2006 Jacob Zuma was found not guilty of the rape of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo – better known as Khwezi – in the Johannesburg High Court. Another nail was driven into the coffin of South Africa’s fight against sexual violence. Vilified by Zuma’s many supporters, Khwezi was forced to flee South Africa and make a life in the shadows, first in Europe and then back on the African continent.

A decade after Zuma’s acquittal, Khwezi died. But not before she had slipped back into South Africa and started work with journalist Redi Tlhabi on a book about her life. About how, as a young girl living in exile in ANC camps, she was raped by the ‘uncles’ who were supposed to protect her. About her great love for her father, Judson Kuzwayo, an ANC activist who died when Khwezi was almost ten. And about how, as a young adult, she was driven once again into exile, suffering not only at the hands of Zuma’s devotees but under the harsh eye of the media.

In sensitive and considered language, Red Tlhabi breathes life into a woman for so long forced to live in hiding. In telling the story of Khwezi, Tlhabi draws attention to the sexual abuse that abounded during the struggle years, abuse that continues to plague women and children in South Africa today.

 

 

Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World by Jacques Peretti

 

Image result for Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World by Jacques PerettiA revelatory book.”                John Lewis-Stempel.

 
What if the way we understand our world is wrong? What if it isn’t politicians and events that shape our lives, but secret deals made by people you’ve never heard of?

This book tells the story of the secret deals that are changing the world, and revolutionizing everything we do, including money, the food we eat, what we buy, and the drugs we take to stay well. These deals never make the news: they are made high up in boardrooms, on golf courses, and in luxury cars: each sealed by world-changing handshakes. This is the story of those handshakes.

 

 

 

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida

 

Image result for Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki HigashidaNaoki Higashida met international success with The Reason I Jump, a revelatory account of life as a thirteen-year-old with non-verbal autism. Now he offers an equally illuminating insight into autism from his perspective as a young adult. In concise, engaging pieces, he shares his thoughts and feelings on a broad menu of topics ranging from school experiences to family relationships, the exhilaration of travel to the difficulties of speech. Aware of how mystifying his behaviour can appear to others, Higashida describes the effect on him of such commonplace things as a sudden change of plan, or the mental steps he has to take simply to register that it’s raining. Throughout, his aim is to foster a better understanding of autism and to encourage those with disabilities to be seen as people, not as problems.

With an introduction by David Mitchell, Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight includes a dreamlike short story Higashida wrote for this edition. Both moving and of practical use, the book opens a window into the mind of an inspiring young man who meets the challenges of autism with tenacity and good humour. However often he falls down, he always gets back up.

 

Essential reading for parents and teachers who work with individuals with autism who remain non-verbal.”                 Temple Grandin

There is much to be learned from it about this mysterious condition that Higashida regards as both a blessing and a curse. The book’s single most important function is to drum into the sometimes thick heads of us neurotypical readers that people with autism experience a genuine and usually insuperable disconnection between what they want to say or do and what their brain allows them . . . we should look with gratitude through the porthole he has cleared on to a submerged world.”                           Observer

Wise and witty, it offers a second insider’s insight into the mysteries of non-verbal autism . . . The evolution of Higashida’s insights is at times almost unbearably moving . . . Ultimately, though, his self-awareness is uplifting, reminding us to take joy in life’s simple pleasures . . . sage and subtle . . . [a work] of illuminating beauty.”                    Financial Times

Higashida’s books belong in the small but intense canon of “locked-in” memoirs, such as Awakenings or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly . . . Higashida reveals himself to be far more conflicted than before. The titles show how much the years have changed him. The Reason I Jump had joy shimmering through it.”                   The Times

“The Reason I Jump was a game-changer . . . This follow-up may not have the same surprise value, but it does something just as inspiring: it shows us how, with a little luck, plenty of support and a huge amount of determination, a “neuro-atypical” person can forge a happy and fulfilled path into adulthood . . . Higashida’s observations across a whole range of topics are moving and thought-provoking.”                          Guardian

 

 

Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia by Michael Vatikiotis

 

Image result for Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia by Michael VatikiotisA lively and learned guide to the politics, personalities and conflicts that are shaping a dynamic group of countries.”                   Financial Times
A fascinating and many-layered portrait of Southeast Asia.”                      Thant Myint-U

 

Thought-provoking and eye-opening, Blood and Silk is an accessible, personal look at modern Southeast Asia, written by one of the region’s most experienced outside observers. This is a first-hand account of what it’s like to sit at the table with deadly Thai Muslim insurgents, mediate between warring clans in the Southern Philippines and console the victims of political violence in Indonesia – all in an effort to negotiate peace, and understand the reasons behind endemic violence.

Peering beyond brand new shopping malls and shiny glass towers in Bangkok and Jakarta, Michael Vatikiotis probes the heart of modern Southeast Asia. Why are the region’s richest countries such as Malaysia riddled with corruption? Why do Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines harbour unresolved violent insurgencies? How do deepening religious divisions in Indonesia and Malaysia and China’s growing influence affect the region and the rest of the world?

Vatikiotis tells the story of modern Southeast Asia using vivid portraits of the personalities who pull the strings, mixed with revealing analysis that is underpinned by decades of experience in the countries involved, from their silk-sheathed salons to blood-spattered streets. The result is a fascinating study of the dynamics of power and conflict in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.

 

Vatikiotis’s arguments are fluent and convincing, and his writing is suffused with a deep knowledge of and affection for Southeast Asia and its peoples.”                        Literary Review

 

Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World by John Man

 

Image result for Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World by John ManSince the time of the ancient Greeks we have been fascinated by accounts of the Amazons, an elusive tribe of hard-fighting, horse-riding female warriors. Equal to men in battle, legends claimed they cut off their right breasts to improve their archery skills and routinely killed their male children to purify their ranks.

For centuries people believed in their existence and attempted to trace their origins. Artists and poets celebrated their battles and wrote of Amazonia. Spanish explorers, carrying these tales to South America, thought they lived in the forests of the world’s greatest river, and named it after them.

In the absence of evidence, we eventually reasoned away their existence, concluding that these powerful, sexually liberated female soldiers must have been the fantastical invention of Greek myth and storytelling. Until now.

Following decades of new research and a series of groundbreaking archeological discoveries, we now know these powerful warrior queens did indeed exist. In Amazons, John Man travels to the grasslands of Central Asia, from the edge of the ancient Greek world to the borderlands of China, to discover the truth about the warrior women mythologized as Amazons.

In this deeply researched, sweeping historical epic, Man redefines our understanding of the Amazons and their culture, tracking the ancient legend into the modern world and examining its significance today.

 

Tremendously entertaining.”                                    The Times

Man, the enthusiastic historian of Asia, dissect the Amazons with sharp scalpel. Vivid and personal.”                  Spectator

Entertaining, fascinating, intriguing. However they are portrayed, the Amazons appear to have enduring appeal.”                                      Literary Review

 

 

St Petersburg by Jonathan Miles

 

Image result for St Petersburg by Jonathan MilesThis extraordinary book brings to life an astonishing place. Beautiful prose renders brutality vivid.”                   The Times – Book of the Week

From Peter the Great to Putin, this is the unforgettable story of St Petersburg – one of the most magical, menacing and influential cities in the world.

St Petersburg has always felt like an impossible metropolis, risen from the freezing mists and flooded marshland of the River Neva on the western edge of Russia. It was a new capital in an old country. Established in 1703 by the sheer will of its charismatic founder, the homicidal megalomaniac Peter-the-Great, its dazzling yet unhinged reputation was quickly fashioned by the sadistic dominion of its early rulers.

This city, in its successive incarnations – St Petersburg; Petrograd; Leningrad and, once again, St Petersburg – has always been a place of perpetual contradiction. It was a window on to Europe and the Enlightenment, but so much of the glory of Russia was created here: its literature, music, dance and, for a time, its political vision. It gave birth to the artistic genius of Pushkin and Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, Pavlova and Nureyev. Yet, for all its glittering palaces, fairytale balls and enchanting gardens, the blood of thousands has been spilt on its snow-filled streets. It has been a hotbed of war and revolution, a place of siege and starvation, and the crucible for Lenin and Stalin’s power-hungry brutality.

In St Petersburg, Jonathan Miles recreates the drama of three hundred years in this absurd and brilliant city, bringing us up to the present day, when – once more – its fate hangs in the balance. This is an epic tale of murder, massacre and madness played out against squalor and splendour. It is an unforgettable portrait of a city and its people.

 

So fluent, so textured is Jonathan Miles’s ease with prose and argument that his vivid dissection of 300 years of St Petersburg’s history should be devoured in captive sittings… Investigating the artistic life of St Petersburg, he also explores the melodrama and blood on the streets and the effects of continuing political disarray and corruption on ordinary people. This is a storyteller entranced with his subject, who makes its brilliant portrayal look deliriously easy.”               Observer

“[A] lively and entertaining biography… full of sparkling storytelling and well-drawn characters… a delight.”                 Victor Sebestyen,  Sunday Times

Jonathan Miles’s cinematic telling of the 300-year history of … St Petersburg shows how the drama, the absurdity, the splendour and the squalor of the imperial capital all found their way into Russia’s finest s, operas and paintings… Miles peels back the layers of myth in which the city is swaddled, while never losing sight of its haunting grace.”                     Guardian

 

 

Black Hand by Stephan Talty

 

Image result for Black Hand by Stephen TaltyBeginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering tabloid press and heated ethnic tensions to the boiling point.

Standing between the American public and the Black Hand’s lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed the “Italian Sherlock Holmes,” he was a famously dogged and ingenious detective, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand’s activities spread far beyond New York’s borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the country’s anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. Petrosino’s quest to root out the source of the Black Hand’s power would take him all the way to Sicily—but at a terrible cost.

Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.

 

What a terrific read! Through incredible historical research and a detective’s eye for the telling detail, Stephan Talty chronicles Joseph Petrosino’s dogged pursuit of cold-blooded extortionists and killers. It’s a story about immigration, urban life, and the struggle of law enforcement to confront the terror spread by a start-up criminal underworld at the turn of the 20th century”              Dick Lehr, author of the New York Times bestseller Black Mass

 

 

The Crack in Creation: The New Power to Control Creation by Jennifer Doudna

 

Image result for The Crack in Creation: The New Power to Control Creation by Jennifer DoudnaJennifer Doudna, the world-famous scientist behind CRISPR, ‘one of the most monumental discoveries in biology’ (New York Times), describes its power to reshape the future of all life and warns of its use.

A handful of discoveries have changed the course of human history. This book is about the most recent and potentially the most powerful and dangerous of them all.

It is an invention that allows us to rewrite the genetic code that shapes and controls all living beings with astonishing accuracy and ease. Thanks to it, the dreams of genetic manipulation have become a stark reality: the power to cure disease and alleviate suffering, to create new sources of food and energy, as well as to re-design any species, including humans, for our own ends.

Jennifer Doudna is the co-inventor of this technology, known as CRISPR, and a scientist of worldwide renown. Writing with fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, here she provides the definitive account of her discovery, explaining how this wondrous invention works and what it is capable of.

A Crack In Creation also asks us to consider what our new-found power means: how do we enjoy its unprecedented benefits while avoiding its equally unprecedented dangers? As Doudna argues, every member of our species is implicated in the answers to these questions. Somehow we must consider and act together.

The most important advance of our era. One of the pioneers of the field describes the exciting hunt for the key breakthrough and what it portends for our future.”              Walter Isaacson

Too important … What may happen thanks to Doudna’s [discovery] is dizzying … for her, this is the future of medicine. If she’s right, then Crispr is about to make our present healthcare concerns look surprisingly trivial.”                         Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

One of the architects of this miraculous biological technique … explains the science clearly and excitingly as a kind of globalist detective story.”                   Telegraph

Probably the greatest biological breakthrough since that of Francis Crick, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin… We owe Doudna several times over – for her discovery, for her zeal to take it from the lab into the clinic, for her involvement in the ethical issues raised, for her public engagement work, and now for this book”                                    Guardian

An urgent plea from the celebrated biologist whose discovery enabled us to rewrite the code of life. The future is in our hands as never before, and this book explains the stakes like no other.”                   George Lucas

 

 

October: Story of the Russian Revolution by China Mieville

 

Image result for October: Story of the Russian Revolution by China MievilleAward-winning writer China Miéville has long been inspired by the ideals of the Russian Revolution and here, on the centenary of the revolution, he provides his own distinctive take on its history. In February 1917, in the midst of bloody war, Russia was still an autocratic monarchy: nine months later, it became the first socialist state in world history. How did this unimaginable transformation take place? How was a ravaged and backward country, swept up in a desperately unpopular war, rocked by not one but two revolutions? This is the story of the extraordinary months between those upheavals, in February and October, of the forces and individuals who made 1917 so epochal a year, of their intrigues, negotiations, conflicts and catastrophes. From familiar names like Lenin and Trotsky to their opponents Kornilov and Kerensky; from the byzantine squabbles of urban activists to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire; from the revolutionary railroad Sublime to the ciphers and static of coup by telegram; from grand sweep to forgotten detail. Historians have debated the revolution for a hundred years, its portents and possibilities: the mass of literature can be daunting. But here is a book for those new to the events, told not only in their historical import but in all their passion and drama and strangeness. Because as well as a political event of profound and ongoing consequence, Miéville reveals the Russian Revolution as a breathtaking story.

 

Even when he is orbiting somewhere in a galaxy too far away for normal human comprehension … Mieville is dazzling.”                    New York Times

This gripping account is a re-enactment of the Russian Revolution… His writing can be as passionate as that of the poets of the time: Alexander Blok, Mikhail Kuzmin, Marina Tsvetaeva, to mention some of those quoted here. Miéville’s own special effects are of a piece with them.”                 Financial Times

Elegantly constructed and unexpectedly moving.”              London Review of Books

There are delightful grace notes here over and above a brisk and perceptive narrative.”            Scotsman
This is a very fine book — in some ways, I believe, the best work that China Miéville has produced since the three thick volumes of the Bas-Lag trilogy. Indeed, October bears, in certain respects, a deeper affinity to those novels than to anything else he has published since; and it thus provides a convenient opportunity to take stock of the Miéville oeuvre to date…That [October] is an excellent work of art there is no doubt whatever.”            Los Angeles Review of Books

 

 

Streets of the World by Jeroen Swolfs

 

Image result for Streets of the World by Jeroen Swolfs200 capitals; one street each; seven years of travelling and collecting photos, stories, facts and figures about each capital. This is not just another photography book. It reveals everything that a street means to society: education, wisdom, youth, experience, happiness, stories, food, and so much more. This is the raw material of life, drawn directly from the experiences of the Dutch photographer Jeroen Swolfs.

Seeing the street as a unifying theme, he travelled in search of that one street in each place – sometimes by a harbour or a railway station – that comprised the country as a whole. Each stunning image conveys culture, colours, rituals, even the history of the city and country where he found them. Swolfs sees the street as a universal meeting place, a platform of crowds, a centre of news and gossip, a place of work, and a playground for children.

Indeed, Swolfs’s streets are a matrix for community; his photographs are published at a time when the unique insularity of local communities everywhere has never been more under threat.

 

 

 

Poetry

There are More Beautiful Things than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

 

 

Image result for There are More Beautiful Things than Beyonce by Morgan ParkerPublishers Weekly‘s Ten Best Poetry Collections of Spring

A Most Anticipated book at BuzzfeedNYLON and Bustle

One of i-D’s emerging female authors to read in 2017

Outstanding collection of poems. So much soul. So much intelligence in how Parker folds in cultural references and the experiences of black womanhood. Every poem will get its hooks into you. And of course, the poems about Beyoncé are the greatest because Beyoncé is our queen.”  Roxane Gay
The only thing more beautiful than Beyoncé is God, and God is a black woman sipping rosé and drawing a lavender bath, texting her mom, belly-laughing in the therapist’s office, feeling unloved, being on display, daring to survive. Morgan Parker stands at the intersections of vulnerability and performance, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence. Unrelentingly feminist, tender, ruthless and sequinned, these poems are an altar to the complexities of black American womanhood in an age of non-indictments and déjà vu, and a time of wars over bodies and power. These poems celebrate and mourn. They are a chorus chanting: You’re gonna give us the love we need.
I can and have read Morgan Parker’s poems over and over . . . She writes history and pleasure and kitsch and abstraction, then vanishes like a god in about 13 inches.”                Eileen Myles

Morgan Parker has a mind like wildfire and these pages are lit. I can’t recall being this enthralled, entertained, and made alert by a book in a very long time.”        Jami Attenberg

 

“[Morgan Parker s] poems are delightful in their playful ability to rake through our contemporary moment in search of all manner of riches, just as they are devastating in their ability to remind us of what we look like when nobody’s watching, and of what the many things we don’t or can’t say add up to.”                        Tracy K. Smith

 

 

Love Her Wild by Atticus

 

Image result for Love Her Wild by AtticusFor fans of Milk & Honey and Chasers of the Light, the first collection of poetry by Instagram sensation Atticus.

Love Her Wild is a collection of new and beloved poems from Atticus, the young writer who has captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of avid followers on his Instagram account @atticuspoetry

In Love Her Wild, Atticus captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love in Paris; skinny dipping on a summer’s night; the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit; or drinking whiskey in the desert watching the rising sun.

With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flair, Atticus distils the most exhilarating highs and the heart-breaking lows of life and love into a few perfectly evocative lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind and will awaken your sense of adventure.

 

HAPPY READING!

July 2017

Monday, July 31st 2017 at 1:50 PM

Book of the Month

No is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics by Naomi Klein

 

Image result for Book of the Month No is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics by Naomi KleinAn ordinary person’s guide to hope. Read this book.”                     Arundhati Roy
As accessible as it is brilliant.”                     Owen Jones
A genuine page turner.”                   Michelle Alexander

Naomi Klein – award-winning journalist, bestselling author of No LogoThe Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, scourge of brand bullies and corporate liars – gives us the toolkit we need to survive our surreal, shocking age.

‘This is a look at how we arrived at this surreal political moment, how to keep it from getting a lot worse, and how, if we keep our heads, we can flip the script.’

 

Remember when love was supposed to trump hate? Remember when the oil companies and bankers seemed to be running scared? What the hell happened? And what can we do about it? Naomi Klein shows us how we got here, and how we can make things better.

No Is Not Enough reveals, among other things, that the disorientation we’re feeling is deliberate. That around the world, shock political tactics are being used to generate crisis after crisis, designed to force through policies that will destroy people, the environment, the economy and our security. That extremism isn’t a freak event – it’s a toxic cocktail of our times.

From how to trash the Trump megabrand to the art of reclaiming the populist argument, Naomi Klein shows all of us how we can break the spell and win the world we need. Don’t let them get away with it.

 

Who better than Naomi to make sense of this madness, and help us find a way out? A top-of-the-stack must read.”              Michael Stipe

 

Naomi Klein’s new book incites us brilliantly to interweave our No with a programmatic Yes. A manual for emancipation.”                       Yanis Varoufakis

 

Magnificent … a courageous coruscating counterspell.”                Junot Díaz

 

 

 

Fiction

Baltimore Boys by Joel Dicker

 

Image result for Fiction Baltimore Boys by Joel DickerNOVEMBER 24, 2004

 

The day of the tragedy. The end of a brotherhood.

 

The Baltimore Boys. The Goldman Gang. That was what they called Marcus Goldman and his cousins Woody and Hillel. Three brilliant young men with dazzling futures ahead of them, before their kingdom crumbled beneath the weight of lies, jealousy and betrayal. For years, Marcus has struggled with the burdens of his past, but now he must attempt to banish his demons and tell the true and astonishing story of the Baltimore Boys.

 

The stunning new novel from the author of the global bestseller, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.

 

A literary phenomenon.”                   Figaro

Veers between nostalgia for what could have been and regrets for what can never be. Captivating and beautifully conceived.”                  Elle

Really compelling. A multi-layered family saga that behaves like a thriller. “     Frankfurter Neue Presse

 

 

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert

 

Image result for A Boy in Winter by Rachel SeiffertEarly on a grey November morning in 1941, only weeks after the German invasion, a small Ukrainian town is overrun by the SS. This new novel from the award-winning author of the Booker Prize short-listed The Dark Room tells of the three days that follow and the lives that are overturned in the process.

Penned in with his fellow Jews, under threat of deportation, Ephraim anxiously awaits word of his two sons, missing since daybreak.

Come in search of her lover, to fetch him home again, away from the invaders, Yasia must confront new and harsh truths about those closest to her.

Here to avoid a war he considers criminal, German engineer Otto Pohl is faced with an even greater crime unfolding behind the lines, and no one but himself to turn to.

And in the midst of it all is Yankel, a boy determined to survive this. But to do so, he must throw in his lot with strangers.

As their stories mesh, each of Rachel Seiffert’s characters comes to know the compromises demanded by survival, the oppressive power of fear, and the possibility of courage in the face of terror.

Rich with a rare compassion and emotional depth, A Boy in Winter is a story of hope when all is lost and of mercy when the times have none.

 

The primal energy in this novel is a moral sore that will never heal … [a] fine novel.”                 John Sutherland, The Times

Seiffert’s cool tone never wavers – her spare, beautiful prose is a joy to read.”                 Helen Dunmore, The Guardian

Rachel Seiffert’s new novel A Boy in Winter stretches over only three days, through which you encounter all the emotions of the time, horror and instinct for survival, family loyalty, and above all perhaps, bravery.”                James Naughtie, BBC

Completely captures those times in a vivid, precise, captivating and terrible way.”                      Philippe Sands, author of East West Street

 

 

 

The Spoils by Brian van Reet

 

Image result for The Spoils by Brian van ReetSpoils is a harrowing and incredibly powerful debut. I read this with awe.”     Kate Atkinson

It is the spring of 2003 and coalition forces are advancing on Iraq. Images of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground in Baghdad are being beamed to news channels around the world. Nineteen-year-old Specialist Cassandra Wigheard, on her first deployment since joining the US army two years earlier, is primed for war.

For Abu al-Hool, a jihadist since the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, war is wearing thin. Two decades of fighting – and the new wave of super-radicalised fighters joining the ranks in the wake of the September 11 attacks – have left him questioning his commitment to the struggle.

When Cassandra is taken prisoner by al-Hool’s mujahideen brotherhood, both fighters will find their loyalties tested to the very limits.

This fast-paced, hard-hitting account of eight weeks in the lives of a soldier and her captor forces us to reconsider the simplistic narratives of war spun by those in power. With its privileged insight into the reality of armed combat, Spoils shines a light on the uncertainty, fear and idealism that characterised the early days of one of the most important conflicts of our time.

 

With Spoils Brian Van Reet has given readers an intensely moving novel. That it is also a nearly comprehensive examination of our modern wars is a remarkable demonstration of both the power and relevance of fiction.”               Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds

 

A superb debut.”       Guardian

 

Clear, authentic and beautifully written, Spoils is a book about war for people who don’t like books about war. Van Reet gives us a thriller that is not a thriller, but a grave and fierce description of the moral battlefield behind the headlines from Iraq.”              Anne Enright

 

 

The Softness of the Lime by Maxine Case

 

Image result for The Softness of the Lime by Maxine Case1782: In the bustling settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, traders, politicians, farmers and fortune-seekers compete for goods, land and power. It is here that Geert Baardwijk, a wealthy Dutch heir, finds himself drawn to Lena, a young slave he has inherited from his father.
Bartered and sold into slavery as a child, Lena pines for the Madagascan highlands from within the cloistered confines of her master’s townhouse. When Geert marries a woman from the upper strata of Cape society to preserve his wealth and status, he is forced to confront his own responsibilities and failings, as well as the true meaning of
love and fatherhood.
Spanning more than eighty years, Softness of the Lime tells of traditions old and emerging, at a time in the Cape when competition for ownership of everything – including people – was at its peak. Drawing on the history of her own ancestors,
Maxine Case mesmerises with this compelling story of passion and integrity, love and betrayal.

 

 

McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh

 

Image result for McGlue by Ottessa MoshfeghThey said I’ve done something wrong?… And they’ve just left me down here to starve. Haven’t had a drop in days more so…

Salem, Massachusetts, 1851: McGlue is in the hold, still too drunk to be sure of his name or situation or orientation – he may have killed a man. That man may have been his best friend. Now, McGlue wants one thing and one thing only: a drink. Because for McGlue, insufferable, terrifying memories accompany sobriety. A-sail on the high seas of literary tradition, Ottessa Moshfegh gives us an unforgettable blackguard on a knife-sharp voyage through the fogs of recollection.

 

Wonderful.”               Guardian

Strange and beautiful.”                     LA Times

A gorgeously sordid story of love and murder on the high seas and in reeky corners of mid-nineteenth-century New York and points North. McGlue is a wonderwork of virtuoso prose and truths that will make you squirm and concur.”                       Gary Lutz

You’re in safe, if sticky hands with an Ottessa Moshfegh story… Everything bulges and reeks in this novella, which feels as if it was written in a permanent state of nausea… The plot spins faster than its main character’s head. What elevates this novella are the scalpelsharp observations about McGlue’s nihilism and her prose, which is as distilled as the liquor McGlue necks. It’s a wild ride.”                        The Times

 

The Night Brother by Rosie Garland

 

Image result for The Night Brother by Rosie GarlandFrom the author of The Palace of Curiosities and Vixen comes a bold new novel exploring questions of identity, sexual equality and how well we really know ourselves. Perfect for fans of Angela Carter, Sarah Waters and Erin Morgenstern.

Rich are the delights of late nineteenth-century Manchester for young siblings Edie and Gnome. They bicker, banter, shout and scream their way through the city’s streets, embracing its charms and dangers. But as the pair grow up, it is Gnome who revels in the night-time, while Edie wakes exhausted each morning, unable to quell a sickening sense of unease, with only a dim memory of the dark hours.

Confused and frustrated at living a half-life, she decides to take control, distancing herself from Gnome once and for all. But can she ever be free from someone who knows her better than she knows herself?

A dazzling and provocative novel of adventure and belonging, The Night Brother lures us to the furthermost boundaries of sexual and gender identity. With echoes of Orlando and Jekyll & Hyde, this is a story about the vital importance of being honest with yourself. Every part of yourself. After all, no-one likes to be kept in the dark.

 

Rosie Garland writes in a tumble of poetry, desire and passion, as intriguing and delicious as the story she tells.”                         Stella Duffy

 

 

 

 

 

The French Art of War by Alexis Jenni

 

Image result for The French Art of War by Alexis JenniIt was the beginning of the Gulf War. I watched it on TV and did little else. I was doing badly, you see. Everything was going wrong. I just awaited the end. But then I met Victorien Salagnon, a veteran of the great colonial wars of Indochina, Vietnam and Algeria, a commander who had led his soldiers across the globe, a man with the blood of others up to his elbows. He said he would teach me to paint; he must have been the only painter in the French Forces, but out there no one cares about such things. I cared, though. In return, he wanted me to write his life story. And so he talked, and I wrote, and through him I witnessed the rivers of blood that cut channels through France, I saw the deaths that were as numberless as they were senseless and I began finally to understand the French art of war.

 

Winner of the Prix Goncourt

 

 

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

 

Image result for The Women of the Castle by Jessica ShattuckIn war they made impossible choices. Now can they live with them?

Moving . . . surprises and devastates.”                      New York Times
Mesmerising . . . reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”      USA Today

The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming.

Marianne von Lingenfels – widow of a resister murdered by the Nazi regime – finds refuge in the crumbling Bavarian castle where she once played host to German high society. There she fulfils her promise to find and protect the wives and children of her husband’s brave conspirators, rescuing her dearest friend’s widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family she is certain their shared pain will bind them together.

But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.

All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . .

 

This is an astonishingly powerful story…so well written and an important and absorbing story set around one of the most horrific times in history. Highly recommended.”               Books and Me

Shattuck creates three dynamic and complex characters. Completely engrossing, with unforgettable characters, The Women in the Castle is a must read.”                Historical Novel Society

 

 

Broken River by J. Robert Lennon

 

Image result for Broken River by J. Robert LennonFollowing a string of affairs, Karl and Eleanor are giving their marriage one last shot: they’re moving with their twelve-year-old daughter Irina from Brooklyn to a newly renovated, apparently charming old house near the upstate New York town of Broken River.

Before their arrival, the house stood empty for over a decade. The reason is no secret. Twelve years previously, a brutal double murder took place there, a young couple killed in front of their child. The crime was never solved, and most locals consider the house cursed.

The family may have left the deceptions of their city life behind them, but all three are still lying to each other, and to themselves. Before long the family’s duplicity will unleash forces none of them could possibly have anticipated, putting them in mortal danger.

This new novel by America’s master of literary rule-breaking is part thriller, part family drama, part Gothic horror – and like all J.Robert Lennon’s novels, it shows the consequences of human deceitfulness, and the dreadful force the past can exert on the present.

 

A tense, surprising thriller, with perverse overtones of the Coen brothers variety.”          Jonathan Lethem, New York Times

 

Compelling from the first page, and then smart, sophisticated, suspenseful and satisfying throughout – Broken River is a first-class ride.”                  Lee Child

 

Hypnotic and unsettling, Broken River weaves a dark, compelling spell.”              Mick Herron, author of Real Tigers

 

A writer with enough electricity to light up the country.”               Ann Patchett

 

“Broken River is a novel with multiple identities: it’s a ghost story, a crime story, a coming-of-age story, a story about love and family and fiction itself. What is astonishing is how well all these elements work together, how they intertwine as seamlessly as the fates of Lennon’s characters. As good as fiction gets.”                  Ben Winters

 

An intimate portrait of the violence we do to each other, about family and art and the scars of unspeakable acts. Broken River blisters and rips and ultimately soars. I loved it.”                    Lauren Beukes

 

 

The Ice by Laline Paull

 

Image result for The Ice by Laline PaullAn electrifying story of friendship, power and betrayal by the bestselling, Baileys-prize shortlisted author of The Bees.

It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.

It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections – and who was the last person to see him alive.

Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom’s need to save the world often clashed with Sean’s desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals.

But as the inquest into Tom’s death begins, the choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean’s glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment’s table.

Just how deep do the lies go?

 

A gripping, brilliantly textured climate thriller. Its timeliness is chilling. A stunning read.”          Liz Jensen, author of The Rapture

 

This is a real page turner.”                            Observer

 

The White Road by Sarah Lotz

 

Image result for The White Road by Sarah LotzAdrenaline-junky Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he’s met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he’s had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he’s faced with an impossible task: he’s got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There’s only one place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon’s luck is about to run out.

 

A terrifying tale of unparalleled danger, both physical and mental, The White Road will keep you guessing (and scared) until the very end.”                Bustle

If you’re looking for a fun, creepy, adventurous summer read, this is it!”              Book Riot

An expertly fashioned, spine-tingling account of danger, both physical and mental.”                    Booklist

Dark and unsettling . . . Lotz knows how to develop suspense and horror . . . The supernatural elements keep one engaged and guessing.”                      Kirkus Reviews

Both characters risk spooky fates on the mountain that are made all the more vivid by Lotz’s ability to get on the printed page the terrors of high climbing in the most exact language.”                  Toronto Star

 

 

Scandal by Frederik Backman

 

Image result for Scandal by Fredrik Backman‘Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger.

This is the story of how we got there.’

 

For most of the year it is under a thick blanket of snow, experiencing the kind of cold and dark that brings people closer together – or pulls them apart.

Its isolation means that Beartown has been slowly shrinking with each passing year. But now the town is on the verge of an astonishing revival. Everyone can feel the excitement. A bright new future is just around the corner.

Until the day it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who’ll risk the future to see justice done. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

With the town’s future at stake, no one can stand by or stay silent. Everyone is on one side or the other.

Which side would you be on?

 

A story about families, about friendship and loyalty, inequality, female vulnerability, male back-slapping, and parenthood … No person’s story is too little to be told, Backman includes them all. A novel with a big heart.”                Jönköpings-Posten, Sweden

“A kind of problem play that moves extremely skilfully near the melodramatic without derailing. Its originality is substantial and the book credibly conveys the dual faces of everyday life. An impressive novel, like no other.”               BTJ, Sweden

 

Belladonna by Dasa Drndic

 

Image result for Belladonna by Dasa DrndicAn excoriating work of fiction that references the twentieth century’s darkest hours.

Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In defying illness and old age, Andreas Ban is cynical and powerful, and in his unravelling of his own past and the lives of others, he uncompromisingly lays bare a gamut of taboos.

Andreas Ban stands for a true hero of our times; a castaway intellectual of a society which subdues every critical thought under the guise of political correctness. Belladonna addresses some of the twentieth century’s worst human atrocities in a powerful fusion of fiction and reality, the hallmark of one of Europe’s finest contemporary writers.

 

A very fine novel, wise and brave. Her fiction is very powerful statement fiction, and yet somehow the quality, the humanity, the playfulness actually counters the polemical intent. This is an extraordinary book.”                        Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

A pensive, provocative novel of history, memory, and our endlessly blood-soaked times by one of the foremost writers to have emerged from the former Yugoslavia . . . An elegant novel of ideas concerning decidedly inelegant topics, empathetic but unforgiving.”              Kirkus Reviews

 

 

Graphic

Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko

 

Image result for Graphic Other Russias by Victoria LomaskoFrom a renowned graphic artist and activist, an incredible portrait of life in Russia today

What does it mean to live in Russia today? What is it like to grow up in a forgotten city, to be a migrant worker or to grow old and seek solace in the Orthodox church?

For the past eight years, graphic artist and activist Victoria Lomasko has been travelling around Russia and talking to people as she draws their stories. She spent time in dying villages where schoolteachers outnumber students; she stayed with sex workers in the city of Nizhny Novgorod; she went to juvenile prisons and spoke to kids who have no contact with the outside world; and she attended every major political rally in Moscow.

The result is an extraordinary portrait of Russia in the Putin years — a country full of people who have been left behind, many of whom are determined to fight for their rights and for progress against impossible odds. Empathetic, honest, funny, and often devastating, Lomasko’s portraits show us a side of Russia that is hardly ever seen.

 

Victoria Lomasko’s gritty, street-level view of the great Russian people masterfully intertwines quiet desperation with open defiance. Her drawings have an on-the-spot immediacy that I envy. She is one of the brave ones.”                 Joe Sacco, author of Palestine

Powerful… Though Victoria Lomasko’s figures are rendered in broad, black-and-white strokes, her depictions of God-fearing old ladies, young skinheads, and striking truckers never fall into the traps of parody, contempt, or stereotype. Her focus on the daily lives of regular people offers a respite from the international fixation on Vladimir Putin — who is, after all, only one of a hundred and forty-four million Russians.”                        New Yorker

Fun: Spies, Puzzle Solvers and a Century of Riddles by Paolo Bacilieri

 

Image result for Fun: Spies, Puzzle Solvers and a Century of Riddles by Paolo BacilieriIn December 1913, the New York World newspaper published the first crossword in history. It appeared in their Sunday supplement, ‘Fun’. A century on, this absorbing puzzle continues to attract (and infuriate) millions of devotees every day. But the world’s most popular – and seemingly mundane – pastime has a surprising history, filled with intrigue and adventure. Paolo Bacilieri’s FUN transports us from turn-of-the-century New York to present day Milan, taking in stories of ingenious puzzle makers, ardent solvers and intellectual luminaries. Part detective story, part docudrama, and interlaced with a fiction of Bacilieri’s own imagining, FUN questions the crossword’s ‘harmless’ status. Sure, it’s fun – but could it also be a form of resistance, of cryptic communication, of espionage?

 

 

The Adventures of John Blake by Philip Pullman

 

Image result for The Adventures of John Blake by Philip PullmanFar out at sea, and hidden by the fog of time, sails the Mary Alice and her crew – searching for a way home. But the mysterious ship is being hunted by a villain who will go to ANY lengths to track her down …When a storm hits a small family yacht throwing a young girl overboard, John Blake dives in to save her and brings her aboard the so-called ghost ship. But trying to return her to her own time means going back to the one place where they run the greatest risk of being completely annihilated. Join Philip Pullman’s John Blake and the crew of the Mary Alice in an unforgettable time-travelling adventure on the high seas. With art by Fred Fordham.

 

 

Vintage Minis

 

Image result for Vintage Minis booksVintage Minis brings you a series of short books by the world’s greatest writers on the experiences that make us human – from birth to death and everything in between.

The new Vintage Minis series offers you a taste of Vintage authors, both classic and contemporary, on subjects as varied as swimming and desire.

Presented in a stylish pocket size design of about 100 pages, each title provides insight on various aspects of human life and a chance to appreciate the work of some of the world’s greatest writers.

Titles include

Desire by Haruki Murakami

Love by Jeanette Winterson

Motherhood by Helen Simpson

Fatherhood by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Summer by Laurie Lee

Race by Toni Morrison

Liberty by Virginia Woolf

Depression by Willian Styron

Eating by Nigella Lawson

Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley

Death by Julian Barnes….and more

 

 

Non-fiction

Koh-I-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Famous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand

 

Image result for Non-fiction Koh-I-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Famous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita AnandThe first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor, arguably the most celebrated and mythologised jewel in the world.

On 29 March 1849, the ten-year-old Maharajah of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great Fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over great swathes of the richest country in India in a formal Act of Submission to a private corporation, the East India Company. He was also compelled to hand over to the British monarch, Queen Victoria, perhaps the single most valuable object on the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light.

The history of the Koh-i-Noor that was then commissioned by the British may have been one woven together from gossip of Delhi bazaars, but it was to be become the accepted version. Only now is it finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology that has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation told through an impressive slice of south and central Asian history. It ends with the jewel in its current controversial setting: in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Masterly, powerful and erudite, this is history at its most compelling and invigorating.

 

Extraordinary. William Dalrymple and Anita Anand have found previously ignored and untranslated Persian and Afghan sources to give us fresh information                        The Times

Riveting. Dalrymple and Anand present as evocative a rendering as the most enthralling bazaar storyteller while providing an astute and empathetic study of the historical landscape through which the diamond has made its troubled way…This highly readable and entertaining book …finally sets the record straight on the history of the Koh-i-Noor.”                Sunday Times

The history of the many who have coveted the diamond is long and involved, full of wonder and awe, treachery and bloodshed.”                       Observer
Dalrymple tells this complicated story with verve and admirable brevity, drawing on a wide range of literature and memoirs. He paints a picture in which elegance and refinement are married to treachery and hideous brutality…This is a book which anyone interested in 19th century India and Indio-British relations will want to read.”              Allan Massie, Scotsman

Dalrymple and Anand bring every stage of the Koh-i-Noor’s turbulent past to life. It is an utterly fascinating story, revealing the nature of power through the history of one of its most potent symbols.”      Literary Review

 

 

Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

 

Image result for Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI by David GrannIn the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. As the death toll climbed, the FBI took up the case. But the bureau badly bungled the investigation. In desperation, its young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. Together with the Osage he and his undercover team began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

David Grann has a razor-keen instinct for suspense.”                     Louise Erdrich

 

A fascinating account of a tragic and forgotten chapter in the history of the American West. This powerful story reveals the unimaginable scale of these shocking murders almost a hundred years ago.”                John Grisham

A magnificent book – a riveting true story of greed, serial murder and racial injustice. David Grann is a terrific journalist, and this is maybe the best thing he’s ever written.”                    Jon Krakauer

If Killers of the Flower Moon were a novel, one would marvel at David Grann’s skill in constructing such a taut, driving narrative with so many stunning plot twists. But it is a true story, based on years of meticulous reporting, making the book both a fiercely entertaining mystery story and a wrenching exploration of evil.”                                   Kate Atkinson

 

 

Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld by Mark Shaw

 

Image result for Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld by Mark ShawHitmen for Hire takes the reader on a journey like no other, navigating a world of paid hitmen, informers, rogue policemen, criminal taxi bosses, gang leaders, and crooked politicians and businessmen in South Africa. Criminologist Mark Shaw examines a society in which contract killings have become commonplace, looking at who arranges hits, where to find a hitman, and even what it is like to operate as a hitman – or woman.

Since 1994, South Africa has seen a worrying increase in the commercialisation of murder – and has been rocked by several high-profile contract killings. Drawing on his research of over a thousand incidents of hired assassinations, from 2000 to 2016, Shaw reveals how these murders are used to exert a mafia-type control over the country’s legal and illegal economic activity. Contracted assassinations, and the organised criminal activity behind them, contain sinister linkages with the upperworld, most visibly in relation to disputes over tenders and access to government resources. State security actors increasingly mediate relations between the under and upper worlds, with serious implications for the long-term success of the post-apartheid democratic project.

 

 

 

The Geography of Madness by Frank Bures

 

Image result for The Geography of Madness by Frank BuresWhy do thousands of African men become convinced – despite what doctors tell them – that their penises have, simply, disappeared? Why do people across the world become convinced that they are cursed to die on a particular date – and then do? Why do people in Malaysia suddenly “run amok”?

Frank Bures investigates these and other “culture-bound” syndromes, tracing each seemingly baffling phenomenon to its source. What he uncovers along the way is a poignant story of the persistence of belief, fear, and hope across the world. Syndromes in the book include:

Koro, a.k.a. Penis Theft: The belief that one’s genitals have disappeared.
Mamhepo: A condition in which a person starts to mimic a particular animal chosen for him or her by a witch.
Ode Ori: The belief that an organism is crawling through one’s head, leading to intense dizziness and vision loss.
Running Amok: A phenomenon in which, after a period of brooding, an afflicted individual suddenly starts to randomly attack groups of people or objects.

 

Frank Bures has some of the widest (and wildest) curiosities of any writer out there. This is a man who truly wants to know the world, in all its strange and beautiful variations. He is fearless in his reporting, generous in his spirit, and brilliant in his prose. I would follow him anywhere. ” –              Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

It would be easy just to gawk at the strangeness of these syndromes, or to dismiss them as unscientific or psychosomatic. Bures doesn’t do that. He carefully considers the relationships between culture, health, the mind, and the body, which can lead people to experience seemingly impossible things. ”                         Atlantic 

The premise for The Geography of Madness is so irresistible you are left wondering why you never thought of it yourself. It is a travel book with a quest. ”                  New Scientist

In The Geography Of Madness, journalist Frank Bures shows that what such culture-bound syndromes demonstrate is the astonishing power of culture and belief on all of us. ”               Guardian

 

The Fear & the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us by Keith Lowe

 

Image result for The Fear & the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us by Keith LoweThe Second World War was one of the most catastrophic events in human history. But how did the experience and memory of bloodshed affect our relationships with each other and the world?

The new order, as it emerged after 1945, saw the end of European empires and the birth of two new superpowers, whose wrangling would lead to a new, global Cold War. Scientists delivered new technologies, architects planned buildings to rise from the rubble, politicians fantasized about overhauled societies, people changed their nationalities and dreamed of new lives.

As well as analysing the major changes, The Fear and the Freedom uses the stores of how ordinary people coped with the post-war world and turned one of the greatest traumas in history into an opportunity for change. This is the definitive exploration of the aftermath of WWII – and the impact it still has today on our nations, cities and families.

 

Richly-documented and wide-ranging . . . I wish schools would use books like this to introduce pupils to the complexity of the problems that face them.”                        Theodore Zeldin

Provocative, insightful and at times profoundly moving . . . I hope everyone – and our politicians especially – will read it and learn its vitally important lessons.”                     James Holland

A masterpiece of historical inquiry: painstakingly researched, cleverly constructed and elegantly written. In surveying such a diverse panorama, Lowe displays a sensitivity to the human condition – how we got to where we are now – that is as unusual as it is welcome.”                      Saul David, Daily Telegraph

The Fear and The Freedom is a deft blend of historical research, moving interviews, and challenging psychological insights. Lowe writes with elegance and perception. A truly illuminating read.”                  Jonathan Dimbleby

Keith Lowe has written an eloquent meditation on the aftermath and the long psychological tentacles of the Second World War. Beautifully written and profoundly perceptive, The Fear and the Freedom confirms Lowe as one of our finest historians.”              Antony Beevor

This powerful book serves as a timely reminder of what our forefathers forged out of the ashes of the Second World War – an international order based on cooperation and interdependence together with a bold, fearless domestic agenda that set about creating a new society.”                 David Lammy

Lowe’s book is a compelling work of historical scholarship – but, more than that, it is an intimate portrait of how human beings carry on when their world has changed for ever.”                John Gray, New Statesman

 

 

The People’s War: Reflections of an ANC Cadre by Charles Nqakula

 

Image result for The People’s War: Reflections of an ANC Cadre by Charles NqakulaA great deal of the revolutionary work that Charles Nqakula undertook as an ANC underground cadre and combatant of Umkhonto we Sizwe was in the Eastern Cape. This book is a well-documented and detailed recollection of those difficult and dangerous times when detention, imprisonment, torture, and even death were always imminent .It required massive courage and heroism to be part of that array of outstanding leaders and cadres of the revolutionary movements. This book is noteworthy because Charles remembers, gives due credit, and attaches names to the many comrades who participated in that heroic struggle with him and Nosiviwe.

The People’s War describes the work undertaken by Charles and Nosiviwe in the ANC underground and MK units in a dispassionate manner without any self-praise or grandstanding.  He recounts his work as a mediator in the conflicts in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mauritania, the pain and anguish at the tragic murder of their son, Chumani Siyavuya, and comments on the debilitating challenges of factionalism, election slates, and corruption degrading the integrity, unity, reputation, values, and electoral support of the ANC.

 

 

 

Fate of the Nation: 3 Scenarios for South Africa’s Future by Jakkie Cilliers

 

Image result for Fate of the Nation: 3 Scenarios for South Africa’s Future by Jakkie CilliersWhat does our future hold? In these uncertain times, this is the question on many South Africans’ lips. Will we become more prosperous and less divided as a nation or remain hugely unequal and generally poor? Will the ANC split or eventually be forced into an alliance with the EFF after 2019? Could the DA rule the country after the 2024 elections?

In Fate of the Nation Jakkie Cilliers develops three scenarios for our immediate future and beyond: Bafana Bafana, Nation Divided and Mandela Magic.

Cilliers says the ANC is currently paralysed by the power struggle between what he calls the Traditionalists and the Reformers. It is this power struggle that has led to the inept leadership, policy confusion and poor service delivery that has plagued the country in recent years.

Key to which scenario could become our reality is who will be elected to the ANC’s top leadership at the party’s national conference in December 2017. Whichever group wins there will determine what our future looks like. This is a book for all concerned South Africans.

 

 

Queer City: Gay London from Romans to the Present Day by Peter Ackroyd

 

Image result for Queer City: Gay London from Romans to the Present Day by Peter AckroydIn Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay population.

In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure.

Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS.

Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.

After his mammoth, shamanic aria London: the Biography, the remarkable writer Peter Ackroyd has produced a nimble, uproarious pocket history of sex in his beloved metropolis.”                       Independent

Droll, provocative and crammed to busting with startling facts.”               Simon Callow, Guardian

This gallop through the pink past […] tells a torrid tale of persecution and pleasure, of blackmail and blue murder”                      Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard

 

 

 

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered by Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

Image result for Have Black Lives Ever Mattered by Mumia Abu-JamalIn December 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was shot and beaten into unconsciousness by Philadelphia police. He awoke to find himself shackled to a hospital bed, accused of killing a cop. He was convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that Amnesty International has denounced as failing to meet the minimum standards of judicial fairness.

 

In Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States. This collection of his radio commentaries on the topic features an in-depth essay written especially for this book to examine the history of policing in America, with its origins in the white slave patrols of the antebellum South and an explicit mission to terrorize the country’s black population. Applying a personal, historical, and political lens, Mumia provides a righteously angry and calmly principled radical black perspective on how racist violence is tearing our country apart and what must be done to turn things around.

 

I was fortunate to grow up in a community in which it was apparent that our lives mattered. This memory is the antidote to the despair that seizes one of my generation when we hear the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ We want to shout: Of course they do! To you, especially. In this brilliant, painful, factual and useful book, we see to whom our lives have not mattered: the profit driven Euro-Americans who enslaved and worked our ancestors to death within a few years, then murdered them and bought replacements. Many of these ancestors are buried beneath Wall Street. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s painstaking courage, truth-telling, and disinterest in avoiding the reality of American racial life is, as always, honorable.”               Alice Walker

 

Mumia Abu Jamal’s clarion call for justice and defiance of state oppression has never dimmed, despite his decades of being shackled and caged. He is one of our nation’s most valiant revolutionaries and courageous intellectuals.”              Chris Hedges, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt

 

This collection of short meditations, written from a prison cell, captures the past two decades of police violence that gave rise to Black Lives Matter while digging deeply into the history of the United States. This is the book we need right now to find our bearings in the chaos.”                Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

 

“[Mumia’s] writings are a wake-up call. He is a voice from our prophetic tradition, speaking to us here, now, lovingly, urgently.”                  Cornel West

 

 

Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us by CN Lester

 

Image result for Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us by CN LesterWhat does it mean to be transgender?

How do we discuss the subject?

In this eye-opening book, CN Lester, academic and activist, takes us on a journey through some of the most pressing issues concerning the trans debate: from pronouns to Caitlyn Jenner; from feminist and LGBTQ activists, to the rise in referrals for gender variant children – all by way of insightful and moving passages about the author’s own experience. Trans Like Me shows us how to strive for authenticity in a world which often seeks to limit us by way of labels.

 

This personal, powerful and yet humble human testimony makes a vital contribution to a debate that has too often contained more heat than light. I challenge anyone not to have both heart and mind a little more open after reading this book (Shami Chakrabarti)

CN Lester breaks down the myths and misconceptions about trans people and politics with clarity and calm. An important, timely book.”                    Juliet Jacques

Lester is a writer for our times – a moving, learned and essential voice at the razor edge of gender politics. Their work has been inspirational to me for many years. Lester writes with the compassionate authority of a person not just wise beyond their years, but beyond the age they were born into.”                  Laurie Penny

 

 

Between Them: Remembering My Parents by Richard Ford

 

Image result for Between Them: Remembering My Parents by Richard FordFrom the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sportswriter comes a deeply personal account of his parents – an intimate portrait of American mid-twentieth century life, and a celebration of family love

Richard Ford’s parents volunteered little about their early lives – and he rarely asked. Later, he pieced their stories together from anecdote, history and the occasional photograph, frozen moments linking him to another time.

Edna Akin, a dark-eyed Arkansas beauty whose convent education was cut short by her itinerant parents, fell in love aged only seventeen. Parker Ford was a tall country boy with a warm, hesitant smile, who was working at a grocery in Hot Springs. They married and began a life on the road in the American South, as Parker followed his travelling salesman’s job. The 1930s were like one long weekend, a swirl of miles traversed, cocktails drunk and hotel rooms vacated: New Orleans, Memphis, Texarkana. Then a single, late child was born, changing everything.

In this book, Richard Ford evokes a vivid panorama of mid-twentieth century America, and an intimate portrait of family life. Exploring children’s changing perception of their parents, he also reflects on the impact of loss and devotion. Written with the intelligence, precision and humanity for which Ford is renowned, Between Them is both a son’s great act of love and a redeeming meditation on family.

 

An extraordinary piece of writing … The act of writing those loves, has been if anything, Ford suggests, less poignant for him than a “source of immense exhilaration”. His readers, those with parents, and those without them, will feel that too.”                    Observer

Full of gentle humour and a sense of lives lived well … His great affection for his parents is everywhere evident … In this superbly written account, Ford pieces together fragments of their lives, and brings them wonderfully to life.”                Sunday Times

Stylish, elegiac and funny . A marvellous writer.”               John Banville

The enjoyment of reading Richard Ford is about the exquisite pleasure of acquisition of language . The harder you look, the sadder and funnier it gets.”             Observer

 

Outside the Asylum: A Memoir of War, Disaster and Humanitarian Psychiatry by Lynne Jones

 

Image result for Outside the Asylum: A Memoir of War, Disaster and Humanitarian Psychiatry by Lynne JonesWhat happens if the psychiatric hospital in which you have lived for ten years is bombed and all the staff run away? What is it like to be a twelve-year-old and see all your family killed in front of you? Is it true that almost everyone caught up in a disaster is likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? What can mental health professionals do to help? How does one stay neutral and impartial in the face of genocide? Why would a doctor support military intervention?

Outside the Asylum is Lynne Jones’s personal exploration of humanitarian psychiatry and the changing world of international relief; a memoir of more than twenty-five years as a practising psychiatrist in war and disaster zones around the world. From her training in one of Britain’s last asylums, to treating traumatised soldiers in Gorazde after the Bosnian war, helping families who lost everything in the earthquake in Haiti, and learning from traditional healers in Sierra Leone, Lynne has worked with extraordinary people in extraordinary situations. This is a book that shines a light on the world of humanitarian aid, and that shows us the courage and resilience of the people who have to live, work and love in some of the most frightening situations in the world.

 

As revealing as the writing of Oliver Sacks. Outside the Asylum joins the dots of mental health and conflict of the last four decades, resulting in a moving frontline account of geographical and mental borders. Jones’s quest is lucid and questioning. She introduces us to a gallery of astonishing and brave people, and her work has surely made the world a better place. Inspiring.”                Mark Cousins

This is essential reading for those training in mental health, to consider the broader picture of the causes of mental illness that one may not see in the routine hospital clinic. An outstanding piece of work.”                        Professor Simon Baron-Cohen

Her blazingly frank account is as enlightening on shifts in psychiatric treatment as it is on local implications of humanitarian-aid policy. Brilliantly insightful.”                     Nature

 

 

 

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

 

Image result for The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward LuceRead this book: in the three hours it takes you will get a new, bracing and brilliant understanding of the dangers we in the democratic West now face. Luce is one of the smartest journalists working today, and his perceptions are priceless.”                   Jane Mayer, staff writer on the New Yorker
In his widely acclaimed book Time to Start ThinkingFinancial Times columnist and commentator Edward Luce charted the course of American economic and geopolitical decline, proving to be a prescient voice on our current social and political turmoil.

In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of western hegemony and the crisis of democratic liberalism – of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a symptom. Luce argues that we are on a menacing trajectory brought about by ignorance of what it took to build the West, arrogance towards society’s losers, and complacency about our system’s durability – attitudes that have been emerging since the fall of the Berlin Wall, treated by the West as an absolute triumph over the East. We cannot move forward without a clear diagnosis of what has gone wrong. Luce contrasts Western democratic and economic ideals, which rest on an assumption of linear progress, with more cyclical views of economic strength – symbolized by the nineteenth-century fall and present-day rise of the Chinese and Indian economies – and with the dawn of a new multipolar age.

Combining on-the-ground reporting with intelligent synthesis of the vast literature already available, Luce offers a detailed projection of the consequences of the Trump administration and a forward-thinking analysis of what those who believe in enlightenment values must do to defend them from the multiple onslaughts they face in the coming years.

 

Luce is at his best writing about America, on which his knowledge is voluminous . . . his writing has a vigour and sweep all too absent in the deadly prose of social scientists; and he has identified a fundamental question facing democracies.”             Financial Times
No one was more prescient about the economic malaise and popular resentment that has hit the United States than Ed Luce in his previous book, Time to Start Thinking. His new book, Retreat of Western Liberalism, broadens that picture to cover the Western world. It is a must read for anyone trying to make sense of the waves of populism and nationalism we face today.”                            Liaquat Ahamed

 

 

What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge by Marcus du Sautoy

 

Image result for What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge by Marcus du SautoyBrilliant and fascinating. No one is better at making the recondite accessible and exciting.”       Bill Bryson.

 

Britain’s most famous mathematician takes us to the edge of knowledge to show us what we cannot know.

 

Is the universe infinite?

Do we know what happened before the Big Bang?

Where is human consciousness located in the brain?

And are there more undiscovered particles out there, beyond the Higgs boson?

In the modern world, science is king: weekly headlines proclaim the latest scientific breakthroughs and numerous mathematical problems, once indecipherable, have now been solved. But are there limits to what we can discover about our physical universe?

In this very personal journey to the edges of knowledge, Marcus du Sautoy investigates how leading experts in fields from quantum physics and cosmology, to sensory perception and neuroscience, have articulated the current lie of the land. In doing so, he travels to the very boundaries of understanding, questioning contradictory stories and consulting cutting edge data.

Is it possible that we will one day know everything? Or are there fields of research that will always lie beyond the bounds of human comprehension? And if so, how do we cope with living in a universe where there are things that will forever transcend our understanding?

In What We Cannot Know, Marcus du Sautoy leads us on a thought-provoking expedition to the furthest reaches of modern science. Prepare to be taken to the edge of knowledge to find out if there’s anything we truly cannot know.

 

I felt I was being carried off on a wonderful journey, a thrilling research expedition to the teasing and mysterious boundaries of scientific knowledge, and I never wanted to turn back. Du Sautoy is a masterful and friendly guide to these remotest regions … It is absolutely fascinating throughout, and I really loved it.”                 Richard Holmes

 

I admire and envy the clarity and authority with which Marcus du Sautoy addresses a range of profound issues. His book deserves a wide readership.”                      Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

 

 

War: An Enquiry by AC Grayling

 

Image result for War: An Enquiry by AC GraylingA renowned philosopher challenges long-held views on just wars, ethical conduct during war, why wars occur, how they alter people and societies, and more

For residents of the twenty-first century, a vision of a future without warfare is almost inconceivable. Though wars are terrible and destructive, they also seem unavoidable. In this original and deeply considered book, A. C. Grayling examines, tests, and challenges the concept of war. He proposes that a deeper, more accurate understanding of war may enable us to reduce its frequency, mitigate its horrors, and lessen the burden of its consequences.

Grayling explores the long, tragic history of war and how warfare has changed in response to technological advances. He probes much-debated theories concerning the causes of war and considers positive changes that may result from war. How might these results be achieved without violence? In a profoundly wise conclusion, the author envisions “just war theory” in new moral terms, taking into account the lessons of World War II and the Holocaust and laying down ethical principles for going to war and for conduct during war.

 

A brisk and sweeping survey… It is written under the shadow of the extreme mechanisation of war-fighting and the ethical conundrums this poses. Grayling speaks primarily to the citizen, not the solider, and his strength is in his conceptual clarity.”                 Mark Mazower, Financial Times
Exceptionally incisive on war and peace . . . As a former professional soldier, and no stranger to conflict, I regret not having had access to [War] when it mattered.”              Milos Stankovic, Spectator

 

 

Dis-Eases of Secrecy: Tracing History, Memory and Justice by Brian Rappert and Chandre Gould

 

Image result for Dis-Eases of Secrecy: Tracing History, Memory and Justice by Brian Rappert and Chandre GouldDis-eases demonstrates how oppressive pasts can be engaged imaginatively rather than didactically. It is a seminal work for anyone committed to making ‘post-apartheid’ meaningful.”       Verne Harris, Director: Archive and Dialogue, Nelson Mandela Foundation

Between 1981 and 1995, a top-secret chemical and biological warfare programme titled Project Coast was established and maintained by South Africa’s apartheid government. Under the leadership of Wouter Basson, Project Coast scientists were involved in a number of dubious activities, including the mass production of ecstasy, the development of covert assassination weapons and the manufacture of chemical poisons designed to be undetectable post-mortem.

Dis-eases of Secrecy is a retrospective analysis of Project Coast and shows how South African governments (past and present) have chosen to deal with the issues of biochemical weapons and warfare. It investigates possibilities for understanding the world of politics by examining how Project Coast has been remembered – and, in some instances, forgotten – by African and international governments. Through their first-hand involvement in the investigation spanning over 20 years, the authors examine how the continuing silences, impunities and stories surrounding Project Coast are still relevant for political accountability today. Readers will engage with how what is hidden reveals, and what is revealed hides.

In this cleverly constructed book, readers are able to choose their own journey through the story. By taking on the role of investigator, readers are faced with the complexities of transitional justice, reconciliation and scientist developments that might give them a different view of South African politics in an ever-changing world order.

 

Happy reading!

 

June 2017

Wednesday, June 21st 2017 at 11:20 AM

Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

 

Image result for Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

Intricate and crisp, witty and solemn: a book with special and dangerous properties.”               Hilary Mantel

Baroque, Byzantine and beautiful – not to mention bold.”         M.R. Carey

Rotherweird is twisted, arcane murder-mystery with shades of Deborah Harkness, Hope Mirrlees and Ben Aaronovitch, Mervyn Peake and Edward Gorey at their disturbing best.

The town of Rotherweird stands alone – there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird’s independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

For beneath the enchanting surface lurks a secret so dark that it must never be rediscovered, still less reused.

But secrets have a way of leaking out.

Two inquisitive outsiders have arrived: Jonah Oblong, to teach modern history at Rotherweird School (nothing local and nothing before 1800), and the sinister billionaire Sir Veronal Slickstone, who has somehow got permission to renovate the town’s long-derelict Manor House.

Slickstone and Oblong, though driven by conflicting motives, both strive to connect past and present, until they and their allies are drawn into a race against time – and each other. The consequences will be lethal and apocalyptic.

 

Welcome to Rotherweird!

 

 

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

 

Image result for You Don’t Know Me by Imran MahmoodIt’s easy to judge between right and wrong – isn’t it?

Not until you hear a convincing truth.

Now it’s up to you to decide…
An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.

He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters:

 

Did he do it?
An original take on a courtroom drama that puts the reader in the position of the jury. Superb character-driven fiction…A rollercoaster ride…Masterful.”                      Guardian

 

An exciting first novel, highly original, cleverly plotted and convincingly written.”                         Literary Review

 

“You Don’t Know Me is a brave debut by a barrister… an impressively original courtroom drama.”                     The Times

 

A daring concept executed to perfection, a hypnotic and authentic voice, and questions for us to answer as people and readers.”                      Lee Child

 

An eye-opening, slick and compulsive thriller with an important message and unique writing.”                        Adam Deacon, actor, writer, rapper, director – star of Kidulthood and Adulthood

 

 

 

Dead Writers in Rehab by Paul Bassett Davies

 

Image result for Dead Writers in Rehab by Paul Bassett DaviesWhen literary reprobate Foster James wakes up in a strange country house, he assumes he’s been consigned to rehab (yet again) by his dwindling band of friends and growing collection of ex-wives.

But he soon realises there’s something a bit different about this place after he gets punched in the face by Ernest Hemingway.

Is Foster dead? Has his less-than-saintly existence finally caught up with him? After an acrimonious group therapy session with Hunter S Thompson, Colette, William Burroughs, and Coleridge, it seems pretty likely. But he still feels alive, especially after an up-close and personal one-on-one session with Dorothy Parker.

When he discovers that the two enigmatic doctors who run the institution are being torn apart by a thwarted love affair, he and the other writers must work together to save something that, for once, is bigger than their own gigantic egos.

This is a love story. It’s for anyone who loves writing and writers. It’s also a story about the strange and terrible love affair between creativity and addiction, told by a charming, selfish bastard who finally confronts his demons in a place that’s part Priory, part Purgatory, and where the wildest fiction can tell the soberest truth.

 

It is dark, dirty, grim and confusing – in a very good way. It’s also warm, humane, funny and mischievous, and all the pages are in the right order.”                 Jeremy Hardy

 

 

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet

 

Image result for The 7th Function of Language by Laurent BinetOne of the funniest, most riotously inventive and enjoyable novels you’ll read this year.”                      Observer

Roland Barthes is knocked down in a Paris street by a laundry van. It’s February 1980 and he has just come from lunch with Francois Mitterrand, a slippery politician locked in a battle for the Presidency. Barthes dies soon afterwards. History tells us it was an accident.

But what if it were an assassination? What if Barthes was carrying a document of unbelievable, global importance? A document explaining the seventh function of language – an idea so powerful it gives whoever masters it the ability to convince anyone, in any situation, to do anything.

Police Captain Jacques Bayard and his reluctant accomplice Simon Herzog set off on a chase that takes them from the corridors of power and academia to backstreet saunas and midnight rendezvous. What they discover is a worldwide conspiracy involving the President, murderous Bulgarians and a secret international debating society.

In the world of intellectuals and politicians, everyone is a suspect. Who can you trust when the idea of truth itself is at stake?

 

Establishes Laurent Binet as the clear heir to the late Umberto Eco, writing novels that are both brilliant and playful, dense with ideas while never losing sight of their need to entertain.”                      Alex Preston, Observer

A playful conspiracy thriller.”              Guardian, 2017 Books of the Year

Lively, earthy, experimental, ambitious, clever and endlessly entertaining… The recondite world of literary and linguistic theory collides delightfully with the pulsating one of desperate car chases, Bulgarian heavies brandishing poisoned umbrellas, and international espionage… Smart, witty, direct, cool.”                        Times Literary Supplement

Disgustingly talented… It is a hugely entertaining novel, taking delight in its own twists and turns.”                       Nicholas Lezard, Spectator

Incredibly timely … very entertaining, like a dirty Midnight in Paris for the po-mo set.”             Lauren Elkin, Guardian

An almost filmic detective romp, taking in glamorous international locations, killer dogs, Bulgarian secret agents, several varieties of sex and wild car chases.”                        Andrew Hussey, Literary Review

 

The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi

 

Image result for The Nothing by Hanif KureishiOne night, when I am old, sick, right out of semen, and don’t need things to get any worse, I hear the noises growing louder. I am sure they are making love in Zenab’s bedroom which is next to mine.

 

Waldo, a fêted filmmaker, is confined by old age and ill health to his London apartment. Frail and frustrated, he is cared for by his lovely younger wife, Zee. But when he suspects that Zee is beginning an affair with Eddie, ‘more than an acquaintance and less than a friend for over thirty years,’ Waldo is pressed to action: determined to expose the couple, he sets himself first to prove his suspicions correct – and then to enact his revenge.

 

Written with characteristic black humour and with an acute eye for detail, Kureishi’s eagerly awaited novella will have his readers dazzled once again by a brilliant mind at work.

 

Hanif Kureishi’s short, sharp tale of revenge is diabolical fun.”                         The Times
Hanif Kureishi delivers a monstrous three-hander in this novel of a frail film director.”               GQ Magazine

A punchy, disturbing fable.”                Alex Clark, Guardian

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

 

Image result for Anything is Possible by Elizabeth StroutAn unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss from the No. 1 New York Times bestselling and Man Booker long-listed author of My Name is Lucy Barton

Anything is Possible tells the story of the inhabitants of rural, dusty Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer who finally returns, after seventeen years of absence, to visit the siblings she left behind.

Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors.

 

It’s hard to believe that a year after the astonishing My Name Is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout could bring us another book that is by every measure its equal, but what Strout proves to us again and again is that where she’s concerned, anything is possible. This book, this writer, are magnificent.”                      Ann Patchett
This is a shimmering masterpiece of a book…Strout is a brilliant chronicler of the ambiguity and delicacy of the human condition. Anything is Possible is a wise, stunning novel.”                 Observer

The words appear on the page as if breathed there.”                 Sunday Telegraph

Strout’s compassion for her fellow creatures, as these anguished, lean stories prove, is as keen as a whip and all the more painful for it.”

Guardian

Anything is Possible is absolutely wonderful. Here is a writer at the peak of her powers: compassionate, profoundly observant, laser-cut diamond brilliant.”               Literary Review

 

House of Names by Colm Tóibín

 

Image result for House of Names by Colm TóibínThey cut her hair before they dragged her to the place of sacrifice. Her mouth was gagged to stop her cursing her father, her cowardly, two-tongued father. Nonetheless, they heard her muffled screams.

 

On the day of his daughter’s wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice.

His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory.

Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family – mother, brother, sister – on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace’s dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family’s game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act.

House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers.

 

 

Part of Tóibín’s success comes down to the power of his writing: an almost unfaultable combination of artful restraint and wonderfully observed detail . . . Unforgettable.”                     New York Times

A gorgeous stylist, Tóibín captures the subtle flutterings of consciousness better than any writer alive . . . Never before has Tóibín demonstrated such range, not just in tone but in action. He creates the arresting, hushed scenes for which he’s so well known just as effectively as he whips up murders that compete, pint for spilled pint, with those immortal Greek playwrights.”             Washington Post

If there is a more brilliant writer than Tóibín working today, I don’t know who that would be.”                        Karen Joy Fowler

 

The Swimming Lesson & Other Stories by Kobus Moolman

 

Image result for The Swimming Lesson & Other Stories by Kobus MoolmanWritten in a range of styles, voices and genres, each of these ten stories offers original insights into the difficulties of staying afloat. Whether the challenge is being differently abled (with all the outsider isolation this brings); lower-income family life under unbending patriarchal rule; or being born a female child in an abusive, gendered culture, the narratives are convincing (often humorous) in their portrayal of trapped lives striving for transcendence.

The darkly funny ‘Kiss and the Brigadier’ invokes the stultifying boredom of small-town life and the captured mentalities of its understimulated citizens; ‘Extracts from a Dispensable Life’ offers a creative and sensitive reading of the gender violence theme; while the irreverent but never disrespectful ‘Angel Heart’ ventures into the risky waters of religious send-up.

The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories is a collection that stands out for its unusual perspectives; its frank, often uncomfortable treatment of taboo topics; its creative risk-taking; and its skilful and observant recreation of worlds gone by, which still leave their aftershocks.

 

 

The Last Stop by Thabiso Mofokeng

 

Image result for The Last Stop by Thabiso MofokengSet in the taxi industry, the story’s main characters are a poor taxi driver, a wealthy taxi owner and the taxi driver’s girlfriend. Crime fiction featuring paranormal elements, The Last Stop combines gritty realism with the magical. It shows what happens between people in times of taxi violence and deals with themes of lust, betrayal and revenge. The Last Stop is an engaging, clever, interesting and darkly enjoyable read with an incredible plot twist at the end.

 

 

Black Moses by Alain Mabankçou

 

Image result for Black Moses by Alain MabankçouLonglisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

It’s 1970, and in the People’s Republic of Congo a Marxist-Leninist revolution is ushering in a new age. But over at the orphanage on the outskirts of Pointe-Noire where young Moses has grown up, the revolution has only strengthened the reign of terror of Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, the institution’s corrupt director.

So Moses escapes to Pointe-Noire, where he finds a home with a larcenous band of Congolese Merry Men and among the Zairian prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter. But the authorities won’t leave Moses in peace, and intervene to chase both the Merry Men and the Trois-Cents girls out of town. All this injustice pushes poor Moses over the edge. Could he really be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Or is he just losing his marbles?

Black Moses is a larger-than-life comic tale of a young man obsessed with helping the helpless in an unjust world. It is also a vital new extension of Mabanckou’s extraordinary, interlinked body of work dedicated to his native Congo, and confirms his status as one of our great storytellers.

 

Africa’s Samuel Beckett … one of the continent’s greatest living writers.”                Guardian

A Congolese rewriting and reimagining of Dickens.”                   Scotsman

Language and literature bestow both blessings and curses on the picaresque heroes in Mr Mabanckou’s novels of his central African homeland … Black Moses exhibits all the charm, warmth and verbal brio that have won the author of Broken Glass and African Psycho so many admirers – and the informal title of Africa’s Samuel Beckett. Helen Stevenson, his translator, again shakes Mr Mabanckou’s cocktail of sophistication and simplicity into richly idiomatic English.”             Economist

 

 

Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami

 

Image result for Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki MurakamiI find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden.

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic

 

Supremely enjoyable, philosophical and pitch-perfect new collection of short stories. . . Murakami has a marvellous understanding of youth and age – and the failings of each.”                        Observer

Murakami writes of complex things with his usual beguiling simplicity. . . Strangely invigorating to read. . . It is Murakami at his whimsical, romantic best.”                    Financial Times

Calculatedly provocative. . ., the stories offer sweet-sour meditations on human solitude and a yearning to connect. . . Murakami, always inventive, is one of the finest popular writers at work today.”                      Evening Standard

New Boy: Othello Retold by Tracy Chevalier

 

Image result for New Boy: Othello Retold by Tracy ChevalierO felt her presence behind him like a fire at his back.

Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi – Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

 

High school, with its crushes, insecurities and politics, works as the perfect backdrop to Shakespeare’s original plot… New Boy, with its angsty teenagers, racial frictions and a magnificently fleshed out antagonist, is a tense and tight read… It can be read in a single afternoon and it really is a heady rollercoaster of emotions, right to the breathless and shocking last line.”                  Irish Independent

What Chevalier has done is recast the play to illuminate the peculiar trials of our era… a fascinating exercise … In Chevalier’s handling, the insidious manipulations of Othello translate smoothly to the dynamics of a sixth-grade playground, with all its skinned-knee passions and hop-scotch rules … How Chevalier renders Iago’s scheme into the terms of a modern-day playground provides some wicked delight. She’s immensely inventive about it all.”                       Ron Charles, Washington Post

Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott

 

Image result for Silver and Salt by Elanor DymottThere was a child in our courtyard. I saw a child there, standing by the fountain. She was there, then she was gone.

On the death of her father, celebrated photographer Max Hollingbourne, Ruthie returns to his villa in remote, wild Greece. After fifteen years in exile she is welcomed by her older sister, Vinny. They build a fragile happiness in their haven above the sea, protecting one another from the dark secrets of their childhood. But the arrival of an English family at a neighbouring cottage, and one young girl in particular, triggers a chain of events that will plunge both women back into the past, with shocking and fatal consequences.

Devastating in its razor-sharp exploration of a tragic family legacy, Silver & Salt is the story of two sisters, bound by their history and driven to repeat it.

 

I read Silver & Salt as if in a trance. Elanor Dymott is a master of delicate psychological suspense, treading gently but with devastating precision until every detail of this very sad story is revealed and embedded in the reader’s mind, possibly forever.”                      Elena Lappin

 

 

Cry Mother Spain by Lydie Salvayre

 

Image result for Cry Mother Spain by Lydie SalvayreWinner – Prix Goncourt and English PEN Award

 

Aged fifteen, as Franco’s forces begin their murderous purges and cities across Spain rise up against the old order, Montse has never heard the word fascista before. In any case, the villagers say facha (the ch is a real Spanish ch, by the way, with a real spit).

Montse lives in a small village, high in the hills, where few people can read or write and fewer still ever leave. If everything goes according to her mother’s plan, Montse will never leave either. She will become a good, humble maid for the local landowners, muchísimas gracias, with every Sunday off to dance the jota in the church square.

But Montse’s world is changing. Her brother José has just returned from Lérida with a red and black scarf and a new, dangerous vocabulary and his words are beginning to open up new realms to his little sister. She might not understand half of what he says, but how can anyone become a maid in the Burgos family when their head is ringing with shouts of RevoluciónComunidad and Libertad?

The war, it seems, has arrived in the nick of time.

 

Impressive … an effective account of a hideous time of brutal politics and the desperate compromises many made to make life possible.”                Sunday Times

An extraordinary book . . . very powerful.”                        Irish Times

A turbulent, magnificent novel that shines a new light on the Spanish Civil War. It resonates with the power of a manifesto for modern times.”                      François Busnel, L’Express

A seriously important novel … The novel Pasolini would have written had he been the son of Spanish exiles.”                   Time Out, Barcelona

A magnificent novel. A brilliantly written family saga and a mesmerising study of memory and historical reconstruction.”                      El Mundo

 

 

A Field Guide to Reality by Joanna Kavenna

 

Image result for A Field Guide to Reality by Joanna KavennaExtraordinary, wise, funny, adventurous.”             A. L. Kennedy
I couldn’t put it down. A cult following seems certain.”               Literary Review
In this darkly ironic novel – a quest for truth, a satire, an elegy – Joanna Kavenna displays fearless originality and wit in confronting the strangeness of reality and how we contend with the death of those we love. Beautiful, ethereal drawings by Oly Ralfe illustrate this haunting journey through time, space and human understanding.

 

A novel so utterly startling and inventive, it’s almost an act of resistance. Joanna Kavenna is a true literary insurgent: bravely unconventional and ruthless in her quest to demonstrate the possibility of deep, distinctive experience.”               Miriam Toews

If Lewis Carroll was parodying intellectual fashions with his curious characters, Kavenna is here leading the reader playfully through the paradoxes of the quantum universe . . . It is refreshing as well as disconcerting to read a novel that sets aside convention so resolutely, and to encounter a heroine who is so quirky, curious and clever on her quest through the quantum Wonderland.”                        Suzi Feay, Guardian

 

The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey

 

Image result for The Boy on the Bridge by MR CareyOnce upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.

 

In The Boy on the Bridge M. R. Carey returns to the world of The Girl With All the Gifts, the phenomenal word-of-mouth bestseller which is now a critically acclaimed film starring Sennia Nanua, Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine.

 

Spectacular!”         Martina Cole

Carey writes with compassion and fire – strange and surprising and humane.”                 Lauren Beukes

A tense story with superbly rendered characters.”                       Scifinow

A terrifying, emotional page-turner that explores what it means to be human.”               Kirkus

Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists

 

The third volume of Granta’s renowned and prescient, Best of Young American Novelists.

Every ten years, Granta devotes an issue to new American fiction by writers under the age of forty, showcasing the young novelists deemed to be the best of their generation writers of remarkable achievement and promise.

In 1997 and 2007 we picked out such luminaries as Edwidge Danticat, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Franzen, Nicole Krauss, Lorrie Moore, Yiyun Li, Karen Russell and Gary Shteyngart.

In this special issue, we bring you Granta s Best of Young American Novelists of 2017: twenty-one outstanding writers, each able to capture the preoccupations of modern America.

Jesse Ball, Halle Butler, Emma Cline, Joshua Cohen, Mark Doten, Jen George, Rachel B. Glaser, Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Garth Risk Hallberg, Greg Jackson, Sana Krasikov, Catherine Lacey, Ben Lerner, Karan Mahajan, Anthony Marra, Dinaw Mengestu, Ottessa Moshfegh, Chinelo Okparanta, Esmé Weijun Wang, Claire Vaye Watkins

These are the novelists you will soon be reading, chosen by panel of judges who are themselves acclaimed writers: Patrick deWitt, A.M. Homes, Kelly Link, Ben Marcus and Sigrid Rausing.

 

 

 

Non-Fiction

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky

 

Image result for Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. SapolskyA ground-breaking synthesis of the entire science of human behaviour by ‘one of the best scientist-writers of our time’ (Oliver Sacks) — ‘It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read’ Wall Street Journal

Why do we do what we do? Behave is at once a dazzling tour and a majestic synthesis of the whole science of human behaviour. Brought to life through simple language, engaging stories and irreverent wit, it offers the fullest picture yet of the origins of tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, war and peace.

Robert Sapolsky’s ingenious method is to move backwards in time from the moment at which a behaviour occurs, layer by layer through the myriad influences that led to it.

Throughout, Sapolsky considers the most important question: what causes acts of aggression or compassion? What inspires us to terrible deeds and what might help foster our best behaviour?

Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, that is unlikely to be surpassed for many years.

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.”                  Wall Street Journal

Magisterial … This extraordinary survey of the science of human behaviour takes the reader on an epic journey … Sapolsky makes the book consistently entertaining, with an infectious excitement at the puzzles he explains … a miraculous synthesis of scholarly domains.”                 Steven Poole, Guardian

Truly all-encompassing … detailed, accessible, fascinating.”                 Telegraph

A miraculous book, by far the best treatment of violence, aggression, and competition ever. Its depth and breadth of scholarship are amazing, building on Sapolsky’s own research and his vast knowledge of the neurobiology, genetic, and behavioral literature. All this is done brilliantly with a light and funny touch that shows why Sapolsky is recognized as one of the greatest teachers in science today.”                   Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures

One of the best scientist-writers of our time.”                    Oliver Sacks

“Behave is like a great historical novel, with excellent prose and encylopedic detail. It traces the most important story that can ever be told.”                       E O Wilson

As wide as it is deep, this book is colorful, electrifying, and moving. Sapolsky leverages his deep expertise to ask the most fundamental questions about being human.”                     David Eagleman, author of Incognito

One of the finest natural history writers around.”                        New York Times

 

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu: The Quest for this Storied City and the Race to Save Its Treasures by Charlie English

 

Image result for The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu: The Quest for this Storied City and the Race to Save Its Treasures by Charlie EnglishTwo tales of a city: The historical race to reach one of the world’s most mythologised places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend.

To Westerners, the name “Timbuktu” long conjured a tantalising paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for “discovery” tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city. But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, the climate, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. A medieval centre of learning, it was home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts, on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology, and astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, threatening the existence of these precious documents, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding.

Relying on extensive research and firsthand reporting, Charlie English expertly twines these two suspenseful strands into a fascinating account of one of the planet’s extraordinary places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable.

 

A piece of postmodern historiography of quite extraordinary sophistication and ingenuity… [written with] exceptional delicacy and restraint.”                          TLS

 

Part reportage, part history, part romance and wholly gripping… a riveting read.”                     Sunday Times

 

A fascinating interweaving of past and present: meticulously researched, powerfully written and riveting.”                  Ben Macintyre

 

A fascinating account of Timbuktu’s history and the brave and crazy adventurers who sought death and glory trying to get there.”              The Times

 

A rewarding account … after reading it I felt I knew more, cared more and wanted to know more.”                       Scotland on Sunday

 

 

The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers by Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac

 

 

Image result for The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers by Richard Aldrich and Rory CormacThe Black Door explores the evolving relationship between successive British prime ministers and the intelligence agencies, from Asquith’s Secret Service Bureau to Cameron’s National Security Council.

At the beginning of the 20th Century the British intelligence system was underfunded and lacked influence in government. But as the new millennium dawned, intelligence had become so integral to policy that it was used to make the case for war. Now, covert action is incorporated seamlessly into government policy, and the Prime Minister is kept constantly updated by intelligence agencies.

But how did intelligence come to influence our government so completely?

The Black Door explores the murkier corridors of No. 10 Downing Street, chronicling the relationships between intelligence agencies and the Prime Ministers of the last century. From Churchill’s code-breakers feeding information to the Soviets to Eden’s attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, from Wilson’s paranoia of an MI5-led coup d’état to Thatcher’s covert wars in Central America, Aldrich and Cormac entertain and enlighten as they explain how our government came to rely on intelligence to the extent that it does today.

 

Must read stuff. Aldrich and Cormac are inexhaustible researchers, who use a wide range of archives and include striking material from off-the-record informants. The Black Door is a vital, authoritative book.”                     Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times

 

Pioneering book … a major contribution to our understanding of British prime ministers over the last century. This is one of those rare books that deserve to change the way that modern British political history is researched and written.”              Christopher Andrew, Literary Review

 

This book deserves to be taken very seriously. The authors are intimately familiar with the history of the modern intelligence community.”                  Sunday Times

 

 

 

Three Minutes to Doomsday by Joe Navarro

 

Image result for Three Minutes to Doomsday by Joe NavarroIt is 1988 and Florida-based FBI agent Joe Navarro divides his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissance, and working counter-intelligence. A body-language expert with an uncanny ability to “read” those he interrogates, Navarro is known as super-intense – an agent whose work ethic quickly burns out partners. He craves an assignment that will get him noticed by the FBI top brass but then again, as he’ll come to learn: be careful what you wish for . . .
It was while on a routine assignment – interviewing a ‘person of interest’, a former US soldier named Rod Ramsay with links to another soldier, Clyde Conrad, recently arrested in Germany as a traitor – that Navarro thought he smelled a rat. He noticed a tic in Ramsay’s hand when Conrad’s name was mentioned. Not a lot to go on, but enough for Navarro to insist that an investigation be opened.
What followed was extraordinary – and unique in the annals of espionage detection – a game of cat-and-mouse played at the highest level: on one side, an FBI agent who must not reveal that he suspects his target; on the other, a traitor, a seller of his country’s secrets, whose weakness is the thrill he gets from sparring with his inquisitor.
To prise from Ramsay the full extent of the damage he had wrought, Navarro had to pre-choreograph every interview because Ramsay was exceptionally intelligent, with the second highest IQ ever recorded by the U.S. Army. It would become an interrogation that literally pitted genius against genius – a battle of wits fought against one of the most turbulent periods of the 20th century – the demise and eventual collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union – and the very real possibility that Russia’s leaders, in a last desperate bid to alter history’s trajectory, might engage in all-out war. As Navarro was to learn over the course of nearly fifty exhausting and mind-bending interviews and interrogations, Ramsay had handed the Soviets the knowledge needed to destroy America and its western allies…

In Three Minutes to Doomsday, Joe Navarro tells this extraordinary story for the first time – a story of the exposure and breaking of one of the most damaging espionage rings in US history whose treachery threatened the entire world.

One of the most gripping cat-and-mouse espionage stories you’ll ever read—and it all really happened. Like the showdown between FBI profiler Will Graham and evil genius Hannibal Lecter portrayed in the book Red Dragon and its film adaptation Manhunter, this real-life account by FBI agent/body-language expert Joe Navarro of outwitting traitor/savant Rod Ramsay will irresistibly push you to the edge of your chair. What makes the read even more intense is that the stakes couldn’t be higher: possibly, the lives of every American if our hero doesn’t get his adversary to expose the full extent of what he’s wrought.”
Barry Eisler

 

 

Diary of a Vampire in Pyjamas by Mathias Malzieu

 

Image result for Diary of a Vampire in Pyjamas by Mathias MalzieuThis is a memoir by French bestselling and award-winning author and musician Mathias Malzieu. It focuses on a single year in which he explores his close encounter with death. Insightful, tragic and even often very funny, it is a hugely inspirational read.

In November 2013 Malzieu is diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening blood disease: his bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells, and those that survive are being attacked by the body’s natural antibodies as if they were viruses. Highly anaemic and at risk of a cardiac attack or fatal haemorrhaging, Malzieu is whisked into hospital, and spends months in a sterile isolation room. He is kept alive by blood transfusions, while waiting for a bone marrow transplant. When he has the energy for it, he writes in his diary and strums his ukelele.

To read this book is to be in awe of the triumph of the human spirit. As a reader you find yourself marvelling at how we find the mechanisms to cope with tragedy and uncertainty when faced with the reality that we may die. Malzieu’s highly active imagination allows him to transcend the limits of his body and its increasing failures through fantasy and escapism. His wonderfully addictive childish wonder with a punk Gothic twist lifts the narrative from being a depressing account to a reading experience that is evocative, poetic and intensely moving.

Malzieu survived thanks to a revolutionary operation involving stem-cell treatment with the blood from an umbilical cord. As he leaves the hospital with not only a different blood group but also a different DNA, he describes himself as the oldest newborn in the world. As Malzieu says himself, ‘To have had my life saved has been the most extraordinary adventure I have ever had.’

 

Francois Truffaut with a rock’n’roll band.”             Iggy Pop

Malzieu’s prose is distinctly original, spitting and fizzing with unique similes and striking metaphors.”                        Guardian

 

 

Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir by Molly Brodak

 

Image result for Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir by Molly BrodakRaw, poetic and compulsively readable … I can’t wait to buy a copy for everyone I know.”                  Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help
The summer she turned thirteen, Molly Brodak’s father was arrested for robbing eleven banks. In time, the image she held of him would unravel further, as more and more unexpected facets of his personality came to light.

 

Bandit is her attempt to discover what, exactly, is left, when the most fundamental relationship of your life turns out to have been built on falsehoods. It is also a scrupulously honest account of learning how to trust again, and to rebuild the very idea of family from scratch.

 

Refusing to fence off the trickier sides of her father’s character, Brodak tries to find, through crystalline, spellbinding prose, a version of him that does not rely on the easy answers but allows him to be: an unknowable and incomprehensible whole – who is also her father.

 

Unforgettable, moving, and utterly relatable, Bandit is a story of the unpredictable complexity of family.

 

 

 

 

The Soweto Uprisings by Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu

 

Image result for The Soweto Uprisings by Sifiso Mxolisi NdlovuWhen the Soweto uprisings of June 1976 took place, Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu, the author of this book, was a 14-year-old pupil at Phefeni Junior Secondary School. With his classmates, he was among the active participants in the protest action against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

 

Contrary to the generally accepted views, both that the uprisings were ‘spontaneous’ and that there were bigger political players and student organisations behind the uprisings, in the new edition Sifiso’s book shows that this was not the case. Using newspaper articles, interviews with former fellow pupils and through his own personal account, Sifiso provides us with a ‘counter-memory’ of the momentous events of that time.

 

This is an updated version of the book first published by Ravan Press in 1998. New material has been added, including an introduction to the new edition, as well as two new chapters analysing the historiography of the uprisings as well as reflecting on memory and commemoration as social, cultural and historical projects.

 

 

Critique of Black Reason by Achille Mbembe

 

Image result for Critique of Black Reason by Achille MbembeIn Critique of Black Reason eminent critic Achille Mbembe offers a capacious genealogy of the category of Blackness—from the Atlantic slave trade to the present—to critically reevaluate history, racism, and the future of humanity. Mbembe teases out the intellectual consequences of the reality that Europe is no longer the world’s center of gravity while mapping the relations among colonialism, slavery, and contemporary financial and extractive capital. Tracing the conjunction of Blackness with the biological fiction of race, he theorizes Black reason as the collection of discourses and practices that equated Blackness with the nonhuman in order to uphold forms of oppression. Mbembe powerfully argues that this equation of Blackness with the nonhuman will serve as the template for all new forms of exclusion. With Critique of Black Reason, Mbembe offers nothing less than a map of the world as it has been constituted through colonialism and racial thinking while providing the first glimpses of a more just future.

 

In his impressive analysis, Critique of Black Reason, [Mbembe] depicts a comprehensive picture of African history, one he regards as the history of racist thinking.”                Ina Schwanse, afrikapost.de

Achille Mbembe ‘s Critique de la Raison Negre . . . [is] a book that you want to shout about from the rooftops, so that all your colleagues and friends will read it. My copy, only a few months old, is stuffed with paper markers at many intervals, suggesting the richness of analysis and description on nearly every page. . . . This is certainly one of the outstanding intellectual contributions to studies of empire, colonialism, racism, and human liberation in the last decade, perhaps decades. . . . A brilliant book.”                      Elaine Coburn – Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Achille Mbembe s argument is simple and it is tough: Neoliberalism and the reawakening of a racial mindset that it applies are on the way to making blacks the paradigm of subaltern humanity. Critiquing this situation requires the radical deconstruction of those twin products of modernity: blackness and race.”                      Tiphaine Samoyault, La Quinzaine litteraire

With Critique of Black Reason, Achille Mbembe reaffirms his position as one of the most original and significant thinkers of our times working out of Francophone traditions of anti-imperial and postcolonial criticism. His voyages in this book through a painstakingly assembled archive of empire, race, slavery, blackness, and liberation an archive that Mbembe both reconfigures and interrogates at the same time produce profound moments of reflection on the origin and nature of modernity and its mutations in the contemporary phase of global capital. A tour de force that will renew debates on capital, race, and freedom in today’s world.”               Dipesh Chakrabarty”

A captivating and simultaneously vexing mixture of historical lecture and political-philosophical manifesto.”              Andreas Eckert, Frankfurter Allgemeine

A lucid, thoughtful and sometimes poetic work, with phrases you want to underline on every page. Mbembe is a voice that needs to be heard, in the current discussion about racism and immigration in Europe.”              Peter Vermaas, NRC Handelsblad

For me the most important African thinker today, Achille Mbembe has published the Critique of Black Reason. A very great book, encompassing the perspectives of the African continent as well as the political challenges facing the whole world.”                       Jean-Marie Durand

Achille Mbembe has placed the discourse of Africa squarely in the center of both postmodernism and continental philosophy. Every page of this signifying riff on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a delight to read. African philosophy is currently enjoying a renaissance, and Mbembe is to its continental pole what Kwame Anthony Appiah is to its analytical pole. Every student of postmodernist theory should read this book.”                     Henry Louis Gates, Jr

 

 

 

Requiem for the American Dream: The Ten Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power by Noam Chomsky et al

 

Image result for Requiem for the American Dream: The Ten Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power by Noam Chomsky et alDuring the Great Depression, which I’m old enough to remember, it was bad–much worse subjectively than today. But there was a sense that we’ll get out of this somehow, an expectation that things were going to get better.

 

In his first major book on the subject of income inequality, Noam Chomsky skewers the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism and casts a clear, cold, patient eye on the economic facts of life. What are the ten principles of concentration of wealth and power at work in America today? They’re simple enough: reduce democracy, shape ideology, redesign the economy, shift the burden onto the poor and middle classes, attack the solidarity of the people, let special interests run the regulators, engineer election results, use fear and the power of the state to keep the rabble in line, manufacture consent, marginalize the population. In Requiem for the American Dream, Chomsky devotes a chapter to each of these ten principles, and adds readings from some of the core texts that have influenced his thinking to bolster his argument.

While many books attempt to explain how we got to this political moment (some successfully), Noam Chomsky’s latest, Requiem for the American Dream, provides necessary historical context. Zooming in on ten ways that government and corporate interests have kept the American people down, Chomsky offers a compelling history that explains today’s economic and political landscape. At 157 pages, it’s a short, beautifully put together book.”                         Huffington Post

 

 

Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

 

Image result for Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry MarshFrom the author of the bestselling Do No Harm. Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical frontline. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered. Prompted by his retirement from his full-time job in the NHS, and through his continuing work in Nepal and Ukraine, Henry has been forced to reflect more deeply about what forty years spent handling the human brain has taught him.

Moving between encounters with patients in his London hospital, to those he treats in the more extreme circumstances of his work abroad, Henry faces up to the burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering. Unearthing memories of his early days as a medical student, and the experiences that shaped him as a young surgeon, he explores the difficulties of a profession that deals in probabilities rather than certainties, and where the overwhelming urge to prolong life can come at a tragic cost for both patients and for those who love them.

In this searing, provocative and deeply personal memoir, the bestselling author of Do No Harm finds new purpose in his own life as he approaches the end of his professional career, and a fresh understanding of what matters to us all in the end.

 

Sensational…Marsh is curmudgeonly, unflinching, clinical, competitive, often contemptuous and consistently curious. In Admissions he scrubs up just as well the second time around and continues to revel in his joyous candour.”                 Sunday Times

Superb…a eulogy to surgery and a study of living. I didn’t want this book to end. Henry Marsh is part of a growing canon of superb modern medical writers…whose storytelling and prose are transportative…His timing is also impeccable…His sentences, too, feel like works of the finest craftmanship, made with the love that goes into both his woodwork and surgery.”                                  Daily Telegraph

Marsh is, given his profession, a surprisingly emotional man, likably so. His account of his younger self that threads through this compulsive book is a Bildungsroman in itself. He is also a fine writer and storyteller, and a nuanced observer.”                   Observer

Do No Harm, candid and tender, was one of the most powerful books written by a doctor…His follow-up book does not disappoint. The maverick is back, even more blunt and irascible, with tales of thrilling, high-wire operations at medicine’s unconquered frontier, woven through with personal memoir…Marsh in full spate is quite magnificent…a master of tar-black, deadpan humour.”                 The Times

 

Pride and Prejudice: The Gerald Kraak Anthology African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality

 

Image result for Pride and Prejudice: The Gerald Kraak Anthology African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and SexualityPride and Prejudice is the first in the Gerald Kraak Anthology series. The kaleidoscopic collection comprises the most exceptional written and photographic entries for the annual Gerald Kraak Award, which was established in 2016 by The Other Foundation and the Jacana Literary Foundation. Offering important African perspectives gathered from the continent, this inaugural edition features works of fiction, journalism, photography and poetry. The pieces are multi-layered, brave and stirring. They represent a new wave of fresh storytelling that provokes thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality.

 

 

 

Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann

 

Image result for Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCannI hope there is something here for any young writer – or any older writer, for that matter – who happens to be looking for a teacher to come along, a teacher who, in the end, can really teach nothing at all but fire.

From the critically acclaimed Colum McCann, author of the National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin, comes a paean to the power of language, and a direct address to the artistic, professional and philosophical concerns that challenge and sometimes torment an author.

Comprising fifty-two short prose pieces, Letters to a Young Writer ranges from practical matters of authorship, such as finding an agent, the pros and cons of creative writing degrees and handling bad reviews, through to the more joyous and celebratory, as McCann elucidates the pleasures to be found in truthful writing, for: ‘the best writing makes us glad that we are – however briefly – alive.’

Emphatic and empathetic, pragmatic and profound, this is an essential companion to any author’s journey – and a deeply personal work from one of our greatest literary voices.

 

An intensely literary writer … His prose thrums with echoes of Beckett, Yeats and Joyce.”                     Sunday Times

McCann’s writing is elegant and ironic.”                  The Times

Practical writing advice meets heartfelt love song to creativity.”        Irish Times

 

 

More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers by Jonathan Lethem

 

Image result for More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers by Jonathan LethemWith impassioned appeals for forgotten writers and overlooked books, razor-sharp essays, and personal accounts of extraordinary literary encounters, Jonathan Lethem’s More Alive and Less Lonely is an essential celebration of literature, from one of America’s finest and most acclaimed working writers. Only Lethem, with his love of cult favourites and the canon alike, can write with equal insight about the stories of modern masters like Lorrie Moore and Salman Rushdie, graphic novelist Chester Brown, science fiction outlier Philip K. Dick, and classics icons like Moby-Dick.

 

 

 

Something Gorgeous

The National Geographic Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore intends to photograph every animal in captivity in the world. He is circling the globe, visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction. He has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal. This book showcases his animal portraits: from tiny to mammoth, from the Florida grasshopper sparrow to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. Paired with the eloquent prose of veteran wildlife writer Douglas Chadwick, this book presents a thought-provoking argument for saving all the species of our planet.

 

HAPPY READING!

May 2017

Monday, May 29th 2017 at 4:20 PM

Fiction

Unpresidented by Paige Nick

Image result for Unpresidented by Paige NickWhen ex-president J Muza is released from prison on medical parole for an ingrown toenail, his expectations of a triumphant return to power and admiration are cruelly dashed.

His once lavish Homestead is a rotting shell, his remaining wives have ganged up on him, the Guptas have blocked his number, and not even Robert Mugabe will take his calls any more. And he just can’t seem to get his plans for world domination off the ground.

Muza is banking on his memoirs full of fake news to pep up his profile, but his ghostwriter, a disgraced journalist, has problems and a tight deadline of his own. What Muza’s not banking on is a fat bill for outstanding rates on The Homestead, and a 30-day deadline to pay back the money, before the bailiffs arrive to evict him.

Is Muza a mastermind, or simply a puppet who fell into the wrong hands? Who is really playing who? What are his remaining wives up to, and will they stay or will they go? And how will he ever pay back the money?

Can the ghostwriter make his deadline before he winds up dead? Or are both men destined to be homeless and loathed forever?

 

Fever by Deon Meyer

 

Image result for Fever by Deon MeyerI want to tell you about my Father’s murder.

I want to tell you who killed him and why.

This is the story of my life.

And the story of your life and your world too, as you will see.

Nico Storm and his father drive across a desolate South Africa, constantly alert for feral dogs, motorcycle gangs, nuclear contamination. They are among the few survivors of a virus that has killed most of the world’s population. Young as he is, Nico realises that his superb marksmanship and cool head mean he is destined to be his father’s protector.

But Willem Storm, though not a fighter, is a man with a vision. He is searching for a place that can become a refuge, a beacon of light and hope in a dark and hopeless world, a community that survivors will rebuild from the ruins. And so Amanzi is born.

Fever is the epic, searing story of a group of people determined to carve a city out of chaos.

 

“Fever bears comparison with landmarks in the genre such as The StandThe novel explores humanity at its best and worst; the crushing loss of civilisation with everything that means for the structure of society…This great book asks us to reflect on our own hidden natures – how would we react if the world we knew came to an end tomorrow?”                 Vaseem Khan

 

 

 

 

 

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

 

Image result for Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek ShanbhagIn this masterful novel by the acclaimed Indian writer Vivek Shanbhag, a close-knit family is delivered from near-destitution to sudden wealth after the narrator’s uncle founds a successful spice company. As the narrator – a sensitive young man who is never named – along with his sister, his parents, and his uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house and encounter newfound wealth, the family dynamics begin to shift. Allegiances and desires realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter; and conflict brews ominously in the background.

Their world becomes ‘ghachar ghochar’ – a nonsense phrase that, to the narrator, comes to mean something entangled beyond repair. Told in clean, urgent prose, and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humour, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings – and consequences – of financial gain in contemporary India.

 

A great Indian novel…Folded into the compressed, densely psychological portrait of this family is a whole universe.”        Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

 

“[Shanbhag] is a master of inference and omission…What’s most impressive about Ghachar Ghochar…is how much intricacy and turmoil gets distilled into its few pages…[A] wise and skillful book.”                         Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
A classic tale of wealth and moral ruin and a parable about capitalism and Indian society.”                    New Yorker
Great Indian novels…tend towards large tomes, written in English. Now, however, the arrival of a new work has shaken up the status quo: Vivek Shanbhag’s gripping Ghachar Ghochar. This slim volume…packs a powerful punch, both in terms of the precision of its portrait of one Bangalore-based family, and, by extension, what this tells us about modern India….Shanbhag is the real deal, this gem of a novel resounding with chilling truths.”                 Independent 
Masterful…This stunning Bangalore-set family drama underlines the necessity of reading beyond our borders….Ghachar Ghochar is both fascinatingly different from much Indian writing in English, and provides a masterclass in crafting, particularly on the power of leaving things unsaid.”                      Deborah Smith,  Guardian

Ghachar Ghochar introduces us to a master.”         Paris Review
One of the finest literary works you will ever encounter…a nuanced wonder.”                 -Irish Times 


A feat of taut, economical storytelling…[with] moments of wonderfully dark, often unexpected, cynicism.”                   Financial Times
One of the best novels to have come out of India in recent decades.”                    Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger 

 

 

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

 

Image result for The Idiot by Elif BatumanI loved it and could have read a thousand more pages of it.”                     Emma Cline

Selin, a tall, highly strung Turkish-American from New Jersey turns up at Harvard and finds herself dangerously overwhelmed by the challenges and possibilities of adulthood. She studies linguistics and literature, teaches ESL and spends a lot of time thinking about what language – and languages – can and cannot do.

Along the way she befriends Svetlana, a cosmopolitan Serb, and obsesses over Ivan, a mathematician from Hungary. The two conduct a hilarious relationship that culminates with Selin spending the summer teaching English in a Hungarian village and enduring a series of surprising excursions. Throughout her journeys, Selin ponders profound questions about how culture and language shape who we are, how difficult it is to be a failed writer, and how baffling love is.

At once clever and clueless, Batuman’s heroine shows us with perfect hilarity and soulful inquisitiveness just how messy it can be to forge a self.

 

Each paragraph is a small anthology of well-made observations… Batuman has a rich sense of the details of human attachment and lust.”                         New York Times

A moving, continent-hopping coming-of-age story.”                        Alex Preston, Observer, 2017 Books of the Year

I’m not Turkish, I don’t have a Serbian best friend, I’m not in love with a Hungarian, I don’t go to Harvard. Or do I? For one wonderful week, I got to be this worldly and brilliant, this young and clumsy and in love. The Idiot is a hilariously mundane immersion into a world that has never before received the 19th Century Novel treatment. An addictive, sprawling epic; I wolfed it down.”                         Miranda July,

 

 

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

 

Image result for White Tears by Hari KunzruA feverish new tale from the bestselling author of The Impressionist: two ambitious young musicians are drawn into a dark underworld, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past

Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten by history — and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow his friend into the darkness.

Trapped in a game they don’t understand, Hari Kunzru’s characters move unsteadily across the chessboard, caught between black and white, performer and audience, righteous and forsaken. But we have been here before, oh so many times over, and the game always ends the same way . . .

Electrifying, subversive and wildly original, White Tears is a ghost story and a love story, a story about lost innocence and historical guilt. This unmissable novel penetrates the heart of a nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge and exploitation, and holding a mirror up to the true nature of America today.

 

“White Tears is a book that everyone should be reading right now.”                       Time
Delilloesque — moody, threatening, and profoundly dark… A story about ghosts, about grievances leaking through the fabric of decades, and about retribution, violence and hatred. At every turn, Kunzru’s words concoct a dreamlike world where the past isn’t dead and the boundaries of reality flicker at the margins.”             Huffington Post

Haunting, doom-drenched, genuinely and viscerally disturbing… Kunzru showcases his trademark exhilarating prose throughout – closing with a conclusion that packs a real punch.”                   Independent

“A disorientating odyssey through decades of American history…Kunzru has always been an assured and intellectually gifted novelist, but I am not sure he has ever before displaying such emotional heft.”                     Daily Telegraph

What begins as dude-bro send-up soon spirals into a supernatural revenge fantasy keyed to America’s history of racism.”                      Observer

Both like a radical revenge fantasia and a stern lesson in radical empathy.”                    Spectator

 

 

Belladonna by Daša Drndic

 

Image result for Belladonna by Daša DrndicAndreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In defying illness and old age, Andreas Ban is cynical and powerful, and in his unravelling of his own past and the lives of others, he uncompromisingly lays bare a gamut of taboos.

Andreas Ban stands for a true hero of our times; a castaway intellectual of a society which subdues every critical thought under the guise of political correctness. Belladonna addresses some of the twentieth century’s worst human atrocities in a powerful fusion of fiction and reality, the hallmark of one of Europe’s finest contemporary writers.

 

 

American War by Omar el-Akkad

 

Image result for American War by Omar el-AkkadPowerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.”                      -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

 

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle–a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

 

“American War is an extraordinary novel. El Akkad’s story of a family caught up in the collapse of an empire is as harrowing as it is brilliant, and has an air of terrible relevance in these partisan times.”              Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
“American War, a work of a singular, grand, brilliant imagination, is a warning shot across the bow of the United States. Omar El Akkad has created a novel that isn’t afraid to be a pleasurable yarn as it delves into the hidden currents of American culture and extrapolates from them to envision a deeply tragic potential future.”             David Means, author of Hystopia

 

 

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans

 

Image result for The Fourteenth Letter by Claire EvansA mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets…

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: ‘I promised I would save you.’

The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows.

With its labyrinth of unfolding secrets, Claire Evans’ riveting debut will be adored by fans of Kate Mosse, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Jessie Burton.

 

Exuberant plotting and witty prose. Great fun.”                  The Times

Claire Evans has created a cast of deliciously sinister and mysterious characters. A hugely satisfying read.”                  Good Housekeeping

 

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

 

Image result for Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregorFrom the award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the DogsReservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.

A GUARDIAN NOTABLE BOOK OF 2017

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.

As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.

Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

Absolutely magnificent; one of the most beautiful, affecting novels I’ve read in years. The prose is alive and ringing. There is so much space and life in every sentence. I don’t know how he’s done it. It’s beautiful.”                        Eimear McBride

“Reservoir 13 is quite extraordinary – the way it’s structured, the way it rolls, the skill with which Jon McGregor lets the characters breathe and age.”                       Roddy Doyle

A work of intense, forensic noticing; an unobtrusively experimental, thickly atmospheric portrait of the life of a village which, for its mixture of truthfulness and potency, deserves to be set alongside works of such varied brilliance as Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield, Jim Crace’s Harvest and Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood.”                  Sarah Crown, TLS

Even by the standards of his mature work, McGregor’s latest novel is a remarkable achievement… Fluid and fastidious, its sparing loveliness feels deeply true to its subject. There are moments, as in life, of miraculous grace, but no more than that…(a) humane and tender masterpiece.”                     Irish Times

 

 

Masha Regina by Vadim Levental

 

Image result for Masha Regina by Vadim LeventalPassionate, talented, headstrong and ambitious, Masha takes the European film scene by storm, escaping her small provincial town to become the most daring, avant-garde auteur of her generation. Taking inspiration from her personal life as well as the artists and poets she meets on the streets of St Petersburg, Masha courageously puts herself on the line by transforming her own experiences into art. But as painful memories of her childhood start to resurface, she is forced to confront her demons – the betrayals, the cruelties – in this psychologically compelling debut from one of Russia’s most exciting young writers.

 

“Sketching Masha, Saint Petersburg, and the Russian arts scene with lively and impressionistic detail, Levental swirls in fragmentary conversations, bits of internal monologue, and more than a few knowing references to the Russian literary canon to create a sophisticated twist on a bildungsroman that raises more questions than it answers and showcases the author’s own considerable literary talent.”                  Booklist
“Masha Regina is … populated with cultural quotations from The Iliad to Star Wars, Gogol to The Godfather, fairy tales to porn sites, Don Quixote to computer games. Levantal’s work returns regularly to the “Dostoevskian spirit”, even as it spans both Shakespearean allusions and social media (“nothing drives people apart like daily status updates”)…. In her acknowledgements, translator Lisa Hayden comments on these references “woven into the novel.” Her English version of this complex tapestry is, as ever, a delight, tackling multiple challenges from colloquialisms (“a drunk chick is not in charge of her twat”) to tongue twisters (“by the burbling river bank we bumblingly bagged a burbot”). Hayden’s thoughtful brilliance in this book … helps illuminate contemporary Russian literature for Anglophone readers….The novel triumphs through imagery.”                      Russia Beyond the Headlines

A spectacularly mature, fine and merciless novel.”                       Vechernyi Peterburg

 

Selling Lipservice by Tammy Baikie

 

Image result for Selling Lipservice by Tammy BaikieCompared to the likes of Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Lauren Beuke’s Zoo City and Andrew Miller’s Dub Steps, Selling LipService is a daring novel. Selling LipService introduces its reader to a strange assortment of new vocabulary, and through this touches on the familiar danger of the commercialisation of language. Through a linguistically brilliant text, Tammy Baikie has created a world that exposes a society that has been swallowed up by the ad men. Since coming of haemorrh-age, Frith must wear a LipService patch to write or speak. The words the patch produces are not her own. Scripted by copywriters, they promote one sponsoring brand or another. With them, ‘You’ – a voice in her head that is the patch’s brand persona and her conformist alter ego – appears. Through the noise of You talking a variety of different LipService brands, Frith struggles to find her way back to speaking for herself. She believes her tastures – her ability to taste things she touches – are the key. But other elements of this consumerist society are equally interested in tastures for commercial gain.

 

 

All Their Minds in Tandem by David Sanger

 

Image result for All Their Minds in Tandem by David SangerThe setting is October 1879. The stage is New Georgetown, West Virginia.

A mysterious figure by the name of ‘The Maker’ has entered this small community and, almost immediately upon doing so, started entering the minds of the townsfolk.

Townsfolk who are as curious as The Maker himself. Like Dr Umbründ, the pint-sized physician with a prodigious capacity for sin; like the three sisters in the house on the hill – one stern, one wild, one mysterious; like the tavern’s semi-mythical siren, ‘The Bird’, who plays spellbinding music from behind a black velvet curtain, and whom no patron has ever laid eyes on; like Odell, a youth with dreams and ambitions that his craven disposition will forever prevent him from seizing; and who has spent the entirety of his erstwhile existence under the crushing heel of Clay, New Georgetown’s lead cad and chief alpha male.

As we enter these characters’ lives, and lightly tread our way through their brains, their bedrooms, their backstories and beyond, we will see what it is they all hope for and hide – and learn just why The Maker has chosen to meet them.

 

 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

 

Image result for Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanThe great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction. Now he reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales. Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman’s prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.

 

No contemporary fiction writer gets more of his power from the mythological tradition than Neil Gaiman. . . . As always, Gaiman’s a charming raconteur . . . [and he] recognizes a ripping yarn when he sees one.”                    Douglas Wolk

A gripping, suspenseful and quite wonderful reworking of these famous tales. Once you fall into the rhythm of its glinting prose, you will happily read on and on, in thrall to Gaiman’s skillful storytelling.”                        Michael Dirda

 

McSweeney’s 49 Cover Stories

 

Image result for McSweeney’s 49 Cover StoriesThe “Covers Issue” features today’s top writers rewriting (or covering) classic stories. To name a few, there’s Roxane Gay channeling Margaret Atwood, Jess Walter embodying James Joyce, Meg Wolitzer taking on J.D. Salinger–fourteen stories, all told, spanning a slipcased set of five paperback volumes, each featuring stunning illustrations by the award-winning design outfit Aesthetic Apparatus. Guest–art directed by legendary album-cover designers Gary Burden and Jenice Heo of R. Twerk & Co., the issue is packaged in a 9×9-inch LP-inspired slipcase.

 

 

 

Local

No Longer Whispering to Power:  The Story of Thuli Madonsela by Thandeka Gqubule

 

Image result for No Longer Whispering to Power:  The Story of Thuli Madonsela by Thandeka GqubulePublic Protector Thuli Madonsela has achieved in seven years what few accomplish in a lifetime. She has been praised and vilified in equal measures during her time in office, often putting her at centre stage.

Speaking in Cape Town last year, Madonsela said that her role as Public Protector is akin to that of the Venda traditional spiritual female leader, the Makhadzi, who whispers truth to the king or the ruler. A ruler ignores the Makhadzi at his peril. During the speech, Madonsela joked that when the sounds of exchanges between the ruler and the Makhadzi grow loud, that is when the whispering has failed.

No Longer Whispering to Power is about Madonsela’s tenure as Public Protector, during which the whisper grew into a cry. It is the story of South Africa’s people’s attempt to hold power to account through the Office of the Public Protector. This important book stands as a record of the crucial work Madonsela has done, always acting without fear or favour.

 

“A new book on her tenure as Public Protector reminds us just how impactful a role Madonsela played in South African politics since 2009 – and how much courage it must have taken to stick to her path.”                   Rebecca Davis

 

As by Fire: The End of the South African University by Jonathan Jansen

 

Image result for As by Fire: The End of the South African University by Jonathan JansenWhat are the real roots of the student protests of 2015–16? Why did the protests turn violent? Do the students know how to end it? Former Free State University vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen delves into the unprecedented disruption of universities that caught SA by surprise. In frank interviews with 11 of the VCs most affected, he examines the forces at work and what is driving our youth. As by Fire gives us an insider view of the crisis and tells us what it means for our universities.

 

 

 

Miss Behave by Malebo Sephodi

 

Image result for Miss Behave by Malebo SephodiUpon encountering historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quote, ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’, Malebo Sephodi knew that she was tired of everyone else having a say on who and what she should be.

Appropriating this quote, Malebo boldly renounces societal expectations placed on her as a black woman and shares her journey towards misbehaviour.

According to Malebo, it is the norm for a black woman to live in a society that prescribes what it means to be a well-behaved woman. Acting like this prescribed woman equals good behaviour.

But what happens when a black woman decides to live her own life and becomes her own form of who she wants to be? She is often seen as misbehaving.

Miss-Behave challenges society’s deep-seated beliefs about what it means to be an obedient woman. In this book, Malebo tracks her journey on a path towards achieving total autonomy and self-determinism.

 

 

Gift from Darkness by Patience Ibrahim

 

Image result for Gift from Darkness by Patience IbrahimA Gift from Darkness is the harrowing yet inspirational story of a young, pregnant Nigerian girl and the hell she endured for the sake of her unborn child when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram.

When Patience Ibrahim’s husband died, she feared that her life was over. She had prayed every night for a baby to complete her family, and suddenly she found herself a nineteen-year-old widow, alone in the world. But when she fell in love again, a happy future seemed possible. Patience married once more , and was overjoyed to discover that she was pregnant.

A few days later, everything fell apart. Men from Boko Haram arrived at her door, killing Patience’s new husband and kidnapping her.

This is the incredible true story of her and her baby daughter’s survival, against all the odds.

 

 

Graphic and Sci Fi

 

Mockingbird: My Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain

 

Image result for Mockingbird: My Feminist AgendaA top secret mission on behalf of an old friend, a tropical cruise. What could go wrong? Turns out it’s a theme cruise -super-hero themed, naturally -a fl oating comic con. Now Bobbi is trapped on a boat with a thousand cosplayers, caped colleagues she was trying to avoid, an ex-boyfriend who keeps showing up at inopportune times and a rampaging herd of corgis. When a passenger is murdered, Bobbi must play Hercule Poirot to find the killer and confront some uncomfortable truths from her past in the process.

 

 

One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

 

Image result for One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel GreenbergA feminist fairy-tale, which I recommend if you’re looking for a Christmas present for a teenage girl… A wondrously intricate book, and a witty attack on the patriarchy, this is an instant classic.”                        Rachel Cooke, an Observer Book of the Year

From the author who brought you The Encyclopedia of Early Earth comes another Epic Tale of Derring-Do.

Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see Love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity!

You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won’t stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and above all, many, many sisters.

 

 

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

 

Image result for Waking Gods by Sylvain NeuvelWhen an alien vessel materialises in London, does it mean peace or war? Waking Gods is the gripping sequel to the ground-breaking thriller Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

“A superb, powerful follow-up.”                      SciFiNow

What’s going on?
Turn on the television.
What channel?
Any channel.

An unknown vessel, not of this world, materializes in London. A colossal figure towering over the city, it makes no move. Is this a peaceful first contact or the prelude to an invasion?

Every child has nightmares. But the only thing scarier than little Eva Reyes’ dreams – apocalyptic visions of death and destruction – is the habit they have of coming true…

Scientist Dr Rose Franklin has no memory of the last few years. The strangers she works with say she died, and was brought back to life. The question is not just how … but why?

Kara Resnik and Vincent Couture fell in love during war, and have found peace since. They are the thin line of defence against what is coming. But they do not know they have been living a lie.

And a man who claims to have the answers has his own agenda. There are things he cannot say – and others he won’t.

All pieces of an epic puzzle. One we have been trying to solve since the dawn of time…

 

 

Binti 2 Home by Nnedi Okorafor

 

Image result for Binti 2 Home by Nnedi OkoraforThe thrilling sequel to the Hugo and Nebula-winning Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

Binti is a supreme read about a sexy, edgy Afropolitan in space! It’s a wondrous combination of extra-terrestrial adventure and age-old African diplomacy. Unforgettable!” – Wanuri Kahiu, award winning Kenyan film director of Pumzi and From a Whisper

A perfect dove-tailing of tribal and futuristic, of sentient space ships and ancient cultural traditions, Binti was a beautiful story to read.” – Little Red Reviewer

Binti is a wonderful and memorable coming of age story which, to paraphrase Lord of the Rings, shows that one girl can change the course of the galaxy.”                 Geek Syndicate

There’s more vivid imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor’s work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics.”                         Ursula Le Guin

 

 

 

Non-fiction

The Moth – All These Wonders

 

Image result for The Moth – All These WondersFrom storytelling phenomenon The Moth: a collection about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best stories ever told on their stages.

 

All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Storytellers include writer Jung Chang and comedian Louis C.K, as well as a hip hop ‘one hit wonder’, an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, and a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s secret army during World War II. They share their ventures into uncharted territory – and how their lives were changed forever by what they found there. These true stories have been carefully selected and adapted to the page by the creative minds at The Moth, and encompass the very best of the 17,000+ stories performed in live Moth shows around the world. Filled with a variety of humourous, moving, and gripping tales from all walks of life, it is timed to celebrate the Moth’s 20th anniversary year.

Brilliant and quietly addictive.”                    Guardian

Beautifully simple, authentic, a little bit therapeutic and utterly addictive. It is a joyful reminder of the power of the story and the need for story-telling.”                   Sunday Times

The stories remain very much in the voices of those who spoke them and thus retain the vulnerability and rawness inherent in the situation of one person, alone at the mic, telling a room full of strangers something personal.”                   Observer

The stories not only maintain their oral integrity but take on new dimensions, allowing you to ponder a turn of events or swirl the language around in your head without missing the next part of the story.”                  New York Times

A wonderful new book … Some [stories] are heartbreakingly sad; some laugh-out-loud funny; some momentous and tragic; almost all of them resonant or surprising. They are stories that attest to the startling varieties and travails of human experience, and the shared threads of love, loss, fear and kindness that connect us … The stories here…have translated seamlessly to the page. Though they are all relatively short … most possess a remarkable emotional depth and sincerity … They are…closely focused, finely tuned narratives that have the force of an epiphany, while opening out to disclose the panoramic vistas of one person’s life or the shockingly disparate worlds they have inhabited or traversed.”                Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“All These Wonders is replete with wondrous true stories of loves, losses, rerouted dreams, and existential crises of nearly every unsugarcoated flavour.”                   Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

 

 

So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder

 

Image result for So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa BroderSo sad today? Many are. Melissa Broder is too. How and why did she get to be so sad? And should she stay sad?

She asks herself these questions over and over here, turning them into a darkly mesmerising and strangely uplifting reading experience through coruscating honesty and a total lack of self-deceit.

Sexually confused, a recovering addict, suffering from an eating disorder and marked by one very strange sex fetish: Broder’s life is full of extremes. But from her days working for a Tantric nonprofit in San Francisco to caring for a severely ill husband, there’s no subject that Broder is afraid to write about, and no shortage of readers who can relate. When she started an anonymous Twitter feed @sosadtoday to express her darkest feelings, her unflinching frankness and twisted humour soon gained a huge cult following.

In its treatment of anxiety, depression, illness and instability; by its fearless exploration of the author’s romantic relationships (romantic is an expanded term in her hands); and with its inventive imagery and deadpan humour, So Sad Today is radical. It is an unapologetic, unblinkingly intimate book that splays out a soul and a prose of unusual beauty.

 

If Melissa Broder weren’t so fucking funny I would have wept through this entire book.”                        Lena Dunham

So Sad Today is desperately honest ― Melissa Broder lays herself bare but she does so with strength, savvy, and style. Sad and uncomfortable and its own kind of gorgeous. Reveals so much about what it is to live in this world, right now.”                  Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist

 

On Intelligence: The History of Espionage and the Secret World by John Hughes-Wilson

 

Image result for On Intelligence: The History of Espionage and the Secret World by John Hughes-WilsonThis book is a professional military-intelligence officer’s and a controversial insider’s view of some of the greatest intelligence blunders of recent history. It includes the serious developments in government misuse of intelligence in the recent war with Iraq. Colonel John Hughes-Wilson analyses not just the events that conspire to cause disaster, but why crucial intelligence is so often ignored, misunderstood or spun by politicians and seasoned generals alike.

This book analyses: how Hitler’s intelligence staff misled him in a bid to outfox their Nazi Party rivals; the bureaucratic bungling behind Pearl Harbor; how in-fighting within American intelligence ensured they were taken off guard by the Viet Cong’s 1968 Tet Offensive; how over confidence, political interference and deception facilitated Egypt and Syria’s 1973 surprise attack on Israel; why a handful of marines and a London taxicab were all Britain had to defend the Falklands; the mistaken intelligence that allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power until the second Iraq War of 2003; the truth behind the US failure to run a terrorist warning system before the 9/11 WTC bombing; and how governments are increasingly pressurising intelligence agencies to ‘spin’ the party-political line.

 

There should be a well-thumbed copy on every general’s and every intelligence officer’s bedside table.”                      Professor M.R.D. Foot

 

 

 

We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel

 

Imagine a sisterhood – across all creeds and cultures. An unspoken agreement that we, as women, will support and encourage one another. That we will remember we don’t know what struggles each of us may be facing elsewhere in our lives and so we will assume that each of us is doing our best…

So begins WE: an inspiring, empowering and provocative manifesto for change. Change which we can all effect, one woman at a time. Change which provides a crucial and timely antidote to the ‘have-it-all’ Superwoman culture and instead focusses on what will make each and every one of us happier and more free. Change which provides an answer to the nagging sense of ‘is that it?’ that almost all of us can succumb to when we wake in the dead of night.

Written by actress Gillian Anderson and journalist Jennifer Nadel – two friends who for the last decade have stumbled along together, learning, failing, crying, laughing and trying again – WE is a not a theoretical treatise but instead a rallying cry to create a life that has greater meaning and purpose. Combining tools which are practical, psychological and spiritual, it is both a process and a vision for a more fulfilling way of living. And a truly inspiring vision of a happier, more emotionally rewarding future we can all create together…

 

 

 

Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel  by Tom Wainwright

 

Image result for Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel  by Tom WainwrightEverything drug cartels do to survive and prosper they’ve learnt from big business – brand value and franchising from McDonald’s, supply chain management from Walmart, diversification from Coca-Cola. Whether it’s human resourcing, R&D, corporate social responsibility, off-shoring, problems with e-commerce or troublesome changes in legislation, the drug lords face the same strategic concerns companies like Ryanair or Apple. So when the drug cartels start to think like big business, the only way to understand them is using economics.

In Narconomics, Tom Wainwright meets everyone from coca farmers in secret Andean locations, deluded heads of state in presidential palaces, journalists with a price on their head, gang leaders who run their empires from dangerous prisons and teenage hitmen on city streets – all in search of the economic truth.

 

One of the pithiest and most persuasive arguments for drug law reform I have ever read.”                    Misha Glenny, New York Times

An economics manual for the Breaking Bad generation… a fascinating account.”                         The Times

Great fun… He reveals how drug barons run their illegal multi-billion dollar global businesses in much the same way as Fortune 500 chief executives.”                       Sunday Times

 

 

 

 

Black Hole Blues & Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin

 

Image result for Black Hole Blues & Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna LevinBrilliant and timely.”                         James Gleick

 

The full inside story of the detection of gravitational waves at LIGO, one of the most ambitious feats in scientific history.

Travel around the world 100 billion times. A strong gravitational wave will briefly change that distance by less than the thickness of a human hair. We have perhaps less than a few tenths of a second to perform this measurement. And we don’t know if this infinitesimal event will come next month, next year or perhaps in thirty years.

In 1916 Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves: miniscule ripples in the very fabric of spacetime generated by unfathomably powerful events. If such vibrations could somehow be recorded, we could observe our universe for the first time through sound: the hissing of the Big Bang, the whale-like tunes of collapsing stars, the low tones of merging galaxies, the drumbeat of two black holes collapsing into one. For decades, astrophysicists have searched for a way of doing so…

In 2016 a team of hundreds of scientists at work on a billion-dollar experiment made history when they announced the first ever detection of a gravitational wave, confirming Einstein’s prediction. This is their story, and the story of the most sensitive scientific instrument ever made: LIGO.

Based on complete access to LIGO and the scientists who created it, Black Hole Blues provides a firsthand account of this astonishing achievement: a compelling, intimate portrait of cutting-edge science at its most awe-inspiring and ambitious.

 

Gripping … very, very well written … I reached the beautiful ending of this book with a little sob of gratitude … heartbreaking … brilliant.”                 Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

It is hard to imagine that a better narrative will ever be written about the behind-the-scenes heartbreak and hardship that goes with scientific discovery. Black Hole Blues is a spectacular feat – a near-perfect balance of science, storytelling and insight … It is as inevitable as gravity that this book will win a swath of awards.”             Michael Brooks, New Statesman

Astonishing … superb … Ms Levin is able to tell the tale so soon, and so well, because she has had privileged access to the experiment. She has also known the experimenters for several years … Ms Levin is herself a scientist, which explains her access, but more than that she is a writer … readers feel as if they are sitting in on her interviews or watching over her shoulder as she describes two black holes colliding … A splendid book that I recommend to anyone with an interest in how science works and in the power of human imagination and ability.”                         John Gribbin, Wall Street Journal

A superb storyteller. This is the most vivid account I can remember of science policy in action … I’ll be surprised if anyone brings out a more readable book on gravitational waves in the near future.”                    Financial Times

Taking on the simultaneous roles of expert scientist, journalist, historian and storyteller of uncommon enchantment, Levin delivers pure signal from cover to cover … Levin harmonizes science and life with remarkable virtuosity … exposing the invisible, incremental processes that produce the final spark we call genius … As redemptive as the story of the countless trials and unlikely triumph may be, what makes the book most rewarding is Levin’s exquisite prose.”                  Maria Popova,  New York Times

The most important development in astronomy since the invention of the telescope … [Levin] excels in conveying the personalities of the scientists and their professional and personal struggles … With the success of Ligo, we stand at the dawn of a new era in astronomy, Levin says in her excellent book.”                Marcus Chown, THES

 

 

 

 

The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Maths Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich

 

Image result for The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Maths Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David EnrichListed as an FT book of the month

Anyone with an interest in financial services and in what has gone wrong will find The Spider Network compelling.”             Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

Will snare you in its web of deceit, lies, corruption, manipulation and colourful characters. [a] brilliant investigative exposé.”              Harlan Coben

A gripping narrative … impressive reporting and writing chops are on full display … reads like a fast-paced John le Carré thriller, and never lets up.”                  New York Times
A model of investigative financial writing… a more satisfying read than The Big Short by Michael Lewis”                      Literary Review

Jaw-dropping.”          Financial Times

In 2006, an oddball group of bankers, traders and brokers from some of the largest financial institutions made a startling realization: Libor—the London interbank offered rate, which determines the interest rates on trillions in loans worldwide—was set daily by a small group of easily manipulated administrators, and that they could reap huge profits by nudging it fractions of a percent to suit their trading portfolios. Tom Hayes, a brilliant but troubled mathematician, became the lynchpin of a wild alliance that included a prickly French trader nicknamed “Gollum”; the broker “Abbo,” who liked to publicly strip naked when drinking; a nervous Kazakh chicken farmer known as “Derka Derka”; a broker known as “Village” (short for “Village Idiot”) who racked up huge expense account bills; an executive called “Clumpy” because of his patchwork hair loss; and a broker uncreatively nicknamed “Big Nose” who had once been a semi-professional boxer. This group generated incredible riches —until it all unravelled in spectacularly vicious, backstabbing fashion.

With exclusive access to key characters and evidence, The Spider Network is not only a rollicking account of the scam, but also a provocative examination of a financial system that was crooked throughout.

 

A damning look at the culture of trader chicanery. Enrich has sidestepped the temptation to slip into author-as-prosecutor mode, instead going the wry tour guide route to lucidly (and often hilariously) usher readers through the Looney Tunes world that wrought l’affaire Libor.”                      John Helyar, coauthor of Barbarians at the Gate

With an unerring eye for detail, Enrich shows in this masterful work how a toxic stew of greed, arrogance and a lust for power led to a criminal scheme of unparalleled dimensions. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the dirty underbelly of the financial world.”                Kurt Eichenwald, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Informant

 

Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve: The Literary Quirks and Oddities of our Most-Loved Authors by Ben Blatt

 

Image result for Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve: The Literary Quirks and Oddities of our Most-Loved Authors by Ben BlattRead this book thoughtfully. It’s fun. And, I think, the shape of some very interesting things to come.”               John Sutherland, The Times 

Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve is a playful look at what the numbers have to say about our favourite authors and their classic books. Journalist and statistician Ben Blatt asks the questions that have intrigued curious book lovers for generations: Does each writer have their own stylistic footprint? Do men and women write differently? What are the crutch words our best-loved authors fall back on? Which writer is the most cliched? Spanning from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to fan fiction, JK Rowling and Stephen King, Blatt reveals the quirks and oddities of the world’s greatest writers. This is a lighthearted, humorous book that uses numbers to inform our understanding of words to enlighten, to clarify, and, above all, to entertain.

 

 

Tragic Shores: A Memoir of Dark Travel by Thomas Cook

Image result for Tragic Shores: A Memoir of Dark Travel by Thomas CookI have come to thank dark places for the light they bring to life.’

Thomas Cook has always been drawn to dark places, for the powerful emotions they evoke and for what we can learn from them. These lessons are often unexpected and sometimes profoundly intimate, but they are never straightforward.

With his wife and daughter, Cook travels across the globe in search of darkness – from Lourdes to Ghana, from San Francisco to Verdun, from the monumental, mechanised horror of Auschwitz to the intimate personal grief of a shrine to dead infants in Kamukura, Japan. Along the way he reflects on what these sites may teach us, not only about human history, but about our own personal histories.

During the course of a lifetime of traveling to some of earth’s most tragic shores, from the leper colony on Molokai to ground zero at Hiroshima, he finds not darkness alone, but a light that can illuminate the darkness within each of us. Written in vivid prose, this is at once a personal memoir of exploration (both external and internal), and a strangely heartening look at the radiance that may be found at the very heart of darkness.

 

A memoir of a lifetime’s travel to some of the darkest places on earth: a first work of non-fiction from this much-admired and award-winning crime writer.

 

 

Happy reading!

 

 

April 2017

Tuesday, April 25th 2017 at 9:56 AM

Fiction

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

 
Growing up in 1930s Brooklyn, Florence Fein will do anything to escape the confining values of her family and her city, and create a life of meaning and consequence. When a new job and a love affair lead her to Moscow, she doesn’t think twice about abandoning America – only to discover, years later, that America has abandoned her.

Now, as her son Julian travels back to Moscow – entrusted to stitch together a murky transcontinental oil deal – he must dig into Florence’s past to discover who his mother really was and what she became. He must also persuade his own son, Lenny, to abandon his risky quest for prosperity in the cut-throat Russian marketplace. As he traces a thread from Depression-era America, through the collective housing and work camps of Stalin’s USSR, to the glittering, oil-rich world of New Russia, Julian finally begins to understand the role he has played – as a father, and as a son.

Urgently relevant, The Patriots asks huge, complex questions about identity, loyalty, truth and self-deception, and explores tangled historical connections between Russia and the US… At the heart of this weighty and engaging novel are true stories: hundreds of Americans living in the USSR in the 1930s … The Patriots contains elements of family saga, corporate thriller, historical novel and philosophical bildungsroman. Krasikov writes with a poetic ear for sound and cadence.”  Guardian

“[An] outstanding historical saga [and] a dazzling and addictive piece of work… Accomplished and packed with believable detail and entertaining dialogue [The Patriots] also feels curiously relevant, tip-toeing around the complicated relationship between the United States and Russia during and after the Cold War… As an intelligent literary commentary on Russo-American relations of the past century, it’s unparalleled.”             Spectator
“The Patriots is a masterwork, a Dr Zhivago for our times. It is a novel rooted in characters so real you weep over their tragic fates, so realized you think you’re watching a movie, with sentences so sharp and wise they stop you in your tracks. The story of dreamy Florence Fein, from Flatbush, Brooklyn, will break your heart.” Yann Martel

A sweeping, ambitious kaleidoscope of family, faith, identity, idealism, and displacement… I found on every page an observation so acute, a sentence of such truth and shining detail, that it demanded re-reading for the sheer pleasure of it. The Patriots has convinced me that Krasikov belongs among the totemic young writers of her era.”            Khaled Hosseini
Compelling… Krasikov’s characters are so vivid that you almost think you are watching events unfold on a movie screen… The Patriots is a novel which encompasses many themes – identity, family, love, self-deception and the dangers of political ideology. it’s a beautifully written epic novel, and it will certainly be one of my stand-out reads of the year.”    Culture Life

“[The Patriots] draws you in and envelops you completely, [with] characters who are as vivid as friends. Krasikov tackles huge themes with aplomb, her writing as confident as a veteran’s. Particularly in the anniversary year of the Revolution, what she has to say on the compromises we make for idealism – for love of country – is worth reading.”         Elle

 

 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

 

Image result for Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal“Big-hearted, earthy and funny… A rattlingly good story.”   Deborah Moggach

 

Every woman has a secret life…

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…

 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows balances darkness and light, social commentary and ecstatic escapism… funny and moving tale of desire and its discontents.”                     Economist

Poignant, intelligent yet wickedly funny – a delightful read that reignites one’s belief in the power of sisterhood.”                        June Sarpong

 

 

 

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underwood

 
Vivid and Terrifying.”             Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…

  1. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

At once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller.”     Patrick Gale

A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel.”    Ian McGuire, author of The North Water

A richly told and utterly compelling tale, with shades of Hilary Mantel.”  Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat

A clever, pacey read that blends truth and fiction.”                        The Times

“A clever novel with a slow burn of horror.”             Guardian

‘A haunting, brooding debut’ (Psychologies)

In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant

 

Image result for In the Name of the Family by Sarah DunantIn the Name of the Family – as Blood and Beauty did before – holds up a mirror to a turbulent moment of history, sweeping aside the myths to bring alive the real Borgia family; complicated, brutal, passionate and glorious. Here is a thrilling exploration of the House of Borgia’s doomed years, in the company of a young diplomat named Niccolo Machiavelli.

It is 1502 and Rodrigo Borgia, a self-confessed womaniser and master of political corruption is now on the Papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia, aged twenty-two, already thrice married and a pawn in her father’s plans, is discovering her own power. And then there is Cesare Borgia: brilliant, ruthless and increasingly unstable; it is his relationship with the diplomat Machiavelli which offers a master class on the dark arts of power and politics. What Machiavelli learns will go on to inform his great work of modern politics, The Prince.

But while the pope rails against old age and his son’s increasing maverick behavior it is Lucrezia who will become the Borgia survivor: taking on her enemies and creating her own place in history.

A thrilling period vividly brought to life.”                 Woman & Home

In the end, what’s a historical novelist’s obligation to the dead? Accuracy? Empathy? Justice? Or is it only to make them live again? Dunant pays these debts with a passion.”              Washington Post

Which one of us will go down in history?” asks Cesare of Machiavelli. There are many words written about both men in fiction and non-fiction. However Dunant has a storyteller’s instincts for the telling detail and the broad sweep of history. This, and her glorious prose make Dunant’s version irresistible.”                         The Times

Dunant has made completely her own the story of Italy’s most infamous ruling family. Retaining the knack for plotting and pacing from the crime novels that began her career, she depicts history in a way that we can see, hear and smell . . . Dunant’s Italian novels are an enthralling education.”              Mark Lawson, Guardian

Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton

 
For Kari du Toit, Valentine’s Day will never be the same again. When the love of her life reveals he’s been unfaithful to her, life, romance, and everything in-between come crashing down. Suddenly it seems as if her previous life – one far removed from Bloubergstrand’s sandy beaches – is slowly catching up with her.

After ten years of silence, Kari receives a call from her estranged brother. At the foot of Devil’s Peak, where neighbourly salaams and burkas are as ordinary as yellow polka-dot bikinis in Blouberg, she once again becomes Karima Essop, daughter of Amina and Farouk Essop. Daughter, sister, deserter.

For Kari, sometimes finding love means going back to where you came from.

 

An outstanding debut, and definitely an author to watch.

 

 

 

Blackout by Marc Elsberg

 

A dazzling debut.”     Marcel Berlins, The Times

The Global Million-Copy Bestseller. Published In 15 Languages Worldwide. A 21st-Century High-Concept Disaster Thriller

Fast, tense, thrilling – and timely: this will happen one day. Highly recommended.”         Lee Child

Tomorrow will be too late.

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead.

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse.

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars.

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers.

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?

 

 

A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume

 

When I finished Sara Baume’s new novel I immediately felt sad that I could not send it in the post to the late John Berger. He, too, would have loved it and found great joy in its honesty, its agility, its beauty, its invention. Baume is a writer of outstanding grace and style. She writes beyond the time we live in.”    Colum McCann

Struggling to cope with urban life – and with life in general – Frankie, a twenty-something artist, retreats to the rural bungalow on ‘turbine hill’ that has been vacant since her grandmother’s death three years earlier. It is in this space, surrounded by nature, that she hopes to regain her footing in art and life. She spends her days pretending to read, half-listening to the radio, failing to muster the energy needed to leave the safety of her haven. Her family come and go, until they don’t and she is left alone to contemplate the path that led her here, and the smell of the carpet that started it all.

Finding little comfort in human interaction, Frankie turns her camera lens on the natural world and its reassuring cycle of life and death. What emerges is a profound meditation on the interconnectedness of wilderness, art and individual experience, and a powerful exploration of human frailty.

 

A fascinating portrait of an artist’s breakdown in rural Ireland … a remarkable ability to generate narrative pace while eschewing plot, making it enough for the reader to observe a mind observing the world … it’s fascinating, because of the cumulative power of the precise, pleasingly rhythmic sentences, and the unpredictable intelligence of the narrator’s mind … Art may also require a willingness to question the ordinary that is incompatible with conventional criteria of sanity. One of the most radical aspects of this novel is its challenge to received wisdom about mental illness … There are no answers here, but there is a reminder of the beauty that can be found when you allow yourself to look slowly and sadly at the world.”                Guardian

After a remarkable and deservedly award-winning debut, here is a novel of uniqueness, wonder, recognition, poignancy, truth-speaking, quiet power, strange beauty and luminous bedazzlement.”      Joseph O’Connor

“Extraordinarily compelling … What makes it so gripping as that the reader is trapped in Frankie’s mind as much as she is; every tiny detail is magnified into metaphysical significance that she cannot understand and that the reader cannot parse … Frankie’s surreal and yet understandable mind-patterns are eloquent as well as awful.”            Spectator

Baume’s mixing of the visual arts and fiction is as satisfying as Ali Smith’s … [a] raw-nerved and wonderful novel.”                          New Statesman

 

 

 

 

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

 
Shortlisted For The 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction

There are things even love can’t do … If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it’s in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer love …

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.

 

Scorching, gripping, ultimately lovely.”       Margaret Atwood

 

Affecting and powerful … Adebayo’s prose is a pleasure: immediate, unpretentious and flecked with whip-smart Nigerian-English dialogue. There are only three first-time novelists on this year’s Baileys longlist; Adebayo deserves her spot among them.”       Sunday Times

 

A thoroughly contemporary style that is all her own … clever and funny … despite the intense sadness of her subject matter, she has produced a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride.”                        Guardian

 

Colourful, vibrant, energetic – a stunning tale of what happens when societal expectations collide with reality.”                        Tendai Huchu, author of The Hairdresser of Harare

 

 

All Our Wrong Todays by Elam Mastai

 
When Tom loses the love of his life, time travel seems like the only answer. . . what could possibly go wrong?

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.

But it never should’ve turned out like this. And it’s all my fault – well, me and to a lesser extent my father.

And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

In both worlds, she’s the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.

I have one impossible chance to fix history’s greatest mistake and save this broken world.

Except it means saving one Penelope and losing the other forever – and I have absolutely no idea which to choose …

A mind-bending time travel caper.”             Guardian

A thrilling tale of time travel and alternate timelines with a refreshingly optimistic view of humanity’s future.”             Andy Weir, author of international bestseller The Martian

All Our Wrong Todays is elaborately constructed and incredibly emotionally intelligent; it’s a story with super high stakes that genuinely makes you feel every part of Tom’s awful predicament.”                 SciFiNow

A timeless, if mind-bending, story about the journeys we take, populated by friends, family, lovers and others, that show us who we might be, could be – and maybe never should be – that eventually leads us to who we are.”                        USA Today

 

 

Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

 

Underneath the Roanoke Girls’ perfect exterior lies a chilling secret…

Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?
I was immediately drawn into The Roanoke Girls, a haunting and riveting look at one family’s tangled legacy. You won’t stop reading until you’ve unraveled the darkest of Roanoke’s shocking secrets.”               Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood

Dark and intense… with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.”    L.S. Hilton, author of Maestra

 

The Accusation by Bandi

 
In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer, known to us only by the pseudonym Bandi, began to write a series of stories about life under Kim Il-sung’s totalitarian regime. Smuggled out of North Korea and set for publication around the world in 2017, The Accusation provides a unique and shocking window on this most secretive of countries.

Bandi’s profound, deeply moving, vividly characterised stories tell of ordinary men and women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: a factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend and loyalty to the Party; a woman struggling to feed her husband through the great famine; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the absurd theatre of their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare.

The Accusation is a heartbreaking portrayal of the realities of life in North Korea. It is also a reminder that humanity can sustain hope even in the most desperate of circumstances – and that the courage of free thought has a power far beyond those seek to suppress it.

A must-read! The first book of fiction to come out of North Korea. (Smuggled.) Fascinating and chilling. Heartfelt and heartbreaking.”               Margaret Atwood

If poetry, as Wordsworth said, can be glossed as powerful emotion recollected in tranquillity, The Accusation reads like powerful emotion felt right now, in a condition of ongoing crisis … In its scope and courage, The Accusation is an act of great love.”                 Guardian

A collection of courageous and confounding short stories … It’s a quiet privilege to be given access to the voiceless by listening to such vivid and uncompromised storytelling … this collection of stories seems both a flickering light in North Korea’s darkness and an unintentional reminder that it is getting darker here, too.”                  New Statesman

 

 

 

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe  by Dawn Tripp

 
In a dazzling work of historical fiction in the vein of Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, Dawn Tripp brings to life Georgia O’Keeffe, her love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and her quest to become an independent artist.

This is not a love story. If it were, we would have the same story. But he has his, and I have mine. 

In 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe is a young, unknown art teacher when she travels to New York to meet Stieglitz, the famed photographer and art dealer, who has discovered O’Keeffe’s work and exhibits it in his gallery. Their connection is instantaneous. O’Keeffe is quickly drawn into Stieglitz’s sophisticated world, becoming his mistress, protégé, and muse, as their attraction deepens into an intense and tempestuous relationship and his photographs of her, both clothed and nude, create a sensation.

Yet as her own creative force develops, Georgia begins to push back against what critics and others are saying about her and her art. And soon she must make difficult choices to live a life she believes in.

Complex and original . . . Georgia conveys O Keeffe s joys and disappointments, rendering both the woman and the artist with keenness and consideration.”             New York Times Book Review
As magical and provocative as O Keeffe s lush paintings of flowers that upended the art world in the 1920s . . . [Dawn] Tripp inhabits Georgia s psyche so deeply that the reader can practically feel the paintbrush in hand as she creates her abstract paintings and New Mexico landscapes. . . . Evocative from the first page to the last, Tripp s Georgia is a romantic yet realistic exploration of the sacrifices one of the foremost artists of the twentieth century made for love.”                      USA Today

 

 

Invisible Planets: Collected Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi

 

Mindblowingly inventive and beautifully written short stories from the most exciting new name in SF.

Hannu Rajaniemi exploded onto the SF scene in 2010 with the publication of his first novel The Quantum Thief. Acclaimed by fellow authors such as Charles Stross, Adam Roberts and Alastair Reynolds and brilliantly reviewed everywhere from Interzone to the Times and the Guardian he swiftly established a reputation as an author who could combine extraordinary cutting edge science with beautiful prose and deliver it all with wit, warmth and a delight in the fun of storytelling.

It is exactly these qualities that are showcased in this his first collection of short stories. Drawn from antholgies, magazines and online publications and brought together in book form for the first time in this collection here is a collection of seventeen short stories that range from the lyrical to the bizarre, from the elegaic to the impish. It is a collection that shows one of the great new imaginations in SF having immense fun.

 

A collection that combines the hard science smarts of Gregory Benford with the hipster speak-infected experimentation of M John Harrison, it’s the perfect starting point for Rajaniemi’s fiction.”                     SFX

 

 

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

 


“Robinson is one of the world’s finest working novelists, in any genre. New York 2140 is a towering novel about a genuinely grave threat to civilisation.”                     
 Guardian

The waters rose, submerging New York City.

But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever.

Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island.

Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides.

And how we too will change.

Like all great sci-fi, New York 2140 is as much inward-looking as it is forward- . . . Robinson’s work has a strong, intelligent social conscience.”                         GQ

Robinson seamlessly binds together characters and narrative strands . . . An immensely enjoyable reading experience.”               SciFiNow

It’s near impossible to capture the vibrance of the entire city in the span of one single novel, yet Kim Stanley Robinson manages to do just that and more.”           Newsweek

 

The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories edited by Jared Shurin and Mahvesh Murad

 

Image result for The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories edited by Jared Shurin and Mahvesh MuradA fascinating collection of new and classic tales of the fearsome Djinn, from bestselling, award-winning and breakthrough international writers.
Imagine a world filled with fierce, fiery beings, hiding in our shadows, in our dreams, under our skins. Eavesdropping and exploring; savaging our bodies, saving our souls. They are monsters, saviours, victims, childhood friends.

 

These are the Djinn. And they are everywhere. On street corners, behind the wheel of a taxi, in the chorus, between the pages of books. Every language has a word for them. Every culture knows their traditions. Every religion, every history has them hiding in their dark places.
There is no part of the world that does not know them. They are the Djinn. They are among us.
With stories from Neil Gaiman, Nnedi Okorafor, Amal El-Mohtar, Helene Wecker, Catherine Faris King, Claire North, E.J. Swift, Hermes (trans. Robin Moger), Jamal Mahjoub, James Smythe, J.Y. Yang, Kamila Shamsie, Kirsty Logan, K.J. Parker, Kuzhali Manickavel, Maria Dahvana Headley, Monica Byrne, Saad Hossain, Sami Shah, Sophia Al-Maria, and Usman Malik.

 

Exquisite and audacious, and highly recommended.”         New York Times

Ignites like the creature it profiles… a rich and illuminating cultural experience.”           Washington Post

 

 

Graphic

Sticks Angelica: Folk Hero by Michael deForge

 

Image result for Graphic    Sticks Angelica: Folk Hero by Michael deForgeSticks Angelica is, in her own words, 49 years old. Former: Olympian, poet, scholar, sculptor, minister, activist, Governor General, entrepreneur, line cook, head- mistress, Mountie, columnist, libertarian, cellist. After a high-profile family scandal, Sticks escapes to the woods to live in what would be relative isolation were it not for the many animals that surround and inevitably annoy her. Sticks is an arrogant self-obsessed force who wills herself on the flora and fauna. There is a rabbit named Oatmeal who harbours an unrequited love for her, a pair of kissing geese, a cross- dressing moose absurdly named Lisa Hanawalt. When a reporter named, ahem, Michael DeForge shows up to interview Sticks for his biography on her, she quickly slugs him and buries him up to his neck, immobilizing him. Instead, Sticks narrates her way through the forest, recalling formative incidents from her storied past in what becomes a strange sort of autobiography. Deforge s witty dialogue and deadpan narration create a bizarre yet eerily familiar world. Sticks Angelica plays with autobiography, biography, and hagiography to look at how we build our own sense of self and how others carry on the roles we create for them in our own personal dramas.

 

A surreal trip into the Canadian wilderness.”           Vice

Toying with autobiography, biography, and hagiography, DeForge examines both how we build our own sense of self and how others take on the roles we create for them.”             Guardian

“[Sticks Angelica is] a meditation on fame… a beautiful, disturbing daydream in pink-and-black ink.”                  Publishers Weekly Starred Review

 

 

Terms & Conditions by R. Sikoryak

 

Image result for Terms & Conditions by R SikoryakFor his newest project, R. Sikoryak tackles the monstrously and infamously dense legal document, iTunes Terms and Conditions, the contract everyone agrees to but no one reads. In a word for word 94-page adaptation, Sikoryak hilariously turns the agreement on its head each page features an avatar of Apple cofounder and legendary visionary Steve Jobs juxtaposed with a different classic strip such as Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey, or a contemporary graphic novel such as Craig Thompson’s Blankets or Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Adapting the legalese of the iTunes Terms and Conditions into another medium seems like an unfathomable undertaking, yet Sikoryak creates a surprisingly readable document, far different from its original, purely textual incarnation and thus proving the accessibility and flexibility of comics. When Sikoryak parodies Kate Beaton’s Hark A Vagrant peasant comics with Steve Jobs discussing objectionable material or Homer Simpson as Steve Jobs warning of the penalties of copyright infringement, Terms and Conditions serves as a surreal record of our modern digital age where technology competes with enduringly ironclad mediums.

 

The juxtaposition is hilarious, and we see a Steve Jobs-like character as a stand-in for the heroes of each original work, with the scenes peppered with Apple devices and references alike.”             Macworld

It’s a prodigious feat of pastiche that gives rise to multiple interpretations… Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics) is an undeniably talented artist with a keen ability to capture different styles, as well as a sly conceptual satirist and prankster. Few will ever actually read these terms and conditions, but that’s basically the point.”                        Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Each page is a loving tribute to a comic book that Sikoryak loves or respects… Sikoryak hasn’t just thrown the text at random pictures; he appears to have actually read this thing through and selected from the vast historic tapestry of comic book imagery a highly appropriate sequence that seems to suit the relevant quoted words perfectly.”                   Independent

 

 

 

Non-Fiction

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today – written as a letter to a friend.

I have some suggestions for how to raise Chizalum. But remember that you might do all the things I suggest, and she will still turn out to be different from what you hoped, because sometimes life just does its thing. What matters is that you try.

In We Should All be Feminists, her eloquently argued and much admired essay of 2014, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie proposed that if we want a fairer world we need to raise our sons and daughters differently. Here, in this remarkable new book, Adichie replies by letter to a friend’s request for help on how to bring up her newborn baby girl as a feminist. With its fifteen pieces of practical advice it goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century.

 

“Dear Ijeawele reminds us that, in the history of feminist writing, it is often the personal and epistolary voice that carries the political story most powerfully – For me, the most powerful sentence in the book is its simplest, and comes in only the third paragraph. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie urges Ijeawele to remember to transmit to her daughter “the solid unbending belief that you start off with . . . Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only’. Not ‘as long as’. I matter equally. Full stop.”..there is no doubt that if we raised all of our daughters to believe completely that they “matter equally”, to trust what they feel and think and to worry less about how they look and come across, we would soon find new ways to challenge the multiple injustices and indignities that still limit, and even wreck, so many women’s lives.”                       New Statesman

Personal and urgent . . . Adichie is passionate about equality. Her new book offers 15 ways that we can encourage girls to be strong, to plant seeds of feminism. But more than that, Adichie hopes the book will help ‘move us toward a world that is more gender equal.’ Doing so means knocking down ingrained assumptions about how men and women think and behave.”                      Washington Post

 

 

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

 
The New York Times Bestseller

These 128 pages are a brief primer in every important thing we might have learned from the history of the last century, and all that we appear to have forgotten.”              Observer

History does not repeat, but it does instruct.

In the twentieth century, European democracies collapsed into fascism, Nazism and communism. These were movements in which a leader or a party claimed to give voice to the people, promised to protect them from global existential threats, and rejected reason in favour of myth. European history shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary people can find themselves in unimaginable circumstances.

History can familiarise, and it can warn. Today, we are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to totalitarianism in the twentieth century. But when the political order seems imperilled, our advantage is that we can learn from their experience to resist the advance of tyranny.

Now is a good time to do so.

 

Timothy Snyder reasons with unparalleled clarity, throwing the past and future into sharp relief. He has written the rare kind of book that can be read in one sitting but will keep you coming back to help regain your bearings. Put a copy in your pocket and one on your bedside table, and it will help you keep going for the next four years or however long it takes.”           Masha Gessen
Easily the most compelling volume among the early resistance literature. . . . A slim book that fits alongside your pocket Constitution and feels only slightly less vital. . . . Clarifying and unnerving. . . . A memorable work that is grounded in history yet imbued with the fierce urgency of what now.”                   Washington Post

We are rapidly ripening for fascism. This American writer leaves us with no illusions about ourselves.”                        Svetlana Alexievich, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Please read this book. So smart, so timely.”                        George Saunders
As Timothy Snyder explains in his fine and frightening On Tyranny, a minority party now has near-total power and is therefore understandably frightened of awakening the actual will of the people.”                     Adam Gopnik,  New Yorker
 

The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason by Christopher de Bellaigue

 

Image result for The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason by Christopher de BellaigueThe best sort of book for our disordered days: timely, urgent and illuminating.”  Pankaj Mishra
The Islamic Enlightenment: a contradiction in terms?

The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise, reform and adapt. But, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has in fact been transformed by modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy.

Who were the scholars and scientists, writers and politicians that brought about these remarkable changes? And why is their legacy now under threat?

Beginning with the dramatic collision of East and West following Napoleon’s arrival in Egypt, and taking us through 200 tumultuous years of Middle Eastern history, Christopher de Bellaigue introduces us to key figures and reformers; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals like Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn and the writer Ibrahim Sinasi, who transformed Ottoman Turkey’s language and literature.

This book tells the forgotten story of the Islamic Enlightenment. It shows us how to look beyond sensationalist headlines to foster a genuine understanding of modern Islam and Muslim culture, and is essential reading for anyone engaged with the state of the world today.

 

It strikes a blow … for common humanity.”  Sunday Times
This book is an enlightenment in itself, and a salient one in this age when everyone seems to feel entitled to a firm opinion about Islam and Muslims.”        David Aaronovitch, The Times

A highly original and informative survey of the clashes between Islam and modernity in Istanbul, Cairo and Tehran in the last two hundred years. Brilliant.” (Orhan Pamuk)

A refreshingly optimistic counterpoint to the idea that Muslim and Western world-views are doomed to clash.”                          Economist

Timely, thoughtful and provocative.”           Peter Frankopan

A brilliantly learned and entertaining study of a topic that is of far more than merely antiquarian interest: the encounter between the Islamic world and the post-Enlightenment West.”              Tom Holland

 

Cleverlands: The Secret Behind the Success of the World’s Education Superpowers by Lucy Crehan

 
As a teacher in an inner-city school, Lucy Crehan was exasperated with ever-changing government policy claiming to be based on lessons from ‘top-performing’ education systems. She became curious about what was really going on in classrooms of the countries whose teenagers ranked top in the world in reading, maths and science.

Determined to dig deeper, Lucy set off on a personal educational odyssey through Finland, Japan, Singapore, Shanghai and Canada, teaching in schools, immersing herself in their very different cultures and discovering the surprising truths about school life that don’t appear in the charts and graphs.

Cleverlands documents her journey, weaving together her experiences with research on policy, history, psychology and culture to offer extensive new insights and provide answers to three fundamental questions:

How do these countries achieve their high scores? What can others learn from them? And what is the price of this success?

 

Lucy Crehan’s book is refreshingly fair-minded and makes a case that there is a lot to learn about how other countries learn.”                     Books of the Year, Economist

Audacious and important . . . Cleverlands is not just for specialists: it’s a wry and accessible narrative of personal enterprise.”                 Prospect

 

 

 

Republic of Gupta: A Story of State Capture by Pieter-Louis Myburgh

 
The Guptas rose to national infamy when a commercial airliner packed with guests for a family wedding was allowed to land at Air Force Base Waterkloof in 2013, sparking an onslaught of public outrage. Since then, they have become embroiled in allegations of state capture, of dishing out cabinet posts to officials who would do their bidding, and of benefiting from lucrative state contracts and dubious loans.

 

The Republic of Gupta  investigates what the Gupta brothers were up to during Thabo Mbeki’s presidency and how they got into the inner circle of President Jacob Zuma. It shines new light on their controversial ventures in computers, cricket, newspapers and TV news, and coal and uranium mining. And it explores their exposure by public protector Thuli Madonsela, their conflict with finance minister Pravin Gordhan, and the real reasons behind the cabinet reshuffle of March 2017.

 

Pieter-Louis Myburgh delves deeper than ever before into the Guptas’ business dealings and their links to prominent South African politicians, and explains how one family managed to transform an entire country into the Republic of Gupta.

 

 

Black Like You: An Autobiography by Herman Mashaba

 

Image result for Black Like You: An Autobiography by Herman MashabaHerman Mashaba rose from humble beginnings to become one of South Africa’s wealthiest and best-known entrepreneurs.

His remarkable story begins in a small village in Gauteng, where we meet the cocky youngster who refused to settle for a future that offered nothing. Forced to drop out of university, the determined young man fought to establish the first black-owned haircare company in South Africa. Mashaba struggled every day of his life – against apartheid, with its demeaning laws, and against his competitors to grab market share for his business. In the process, Mashaba learnt lessons that few business schools teach today.

This is a story of survival, and of determination in adversity. It is also a love story between Herman and Connie, his wife of 30 years, who embarked on this journey together. Mashaba shows the importance of having a vision, daring to dream it, and then making it happen.

This inspiring book will leave you with the question: “If he did it, why can’t I?”

The experiences reflected in this book are real and the manner in which he rose above the hurdles he faced is a reliable framework to self-actualisation and achievement.”                         Dr Thami Mazwai

After reading Black Like You … I appeal to the government to save taxpayers money and stop writing more reports and instead study Herman Mashaba’s autobiography.”                    Moeletsi Mbeki

A better role model, truer patriot and son of the soil I can hardly imagine. At a time when somewhat limited and even rapacious young business leaders descend on the trough of public tenders, our youth would do well to read Black Like You.”          Justice Dikgang Moseneke

He tells sometimes uncomfortable truths and shares moments of inspiration which have led to his becoming one of this country’s enduring role models. If this modest little book doesn’t inspire you, nothing will!”                       Jenny Crwy-Williams

 

 

A Crime in the Family by Sacha Batthyány

 
A memoir of brutality, heroism and personal discovery from Europe’s dark heart, revealing one of the most extraordinary untold stories of the Second World War

In the spring of 1945, at Rechnitz on the Austrian-Hungarian border, not far from the front lines of the advancing Red Army, Countess Margit Batthyany gave a party in her mansion. The war was almost over, and the German aristocrats and SS officers dancing and drinking knew it was lost. Late that night, they walked down to the village, where 180 enslaved Jewish labourers waited, made them strip naked, and shot them all, before returning to the bright lights of the party. It remained a secret for decades, until Sacha Batthyany, who remembered his great-aunt Margit only vaguely from his childhood as a stern, distant woman, began to ask questions about it.

A Crime in the Family is Sacha Batthyany’s memoir of confronting these questions, and of the answers he found. It is one of the last untold stories of Europe’s nightmare century, spanning not just the massacre at Rechnitz, the inhumanity of Auschwitz, the chaos of wartime Budapest and the brutalities of Soviet occupation and Stalin’s gulags, but also the silent crimes of complicity and cover-up, and the damaged generations they leave behind.

Told partly through the surviving journals of others from the author’s family and the vanished world of Rechnitz, A Crime in the Family is a moving and revelatory memoir in the vein of The Hare with the Amber Eyes and The House by the Lake. It uncovers barbarity and tragedy but also a measure of peace and reconciliation. Ultimately, Batthyany discovers that although his inheritance might be that of monsters, he does not bear it alone.

 

 

What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump’s America  edited by Dennis Johnson & Valerie Merians

 

Image result for What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump’s America  edited by Dennis Johnson & Valerie MeriansThe election of Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States of America shocked and dismayed progressives across the country. What We Do Now, a collection of passionate manifestos by some of the country’s leading progressives, aims to provide a blueprint for how those stunned progressives can move forward. Its powerful contributions — from economists, environmentalists, activists, artists, politicians, and novelists — will offer encouragement and guidance to practicing constitutionally protected acts of resistance throughout the unprecedented upcoming administration.

Among the contributors are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Gloria Steinem, Paul Krugman, Robert B. Reich, George Saunders and Dave Eggers as well the heads of the ACLU, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the Arab American Association, the National GLBTQ Task Force, the Freedom of the Press Association, and other prominent activists.

 

Eloquent literary and political essays on propaganda and resistance… the collection’s most important function may be to simply remind readers that showing up has worked before.”      Economist

 

 

Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

 
Riot police are shutting down borders, 800 lives are lost in a single shipwreck, a boy’s body washes up on a beach: this is the European Union in summer 2015. But how did a bloc founded upon the values of human rights and dignity for all reach this point? And what was driving millions of desperate people to risk their lives on the Mediterranean? Charlotte McDonald-Gibson has spent years reporting on every aspect of Europe’s refugee crisis, and Cast Away offers a vivid glimpse of the personal dilemmas, pressures, choices and hopes that lie beneath the headlines. We meet Majid, a Nigerian boy who exchanges the violence of his homeland for Libya, only to be driven onto a rickety boat during Colonel Gaddafi’s crackdown on migrants. Nart is an idealistic young lawyer who risks imprisonment and torture in Syria until it is no longer safe for him to stay. Sina has to leave her new husband behind and take their unborn son across three continents to try and escape the Eritrean dictatorship. Mohammed is a teenager who dreams of becoming the world’s best electrician until he is called to serve as a foot-soldier in the Syrian army. And Hanan watches in horror as the safe life she built for her four children in Damascus collapses, and she has to entrust their lives to people smugglers. While the politicians wrangle over responsibility, and the media talk in statistics, Cast Away brings to life the human consequences of the most urgent humanitarian issue of our time.

 

McDonald-Gibson’s gripping storytelling has a cinematic quality… At times it’s easy to forget that these are experiences of real people, not fictional characters, as the reader becomes immersed in harrowing stories of danger, deception and disillusionment. But McDonald-Gibson also balances individual stories with a wider historical sweep [and] offers insights into the extraordinary political and historical contexts of the migrants’ home countries… [One of] the most important books you will read this year.”                 Irish Times

A closely reported, passionately argued, often deeply moving account of five refugees’ journeys to Europe. The unapologetically narrative style creates an effect similar to that of the photograph of the corpse of three year old Alan Kurdi in his red T shirt in 2015. It yanks away the anonymous screen of numbers and brings you face to face with real people – people you can recognise, in situations you can’t. [Cast Away] start[s] to do for the refugees what British abolitionists did for the slave trade… mobilise eyewitness testimony to promote empathy, and through empathy, better policy.”                     Guardian

March 2017

Monday, April 10th 2017 at 11:21 AM

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