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November/December 2018

Tuesday, December 4th 2018 at 11:38 AM

Fiction

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Image result for My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan BraithwaiteAs smart and murderous as Killing EveMy Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Feverishly hot.”                               Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

It’s Lagos noir – pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan…This book is, above all, built to move, to hurtle forward — and it does so, dizzyingly. There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction — on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy — there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention… This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember.”                              New York Times

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Image result for unsheltered by barbara kingsolver2016 – Vineland.
Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against an upended world that seems to hold no mercy for her shattered life and family – or the crumbling house that contains her.

1871 – Vineland.
Thatcher Greenwood, the new science teacher, is a fervent advocate of the work of Charles Darwin, and he is keen to communicate his ideas to his students. But those in power in Thatcher’s small town have no desire for a new world order. Thatcher and his teachings are not welcome.

Both Willa and Thatcher resist the prevailing logic. Both are asked to pay a high price for their courage. But both also find inspiration — and an unlikely kindred spirit — in Mary Treat, a scientist, adventurer and anachronism.

A testament to both the resilience and persistent myopia of the human condition, Unsheltered explores the foundations we build in life, spanning time and place to give us all a clearer look at those around us, and perhaps ourselves. It is a novel that speaks truly to our times.

It’s a truly marvellous book . . . Kingsolver has always had a singular ability to weave history, science and storytelling into a seamless and compelling whole . . . What is wonderful about Kingsolver’s work is her ability to convey optimism in even the most difficult situations – without ever sugar-coating anything . . . Kingsolver is a writer to treasure, to read and reread: she sees the world as it is, but believes, always, in the possibility of change.”                               Erica Wagner, Harper’s Bazaar

“Unsheltered is a beautiful, stirring novel about the dangers of clinging to old assumptions . . . Kingsolver emerges as a sort of Steinbeck of the precariat, and she may have produced the first great political novel of the Trump era.”            The Times

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Image result for Melmoth by Sarah PerryTHE NEW SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ESSEX SERPENT

Perry’s masterly piece of postmodern gothic is one of the great achievements of our century and deserves all the prizes and praise that will be heaped upon it.”                 Observer

Astonishingly dark, rich storytelling, exquisitely balanced between gothic shocks and emotional truth.”                               Francis Spufford

Mythic, ominous and sensitively human, Melmoth is haunting in all the best ways.”      Frances Hardinge

Twenty years ago Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But her sheltered life is about to change.

A strange manuscript has come into her possession. It is filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world. Condemned to walk the Earth forever, she tries to beguile the guilty and lure them away for a lifetime wandering alongside her.

Everyone that Melmoth seeks out must make a choice: to live with what they’ve done, or be led into the darkness. Helen can’t stop reading, or shake the feeling that someone is watching her. As her past finally catches up with her, she too must choose which path to take.

Exquisitely written, and gripping until the very last page, this is a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.

The Slender Man (Anonymous)

Image result for The Slender Man (Anonymous)One man’s search for the truth about one of the most intriguing urban legends ever—the modern bogeyman, Slender Man—leads him down a dark, dangerous path in this creepy supernatural fantasy that will make you question where the line between dark myth and terrifying reality begins.

Lauren Bailey has disappeared. As friends at her exclusive school speculate on what happened and the police search for answers, Matt Barker dreams of trees and a black sky . . . and something drawing closer.

Through fragments of journals, news stories, and online conversations, a figure begins to emerge—a tall, slender figure—and all divisions between fiction and delusion, between nightmare and reality, begin to fall.

Chilling, eerie, and addictively readable, Slender Man is a unique spine-tingling story and a brilliant and frightening look at one of the most fascinating—and diabolical—mythical figures in modern times.

Piranhas by Roberto Saviano

Image result for Piranhas by Roberto SavianoWith the open-hearted rashness that belongs to every true writer, Saviano returns to tell the story of the fierce and grieving heart of Naples.”            Elena Ferrante

In Naples, a new kind of gang rules the streets: the ‘Paranze’, the ‘Children’s Gangs’, groups of teenage boys who divide their time between Facebook or playing Call of Duty on their PlayStations and patrolling the streets armed with pistols and AK-47s, terrorizing local residents in order to mark out the territories of their Mafia bosses.

Roberto Saviano’s eye-opening novel The Piranhas tells the story of the rise of one such gang and its leader, Nicolas – known to his friends and enemies as the ‘Maharajah’. But Nicolas’s ambitions reach far beyond doing other men’s bidding: he wants to be the one giving orders, calling the shots, and ruling the city. But the violence he is accustomed to wielding and witnessing soon spirals out of his control . . .

Saviano’s characterisation, dialogue and set-pieces are first-rate, but what sets the book apart (as with Gomorrah) is his quasi-anthropological portrayal of a micro-society, with a mix of influences that ranges from Call of Duty, porn and mafia movies to Catholic ritual.”                            Sunday Times

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

Image result for The Sentence is Death by Anthony HorowitzDeath, deception, and a detective with quite a lot to hide stalk the pages of Anthony Horowitz’s brilliant new murder mystery, the second in the bestselling series starring Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne.

‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…’

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…

This is crime fiction as dazzling entertainment, sustained by writing as skilfully light-footed as Fred Astaire”        Sunday Times Crime Club (Star Pick)

A crime story that keeps you up into the small hours… a page-turning mystery.”               Metro

 

 

Non-fiction

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Image result for Becoming by Michelle ObamaA polished pearl of a memoir.”                  New York Times

A rich, entertaining and candid memoir. And overall Obama’s a fun person to sit alongside as she tells you the story of her life . . . it is as beautifully written as any piece of fiction.”               Independent

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Offers new insights into her upbringing on the south side of Chicago and the highs and lows of life with Barack Obama. . . a refreshing level of honesty about what politics really did to her. I have read Barack Obama’s two books so far, and this is like inserting a missing piece of reality into the narrative of his dizzying journey.”                                Guardian

I found myself lifting my jaw from my chest at the end of every other chapter . . . this was not the Obama I thought I knew. She was more.”    Independent

Everything’s Trash but It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson

Image result for Everything’s Trash but It’s Okay by Phoebe RobinsonRobinson offers deft cultural criticism and hilarious personal anecdotes that will make readers laugh, cringe, and cry. Everything may indeed be trash but writing like this reminds us that we’re gonna make it through all the terrible things with honesty, laughter, and faith.”                    Roxane Gay

New York Times bestselling author and star of 2 Dope Queens Phoebe Robinson is back with a new, hilarious, and timely essay collection on gender, race, dating, and the dumpster fire that is our world.

Written in her trademark unfiltered and witty style, Robinson’s latest collection is a call to arms. Outfitted with on-point pop culture references, these essays tackle a wide range of topics: giving feminism a tough-love talk on intersectionality, telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks, and calling foul on our culture’s obsession with work. Robinson also gets personal, exploring money problems she’s hidden from her parents, how dating is mainly a warmed-over bowl of hot mess, and definitely most important, meeting Bono not once, but twice. She’s struggled with being a woman with a political mind and a woman with an ever-changing jeans size. She knows about trash because she sees it every day – and because she’s seen roughly one hundred thousand hours of reality TV and zero hours of Schindler’s List.

With the intimate voice of a new best friend, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay is a candid perspective for a generation that has had the rug pulled out from under it too many times to count.

Just when it feels like the world is falling irreparably apart, Phoebe Robinson is here to make things better. Whether she is unpacking the state of feminism or taking you through the dystopian world of online dating, she is manages to be on point, original, and laugh out loud funny. This vital, unflinching essay collection simultaneously calls out all the bullshit, especially facing women, while making you feel like things are *actually* okay. Even brighter than before, thanks to this hilarious bighearted book.”                         Gabrielle Union, New York Times bestselling author of We’re Going to Need More Wine

Dear Mr Murray: Letters to a Gentleman Publisher edited by David McClay

Image result for Dear Mr Murray: Letters to a Gentleman Publisher edited by David McClayThe publishing house of John Murray was founded in Fleet Street in 1768 and remained a family firm over seven generations. Published to coincide with this ‘remarkable achievement’ and in the anniversary year, Dear Mr Murray is a collection of some of the best letters from the hundreds of thousands held in the John Murray Archive. They reveal not only the story of some of the most interesting and influential books in history but also the remarkable friendships – as well as occasional animosities – between author and publisher, as well as readers, editors, printers and illustrators.

Intended to entertain and inspire, and spanning more than two hundred years, Dear Mr Murray is full of literary history and curiosities: from Charles Darwin’s response to the negative reviews of On the Origin of Species to Adrian Conan Doyle challenging Harold Nicolson to a duel for insulting his father in the press; from Byron berating John Murray for being fooled by his girlfriend’s forgery of his signature to the poet James Hogg so desperate for money that he claims he won’t be able to afford a Christmas goose; and from Jane Austen expressing concern about printing delays to Patrick Leigh Fermor beseeching Jock Murray not to visit him until he’d completed A Time of Gifts. Complemented by illustrations and reproductions of letters and envelopes, this is the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere.

Few if any names in publishing are as revered as John Murray . . . This book, compiled to celebrate the company’s 250th anniversary is just a small sampling of that treasure trove . . .Whether angry, apologetic, wheedling or rude, the fondness and regard in which the Murrays were held by their correspondents shines through.”                     Herald

Can We All Be Feminists?: Seventeen Writers on Intersectionality, Identity and Finding the Right Way Forward for Feminism edited by June Eric-Udorie

Image result for Can We All Be Feminists?: Seventeen Writers on Intersectionality, Identity and Finding the Right Way Forward for Feminism edited by June Eric-UdorieThe intersectional feminist anthology we all need to read”                          Bustle

Not just a key read but a mandatory one.”         Stylist September Top Ten Books

Why is it difficult for so many women to fully identify with the word “feminist”? How do our personal histories and identities affect our relationship to feminism? Why is intersectionality so important? Can a feminist movement that doesn’t take other identities like race, religion, or socioeconomic class into account even be considered feminism? How can we make feminism more inclusive?

In Can We All Be Feminists?, seventeen established and emerging writers from diverse backgrounds wrestle with these questions, exploring what feminism means to them in the context of their other identities-from a hijab-wearing Muslim to a disability rights activist to a body-positive performance artist to a transgender journalist. Edited by the brilliant, galvanizing, and dazzlingly precocious nineteen-year-old feminist activist and writer June Eric-Udorie, this impassioned, thought-provoking collection showcases the marginalized women whose voices are so often drowned out and offers a vision for a new, comprehensive feminism that is truly for all.

Including essays by: Soofiya Andry, Gabrielle Bellot, Caitlin Cruz, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Brit Bennett, Evette Dionne, Aisha Gani, Afua Hirsch, Juliet Jacques, Wei Ming Kam, Mariya Karimjee, Eishar Kaur, Emer O’Toole, Frances Ryan, Zoé Samudzi, Charlotte Shane, and Selina Thompson.

Amid debates about the direction of the modern feminist movement, Can We All Be Feminists?, edited by June Eric-Udorie, presents new writing from 17 women on finding the right way forward, taking into account the intersections between different forms of prejudice.”                     Laura Bates, Guardian

Heavy: An American Memoir by Keise Laymon

Image result for Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese LaymonWow. Just wow.”           Roxane Gay

Unflinchingly honest.”                 Reni Eddo-Lodge

An act of truth-telling unlike any other I can think of.”                  Alexander Chee

The story of the black male experience in America you’ve never read before

Kiese Laymon grew up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his career as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, abuse, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing and ultimately gambling.

In Heavy, by attempting to name secrets and lies that he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few know how to love responsibly, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

A defiant yet vulnerable memoir that Laymon started writing when he was eleven, Heavy is an insightful exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship and family.

Staggering … a heartbreaking narrative on black bodies: how we hurt them, protect them, and try to heal them.”                Elle.com, Best Books of 2018

Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy by Benjamin Balint

Image result for 9781509836727Kafka’s Last Trial begins with Kafka’s last instruction to his closest friend, Max Brod: to destroy all his remaining papers upon his death. But when the moment arrived in 1924, Brod could not bring himself to burn the unpublished works of the man he considered a literary genius – even a saint. Instead, Brod devoted his life to championing Kafka’s writing, rescuing his legacy from obscurity and physical destruction.

The story of Kafka’s posthumous life is itself Kafkaesque. By the time of Brod’s own death in Tel Aviv in 1968, Kafka’s major works had been published, transforming the once little-known writer into a pillar of literary modernism. Yet Brod left a wealth of still-unpublished papers to his secretary, who sold some, held on to the rest, and then passed the bulk of them on to her daughters, who in turn refused to release them. An international legal battle erupted to determine which country could claim ownership of Kafka’s work: Israel, where Kafka dreamed of living but never entered, or Germany, where Kafka’s three sisters perished in the Holocaust?

Benjamin Balint offers a gripping account of the controversial trial in Israeli courts–brimming with dilemmas legal, ethical, and political–that determined the fate of Kafka’s manuscripts. Deeply informed, with sharply drawn portraits and a remarkable ability to evoke a time and place, Kafka’s Last Trial is at once a brilliant biographical portrait of a literary genius, and the story of two countries whose national obsessions with overcoming the traumas of the past came to a head in a hotly contested trial for the right to claim the literary legacy of one of our modern masters.

Dramatic and illuminating….raises momentous questions about nationality, religion, literature, and even the Holocaust.”                 Adam Kirsch, The Atlantic

A vital, gripping tale of a deep friendship between two seemingly incompatible young men….a wonderful opportunity to peer behind the screen of a dramatic life, death and literary resurrection.”                            Ruby Namdar, Moment

 

 

The Spy & the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

Image result for The Spy & the Traitor by Ben Macintyre*Shortlisted for the 2018 Ballie Gifford Prize*
*Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018*
*A top 10 Sunday Times bestseller*

The Best True Spy Story I Have Ever Read.”         John le Carré

A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain’s greatest historians

On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket.

The man was a spy for MI6. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia.

So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of espionage. In The Spy and the Traitor Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of betrayal, duplicity and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever.

A dazzling non-fiction thriller and an intimate portrait of high-stakes espionage.”            Guardian

A real-life thriller, as tense as John le Carré’s novels, or even Ian Fleming’s.”         Economist

 

 

Vietnam: An Epic Victory of a Divisive War by Max Hastings

Image result for Vietnam: An Epic Victory of a Divisive War by Max HastingsHis masterpiece.”           Antony Beevor, Spectator

A masterful performance.”         Sunday Times

Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed 2 million people.

Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, Huey pilots from Arkansas.

No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the 21st century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.

Magnificent… One by one, the sacred canons of right and left are obliterated. The war is laid bare, with all its uncomfortable truths exposed.”               The Times

 “Magnificent, his best work … It’s written in unputdownable style, with a dispassionate, liberal-minded understanding of the detail of the war, which draws on testimony from every side and doesn’t favour anyone. I’ve never read a better history of the wars in Vietnam, and it’s hard to see how anyone will be able to improve on this.”                               John Simpson

Heroes by Stephen Fry

Image result for Heroes by Stephen FryThere are Heroes – and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta – who was raised by bears – outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of – at our worst and our very best.

Assured and engaging. The pace is lively, the jokes are genuinely funny, and Fry once again proves himself a master of great learning worn lightly.”                       Observer

This is a spirited retelling of stories that Fry clearly knows and loves.”    The Times

Assured and engaging. The pace is lively, the jokes are genuinely funny, and Fry once again proves himself a master of great learning worn lightly.”                       Guardian

 

 

Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition by Francis Fukuyama

Image result for Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition by Francis FukuyamaIncreasingly, the demands of identity direct the world’s politics. Nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, gender: these categories have overtaken broader, inclusive ideas of who we are. We have built walls rather than bridges. The result: increasing in anti-immigrant sentiment, rioting on college campuses, and the return of open white supremacy to our politics.

In 2014, Francis Fukuyama wrote that American and global institutions were in a state of decay, as the state was captured by powerful interest groups. Two years later, his predictions were borne out by the rise to power of a series of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarian tendencies threatens to destabilise the entire international order. These populist nationalists seek direct charismatic connection to ‘the people’, who are usually defined in narrow identity terms that offer an irresistible call to an in-group and exclude large parts of the population as a whole.

Identity is an urgent and necessary book: a sharp warning that unless we forge a universal understanding of human dignity, we will doom ourselves to continual conflict.

As wise as it is compact, travelling at great speed through difficult terrain to a sensible conclusion.”                       Daniel Finkelstein Times

As a primer on the big political shift of our times, and an explainer of how we got here, this is not a book to pass by.”                Andrew Marr Sunday Times

 

 

Getting to Zero: A Doctor and a Diplomat on the Ebola Frontline by Sinead Walsh and Oliver Johnson

Image result for Getting to Zero: A Doctor and a Diplomat on the Ebola Frontline by Sinead Walsh and Oliver JohnsonIn 2014, a 28-year old British doctor found himself co-running the Ebola isolation unit in Sierra Leone’s main hospital after the doctor in charge had been killed by the virus. Completely overwhelmed and wrapped in stifling protective suits, he and his team took it in turns to provide care to patients while removing dead bodies from the ward. Against all odds he battled to keep the hospital open, as the queue of sick and dying patients grew every day.

Only a few miles down the road the Irish Ambassador and Head of Irish Aid worked relentlessly to rapidly scale up the international response. At a time when entire districts had been quarantined, she travelled around the country, and met with UN agencies, the President and senior ministers so as to be better placed in alerting the world to the catastrophe unfolding in front of her.

In this blow-by-blow account, Walsh and Johnson expose the often shocking shortcomings of the humanitarian response to the outbreak, both locally and internationally, and call our attention to the immense courage of those who put their lives on the line every day to contain the disease. Theirs is the definitive account of the fight against an epidemic that shook the world.

Takes us behind the scenes to the harrowing frontlines of the Ebola epidemic – highlighting a set of lessons that an inter-connected world would ignore at our peril. A compelling read.”                  Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the UN

A brave, bold, yet humble account from the frontlines of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. This is vital reading to help us all do better next time.”                                David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee

Monty Python corner

Erebus: The Story of a Ship by Michael Palin

Image result for Erebus: The Story of a Ship by Michael PalinHMS Erebus was one of the great exploring ships, a veteran of groundbreaking expeditions to the ends of the Earth.

In 1848, it disappeared in the Arctic, its fate a mystery. In 2014, it was found.

This is its story.

Beyond terrific. I didn’t want it to end.”                Bill Bryson

Michael Palin – Monty Python star and television globetrotter – brings the remarkable Erebus back to life, following it from its launch in 1826 to the epic voyages of discovery that led to glory in the Antarctic and to ultimate catastrophe in the Arctic.

The ship was filled with fascinating people: the dashing and popular James Clark Ross, who charted much of the ‘Great Southern Barrier’; the troubled John Franklin, whose chequered career culminated in the Erebus’s final, disastrous expedition; and the eager Joseph Dalton Hooker, a brilliant naturalist – when he wasn’t shooting the local wildlife dead.

Vividly recounting the experiences of the men who first set foot on Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and those who, just a few years later, froze to death one by one in the Arctic ice, beyond the reach of desperate rescue missions, Erebus is a wonderfully evocative account of a truly extraordinary adventure, brought to life by a master explorer and storyteller.

Thoroughly absorbs the reader. . . Carefully researched and well-crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life.”                 Sunday Times

This is an incredible book. I couldn’t put it down. The Erebus story is the Arctic epic we’ve all been waiting for.”                  Nicholas Crane

Magisterial . . . Brings energy, wit and humanity to a story that has never ceased to tantalise people since the 1840s.”   The Times

 

 

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle

Image result for Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric IdleAs funny, wicked, naughty, eye-popping and compulsively, joyously brilliant as the genius who wrote it.”           Stephen Fry

We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python – from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on a remarkable journey from his childhood in an austere boarding school through his successful career in comedy, television, theatre and film.

Coming of age as a writer and comedian during the Sixties and Seventies, Eric stumbled into the crossroads of the cultural revolution and found himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Harrison, David Bowie and Robin Williams, all of whom became lifelong friends. With anecdotes sprinkled throughout involving Mike Nichols, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Paul Simon and many more, as well as the Pythons themselves, Eric captures a time of tremendous creative output with equal parts hilarity and heart.

In Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, named after the song he wrote for Life of Brian which has since become the number-one song played at funerals in the UK, he shares the highlights of his life and career with the kind of offbeat humour that has delighted his audiences for five decades. This is a memoir chock-full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth.

On the last day, when the last human beings look out at the blackened cinders of their world, I can only hope that one of them will sing, “Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad,” and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” will ring out as humanity’s final words. I loved this biography of a song and the man who made it, and the picture he paints of his life, his friends, his passions, five Pythons and a Beatle.”         Neil Gaiman

A thoroughly pleasurable read … [It captures] the infectious glee with which the Monty Python troupe went about subverting the British establishment.”                    Observer

 

 

Local

The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela by Sisonke Msimang

Image result for The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela by Sisonke MsimangThe death of Winnie Madikizela Mandela on 2 April this year unleashed a hailstorm of opinion.

On one side, her legacy was cast by the media and public in the shadow of her sanctified ex-husband. Winnie was history’s loser. She was damaged goods; Nelson Mandela was whole and pure.

A younger generation, in particular women, took a different view and so a battle of ideas began that sought to reframe Winnie’s career and reclaim her identity as an extraordinary woman and fierce political activist.

Sisonke Msimang, an acclaimed author and public commentator, wasted little time in jumping into the fray.

And when the dust settled, what emerged is this short but razor-sharp book which reflects critically on the turbulent yet remarkable life of Winnie.

Msimang situates her political career and legacy in the contemporary context, what she means today in social and political terms, by exploring different aspects of her iconic persona.

The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela is an astute examination of one of South Africa’s most controversial political figures, of the rise and fall – and rise, again, – of a woman who not only battled the apartheid regime, but the patriarchal character of the struggle itself.

In telling Winnie’s story, Msimang shows us that activism matters, and that the meaning of women’s lives can be reclaimed.

 

Tomatoes and Taxi Ranks: Running Our cities to fill the Food Gap by Leonie Joubert

 

Image result for Tomatoes and Taxi Ranks: Running Our cities to fill the Food Gap by Leonie JoubertDespite their apparent abundance of resources, our cities often leave the urban poor hungry, heavy and sick. This book isn’t really about the food that most people eat in Africa’s cities though. Rather, it’s about the many forces that shape the day-to-day choices that people make as they try to survive close to the breadline, and how that expresses itself through the food they eat.

 

Tomatoes & Taxi Ranks debunks some of the stubborn misconceptions about how cities keep themselves well fed and well nourished, and considers how to creat a more sustainable and equitable urban food system, particularly for those struggling to make ends meet.

 

This book is written for anyone interested in creating sustainable and fair cities on our continent. It is beautifully illustrated with photos by Samantha Reinders, with Masixolele Feni, and is produced with the Consuming Urban Poverty Project.

 

 

KasiNomic Revolution: The Rise of African Informal Economies by GG Alcock

 

Image result for KasiNomic Revolution: The Rise of African Informal Economies by GG AlcockThe informal business sector is the next great frontier of Africa and it is undergoing an economic revolution, a new world of small people doing big things, transforming the continent. Prepare for this new generation, prepare for the Afripolitan Generation.

A revolution is taking place in the great marketplaces of the informal sector and it contains an unquantified scale and power as an economic engine and a way of life for the majority of our low income populations. The KasiNomic Revolution may still be a murmur in the streets, a grassroots economic groundswell, but it is the future of African economic activity.

Kasi is the South African term for the township , and GG Alcock uses the term KasiNomics to describe the informal sectors of Africa, whether they are in the township, a rural marketplace, at a taxi rank or on a pavement in the shadow of skyscrapers.

Brought up in a rural Zulu community, GG has learnt and shares the lessons of African culture, language, stick fighting, lifestyle and tribal politics, along with shared poverty and community, which have prepared him for accessing the great informal marketplaces of Africa. He is uniquely placed to uncover the extraordinary stories of kasi businesses which not only survive but excel, revealing a revolutionary entrepreneurship which is mostly invisible to the formal sector.

KasiNomic Revolution is a story of kasi entrepreneurs on one side and, on the other, of great corporate successes and failures in the informal community. It is at once a business book, and at the same time a deeply human book about the people and lives of rural and urban informal societies.

 

 

 

 

 

In the Kitchen

Set a Table by Karen Dudley

 

Image result for Set a Table by Karen DudleySet a Table is Karen Dudley’s newest offering, following in the footsteps of her ground-breaking and much-loved Week in the Kitchen books.

The recipes are carefully selected to showcase exceptional flavour, but are easily achievable at home. Many of the recipes are well-loved signature dishes from The Dining Room that have been developed for home cooks to share. The Duck Salad with Cashews or the Seared Salmon Sashimi with Vietnamese Caramel are as triumphant as the Asparagus Avgolemono and the Indian-Spiced Cauliflower with Coconut Coriander Relish. These are recipes that are loved by makers and tasters alike.

In addition to the splendid recipes, Karen considers the importance of inviting people into your home to eat around your table. The photographs are rich and beautiful, shot by the extraordinarily talented Claire Gunn, who manages to convey the intimacy and sumptuousness of actual dinner parties thrown by Karen in her home and at her restaurants, The Kitchen and The Dining Room.

This is a beautiful book which will draw people in with its visual allure, win their hearts with Karen’s entertaining and insightful observations and have people buying extra copies to share with their friends for its irresistible originality.

 

 

The Zero F*cks Cookbook by Yumi Stynes

 

Image result for The Zero F*cks Cookbook by Yumi StynesMother of four and top parenting podcaster, Yumi Stynes has ten commandments when it comes to food:
1. You shall not fuss.
2. If a step can be simplified, shortened or skipped altogether, it will be.
3. You shall use the whole tub or container, rather than leave an annoying blob in the bottom.
4. You shall always opt for healthier food, making you feel sexier.
5. Marshmallows do not count as an ingredient. Nor does Coca Cola.
6. You will never apologise. You cooked. That is enough.
7. When it is written ‘best quality’ eg ‘use 200g of best quality bacon’; it means the best quality you can afford. ‘Best quality’ does not equal ‘most expensive’.
8. You will always accept help. If someone offers to help chop or buy a dessert, YOU WILL SAY YES.
9. You WILL follow the recipe! Every recipe has been carefully checked and tested by people who give vastly more f*cks than you do. Trust them. Get creative later.
10. THOU SHALT HAVE FUN.

Yumi’s 60 easy recipes are divided into five sections: weeknights; barbecue; snacks, emergencies and other moments of desperation; sweet stuff; and weekends.

 

 

 

Dijo – My Food, My Journey by Lesago Semanya

 

Image result for Dijo - My Food, My Journey by Lesago Semanya“Wow, you don’t look like a chef!” This statement is something Chef Lesego Semenya has heard many a time over the years. His response is always: “So, what does a chef look like?”

 

With his bulging tattooed upper arms, soft-spoken nature and obvious passion for South African cuisine and giving it his unique twist, Lesego probably doesn’t fit the generic look of a self-made top chef. It is his unconventional personality and approach to food that has kept South Africans coming back for more over the years. Having cooked for billionaires such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, starring on the judging panel of foodie programme Top Chef South Africa, being the resident chef for various newspapers and radio shows, and then building his successful culinary brand LesDaChef, he finally brings his foodie fans his first cookbook, Dijo – My Food, My Journey.

Every dish that will be featured in Dijo has a story that speaks of passion and nostalgia. Sharing both the recipes and their history will give foodies a way of getting to know Lesego’s food background while growing up in Soweto, as well as the fine-dining techniques he learned at chef school and a few hot chef secrets, too.

Dijo is an affirmation of South African cuisine, its heritage and its unique flavours. Readers will go on a journey through the simplest yet most-loved of township dishes, to the more complex fine-dining molecular gastronomy creations he has become known for. It truly is a reflection of his life lived through food.

 

 

The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson

 

Image result for The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus NilssonThe acclaimed chef featured in the Emmy-Award winning US PBS series The Mind of a Chef and the Netflix docuseries Chef’s Table explores the rich baking tradition of the Nordic region, with 450 tempting recipes for home bakers

Nordic culture is renowned for its love of baking and baked goods: hot coffee is paired with cinnamon buns spiced with cardamom, and cold winter nights are made cozier with the warmth of the oven. No one is better equipped to explore this subject than acclaimed chef Magnus Nilsson. In The Nordic Baking Book, Nilsson delves into all aspects of Nordic home baking – modern and traditional, sweet and savory – with recipes for everything from breads and pastries to cakes, cookies, and holiday treats.

No other book on Nordic baking is as comprehensive and informative. Nilsson travelled extensively throughout the Nordic region – Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – collecting recipes and documenting the landscape. The 100 photographs in the book have been shot by Nilsson – now an established photographer, following his successful exhibitions in the US.

 

 

Colour of Wine: Tasting Change by Harriet Perlman

 

Image result for Colour of Wine: Tasting Change by Harriet PerlmanThe Colour of Wine isn’t just another book about picturesque Cape vineyards. Instead, it tells the remarkable story of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy through the personal journeys of black winemakers. Woven through their stories are interviews with wine producers and politicians, chefs and sommeliers, connoisseurs and teachers, drinkers and tasters.

The book, twinned with the documentary film The Colour of Wine (included on DVD), explores the turbulent history of winemaking in South Africa, and the varied careers the industry has to offer. Wine doyen John Platter offers insights into where South African wine is now, and where the industry needs to go. You’ll also discover a rich array of local recipes that complement South African wines.

The Colour of Wine gives a taste of the changing world of South African wine.

 

 

 

Gift

Moon: Art, Science, Culture by Alexandra Loske and Robert Massey

Image result for Moon: Art, Science, Culture by Alexandra Loske and Robert Massey
A source of light in the dark of night and our ever-changing cosmic companion, the Moon has fascinated humankind since we first gazed into the sky.
In this extensively illustrated and illuminating volume, art historian Alexandra Loske and astronomer Robert Massey present a rich and curious history. From its violent birth through to the exhilarating story of the Space Race and current exploration efforts, discover the many faces of the Moon and how they have shaped humanity’s existence.

 

 

Speeches of Note: A Celebration of the Old, New and Unspoken by Shaun Usher

 

Image result for Speeches of Note: A Celebration of the Old, New and Unspoken by Shaun UsherA richly illustrated and wonderfully eclectic collection from the author of the international bestseller, Letters of Note.

Discover speeches that altered the course of history, like Nelson Mandela’s on the day he became South Africa’s first black President, and outpourings of much-needed change, such as the impassioned, impromptu appeal for women’s rights from Sojourner Truth, an African-American woman born into slavery. Expect the gloriously unexpected, as Kermit the Frog takes to the podium, and celebrate lives well-lived, including Tilda Swinton’s tribute to ‘every alien’s favourite cousin’, David Bowie.

While some speeches are heard by millions, some remain unspoken: the secret draft prepared for Queen Elizabeth II during a military exercise for World War III, and President Nixon’s chilling public announcement should Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the Moon.

Surprising, inspiring and shocking; moving, comforting and enlightening.

 

Anguish, hope, inclusivity, questioning, grief, love – and seemingly all the parameters of human feeling – are quite brilliantly represented. It’s a lovely dip-in collection that’ll leave you both weepy and inspired.”   Scotsman

 

 

Flora: Inside the Secret World of Plants – The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

 

Image result for Flora: Inside the Secret World of Plants – The Royal Botanic Gardens at KewDiscover the extraordinary world of flowers, trees, and the entire plant kingdom in this big and beautiful book. Filled with exquisite photography, every page will transport you to a world of floral delight.

Whether it’s tiny mosses, delicate ferns, vibrant blooms, or stately palms, Flora invites you to explore your amazing planet, from root to leaf tip. Packed with sumptuous photos and crystal-clear artworks, as well as four beautiful free prints featuring stunning plants, you really can peek inside and understand the secret world of plants. If you have ever wondered about the mechanics of photosynthesis, why leaves change colour, how cacti store water, or how seeds know when to grow, Flora has all the answers.

Made with scientific experts at the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, Flora is a fresh and engaging introduction to the mysterious inner workings of the plant world.

 

 

The Colour of Time: A New History of the World 1850-1960

 

Image result for The Colour of Time: A New History of the World 1850-1960Shimmering.”   Spectator.

 

Extraordinary.”                Daily Telegraph

 

The Colour of Time spans more than a hundred years of world history from the reign of Queen Victoria and the US Civil War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and beginning of the Space Age. It charts the rise and fall of empires, the achievements of science, industry and the arts, the tragedies of war and the politics of peace, and the lives of men and women who made history.

The book is a collaboration between a gifted Brazilian artist and a leading British historian. Marina Amaral has created 200 stunning images, using contemporary photographs as the basis for her full-colour digital renditions. Dan Jones has written a narrative that anchors each image in its context, and weaves them into a vivid account of the world that we live in today. A fusion of amazing pictures and well-chosen words, The Colour of Time offers a unique – and often beautiful – perspective on the past.

 

I have long considered colourisation sacrilege … after reading this book, I’ve changed my mind.”             The Times.

“[The Colour of Time] does something simple yet extraordinary. It takes black-and-white photos of historic events and colours them in. The effect is transformative.”     Daily Telegraph.
A stunning book … Quite extraordinary.”            Bookseller.

Pictures brought to life as you’ve never seen them before.”         Sunday Post.

 

 

The Art of Feminism: Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality edited by Helena Reckett

 

Image result for The Art of Feminism: Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality edited by Helena ReckittThe Art of Feminism charts the birth of the feminist aesthetic and its development over two centuries that have seen profound and fastpaced change in women s lives across the globe. Includes over 350 remarkable artworks, ranging from political posters and graphics to stunning and provocative pieces of painting, sculpture, textiles, craft, performance, digital and installation art. The works included begin with poster images produced by the Suffrage Atelier in the nineteenth century, moving on to developments of both World Wars before arriving at the birth of feminist art in the 1960s.

More recent artworks describe the development of feminism from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the present day, including examples by Zanele Muholi, Paula Rego, Lenka Clayton, Sethembile Msezane, Andrea Bowers, Tanja Ostoji , Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and Zoe Leonard. Other featured artists include Valie Export, Ketty La Rocca, Ewa Partum, Carolee Schneemann, Sanja Ivekovi , Senga Nengudi, Eva Hesse, Lynda Benglis, Suzy Lake, Barbara Kruger, Sophie Calle, Nancy Spero, Marina Abramovi , Mary Kelly, Judy Chicago, Faith Ringgold and Sonia Boyce. Edited by Helena Reckitt, with texts by Lucinda Gosling, Hilary Robinson and Amy Tobin, The Art of Feminism also includes a preface by Maria Balshaw, Director, Tate, and a foreword by Xabier Arakistain, former director of del Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea, Spain.

 

 

Dog Personalities

Image result for Dog Personalities

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR DOG LOVERS

We all know that dogs have personalities as colourful and unique as any human. They can be confident and dominant – born leaders – or shy and timid. They can be obedient, laid back, cheeky or stubborn. They can be prima donnas, stroppy so-and-sos or lazy sods – just like us.

With so many characters you’ll recognise, and based on the Instagram account with hundreds of thousands of followers, Dog Personalities reveals ours canine counterparts, all with imaginative backstories and photographs guaranteed to make you smile.

 

 

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History by Kassia St Clair

 

Image result for The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History by Kassia St ClairFascinating . . . The history of the world through the eye of a needle . . . I recommend this book to anyone.”       Spectator
A charming, absorbing and history that takes us on a journey from the silk roads to sportswear, from ruffs to spacesuits . . . I devoured this quietly feminist book.”  Sunday Times

 

All textiles begin with a twist. From colourful 30,000-year old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to what the linen wrappings of Tutankhamun’s mummy actually meant; from the Silk Roads to the woollen sails that helped the Vikings reach America 700 years before Columbus; from the lace ruffs that infuriated the puritans to the Indian calicoes and chintzes that powered the Industrial Revolution, our continuing reinvention of cloth tells fascinating stories of human ingenuity.

When we talk of lives hanging by a thread, being interwoven, or part of the social fabric, we are part of a tradition that stretches back many thousands of years. Fabric has allowed us to achieve extraordinary things and survive in unlikely places, and this book shows you how — and why.

With a cast that includes Chinese empresses, Richard the Lionheart and Bing Crosby, Kassia St Clair takes us on the run with escaped slaves, climbing the slopes of Everest and moonwalking with astronauts. Running like a bright line through history, The Golden Thread offers an unforgettable adventure through our past, present and future.

 

A joyful commingling of text and textiles in 13 beautifully wrought stories. We visit a cave where dyed fibres more than 30,000 years old have been discovered; goggle at the starched intricacy of sixteenth-century lace ruffs; flinch over astronauts’ nappies and the sodden sleeping bags of early polar expeditions; and savour the idea of materials spun from spiders’ webs.”  Nature

 

 

W E B Du Bois’ Data Portraits: Visualising Black America

 

Image result for W E B Du Bois’ Data Portraits: Visualising Black AmericaThe colorful charts, graphs, and maps presented at the 1900 Paris Exposition by famed sociologist and black rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois offered a view into the lives of black Americans, conveying a literal and figurative representation of ‘the color line’. From advances in education to the lingering effects of slavery, these prophetic infographics —beautiful in design and powerful in content—make visible a wide spectrum of black experience.

W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits collects the complete set of graphics in full color for the first time, making their insights and innovations available to a contemporary imagination. As Maria Popova wrote, these data portraits shaped how Du Bois himself thought about sociology, informing the ideas with which he set the world ablaze three years later in The Souls of Black Folk.
These rarely seen and beautifully rendered data visualizations show the promise and creative possibilities of black art and science, more than a century ago, to remak eAmerica in the true image of all her people. Drawn in brilliant and vivid colors in these portraits, Du Bois’s color line reminds us that the struggle for justice is also the struggle for truth, then as now.”
– Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Harvard University, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

 

 

African Twilight: The Vanishing Rituals and Ceremonies of the African Continent by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

 

Image result for African Twilight: The Vanishing Rituals and Ceremonies of the African Continent by Carol Beckwith and Angela FisherAfrican Twilight is the magnum opus of the two pioneering documentary photographers of African tribal cultures and ceremonies–a world that is quickly vanishing before our very eyes.

Now, nearly two decades after these photographers’ landmark African Ceremonies and with a greater sense of urgency, this book completes the journey, covering disappearing rituals and ceremonies from some of the most inaccessible corners of the African continent, to create the definitive statement on this subject. This new landmark volume will set the standard for capturing a visual testament to the vanishing traditions of African peoples. No other book like this exists or can ever be created again, as more than 40 percent of what has been documented here has already vanished.
For the last 15 years of their four decades of African fieldwork, world-renowned photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have continued their journey across Africa, seeking out remote communities to record the sacred ceremonies, powerful art forms, and boundless creativity of the people living there today. This ground-breaking book is a testament to these vanishing moments and peoples. African Twilight is a celebration of the powerful artistry and boundless creativity of Africa’s cultural heritage for audiences worldwide, transporting viewers into a world of connections between individual and community, body and soul, land and people. All of the photography is previously unpublished.

 

For decades, photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have explored remote communities in Africa, documenting sacred initiations, courtship rituals, shamanic mask dancing and jubilant creative works. Their stunning new two-volume book set, African Twilight, captures these vivid and fleeting rites.”                             New York Post

 

 

What Would the Spice Girls Do? How the Girl Power Generation Grew Up by Lauren Bravo

 

Image result for What Would the Spice Girls Do? How the Girl Power Generation Grew Up by Lauren BravoA joyous and energetic celebration of girlhood, friendship and pop culture. If you have ever sung into the lid of a can of Impulse body spray, you need to read this.”        Daisy Buchanan

 

The words ‘girl power’ conjure vivid memories of short skirts and platform boots. But it wasn’t just about the look, it was about feminism.

The Spice Girls gave a generation their first glimpse of the power of friendship, of staying true to yourself, of sheer bloody-mindedness. And the girl power generation went on to kick-start a new conversation around gender equality.

We may have grown up asking What Would the Spice Girls Do?, but their particular brand of feminism is as relevant today as it was twenty years ago – we still need that fun and fearlessness, we still need accessible and all-embracing equality… we still need a zig-a-zig-ah.

 

Lauren Bravo is one of my very favourite writers.”          Dolly Alderton

Poetry

Stranger’s Pose by Emmanuel Iduma

 

Image result for Stranger’s Pose by Emmanuel IdumaA unique blend of travelogue, musings and poetry, A Stranger’s Pose draws the reader into a world of encounters haunted by the absence of home, estrangement from a lover and family tragedies. The author’s recollections and reflections of fragments of his journeys to African cities, from Dakar to Douala, Bmako to Benin, and Khartoum to Casablanca, offer a compelling and very personal meditation on the meaning of home and the generosity of strangers to a lone traveller. Alongside accounts of the author’s own travels are other narratives about movement, intimacy, the power of language and translation. With a foreword written by Teju Cole.

Whilst echoing the writings of Anne Michaels and John Berger, this remarkable book charts a path of its own that will redefine travel writing.

 

 

The Dark Between the Stars by Atticus

 

Image result for The Dark Between the Stars by AtticusFrom the internationally bestselling author of LOVE HER WILD comes THE DARK BETWEEN STARS, a new illustrated collection of heartfelt, whimsical, and romantic poems from Instagram poetry sensation, Atticus.

Atticus has captured the hearts and minds of nearly 700k followers (including stars like Karlie Kloss, Emma Roberts, and Alicia Keys). In his second collection of poetry, The Dark Between Stars, he turns his attention to the dualities of our lived experiences = the inescapable connections between our highest highs and lowest lows. He captures the infectious energy of starting a relationship, the tumultuous realities of commitment, and the agonizing nostalgia of being alone again. While grappling with the question of how to live with purpose and find meaning in the journey, these poems offer both honest explorations of loneliness and our search for connection, as well as light-hearted, humorous observations. As Atticus writes poignantly about dancing, Paris, jazz clubs, sunsets, sharing a bottle of wine on the river, rainy days, creating, and destroying, he illustrates that we need moments of both beauty and pain = the darkness and the stars = to fully appreciate all that life and love have to offer.

 

 

 

October 2018

Tuesday, October 30th 2018 at 11:09 AM

Fiction

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

 

Image result for the silence of the girls by pat barkerA very good, very raw rendition of the Trojan war from the point of view of the women.”                   Kate Atkinson

 

There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now.

Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story?

Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.

 

Make[s] you reflect on the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, the women throughout history who have been told by men to forget their trauma… You are in the hands of a writer at the height of her powers.”                 Evening Standard

 

A stunning return to form.”                  Observer

Angry, thoughtful, sad, deeply humane and compulsively readable, The Silence of the Girls shows that 36 years after her first novel was published, Barker is a writer at the peak of her powers.”                   Irish Times

An impressive feat of literary revisionism that should be on the Man Booker longlist… This is a story about the very real cost of wars waged by men… Barker makes us re-think history.”                     Independent

 

 

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

 

Image result for Killing Commendatore by Haruki MurakamiThe epic new novel from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling author of 1Q84.

In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a strange painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors.

With phenomenal energy and verve… What makes [Murakami’s] voice so distinctive, and so captivating, is the mix of precise observation, clarity and deadpan humour… Murakami is a master storyteller and he knows how to keep us hooked”                        Sunday Times

 

 

The Woman in the Blue Coat by Deon Meyer

 

Image result for The Woman in the Blue Coat by Deon MeyerEarly on a May morning in the depth of South Africa’s winter, a woman’s naked body, washed in bleach, is discovered on a stone wall beside the N2 highway at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass, some 35 miles from Cape Town. The local investigation stalls, so the case is referred to Captain Benny Griessel and his cynical partner Vaughn Cupido of the Hawks – the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations. The woman proves to be Alicia Lewis, an expert in old Dutch Masters paintings specializing in the recovery of valuable lost art. Discovering the two men she had contacted before coming to South Africa reveals what she was seeking – a rare painting by Carel Fabritius, Rembrandt’s finest student, not seen since it disappeared from Delft in 1654. But how Lewis died, why, and at whose hand shocks even the two veteran detectives.

The Woman in the Blue Cloak is a compact jewel, as rich as any of Deon Meyer’s award-winning novels, driven by crystalline prose, earthy dialogue, and clever plotting.

 

A serious writer who richly deserves the international reputation he has built.”                Washington Post

 

 

 

The Talented Ribkins by Ladee Hubbard

 

Image result for The Talented Ribkins by Ladee Hubbard2016 winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and riffing off W.E.B. Du Bois’ famous essay, this marvellously inventive novel tells the story of Johnny Ribkins, a 72-year old African-American antiques dealer from Florida who was born with a unique talent.

At 72, Johnny Ribkins shouldn’t have such problems: He’s got one week to come up with the money he stole from his mobster boss or it’s curtains.

Luckily, Johnny comes from an African-American family that has super powers. Well… sort of super powers. His father, for example, could see in the dark. His brother could scale walls. His cousin spits fire, and Johnny himself can make precise maps of any space you name, whether he’s been there or not.

In the old days, the Ribkins tried to apply their gifts to the civil rights effort. But disappointed at how that turned out, Johnny and his brother used their talents to stage a series of daring cat-burglar robberies. After his brother died of a drug overdose, though, Johnny blamed himself, and stashed their money in hiding spots all over Florida and tried to forget it.

In need of that money decades later, with his boss’s goons tailing him, Johnny drives to his brother’s old place to dig up his first stash and makes a remarkable discovery – his brother’s widow has found the money and spent it. What’s more, Johnny’s brother had a daughter he didn’t know about. Her gift? She can catch cans if you throw them at her head. No matter how many, no matter how fast.

The old man and the teenaged girl become an unlikely duo as Johnny is chased by his bosses goons from stash to stash across Florida, in what is, in more ways than one, a hilarious and moving race against time.

 

For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard’s original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself.”                        Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author

 

“…if you love the works of Paul Beatty and Colson Whitehead, you’ll enjoy Ladee Hubbard’s wholly unique view of family and legacy with her dazzling first novel.”                      Essence Magazine

 

A marvel… exceptionally funny, tender and heartbreaking… The Talented Ribkins marks Hubbard as a writer to watch. This tale of self-revelation and recognizing one’s tribe is quite an arrival, filled with both a sense of discovery and hard-won wisdom.”                          Advocate

 

First-time novelist Ladee Hubbard has created a collection of misfits like no other in The Talented Ribkins… fascinating… Hubbard’s tale ultimately transcends race, class and time itself.”                         Bookpage

 

 

Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

 

Image result for Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe long-awaited new novel from the author of the global bestseller The Shadow of the Wind.

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.

Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue and adventure. Within its haunting pages Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives.

 

A colossal, genre-crossing achievement… it is to be hoped that Zafon’s next books deal as seriously and enjoyable with the present and future of Barcelona.”                Guardian
This is a suspenseful story of loss, betrayal and redemption.”               INDEPENDENT

 

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

 

Image result for Bridge of Clay by Markus ZusakThe epic new novel from the bestselling author of The Book Thief.

If The Book Thief was a novel that allowed Death to steal the show… [its] brilliantly illuminated follow-up is affirmatively full of life.”              Guardian

Here is a story told inside out and back to front

Five Dunbar brothers are living – fighting, loving, grieving – in the perfect chaos of a house without grown-ups. Today, the father who left them has just walked right back in.
He has a surprising request: Who will build a bridge with him?

It is Clay, a boy tormented by a long-buried secret, who accepts. But why is Clay so broken? And why must he fulfil this extraordinary challenge?

Bridge of Clay is about a boy caught in a current, a boy intent on destroying everything he has in order to become everything he needs to be. Ahead of him lies the bridge, the vision that will save both his family and himself.

It will be a miracle and nothing less.

At once an existential riddle and a search for redemption, this tale of five brothers coming of age in a house with no rules brims with energy, joy and pathos. Written in Markus Zusak’s distinctive style, it is a tour de force from a master storyteller of the heart.

 

“[Zusak] flings his readers straight into the deep end of his new vast, teeming novel . . . Warm and heartfelt . . . This is a tale of love, art and redemption; rowdy and joyous, with flashes of wit and insight, and ultimately moving.”              Times

Devastating, demanding and deeply moving, Bridge of Clay unspools like a kind of magic act in reverse”                    Wall Street Journal

Bridge of Clay is one of those monumental books that can draw you across space and time into another family’s experience in the most profound way.”             Washington Post
 

The Kingfisher Secret by Anonymous

 

Image result for The Kingfisher Secret by AnonymousHer codename is Kingfisher. Her mission: to seduce and marry the most powerful man in the world.

October 2016: In America, the election is a few weeks away.

Journalist Grace Elliot has just landed a scoop that she believes will make her career.

A porn-star is willing to talk about her affair with the man some hope and many fear will become the next president of the United States.

But no one will touch it. Instead, Grace is sent to Europe where she discovers a story so big, so explosive that it could decide the American election and launch a new Cold War.

If she can stay alive long enough to tell it…

Spies, murder, and one of the biggests conspiracies theories of our time set the stage for this immersive thriller.

 

 

The Devil’s Highway by Gregory Norminton

 

Image result for The Devil’s Highway by Gregory NormintonThree journeys. Three thousand years. One destination. The Devil’s Highway is a thrilling, epic and timely tale of love, loss, fanaticism, heroism and sacrifice.

 

Brilliant … a powerful meditation on the damages – and the good – we have wrought, and will wreak, on the living world.”                   Robert Macfarlane, Book of the Year

 

His fingers fastened about Her stone. He brought it to the light and held it to his nose. There was lightning locked inside. He rolled the stone in his palm to give it the heat of his body. She had come to him, catching his eye where she lay among dull flints. She alone among the stones had spoken.

An ancient British boy, discovering a terrorist plot, must choose between his brother and his tribe.

In the twenty-first century, two men – one damaged by war, another by divorce – clash over their differing claims on the land, and a young girl is caught between them.

In the distant future, a gang of feral children struggles to reach safety in a burning world.

A Roman road, an Iron Age hill fort, a hand-carved flint, and a cycle of violence that must be broken.

As gripping as it is dazzling, The Devil’s Highway is a bold and intimate novel that spans centuries and challenges our dearest assumptions about what it means to be civilised.

 

Brilliant. The best treatment of climate change in fiction I’ve come across. A powerful, essential novel.”                      George Monbiot

 

In satisfyingly Alan Garneresque fashion, the cycle of stories – historical, contemporary and science fictional – implies a single underlying narrative of landscape; human behaviour echoes from time frame to time frame, through the same cautious liaisons and breakages of trust, the same muddles of love and prejudice, the same sense of family as central to survival.”                  Guardian
“The Devils Highway is profound and powerful, its prose moving to poetry. Gregory Norminton writes in language scraped down to its bleached bones – but how exquisitely he makes those bones sing”              TLS

 

 

 

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

 

Image result for The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena RossnerLuscious and hypnotic . . . A gripping, powerful story of family, sisterhood. I gulped it down!”             Madeline Miller, author of Song of Achilles and Circe

 

Every family has a secret . . . and every secret tells a story.

In a remote village surrounded by forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell – despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their small village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realise the old fairy tales are true . . . and could save them all.

Captivating and boldly imaginative, Rena Rossner’s debut invites you to enter a magical world of secrets, family ties and fairy tales weaving through history.

 

“[An] intricately crafted, gorgeously rendered debut . . . Full of heart, history, and enchantment.”                        Publishers Weekly

 

 

Oblique Place by Caterina Pascual Söderbaum

 

Image result for Oblique Place by Caterina Pascual SöderbaumCaterina Pascual Söderbaum has left a major European literary work of art as her legacy.”                Steve Sem-Sandberg, author of Emperor of Lies

 

The Oblique Place is a captivating journey of the imagination, a prize-winning novel that probes the ruinous legacies of Fascist Europe in the twentieth century.

 

The discovery of photographs in an album ­- of her Spanish grandfather who joined Hitler’s Wehrmacht and her father in the uniform of Franco’s army- leads Caterina Pascual Söderbaum to explore her family’s links to some of the most abhorrent passages of twentieth-century history. Her mother turns out to be related to Kristina Söderbaum, a celebrated Swedish film star of the Third Reich, adored by Goebbels.

She travels with husband and child to the shores of the idyllic Attersee in Austria, where the officers of the extermination camps spent their holidays. The journey continues from Schloss Hartheim, where the staff of the Nazi euthanasia programme forgot, with the help of alcohol and sex, the horrors that took place there, to the Villa Saint-Jean, where malnourished children from France’s internment camps were sent to recover.

This imaginative rediscovery of her own family’s disturbing history is fused with vividly captured episodes from other lives and times, and the threads of evil that she lays bare are described in language so beautiful, so subtle and painterly, that her odyssey is at once shattering and mesmerising.

 

 

Vox by Christina Dalcher

 

Image result for Vox by Christina DalcherIntelligent, suspenseful, provocative, and intensely disturbing – everything a great novel should be.”                Lee Child

 

“A novel ripe for the era of #MeToo.”             Vanity Fair

 

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

 

A petrifying re-imagining of The Handmaid’s Tale in the present, and a timely reminder of the power and importance of language.”                        Elle

 

I can’t remember the last time I read a book quite this thrilling. VOX is, like all the best dystopian novels, razor sharp and terrifyingly plausible. It is extraordinary.”                   LOUISE O’NEILL

 

 

 

 

Non-fiction

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) by Rebecca Solnit

 

Image result for Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) by Rebecca SolnitBeginning with the election of Donald Trump (“The Loneliest Man in the World”) and expanding back and forth into American history, surveillance, violence against the individual, the denormalising of misogyny and the rehumanising of public space. The ultimate focus of the book is climate and feminist activism, bringing Solnit’s trademark deep analysis to bear on a range of contemporary crises. And again, and spectacularly, she shows us how to hope.

 

Rebecca Solnit is essential feminist reading.”                       New Republic

Solnit’s exquisite essays move between the political and the personal, the intellectual and the earthy.”                    Elle

In this powerful and wide-ranging collection, Solnit turns her attention to battles over meaning, place, language, and belonging at the heart of the defining crises of our time. She explores the way emotions shape political life, electoral politics, police shootings and gentrification, the life of an extraordinary man on death row, the pipeline protest at Standing Rock, and the existential threat posed by climate change.

The work of changing the world sometimes requires changing the story, the names, and inventing or popularizing new names and terms and phrases. Calling things by their true names can also cut through the lies that excuse, disguise, avoid, or encourage inaction, indifference, obliviousness in the face of injustice and violence.

 

 

The Echo of a Noise: A Memoir by Pieter-Dirk Uys

 

Image result for The Echo of a Noise: A Memoir by Pieter-Dirk UysThis is Pieter-Dirk Uys unpowdered. No props, no false eyelashes, no high heels …

South African icon Pieter-Dirk Uys has been on stage over 7 000 times. In this funny and tender memoir, Uys reveals the person behind the persona. We meet his forbidding, musically driven Afrikaner father, his brilliant but troubled mother, and Sannie Abader, his Cape Flats ma who raised him in Pinelands, Cape Town.

Filled with photographs from the family album and 40 years of satire, The Echo of a Noise also features Pieter’s Paarlse ouma, his strudel-baking German Oma, his devotion to Sophia Loren, the invention of Evita Bezuidenhout, and the joys and sorrows of a remarkable life.

 

Pieter-Dirk Uys is a South African legend, along with his fictional counterpart, Evita Bezuidenhout. He has written and performed more than 50 plays and revues throughout South Africa and abroad; he is featured on television, online and in documentaries. He has written several topselling books, including cookery books like Evita’s Kossie Sikelela.  In 2017, Nobody Died Laughing, an award-winning feature film about Uys was released. The publication of his memoir coincides with the run of an eponymous show, which is being performed locally as well as internationally in 2018.

 

 

And then Mama Said by Tumi Morake

 

Image result for And then Mama Said by Tumi MorakeTumi Morake modelled her public persona on her mother, a charming and contentious woman who used her big, bold voice to say what others were afraid to utter. It’s the personality that Tumi took on stage in the mostly male space of stand-up comedy, and the one that gave her the courage to join a white, Afrikaans radio station and comment about apartheid on air.

 

But there’s only so much you can find out about Tumi from the stage, the screen and the internet. And Then Mama Said…  is the voice of Tumi in private, as well as a behind-the scenes perspective of a pioneering South African star who has been both deeply loved and viciously hated by her audiences.

 

Tumi gets frank about the race row at Jacaranda FM; the Jaguar car accident that cyber bullies said she deserved; the body-shaming she endured on the set of Our Perfect Wedding; and her tumultuous relationship with her beloved husband. Throughout her story, she carries the voice of her mother, and with it the indispensable life lessons that made her who she is today.

 

 

The Shoemaker and His Daughter by Conor O’Clery

 

“[A] superb, illuminating book … A memoir of great power and poignancy.”                       Peter Hitchens,

The Soviet Union, 1962. Shoemaker Stanislav Suvorov is imprisoned for five years. His crime? Selling his car for a profit, contravening the Kremlin’s strict laws of speculation. Laws which, thirty years later, his daughter Zhanna helps to unravel. In the new Russia, yesterday’s crime is today’s opportunity.

On his release from prison, social shame drives Stanislav to voluntary exile in Siberia, moving his family from a relatively comfortable, continental life in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, to frigid, farthest-flung Krasnoyarsk. For some, it is the capital of the gulag. For others, it is the chance to start over again.

These are the last days of a Soviet Union in which the Communist Party and KGB desperately cling to power, in which foreigners are unwelcome and travel abroad is restricted, where the queues for bread are daily and debilitating and where expressing views in favour of democracy and human rights can get you imprisoned or sent into exile.

The Shoemaker and His Daughter takes in more than eighty years of Soviet and Russian history through the prism of one family – a family author Conor O’Clery knows well: he is married to Zhanna. It paints a vivid picture of a complex part of the world at a seismic moment in its history: of erratic war and uneasy peace; of blind power and its frequent abuse; of misguided ideologies and stifling bureaucracy; of the slow demise of Communism and the chaotic embrace of capitalism. The Suvorovs witness it all. Both intimate and sweeping in scale, this is a story of ordinary lives battered and shaped by extraordinary times.

 

Conor O’Clery is a legend among foreign correspondents. Over four decades – in Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Asia – he has established himself as a voice of wit, close observation, and sane good sense. His new book will be welcomed by everyone who cares about good writing, and about the human stories that enable us to understand the great movements of world history.”                        Richard Lloyd Parry

“Conor O’Clery’s latest book is a tour de force – a sweeping account of the turbulent decades of the Soviet Union and the new Russia, told through the prism of a Russian-Armenian family.”                  Luke Harding, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House

This is not a book about heroic dissidents or murderous fanatics, but about everyday people trying to navigate a system that frustrates them yet provides them with priceless opportunities…Enchantingly written, thoughtfully structured and a model for all the other journalists who pass through Moscow.”                    Economist

 

 

In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary by Jan Morris

 

Image result for In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary by Jan MorrisMorris is one of Britain’s greatest living writers.”              The Times

Fascinating … valuable and rare. This book is a writer’s constitutional.”                  Observer

‘I have never before in my life kept a diary of my thoughts, and here at the start of my ninth decade, having for the moment nothing much else to write, I am having a go at it. Good luck to me.’

 

So begins this extraordinary book, a collection of diary pieces that Jan Morris wrote for the Financial Times over the course of 2017.

A former soldier and journalist, and one of the great chroniclers of the world for over half a century, she writes here in her characteristically intimate voice – funny, perceptive, wise, touching, wicked, scabrous, and above all, kind – about her thoughts on the world, and her own place in it as she turns ninety. From cats to cars, travel to home, music to writing, it’s a cornucopia of delights from a unique literary figure.
“How does one write well? How do you become A Writer?…I have a new answer to that question. Read this book.”                 Horatio Clare
“Captivating … it kept this reader nodding and chuckling along to the last page. After closing the book I felt bereft of Morris’ company and her chummy, conversational style.”                     Sunday Herald
 

I Beg to Differ by Peter Storey

 

Image result for I Beg to Differ by Peter Storey‘Let me say to Mr Botha: apartheid is doomed! It has been condemned in the Councils of God, rejected by every nation on the planet and is no longer believed in by the people who gave it birth. Apartheid is the god that has failed … let not one more sacred life be offered on its blood-stained altar…

This is what Bishop Peter Storey preached in 1986. Challenging apartheid wherever he could, he led the Methodist Church of Southern Africa into what many white congregants saw as uncomfortable ‘political’ territory.

Join him in his inspiring journey from sailor-turned-minister to the South African Council of Churches leadership in its darkest hour, from tending to Robert Sobukwe and Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, through the forced removals of District Six and to the storm surrounding Stompie Seipei’s murder. I Beg to Differ spans a humble parish minister’s sorrows and joys, his founding of Life Line SA, the bombing of Khotso House, a close shave with death with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In his own words, Storey shares his convictions that inspired him to speak out and minister fearlessly amid the teargas, violence and intimidation of the apartheid regime.

Storey is one of the midwives of the freedom and democracy we cherish today.”             Thuli Madonsela

 

One of the most compelling, compassionate and courageous accounts yet of a life lived under apartheid. It’s a thriller – I read the book in one sitting.”             Jonathan Jansen

 

 

Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse by Sihle Khumalo

 

Image result for Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse by Sihle KhumaloAfter exploring more than twenty other African nations using only public transport, Sihle Khumalo this time roams within the borders of his own country. The familiarity of his own car is a luxury, but what he finds on his journey through South Africa ranges from the puzzling to the downright bizarre. Voyaging from the northernmost part of South Africa right to the south, the author noses his car down freeways and back roads into small towns, townships, and villages, some of which you’ll have trouble finding on a map.

 

But this is no clichéd description of beautiful landscapes and blue skies. Khumalo is out to investigate the state of the nation, from its highest successes to its most depressing failures. Whether or not he’s baffled, surprised, or sometimes plain angry, Sihle Khumalo will always find warmth in his fellow South Africans: security guards, religious visionaries, drunks, political activists and the many other colourful personalities that come alive in his riveting account.

 

 

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters by Alan Rusbridger

 

Image result for Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters by Alan RusbridgerWe are living through the greatest communication revolution since Gutenberg. In Breaking News Alan Rusbridger offers an open, personal and agenda-setting account of how we arrived at the news world of today.

The President of the United States regularly lies to the public and accuses anyone who criticisms him of being fake. Politicians openly rubbish the views of ‘so called experts’, dissemble and mislead. So how do we hold those in power accountable? Fox News, Breitbart Media and the Murdoch papers peddle views not news, pushing politically-motivated agendas. So, where can we look for reliable, verifiable sources of news and information? What does it mean for democracy? And what will the future hold?

Reflecting on his twenty years as editor of the Guardian and his experience of breaking some of the most significant news stories of our time, including the Edward Snowden revelations, phone-hacking, wikileaks and the Keep in the Ground campaign, Rusbridger answers these questions and offers a stirring defence of why quality journalism matters now more than ever.

 

“[Rusbridger] has written a book of breathtaking range . . . The brilliant Breaking News is essential – and entertaining – reading”                       Harold Evans, Observer

The book [Rusbridger] has written is eloquent in its argument for well-resourced journalism, and never better than in its central narrative of how an old profession struggled to cope with a new technology that threatened it with obsolescence”              Ian Jack, Guardian

It was my good luck – and the world’s – that Alan Rusbridger was the Guardian’s editor when powerful governments tried to prevent the paper from revealing that they had deceived and disempowered their citizens. Alan is a fearless defender of the public interest who has had a singular career in journalism. His book is an urgent reminder that there is still a place for real journalism – indeed, our democracies depend on it”                      EDWARD SNOWDEN

Alan Rusbridger is one of the most important journalists of his generation . . . this book needs to be read”                   Independent
 

Letters to Change the World: From Pankhurst to Orwell by Travis Elborough

 

Image result for Letters to Change the World: From Pankhurst to Orwell by Travis ElboroughWe know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”                      Martin Luther King

In an era where the liberties we often take for granted are under threat, Letters To Change the World is a collection of inspiring letters offering reminders from history that standing up for and voicing our personal and political beliefs is not merely a crucial right but a duty if we want to change the world.

Edited by Travis Elborough, the collection includes George Orwell’s warning on totalitarianism, Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’, Albert Camus on the reasons to fight a war, Bertrand Russell on peace, Emmeline Pankhurst rallying her suffragettes, Nelson Mandela’s letter to his children from prison and Time’s Up on the abuse of power.

 

Visionaries, idealists and ordinary citizens speak out in this remarkable, timely anthology… At a time of political uncertainty, the collection demonstrates the importance of speaking truth to power.”                     Guardian

 

 

The Secret Life of Language by Sarah Pulleyn

 

Image result for The Secret Life of Language by Sarah PulleynThis book looks at how language has evolved around the globe from ancestral proto-languages to our recognisable modern tongues. It demonstrates how language has been shaped by social and cultural influences, and even explains how our anatomy affects the articulation, and therefore evolution, of words. Discover the surprising stories behind the
origin of the written word, the difficulties of decipherment and the challenge of inventing from scratch languages such as Dothraki.

 

Combining expert analysis with accessible narrative and fun illustrations, The Secret Life of Languagemakes even the complex topics of philology, morphology and phonology easy to understand.

 

 

On Sheep: Diary of a Swedish Shepherd by Axel Linden

 

Image result for On Sheep: Diary of a Swedish Shepherd by Axel LindenAxel Lindén is a shepherd-philosopher with James Herriot’s knack for mishap and an almost Chekhovian deadpan humour.”                       Observer

Endearing and liberating.”       Idler Magazine

 

Why do we keep sheep? Alex Lindén ruminates as he watches his sheep ruminating. Naive and inexperienced, he has ditched his doctoral studies in order to move to a fully working farm in the country with his family, where he is tasked with the responsibility of caring for a herd of sheep.

Lindén records his new life in his diary, as he tries to manage life on the farm, the ever-escaping sheep and the trials and tribulations that come with being a shepherd – shearing, lambing and confronting the slaughterhouse.

As time passes and he gradually settles into the rhythm of shepherding, his naiveté fades away and is replaced with stark realisations about what is now his everyday life. He finds himself applying his experiences of animal husbandry to consider our place – as individuals and as a collective organism – in the universe. Is he really the one caring for the sheep, or are they the ones keeping him? Lindén finds both companionship in his flock and a sound, if complex, moral framework for examining the lives we lead.
A lovely read; humorous and thoughtful.”              Culturefly

 

 

Mathematics of the Breath and the Way: The Writing Life by Charles Bukowski

 

Image result for Mathematics of the Breath and the Way: The Writing Life by Charles BukowskiIn The Mathematics of the Breath and the Way, Charles Bukowski considers the art of writing, and the art of living as writer. Bringing together a variety of previously uncollected stories, columns, reviews, introductions, and interviews, this book finds him approaching the dynamics of his chosen profession with cynical aplomb, deflating pretentions and tearing down idols armed with only a typewriter and a bottle of beer.

From numerous tales of the author’s adventures at poetry readings, parties, film sets, and bars, to an unprecedented gathering of Bukowski’s singular literary criticism, the author discusses his writing practices and his influences. The Mathematics of the Breath and the Way is a perfect guide to the man behind the myth and the disciplined artist behind the boozing brawler.

 

A previously unpublished collection of work on the art of writing – by one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers

 

He brought everyone down to earth, even the angels.”                         Leonard Cohen

He was a man challenging the world, both with fists and words, a provocateur of amazing abilities”                    Los Angeles Times

 

 

Giants: The Global Power Elite by Peter Phillips

 

Image result for 9781609808716There is a new global elite at the controls of our economic future, and here former Project Censored director and media monitoring sociologist Peter Phillips unveils for the general reader just who these players are. The book includes such power players as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, and Warren Buffett. As the number of men with as much wealth as half the world fell from sixty-two to just eight between January 2016 and January 2017, according to Oxfam International, fewer than 200 super-connected asset managers at only 17 asset management firms each with well over a trillion dollars in assets under management now represent the financial core of the world’s transnational capitalist class. Members of the global power elite are the management “the facilitors” of world capitalism.

 

Adam Smith warned that the ‘masters of mankind’ will pursue their ‘vile maxim: All for ourselves, and nothing for other people.’ There could hardly be a more apt description of the recent era of savage capitalism, straining for new heights under cover of Trump’s antics. Who exactly are the masters? This remarkable inquiry lifts the veil, providing detailed and often shocking revelations about the astonishing concentration of private wealth and corporate power, its institutions and integrated structure–and not least, its threat to civilized and humane existence.”               Noam Chomsky
Peter Phillips’s book is a timely reminder that as the transnational capitalist class/global power elite changes it is vital that critical researchers keep up with these changes. The reader will find impressive documentation of the institutions and personnel driving capitalist globalization in its destructive and relentless search for growth and profits.”                      Leslie Sklair, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science

 

 

 

Stories

Everyday People: The Colour of Life edited by Jennifer Baker

 

A delight and highly recommended.”                        Booklist

In the tradition of Best American Short Stories comes Everyday People: The Color of Life, a dazzling collection of contemporary short fiction.

Everyday People is a thoughtfully curated anthology of short stories that presents new and renowned work by established and emerging writers of color. It illustrates the dynamics of character and culture that reflect familial strife, political conflict, and personal turmoil through an array of stories that reveal the depth of the human experience.

Representing a wide range of styles, themes, and perspectives, these selected stories depict moments that linger—crossroads to be navigated, relationships, epiphanies, and times of doubt, loss, and discovery. A celebration of writing and expression, Everyday People brings to light the rich tapestry that binds us all.

An excellent sampling of some of the most exciting voices in literature from the past two decades and beyond that will leave readers with plenty of authors to revisit or discover.”               Publishers Weekly

 

 

Fierce Fairytales: And Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

 

Image result for Fierce Fairytales: And Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita GillPoet, writer, and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill returns with a collection of fairytales poetically retold for a new generation of women.

Traditional fairytales are rife with clichés and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.

 

If you’re not already familiar with Gill, you should be. The British-Indian writer has been called “the voice of the generation”–and with 441,000-and-counting followers on Instagram alone, she just might be.”                    Bustle

 

Beautiful

Land of Stone Flowers: A Fairy Guide to the Mythical Human Being by Sveta Dorosheva

 

Image result for Land of Stone Flowers: A Fairy Guide to the Mythical Human Being by Sveta DoroshevaClassic fairytales get a refreshing satirical twist in this collection of illustrated stories in which gnomes, pixies, and other fairy folk share tall tales of the strange and unbelievable human world and its inhabitants. Brimming with keen observations and wild assumptions on human anatomy, customs, languages, rituals, dwellings, and more, The Land of Stone Flowers is as absurd as it is astounding, examining contradictory and nonsensical human behaviors through the lens of the fantastic: from the bewitching paper wizards who live in humans’ wallets to their invisible hats, known as “moods,” which cloud their view of the world. Bursting with intricate and evocative illustrations, The Land of Stone Flowers will draw readers into a world of fantasy and fable that slyly reveals many hidden truths about human existence.

 

After reading The Land of Stone Flowers, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the magical world, for your own world, and for your place in it. And you’ll learn to laugh a bit more at yourself and those around you. You may even start believing in magic. Magic that is invented in our minds and made real by our words and our pens. Magic that adds life to the human experience. Magic that touches even people like me who are strongly rooted in logic and objective truth…In the end, all I can say is, ‘Wow.’ This book is a masterpiece.”                   GeekDad

 

 

Scrapers by Zack Scott

 

Image result for Scrapers by Zack ScottWith this exquisite infographic masterpiece, Zack Scott explores in stunning detail the majestic constructions that humans have created on the surface of our own planet. A visual history of man’s endeavours to reach higher and higher, through the construction of mind-blowing new buildings. Zack Scott takes us on an infographic journey from humankind’s first attempts to touch the sky with their creations, to the modern masterpieces of architecture and engineering standing proudly across the globe. From Stonehenge to the Burj Khalifa; the Taj Mahal to the Shard, Zack shares the little-known facts and fascinating human stories behind the most incredible buildings in the world.

 

 

Theatre of the World: The Maps that Made History by Thomas Reinertsen Berg

 

Image result for Theatre of the World: The Maps that Made History by Thomas Reinertsen BergFascinating…sumptuously produced with lots of full-colour images, is a kind of potted treasury of cartographical history that gleams with pieces-of-eight-like snippets of information…this is an enthralling book, and joins the likes of Simon Garfield’s On the Map and Jerry Brotton’s A History of the World in Twelve Maps in the field of popular reaffirmations of the ingenuity of geography.”                        Travis Elborough, Spectator

This wonderful book is a reminder of how much careful thought was given to the shape of the world even in ancient times – the landscape, how places are related to one another. I pored over these maps for hours, imagining those minds hard at work, visualising how it all connected as a whole. Just brilliant.”                    Neil Oliver

 

Beautifully illustrated and rich in detail, Theatre of the World reignites our curiosity with the world both ancient and modern.

Before you could just put finger to phone to scroll Google Maps, in advance of the era of digital mapping and globes, maps were being constructed from the ideas and questions of pioneering individuals.

From visionary geographers to heroic explorers, from the mysterious symbols of the Stone Age to the familiar navigation of Google Earth, Thomas Reinertsen Berg examines the fascinating concepts of science and worldview, of art and technology, power and ambitions, practical needs and distant dreams of the unknown.

 

 

 

War Gardens: A Journey Through Conflict in Search of Calm by Lalage Snow

 

Image result for War Gardens: A Journey Through Conflict in Search of Calm by Lalage SnowA journey through the most unlikely of gardens: the oases of peace people create in the midst of war

In this millennium, we have become war weary. From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Ukraine to South Sudan and Syria, from Kashmir to the West Bank, conflict is as contagious and poisonous as Japanese knotweed. Living through it are people just like us with ordinary jobs, ordinary pressures and ordinary lives. Against a new landscape of horror and violence it is up to them to maintain a modicum of normality and colour. For some, gardening is the way to achieve this.

Working in the world’s most dangerous war zones, freelance war correspondent and photographer Lally Snow has often chanced across a very moving sight, a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit in adversity, a celebration of hope and beauty: a war garden. In Kabul, the royal gardens are tended by a centenarian gardener, though the king is long gone; in Camp Bastion, bored soldiers improvise tiny gardens to give themselves a moment’s peace; on both sides of the dividing line in Jerusalem families tend groves of olives and raise beautiful plants from the unforgiving, disputed landscape; in Ukraine, families tend their gardens in the middle of a surreal, frozen war.

War Gardens is a surprising, tragic and beautiful journey through the darkest places of the modern world, revealing the ways people make time and space for themselves and for nature even in the middle of destruction. Illustrated with Lally Snow’s own award-winning photography, this is a book to treasure.

 

This extraordinary book…warm and engaging…like a photograph magicked to life.”                Spectator

 

 

Art Matters by Neil Gaiman

 

Image result for Art Matters by Neil GaimanA creative call to arms from the mind of Neil Gaiman, combining his extraordinary words with deft and striking illustrations by Chris Riddell. Art Matters will inspire its readers to seize the day in the name of art.

 

‘Like a bedtime story for the rest of your life, this is a book to live by. At its core, it’s about freeing ideas, shedding fear of failure, and learning that “things can be different”. ‘ – Institute of Imagination

 

Be bold. Be rebellious. Choose art. It matters.

 

Neil Gaiman once said that ‘the world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before’. This little book is the embodiment of that vision. Drawn together from speeches, poems and creative manifestos, Art Matters explores how reading, imagining and creating can change the world, and will be inspirational to young and old.

 

 

September 2018

Tuesday, September 25th 2018 at 11:33 AM

Fiction

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Image result for transcription by kate atkinsonThe magnificent new novel by bestselling award-winning Kate Atkinson
In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.

Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of this country’s most exceptional writers.

How vehemently most novelists will wish to produce a masterpiece as good.”      Telegraph

 

“Transcription stands alongside its immediate predecessors as a fine example of Kate Atkinson’s mature work, an unapologetic novel of ideas which is also wise, funny and paced like a thriller.”     Stephanie Merritt, Observer

Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer. I want to write like her when I grow up. Transcription shows she’s at the peak of her powers. Full of beautiful, delicate, sharp sentences and characterisations. A spy novel that dismantles the whole genre. A class act, as ever.” Matt Haig)

Superb…Transcription is the sort of book that reminds you how profound and satisfying and moving and exhilarating good fiction can be. It’s the best novel I’ve read all year. I can’t praise it enough.”        Irish Times

“[A] superb story of wartime espionage…Hilary Mantel once said of Atkinson’s ground-breaking first novel that she had a “game-plan more sophisticated than Dickens”, and that skill is more than evident in this latest offering…remarkable…Transcription is a fine course in the art of deception. The sheer bravura of Atkinson’s storytelling is such that you will find it impossible not to want to revisit those clues so cleverly placed, as you shake your head in disbelief at how effortlessly you have been taken in.”                         Times Literary Supplement

 

 

Now We Shall be Entirely Free Andrew Miller

 

Image result for Now We Shall be Entirely Free Andrew MillerOne rainswept winter’s night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain’s disastrous campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Spain.

Gradually Lacroix recovers his health, but not his peace of mind. He will not – cannot – talk about the war or face the memory of what took place on the retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he lights out instead for the Hebrides, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: a vicious English corporal and a Spanish officer with secret orders are on his trail.

In luminous prose, Miller portrays a man shattered by what he has witnessed, on a journey that leads to unexpected friendships, even to love. But as the short northern summer reaches its zenith, the shadow of the enemy is creeping closer. Freedom, for John Lacroix, will come at a high price. Taut with suspense, this is an enthralling, deeply involving novel by one of Britain’s most acclaimed writers.

 

Miller recreates the past so vividly that reading the novel is never less than a fully immersive experience . . . particularly enjoyable and satisfying.”            The Times

Excellent … a novel of delicately shifting moods, a pastoral comedy and passionate romance story alternating with a blackly menacing thriller. It is also a book of ideas: about male violence, the impact of war and the price of freedom.”       Observer

A profound exploration of culpability, written in prose that comes singing off the page . . . a compelling read and an important literary achievement.”                          New Statesman

Enthralling . . . Miller paints a richly detailed portrait of a society in some ways familiar, in others impossibly strange.”                     Suzi Feay, Financial Times

Both a ripping yarn and a skilful mediation on absence … The pacing of his story is excellent; his style is crisp; his apprehension of pain is arresting; and his ability to show people trembling at the edge of unreason is compelling.”                        Andrew Motion, Guardian

 

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

 

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

Image result for 9780571347292Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.

 

It is time to take a sharp inhale, people. Sally Rooney has produced a second novel, Normal People. It is superb . . . a tremendous read, full of insight and sweetness.”             Anne Enright, Guardian

Magnificent . . . Rooney is the best young novelist – indeed one of the best novelists – I’ve read in years.”                     Olivia Laing New Statesman

Astonishingly fresh . . . Rooney is such a gifted, brave and adventurous writer, so exceptionally good at observing the lies people tell themselves on the deepest level, in noting how much we forgive, and above all in portraying love . . . [Normal People] is a future classic.”                        Observer

One the best novels I have read in years. Sally Rooney understands the complexities of love, its radical intimacy, and how power is always shifting between people, and she tells her story in a way that feels new and old at the same time. It is intelligent, spare and mesmerising, and it sent me back to an earlier point in my life in such a vivid and real way, reanimating for me with that period of time (first love), which I had thought was lost to me forever, but which felt born again in the form of this book.”              Sheila Heti
“I couldn’t put Normal People down…Sally Rooney is a treasure. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”                        Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed and The Idiot

 

Prague Spring by Simon Mawer

 

Image result for Prague Spring by Simon MawerIt’s the summer of 1968, the year of love and hate, of Prague Spring and Cold War winter. Two English students, Ellie and James, set off to hitch-hike across Europe with no particular aim in mind but a continent, and themselves, to discover. Somewhere in southern Germany they decide, on a whim, to visit Czechoslovakia where Alexander Dubcek’s ‘socialism with a human face’ is smiling on the world.

Meanwhile Sam Wareham, a first secretary at the British embassy in Prague, is observing developments in the country with a mixture of diplomatic cynicism and a young man’s passion. In the company of Czech student Lenka Konecková, he finds a way into the world of Czechoslovak youth, its hopes and its ideas. It seems that, for the first time, nothing is off limits behind the Iron Curtain.

Yet the wheels of politics are grinding in the background. The Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev is making demands of Dubcek and the Red Army is massed on the borders. How will the looming disaster affect those fragile lives caught up in the invasion?

 

Masterly and chilling . . . it is very good indeed.”                Scotsman

Mawer’s novels are always rich in intelligence and insight and Prague Spring is no exception.”              Sunday Times

Mawer is a superb chronicler of past events in foreign countries, and Prague Spring is a wonderfully atmospheric portrait of the city as well as a political and historical thriller with dashes of espionage. It is as brilliant as anything he has written, which is saying a lot.”                        Marcel Berlins, The Times

 

 

How Are You Going to Save Yourself by JM Holmes

 

Image result for How Are You Going to Save Yourself by JM HolmesA blistering debut . . . Hilarious and compelling, Holmes offers up a mirror to contemporary society . . . a compassionate and powerful exploration of how race, friendship and sex intersect and the real-world consequences of stereotypes.”            Independent Summer Reads

 

Both humorous and heart-breaking, How Are You Going To Save Yourself is a timely debut about sex, race, family and friendship for fans of Junot Diaz and Ta-Nehisi Coates. It explores the lives of four friends from the city of Pawtucket: Rydell, Lazarus, Rakim, and Giovanni, or more affectionately Rye, Dub, Rolls, and G. Once bound together by location and shared experience, their bonds fade and change as their adult lives begin to take different shapes. They are confronted with society’s expectations of them, family pressures, and ultimately the way they see themselves – sometimes conforming, sometimes challenging the stereotypes. Ultimately they are trying not to fail themselves and the people they love.

 

Holmes’ searing study of masculinity is offset by irresistible heart and biting humour.”               Entertainment Weekly

JM Holmes is not just a new voice but a new force: honest, urgent, compelling, often hilarious, and more often gut-wrenching. Comparisons to Junot Díaz and Denis Johnson are perhaps inevitable, but I imagine they’ll prove short-lived; in a few years we’ll be comparing writers to JM Holmes.”                   Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers

Written in spare, colloquial, and deeply evocative prose, these linked stories capture the contemporary lives of young men trying to find their way in this world, young men who also happen to be black in a post-industrial, ever-changing cultural landscape. These powerful stories herald the rise of an important and timely new voice among us, and I will now look for anything by JM Holmes.”                         Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of House of Sand and Fog

 

 

Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

 

Image result for Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor HendersonEleanor Henderson is in possession of an enormous talent.”          Ann Patchett

 

Genus Jackson was killed in Cotton County, Georgia, on a summer midnight in 1930, when the newborn twins were fast asleep.

They lay head to toe in a cradle meant for one, Winnafred on one side and Wilson on the other. Only if you looked closely – and people did – could you see that the girl was pink as a piglet, and the boy was brown.

At once an intimate family drama and an expansive, mesmerising epic The Twelve-Mile Straight explores the blood, guilt and violence that lies at the heart of the American experience.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her impulsive father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. It soon becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have imagined. A web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the truth.

 

A rich, complex narrative that moves skilfully back and forth in time, unfolding the histories and secrets of those involved. The wounds of America’s racial past have provided the subject for some excellent novels in recent years and Henderson’s book is an impressive addition to their number.”              The Times

 

Riveting … plunges you into the Jim Crow South with stunning fierceness … Henderson immerses you in characters worthy of Flannery O’Connor … A masterful piece of storytelling.”                   Seattle Times

 

Devastating … Filled with twists and turns, this book gives an intimate and heartbreaking look at America’s ugly history of racial violence.”                 Shondaland

 

 

 

 

Refuge: A Novel by Dina Nayeri

 

Image result for Refuge: A Novel by Dina NayeriRefuge charts the deeply moving lifetime relationship between a Iranian and a daughter, seen through the prism of global immigration. Beautifully written, full of insight, charm, and humour, the novel subtly exposes the parts of ourselves that get left behind in the wake of diaspora and ultimately asks: Must home always be a physical place, or can we find it in another person?

 

“[Nayeri’s] exploration of the exile’s predicament is tender and urgent.”                New Yorker

Rich and colorful… [Refuge] has the kind of immediacy commonly associated with memoir, which lends it heft, intimacy, atmosphere.”                      New York Times

 

Crystalline, vivid, moving, and without pretensions, Nayeri’s writing is fluid and spare…Refuge is a timely novel, about a theme that touches and moves so many, no matter where you are from.”                        Los Angeles Review of Books

 

As the daughter of an immigrant father, the cultural divides that can exist within families is always on my mind. I love stories that explore questions of home, a central theme of Refuge. How do we relate to the homes of our parents, especially if they aren’t ours? How do we build homes when we haven’t left the old ones freely?”                     Elle

 

Dina Nayeri focuses on the relationship between an Iranian father and daughter as they explore the experience of exile from different sides of the world and there is so much beauty and pain expressed in her prose… I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know. It’s stunning.”            Buzzfeed

 

 

Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

 

Image result for Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFaddenAbebe Tsikata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine- year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Tsikatas idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abebe’s father, following his mother s advice, places her in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as religious atonement for the crimes of his ancestors.

Unspeakable acts befall Abebe for the fifteen years she is enslaved within the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again.

In the tradition of Chris Cleave’s The Other Hand, Praise Song for the Butterflies is a contemporary story that offers an educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies will break and heal your heart.

 

McFadden, writer of great, imaginative novels for years now, is back with one of her best yet. Exploring ritual sacrifice in contemporary West Africa, Praise Song offers a fascinating, painful glimpse into a world beyond America’s shores, filled with tragedy and love and hope.”   Entertainment Weekly

 

Perhaps one of the best books of the year, Praise Song for the Butterflies is a stunning, brief portrait that humanizes the plight of those in ritual servitude. It’s a fantastic work from a gifted author.”        Gazette

 

McFadden crafts a compassionate, unforgettable story of loss and redemption.”             BBC Culture

 

 

The Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

 

**Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2018**

 

Image result for The Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-SpiresIn this crackling debut collection Nafissa Thompson-Spires interrogates our supposedly post-racial era. To wicked and devastating effect she exposes the violence, both external and self-inflicted, that threatens black Americans, no matter their apparent success.

A teenager is insidiously bullied as her YouTube following soars; an assistant professor finds himself losing a subtle war of attrition against his office mate; a nurse is worn down by the demand for her skills as a funeral singer. And across a series of stories, a young woman grows up, negotiating and renegotiating her identity.

Heads of the Colored People shows characters in crisis, both petty and catastrophic. It marks the arrival of a remarkable writer and an essential and urgent new voice.

 

The kind of collection that makes you shake your head in delight. Her voice is fresh-laundry-clean: I have not read anything like it in years. The prose is cunning. It appears simple, but the overall effect is powerful. Her stories feel simultaneously like the poke of a stick and a comforting balm; a smack followed by a kiss. I’m so into it.”           Bim Adewunmi, Guardian

Every so often, a voice comes along that knocks you sideways; this debut collection of short stories was one such moment. From the first page there’s an electricity and freshness to the voice that grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go”     Observer

Vivid, fast, funny, way-smart, and verbally inventive, these stories by the vastly talented Thompson-Spires create a compelling surface tension made of equal parts scepticism towards human nature and intense fondness of it. Located on the big questions, they are full of heart”             George Saunders

Superbly witty… The topics she takes on are often deadly serious, but every story flashes grim humor. She is also a brutally sharp observer”      New York Times

 

 

Unquiet Place by Clare Houston

 

Image result for Unquiet Place by Clare HoustonHannah Harrison escapes her stalled life in Cape Town for a small-town bookshop in the Free State. A concentration-camp journal from the South African War, found in a dusty box of old stock, reveals the life of Rachel Badenhorst, a young girl separated from her family and enduring the crushing hardship of war. Hannah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Rachel. Coveting the young girl’s courage and endurance, she is compelled to uncover Rachel’s story, never thinking it will lead her to pick open the wounds of a local farmer and dig up old tragedies, unearthing grief that even the land has held on to for over a century.

 

 

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg

 

Image result for Confessions of the Fox by Jordy RosenbergQuite simply extraordinary… Imagine if Maggie Nelson, Daphne du Maurier and Daniel Defoe collaborated.”             Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent

Jack Sheppard – a transgender carpenter’s apprentice – has fled his master’s house to become a notorious prison break artist, and Bess Khan has escaped the draining of the fenlands to become a revolutionary mastermind. Together, they find themselves at the center of a web of corruption leading back to the dreaded Thief-Catcher General …

…Or so we are told in a mysterious manuscript unearthed by one Professor R. Voth. Voth traces the origins and authenticity of the manuscript as Jack and Bess trace the connections between the bowels of Newgate Prison and the dissection chambers of the Royal College, in a bawdy collision of a novel about gender, love, and liberation.

 

Jordy Rosenberg is a total original – part scamp, part genius – who has written a rollicking page-turner of a first novel. Hang on for the ride.”              Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

An extraordinary and brilliant work… At once a queer love story, a history of horrors, and a thrilling page-turner.”                        China Miéville

A cunning metafiction… An action-adventure tale with postmodern flourishes; an academic comedy spliced with period erotica; an intimate meditation on belonging that doubles as a political proof.”                  New Yorker

 

 

Hold by Michael Donkor

 

Image result for Hold by Michael DonkorMoving between Ghana and London, Hold is an intimate, powerful coming-of-age novel. It’s a story of friendship and family, shame and forgiveness; of learning what we should cling to, and when we need to let go.

‘You have to imagine. That’s how I told myself.’
‘Imagine what?’
‘Imagine that you are the kind of girl that can cope with it, even if you are not.’

Belinda knows how to follow the rules. She has learnt the right way to polish water glasses, to wash and fold a hundred handkerchiefs, and to keep a tight lid on memories of the village she left behind when she came to Kumasi to be a housegirl.

Mary is still learning the rules. Eleven years old and irrepressible, the young housegirl-in-training is the little sister Belinda never had.

Amma has had enough of the rules. A straight-A pupil at her exclusive South-London school, she has always been the pride of her Ghanaian parents. Until now. Watching their once-confident teenager grow sullen and wayward, they decide that sensible Belinda might be just the shining example Amma needs.

So Belinda is summoned from Ghana to London, to befriend a troubled girl who shows no desire for her friendship. She encounters a city as bewildering as it is exciting, and as she tries to impose order on her unsettling new world, Belinda’s phonecalls back home to Mary become a lifeline.

As the Brixton summer turns to autumn, Belinda and Amma are surprised to discover the beginnings of an unexpected kinship. But when the cracks in their defences open up, the secrets they have both been holding tight to threaten to seep out…

 

At times, there are flashes of Jane Eyre in Belinda’s role as a “governess” of sorts, but there is no Mr Rochester to save her from her life, nor a sugary ending. The focus is on the love that flows between women and the need for Belinda to find a place that feels like home … Their lives are hard, yet a profound sense of hope resonates from within Donkor’s warm and accomplished novel.”                   Arifa Akbar, Observer

 

Donkor’s principal achievement is the dignity and generosity of spirit with which he imbues a central character from a largely invisible seam of African society.”                  Guardian

 

Michael Donkor is a real talent, and Hold is a brave, unpredictable and generous-hearted novel.”                     Sarah Winman, author of Tin Man

 

Moving and funny, a big-hearted book that will stay with you.”                 Guardian, Best Fiction for 2018

 

 

What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde

 

Image result for What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh BondeTehran, 1978: Nahid and Masood, both eighteen, are young lovers and young revolutionaries, determined to overthrow the Shah’s regime and help to bring about democracy. Their clandestine activities are dangerous, but with youth, passion and right on their side, they feel invincible. Then one night, Nahid allows her younger sister to come along to a huge demonstration. Violence breaks out. Nahid lets go of her sister’s hand. Everything changes.

As the revolution sours, and the loss becomes too much to bear, Nahid and Masood are forced to flee to Sweden, on borrowed money with forged passports. Tehran is no longer safe for them, and now they are expecting a baby; they need to get out before they lose everything.

Thirty years later, Nahid lies in a hospital bed replaying her life, raging at her carers, at her recent cancer diagnosis, at Masood, at her – now pregnant – daughter, and at her exile among people who while purporting to understand know nothing of what she has been through. Told with startling honesty, dark wit and an irresistible momentum, What We Owe is a novel of love, guilt and dreams for a better future, vibrating with both sorrow and an unquenchable joie de vivre.

 

I read this ferocious novel in one sitting, enthralled by the rage of its narrator. Nahid confronts her own suffering with dark humor and noisy honesty, while taking aim at a patriarchal tradition that expects her to be silent.”                Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks

“[A] short yet remarkable novel . . . Rather than a gentle meditation on a life lived to the full, What We Owe is filled with the rage of a woman who has been through trauma and loss, who has been left haunted by violence, and who wants more from those that love her.”                   Stylist

 

 

Enumerations by Maíre Fisher

 

Image result for Enumerations by Maíre FisherMeet Noah, who can’t open a door unless he pushes on the handle 5 times, must count to 5 under his breath, and sometimes louder than that, and keeps 5 pebbles in his pocket to run through his fingers. And that’s just the start of the 5s. Not to mention the ever-encroaching Dark that allows him no rest.

A violent incident at 17-year-old Noah Groome’s school sets into motion a chain of events that will test him and his family deeply.
There’s Kate, Noah’s mother, who has been bearing the brunt of his condition; Dominic, Noah’s successful father, who is withdrawing more and more each day; and Noah’s sister Maddie, his ally and protector, deeply affected by her brother’s struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
When Noah is sent to a treatment centre, he is not the only one challenged to face his anxieties: his family must also confront the secrets lurking beneath their seemingly perfect veneer.
But redemption lies in surprising places, as Noah’s unlikely friendship with ‘Notorious Juliet Ryan’, a fellow resident whose behaviour precedes her, will attest.
In The Enumerations, Máire Fisher scrupulously explores the effects of mental conditions on the family. She shows the great power of those who hold us as we learn to harness the strength within us.

 

 

 

Non-Fiction

The Boy Who Said Nothing by Mirsad Solakovic

 

Image result for The Boy Who Said Nothing by Mirsad Solakovic‘It took me longer to forgive my dad for not helping me when i was tortured, than to forgive those soldiers who tortured me’

 

Mirsad Solakovic survived a war in which some 300,000 people died, but was left with psychological damage.

Mirsad lived through the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian civilians, until his family escaped to the UK. Following his experiences, he became difficult and untractable, and refused to speak English – until dedicated and sympathetic teachers at his school in Birmingham brought him back into contact with those around him.

This thought-provoking account of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian tragedy paints a uniquely intimate portrait of survival, revealing pain that has never faded, yet has not crushed the human spirit. It is also an uplifting account of just how effective good teachers can be when faced with deeply troubled pupils.

 

 

Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution by Jonathan Losos

 

Image result for Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution by Jonathan LososA major new book overturning our assumptions about how evolution works.

Earth’s natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change–a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze–caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary flukes? And what does that say about life on other planets?

Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be.

 

With an ideal combination of clarity and comedy, scholarly caution and infectious enthusiasm, Losos shows us how evolutionary biology opens up for each of us the glorious workings of our world, with surprises around every corner.”                       Washington Post

 

Packed with stories of capturing lizards in the field, Improbable Destinies explores how we think evolutionary changes happen in populations, from mice to microbes to sticklebacks. Get this for the backyard biologist in your life.”                Popular Science

 

Deep, broad, brilliant and thought-provoking. . . . In staggeringly clear and engaging prose, Losos shows us remarkable vignettes of scientists working at personal and professional risk in all sorts of habitats — field, lab and museum — to elucidate stunning mechanisms of evolution. . . . He is one of the premier writers in biology today.”             Nature

 

 

Licence to Loot: How the plunder of Eskom and other Parastatals almost sank South Africa by Stephan Hofstatter

 

Image result for Licence to Loot: How the plunder of Eskom and other Parastatals almost sank South Africa by Stephan HofstatterEskom, the giant power utility that drives the economy, holds the key to inclusive growth and shared prosperity in South Africa. Instead it has become the site of corruption so rampant that it threatens the entire country’s wellbeing. Award-winning journalist Stephan Hofstatter’s hard-hitting investigation traces the genesis of the Eskom looting spree from Transnet, where the blueprint for parastatal plunder was developed and refined with the help of top-dollar consultancies. From there he explores how the Gupta family extracted billions in suspected kickbacks from state contracts and scored hugely inflated coal contracts from backroom deals, and examines how Eskom’s top brass enriched themselves and their families at the power utility’s expense. Licence to Loot delves into the secrets of the fixers, deal makers and bribe masters behind this epic pillaging of the public purse, and maps out the intricate network of executives, board members and cabinet ministers who facilitated it. From clandestine meetings in London hotel rooms and visits to African dictators, to offshore tax havens, secret shell companies and private jets worth millions of dollars – not to mention a secret Dubai bolthole fit for a fleeing president – this book lifts the lid on a complex looting scheme that almost sank the South African economy.

 

 

The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace by Alexander Klimburg

 

Image result for The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace by Alexander KlimburgAn eye-opening look at one of the most urgent conflicts the world will confront in the twenty-first century: the desire of nations to dominate cyberspace

In its earliest days, the Internet seemed to all of us to be an unqualified good: it was a way to share information, increase productivity, and experience new freedoms and diversions. Alexander Klimburg was a member of the idealistic generation that came of age with the Internet. Two decades later, he – and all of us – have been forced to confront the reality that an invention that was once a utopian symbol of connection has evolved into an unprecedented weapon and means of domination.

Cyberspace, Klimburg contends, is already the main stage for global confrontation for this century. In this new arena of conflict, brilliant individuals and informal networks have the capacity to bring ostensibly stable societies to their knees – but also save them from destruction – and nations are reconceiving information as the ultimate weapon and configuring their defenses accordingly. The debate about how individual nations and the global community alike will define this new domain of human interaction is more pressing and divisive than ever.

With a skillful blend of anecdote and argument, Klimburg brings us face to face with the range of threats the struggle for cyberspace presents, from an apocalyptic scenario of debilitated civilian infrastructure to a 1984-like authoritarian erosion of privacy and freedom of expression. With a specific focus on the United States on one side and Russia and China on the other, The Darkening Web makes clear that the debate about our different aspirations for cyberspace is nothing short of a war over our global values.

Authoritative, thought-provoking, and compellingly argued, THE DARKENING WEB reveals the menacing possibilities of a twenty-first century dominated by information warfare – and explains how the original promise of the Internet as a means for advancing freedoms can be regained.

 

At a time of rising focus on threats to the internet, Alexander Klimburg introduces much needed clarity and precision into such concepts as cyber war and information security. This book is indispensable–not only for national security officials formulating policies on cyber conflict, cyber-crime and cyber governance, but for any reader seeking a strong grounding in this critically important material and what it means for our global future.”                        Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
Alexander Klimburg provides a chilling but well-informed and readable tour of cyber interdependence. Anyone interested in our growing global vulnerabilities should read this book.”                  Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University and author of The Future of Power

 

 

The Written World: How Literature Shaped History by Martin Puchner

 

Image result for The Written World: How Literature Shaped History by Martin PuchnerFrom clay tablets to the printing press. From the pencil to the internet. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter. This is the true story of literature — of how great texts and technologies have shaped cultures and civilizations and altered human history. The inventions of paper, the printing press and the world wide web are usually considered the major influences on the way we share stories. Less well known is the influence of Greek generals, Japanese court ladies, Spanish adventurers, Malian singers and American astronauts, and yet all of them played a crucial role in shaping and spreading literature as we know it today. The Written World tells the captivating story of the development of literature, where stories intersect with writing technologies like clay, stone, parchment, paper, printing presses and computers. Central to the development of religions, political movements and even nations, texts spread useful truths and frightening disinformation, and have the power to change lives. Through vivid storytelling and across a huge sweep of time, The Written World offers a new and enticing perspective on human history.

 

“[Puchner] emphasises the ubiquity of storytelling across human history, elevating it in the manner of the historian Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens into perhaps the defining human trait, necessary to instill the trust on which so much else is built. . . . The book builds a convincing case that writing technologies are more foundational in major historical moments than we may have otherwise thought.”             Financial Times

Puchner has a keen eye for the ironies of history. . . . [His] seemingly boundless curiosity propels him not just through the world of books but around the globe. . . . His ideal is ‘world literature,’ a phrase he borrows from Goethe, who was impatient with cultural frontiers, read Chinese novels and Persian poetry and knew a dozen languages. The breathtaking scope and infectious enthusiasm of this book are a tribute to that ideal.”    Sunday Times

The Power and the Story: The Global Battle for News and Information by John Lloyd

 

Image result for The Power and the Story: The Global Battle for News and Information by John LloydIn this sweeping global survey, distinguished journalist and media commentator John Lloyd analyses for the first time the state of journalism worldwide as it enters the post-truth age.

 

From the decline of the newspaper in the West and the simultaneous threats posed by fake news and President Trump, to the part that Facebook and Twitter played in the Arab revolts and the radical openness stimulated by WikiLeaks, and from the vast political power of Rupert Murdoch’s News International and the merger of television and politics in Italy, to the booming, raucous and sometimes corrupt Indian media and the growing self-confidence of African journalism, John Lloyd examines the technological shifts, the political changes and the market transformations through which journalism is currently passing.

The Power and the Story offers a fascinating insight into a trade that has claimed the right to hold power to account and the duty to make the significant interesting – while making both the first draft of history, and a profit.

 

Magisterial… A free press and free broadcasting – off- or online – is not some optional extra. It is vital, but also beset by dangers; and Lloyd, with scholarship and energy, lays many of them bare.”                    Peter Preston, Observer

Exceptionally wide-ranging and informative… Lloyd does an impressive job in showing how journalism is vulnerable to the power of the state and the market.”         John Gray New Statesman

Investigative journalism is the life-blood of democracy. In the digital age, the orthodox press struggles to survive and has to compete with a dazzling variety of websites, many sourced for free. What are the implications for politics? Is truth itself a casualty? This magisterial book offers a nuanced and compelling treatment of these essential issues, setting them in historical context.”             Anthony Giddens, Former director London School of Economics

 

 

 

The Future Then: Fascinating Art and Predictions from 145 Years of Popular Science

 

Related imageTo commemorate the 145th anniversary of Popular Science, this gorgeous, full-color, fun, and lively collection of retro covers and artwork from the magazine’s archives explores all those far-flung inventions that never quite made it off the drawing board–from flying cars to self-driving lawnmowers.

A lot has happened since 1872, the first year that Popular Science hit the newsstand. From the introduction of the automobile in 1879 to the dropping of the A-bomb in 1945, from the first time a cell phone rang in 1973 to the first flyby of Pluto in 2015, Popular Science has been there and chronicled it all.

The Future Then steps you through this illustrious history of scientific and technological breakthroughs, diving deep into the magazine’s archives to share fascinating cover art and articles from the time the big news hit. Broken down by decade, each chapter opens with a discussion of the era’s advancements and includes special breakouts on the beloved artists behind the charming illustrations, themed spreads that track the evolution of those once-hot technologies, and clever insights into how the past century’s near misses led us to true innovation gold.

 

 

Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle

 

Image result for Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy SiegleEnough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the world 4 times
More than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year
300 million tonnes of new plastic is produced every year
An estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic now litter the world’s oceans
38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day in the UK
A million plastic bottles are used per minute around the world
500 million plastic straws are used per year

Without big action, at the current rate, pieces of plastic will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050. That is the legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.

Plastic flows into our lives from every direction and most of it is not recycled. Instead it is incinerated or ends up in landfill, where it will sit for hundreds of years, or enters the world’s seas where it fragments into tiny pieces to become microplastics – the environmental scourge of our times.

Many of us had assumed that governments, brands and waste authorities were dealing with plastic on our behalf. But the impact of shows such as Blue Planet along with national beach cleans and high-profile campaigns have resulted in a collective wake-up call. If there were plans and strategies, they have not worked as we imagined. It would be easy to feel despondent but instead we need to turn our anger and emotion into action, starting by making a big dent in our own enormous consumption.

Turning the tide on Plastic is here just in time. Journalist, broadcaster and eco lifestyle expert Lucy Siegle provides a powerful call to arms to end the plastic pandemic along with the tools we need to make decisive change. It is a clear-eyed, authoritative and accessible guide to help us to take decisive and effective personal action. It’s time to turn the tide on plastic, and this book will show you how.

 

This book is special because it genuinely addresses the genius and threat of plastic and suggests solutions along the way. Most of all it is written in such a way as makes you want to read it rather than suffer through it. Intelligent, witty, passionate and serious of intent. This is a gem of a book- a primer and a call to action that will genuinely drive change.”         Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project

“Turning the Tide on Plastic is great, providing not just a cracking analysis of how we’ve let the plastics monster trash our planet, but a step-by-step guide on what we can do to start putting things right.”                      Jonathon Porritt, Founder, Forum for the Future

An impassioned and highly practical account of how to reduce our plastic consumption.”                       Observer

A clear-sighted and immensely useful overview of the problems caused by plastic and the potential solutions.”                        Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

 

 

Caesar’s Last Breath: The Epic Story of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean

 

** GUARDIAN SCIENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR**

Image result for Caesar’s Last Breath: The Epic Story of the Air Around Us by Sam KeanAbsorbing, entertaining… provocative but compelling… eminently accessible and enjoyable. A real gas – in short!”            Observer

With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds in the Roman Senate, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding. In fact, you’re probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might also bear traces of Cleopatra’s perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe’s creation.

In Caesar’s Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe and across time to tell the epic story of the air we breathe.

 

Funny, clever and altogether effervescent… Kean writes superbly about science itself… A joy for any reader.”             James McConnachie, Sunday Times

There is no denying the pleasure and indeed the wealth of scientific information to be obtained from reading Caesar’s Last Breath. It will change forever the way I think about breathing.” Financial Times

 

 

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak edited by Azeenarh Mohammed,  Chitra Nagarajan and Rafeeat Aliyu

 

Image result for She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan and Rafeeat AliyuThese true stories are beautifully told, the pain and honesty and hope and joy in these accounts is strong like a song” – Stella Duffy

 

This stirring and intimate collection brings together 25 first-hand accounts to paint a vivid portrait of what it means to be a queer Nigerian woman. These beautifully told stories of resistance and resilience reveal the realities of a community that will no longer be invisible. From the joy and excitement of first love, and from childhood games to addiction and suicide, She Called Me Woman shows us how Nigerian queer women, in all their multitudes, attempt to build a life together.

She Called Me Woman challenges us to rethink what it means to be a Nigerian ‘woman’, negotiating relationships, money, sexuality and freedom, identifying outside the gender binary, and the difficulties of achieving hopes and dreams in a climate of fear.

 

 

Women are the Future of Islam by Sherin Khankan

 

Image result for Women are the Future of Islam by Sherin KhankanThe future of Islam is female

Named one of the BBC’s 100 Women of 2016, and the subject of interviews in both The Times and the Guardian, Sherin Khankan is one of the very few female imams in the Western World. In addition she has founded the first mosque for women in Europe. In this urgent manifesto this remarkable woman challenges the idea that Islam should be defined by masculinity and conservatism.

In her revelatory book, she addresses urgent contemporary issues, such as the place for modern women in Islam, fundamentalism, radical Islamic groups, Islamic divorce, Sufism, and describes her own personal journey as a female Muslim activist.

Women Are The Future of Islam shines a feminist light on a gentler, more inclusive, more liberal – but also fully engaged – side of Islam that we rarely see in the West. It’s an eye-opening, highly topical read.

 

 

Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

 

Image result for Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth UviebinenéArguably the book for 2018”                        Arifa Akbar, Observer

 

The long-awaited, inspirational guide to life for a generation of black women inspired to make lemonade out of lemons, and find success in every area of their lives.

 

Black women today are well past making waves – we’re currently creating something of a tsunami. Women who look like us, grew up in similar places to us, talk like us, are shaping almost every sector of society.

From education to work to dating, this inspirational, honest and provocative book recognises and celebrates the strides black women have already made, while providing practical advice for those who want to do the same and forge a better, visible future.

Illustrated with stories from best friends Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke’s own lives, and using interviews with dozens of the most successful black women in Britain – including BAFTA Award-winning director Amma Asante, British Vogue publisher Vanessa Kingori and Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis – Slay In Your Lane is essential reading for a generation of black women inspired to find success in every area of their lives.

 

So many young women are looking for guidance as they navigate their personal and professional lives. With Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl’s Bible, Elizabeth and Yomi offer wisdom and encouragement to a rising generation of Black female leaders, on everything from the basics of financial literacy to how to deal with micro-aggressions in the workplace. This book is a gift for anyone who wants to better understand what Black women and girls are up against―and the tremendous resources they draw upon as they make their way in the world.”   Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org

 

This book is such a brilliant insight into being a black woman in Britain – buy it to help the young black women in your life – and if you’re white, buy it so you know what we have to go through every day, because ignorance is a form of complicity.”               Otegha Uwagba, author of Little Black Book

 

 

 

My Country by Kassem Eid

 

Image result for My Country by Kassem EidAn unforgettable memoir of growing up in Syria under al-Assad’s regime, surviving a gas attack, and rallying worldwide support to break the siege of cities across the country, with a foreword by Janine di Giovanni.

 

Born to Palestinian refugees, Kassem Eid grew up in the small town of Moadamiya on the outskirts of the ancient city of Damascus. The streets that he and his many siblings played on were perfumed with jasmine. A precocious child, he excelled at school, and had a natural gift for languages. But it didn’t take long for Kassem to realise that he was treated differently at school because of his family’s resistance to the brutal government regime.

When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000, hopes that he would ease its severity were swiftly crushed. When the 2011 Arab Spring protests in Syria were met with extreme violence, it was yet another blow – and as Kassem reached young adulthood, life in Syria became increasingly precarious, as the country spiralled into civil war.

Then, on 21 August 2013, Kassem nearly died in a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians. Later that day, he would pick up a gun for the first time, to join the Free Syrian Army as they fought government forces. For Kassem, this marked the moment that he and his country changed forever.

A searing account of oppression, war, survival and escape, My Country is both a brave and deeply felt memoir of one man’s life, as well as a compelling indictment of a world that turned its face away as a nation fell apart.

 

An account of oppression, war, survival and escape as the world ignored what was going on. A touching tale, this humanises the story of war when often all we want to do is look away.”    Metro, The best new books by BME authors you’ll be reading this year

At last, here is the first wave of books written by Syrians not about their escape to Europe as refugees from the war but about their lives inside the country . What emerges is a remarkably unified picture of the realities of life since 1970 in the Syria of the Assads . shows, unambiguously, precisely what the Assad government seek to conceal.”                     Times Literary Supplement

 

 

 

Poetry

Off the Shelf: A Celebration of Bookshops in Verse edited by Carol Ann Duffy

 

Image result for Off the Shelf: A Celebration of Bookshops in Verse edited by Carol Ann DuffyPoet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and her friends across the country offer poems in praise of the magic of reading.

In Off the Shelf: A Celebration of Bookshops in Verse, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned a selection of the UK’s most loved and lauded poets to each write a poem in celebration of books and bookshops – the worlds they hold, the freedoms they promise, and the memories they evoke. From a basement of forgotten books to the shelves of a cramped Welsh arcade, from the poetry corner of the local bookstore to the last bookshop standing in a post-apocalyptic world, these are poems that pay tribute to all the places that house the stories we treasure.

With poems from Carol Ann Duffy, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, as well as Clive James, Michael Longley, Don Paterson, Patience Agbabi and many more, this beautiful anthology is a heart-warming reminder of how books nourish us, save us, and inspire us.

 

 

Laughing in My Father’s Voice by Xabiso Vili

 

Image result for Xabiso Vili

REMINDER:

Your sorrow is not a river;

It is not here to drown you.

It is holy water, here to baptize you.

And if you feel your chest exploding,

Those are your lungs, turning into life rafts.

 

Xabiso is an award-winning performance poet and social activist, whose writings explore how the inner world relates to the outer world. He has been published in many countries and produced recordings of his works. He strongly believes that art influences his community positively, and is constantly working towards creating alternative stages for art to be shared.

 

 

Converse: Contemporary South African Poets in translation edited by Pieter Odendaal, Annel Pieterse and Mbongeni Nomkhonwana

 

Image result for inzyncThis collection showcases some of the best new voices in South African poetry in translation, including Koleka Putuma, Jolyn Phillips, Nathan Trantraal and Mbongeni Nomkhonwana. Original poems in Xhosa, Afrikaans and English stage courageous conversations dealing with death, desire, tradition and alienation. When these poems move through the cycles of translation, new meanings emerge and surprising connections are forged as the poems begin to speak in multiple tongues.

 

“English poems do not let me forget

Tthat this bowl I work in is borrowed”

 

“Ek wil verstaan wat Ma so

blind-blind neurievink”

 

“Ukuze undiqonde qhumisa impepho

uthethe nabakowenu”

 

“You cannot name the thing you feel

You can only feel it on your back”

 

“Ntetho sethu zinxilile zither saa ndawo yonke”

 

“Ek sit heeldag soes

Picasso se Blind Man’s Meal

 

 

For All Ages

 

What a Time to be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You are Already Enough by Chidera Eggerue

Image result for What a Time to be Alone: The Slumflower Guide to Why You are Already Enough by Chidera EggerueOne of VOGUE’s 6 Female Writers to Read in 2018

Categorically one of the coolest women in Britain”     Cosmopolitan

The Millennial Mastermind”     ELLE

 

Sometimes it’s not easy to find self-worth in a world that seems obsessed with telling us we’re not good enough. Empowering, intimate and full of heart: this highly-anticipated debut book from the online sensation ‘The Slumflower’, aka Chidera Eggerue, the unstoppable force behind the ground-breaking movement #SAGGYBOOBSMATTER, is essential reading for all young women. It’s time to take charge of your life.

In What A Time To Be Alone, The Slumflower will be your life guru, confidante and best friend. She’ll show you that being alone is not just okay: it’s just about the best freaking thing that’s ever happened to you. As she says, ‘You’re bad as hell and you were made with intention.’ It’s about time you realised.

Peppered with insightful Igbo proverbs from Chidera’s Nigerian mother and full of her own original artwork, What A Time To Be Alone will help you navigate the modern world. We can all decide our own fates and Chidera shows us how, using a three-part approach filled with sass, wisdom and charm.

 

Chidera’s tweets and Instagram stories have earned her a special place in the ranks of social media personalities, as she offers advice on being a young woman, how to date and how to put yourself first.”            Vice

With an award-winning blog, viral social media campaigns, an Instagram following numbering nearly 130k and now her first foray into the literary world, Eggerue is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.”             VOGUE.co.uk

 

 

 

July 2018

Tuesday, July 24th 2018 at 11:19 AM

Fiction

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

 

Image result for The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim WintonFor years Jaxie Clackton has dreaded going home. His beloved mum is dead, and he wishes his dad was too, until one terrible moment leaves his life stripped to nothing. No one ever told Jaxie Clackton to be careful what he wishes for.

And so Jaxie runs. There’s just one person in the world who understands him, but to reach her he’ll have to cross the vast saltlands of Western Australia. It is a place that harbours criminals and threatens to kill those who haven’t reckoned with its hot, waterless vastness. This is a journey only a dreamer – or a fugitive – would attempt.

Fierce and lyrical, The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton is a story of survival, solitude and unlikely friendship. Most of all it is about what it takes to keep hope alive in a parched and brutal world.

 

The Shepherd’s Hut is wonderful. Brutal, agonizing, tender. Ultimately, it’s a story of redemption and hope.”             Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit and Tin Man

Turbocharged by its unique and grimly funny teenage voice, The Shepherd’s Hut is a page-turning heartbreaker.”                        Emma Donoghue, author of Room
Superb. It’s rare to feel fury and hope on the surface of the skin at the same time, and more rare to find that convincing in a story.”                 Cynan Jones, author of Cove

 

 

 

Never Anyone but You by Rupert Thomson

 

 

Image result for Never Anyone but You by Rupert ThomsonA beautiful and extraordinary book . . . It’s a long time since I read a love story quite so convincing and truthful.”                     Philip Pullman

 

A small city in western France. The early twentieth century. Suzanne Malherbe, a shy 17-year-old with a rare talent for drawing, is entranced by the brilliant but troubled Lucie Schwob, the daughter of a Jewish newspaper magnate, and the two young women embark on a clandestine love affair.

Stifled by provincial convention and a society that is overtly patriarchal, they reinvent themselves as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore and move to Paris, where they are swept up in the most glamorous social circles, meeting everyone from Hemingway and Dalí to André Breton, and produce photographic work of great originality and strangeness.

As World War Two looms, they leave for Jersey, and it is here that they confront their destiny, dreaming up a campaign of propaganda against Hitler’s occupying forces.

From one of our most celebrated writers, Never Anyone But You explores the gripping true story of two extraordinary women who challenged gender boundaries, and ultimately risked their lives in the fight against oppression. Theirs is a story that has been hidden in the margins of history – until now…

 

Arrestingly accomplished . . . Writing with an eerie command of precise detail, [Thomson] slips beneath the skin of characters who experience a crisis and learn, painfully, how to come to terms with catastrophe . . . [a] taut and absorbing novel . . . As with all of Thomson’s elegant and troubling novels, Never Anyone But You exerts a menacing – but never histrionic – power”                    Observer
In prose so sharp it glitters, Rupert Thomson reveals in fiction what inevitably remains hidden in nonfiction – lived experience. Through the measured but incisive voice of Suzanne Malherbe, the reader enters the intimate world of two life-long lovers, artistic collaborators, and anti-Nazi rebels who left behind a haunting photographic legacy. After I finished this acute and tender book, I felt that two fascinating ghosts had become real.”             Siri Hustvedt

 

 

 

Small Country by Gaël Faye

 

Image result for Small Country by Gaël FayeA luminous debut novel… This is a book that demanded to be written… With a light touch, Faye dramatises the terrible nostalgia of having lost not only a childhood but also a whole world to war.”              Guardian

 

Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in his comfortable expat neighbourhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother and little sister, Ana, is something close to paradise. These are happy, carefree days spent with his friends sneaking cigarettes and stealing mangoes, swimming in the river and riding bikes in the streets they have turned into their kingdom. But dark clouds are gathering over this small country, and soon their peaceful idyll will shatter when Burundi and neighbouring Rwanda are brutally hit by war and genocide.

A haunting and luminous novel of extraordinary power, Small Country describes a devastating end of innocence as seen through the eyes of a young child caught in the maelstrom of history. It is a stirring tribute not only to a time of tragedy, but also to the bright days that came before it.

 

An excellent novel, a model of restraint and quiet literary sophistication.”                       Sunday Times

An evocative portrait of what it means to lose one’s freedom and innocence. Gaël Faye’s literary powers lie in his unbridled honesty and his effortless prose. He is a writer of great promise and grace.”                   Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen

This beautiful coming-of-age novel conveys a heart-rending desire for peace and harmony. It sets forth a vision of the world that is poetic rather than political, where horror is displaced by wonder.”                   Le Figaro

 

House of Gold by Natasha Solomons

 

Image result for House of Gold by Natasha SolomonsSuch is the power and wealth of the Goldbaums that on dull days, it’s said, they hire the sun just for themselves.

The Goldbaums’ influence reaches across Europe. They are the confidants and bankers of governments and emperors. Little happens without their say-so and even less without their knowledge. But Greta Goldbaum has no say at all in who she’ll marry.

While power lies in wealth, strength lies in family. Greta’s union with cousin Albert will strengthen the bond between the Austrian and the English branches of the dynasty. It is sensible and strategic. Greta is neither.

Defiant and unhappy, she is desperate to find a place that belongs to her, free from duty and responsibility. But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War is looming and even the Goldbaums can’t alter its course. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides.

The House of Goldbaum, along with Europe herself, is about to break apart.

 

Solomons has a gift for constructing a well-paced narrative filled with surprises.” (The Observer)

 

Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

 
Image result for Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-JephcottA whirlwind of a first novel…a wonderful blaze of eccentricity. Outstanding.”                  Rose Tremain

They told him everything.
He told everyone else.

 

Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.

In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him? Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons . . . Words.

A dazzling debut about the line between gossip and slander, self-creation and self-preservation, SWAN SONG is the tragic story of the literary icon of his age and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his Swans.

A completely fascinating novel and a marvellously skilful re-imagining of real people, times and places. Outstanding.”              William Boyd

 

A dazzlingly assured first novel… This clever book, with the moreish astringency of a negroni, is a perfect summer cocktail.”                   Sunday Times

 

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

 

Image result for The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner**THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother.

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner details with humour and precision. Daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks, and stories shared through sewage pipes.

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny and culminating in a climax of almost unbearable intensity. Through Romy – and through a cast of astonishing characters populating The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex.

 

It is an unforgettable novel, and leaves the reader in no doubt that Kushner is one of America’s greatest living authors.”                        Daily Telegraph

One of the greatest novels I have read in years. Her prior novel, The Flamethrowers, was expansive and thrilling, but this is richer and deeper, more ambitious in its moral vision… an exhilarating, always surprising read.”              Irish Times

I’ve been bowled over by Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room [about life in a women’s prison]. It’s astounding – very difficult to read but so beautifully done, and with such knowledge, although it doesn’t feel like a “researched” book.”                 Anne Tyler, Observer

Gritty, empathetic, finely rendered, no sugary toppings, and a lot of punches, none of them pulled.”                 Margaret Atwood

Firefly by Henry Porter

 

Image result for Firefly by Henry PorterA welcome return … Firefly seems ripped from the headlines and is both timely and terrific.”               Mick Herron
From the refugee camps of Greece to the mountains of Macedonia, a thirteen year old boy is making his way to Germany and safety. Codenamed ‘Firefly’, he holds vital intelligence: unparalleled insight into a vicious ISIS terror cell, and details of their plans. But the terrorists are hot on his trail, determined he won’t live to pass on the information.

When MI6 become aware of Firefly and what he knows, the race is on to find him. Paul Samson, ex-MI6 agent and now private eye, finds himself recruited to the cause. Fluent in Arabic thanks to his Lebanese heritage, Samson’s job is to find Firefly, win his trust and get him to safety.

A devastatingly timely thriller following the refugee trail from Syria to Europe, Firefly is a sophisticated, breathtaking race against time from the acclaimed and award-winning author of Brandenburg and The Dying Light.

 

Firefly proves once again that Porter is both his own man and the proud carrier of the flag first unfurled by John le Carré more than fifty years ago. British espionage fiction is the best in the world, and Porter is part of the reason why.”                Lee Child

With its vivid portrait of the flood of refugees moving west from Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, the book could not be more timely. Porter’s sympathy for the dispossessed is as cogent here as his skill at sustaining narrative tension.”                  Guardian

 

Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else by C.D. Rose

 

Image result for Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else by C.D. RoseA hilariously charming novel about a heartbroken man trying to redeem himself by championing forgotten books

Fleeing heartbreak, an unnamed author goes to an unnamed city to give a series of lectures at an unnamed university about forgotten books … only to find himself involved in a mystery when the professor who invited him is nowhere to be found, and no one seems quite sure why he’s there….

So begins this Wes Anderson-like novel hilariously spoofing modernist literature even as it tells a stirring — and eerily suspenseful — story about someone desperate to prove the redeeming power of reading — and writing — books.

And as the narrator gives his lectures, attends vague functions where no one speaks English, never quite meets his host professor and wonders the city looking for the grave of his literary hero, the reader begins to suspect this man’s relentless faith in literature may be the only thing getting him through the mystery enveloping him.

 

A riotous, triumphant rattlebag of a novel. C.D.Rose has created an intricate exploration of literary intrigue, suspense and levity — lose yourself in this book at once, and savour every moment.”                   Eley Williams, author of Attrib. & Other Stories

 

 

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

 

Image result for The Great Believers by Rebecca MakkaiStirring, spellbinding and full of life.”                      Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

 

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup: bringing an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDs epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, he finds his partner is infected, and that he might even have the virus himself. The only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago epidemic, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways the AIDS crisis affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. Yale and Fiona’s stories unfold in incredibly moving and sometimes surprising ways, as both struggle to find goodness in the face of disaster.

 

This expansive, huge-hearted novel conveys the scale of the trauma that was the early AIDS crisis, and conveys, too, the scale of the anger and love that rose up to meet it. Makkai shows us characters who are devastated but not defeated, who remain devoted, in the face of death, to friendship and desire and joyful, irrepressible life. I loved this book.”              Garth Greenwell author of What Belongs to You

Well imagined, intricately plotted, and deeply felt, both humane and human.”                Rabih Alameddine

An antidote to our general urge to forget what we’d rather not remember, but it’s also – which is more important – an absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis.”                        Michael Cunningham, New York Times

 

 

 

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

 

Image result for Meet Me at the Museum by Anne YoungsonA deep and luminous story of late love and second chances – an enduring novel of ideas about life, love and the surprises it throws at us.

Sometimes it takes a stranger to really know who you are

When Tina Hopgood writes a letter of regret to a man she has never met, she doesn’t expect a reply.

When Anders Larsen, a lonely museum curator, answers it, nor does he.

They’re both searching for something, they just don’t know it yet.

Anders has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. Tina is trapped in a marriage she doesn’t remember choosing.

Slowly their correspondence blossoms as they bare their souls to each other with stories of joy, anguish and discovery. But then Tina’s letters suddenly cease, and Anders is thrown into despair.

Can their unexpected friendship survive?

 

A moving tribute to friendship and love, to the courage of the ordinary, and to starting again.”             Rachel Joyce

Full of grace and humanity.”                         Sunday Times

A thoughtful and gentle meditation on buried passions, regrets, love, grief and loneliness . . . Youngson’s debut offers hope for change in its tender exploration of what it means to have experienced a life well-lived.”              Guardian

A quirky, wise and tender novel. Proof that the richest fruits come on the edge of autumn.”                   Sarah Dunant

 

 

 

Last Stories by William Trevor

 

Image result for Last Stories by William TrevorWhat a writer he was; he could flip over a sentence so gently, and show the underbelly in a heartbeat. His work is always quietly compassionate.”                     Elizabeth Strout

In this final collection of ten exquisite, perceptive and profound stories, William Trevor probes into the depths of the human spirit. Here we encounter a tutor and his pupil, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they meet again years later; a young girl who discovers the mother she believed dead is alive and well; and a piano-teacher who accepts her pupil’s theft in exchange for his beautiful music. These gorgeous stories – the last that Trevor wrote before his death – affirm his place as one of the world’s greatest storytellers.

 

Trevor is a master of both language and storytelling.”                   Hilary Mantel

 

He is one of the great short-story writers, at his best the equal of Chekhov.”        John Banville

 

None but those with a complete mastery of fiction can walk this line. William Trevor was not “an Irish Chekhov” or even “the Irish Chekhov”. He was and will remain the Irish William Trevor.”             Julian Barnes, Guardian

Good Trouble: Short Stories by Joseph O’Neill

 

Image result for Good Trouble: Short Stories by Joseph O’NeillBack at dinner, somebody said that the goose thinks it’s a dog. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t think it’s a dog. The goose doesn’t think. The goose just is. And what the goose is is goose. But goose is not goose, Robert thinks. Even the goose isn’t goose.

 

In Good Trouble, the first story collection from Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland, characters are forced to discover exactly who they are, and who they can never quite be.

There’s Rob, who swears he is a dependable member of society, but can’t scrape together a character reference to prove that’s the case. And Jayne, who has no choice but to investigate a strange noise downstairs while her husband lies glued to the bed with fear. A mother tries to find where she fits into her son’s new life of semi-soft rind-washed cheeses, and a poet tries to fathom what makes a poet. Do you even have to write poetry?

Packed with O’Neill’s trademark acerbic humour, Good Trouble explores the maddening and secretly political space between thoughts and deeds, between men and women, between goose and not-goose.

 

O’Neill’s intelligence and invention puts him ahead of the pack.”              Sunday Times

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Madiba

Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather by Ndaba Mandela

 

Image result for Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather by Ndaba MandelaYou empower yourself and then you reach out to others.

Uplifting life lessons from one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known… through the eyes of the grandson whose life he changed forever.

In his book Going to the Mountain, Ndaba Mandela shares the story of his coming-of-age alongside South Africa’s rebirth. It is a remarkable journey, and one that took him from the violent, segregated Soweto ghettos to his grandfather’s presidential home.

As a young boy, Ndaba was constantly shunted from place to place. But at eleven years old he was unexpectedly invited to live with his grandfather, Nelson Mandela, even though he had met him only once before, during a prison visit. And, slowly, they built a relationship that would affect both of them profoundly.

Ndaba’s teenage years were complicated, but as he approached his twenty-first birthday, Mandela decided that Ndaba was finally ready to ‘go to the mountain’ – a test of courage during which you become a man. At the end of this gruelling ritual journey, the elders of the Mandelas’ tribe gathered and Ndaba’s grandfather was there, as ever, to share his greatest life lessons.

From Nelson Mandela, Ndaba learned the spirit of endurance, the triumph of forgiveness, the power of resistance and the beauty of reconciliation. And as Mandela grew older, Ndaba had the chance to repay his grandfather’s love and support by demonstrating the ways in which he’d understood all that he had taught him.

Intimate and inspirational, Going to the Mountain is a powerful reminder of how one person can impact profoundly on another, and a testament to the awesome power within us to change ourselves and our world.

 

 

 

Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela edited by Sahm Venter

 

Image result for Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela edited by Sahm VenterThe first authorised and authenticated collection of correspondence spanning the 27 years Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner.

 

While incarcerated in South Africa as a sentenced prisoner between 1962 and 1990, Nelson Mandela wrote hundreds of letters to loved ones, followers, prison authorities and government officials documenting his plight as the most prominent political prisoner of the twentieth century. Organised chronologically and divided by the four jails in which he was imprisoned, approximately 250 selected letters many of them never before seen by the public have been assembled here from the collections held by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the South African National Archives and the Mandela family, amongst others, together with a foreword by Mandela’s granddaughter.

With accompanying facsimiles of some of the letters and generous annotations, the book provides a personal and intimate portrait of the lawyer and political activist as husband, parent, friend and political prisoner, reflecting on everything from the trajectory of the anti-apartheid movement to the death of his beloved son, Thembi.

Publishing for the centenary of Mandela s birth, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela forms a new autobiographical vision, providing insight into how Mandela maintained his inner spirits while living in almost complete isolation and how he engaged with an outside world that became increasingly outraged by his plight.

 

Madiba’s words give us a compass in a sea of change. Firm ground amidst swirling currents.”               Barack Obama

A veritable treasure trove, they grant a forensic insight into his courage, superhuman fortitude and clarity of political judgment; into his agony at failing in his duties as a husband and father of two girls, toddlers when he was snatched away; and his torment at being refused permission to attend either his mother’s or his son’s funeral. To me, even as a biographer of Mandela, it is a revelatory volume.”                 Peter Hain, The Daily Telegraph

“… this mesmerising book of prison letters… through these compelling letters the thinking, feeling, loving man he was comes back to us.”          Gillian Slovo, Guardian

Remarkably, this collection only serves to enhance and consolidate Mandela’s reputation as a defining figure of the last century and the present one. The letters are in multiple languages, English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa, but they speak the language of humanity, which is the language of that fraught but loaded prison word: time.”                 Herald

Grandad Mandela Zindzi, Zazi, Ziwelene and Zondwa Mandela

 

Image result for Grandad Mandela Zindzi, Zazi, Ziwelene and Zondwa MandelaNelson Mandela’s two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother, Mandela’s youngest daughter, 15 questions about their grandad – the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison. They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today. Seen through a child’s perspective, and authored jointly by Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren and daughter, this amazing story is told as never before to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s Mandela 100th birthday.

 

“…profoundly moving…”                     Publishers Weekly

 

“…beautiful and inspiring… A gorgeous and personal tribute to Mandela’s legacy.”                       Kirkus Reviews

 

 

 

Non-fiction

Melusi’s Everyday Zulu by Melusi Tshabalala

 

Image result for Melusi’s Everyday Zulu by Melusi TshabalalaWhat can one word do? If used correctly, it can make us laugh and make us cry. With Melusi’s Everyday Zulu, Melusi Tshabalala has been demonstrating the power of a single word. Every single day (except Sundays), he posts a single Zulu word on his Facebook profile accompanied by a left-field explanation and examples of its use. His unique writing style, wonky sense of humour, frank political commentary and razor-sharp social observations give his readers a one-of-a-kind insight into not only isiZulu but the world Melusi inhabits, as a 21st century Zulu man.

Within a few short months, Melusi’s Everyday Zulu has built up a huge following. His fans love him for his honesty and commitment to pointing out subtle and overt forms of prejudice and racism. He holds up a mirror that shows South African society in all its flaws but also its sheer humanity. He makes us laugh at ourselves and with each other.

 

Frank, thought-provoking, intimate and hilarious – this is a book every South African should read to discover just how much we have in common.

 

 

Death and Taxes: How SARS made hitmen, drug dealers & tax dodgers pay their dues by Johann van Loggerenberg

 

Image result for Death and Taxes: How SARS made hitmen, drug dealers & tax dodgers pay their dues by Johann van LoggerenbergNothing in life is certain, except death and taxes – or so the saying goes. South African tax dodgers and criminals – from drug dealers and rhino horn smugglers to one of the hitmen who shot Brett Kebble – have come to realise this truth the hard way.

Former tax sleuth and bestselling author of Rogue, Johann van Loggerenberg, was at the centre of several such high-profile SARS cases that spanned many years. He offers a riveting insider’s view on some of these cases, like the investigations into Dave King, Billy Rautenbach, Barry Tannenbaum, as well as Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema and others.

Since the early days of democracy, a small but determined band of people at SARS who fulfilled various investigative functions came to know every trick and scam in the book, and developed the expertise on how best to hold tax dodgers to account. Their cases often dragged on for years, with many of the defendants using every legal trick to fight back – but SARS never gave up.

Van Loggerenberg also revisits events around the hollowing out of the tax authority post-2014 and brings the reader up to date on the extraordinary occurrences at SARS since the new dawn of the Cyril Ramaphosa era.

 

 

 

Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah

 

Image result for Life and Rhymes of Benjamin ZephaniahThe Life and Rhymes has a performative quality reminiscent of Zephaniah’s poetry – honest, unshowy and ultimately unthreatening. It matches the man.”                    Guardian

Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art and his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life.

In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness and the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations and on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, and to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books. His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant.

By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the world (a feat which he achieved in only one year) and he hasn’t stopped performing and touring since. Nelson Mandela, after hearing Benjamin’s tribute to him while he was in prison, requested an introduction to the poet that grew into a lifelong relationship, inspiring Benjamin’s work with children in South Africa. Benjamin would also go on to be the first artist to record with The Wailers after the death of Bob Marley in a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela.

The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah is a truly extraordinary life story which celebrates the power of poetry and the importance of pushing boundaries with the arts.

 

 

Becoming Him: A Trans Memoir of Triumph by Landa Mabenge

 

Image result for Becoming Him: A Trans Memoir of Triumph by Landa MabengeLanda Mabenge is born in April 1981. He comes into this world trapped in a girl’s body, and is christened Yolanda, after the American gospel singer. At just two days old, Yolanda’s biological mother rejects her ‘daughter’ and hands the infant to her sister, who immediately becomes ‘Ma’.

 

From an early age Yolanda is aware that she does not fit into her body. Why does she not have a penis like her boy cousins? Why does she have to wear dresses when all she wants is to wear trousers and shorts like all the other boys? Why does she feel excited when she is close to her girl cousin?

 

At age 11 Yolanda’s world is shattered when an angry woman and her zombie-like husband unexpectedly arrive in Umtata to force Yolanda to accompany them to Port Elizabeth. Life in PE with her new ‘parents’ soon morphs into a Dickensian nightmare. Uprooted from a stable and loving home in Umtata, where she was accepted for who she was, she is now subjected to horrific physical, emotional and psychological abuse.

 

At UCT the harassment from her mother continues by way of phone calls accusing her of being a whore, of sleeping around and of having AIDS. Landa begins isolating herself and drinking heavily. She starts attending sessions through UCT counselling services, with therapist Birgit Schreiber, a woman who will play a pivotal role in her transformation. By the end of the year she suffers a total breakdown.

 

She is finally disowned by her biological mother, which paves the way for Yolanda to shift out of the identity that has held her hostage and now embrace becoming Landa. She has become he. When Landa’s biological parents pass on in 2008/2009, he begins intensive research around what it will entail to embark on gender realignment. The next few years see Landa undertake a mammoth mission to transition.

 

Today Landa lives a transformed and happy life as a transgender activist and consultant. One of his favourite quotes comes from the book Charlotte’s Web, ‘We’re born, we live a little while, we die.’ Becoming Him, under the mentorship of best-selling author and publisher, Melinda Ferguson, is his debut memoir.

 

 

 

Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester

 

Image result for Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon WinchesterBestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson.

Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives – a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps – all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world?

 

As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

 

Winchester makes a convincing case … Exactly succeeds resoundingly in making us think more deeply about the everyday objects we take for granted. It challenges us to reflect on our progress as humans and what has made it possible. It is interesting, informative, exciting and emotional, and for anyone with even some curiosity about what makes the machines of our world work as well as they do, it’s a real treat.”                        New York Times

 

Simon Winchester’s new book is a tale of many triumphs … His delight in words cannot be bridled, so that even Exactly, which is, after all, a nonfiction treatment of technology, brims with amusing and rare nouns such as bagatelle, bijoux, cynosure, seraglio and susurrus. These whir smoothly alongside the argot of the machine shop … Mr. Winchester covers more than 200 years of fine-tuning in this work, and corrals a large cast of eccentric individuals.”            Wall Street Journal

 

 

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney

 

Image result for Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura SpinneyBoth a saga of tragedies and a detective story… Pale Rider is not just an excavation but a reimagining of the past.”                     Guardian

With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.

In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. She shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.

Laura Spinney demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.

 

With superb investigative skill and a delightfully light-hearted writing style, Spinney extends her analysis far beyond the relatively short duration of the plague… I’ve seldom had so much fun reading about people dying.”                         The Times

Weaves together global history and medical science to great effect … Riveting.”             Sunday Times

 

 

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

 

Image result for Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John CarreyrouChilling . . . Reads like a West Coast version of All the President’s Men.”               New York Times Book Review

 

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers.

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionise the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

In Bad Blood, John Carreyrou tells the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

 

Riveting . . . blistering . . . compelling . . . [Carreyrou’s] unmasking of Theranos is a tale of David and Goliath.”                      Financial Times

A dazzling story of deception in Silicon Valley . . . It is a tale of heroic cupidity on a scale that made the very best and the very brightest look like the very, very foolish . . . You will not be able to put this book down.”                        Washington Post

Simply one of the best books about a startup ever.”                       Forbes

 

 

The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood

 

Image result for The Long Weekend by Adrian TinniswoodThere is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer. And there has never been a summer quite like that Indian summer between the two world wars, a period of gentle decline in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homes.

Real life in the country house during the 1920s and 1930s was not always so sunny. By turns opulent and ordinary, noble and vicious, its shadows were darker. In The Long Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the truth about a world half-forgotten, draped in myth and hidden behind stiff upper lips and film-star smiles.

Drawing on hundreds of memoirs, on unpublished letters and diaries, on the eye-witness testimonies of belted earls and unhappy heiresses and bullying butlers, The Long Weekend gives a voice to the people who inhabited this world and shows how the image of the country house was carefully protected by its occupants above and below stairs, and how the reality was so much more interesting than the dream.

 

“[A] fantastically readable and endlessly fascinating book… Delicious, occasionally fantastical, revealing in ways that Downton Abbey never was. It is as if Tinniswood is at the biggest, wildest, most luxuriantly decadent party ever thrown, and he knows everyone.”                    Rachel Cooke, Observer

Tinniswood and his publishers should be congratulated for issuing this elegant, encyclopedic and entertaining history… We are in the company of a confident and skilled historian who understands the mores of his era and wears his learning lightly… This is a handsomely illustrated pick’n’mix of mansions, manors, castles and palaces…. Tinniswood expands our Sunday evening viewing with the kind of detail you can’t invent… Deserves to be on every costume drama producer’s bookshelf.”                Virginia Nicholson, The Times

 

The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward

 

Image result for The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward“A major literary talent . . . speaks about the power and powerlessness that young women are subject to in a wholly fresh, clear-eyed way . . . you’ll find it hard to come away from The Terrible without a stab of recognition in your chest.”                 Stylist

You may not run away from the thing that you are
because it comes and comes and comes as sure as you breathe.

 

This is the story of Yrsa Daley-Ward, and all the things that happened – ‘even the Terrible Things (and God, there were Terrible Things)’. It’s about her childhood in the north-west of England with her beautiful, careworn mother and her little brother who sees things written in the stars.

It’s also about growing up and discovering the power and fear of sexuality, about pitch grey days of pills and powder: going under, losing yourself, and finding your voice.

 

Yrsa’s work is like holding the truth in your hands.”                        Florence Welch

 

Elegant, daring, profound – confirms her abundant talent as a writer.”                 Arifa Akbar, Observer

Beautiful and harrowing . . . Daley-Ward writes with disarming honesty.”                        Vogue

Daley-Ward is a stylish writer, as well as an unusual voice . . . she has a knack for distilling wild emotions into precise imagery, for selecting insightful impressions.”             Sunday Times

 

Incurable Romantic: And Other Unsettling Revelations by Frank Tallis

 

Image result for Incurable Romantic: And Other Unsettling Revelations by Frank TallisFrank Tallis brings a lifetime’s clinical experience and wise reflection to a condition that, by its own strange routes, leads us into the very heart of love itself. This is a brilliant, compelling book.”                  Ian McEwan

 

Love is a great leveller. Everyone wants love, everyone falls in love, everyone loses love, and everyone knows something of love’s madness. But the experience of obsessive love is no trivial matter. In the course of his career psychologist Dr Frank Tallis has treated many unusual patients, whose stories have lessons for all of us.

A barristers’ clerk becomes convinced that her dentist has fallen in love with her and they are destined to be together for eternity; a widow is visited by the ghost of her dead husband; an academic is besotted with his own reflection; a beautiful woman searches jealously for a rival who isn’t there; and a night porter is possessed by a lascivious demon. These are just some of the people whom we meet in an extraordinary and original book that explores the conditions of longing and desire – true accounts of psychotherapy that take the reader on a journey through the darker realms of the amorous mind.

Drawing on the latest scientific research into the biological and psychological mechanisms underlying romance and emotional attachment, The Incurable Romantic demonstrates that ultimately love dissolves the divide between what we judge to be normal and abnormal.

 

I have enjoyed The Incurable Romantic, in which psychotherapist Frank Tallis opens his casebook. There have been quite a few such books recently, most of them overpraised and not as well written as their admirers claim. But Tallis writes with clarity and wit about the morbid condition of love, which emerges here as a kind of mental disorder . . . riveting stuff.”                        Sebastian Faulks, Guardian

A gifted storyteller . . . Tallis’s characters remain sharply, painfully real, their stories as inconclusive, messy and fascinating as life.”                      Economist

It is utterly compelling: the details, the dialogue, which bring each character, however heavily disguised, leaping of the page . . . a fine writer. He is alert to every nuance . . . He knows how to tell a story. Boy, does he know how to tell a story. [A] powerful and moving book.”                       The Times

 

 

 

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

 

Image result for Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David ChristianHow did we get from the Big Bang to today’s staggering complexity, in which seven billion humans are connected into networks powerful enough to transform the planet? And why, in comparison, are our closest primate relatives reduced to near-extinction?

Big History creator David Christian gives the answers in a mind-expanding cosmological detective story told on the grandest possible scale. He traces how, during eight key thresholds, the right conditions have allowed new forms of complexity to arise, from stars to galaxies, Earth to homo sapiens, agriculture to fossil fuels. This last mega-innovation gave us an energy bonanza that brought huge benefits to mankind, yet also threatens to shake apart everything we have created.

This global origin story is one that we could only begin to tell recently, thanks to the underlying unity of modern knowledge. Panoramic in scope and thrillingly told, Origin Story reveals what we learn about human existence when we consider it from a universal scale.

 

I have long been a fan of David Christian. In Origin Story, he elegantly weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible historical narrative.”                 Bill Gates

In Origin StoryDavid Christian has found a spectacular way to use history to put order in the entire set of our knowledge about the world. This is a wonderful achievement.”            Carlo Rovelli, author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time

Mr. Christian tells this story very well, providing, in effect, a short course in modern science. This is a brief history of the universe, and an excellent one.”                      Wall St. Journal

 

 

Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

 

Image result for Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn HauptOn May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling who sang (an improved version of!) the theme from his Piano Concerto Number 17 in G to him. Knowing a kindred spirit when he met one, Mozart wrote “That was wonderful” in his journal and took the bird home to be his pet. For three years Mozart and his family enjoyed the uniquely delightful company of the starling until one April morning when the bird passed away.

In 2013, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet, rescued her own starling, Carmen, who has become a part of her family. In Mozart’s Starling, Haupt explores the unlikely bond between one of history’s most controversial characters and one of history’s most notoriously disliked birds. Part natural history, part story, Mozart’s Starling will delight readers as they learn about language, music, and the secret world of starlings

 

This hard-to-put-down, charming blend of science, biography, and memoir illuminating the little-known story of the composer and his beloved bird is enlivened by the immediacy of Haupt’s tales of Carmen, and brimming with starling information, travelogues, and historical details about Mozart’s Vienna.”              Booklist (Starred Review)

Mozart’s Starling is a delightful, enlightening, breathless flight through the worlds of Carmen and Star, two European starlings who join their human counterparts in exploring life and music and nature, helping to shed light on the connection between humans and birds — those of us bound to terra firma, and those who are free to soar.”                    Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain 

 

 

And finally…

Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori and Lucille Clerc (ill.)

 

Image result for Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori and Lucille Clerc (ill.)Trees are one of humanity’s most constant and most varied companions. From India’s sacred banyan tree to the fragrant cedar of Lebanon, they offer us sanctuary and inspiration – not to mention the raw materials for everything from aspirin to maple syrup.

In Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori uses plant science to illuminate how trees play a role in every part of human life, from the romantic to the regrettable. Stops on the trip include the lime trees of Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard, which intoxicate amorous Germans and hungry bees alike, the swankiest streets in nineteenth-century London, which were paved with Australian eucalyptus wood, and the redwood forests of California, where the secret to the trees’ soaring heights can be found in the properties of the tiniest drops of water.

Each of these strange and true tales – populated by self-mummifying monks, tree-climbing goats and ever-so-slightly radioactive nuts – is illustrated by Lucille Clerc, taking the reader on a journey that is as informative as it is beautiful.

 

This is the best love letter to trees I have ever read. Had I written it myself, I would die happy.”                        Sir Tim Smit, Founder of The Eden Project

 

I have loved trees all my life. It’s fascinating to learn how, across the world, they have inspired people in much the same way, and to understand the key role they play, not just in our lives, but life as a whole.”                         Dame Judi Dench

 

Full of new ideas and wonderful stories about the trees that helped shape us, I really loved this entertaining and erudite world journey.”               Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, The Woodland Trust

 

In this delightful and beautifully illustrated book Jonathan provides a collection of fascinating biographies of some of the world’s most extraordinary trees. […] This is a personal narrative; Jonathan’s love for trees, and his sense of wonder at the diversity of the natural world, shines through on every page.”             Richard Deverell, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

 

 

June 2018

Tuesday, June 19th 2018 at 11:08 AM

Fiction

The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop

 

Image result for the mercy seat by elizabeth h. winthropAs the sun begins to set over Louisiana one October day in 1943, a young black man faces the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl – a crime some believe he did not commit.

In a tale taut with tension, events unfold hour by hour from the perspectives of nine people involved. They include Willie himself, who knows what really happened, and his father, desperately trying to reach the town jail to see his son one last time; the prosecuting lawyer, haunted by being forced to seek the death penalty against his convictions, and his wife, who believes Willie to be innocent; the priest who has become a friend to Willie; and a mother whose only son is fighting in the Pacific, bent on befriending her black neighbours in defiance of her husband.

In this exceptionally powerful novel, Elizabeth Winthrop explores matters of justice, racism and the death penalty in a fresh, subtle and profoundly affecting way. Her kaleidoscopic narrative allows us to inhabit the lives of her characters and see them for what they are – complex individuals, making fateful choices we might not condone, but can understand.

 

In this spare, taut novel, the separate stories of the people around an execution join together to form a portrait of a town, a mentality, a moment in time. This is a compelling, sorrowful read, deeply perceptive and wonderfully full of grace.”              Andrew Solomon

Please celebrate Winthrop’s audacious determination to walk through the narrative minefield of this account of an electrocution in the Deep South during the Gothic worst of Jim Crow times. Winthrop redeems her daring by lovely discipline and dignity, by the care she lavishes on each of her rounded characters. The Mercy Seat is a truly bravura performance.”               Geoffrey Wolff

 

A multi-layered tale of life, death and the grey pain of grief. And yet, it is not depressing . . . though slow burning, [it] still manages to be explosive.”              Irish Examiner

 

A bitingly intelligent writer who infuses otherwise unremarkable moments with bittersweet pathos.”                    New York Times Book Review

 

 

Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin

 

Image result for Mrs Whistler by Matthew PlampinA stunning novel of artist and muse, of love and ambition from the critically acclaimed novelist Matthew Plampin.

 

‘Maud could tell the whole story, but she will not’

 

Chelsea 1876: Jimmy Whistler stands on the cusp of fame, ready to astound the London art world with his radical paintings. At his side is Maud Franklin, his muse, lover and occasional pupil, sharing his house, his dazzling social life and his grand hopes for the future.

But Jimmy’s rebelliousness comes at a heavy price for them both as he battles a furious patron, challenges an influential and viciously hostile critic and struggles with a dire lack of cash. Before long a fight for survival is being waged through the galleries, the drawing rooms and even the courts and Maud, Jimmy’s Madame and closest ally, is expected to do her part.

The Madame has problems of her own, however. Maud has fallen pregnant and must now face the reality of what life with Jimmy entails. As the situation starts to unravel, as loyalties are sorely tested and bankruptcy looms, she has to decide what she wants. Who she is. What she is prepared to endure.

Stunning and suspenseful, this a story of one woman’s progress through a world of beauty and sacrifice, art and ambition; a story which asks what we will withstand for love, and what it means to reach for greatness.

 

A captivating tale …This novel is a delight.”                        The Times

 

A terrific novel … It springs off the page, bristling with life. A vivid and absorbing portrait of bohemian London and the love affair between Whistler and his long-suffering but spirited muse.”                        Deborah Moggach

Should rank with the best … his work possesses depth and vitality … vividly engaging … a novel that conjures up the Victorian art world in rich colours.”             Sunday Times

 

 

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

 

Like Don DeLillo’s JFK-themed Libra, the novel is an intoxicating blend of fact and fiction.”             Glasgow Herald

 

A masterful writer.”        Nicole Krauss

 

A highly sophisticated, fast-moving political thriller set in Colombia and an excellent read.”             Alan Furst

 

A dazzlingly choreographed network of echoes and mirrorings.”                   T.L.S.

 

It takes the form of personal and formal investigations into two political assassinations – the murders of Rafael Uribe Uribe in 1914, the man who inspired García Márquez’s General Buendia in One Hundred Years of Solitude, and of the charismatic Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, the man who might have been Colombia’s J.F.K., gunned down on the brink of success in the presidential elections of 1948. Separated by more than 30 years, the two murders at first appear unconnected, but as the novel progresses Vásquez reveals how between them they contain the seeds of the violence that has bedevilled Colombia ever since.

The Shape of the Ruins is Vásquez’s most ambitious, challenging and rewarding novel to date. His previous novel, The Sound of Things Falling, won Spain’s Alfaguara Prize, Italy’s Von Rezzori Prize and the 2014 Dublin IMPAC literary Award.
For anyone who has read the entire works of Gabriel García Márquez and is in search of a new Colombian novelist, then Juan Gabriel Vásquez . . . is a thrilling new discovery.”                 Colm Tóibín, Guardian

 

All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy

 

The book everyone is talking about for the summer.”      Sunday Times

 

“In my childhood, I was known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman” – so begins the story of Myshkin and his mother, Gayatri, who is driven to rebel against tradition and follow her artist’s instinct for freedom.

Freedom of a different kind is in the air across India. The fight against British rule is reaching a critical turn. The Nazis have come to power in Germany. At this point of crisis, two strangers arrive in Gayatri’s town, opening up for her the vision of other possible lives.

What took Myshkin’s mother from India to Dutch-held Bali in the 1930s, ripping a knife through his comfortingly familiar environment? Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, Myshkin comes to understand the connections between anguish at home and a war-torn universe overtaken by patriotism.

Anuradha Roy’s enthralling novel is a powerful parable for our times, telling the story of men and women trapped in a dangerous era uncannily similar to the present. Impassioned, elegiac, and gripping, it brims with the same genius that has brought Roy’s earlier fiction international renown.

 

One of India’s greatest living authors.”                    O, The Oprah Magazine

 

Roy’s writing is a joy.” – Financial Times

 

 

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

 

Image result for Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha RaoA treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.”
Huffington Post

An electrifying debut novel – the story of the unbreakable bond between two girls driven apart, and their journeys across continents to find each other again.

Poornima and Savitha, born in poverty, have known little kindness in their lives until they meet as teenagers. When an act of devastating cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.

Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face apparently insurmountable obstacles on their travels through the darkest corners of India’s underworld and across an ocean, Girls Burn Brighterintroduces two heroines who refuse to lose the hope that burns within.

 

Burns with intensity . . . [Rao] is clearly a writer of great ambition.”               USA Today

A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.”                       Vogue

Shobha Rao writes cleanly and eloquently about women who, without their brightness, might have been left to die in their beds. She writes them into life, into existence, into the light of day.”                        Los Angeles Times

Rao evokes the landscape of poverty with great skill . . . this is a timely portrayal of human trafficking, cultural misogyny and the battles still fought every day by millions of women worldwide.”                        Observer

Engrossing…The pages keep turning, the language is lyrical and lovely, and many phrases call for pause and appreciation…Rao is a capable and confident writer, able to handle a vast and ambitious story line.”                   New York Times Book Review

 

 

The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Patrick Chamoiseau

 

Image result for The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Patrick ChamoiseauFrom a Prix Goncourt writer hailed by Milan Kundera as the “heir of Joyce and Kafka,” a gripping story of an escaped slave in Martinique and the killer hound that pursues him.

 

A profoundly unsettling story of a plantation slave’s desperate escape into a rainforest beyond human control, with his master and a ferocious dog on his heels.

This flight to freedom takes them on a journey that will transform them all, as the overwhelming physical presence of the forest and its dense primeval wilderness reshapes reality and time itself.

In the darkness, the old man grapples with the spirits of all those who have gone before him; the knowledge that the past is always with us, and the injustice that can cry out from beyond the grave.

The Old Slave and the Mastiff fearlessly portrays the demonic cruelties of the slave trade and its human costs ­- a wise, loving tribute to the Creole culture of Martinique, and a vividly told journey into the heart of Caribbean history and human endurance.

 

“[This]… is a cloudburst of a novel, swift and compressed— but every page pulses, blood-warm. . . . The prose is so electrifyingly synesthetic that, on more than one occasion, I found myself stopping to rub my eyes in disbelief.”                        Parul Seghal,  New York Times

 

Mr. Chamoiseau writes in a wild medley of French and Creole, sliding from dialect to classical expression like a freeform jazz musician. Linda Coverdale’s translation, the first in English, is gloriously unshackled. . . . This [is a] beautiful book, by a writer who’s as original as any I’ve read all year.”                   Sam Sacks,  Wall Street Journal

 

 

Kudos by Rachel Cusk

 

Image result for 9780571346646A woman on a plane listens to the stranger in the seat next to hers telling her the story of his life: his work, his marriage, and the harrowing night he has just spent burying the family dog. That woman is Faye, who is now on her way to Europe to promote the book she has just published. Once she reaches her destination, the conversations she has with the people she meets – about art, about family, about politics, about love, about sorrow and joy, about justice and injustice – are the most far-reaching questions human beings ask.

These conversations, the last of them with her son, rise dramatically and majestically to a beautiful conclusion.
Her writing, for all its laconic, pared-back grace, is rich in detail. Cusk is now working on a level that makes it very surprising she has not yet won a major literary prize. Her technical originality is equalled by the compelling nature of her subject matter.”                  Helen Dunmore

Cusk is always an exciting writer: striking and challenging, with a distinctive cool prose voice, and behind that coolness something untamed and full of raw force…”                      Tessa Hadley

Cusk is intimately concerned with the architecture of women’s lives, the institutions and expectations – marriage, motherhood, loyalty – that continue to shape everyday experiences … [These three books] stand as a landmark in 21st-century English literature, the culmination of an artist’s unshakable efforts to forge her own path.”                        Observer

A blazing experiment in auto-fiction that seamlessly amalgamates form and substance … a tour de force of a trilogy.”                   Financial Times

It’s addictive, sharing such a strange, bright vision of the world; and Kudos, this final part of the Faye trilogy, has been eagerly awaited . . . it is a fine novel that deserves to receive . . . a heap of awards in recognition of the vast achievement of the trilogy.”              Guardian Review

 

 

Wyntertide by Andrew Caldicott

 

Image result for Wyntertide by Andrew CaldicottIntricate and crisp, witty and solemn. Line by line, silent and adroit, it opens a series of trap-doors in the reader’s imagination.”                 Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall

 

Welcome back to Rotherweird.

The town of Rotherweird has been independent from the rest of England for four hundred years, to protect a deadly secret.

Sir Veronal Slickstone is dead, his bid to exploit that secret consigned to dust, leaving Rotherweird to resume its abnormal normality after the travails of the summer . . . but someone is playing a very long game.

Disturbing omens multiply: a funeral delivers a cryptic warning; an ancient portrait speaks; the Herald disappears – and democracy threatens the uneasy covenant between town and countryside.

Geryon Wynter’s intricate plot, centuries in the making, is on the move.

Everything points to one objective: the resurrection of Rotherweird’s dark Elizabethan past – and to one date: the Winter Solstice.

Wynter is coming . . .

Baroque, Byzantine and beautiful – not to mention bold. An enthralling puzzle picture of a book.”                                   M. R. Carey, bestselling author of The Girl With All The Gifts

 

Compelling . . . the love child of Gormenghast and Hogwarts.”                       Guardian
This novel is a remarkable achievement. It’s also extremely funny, in a typically British sort of way . . . a delightful Harry Potter for grown-ups.”             Sunday Independent

 

 

 

Star of the North by DB John

 

Image result for Star of the North by DB JohnExtraordinary…smart, sophisticated, suspenseful – and important. If you try one new thing this year, make it Star of the North.”                      Lee Child

North Korea and the USA are on the brink of war 

A young American woman disappears without trace from a South Korean island.
The CIA recruits her twin sister to uncover the truth.
Now, she must go undercover in the world’s most deadly state. 

Star of the North opens in 1998, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twelve years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her – including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed. As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax.
‘A superior thriller…steeped in the intrigue, culture and family of a closed regime’ Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author

“[John] parlays his knowledge into a grim but incisive narrative…. This is a masterly evocation of life under the Kim Jong-il regime.”                   Barry Forshaw, Guardian

 

 

How to Rule the World by Tibor Fischer

 

Image result for How to Rule the World by Tibor FischerThe Vizz: an industry in crisis. Baxter Stone, a film maker and television veteran, a lifelong Londoner (who thinks he sees better than others) is having problems in the postbrain, crumbling capital. Swindled by an insurance company, he’s in in debt; a Lamborghini is blocking his drive and MI6 is blocking his mobile reception.

He hopes to turn it round and get the documentary series that will get him the Big Money. But what do you do if history is your sworn enemy and the whole world conspires against you? Is there any way, you could, for a moment, rule the world justly?

Darkly comic, How to Rule The World follows Baxter’s battle for truth, justice and classy colour grading as it takes him from the pass of Thermopylae, to the peacocking serial killers of Medieval France, and the war in Syria. A trip from the Garden of Eden to Armageddon, plus reggae.

Demonstrating Fischer’s inimitable talent for eviscerating social satire, How to the Rule the Worldis a magnificently funny read to stand alongside his best loved works, the Man Booker shortlisted Under the FrogThe Thought Gang and Don’t Read This Book If You’re Stupid, all of which Corsair will publish in e-book next year.

 

Darkly comic . . . Tight, savage and satirical – a book perfectly weighted to the times. Pick it up.”                        Evening Standard

You can’t really do justice to Fischer’s writing. He mixes the fantastical with the mundane, effortlessly swinging across language and grammar for his own entertainment and the delighted bamboozlement of readers. His latest novel, set in “post-brain London” is a merry journey to be savoured.”                        Stylist magazine

Tibor Fischer is a master of the bitter laugh. There are plenty to be had in [How to Rule the World] . . . Fischer has written a wickedly funny novel about a serious topic. Read How to Rule the World. It will make you feel smarter than you really are.”                       The Times

Powered by dark humour . . . Fast-paced and fun, it reads like a comic strip.”                     Sunday Times

 

Property by Lionel Shriver

 

Image result for Property by Lionel ShriverThis first collection of stories from a master of the form, explores the idea of “property” in both senses of the word: real estate, and stuff. These sharp, brilliantly imaginative pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves, and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.

This immensely readable collection showcases the biting insight that has made Lionel Shriver one of the most acclaimed authors of our time, described by the Sunday Times as ‘a brilliant writer’ with ‘a strong, clear and strangely seductive voice’.

 

Shriver’s intellect and talent, her political convictions and her impressive confidence are all on display … assertive, frequently funny and altogether satisfying … her confident grasp of the material and her natural gifts as a storyteller will keep you in her spell and leave you, at the end, slightly altered … persuasive and richly entertaining.”                  New York Times

 

Phenomenal… Shriver has the gift for making one instantly curious, entertained, involved and ready to move in – no matter what the property.”                        Observer

 

All Shriver’s stories are satisfying. I exhaled a little triumphant “Ha!” at the end of each one … Shriver is brilliant.”            The Times

 

 

Non-fiction

Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

 

Image result for 9780008297664A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade.

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who was abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past―memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.

 

Zora Neale Hurston’s genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece.”
Alice Walker

“Barracoon is a powerful, breathtakingly beautiful, and at times, heart wrenching, account of one man’s story, eloquently told in his own language. Zora Neale Hurston gives Kossola control of his narrative― a gift of freedom and humanity. It completely reinforces for me the fact that Zora Neale Hurston was both a cultural anthropologist and a truly gifted, and compassionate storyteller, who sat in the sometimes painful silence with Kossola and the depth and breadth of memory as a slave. Such is a narrative filled with emotions and histories bursting at the intricately woven seams.”                   Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun

 

A searing reminder of how recently American slavery ended, and the depth of the pain it caused.”                   The Economist

 

“A deeply affecting record of an extraordinary life.”                      Daily Telegraph

 

“Barracoon and its long path to print is a testament to Zora’s singular vision amid so many competing pressures that continue to put us at war with ourselves.”              Huffington Post

 

 

Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges 1944 by Antony Beevor

 

The great airborne battle for the bridges in 1944 by Britain’s Number One bestselling historian and author of the classic Stalingrad

On 17 September 1944, General Kurt Student, the founder of Nazi Germany’s parachute forces, heard the growing roar of aeroplane engines. He went out on to his balcony above the flat landscape of southern Holland to watch the air armada of Dakotas and gliders carrying the British 1st Airborne and the American 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions. He gazed up in envy at this massive demonstration of paratroop power.

Operation Market Garden, the plan to end the war by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine and beyond, was a bold concept: the Americans thought it unusually bold for Field Marshal Montgomery. But could it ever have worked? The cost of failure was horrendous, above all for the Dutch, who risked everything to help. German reprisals were pitiless and cruel, and lasted until the end of the war.

The British fascination with heroic failure has clouded the story of Arnhem in myths. Antony Beevor, using often overlooked sources from Dutch, British, American, Polish and German archives, has reconstructed the terrible reality of the fighting, which General Student himself called ‘The Last German Victory’. Yet this book, written in Beevor’s inimitable and gripping narrative style, is about much more than a single, dramatic battle.

It looks into the very heart of war.

 

In Beevor’s hands, Arnhem becomes a study of national character.”             Ben Macintyre, The Times

 

Superb book, tirelessly researched and beautifully written.”                 Saul David, Daily Telegraph

 

Complete mastery of both the story and the sources.”                Literary Review

 

The analysis he has produced of the disaster is forensic. Aficionados of military history will revel in Beevor’s microscopic detail, with every skirmish given its rightful place. . . Beevor’s prodigious research has nevertheless unearthed many treasures, particularly his record of the sufferings of Dutch civilians who risked their necks by nursing wounded allied soldiers.”              Giles Milton, Sunday Times

 

As Antony Beevor showed in Stalingrad, he is a master of his craft as a military historian. . . We have here a definitive account of one of the most painful episodes of the Second World War.”             Piers Paul Read, The Tablet

 

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

 

Image result for Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by AkalaA potent combination of autobiography and political history which holds up a mirror to contemporary Britain.”                Independent
Powerful … The kind of disruptive, aggressive intellect that a new generation is closely watching.”               Afua Hirsch, Guardian 
Part biography, part polemic, this powerful, wide-ranging study picks apart the British myth of meritocracy.”                      David Olusoga

A searing modern polemic and Sunday Times bestseller from the BAFTA- and MOBO-award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives will speak directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire.

 

A book bristling with intelligence and insight.”                  Irish Times

 

Doctor You: Revealing the Science of Self-Healing by Jeremy Howick

 

Image result for Doctor You: Revealing the Science of Self-Healing by Jeremy HowickRead this breakthrough book!”                      Deepak Chopra

Throw away your statins, painkillers and antidepressants and pick up this book to find out how you can harness the body’s natural powers to heal itself.

Doctor You contains the first hard scientific evidence to show that some so-called alternative or natural treatments are not only cheaper than industrially produced drugs and lacking the harmful side effects, they are also equally effective.

Written using the latest, high quality, conventional evidence Doctor You arms you with knowledge that will empower you to make the right choices about what drugs to take, what drugs to give your children, and when you should let your body do its thing.

 

Jeremy Howick is a real expert on the placebo effect. He can be relied on to know the literature, including the technical literature, thoroughly, and to provide a clear, serious and just account of it.”                  Nancy Carwright
This fascinating book ranges over a broad range of evidence, from telling incidents, to huge comparative scientific studies with thousands of human subjects, and many things in between, all aimed at helping you lead a more healthy, vigorous, active and meaningful life. Engagingly written by an academic who can row his own boat (really!), who is as adept at yoga as he is at statistics, it is really a good read.”                    Professor Dan Moerman

This is a timely book on a timeless problem of how body and mind interact to affect our health and well-being. Beautifully written by an international expert in the field, it challenges old habits of thinking and promises new ways of exploring what it means to live an integrated life.”                      Mark Williams, author of Mindfulness, Professor of Clinical Psychology and former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre

Sharp: The Women Who Made and Art of Having an Opinion

 

Image result for Sharp: The Women Who Made and Art of Having an OpinionFrom journalist Michelle Dean, winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s 2016 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, Sharp combines biography, original research, and critical reading into a powerful portrait of ten writers who managed to make their voices heard amidst a climate of sexism and nepotism, from the 1920s to the 1990s.

Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Janet Malcolm, Renata Adler, Pauline Kael, and Nora Ephron-these are the main characters of Sharp. Their lives intertwine. They enable each other and feud, manufacture unique spaces and voices, and haunt each other. They form a group united in many ways, but especially by what Dean terms as ‘sharpness’, the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit, a claiming of power through writing rather than position. Sharp is a vibrant and rich depiction of the intellectual beau monde of New York, where gossip-filled parties at night gave out to literary slanging-matches in the pages of publications like the Partisan Review or the New York Review of Books, as well as a carefully considered portrayal of the rise of feminism and its interaction with the critical establishment.

Sharp is for book lovers who want to read about their favorite writers, lovers of New Yorker lore, aspiring writers in New York, those interested in the history of ideas, and of the fray of 20th century debate-and it will satisfy them all.

 

There can’t be enough cultural histories which make the point that a woman intellectual must represent her own mind, and not the collective mind of all her ‘sisters.’ Sharp is a brisk, entertaining, well-researched reminder that it’s impossible to write – or think – without making life very messy for oneself, but to do so is an achievement well worth the pains.”                      Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

I have to recommend Michelle Dean’s Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion, a delicious cultural history that comes out in April. It brings together some of the most influential social critics of the 20th century, including Dorothy Parker, Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag and Joan Didion, and shows how these glamorous iconoclasts forged their singular careers. Dean makes the convincing argument that women’s voices – if not necessarily feminist ones – did far more to define the last century’s intellectual life than we realize.”                         Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

This is such a great idea for a book, and Michelle Dean carries it off, showing us the complexities of her fascinating, extraordinary subjects, in print and out in the world. Dean writes with vigor, depth, knowledge and absorption, and as a result Sharp is a real achievement.”               Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion

Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land by Amos Oz

 

Image result for Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land by Amos OzConcise, evocative… Dear Zealots is not just a brilliant book of thoughts and ideas – it is a depiction of the struggle of one man who, for decades, has insisted on keeping a sharp, strident and lucid perspective in the face of chaos and at times of madness,”              David Grossman, winner of the Man Booker International Prize

This essential collection of three new essays was written out of a sense of urgency, concern, and a belief that a better future is still possible. It touches on the universal nature of fanaticism and its possible cures; the Jewish roots of humanism and the need for a secular pride in Israel; and the geopolitical standing of Israel in the wider Middle East and internationally. Amos Oz boldly puts forward his case for a two-state solution in what he calls ‘a question of life and death for the State of Israel’. Wise, provocative, moving and inspiring, these essays illuminate the argument over Israeli, Jewish and human existence, shedding a clear and surprising light on vital political and historical issues, and daring to offer new ways out of a reality that appears to be closed down.

 

 

What is Real: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics by Adam Becker

 

Image result for What is Real: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics by Adam BeckerEvery physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity’s finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr’s students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favoured practical experiments over philosophical arguments. As a result, questioning the status quo long meant professional ruin. And yet, from the 1920s to today, physicists like John Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett persisted in seeking the true meaning of quantum mechanics. What is Real? is the gripping story of this battle of ideas and the courageous scientists who dared to stand up for truth.

 

A thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science . . . Becker leads us through an impressive account of the rise of competing interpretations, grounding them in the human stories, which are naturally messy and full of contingencies. He makes a convincing case that it’s wrong to imagine the Copenhagen interpretation as a single official or even coherent statement.”             New York Times

“[A] fresh debut . . . Vivid biographical portraits enliven even dense theoretical explanations with wit and bite . . . With his crisp voice, Becker lucidly relates the complicated history of quantum foundations.”                      Publishers Weekly, starred review

“…an impressive account of the rise of competing interpretations, grounding them in the human stories, which are naturally messy and full of contingencies. He makes a convincing case that it’s wrong to imagine the Copenhagen interpretation as a single official or even coherent statement.”             New York Times

Becker handles the physics with aplomb… The cast is colourful and expansive, and provides engaging drama… The subtext running through this hugely enjoyable book is that, if we still have a long way to go before we understand reality… The story so far is of dazzling insights, flawed male scientists – and very few female ones. It’s a key acknowledgement that should help to ensure that writing the next chapters of the quantum tale is open to all.”                  Michael Brooks, New Scientist

Adam Becker has written an excellent, accessible account of an intricate story.”              Wall Street Journal

 

A School Where I Belong – Creating Transformed And Inclusive South African Schools by Douglas Wray, Roy Hellenberg & Jonathan Jansen

 

 

Image result for A School Where I Belong - Creating Transformed And Inclusive South African Schools by Douglas Wray, Roy Hellenberg & Jonathan JansenOver the past few years, it has become clear that the path of transformation in schools since 1994 has not led South Africa’s education system to where we had hoped it could be. Through tweets, posts and recent protests in schools, it has become apparent that in former Model-C and private schools, children of colour and those who are ‘different’ don’t feel they belong.

Following the astonishing success of How To Fix South Africa’s Schools, the authors sat down with young people who attended former Model-C and private schools, as well as principals and teachers, to reflect on transformation and belonging in South African schools. These filmed reflections, included on DVD in this book, are honest and insightful.

Drawing on the authors’ experiences in supporting schools over the last twenty years, and the insight of those interviewed, A School Where I Belong outlines six areas where true transformation in South African classrooms and schools can begin.

 

 

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Image result for The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace JohnsonWho is Edwin Rist?

Genius or Narcissist? Mastermind or Pawn?

 

One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the British Museum of Natural History. Hours later, he slipped away with a suitcase full of rare bird specimens collected over the centuries from across the world, all featuring a dazzling array of priceless feathers.

Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when he first heard about the heist, from his fly-fishing guide. When he discovered that the thief evaded prison, and that half the birds were never recovered, Johnson embarked upon a years-long worldwide investigation which led him deep into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.

A page-turning story of a bizarre and shocking crime, The Feather Thief shines a light on our fraught relationship with the natural world’s most beautiful and valuable wonders, and one man’s relentless quest for justice.

 

“The Feather Thief truly is a tale of obsession … A wonderfully assured writer, [Johnson] takes us on a curious journey into the past … Vivid and arresting.”                      The Times)

“The Feather Thief is a riveting read. It also stands, I believe, as a reminder of how an obsession with the ornaments of nature ― be they feathers, bird eggs or ivory ― can wreak havoc on our scientific heritage.”                       Nature

A fascinating book… the kind of intelligent reported account that alerts us to a threat and that, one hopes, will never itself be endangered.”                        Wall Street Journal

Unusual and engrossing page-turner… A wide-ranging, captivating work.”                       Literary Review

 

 

Lampedusa: The Gateway to Europe by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta

 

Image result for Lampedusa: The Gateway to Europe by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia TilottaBartolo tells us about rescuing everyone he can, burying those he cannot, and saving their stories as if they were his own. This is a personal, urgent and universal book.”                    Gloria Steinem

 

An urgent, wrenching dispatch from the frontline of the defining crisis of our times . . . Bartolo is at once the saviour and the coroner to boatload after boatload of migrants who risk everything to cross the deadly seas. It is also a damning indictment of the broader, collective indifference of humankind to both the drowned and the saved.”              Philip Gourevitch
It is common to think of the refugee crisis as a recent phenomenon, but Dr Pietro Bartolo, who runs the clinic on the Italian island of Lampedusa, has been caring for its victims – both the living and the dead – for a quarter of a century.

Situated some 200 km off Italy’s Southern coast, Lampedusa has hit the world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe.

The shipwrecks began in 1992. Before the Arab Spring, they came from Africa, but now they come from across the Arab world as well. And the death toll is staggering. On Christmas Eve, 1996, 286 bodies were recovered; on the night of October 3, 2003, 366 out of 500 migrants died after a shipwreck nearby.

For the past twenty-five years, Doctor Bartolo has been rescuing, welcoming, helping, and providing medical assistance to those who survived. But, above all, he has been listening to them. Tales of pain and hope, stories of those who didn’t make it, who died at sea, their bodies washed up on shore; stories of those who lost their loved ones, of babies that never had a chance to be born.

 

Dr Pietro Bartolo has seen more suffering and death in his career than any one man should have to witness.”                      Amnesty International

 

Through Bartolo we understand that it is impossible to do nothing in the face of such great human need.”                     Vanity Fair
Dr Pietro Bartolo’s account of his years administering to this wretched, threadbare flotilla is a haunting and urgent testimony. He is an impassioned and compelling narrator.”              Toby Jones

 

 

 

The Darker the Night the Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist’s Odyssey by Paul Broks

 

Image result for The Darker the Night the Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist’s Odyssey by Paul Broks“[A] beautifully written investigation of grief … As an exploration of love and loss, as a portrait of a person and of the nature of personhood, this book is about as true as any I have read.”                      James McConnachie, Sunday Times

An audacious and beautiful account of grief and who we are. Memoir, neuroscience and myth interweave to create a book unlike any other

When celebrated neuropsychologist Paul Broks’ wife died of cancer, he found himself plunged into the world of the bereaved. As he experienced the pain, alienation and suffering that make us human, his clinician-self seemed to watch on with keen interest. He embarked upon a voyage of experience: a journey through grief, philosophy, consciousness, humanity and magical thinking – seen through the prism of a lifetime’s work in neuroscience. Fusing an account of living with and recovering from loss with thought-provoking meditations on the nature of the mind and the self, The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars is an audacious and beautiful work by a writer of astonishing wisdom and compassion.

 

A rewarding mind to spend some time with.”                    David Aaronovitch, The Times

In this gorgeous kaleidoscope of a book, the neuroscientist Paul Broks takes us image by image, story by story, into an exploration of life with all its brilliant hues of grief and despair, joy and resilience, biology and society. There’s science here, and curiosity, and humanity, all forming a remarkable portrait of who we are – and who we hope to be.”                         Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Poisoner’s Handbook

“Rich with disturbing images, eerie characters, wistful philosophical reflection … in terms of sheer prose ability he is a modern master.”              Andrew Marr, Telegraph

 

 

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

 

Image result for 9781473660205In our small corner of the universe, we know how some matter behaves most of the time and what even less of it looks like, and we have some good guesses about where it all came from. But we really have no clue what’s going on. In fact, we don’t know what about 95% of the universe is made of.

So what happens when a cartoonist and a physicist walk into this strange, mostly unknown universe? Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson gleefully explore the biggest unknowns, why these things are still mysteries, and what a lot of smart people are doing to figure out the answers (or at least ask the right questions).

While they’re at it, they helpfully demystify many complicated things we do know about, from quarks and neutrinos to gravitational waves and exploding black holes. With equal doses of humour and delight, they invite us to see the universe as a vast expanse of mostly uncharted territory that’s still ours to explore.

This is a book for fans of Brian Cox and What If. This highly entertaining highly illustrated book is perfect for anyone who’s curious about all the great mysteries physicists are going to solve next.

 

Packed with witty infographics, cartoons, and lucid explanations.”                 BBC Focus Magazine

 

 

The Blind Spot: An Essay on the Novel by Javier Cercas

 

Image result for 9780857056535An essential collection of literary criticism by one of Spain’s most acclaimed authors.

 

Javier Cercas is one of the most enjoyable and innovative novelists at work today – as Weidenfeld Visiting Professor in Comparative European Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford, Cercas gave a series of five lectures on the novel today, which have since been revised and are now published in English for the first time as The Blind Spot.

Starting with Don Quixote and his own experience as a writer, Cercas launches out into a consideration of the most challenging fiction of the last hundred years, from Kafka, Borges, Perec, Calvino and Kundera, to Sebald, Coetzee, Barnes, Foster Wallace and Knausgård. First, he defines and celebrates certain aspects of the novel in the twenty-first century which are also features of Cervantes’ masterpiece: its essential irony and ambiguity, its total commitment to innovation, its natural, joyful and omnivorous desire to cram the whole world within its pages, and its intricate concern with fiction and reality. Then he moves on to consider the actual meaning of the novel, the uncertain and discredited role of the writer as intellectual, and the role of the reader in the creation of a form whose aim is to tell the truth by telling lies.

The result is a dazzling short book which provides a new interpretation of novel from Cervantes and Melville to the present, and which will be as stimulating for readers and writers of literature in the twenty-first century as E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel or Milan Kundera’s The Art of the Novel were in the last.

 

And finally…

The History of the World Quiz Book: 1,000 Questions and Answers to Test Your Knowledge

 

Image result for The History of the World Quiz Book: 1,000 Questions and Answers to Test Your KnowledgeTaking the history of the world as its basis might seem a mammoth task but this fascinating book does just that, breaking the whole lot down into ten enthralling chapters that cover the ages and the world, from the Bronze Age up until the end of the Second World War.

With over 5,500 years to choose from, and a whole world of events, you can be sure there is no shortage of intriguing history to explore.

From the first empires and civilizations, through the Ancient world of the Middle East and Africa; the Parthian Empire; the Golden Age of India; the ancient dynasties of China; the founding of Rome and the Roman republic; Peruvian cultures; The Middle Ages; the Byzantine Empire; Mayan culture; the Crusades; the rise of the Ottoman Empire; the Renaissance – this far-reaching book will test the knowledge of any history lover and provide the ultimate challenge for even the most knowledgeable historian.

With questions ranging through multiple choice, truth or fiction, maps and pictures, you will find there is always something new to learn about the world.

 

Happy Reading!

May 2018

Tuesday, May 29th 2018 at 3:05 PM

Fiction

Season of Glass by Rahla Xenopoulos

 

Image result for Season of Glass by Rahla XenopoulosSomewhere in her body she retained every story ever told. She knew every life that had been lived and every life yet to be born.

 

There exists a prophesy as old as history itself: in times of darkness a pair of twins will be born, a gift to humankind that will save us from ourselves. Whether in ancient Ethiopia, where a warrior queen rises; aboard buccaneer Black Caesar’s pirate ship sailing for Jamaica at the time of the Spanish Inquisition; or in a banker’s opulent mansion in Austria on the eve of World War ii. , the twins, and their aides and enemies, must face a common destiny.

 

The Season of Glass  is a modern Scheherazade’s tale about these siblings’ travels at pivotal moments: to a marbled city in sixteenth-century India, through dangerous Johannesburg streets in the seventies, and even to the distant future. A shimmering novel, it is a kaleidoscope that works with light and shows us hope.

 

 

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

 

Image result for Macbeth by Jo NesboHe’s the best cop they’ve got.

When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.

He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.

He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.

But a man like him won’t get to the top.

Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.

Unless he kills for it.

 

Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of whom—a master of manipulation named Hecate—has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way.

Hecate’s plot hinges on steadily, insidiously manipulating Inspector Macbeth: the head of SWAT and a man already susceptible to violent and paranoid tendencies. What follows is an unputdownable story of love and guilt, political ambition, and greed for more, exploring the darkest corners of human nature, and the aspirations of the criminal mind.

 

Majestically satisfying…a deliciously oppressive page-turne.r”                                  Guardian

Inventive and deeply satisfying… a dark but ultimately hopeful Macbeth, one suited to our own troubled times.”                             New York Times Book Review

Nesbo makes excellent use of all the atmosphere of his genre, and the stakes at play are every bit as convincing as those in the original… This is Nesbo doing what he’s good at.”                    Independent

The fun comes from watching a crack storyteller put his noir stamp on one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies… Nesbo manages the balancing act of being true to the original play without slighting his own interests as a writer: bleak settings, loyalty (or the lack thereof) among crooks, clever escapes from tight spots, the affinities between policemen and the criminals they chase.”                    Washington Post

 

 

Happiness by Aminatta Forna

 

Image result for Happiness by Aminatta FornaA breathtaking novel from Orange Prize-shortlisted and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning author Aminatta Forna

Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his ‘niece’, Ama, who hasn’t called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown – and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilizing into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London’s myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a teeming metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.

 

Forna’s voice is relentlessly compelling, her ability to summon atmosphere extraordinary, her sympathetic portrayal of traffic wardens, street performers, security guards, hotel doormen a thing of lasting beauty. It is as if the author has privileged access into multiple spheres of existence, learning the secret languages of each, conferring dignity and consequence on these figures who often pass unseen and unrecorded in our accounts of contemporary life.”                     Observer

Forna is a risk-taker, a writer who doesn’t hold back from tackling big themes . Happiness is one of a handful of contemporary novels that take both the human condition and the animal condition seriously. Entering Forna’s sweeping universe transports you to a place that feels familiar, but also totally feral and full of surprises .”                               Financial Times

Forna’s writing exudes an excitable kind of curiosity – about people, about the world. She has a magpie eye for interesting facts and observations . She has a big heart and impressive breadth, writing with equal acuity and empathy about women and men, Americans and Africans, professors and traffic wardens … There is so much to enjoy in this book.”                       New Statesman

Aminatta Forna expertly weaves her characters’ stories, past and present, in and out of the larger story of London, which becomes as rich a character as the human beings and, indeed, the foxes; and she makes us care deeply about them all, the foxes, the people and the city. A terrific novel.”                  Salman Rushdie

From the understated and inexorable pull of plot and emotion to the luxuriousness of the details of varied ways of living and being to the tidal pull of language, Happiness is a great accomplishment.”                  Viet Thanh Nguyen

 

 

Overstory by Richard Powers

 

Image result for Overstory by Richard PowersIt’s not possible for Powers to write an uninteresting book.”      Margaret Atwood

The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers – each summoned in different ways by trees – are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

 

An extraordinary novel … It’s an astonishing performance …He’s incredibly good at describing trees, at turning the science into poetry …The book is full of ideas … Like Moby-Dick, The Overstory leaves you with a slightly adjusted frame of reference … Some of what was happening to his characters passed into my conscience, like alcohol into the bloodstream, and left a feeling behind of grief or guilt, even after I put it down. Which is one test of the quality of a novel.”                       Guardian

The time is ripe for a big novel that tells us as much about trees as Moby-Dick does about whales … The Overstory is that novel and it is very nearly a masterpiece … The encyclopaedic powers of Powers extend from the sciences to the literary classics. On almost every page of The Overstory you will find sentences that combine precision and vision. You will learn new facts about trees … [An] exhilarating read.”                              The Times

Big brainy books bristling with formidable versatility have been Powers’s speciality since he launched his highly idiosyncratic fictional career … The Overstory is a hugely ambitious eco-fable … An immense and intense homage to the arboreal world, the book is alive with riveting data, cogent reasoning and urgent argument … [Pages] teem with knowledge and gleam with aesthetic appeal. Angry energy pulses through scenes … Valiant.”                   Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

 

 

The Boat People by Sharon Bala

 

Image result for The Boat People by Sharon BalaWhen a rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees from Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war reaches Vancouver’s shores, the young father thinks he and his six-year-old son can finally start a new life. Instead, the group is thrown into a detention processing center, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among the “boat people” are members of a separatist militant organization responsible for countless suicide attacks–and that these terrorists now pose a threat to Canada’s national security. As the refugees become subject to heavy interrogation, Mahindan begins to fear that a desperate act taken in Sri Lanka to fund their escape may now jeopardize his and his son’s chance for asylum. Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer, Priya, a second-generation Sri Lankan Canadian who reluctantly represents the refugees; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate as evidence mounts against him, The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis.

 

“The Boat People is a burning flare of a novel, at once incendiary and illuminating. With a rare combination of precision, empathy and insight, Sharon Bala has crafted an unflinching examination of what happens when the fundamental human need for safety collides with the cold calculus of bureaucracy. In the best tradition of fearless literature, it shatters our comfortable illusions about who we really are and reveals just how asymmetrical the privilege of belonging can be. This is a brilliant debut – a story that needs to be told, told beautifully.”                   Omar El Akkad, author of American War

 

 

This is What Happened by Mick Herron

 

Image result for This is What Happened by Mick HerronFrom CWA Gold & Steel Dagger winner Mick Herron comes a shocking, twisted novel of thrilling suspense about one woman’s attempt to be better than ordinary.

Something’s happened.

A lot of things have happened.

If she could turn back time, she wondered how far she would go.

Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner, and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice.

Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk.

Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero – if she can think quickly enough to stay alive.

 

A beautifully written and ingeniously plotted standalone from Herron . . . this dark thriller is rife with the deadpan wit and trenchant observation that Herron’s readers relish.”                        Publishers Weekly

 

 

Brother by David Chariandy

 

Image result for 9781408897263A brilliant, powerful elegy from a living brother to a lost one, yet pulsing with rhythm, and beating with life.”                    Marlon James, Winner of the Man Booker Prize

WINNER OF THE ROGERS WRITERS’ TRUST FICTION PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE

Michael and Francis are the bright, ambitious sons of Trinidadian immigrants. Coming of age in the outskirts of a sprawling city, the brothers battle against careless prejudices and low expectations.

While Francis aspires to a future in music, Michael dreams of Aisha, the smartest girl in their school, whose eyes are firmly set on a life elsewhere. But one sweltering summer night the hopes of all three are violently, irrevocably cut short.

In this timely and essential novel, David Chariandy builds a quietly devastating story about the love between a mother and her sons, the impact of race, masculinity and the senseless loss of young lives.

 

Chariandy’s writing is accomplished and confident: every word hits its mark . Chariandy handles some of the most emotional issues of our time – the casual indignities of being a poor child of immigrants, the impervious power-posturing of police in the black community, murders dismissed as lawful – with care and wisdom. The result is seething and persuasive . Brother is an exquisite novel, crafted by a writer as talented and precise as Junot Díaz and Dinaw Mengestu. It has a beating heart and a sharp tongue. It is elegant, vital, indubitably dope – the most moving book I’ve read in a year.”                                Guardian

A breathtaking achievement. It is a compulsive, brutal and flawless novel that is full of accomplished storytelling with not a word spare. It is not just about a particular place or poverty or institutional racism, but about the ardour of brotherly love and the loneliness of grief.”                         Observer

Exploring universal themes of love between brothers as well as race, masculinity and the challenges faced by immigrant families, it promises to be an enthralling and timely read.”                           Independent

 

 

Gold Diggers by Sue Nyathi

 

Image result for Gold Diggers by Sue NyathiIt’s 2008 and the height of Zimbabwe’s economic demise. A group of passengers is huddled in a Toyota Quantum about to embark on a treacherous expedition to the City of Gold. Amongst them is Gugulethu, who is hoping to be reconciled with her mother; Dumisani, an ambitious young man who believes he will strike it rich, Chamunorwa and Chenai, twins running from their troubled past; and Portia and Nkosi, a mother and son desperate to be reunited with a husband and father they see once a year.

They have paid a high price for the dangerous passage to what they believe is a better life; an escape from the vicious vagaries of their present life in Bulawayo. In their minds, the streets of Johannesburg are paved with gold but they will have to dig deep to get close to any gold, dirtying themselves in the process. Told with brave honesty and bold description, the stories of the individual immigrants are simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming.

 

 

Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions & Other Findings by Jez Burrows

 

Image result for Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions & Other Findings by Jez Burrows“Dictionary Stories isn’t just a book for word nerds, but for anyone for whom language and story matter. Everybody will find themselves thoroughly in love with this book.”          Kory Stamper, editor for Merriam-Webster, and author of Word by Word

Jez Burrows opened the New Oxford American Dictionary and sat, mystified. Instead of the definition of “study” he was looking for, he found himself drawn to the strangely conspicuous, curiously melodramatic sentence that followed it: “He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.” It read like a tiny piece of fiction on the lam and hiding out in the dictionary—and it wasn’t alone. Was it possible to reunite these fugitive fictions? To combine and remix example sentences to form new works? With this spark and a handful of stories shared online, Dictionary Stories was born.

This genre-bending and wildly inventive collection glows with humor, emotion, and intellect. Effortlessly transcending sentence level, Burrows lights between the profound and the absurd, transporting readers into moments, worlds, and experiences of remarkable variety. Featuring original illustrations by the author, Dictionary Stories is a giddy celebration of the beauty and flexibility of language.

A revelation in remix; a book of joyous recombinations.”                            Robin Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Jez has long been one of my favorite illustrators, and now he comes up with Dictionary Stories—sentences stolen from dictionaries and pasted together into tiny, delightful narratives. A brilliant literary remix.”                            Austin Kleon, New York Times bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist

Uproarious and ingenious… What sounds like mere novelty turns out to be a revelation in Burrows’s hands, as unlikely sentences generate even more unlikely narratives. Dictionary Stories is a joyful celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention.”                                 Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

 

Image result for All Rivers Run Free by Natasha CarthewRaw, passionate, hallucinatory. Reading All Rivers Run Free was to be lured by an edgy siren voice of fierce womanhood.”                                Rachel Holmes

A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life.

Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall. In years of living with Bran – her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband – she’s never yet had her own baby. So when she discovers the waif washed up on the shore, Ia takes the risk and rescues her. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia – bringing back a memory she’s lost, giving her the strength to escape, and leading her on a journey downriver.

It will take her into the fringes of a society she’s shunned, collapsed around its own isolation. It will take her through a valley ravaged by floods, into a world not too far from reckoning. It will take her in search of her sister, and the dark remembrance of their parting. It will take her, break her, remake her, in the shapes of freedom.

Natasha Carthew is a startling new voice from beyond the limits of common urban experience. She tells a tale of marginalisation and motherhood in prose that crashes like waves on rocks; rough, breathless and beautiful.

 

A beautiful, uncanny and mysterious novel. The haunting, flooded landscapes combine with Carthew’s fluid use of language to create a tidal wash of memory, grief, birth and death. The future portrayed here is dark and fierce, but it’s ultimately a story of human resilience and hope”                              Jane Rusbridge

The rhythm of the language is hypnotic and the powerful imagery takes over. The raw energy and beauty of the landscape are particularly well-evoked.”                               Fanny Blake

 

 

Overland by Graham Rawle

 

Image result for Overland by Graham RawleWelcome to Overland! Where the California sun shines down on synthetic grass and plastic oranges bedeck the trees all year round. Steam billows gently from the chimney tops and the blue tarpaulin lake is open for fishing…

Hollywood set-designer George Godfrey has been called on to do his patriotic duty and he doesn’t believe in half-measures. If he is going to hide an American aircraft plant from the threat of Japanese aerial spies he has an almighty job on his hands. He will need an army of props and actors to make the Lockheed factory vanish behind the semblance of a suburban town. Every day, his “Residents” climb through a trapdoor in the factory roof to shift model cars, shop for imaginary groceries and rotate fake sheep in felt-green meadows.

Overland is a beacon for the young women labouring below it: Queenie, dreaming of movie stardom while welding sheet metal; Kay, who must seek refuge from the order to intern “All Persons of Japanese Ancestry”. Meanwhile, George’s right-hand Resident, Jimmy, knows that High Command aren’t at all happy with the camouflage project…

With George so bewitched by his own illusion, might it risk confusing everybody – not just the enemy?

Overland is a book like no other — to be read in landscape format. Based on true events, it is a novel where characters’ dreams and desires come down to earth with more than a bump, confronting the hardships of life during wartime. As surreal and playful as it is affecting and unsettling, no-one other than Graham Rawle could have created it.

 

One of the most innovative artist-writers we have.”                       Scotland on Sunday

Rawle cut his teeth as an artist and designer and this sparky, inventive novel betrays his pedigree … So appealing. Having arranged his stage-flats and his harum-scarum performers, Rawles manages to make them all feel of value.”                    Xan Brooks,Guardian

 

 

The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

 

Image result for The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas LlosaFrom the Nobel Laureate comes a politically charged detective novel weaving through the underbelly of Peruvian privilege. In the 1990s, during the turbulent and deeply corrupt years of Alberto Fujimori’s presidency, two wealthy couples of Lima’s high society become embroiled in a disturbing vortex of erotic adventures and politically driven blackmail.

One day Enrique, a high-profile businessman, receives a visit from Rolando Garro, the editor of a notorious magazine that specializes in salacious exposés. Garro presents Enrique with lewd pictures from an old business trip and demands that he invest in the magazine. Enrique refuses, and the next day the pictures are on the front page. Meanwhile, Enrique’s wife is in the midst of a passionate and secret affair with the wife of Enrique’s lawyer and best friend. When Garro shows up murdered, the two couples are thrown into a whirlwind of navigating Peru’s unspoken laws and customs, while the staff of the magazine embark on their greatest exposé yet.

Ironic and sensual, provocative and redemptive, the novel swirls into the kind of restless realism that has become Mario Vargas Llosa’s signature style. A twisting, unpredictable tale, The Neighborhood is at once a scathing indictment of Fujimori’s regime and a crime thriller that evokes the vulgarity of freedom in a corrupt system.

 

“[A] trail of family scandals, tabloid exposés, blackmail and subterfuge. . . a dish of revenge eaten cold. . . its flavours, if occasionally crude, taste strong enough to satisfy those readers who will treat the novel’s closely-observed Peru as a land of myth. . . Vargas Llosa has ingeniously deployed the erotic intrigues, high-society secrets, and pot-boiling plot twists of the Latin American telenovela. . . [The Neighborhood] pulses along with a zest and cunning not commonly found among octogenarian Nobel laureates.”                                Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times

“[A] salacious page-turner.”                       Observer

Vargas Llosa’s mastery is visible in the colourful details and beautifully drawn minor characters.”                            Irish Times

 

 

Non-fiction

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel

 

Image result for Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de HamelWINNER OF THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE AND THE DUFF COOPER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

 

An endlessly fascinating and enjoyable book.”                 Neil MacGregor

An extraordinary book, a work of scholarship and history salted with the author’s excitement as he conducts us among the great libraries of Western civilization. It is full of delights.”                     Tom Stoppard

An extraordinary exploration of the medieval world – the most beguiling history book of the year

This is a book about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend that a well-known celebrity is no different from anyone else, and yet there is an undeniable thrill in actually meeting and talking to a person of world stature.

The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history – and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste.

Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible. At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge. It is a most unusual book.
A book of marvels.”                      John Banville, Financial Times

Reading is my life, but only about once a decade do I find a book that seems to tilt the world, so afterwards it appears different.”                           Fiammetta Rocco, The Economist

De Hamel’s book, scholarly but unfailingly readable, is the beginning of wisdom in all things scribal and scriptural.”                        Ian Thomson, Observer

 

 

Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

 

Image result for Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy SnyderA brilliant and disturbing analysis, which should be read by anyone wishing to understand the political crisis currently engulfing the world.”                     Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens

The past is another country, the old saying goes. The same might be said of the future. But which country? For Europeans and Americans today, the answer is Russia.

Today’s Russia is an oligarchy propped up by illusions and repression. But it also represents the fulfilment of tendencies already present in the West. And if Moscow’s drive to dissolve Western states and values succeeds, this could become our reality too.

In this visionary work of contemporary history, Timothy Snyder shows how Russia works within the West to destroy the West; by supporting the far right in Europe, invading Ukraine in 2014, and waging a cyberwar during the 2016 presidential campaign and the EU referendum. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the creation of Donald Trump, an American failure deployed as a Russian weapon.

But this threat presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our freedoms, confront our own complacency and seek renewal. History never ends, and this new challenge forces us to face the choices that will determine the future: equality or oligarchy, individualism or totalitarianism, truth or lies.

The Road to Unfreedom helps us to see our world as if for the first time. It is necessary reading for any citizen of a democracy.

 

This story of how Russia dismantled democracy, and the man who set its template for fake news, is chilling and persuasive … unignorable… a disturbing and persuasive insight… Snyder’s forensic examination of, for example the news cycle that followed the shooting down of flight MH17 makes essential reading … Meticulously researched and footnoted.”                                 Observer

Snyder’s central thesis is a strong one… Vividly and insightfully told.”                    Edward Lucas, The Times

A rollercoaster world calls for a news editor’s skills in processing facts and a philosopher’s ability to dissect ideologies. He has both.”                            Economist

 

 

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in  by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

Image result for Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in  by Nassim Nicholas TalebFrom the bestselling author of The Black Swan, a bold book that challenges many of our long-held beliefs about risk and reward, politics and religion, finance and personal responsibility

‘Skin in the game means that you do not pay attention to what people say, only to what they do, and how much of their neck they are putting on the line’

Citizens, artisans, police, fishermen, political activists and entrepreneurs all have skin in the game. Policy wonks, corporate executives, many academics, bankers and most journalists don’t. It’s all about having something to lose and sharing risks with others. In his most provocative and practical book yet, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows that skin in the game, often seen as the foundation of risk management, in fact applies to all aspects of our lives.

In his inimitable style, Taleb draws on everything from Antaeus the Giant to Hammurabi to Donald Trump, from ethics to used car salesmen, to create a jaw-dropping framework for understanding this idea. Among his insights:

For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing.

Minorities, not majorities, run the world.

You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot.

Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find).

Just as The Black Swan did during the 2007 financial crisis, Skin in the Game comes at precisely the right moment to challenge our long-held beliefs about risk, reward, politics, religion and business – and make us rethink everything we thought we knew.

 

The most prophetic voice of all . . . Taleb is a genuinely significant philosopher . . . someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone.”                       John Gray GQ

A thinker for uncertain times. . . If you want to better understand populism, Trump, Brexit and the anti-establishment backlash then Taleb, of no party or clique, is your man.”                               Sunday Times

A great iconoclast. . . Taleb, a Wall Street trader turned essayist, is a thinker touched by genius. . . The big picture he presents is powerfully argued and offers myriad policy implications.”                      The Times

A superhero of the mind.”                          Boyd Tonkin

Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds.”                         New Statesman

 

 

 

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya

 

Image result for The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine WamariyaSharp, moving memoir . . . Wamariya tells her own story with feeling, in vivid prose. She has remade herself, as she explains was necessary to do, on her own terms.”                            New York Times

A riveting tale of dislocation, survival, and the power of stories to break or save us

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbours began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Clare, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.

When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States, where she embarked on another journey, ultimately graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.

In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of ‘victim’ and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.

 

 

 

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza

 

Image result for How to be Human by Paula CocozzaSHORTLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2018
In evocative and elegant prose Cocozza delves deep into the psyche of a strange and troubled woman. The reader is invited to share in her intense connection to a fox and will admire the author’s mordantly witty dissection of contemporary manners.”                           Sarah Perry, chair of Judges for Desmond Elliott Prize

You’ve seen a fox.

Come face to face in an unexpected place, or at an unexpected moment.

And he has looked at you, as you have looked at him. As if he has something to tell you, or you have something to tell him.

But what if it didn’t stop there?

When Mary arrives home from work one day to find a magnificent fox on her lawn – his ears spiked in attention and every hair bristling with his power to surprise – it is only the beginning. He brings gifts (at least, Mary imagines they are gifts), and gradually makes himself at home.

And as he listens to Mary, Mary listens back.

She begins to hear herself for the first time in years. Her bullish ex-boyfriend, still lurking on the fringes of her life, would be appalled. So would the neighbours with a new baby. They only like wildlife that fits with the decor. But inside Mary a wildness is growing that will not be tamed.

In this extraordinary debut, the lines between sanity and safety, obsession and delusion blur, in a thrilling exploration of what makes us human.

An intriguing and subversive debut, charged with the power of the ignored and the suppressed.”                           Hilary Mantel

Enchanting . . . restrained . . . startling.”                               TLS

A thrilling psychodrama . . . She brilliantly captures a sense of Hitchcockian, curtain-twitching intensity.”                             Economist

Sharp, thoughtful . . . exhilarating . . . the plot slips from urban pastoral to tense thriller.”                            Newsweek

Cocozza has a wonderful eye for detail, and her descriptions of the natural world are uncanny.”                             Guardian

 

 

Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics is Different by Philip Ball

 

Image result for Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics is Different by Philip BallThis is the book I wish I could have written but am very glad I’ve read.”                                Jim Al-Khalili

‘I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.’
Richard Feynman wrote this in 1965 – the year he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum mechanics.

Quantum physics is regarded as one of the most obscure and impenetrable subjects in all of science. But when Feynman said he didn’t understand quantum mechanics, he didn’t mean that he couldn’t do it – he meant that’s all he could do. He didn’t understand what the maths was saying: what quantum mechanics tells us about reality.

Over the past decade or so, the enigma of quantum mechanics has come into sharper focus. We now realise that quantum mechanics is less about particles and waves, uncertainty and fuzziness, than a theory about information: about what can be known and how.

This is more disturbing than our bad habit of describing the quantum world as ‘things behaving weirdly’ suggests. It calls into question the meanings and limits of space and time, cause and effect, and knowledge itself.

The quantum world isn’t a different world: it is our world, and if anything deserves to be called ‘weird’, it’s us. This exhilarating book is about what quantum maths really means – and what it doesn’t mean.

 

A deeply fascinating book … Philip Ball is a rare writer in having such depth of knowledge of a difficult field, yet retaining the critical eye of an observer. Highly recommended.”                    Jon Butterworth, Professor of Physics at UCL and author of Smashing Physics

A subtle unpacking of Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle… is alone worth the price of the book… Ball takes us on a whirlwind tour through the quantum realm.”                     Manjit Kumar. New Statesman)

Philip Ball, a gifted and prolific science writer familiar to Prospect readers, is a demanding but engaging guide to this daunting terrain.”                            Prospect

 

 

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli

 

Image result for The Order of Time by Carlo RovelliTHE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER

A dazzling book . . . the new Stephen Hawking.”               Sunday Times
A joy to read. . . Rovelli writes easily, vividly and brilliantly.”       Guardian

The bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics takes us on an enchanting, consoling journey to discover the meaning of time

‘We are time. We are this space, this clearing opened by the traces of memory inside the connections between our neurons. We are memory. We are nostalgia. We are longing for a future that will not come.’

Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at a different speed in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think, and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe.

With his extraordinary charm and sense of wonder, bringing together science, philosophy and art, Carlo Rovelli unravels this mystery. Enlightening and consoling, The Order of Time shows that to understand ourselves we need to reflect on time — and to understand time we need to reflect on ourselves.

In Carlo Rovelli modern physics has found its poet. A captivating, fascinating, profoundly beautiful book. . . Rovelli is a wonderfully humane, gentle and witty guide through the theoretical thickets, for he is as much philosopher and poet as he is a scientist.”                     John Banville, Irish Times

An elegantly concise primer makes theoretical physics intelligible. . . stunningly written.”                             The Times

A joy to read. . . Rovelli writes easily, vividly and brilliantly – he is as at ease with Beethoven as he is with Boltzmann’s constant, and verses by Horace launch each chapter, one of which ends with a couplet from the Grateful Dead. . . A delight.”                                Guardian

Physics’ literary superstar makes us rethink time. . . The Order of Time will surely establish Rovelli among the pantheon of great scientist-communicators. . . More of this please.”                 Philip Ball, New Scientist

Highly original. . . The heart and humanity of the book, its poetry and its gentle tone raise it to the level and style of such great scientist-writers as Lewis Thomas and Rachel Carson.”                       Alan Lightman, New York Times Book Review

 

 

When They Call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

Related imageFollowing the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, three women – Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Khan-Cullors – came together to form an active response to the systemic racism causing the deaths of so many African-Americans. They simply said: Black Lives Matter; and for that, they were labelled terrorists.

In this empowering account of survival, strength and resilience, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and award-winning author and journalist asha bandele recount the personal story that led Patrisse to become a founder of Black Lives Matter, seeking to end the culture that declares Black life expendable. Like the era-defining movement she helped create, this rallying cry demands you do not look away.

An empowering account of strength, resilience and bravery.”                   Elle magazine

Khan-Cullors is careful to hold herself to account … This humility, alongside her exceptional commitment to social justice, provides the greatest cause for optimism in this harrowing and yet uplifting account.”                   Musa Okwonga, New Statesman

A stunning memoir but also a beautifully articulated letter of protest and outrage. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.”                                  Independent

Patrisse Khan-Cullors is a leading visionary and activist, feminist, civil rights leader who has literally changed the trajectory of politics and resistance in America.”                     Eve Ensler

 

 

First We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story about Anxiety by Sarah Wilson

 

Image result for First We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story about Anxiety by Sarah WilsonI loved this book.’”                         Matt Haig
If you have anxiety, this book is for you. If you love someone who is anxious, this book is for you.

I Quit Sugar founder and New York Times bestselling author Sarah Wilson has lived through high anxiety – including bipolar, OCD and several suicide attempts – her whole life. Perhaps like you, she grew tired of seeing anxiety as a disease that must be medicated into submission. Could anxiety be re-sewn, she asked, into a thing of beauty?

So began a seven-year journey to find a more meaningful and helpful take on anxiety. Living out of two suitcases, Sarah travelled the world, meeting with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, with Oprah’s life coach, with major mental health organizations and hundreds of others in a quest to unravel the knotted ball of wool that is the anxious condition. She emerged with the very best philosophy, science and hacks for thriving with the beast.

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is a small book with a big heart, paving the way for richer, kinder and wiser conversations about anxiety.
Probably the best book on living with anxiety that I’ve ever read, and I have (unfortunately) read many. Sarah is full of expert advice while remaining grounded and incredibly human. Her vulnerability is her strength. And after reading, it will hopefully be yours too.”                               Mark Manson, bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

A witty, well-researched and often insightful book about negotiating a new relationship with anxiety.”                               Andrew Solomon, Professor of Clinical Psychology and author of The Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression

 

 

Cold War: A New Oral History of Life Between the East and the West by Bridget Kendall

 

Image result for Cold War: A New Oral History of Life Between the East and the West by Bridget KendallThe Cold War is one of the furthest-reaching and longest-lasting conflicts in modern history. It spanned the globe – from Greece to China, Hungary to Cuba – and lasted for almost half a century. It has shaped political relations to this day, drawing new physical and ideological boundaries between East and West.

In this meticulously researched account, Bridget Kendall explores the Cold War through the eyes of those who experienced it first-hand. Alongside in-depth analysis that explains the historical and political context, the book draws on exclusive interviews with individuals who lived through the conflict’s key events, offering a variety of perspectives that reveal how the Cold War was experienced by ordinary people. From pilots making food drops during the Berlin Blockade and Japanese fishermen affected by H-bomb testing to families fleeing the Korean War and children whose parents were victims of McCarthy’s Red Scare, The Cold War covers the full geographical and historical reach of the conflict.

Accompanying a landmark BBC Radio 4 series, The Cold War: Stories from the Big Freeze is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how the tensions of the last century have shaped the modern world, and what it was like to live through them.

 

Bridget Kendall is renowned for her coverage of the Soviet Union. In her understanding of Russia she has few peers. Her collection of first-hand stories of the experience of the Cold War is chilling, powerful and important. These memories are the more compelling for being placed with her own experience and knowledge of those grim days.”                                Jonathan Dimbleby

 

 

Language of Kindness: a Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson

 

Image result for Language of Kindness: a Nurse’s Story by Christie WatsonAn astonishing memoir about nursing and an urgent call for compassion and kindness

It made me cry. It made me think. It made me laugh. It encouraged me to appreciate this most underappreciated of professions more than ever.”                     Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt
A remarkable book about life and death and so brilliantly written it makes you hold your breath.”                          Ruby Wax

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.

We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.

In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

“It is very hard to describe the essence of nursing but Christie’s story captures it. Through her powerful writing the true value of the nurse becomes clear.”                          Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing

An amazing book — terrifying at times, but tender and truthful. Let’s be thankful for wonderful nurses — and writers — like Christie Watson.”                             Jacqueline Wilson

Christie Watson is a remarkable writer turning her attention to a crucially important conversation. This book is eloquent, moving and searingly relevant to all of us.”         Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall

 

Brainstorm: Detective Stories from the World of Neurology by Suzanne O’Sullivan

 

Image result for Brainstorm: Detective Stories from the World of Neurology by Suzanne O’SullivanFrom the Wellcome Prize-winning author of It’s All in Your Head

Brainstorm examines the stories of people whose symptoms are so strange even their doctor struggles to know how to solve them. A man who sees cartoon characters running across the room; a teenager who one day arrives home with inexplicably torn clothes; a girl whose world turns all Alice in Wonderland; another who transforms into a ragdoll whenever she even thinks about moving.

The brain is the most complex structure in the universe, and neurologists must puzzle out life-changing diagnoses from the tiniest of clues – it’s the ultimate in medical detective work. In this riveting book, one of the UK’s leading neurologists takes you with her as she follows the trail of her patients’ symptoms: feelings of déjà vu lead us to a damaged hippocampus; spitting and fidgeting to the right temporal lobe; fear of movement to a brain tumour; a missed heart beat to the limbic system.

It’s a journey that will open your eyes to the unfathomable intricacies of the brain, and the infinite variety of human capacity and experience.

 

Powerfully life-affirming… Brainstorm is testament to O’Sullivan’s unshowy clarity of thought and her continued marvelling at the mysteries of the brain.”                             Guardian

A fascinating attempt to draw the lay reader into understanding more about the function and malfunction of the brain by using real-life stories… O’Sullivan is a good, clear writer, lacks pomposity and avoids cliché — her first book, It’s All in Your Head, won the Wellcome Prize.”                                David Aaronovitch, The Times

A tremendously interesting work of medical humanity… The main effect of this fascinating collection of clinical stories, by the end, is to make any reader without brain dysfunction exceedingly grateful for the fragile miracle going in inside their own skull every second”                                Steven Poole, Daily Telegraph

Full of fascinating insights… As one would expect from a neurologist in the Oliver Sacks tradition, O’Sullivan is a sure guide to these maverick brains.”                            Observer

 

 

Hamlet Globe to Globe: 193,000 miles, 197 Countries, One Play by Domonic Dromgoole

 

Image result for Hamlet Globe to Globe: 193,000 miles, 197 Countries, One Play by Dominic DromgooleOver two full years, Dromgoole, the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the Globe players toured all seven continents, and almost 200 countries, performing the Bard’s most famous play. They set their stage in sprawling refugee camps, grand Baltic palaces and heaving marketplaces – despite food poisoning in Mexico, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa and political upheaval in Ukraine.

Hamlet: Globe to Globe tells the story of this unprecedented theatrical adventure, in which Dromgoole shows us the world through the prism of Shakespeare’s universal drama, and asks how a 400-year-old tragedy can bring the world closer together.

 

Richly entertaining . . . His love of language is contagious . . . the storytelling segues into scholarship with extraordinary skill from the off as he ricochets the modern world with a 400-year-old text.”                      The Times

Taking in sandblown refugee camps, the hallucinatory effects of performing with chronic food poisoning in Mexico City and the politically-charged atmosphere of an auditorium in Ukraine on an election’s eve, it is an entertaining, moving and informative read.”                           Evening Standard

Full of life lessons . . . Erudite and fascinating . . . There’s a real sense of the camaraderie and sheer fun of assembling a company and, quite literally, putting the show on wherever they can . . . The universal themes explored in the play take on a new and thrilling resonance, as the actors learn as much from their audiences as vice versa . . . Truly compelling.”                             Observer

A delightfully idiosyncratic account of the Globe’s vagabond mission to perform Hamlet in every country in the world . . . the joy of the book is Dromgoole’s gusto . . . the way he meanders from personal anecdote to wider textual or cultural significance makes his book feel like a shaggy-dog documentary that you just don’t want to end .”                          Daily Telegraph
 

Every Day a Word Surprises Me and Other Quotes by Writers

 

Image result for Every Day a Word Surprises Me and Other Quotes by WritersAdvice, strong opinions, and personal revelations by the world’s greatest writers – exclusively researched for this new book

Featuring the most inspirational and insightful collection of quotes by writers through the ages and across the globe, Every Day a Word Surprises Me is the ideal keepsake for readers, writers, and everyone who appreciates the exquisite power of words. This carefully curated book, packed with original research, is a go-to resource for thoughts on a variety of subjects, including originality, punctuation, reading, daily routines, rejection, money troubles, the creative process, love, truth, and more. ‘Every day a word surprises me’ is a quotation from British neurologist and author Oliver Sacks. This collection is full of its own surprises and hard-earned advice – communicated with the eloquence and clarity that only the world’s finest writers could summon.

 

The ideal keepsake for readers, writers and everyone who appreciates the exquisite power of words… Inspirational.”                   Artsbeat

The perfect recipe to get the creative juices flowing… Contains hundreds of insightful quotes by famous writers and personalities, from Jane Austen to Julian Barnes, Leo Tolstoy to Patti Smith, Virginia Woolf to Henry David Thoreau… [From] motivational to purely relatable.”                              CentMagazine.co.uk

This is the perfect coffee table or bedside table book: to take and give, or to borrow, to re-read often and without a precise scheme.”                             Slow-Words.com

 

 

 

Poems

Rebirth by Kenya Davids

rebirth cover-page-001

Born and bred in Paarl, Kenya Davids believes in girl power, peace and the power of words. Kenya is a self-given name.

Rebirth delves into a range of issues including womanhood, magical periods and modern day love.

 

METRORAIL

 

who doesn’t enjoy humanity

the simple interactions

the ability to sit back

and observe one another

 

from a proximity

i gaze at you

and I stare in awe

 

i only see a barrier of flesh

but when you sleep

i can catch a glimpse

 

the stream of innocence pours out

from within you

 

curiosity

i wonder

about every struggle

and victory you have been through

 

it’s an honour to have met you

from a distance

 

(reproduced with kind permission from the author)

 

 

April 2018

Tuesday, April 24th 2018 at 9:54 AM

Fiction

When I Hit You by Meena Kadasamy

 

Image result for 9781786491282Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2018
Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2018

Guardian’s Best Books of 2017
Daily Telegraph’s Best Books of 2017
Observer Best Books of 2017
Financial Times Best Books of 2017

 

Meena Kandasamy’s vivid, sharp and precise writing makes a triumph of When I Hit You: Or, a Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife.”                     Guardian

 

Seduced by politics, poetry and an enduring dream of building a better world together, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor. Moving with him to a rain-washed coastal town, she swiftly learns that what for her is a bond of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of an obedient wife, bullying her and devouring her ambition of being a writer in the process, she attempts to push back – a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape.

 

Probably one of the most important and shocking and poetic books of 2017.”  Readwomen

 

Courageous and brave and disturbing and will stay with you for a long time.”                  Stylist

 

Searing… I read it in a single sitting.”    Fatima Bhutto

 

Brilliant… Astonishing… By far the best read of the year.”           Women Writers

 

This book is so so good. One of the best of the year.”                    Nikesh Shukla

 

Urgent… It’s beating heart is a universally recognised quest for freedom and meaning in a world where women are still shockingly undervalued.”                             Financial Times

 

 

 

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

 

Image result for Warlight by Michael OndaatjeIn a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.

 

 

 

White Houses by Amy Bloom

 

Image result for White Houses by Amy BloomIn 1933, President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt took up residence in the White House. With them went the celebrated journalist Lorena Hickok – Hick to friends – a straight-talking reporter from South Dakota, whose passionate relationship with the idealistic, patrician First Lady would shape the rest of their lives.

Told by the indomitable Hick, White Houses is the story of Eleanor and Hick’s hidden love, and of Hick’s unlikely journey from her dirt-poor childhood to the centre of privilege and power. Filled with fascinating back-room politics, the secrets and scandals of the era, and exploring the potency of enduring love, it is an imaginative tour-de-force from a writer of extraordinary and exuberant talent.

 

‘All fires go out, ‘ Hickok says, explaining her lingering feelings to Franklin. ‘It doesn’t mean that we don’t still want to sit by the fireplace, I guess.’ In White Houses, Bloom has built up exactly the sort of blaze that will draw readers to linger.”                       Time

 

“[An] irresistibly audacious re-creation of the love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena ‘Hick’ Hickok . . . Bloom convincingly weaves tender romance with hard-boiled reality. . . . Bloom notes that the White House staff routinely cropped Hickok out of photos. In White Houses, she’s in the center of the frame, and nobody who reads this sad, funny, frisky novel is going to forget her.”                          USA Today
A remarkably intimate and yet informative novel of the secret, scandalous love of Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok, who relates the tale in her own, quite wonderful voice.”–Joyce Carol Oates

 

 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

 

Image result for Freshwater by Akwaeke EmeziAda was born with one foot on the other side. Having prayed her into existence, her parents Saul and Saachi struggle to deal with the volatile and contradictory spirits peopling their troubled girl.

When Ada comes of age and heads to college, the entities within her grow in power and agency. An assault leads to a crystallization of her selves: Asghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves – now protective, now hedonistic – seize control of Ada, her life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Narrated from the perspectives of the various selves within Ada, and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater explores the metaphysics of identity and being. Feeling explodes through the language of this scalding novel, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.

 

“Freshwater is one of those dazzling novels that defies these kinds of descriptions. We can gesture to the story – set in Nigeria and America, told by all the selves of its Tamil/Igbo protagonist – but such synthesis fails to convey the magic that awaits its reader. At once fiction and memoir, potent in its spiritual richness and sexual frankness, the text seems not to have been written by but channelled through its brilliant author. This may be Emezi’s debut novel but she is an old – an ancient – storyteller: thrillingly at home in the tradition of griots, poets, seers and seekers.”                                                           Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

Wow. The net effect is a feeling of being peeled open, and quickly finding that skinless place to be normal. More than any novel I can remember, it feels utterly present to the place we are in the world.”                   Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I will Write About this Place

With a plot as alive and urgent as it is relatable, Freshwater is also solidly its own, brims with its unique preoccupations. Never before have I read a novel like it – one that speaks to the unification and separation of bodies and souls, the powers or lack thereof of gods and humans, and the long and arduous journey to claiming our many selves, or to setting our many selves free.”                        Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees

 

 

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J Church

 

Image result for All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J ChurchThe dazzling, powerful story of a gutsy showgirl who tries to conquer her past amongst the glamour of 1960s Las Vegas – finding unexpected fortune, friendship and love.

In the summer of 1968, Ruby Wilde is the toast of Las Vegas. Showgirl of the Year, in her feathers and rhinestones, five-inch heels and sky-high headdresses, she mesmerises audiences from the Tropicana to the Stardust. Ratpackers and movie stars, gamblers and astronauts vie for her attention and shower her with gifts.

But not so long ago Ruby Wilde was Lily Decker from Kansas: an orphaned girl determined to dance her way out of her troubled past. When she was eight years old, Lily survived the car crash that killed her parents and sister. Raised by an aunt who took too little interest in her and an uncle who took too much, dancing was her solace, and her escape. When a mysterious benefactor pays for her to attend a local dance academy, Lily’s talent becomes her ticket to a new life.

Now, as Ruby Wilde, the ultimate Sin City success story, she discovers that the glare of the spotlight cannot banish the shadows that haunt her. As the years pass and Ruby continues to search for freedom, for love and, most importantly, herself, she must learn the difference between what glitters and what is truly gold.

 

A gorgeously written novel with the bite of a gin martini, All the Beautiful Girls goes beyond the splashy, gaudy dazzle of Las Vegas in the 60s to reveal the beating heart beneath the glamorous façade of the showgirl with big ambitions. Our protagonist Lily’s grit, determination, and grace as she discovers the heady possibilities and dark perils of the American dream make Elizabeth Church’s second novel unforgettable.”                     Sara Gruen, NYT best selling author of At the Water’s Edge

 

A brave and powerful novel … With heart-wrenching immediacy and gorgeous prose, author Elizabeth Church examines the often desperate choices women must confront, and the secrets they must protect.”                 Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author of And After the Fire

 

“An exquisitely crafted novel of love discovered and friendship found. No one captures the exuberant passions and inner struggles of women like Elizabeth Church.”                          Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Lilac Girls

 

 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

 

Image result for An American Marriage by Tayari JonesA NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION

 

Haunting…beautifully written.”              New York Times Book Review

 

Epic…transcendent…triumphant.”                          Elle

 

It’s among Tayari’s many gifts that she can touch us soul to soul with her words.”                         Oprah Winfrey

 

Tayari Jones’ vision, strength, and truth-telling voice have found a new level of artistry and power.”     Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

 

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she struggles to hold on to the love that has been her centre. When his conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward – with hope and pain – into the future.

 

When Morning Comes by Arushi Raina

 

Image result for When Morning Comes by Arushi RainaIt s 1976 in South Africa, and four young people are living in Johannesburg and its black township, Soweto: Zanele, a black female student organizer; Meena, a South Asian girl working at her father’s shop; Jack, an Oxford-bound white student; and Thabo, a teen-gang member, or tsotsi. From each of their points of view, this book explores the roots of the Soweto Uprising and the edifice of apartheid in a South Africa about to explode.
Introducing readers to a remarkable young literary talent, When Morning Comes offers an impeccably researched and vivid snapshot of South African society on the eve of the uprising that changed it forever.”

 

 

The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in His Head by John Hunt

 

Image result for The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in His Head by John HuntThis is a story of Phen, aged 11, who lives in Hillbrow in 1967. He loves reading and words the way other boys love racing cars and soccer. He can, almost literally, live in a book as he devours its pages. This is just as well as he stutters badly and has a sick father whose head lives in a library. Stephen is forced to live out his own story as he befriends a hobo in the local park called Heb 13:2. This eccentric angel offers unorthodox advice as the boy’s life spins deeper and deeper into turmoil. Forced to grow up much quicker than other boys his age, Phen’s friendship with Heb will guide him towards adulthood in such a way that one starts to suspect Heb, whose name is short for Hebrews 13:2 (“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”), who might be an angel came to live among men.

 

 

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

 

Image result for The Italian Teacher by Tom RachmanWickedly funny, deeply touching . . . I confess this was the first of Rachman’s novels I’d read but I was so swept away by it that I raced out to buy the other three.”                               Patrick Gale

Rome, 1955

The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome’s historic villas, a party glitters with socialites and patrons. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. He is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot.

From the side of the room watches little Pinch – their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, while Natalie faces her own wars with the art world. Trying to live up to his father’s name – one of the twentieth century’s fiercest and most controversial painters – Pinch never quite succeeds. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, he enacts an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.

What makes an artist? In The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of art and its demons. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of vulnerability and frustrated talent that – with his signature humour and humanity ­- challenges the very idea of greatness.

 

“The Italian Teacher is a marvel – an entertaining, heartbreaking novel about art, family, loyalty, and authenticity. Tom Rachman is an enormously talented writer – this book is alive, from the first page to the last.”                     Tom Perotta

This rich novel is both an intriguing examination of the nature of authenticity in art and the moving story of misplaced filial love, with an immensely satisfying denouement.”                            Simon Humphreys

A poignant, touching tale about living in the shadow of brazen artistic genius. Otherwise, reading Rachman is simply de rigueur if you appreciate literary fiction’s brightest, newest voices . . . Rachman writes compelling stories of the entangled lives of damaged, endearing characters and their struggles to discover who they are . . . Rachman’s narrative is rich with wordplay, clever dialogue and subtle insights. His plot twists blindside you . . . The brilliant finale will leave you surprised, sad and uplifted.”                            Don Oldenburg, USA Today

Rachman’s new novel may well be his most impressive yet . . . spirited writing . . . In the end, this deceptively subtle novel offers a surprisingly upbeat message: that even a life marked by outward failure can contain many hidden kinds of success.”              Financial Times

 

 

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell

 

Image result for Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi CottrellHelen’s adoptive brother has killed himself. Helen’s adoptive family is estranged. Helen has decided that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into her brother’s suicide and to ‘be a supportive beam of light’ for her adoptive parents. Compulsive, unstable, likeable, and high energy, Helen is hard work for the people in her life, and she may not be as useful at home as she expects. Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a dark comedy about loss, grief, solitude, and ghosts.

 

In Cottrell’s stellar debut novel, 32-year-old Helen is in her Manhattan apartment when she receives a call that her adoptive brother has killed himself… The real attraction here is Helen: her perspective ranges from sharp (New York is ‘a city so rich it funds poetry’) to askew (‘People who call themselves photographers are fake… the real charlatans of our time. Behind a photo is a perfectly fake person, scrubbed of all flaws, dead inside’) to unhinged (her adoptive parents’ grieving takes the physical form of a middle-aged European man who walks around the house and helps himself to pizza). Cottrell gives Helen the impossible task of understanding what would drive another person to suicide, and the result is complex and mysterious, yet, in the end, deeply human and empathetic.”       Publishers Weekly (starred)

 

Patty Yumi Cottrell’s prose does so many of my favorite things–some too subtle to talk about without spoiling, but one thing I have to mention is the way in which her heroine’s investigation of a suicide draws the reader right into the heart of this wonderfully spiky hedgehog of a book and then elbows us yet further along into what is ultimately a tremendously moving act of imagination.”                       Helen Oyeyemi

 

In this completely absorbing novel of devastation and estrangement, Patty Yumi Cottrell introduces herself as a modern Robert Walser. Her voice is unflinching, unforgettable, and animated with a restless sense of humor.”                    Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody Is Ever Missing

 

 

 

City of Brass by SA Chakraborty

 

Image result for City of Brass by SA ChakrabortyAn extravagant feast of a book – spicy and bloody, dizzyingly magical, and still, somehow, utterly believable.”                Laini Taylor, Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author

 

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…

Be careful what you wish for.

 

“The City of Brass is the best adult fantasy I’ve read since The Name of The Wind. It’s stunning and complex and consuming and fantastic. You must read it.”              Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in The Ashes

 

Blends legend and history to create a fascinating world…thoroughly enjoyable.”            SFX

 

 

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

 

Image result for Red Clocks by Leni ZumasIntense, beautifully crafted . . . Her talent is electric. Get ready for a shock.”        Guardian

 

Five Women. One Question: What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

Red Clocks is at once a riveting drama whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. With the verve of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and the prescient brilliance of The Handmaid’s Tale, Leni Zumas’ incredible new novel is fierce, fearless and frighteningly plausible.

 

A fearless novel with a frightening premise that seems plausible. One for fans of Naomi Alderman’s The Power.”                           Stylist

 

“Red Clocks explores the way female bodies are politicised and controlled, with grim consequences … hauntingly plausible.”                                SFX

 

Lyrical and beautifully observed … highly absorbing.”   Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

 

Powerful, beautifully written (and, at times, wry and funny) … Red Clocks is set to become one of the essential reads for 2018.”                   Emerald Street

 

 

 

Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère

 

Image result for Kingdom by Emmanuel CarrereThis is a brilliant, shocking book … also witty, painfully self-critical and humane … it is a work of great literature.”           Tim Whitmarsh, Guardian

“The Kingdom, already a huge bestseller in France, is thrilling, magnificent and strange.”                              Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

The sensational international bestseller from one of France’s most fêted writers – an epic novel telling the story of Christianity as it has never been told before, and one man’s crisis of faith.

Corinth, ancient Greece, two thousand years ago. An itinerant preacher, poor, wracked by illness, tells the story of a prophet who was crucified in Judea, who came back from the dead, and whose return is a sign of something enormous. Like a contagion, the story will spread over the city, the country and, eventually, the world. Emmanuel Carrère’s astonishing historical epic tells the story of the mysterious beginnings of Christianity, bringing to life a distant, primeval past of strange sects, apocalyptic beliefs and political turmoil. In doing so Carrère, once himself a fervent believer, questions his own faith, asks why we believe in resurrection, and what it means. The Kingdom is his masterpiece.

 

An utterly brilliant book.”           The Times
A novelised memoir that vividly captures the drama of the Christian experience… A celebration of religious imagination – Catholic, French, Judaic, Hellenic – The Kingdom has been a runaway bestseller in France. In Britain, it may succeed as a relief and an antidote.” John Cornwell, Financial Times

 

 

 

 

 

Non-fiction

A Forger’s Tale: Confessions of the Bolton Forger by Shaun Greenhaigh

 

Image result for A Forger’s Tale: Confessions of the Bolton Forger by Shaun GreenhalghIn 2007, Bolton Crown Court sentenced Shaun Greenhalgh to four years and eight months in prison for the crime of producing artistic forgeries. Working out of a shed in his parents’ garden, Greenhalgh had successfully fooled some of the world’s greatest museums. During the court case, the breadth of his forgeries shocked the art world and tantalised the media. What no one realised was how much more of the story there was to tell.

Written in prison, A Forger’s Tale details Shaun’s notorious career and the extraordinary circumstances that led to it. From Leonardo drawings to L.S. Lowry paintings, from busts of American presidents to Anglo-Saxon brooches, from cutting-edge Modernism to the ancient art of the Stone Age, Greenhalgh could – and did – copy it all. Told with great wit and charm, this is the definitive account of Britain’s most successful and infamous forger, a man whose love for art saturates every page of this extraordinary memoir.

 

A masterpiece of masquerade…a brilliantly wily reflection on the seductions of art and corruptions of the art world.”                Telegraph

 

A remarkably lively account…fascinating.”        The Times

 

Greenhalgh has a likable voice, pitched midway between Arthur Daley and Philip Marlowe. And, unsurprisingly, he has an eye for detail…The lingering impression is of a man beguiled by image-making.”               Observer

 

“A Forger’s Tale is a book about the class divide, a satire on the art market and a celebration of that great institution, the garden shed.”   Sunday Telegraph

 

Here is riveting and affecting Northern realism: Greenhalgh’s knowledge is as daunting as it is inspiring.”            Spectator

 

 

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker

 

Image result for Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven PinkerIs modernity really failing? Or have we failed to appreciate progress and the ideals that make it possible?

If you follow the headlines, the world in the 21st century appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred, and irrationality. Yet Steven Pinker shows that this is an illusion – a symptom of historical amnesia and statistical fallacies. If you follow the trendlines rather than the headlines, you discover that our lives have become longer, healthier, safer, happier, more peaceful, more stimulating and more prosperous – not just in the West, but worldwide. Such progress is no accident: it’s the gift of a coherent and inspiring value system that many of us embrace without even realizing it. These are the values of the Enlightenment: of reason, science, humanism and progress.

The challenges we face today are formidable, including inequality, climate change, Artificial Intelligence and nuclear weapons. But the way to deal with them is not to sink into despair or try to lurch back to a mythical idyllic past; it’s to treat them as problems we can solve, as we have solved other problems in the past. In making the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st century, Pinker shows how we can use our faculties of reason and sympathy to solve the problems that inevitably come with being products of evolution in an indifferent universe. We will never have a perfect world, but – defying the chorus of fatalism and reaction – we can continue to make it a better one.

 

My new favourite book of all time.”      Bill Gates

A salutary reminder of the material progress modern science and commerce have delivered.”                   New York Times

Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker’s investigations.”  Independent

Pinker is a paragon of exactly the kind of intellectual honesty and courage we need.”                   New York Times

If 2017 was a rough year for you, look no further than Steven Pinker’s engaging new book, Enlightenment Now, to cheer you up. Conceived before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy, it could not have been better timed to clarify – and, for some, refute – the habits of mind that brought Trump and the GOP to power … Pinker’s gift is to challenge us not only to update the Enlightenment, but to think beyond it.”                          Washington Post

Negative news is one reason why people consistently underestimate the progress humanity is making. To discern the true state of the world, Pinker says, we should use numbers. In Enlightenment Now, he does just that. The result is magnificent, uplifting and makes you want to rush to your laptop and close your Twitter account … Pinker is surely right. Things are not falling apart.”                    Economist

How to Steal a Country: State Capture in South Africa by Robin Renwick

 

Image result for How to Steal a Country: State Capture in South Africa by Robin RenwickThe vertiginous decline in political leadership from Nelson Mandela to Jacob Zuma has engulfed South Africa in a serious crisis over the past lost decade. Based on his personal experience of the key protagonists, former British ambassador to South Africa Lord Renwick introduces the reader to an astonishing array of rogues and villains, ministers taken captive, crimebusters who are criminals, investigators who don t investigate, prosecutors who don t prosecute, red berets, black hearts and compulsive liars, alongside some heroes and an authentic heroine.

The book reads like a crime novel as Renwick explores the ingenuity, audacity and impunity with which the South African state has been looted on an unimaginable scale, and how Bell Pottinger, KPMG, McKinsey and others became complicit in this process.

But, in the end, this is an uplifting story, as a remarkable press, judiciary and civil society combined to save South Africa and its constitution under serious threat. Now, as Cyril Ramaphosa takes the reins, How to Steal a Country looks ahead to a brighter future, though Ramaphosa will find that his greatest challenges are within his own party.

 

A mind-boggling story of epic greed, theft and corruption and how South Africa was pulled back from the brink by a free press, courageous judges and civil society.”         Wilbur Smith

Mandatory reading for those wanting to understand how South Africa and the Mandela vision came perilously close to total destruction. Reads like a thriller.”   John Battersby

I am very honoured that this book is dedicated to me.”                                Thuli Madonsela

 

 

Heist! South Africa’s Cash-in-Transit Epidemic Uncovered by Annelise Burgess

 

Image result for Heist! South Africa’s Cash-in-Transit Epidemic Uncovered by Annelise BurgessHeist! is an in-depth look at 10 of South Africa’s most audacious heists. From the 1996 ‘burning man’ case, where four security guards were burnt alive in their armoured vehicle after a ferocious fight-back against highly trained mercenaries, to the 2016 robbery of a cash centre in Witbank, where a gang made off with almost R107 million after impersonating police officers, this is an impeccably researched reconstruction of an endemic crime phenomenon that some analysts warn could bring South Africa to its knees. Using the information gleaned from thousands of pages of court documents and press reports, as well as interviews with scores of police officers, crime-intelligence agents, prosecutors defence lawyers, researchers, journalists, security guards and the criminals themselves Heist! gives unprecedented insight into a type of crime that increased by a staggering 49 per cent in the first eight months of 2017 alone. As informative and thought-provoking as it is distressing, this is a book by an investigative journalist at the top of her game.

 

 

Sala Kahle District Six by Nomvuyo Ngcelwane

 

Image result for Sala Kahle District Six by Nomvuyo NgcelwaneNomvuyo Ngcelwane grew up in the heart of District Six. In poignant detail, she recreates her young life in a bustling community, with exciting social lives lived in a cosmopolitan, vibrant atmosphere. More than fifty years since the forced goodbyes, Nomvuyo’s captivating history of black people living in District Six remains deeply affecting. She writes with great honesty, warmth, humour and heart, reaffirming the continuing need for social justice.

 

“Sala kahle, District Six is free of posturing. It has great documentary value. The fact that it is the memoir of an African woman adds to its already considerable interest.”                            Vincent Kolbe

 

 

Wife’s Tale by Aida Edemariam

 

Image result for Wife’s Tale by Aida EdemariamThe extraordinary story of an indomitable 95-year-old woman – and of the most extraordinary century in Ethiopia’s history. A new Wild Swans.

A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was ten years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over the next century her world changed beyond recognition. She witnessed Fascist invasion and occupation, Allied bombardment and exile from her city, the ascent and fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. She endured all these things alongside parenthood, widowhood and the death of children.

The Wife’s Tale is an intimate memoir, both of a life and of a country. In prose steeped in Yetemegnu’s distinctive voice and point of view, Aida Edemariam retells her grandmother’s stories of a childhood surrounded by proud priests and soldiers, of her husband’s imprisonment, of her fight for justice – all of it played out against an ancient cycle of festivals and the rhythms of the seasons. She introduces us to a rich cast of characters – emperors and empresses, scholars and nuns, Marxist revolutionaries and wartime double agents. And through these encounters she takes us deep into the landscape and culture of this many-layered, often mis-characterised country – and the heart of one indomitable woman.

 

The power of Aida Endemariam’s writing is precisely its ability to reach across the gaping chasm formed by time, alien tradition and unfamiliar mores, connecting up our common humanity.”                                Michela Wrong, New Statesman

Extraordinary vivid ‘personal history’… Edemariam not only brings her grandmother to life but also conveys the complexity of a unique, still strongly religious African culture.”          Andrew Lycett, Literary Review

 

“The Wife’s Tale is unique, above all for its brilliant combination of big historical vistas with vivid physical details of life in Ethiopia … It is an exceptional biography.”           Richard Holmes

 

What brings this narrative flaring to life, though, is not the rigour of its research but its imagination and novelistic tone; Edemariam’s prose climbs inside Yetemegnu’s memories to inhabit them and bring her solidly, vividly, to life.”                    Arifa Akbar, Observer

 

“The Wife’s Tale is a remarkable achievement: meticuliously researched, finely wrought and deeply felt, it is the story of one woman’s life lived, not so much against the backdrop of history, but in the midst of it.”                 Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love

 

A window into a world that would otherwise be invisible to us.”               Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

 

 

Never Enough: A Way Through Addiction by Barney Hoskyns

 

Image result for Never Enough: A Way Through Addiction by Barney HoskynsThis book could save your life.”                                John Crace

 

An unblinking account of living with – and more importantly, beyond – addiction. Brave, clear-eyed and inspiring.”                         John Niven

 

A rich, uplifting memoir: Hoskyns portrays how painful inadequacy, masked by drugs, can be replaced by the messiness of ordinary life.”    Oliver James

A few months after graduating with a 1st class honours degree from Oxford University, Barney Hoskyns sat in a damp Clapham basement and asked his best friend to inject him with heroin. From that moment on, for the next three years, Hoskyns is hopelessly hooked. This is the searingly honest story of what brought him to this place – and how he got himself out of it.

Barney Hoskyns is one of the leading music writers of our time: his books have ranged the musical landscape from Led Zeppelin to Tom Waits, from Laurel Canyon to Woodstock. His articles have appeared in NME, Melody Maker, Rolling Stone and Vogue, and in 2000 he founded Rock’s Backpages.

Hoskyns beautifully describes the relationship between music and addiction, between love and infatuation. Never Enough is Hoskyns’s raw, uncompromising and utterly compelling account of the highs and lows of life under the needle. Interspersed with photos and diary entries, Hosykns examines why he so willingly gave himself up to the death-grip of heroin, and what it took to finally free himself from it.
The music critic’s journey is filled with the beautiful as much as the damned … replete with insight into the price of cool and the infatuations that can tear us all apart.”         New Statesman

A powerful … recollection of these lost years: vivid, impressionistic … an ambitious, intelligent book.”                   Andrew Anthony, The Observer

A completely compelling memoir of addiction and redemption. Hoskyns has taken a highly personal subject and created a bold and rewarding account in which we may all find purpose and value.”           Simon Garfield

Erudite and ruminative memoir . . . his writing is worth savouring . . . Never Enough is substantial and satisfying.”                          TLS

 

 

Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls by Tim Marshall

 

Image result for Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls by Tim MarshallWe feel more divided than ever.
This riveting analysis tells you why.

Walls are going up. Nationalism and identity politics are on the rise once more. Thousands of miles of fences and barriers have been erected in the past ten years, and they are redefining our political landscape.

There are many reasons why we erect walls, because we are divided in many ways: wealth, race, religion, politics. In Europe the ruptures of the past decade threaten not only European unity, but in some countries liberal democracy itself. In China, the Party’s need to contain the divisions wrought by capitalism will define the nation’s future. In the USA the rationale for the Mexican border wall taps into the fear that the USA will no longer be a white majority country in the course of this century.

Understanding what has divided us, past and present, is essential to understanding much of what’s going on in the world today. Covering China; the USA; Israel and Palestine; the Middle East; the Indian Subcontinent; Africa; Europe and the UK, bestselling author Tim Marshall presents a gripping and unflinching analysis of the fault lines that will shape our world for years to come.

 

A timely and exhilarating clamber over the walls of history.”     Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

Accomplished, well researched and pacey … for anyone who wants to look beyond the headlines and explore the context of some of the biggest challenges facing the world today, it is a fascinating and fast read”                            City AM

Accessible and timely … ultimately, Marshall’s lesson is one that we should all heed: differences can be overcome”                           Prospect

A very knowledgeable, timely book and a good primer on current problems in a longer-term context”                    Irish News

 

 

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff

 

Image result for Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

 

The incredible, harrowing account of how American democracy was hacked by Moscow as part of a covert operation to influence the U.S. election and help Donald Trump gain the presidency.
Russian Roulette is a story of political skullduggery unprecedented in American history. It weaves together tales of international intrigue, cyber espionage, and superpower rivalry. After U.S.-Russia relations soured, as Vladimir Putin moved to reassert Russian strength on the global stage, Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on U.S. political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate information that could affect the 2016 election.

The Russians were wildly successful and the great break-in of 2016 was no “third-rate burglary.” It was far more sophisticated and sinister — a brazen act of political espionage designed to interfere with American democracy. At the end of the day, Trump, the candidate who pursued business deals in Russia, won. And millions of Americans were left wondering, what the hell happened? This story of high-tech spying and multiple political feuds is told against the backdrop of Trump’s strange relationship with Putin and the curious ties between members of his inner circle — including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn — and Russia.

Russian Roulette chronicles and explores this bizarre scandal, explains the stakes, and answers one of the biggest questions in American politics: How and why did a foreign government infiltrate the country’s political process and gain influence in Washington?

 

 

Two of the best and most accomplished investigative reporters of their generation, two of the best investigative reporters we have in this country…[A] superpower reporting team.”                           Rachel Maddow

“Russian Roulette is…the most thorough and riveting account.”                                New York Times

“Russian Roulette performs an important service in tracing how establishment Washington…came to understand that what Russia was (and reportedly is still) up to was not routine espionage…[Russian Roulette] is engaging, smart.”                          Washington Post

 

 

 

Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination by Andrew Santella

 

Image result for Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination by Andrew SantellaWell-researched…[Soon] argues that in many cases eminent figures have done great work while putting off work they were supposed to be doing. Procrastination might, for some people, be part of innovation and the creative process.”                      Wall Street Journal

 

A fun and erudite celebration of procrastination

An entertaining, fact-filled defense of the nearly universal tendency to procrastinate, drawing on the stories of history’s greatest delayers, and on the work of psychologists, philosophers, and behavioral economists to explain why we put off what we’re supposed to be doing and why we shouldn’t feel so bad about it.

Like so many of us, including most of America’s workforce, and nearly two-thirds of all university students, Andrew Santella procrastinates. Concerned about his habit, but not quite ready to give it up, he set out to learn all he could about the human tendency to delay. He studied history’s greatest procrastinators to gain insights into human behavior, and also, he writes, to kill time, “research being the best way to avoid real work.”

He talked with psychologists, philosophers, and priests. He visited New Orleans’ French Quarter, home to a shrine to the patron saint of procrastinators.  And at the home of Charles Darwin outside London, he learned why the great naturalist delayed writing his masterwork for more than two decades.

Drawing on an eclectic mix of historical case studies in procrastination—from Leonardo da Vinci to Frank Lloyd Wright, and from Old Testament prophets to Civil War generals—Santella offers a sympathetic take on habitual postponement. He questions our devotion to “the cult of efficiency” and suggests that delay and deferral can help us understand what truly matters to us. Being attentive to our procrastination, Santella writes, means asking, “whether the things the world wants us to do are really worth doing.”

 

Soon is an utter delight. Casually erudite, full of delicious anecdotes and brutal honesty, it is catnip, in book form, for procrastinators and non-procrastinators alike.”                Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach

 

 

The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries & the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance  by Anders Rydell

 

Image result for The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries & the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders RydellFor readers of The Monuments Men and The Hare with Amber Eyes, the story of the Nazis’ systematic pillaging of Europe’s libraries, and the small team of heroic librarians now working to return the stolen books to their rightful owners.

While the Nazi party was being condemned by much of the world for burning books, they were already hard at work perpetrating an even greater literary crime. Through extensive new research that included records saved by the Monuments Men themselves—Anders Rydell tells the untold story of Nazi book theft, as he himself joins the effort to return the stolen books. When the Nazi soldiers ransacked Europe’s libraries and bookshops, large and small, the books they stole were not burned. Instead, the Nazis began to compile a library of their own that they could use to wage an intellectual war on literature and history. In this secret war, the libraries of Jews, Communists, Liberal politicians, LGBT activists, Catholics, Freemasons, and many other opposition groups were appropriated for Nazi research, and used as an intellectual weapon against their owners. But when the war was over, most of the books were never returned. Instead many found their way into the public library system, where they remain to this day.

Now, Rydell finds himself entrusted with one of these stolen volumes, setting out to return it to its rightful owner. It was passed to him by the small team of heroic librarians who have begun the monumental task of combing through Berlin’s public libraries to identify the looted books and reunite them with the families of their original owners. For those who lost relatives in the Holocaust, these books are often the only remaining possession of their relatives they have ever held. And as Rydell travels to return the volume he was given, he shows just how much a single book can mean to those who own it.

 

A chilling reminder of Hitler’s twisted power.”                   BBC

 

This history can still startle and surprise us; that, as researchers ask new questions and follow new leads, revelations are still possible . . . Rydell’s passion for the subject is undeniable. Serving as a courier, he manages to convey the emotional power of returning even a single book to a grateful descendant who has lost so much else.”                         Chicago Tribune
Rydell’s tale is a fascinating blend of intellectual history, detective story, and “restitution activism” that cannot help but inspire its readers.”         LA Review of Books

 

 

 

Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World by Leonard Mlodinow

 

Image result for Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World by Leonard MlodinowTimely and engrossing. . . a fascinating exploration of one of the most important topics: how the human mind deals with change.”                              Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

 

The bestselling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and Subliminal unlocks the secrets of flexible thinking.

What do Pokémon Go and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein have in common?
Why do some businesses survive, and others fail at the first sign of change?
What gives the human brain the edge over computers?

The answer: Elastic Thinking. It’s an ability we all possess, and one that we can all learn to hone in order to succeed, at work and in our everyday lives.

Here Leonard Mlodinow, whose own flexible thinking has taken him from physics professor to TV scriptwriter and bestselling author, takes us on a revelatory exploration of how elasticity works. He draws on cutting-edge neuroscience to show how, millennia ago, our brains developed an affinity for novelty, idea generation and exploration. He discovers how flexible thinking enabled some of the greatest artists, writers, musicians and innovators to create paradigm shifts. He investigates the organisations that have demonstrated an elastic ability to adapt to new technologies. And he reveals how you can test your own brain power and increase your capacity for elastic thinking.

By uncovering the secrets of our flexible minds, Elastic explains how to thrive in an endlessly dynamic world, at a time when an ability to adapt is more important than ever before.

 

Elegant and interesting. . . packed with insights, puzzles and philosophical interludes. . . While nodding to the business market, Elastic is refreshingly free of the curious moralising that often accompanies such how-to guides.”            Steven Poole, Guardian

A manifesto for intellectual flexibility. . . If we are to thrive in this new world, argues bestselling science writer Leonard Mlodinow, we’re going to need less linear, logical, analytic reasoning and more creative ‘elastic thinking’.”                          Julian Baggini, Financial Times

A book of sparkling intelligence, written with humour and grace. If you read only one book of accessible science this year, let this be the one.”                         Mark Williams, author of Mindfulness, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford

A fascinating, useful look into how the brain works. Perfect for neophiliacs and everyone else who’s dealing with a changing world.”                             Seth Godin, author of Tribes

Leonard Mlodinow never fails to make science both accessible and entertaining.”           Stephen Hawking

 

 

Two Sisters: Into the Syrian Jihad by Asne Seierstad

 

Image result for Two Sisters: Into the Syrian Jihad by Asne SeierstadOne morning in October 2013, nineteen-year-old Ayan Juma and her sixteen-year-old sister Leila left their family home in Oslo. Later that day they sent an email to their parents. ‘Peace, God’s mercy and blessings upon you, Mum and Dad … Please do not be cross with us…’

Leila and Ayan had decided to travel to Syria, ‘and help out down there as best we can’. They had been planning for months. By the time their desperate father Sadiq tracks them to Turkey, they have already crossed the border. But Sadiq is determined to find them.

What follows is the gripping, heartbreaking story of a family ripped apart. While Sadiq risks his own life to bring his daughters back, at home his wife Sara begins to question their life in Norway. How could her children have been radicalised without her knowledge? How can she protect her two younger sons from the same fate?

Åsne Seierstad – with the complete support of the Juma family – followed the story from the beginning, through its many dramatic twists and turns. It’s a tale that crosses from Sadiq and Sara’s original home in Somalia, to their council estate in Oslo, to Turkey and to Syria – where two teenage sisters must face the shocking consequences of their decision.

 

A modern tragedy. And a universal one … None of us truly knows what teenagers think, behind their closed doors, nor what tomorrow will bring.”         The Times

Hauntingly written, this book is both a masterpiece and a masterclass in investigative journalism.”        Christina Lamb, Sunday Times

Intricate, compelling.”                 Observer

Simply magnificent … One of the most important books of our time.”   Svenska Dagbladet

Åsne Seierstad is the supreme non-fiction writer of her generation. Her latest work is haunting, luminously written and compelling. A brilliant book. Two Sisters isn’t only the story of how a pair of teenage girls became radicalised but an unsparing portrait of our own society – of its failings and its joys.”                            Luke Harding, author of Collusion

“Two Sisters is a masterwork. Brilliantly conceived, scrupulously reported and beautifully written, this book is compulsive reading … Seierstad fixes her lens on one of the most disturbing conundrums of our time – what leads ordinary people to become terrorists?”                  Jon Lee Anderson

Meticulously documented, full of drama … filled with smuggling, violence, ever-changing loyalties and tension … this is a tale fluently told, and a thriller as well.”                 Kate Adie, Literary Review

 

Feminist Revolution: The Struggle for Women’s Liberation by Bonnie Morris and D.M. Withers

 

Image result for Feminist Revolution: The Struggle for Women’s Liberation by Bonnie Morris and D.M. WithersOprah’s book club has declared The Feminist Revolution a must-read for Women’s History Month.

The Feminist Revolution offers an overview of women’s struggle for equal rights in the late twentieth century. Beginning with the auspicious founding of the National Organization for Women in 1966, at a time when women across the world were mobilizing individually and collectively in the fight to assert their independence and establish their rights in society, the book traces a path through political campaigns, protests, the formation of women’s publishing houses and groundbreaking magazines, and other events that shaped women’s history. It examines women’s determination to free themselves from definition by male culture, wanting not only to ‘take back the night’ but also to reclaim their bodies, their minds, and their cultural identity. It demonstrates as well that the feminist revolution was enacted by women from all backgrounds, of every colour, and of all ages and that it took place in the home, in workplaces, and on the streets of every major town and city.

This sweeping overview of the key decades in the feminist revolution also brings together for the first time many of these women’s own unpublished stories, which together offer tribute to the daring, humour, and creative spirit of its participants.

 

 

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001–2016 by Steve Coll

 

Image result for Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001–2016 by Steve CollSpellbinding … a magisterial account of the great tragedy of our age … it is a classic.”  Evening Standard
In the finest traditions of American investigative journalism.”                    The Times
Spectacular … makes Bourne movies pale in comparison.”                          Financial Times

 

From the Pulitzer Prize winning of the acclaimed Ghost Wars, this is the full story of America’s grim involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2016. In the wake of the terrible shock of 9/11, the C.I.A. scrambled to work out how to destroy Bin Laden and his associates. The C.I.A. had long familiarity with Afghanistan and had worked closely with the Taliban to defeat the Soviet Union there. A tangle of assumptions, old contacts, favours and animosities were now reactivated. Superficially the invasion was quick and efficient, but Bin Laden’s successful escape, together with that of much of the Taliban leadership, and a catastrophic failure to define the limits of NATO’s mission in a tough, impoverished country the size of Texas, created a quagmire which lasted many years.

At the heart of the problem lay ‘Directorate S’, a highly secretive arm of the Pakistan state which had its own views on the Taliban and Afghanistan’s place in a wider competition for influence between Pakistan, India and China, and which assumed that the U.S.A. and its allies would soon be leaving.

Steve Coll’s remarkable new book tells a powerful, bitter story of just how badly foreign policy decisions can go wrong and of many lives lost.
A masterful and entertaining account … the story is delivered with a literary prowess that has been absent in previous western accounts of America’s longest running war.”                     Rafia Zakaria, Guardian

Impressively detailed, stylishly crafted and authoritative… as gloomy as it is compelling.”                           Economist

 

 

Civilisations: First Contact / The Cult of Progress by David Olusoga

 

Image result for Civilisations: First Contact / The Cult of Progress by David OlusogaCompanion to the major new BBC documentary series Civilisations, presented by Mary Beard, David Olusoga and Simon Schama

Oscar Wilde said ‘Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.’ Was he right? In Civilisations, David Olusoga travels the world to piece together the shared histories that link nations.

In Part One, First Contact, we discover what happened to art in the great Age of Discovery, when civilisations encountered each other for the first time. Although undoubtedly a period of conquest and destruction, it was also one of mutual curiosity, global trade and the exchange of ideas.

In Part Two, The Cult of Progress, we see how the Industrial Revolution transformed the world, impacting every corner, and every civilisation, from the cotton mills of the Midlands through Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt to the decimation of both Native American and Maori populations and the advent of photography in Paris in 1839.

Incredible art – both looted and created – relays the key events and their outcomes throughout the world.

 

Olusoga is a smart and inventive narrator, with a keen historical curiosity and effortless style.”     Guardian

Told with great fluency and clarity of style … a highly readable and engaging account.”                               Kwasi Kwarteng, Sunday Times

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

March 2018

Tuesday, March 27th 2018 at 11:38 AM

Fiction

 

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

 

Image result for wicked cometh‘We have no need to protect ourselves from the bad sort because WE are the bad sort . . .’

 

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city’s vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock.

But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking. . .

A compelling page-turner from a gifted new voice in historical fiction, The Wicked Cometh is the perfect read for fans of The Witchfinder’s Sister, Fingersmith and The Essex Serpent.

 

 

 

Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

 

Image result for Book of Joan by Lidia YuknavitchTHE RESISTANCE STARTS NOW

In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin.

Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule—galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one—not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself—can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations.

A riveting tale of destruction and love found in the direst of places—even at the extreme end of post-human experience—Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan raises questions about what it means to be human, the fluidity of sex and gender, and the role of art as a means for survival.
100 Notable Books of 2017, New York Times
25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017, ELLE
32 Most Exciting Books Coming Out in 2017, BuzzFeed
15 Best Books of 2017, Esquire
33 New Books to Read in 2017, Huffington Post
New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

 

Brilliant and incendiary, mixing realism and fabulism.”                   New York Times Book Review

The Book of Joan has the same unflinching quality as earlier works by Josephine Saxton, Doris Lessing, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. Le Guin and J.G. Ballard. Yet it’s also radically new, full of maniacal invention and page-turning momentum . . . A rich, heady concoction, rippling with provocative ideas”                            Jeff VanderMeer
A raucous celebration, a searing condemnation, and fiercely imaginative retelling of Joan of Arc’s transcendent life.”                                 Roxane Gay

With her verve and bold imagination, she’s earned the throne left empty since the death of David Foster Wallace.”                                Chuck Palahniuk

All my youth I gloried in the wild, exulting, rollercoaster prose and questing narratives of Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Jack Kerouac, but cringed at the misogyny; couldn’t we have the former without the latter? We can, because: Lidia Yuknavitch. Buckle your seat belts; it’s gonna be a wild feminist ride.”                          Rebecca Solnit

 

 

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

 

Image result for Fire Sermon by Jamie QuatroMaggie is entirely devoted to her husband Thomas, their two beautiful children, and to God.

But then what begins as innocent letter writing with poet James starts to become something far more erotically charged, their meeting of minds threatening to become a meeting of bodies.

As everything Maggie believes in is thrown into doubt the reader is drawn ever deeper into the battleground of her soul.

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro is a daring debut novel of obsession, desire and salvation that shows the radical light and dark of love itself. This is a visceral, rich and devastating portrait of loves lived and lost that cannot fail to echo in your own experience.

 

This book is bright and dark by turns but always shot through with a vital, unerring grace. Plus it’s about love and death, sex and God. What more could a reader want?”                   Jenny Offill, author of Dept of Speculation

A dogged, brutally thoughtful piece of work, and gives us a writer of great originality and apparent artistic maturity who seems to have come out of nowhere … Strange, thrilling, and disarmingly honest.”                   New York Times Book Review

A brilliant new voice in American fiction has arrived. Bright, sharp, startling, utterly distinctive, passionate, and secretive, Jamie Quatro’s stories are missives from deep within the landscape of American womanhood. They take you by the heart and throat, shake you awake, and ask you to ponder the mysteries of love, parenthood, and marriage. She has earned a place alongside Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, and Alice Munro.”                             David Means

 

 

Quintember by Richard Major

 

Image result for Quintember by Richard MajorWhen there are high crimes to be covered up, mysteries to be wrapped in enigmas, or a murderer to be liquidated – literally – there is only one man in England who can be trusted with the task: Felix Culpepper, tutor in Classics at St. Wygefortis’ College, Cambridge, and assassin-at-large for the British Establishment.

From the eerie deserts of New Mexico to the high-rolling hotels of the Adriatic, Culpepper moves with consummate ease and an unexpected penchant for guns, drugs and esoteric methods of murder – all to save himself from the drudgery of cramming Latin into the privileged yet empty skulls of the dregs of Britain’s aristocracy.

With an intellectual vanity that rivals Holmes, more self-esteem than Bond and a blood-steeped amorality that out-Ripleys Hannibal Lecter, Culpepper is the ideal hero for our debased days. And only in his student, sidekick (and pending Nemesis) Margot ffontaines-Laigh, does he meet his match.
Rarely does an author have so fresh and lush a voice. Major’s writing feels wholly new, with the rib-cracking dry humor of Wodehouse, a dash of Waugh, and a Joycean love of the sound of words. You’ll want to read lines aloud and I laughed repeatedly over the course of the first few pages. Masterly, fresh, witty, this is a major new voice.”                            Noah Charney, best-selling author of The Art Thief

Engagingly devious: H. H. Munro ravished by Simon Raven.”                       Robin Stones

 

 

The Melody by Jim Crace

 

Image result for The Melody by Jim CraceThe Melody takes its place among his finest [novels] . . . an ecological fable for modern times.”                                   Guardian
Alfred Busi, famed in his town for his music and songs, is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the large villa he has always called home. Then one night Busi is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids the contents of his larder. Busi is convinced that what assaulted him was no animal, but a child, ‘innocent and wild’, and his words fan the flames of old rumour – of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town – and new controversy: the town’s paupers, the feral wastrels at its edges, must be dealt with. Once and for all.

Lyrical and warm, intimate and epic, The Melody by Jim Crace tracks the few days that will see Busi and the town he loves altered irrevocably. This is a story about grief and ageing, about reputation and the loss of it, about love and music and the peculiar way myth seeps into real life. And it is a political novel too – a rallying cry to protect those we persecute.

 

“The Melody is an ambitious, powerful work which won’t disappoint his growing band of enthusiasts.”                     Big Issue

Strange, unsettling, brilliant – everything you’d expect from one of our most original and inventive novelists.”                       Observer

“The Melody is at its most poignant on the subject of growing old . . . every sentence is packed with Crace’s characteristic lyricism . . . Anybody who reads The Melody will find plenty to admire and chew on.”                             The Times

 

 

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

 

Image result for The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph CassaraNAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2018 BY Buzzfeed • Esquire • Bustle • The Millions • The Wall Street Journal • Entertainment Weekly • Nylon • Elle • Dazed • The Irish Times

 

Cassaras’s propulsive and profound first novel, finding one’s home in the world – particularly in a subculture plagued by fear and intolerance from society – comes with tragedy as well as extraordinary personal freedom.”                     Esquire

 

A gritty and gorgeous debut inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning

It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ballroom scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, and has a yearning to help create a family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the ballroom circuit.

Into the house come Venus, a whip-smart trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’ life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.

Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness, and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit.

 

The House of Impossible Beauties tells of a search not only for respect but, above all, love in a time and place that seeks to starve its characters of both… From these threads of fact and myth, Cassara runs up a fictional ensemble that craftily stitches glamour and grit.”                            Financial Times

 

 

The Break by Katherina Vermette

 

Image result for The Break by Katherena VermetteWhen Stella, a young Metis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Metis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in literary fiction.

 

Katherena Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, takes a tough, close-up look at an extended family in Winnipeg, tackling along the way a side of female life that’s often hard to acknowledge: the violence of girls and women sometimes display towards other girls and women, and the power struggles among them. In The Break, the characters may be Metis, but the motivations and emotions are surely universal. This is an accomplished writer who will go far.”                                                 Margaret Atwood
The lives of the girls and women in The Break are not easy, but their voices — complex, urgent, and unsparing — lay bare what it means to survive, not only once, but multiple times, against the forces of private and national histories. Katherena Vermette is a tremendously gifted writer, a dazzling talent.” – Madeleine Thien

 

 

Michael K by Nthikeng Mohlele

 

Image result for Michael K by Nthikeng MohleleHow is it that a character from literary fiction can so alter the landscapes he touches, even as he – in his self-imposed isolation – seeks to avoid them? How is it that Michael K, bewildered and bewildering, can remain so fragile yet so present, so imposing without attempting to be so?
In this response to JM Coetzee’s classic masterpiece, Life & Times of Michael K, Nthikeng Mohlele dabbles in the artistic and speculative in a unique attempt to unpack the dazed and disconnected world of the title character, his solitary ways, his inventiveness, but also to show how astutely Michael K holds up a mirror to those whose paths he inadvertently crosses.
Michael K explores the weight of history and of conscience, thus wrestling the character from the confines of literary creation to the frontiers of artistic timelessness.

 

 

Under Glass by Claire Robertson

 

Image result for under glass claire robertsonIn 1857 a young Englishwoman arrives in Port Natal from India to make a new life for her family among settlers, homesteaders, and sugar-cane farmers. She is with her daughter and the child’s ayah, and has been travelling for eleven months to join her husband, already deep in the hinterland.
Her father-in-law has staked them their passage, a sum for settlement and an arrangement for the purchase of land, but there are conditions to his generosity that will have a lasting effect on the pair, and particularly on their fifth child, Cosmo, born years later.
It is on the family’s sugar-cane farm that the reader begins to understand that there is something peculiar about young Cosmo, something that must be kept secret.
At once an intriguing mystery and a meditation on the region’s colonial history, Under Glass is a high-stakes narrative of deception and disguise by one of South Africa’s finest novelists.

 

 

The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

 

Image result for The Hoarder by Jess KiddMaud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her.

With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?

 

This dark but comical tale of haunting and hoarding ensnares . . . [Kidd’s] imagination is vivid . . . Brilliant”                             The Times

A lyrical gothic detective saga . . . Wonderfully enigmatic and complex . . . [Kidd] is a writer with a poet’s skill of balancing clarity and inventive flair”                         Guardian

Excellent . . . The observations are sharp and humorous . . . with pages of inventive and colourful description . . . The Hoarder is a strong follow-up from a very talented writer who seems to be honing her skills”                          Sunday Times

Superb . . . Kidd writes brilliantly . . . A rather impressive second novel, whose imaginative prowess marks its author as one to watch”                    John Boyne, Irish Times

 

Strange Bird by Jeff Vandermeer

 

Image result for Strange Bird by Jeff VandermeerThe Strange Bird – from New York Times bestselling novelist Jeff VanderMeer – expands and weaves deeply into the world of his “thorough marvel”* of a novel, Borne.

The Strange Bird is a new kind of creature, built in a laboratory–she is part bird, part human, part many other things. But now the lab in which she was created is under siege and the scientists have turned on their animal creations. Flying through tunnels, dodging bullets, and changing her colors and patterning to avoid capture, the Strange Bird manages to escape.

But she cannot just soar in peace above the earth. The sky itself is full of wildlife that rejects her as one of their own, and also full of technology–satellites and drones and other detritus of the human civilisation below that has all but destroyed itself. And the farther she flies, the deeper she finds herself in the orbit of the Company, a collapsed biotech firm that has populated the world with experiments both failed and successful that have outlived the corporation itself: a pack of networked foxes, a giant predatory bear. But of the many creatures she encounters with whom she bears some kind of kinship, it is the humans–all of them now simply scrambling to survive–who are the most insidious, who still see her as simply something to possess, to capture, to trade, to exploit. Never to understand, never to welcome home.

 

With The Strange Bird, Jeff VanderMeer has done more than add another layer, a new chapter, to his celebrated novel Borne. He has created a whole new perspective on the world inhabited by Rachel and Wick, the Magician, Mord, and Borne–a view from above, of course, but also a view from deep inside the mind of a new kind of creature who will fight and suffer and live for the tenuous future of this world.

 

VanderMeer’s apocalyptic vision, with its mix of absurdity, horror, and grace, can’t be mistaken for that of anyone else. Inventive, engrossing, and heartbreaking, Borne finds [VanderMeer] at a high point of creative accomplishment.”                                 San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

 

Short Stories

Soweto Under the Apricot Tree by Niq Mhlongo

 

Image result for Soweto Under the Apricot Tree by Niq MhlongoThis apricot tree has multiple souls that fill me with wonder every morning and enchant me by afternoon. This tree has bitter-sweet memories, just like the fruit it bears.”

If the apricot trees of Soweto could talk, what stories would they tell? This short story collection provides an imaginative answer. Imbued with a vivid sense of place, it captures the vibrancy of the township and surrounds. Told with satirical flair, life and death are intertwined in these tales where funerals and the ancestors feature strongly; where cemeteries are places to show off your new car and catch up on the latest gossip.

Populating these stories is a politician mesmerised by his mistress’s manicure, zama-zamas running businesses underground, a sangoma with a remedy for theft, soccer fans ready to mete out a bloody justice, a private dancer in love and many other intriguing characters.

Take your seat under the apricot tree and be enthralled by tales that are both entertaining and thought-provoking.

 

 

The Fatuous State of Severity by Phumlani Pikoli

 

Image result for The Fatuous State of Severity by Phumlani PikoliThe Fatuous State of Severity is a fresh collection of short stories and illustrations that explores themes surrounding the experiences of a generation of young, urban South Africans coping with the tensions of social media, language insecurities and relationships of various kinds.

Intense and provocative, this new edition of the book, which was first self-published in 2016, features six additional stories as well as an introductory essay on Phumlani Pikoli’s publishing journey.

 

 

 

Non-Fiction

Educated by Tara Westover

 

Image result for educated westoverA memoir to stand alongside classics by the likes of Jeanette Winterson and Lorna Sage … a compelling and ultimately joyous account of self-determination.”    Sunday Times

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, from her singular experience Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

 

A memoir to stand alongside classics by the likes of Jeanette Winterson and Lorna Sage . . . a compelling and ultimately joyous account of self-determination.”                              Sunday Times

A dazzling example of what you can achieve if you set your mind to something…an inspirational, truly unique coming-of-age tale.”                       BBC Ones to Watch in 2018

“[A] superb memoir… Westover’s journey from a remote corner of the American west to one of the world’s grandest seats of learning is extraordinary . . . Her story, of fighting to be herself, is as old as the hills she came from, but Westover gives us such a fresh, absorbing take that it deserves to bring her own private Idaho into the bestseller lists, book groups and, eventually, cinemas.” The Times

Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests. That someone who grew up in her circumstances could achieve as much as she has is astonishing . . . The central tension she wrestles with throughout her book is how to be true to herself without alienating her family. Her upbringing was extraordinary, but that struggle is not.”                      Economist

 

 

Coalition Country by Leon Schreiber

 

Image result for Coalition Country by Leon SchreiberWe are on the cusp of a momentous change.
The ANC has governed South Africa for more than two decades but its iron grip is slipping. For the first time since 1994 there is no guarantee that it will retain power. If ANC support drops below 50% in the 2019 elections, the political landscape will be transformed dramatically.
Will Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema be in charge? Or will the ANC and the EFF join forces? What will this mean for our nation?

 

 

 

If This Be Treason by Helen Joseph

 

Image result for If This Be Treason by Helen Joseph“Jy’s ’n Bantu!” I see Lilian [Ngoyi] close her lips firmly. The younger wardress repeats “African” under her breath and sniggers. Then to our horror the wardress snaps out at Lilian “Trek uit!” We are paralysed and the order is repeated in English, “Take your clothes off!”

Helen Joseph, founding member of the ANC’s ally, the Congress of Democrats, was one of the main organisers in the Women’s March of 9 August 1956. Arrested on a charge of high treason in 1956, and banned the next year, Helen suffered constant persecution. The first person in South Africa to be placed under house arrest, she survived several assassination attempts.

In this personal account, Joseph writes about enduring the Treason Trial – one of the longest and most important trials in South African history, where she stood accused along with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. With disarming honesty, she shares stories of the women’s prison, the behind-the-scenes discussions with their defence team, the constant daily humiliations, but also their perseverance and small triumphs.

This book, originally banned and not available for decades, adds a vital dimension to our understanding of South Africa’s recent history.

Helen’s diary works on another level − that of the human condition. It should be read by everyone who wants to know what it was like at that time.”     Walter Sisulu

An important contribution to the literature of the liberatory movement.”              Chief Albert Luthuli

 

 

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Sheelah Kolhatkar

 

Image result for Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Sheelah KolhatkarThe story of billionaire trader Steven Cohen, the rise and fall of his hedge fund SAC Capital, and the largest insider trading investigation in history for readers of The Big Short, Den of Thieves, and Dark Money

Steven A. Cohen changed Wall Street. He and his fellow pioneers of the hedge fund industry didn’t lay railroads, build factories, or invent new technologies. Rather, they made their billions through speculation, by placing bets in the market that turned out to be right more often than wrong and for this, they gained not only extreme personal wealth but formidable influence throughout society. Hedge funds now trade nearly $3 trillion in assets each day, and the competition between them is so fierce that traders will do whatever they can to get an edge.
Cohen was one of the industry s biggest success stories, the person everyone else in the business wanted to be. Born into a middle-class family on Long Island, he longed from an early age to be a star on Wall Street. He mastered poker in high school, went off to Wharton, and in 1992 launched the hedge fund SAC Capital, which he built into a $15 billion empire, almost entirely on the basis of his wizardlike stock trading. He cultivated an air of mystery, reclusiveness, and excess, building a 35,000-square-foot mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, flying to work by helicopter, and amassing one of the largest private art collections in the world. On Wall Street, Cohen was revered as a genius: one of the greatest traders who ever lived.
That image was shattered when SAC Capital became the target of a sprawling, seven-year investigation, led by a determined group of FBI agents, prosecutors, and SEC enforcement attorneys. Labeled by prosecutors as a magnet for market cheaters whose culture encouraged the relentless pursuit of edge and even black edge, which is inside information SAC Capital was ultimately indicted and pleaded guilty to charges of securities and wire fraud in connection with a vast insider trading scheme, even as Cohen himself was never charged.
Black Edge offers a revelatory look at the gray zone in which so much of Wall Street functions. It’s a riveting, true-life legal thriller that takes readers inside the government s pursuit of Cohen and his employees, and raises urgent and troubling questions about the power and wealth of those who sit at the pinnacle of modern Wall Street.
“Fast-paced and filled with twists, Black Edge has the grip of a thriller. It is also an essential expose of our times a work that reveals the deep rot in our financial system. Everyone should read this book.”                             David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z

 

“Black Edge is a real-life thriller about the government s attempt to get the legendary trader Steve Cohen on insider trading charges and the lengths to which he goes to elude them. Using deep reporting and top-notch storytelling, Sheelah Kolhatkar is able to shed new light on one of the least known and most fascinating characters on Wall Street.”                                Bethany McLean, co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room

 

 

Bethlehem: Biography of a Town by Nicholas Blincoe

 

Image result for Bethlehem: Biography of a Town by Nicholas BlincoeThe town of Bethlehem carries so many layers of meaning–some ancient, some mythical, some religious–that it feels like an unreal city, even to the people who call it home. Today, the city is hemmed in by a wall and surrounded by forty-one Israeli settlements and hostile settlers and soldiers. The population is undergoing such enormous strains it is close to falling apart. Any town with an eleven-thousand-year history has to be robust, but Bethlehem may soon go the way of Salonica or Constantinople: the physical site might survive, but the long thread winding back to the ancient past will have snapped, and the city risks losing everything that makes it unique.

Still, for many, Bethlehem remains the “little town” of the Christmas song. Nicholas Blincoe will tell the history of the famous little town, through the visceral experience of living there, taking readers through its stone streets and desert wadis, its monasteries, aqueducts and orchards, showing the city from every angle and era. Inevitably, a portrait of Bethlehem will shed light on one of the world’s most intractable political problems. Bethlehem is a much-loved Palestinian city, a source of pride and wealth but also a beacon of co-existence in a region where hopelessness, poverty and violence has become the norm. Bethlehem could light the way to a better future, but if the city is lost then the chances of an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict will be lost with it.

 

A lovely personal adventure through the history of Bethlehem from its origins up to the present day. Blincoe captures the continuities and contradictions, the myths and the history of one of the world’s most famous towns with real flair.”                            Peter Frankopan, author of Silk Roads

“[Bethlehem] brings within reach 11,000 years of history, centering on the beloved town’s unique place in the world. Blincoe’s love of Bethlehem is compelling, even as he does not shy away from the complexities of its chronicle.”                     President Jimmy Carter

“[Bethlehem] illuminates both the past and the present of the Middle East with countless instances of fantastic achievement and equally terrible human folly.”                   Yotam Ottolenghi

 

 

How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

 

Image result for How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel ZiblattTwo Harvard professors explain the dangerous world we face today

Democracies can die with a coup d’état – or they can die slowly. This happens most deceptively when in piecemeal fashion, with the election of an authoritarian leader, the abuse of governmental power and the complete repression of opposition. All three steps are being taken around the world – not least with the election of Donald Trump – and we must all understand how we can stop them.

In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt draw insightful lessons from across history – from the rule of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile to the quiet undermining of Turkey’s constitutional system by President Recip Erdogan – to shine a light on regime breakdown across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Notably they point to the dangers of an authoritarian leader faced with a major crisis.

Based on years of research, they present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today in the US and beyond; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties and individuals.

History doesn’t repeat itself. But we can protect our democracy by learning its lessons, before it’s too late.
Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies have collapsed elsewhere—not just through violent coups, but more commonly (and insidiously) through a gradual slide into authoritarianism…. How Democracies Die is a lucid and essential guide to what can happen here.”                            New York Times

We’re already awash in public indignation—what we desperately need is a sober, dispassionate look at the current state of affairs. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, two of the most respected scholars in the field of democracy studies, offer just that.”                 Washington Post

 

 

Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder by Amy Knight

 

Image result for Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder by Amy KnightEver since Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia, his critics have turned up dead on a regular basis. According to Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In Orders to Kill, the KGB scholar ties dozens of victims together to expose a campaign of political murder during Putin’s reign that even includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing.

Russia is no stranger to political murder, from the tsars to the Soviets to the Putin regime, during which many journalists, activists and political opponents have been killed. Kremlin defenders like to say, “There is no proof,” however convenient these deaths have been for Putin, and, unsurprisingly, because he controls all investigations, Putin is never seen holding a smoking gun. Orders to Kill is a story long hidden in plain sight with huge ramifications.

 

“[Knight’s] detailed indictment makes a strong case that Vladimir Putin and the criminal empire he created survives because dissidents are slain without any consequence…Mr. Trump has voiced disdain for reading books. Perhaps someone should slip a copy of Orders to Kill onto his nightstand.”                              Washington Times

 

Amy Knight is our foremost expert on Russian spycraft. This incisive, deeply researched account of the Kremlin’s murderous dark arts should be an electrifying wake-up call to the West about the danger we face from Putin’s gangster state.”                    Economist

 

A brave and important book. Amy Knight has an expert understanding of Russia, its spy agencies, and the dark state created by Vladimir Putin and his KGB cronies. Putin’s critics have an uncanny habit of falling dead and Knight tells this story with rare skill. Compelling.”                              Luke Harding, author of A Very Expensive Poison: The Murder of Alexander Litvinenko and Russia’s War with the West

 

 

In Shock: How Nearly Dying Made Me a Better Intensive Care Doctor by Rana Awdish

 

Image result for In Shock: How Nearly Dying Made Me a Better Intensive Care Doctor by Rana AwdishSunday Times ‘MUST READ’

Tense, powerful and gripping… her writing style is often nothing short of beautiful – evocative and emotional.”                   Adam Kay, Observer

At seven months pregnant, intensive care doctor Rana Awdish suffered a catastrophic medical event, haemorrhaging nearly all of her blood volume and losing her unborn first child. She spent months fighting for her life in her own hospital, enduring a series of organ failures and multiple major surgeries.

Every step of the way, Awdish was faced with something even more unexpected and shocking than her battle to survive: her fellow doctors’ inability to see and acknowledge the pain of loss and human suffering, the result of a self-protective barrier hard-wired in medical training.

In Shock is Rana Awdish’s searing account of her extraordinary journey from doctor to patient, during which she sees for the first time the dysfunction of her profession’s disconnection from patients and the flaws in her own past practice as a doctor. Shatteringly personal yet wholly universal, it is both a brave roadmap for anyone navigating illness and a call to arms for doctors to see each patient not as a diagnosis but as a human being.

 

Outstanding… What marks it out is not the scale or urgency of the trauma, although I read the first chapters at such a pace that I almost had to remind myself to breathe. It is the writing. It sparks and crackles with a dark energy… The writing is not just intense, but intelligent… In Shock stands above other patient memoirs.”                               Sunday Times

A brave, powerful memoir about what it is like to be both a doctor and a patient… There is a widsom that literally comes from suffering.”                  The Times

Compelling and insightful, this story of what a doctor learns through coming close to death is packed with both action and reflection.” Cathy Rentzenbrink, bestselling author of The Last Act of Love

 



Blood on the Page by Thomas Harding

 

Image result for blood on the page hardingMeticulous and gripping – a thriller that disturbs for revelations about a singular act of murder, and the national security state which we call home.”                          Philippe Sands

 

A groundbreaking examination of a terrifying murder and its aftermath by the bestselling author of Hanns and Rudolf and The House by the Lake.

In June 2006, police were called to number 9 Downshire Hill in Hampstead. The owner of the house, Allan Chappelow, was an award-winning photographer and biographer, an expert on George Bernard Shaw, and a notorious recluse, who had not been seen for several weeks. Someone had recently accessed his bank accounts, and attempted to withdraw large amounts of money. Inside the darkened house, officers found piles of rubbish, trees growing through the floor, and, in what was once the living room, the body of Chappelow, battered to death, partially burned and buried under four feet of paper.

The man eventually arrested on suspicion of his murder was a Chinese dissident named Wang Yam: a man who claimed to be the grandson of one of Mao’s closest aides, and a key negotiator in the Tiananmen Square protests. His trial was the first in modern British history to be held ‘in camera’: closed, carefully controlled, secret. Wang Yam was found guilty, but has always protested his innocence.

Thomas Harding has spent the past two years investigating the case, interviewing key witnesses, investigating officers, forensic experts and the journalists who broke the story, and has unearthed shocking and revelatory new material on the killing, the victim and the supposed perpetrator. It is a crime that has been described in the press and by the leading detective as ‘the greatest whodunnit’ of recent years: an extraordinary tale of isolation, deception and brutal violence, stretching from the quiet streets of north London to the Palace of Westminster and beyond. It is an explosive new work of non-fiction from an author working at the height of his powers.

 

A fine and fascinating read, bolstered by exemplary research and nuanced insights. Absorbing.”                  Observer

Reads like a thriller… a rigorous investigation… a revealing piece of social history.”                            Sunday Times

Absolutely gripping throughout and builds to a devastating conclusion. Just brilliant.”                     Allan Little

 

 

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

 

Image result for The Monk of Mokha by Dave EggersFrom the best-selling author of The Circle – the gripping true story of a young Yemeni American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war

Mokhtar Alkhanshali is twenty-four and working as a doorman when he becomes fascinated with the rich history of coffee and Yemen’s central place in it. He leaves San Francisco and travels deep into his ancestral home to tour terraced farms high in the country’s rugged mountains. He collects samples and organizes farmers and is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs the country. Saudi bombs rain down, the U.S. embassy closes, and Mokhtar has to find a way out of Yemen with only his hopes on his back.

The Monk of Mokha is the story of this courageous and visionary young man following the most American of dreams.

 

It’ll open your eyes – very wide – to the singular origins of your single origin.”                       Esquire

Eggers’s narrative is guaranteed to be every bit as compelling as that of any novel.”        Observer

Dave Eggers returns to his “factional” mode with The Monk Of Mokha, in which a Yemeni immigrant

 

 

Maybe Esther by Katya Petrowskaya

 

Image result for Maybe Esther by Katya PetrowskayaIntensely involving … a fervent meditation on love and loss, with a remarkable cast of characters.”            Financial Times

 

Rich, intriguing … Maybe Esther calls to mind the itinerant style of W. G. Sebald.”             Guardian

 

Katja Petrowskaja’s family story is inextricably entangled with the history of twentieth-century Europe. There is her great-uncle, who shot a German diplomat in Moscow in 1932 and was sentenced to death. There is her Ukrainian grandfather, who disappeared during World War II and reappeared forty years later. And there is her great-grandmother – whose name may or may not have been Esther – who was too old and frail to leave Kiev when the Jews there were rounded up, and was killed by a Nazi outside her house.

Taking the reader from Berlin to Warsaw, to Moscow, to Kiev, from Google searches, strange encounters and coincidences to archives, anecdotes and jokes, Katja Petrowskaja undertakes a journey in search of her own place in past and present, memory and history, languages and countries. The result is Maybe Esther – a singular, haunting, unforgettable work of literature.

 

Mesmerising. It is writing that dazzles … deeply thoughtful and with insights that flash like sharp implements.”                   New Statement

 

Rarely is research into family history this exciting, this moving. If this were a novel it would seem exaggerated and unbelievable. This is great literature.”                      Spiegel

Modern German literature is richer for this intelligent, flamboyant and extremely original voice.”               Die Zeit

 

 

 

Art/Graphic

Significant Others:  Creativity and Intimate Partnership  by Isabelle de Courtivron

 

Image result for 9780500293812Biographies of artists and writers have traditionally presented an individual’s lone struggle for self-expression. In this book, critics and historians challenge these assumptions in a series of essays that focus on artist and writer couples who have shared sexual and artistic bonds. Featuring duos such as Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, this book combines biography with evaluation of each partner’s work in the context of the relationship.

 

Reveals the pressures of societal assumptions, whilst revealing the limitations such constructions place on male and female creativity”            Aesthetica

“The intimacy of creativity is revealed to pave the way for extraordinary partnerships and eternal bonds…this original series of essays explores how a shared passion for the arts can make sparks fly.”                 Red

Michaelis Graduate Catalogue

Image result for michaelis grad catalogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Michaelis Graduate Catalogue 2017 is available in print and is a must for local art lovers, artists and perspective art students. The catalogue not only includes images of works made by all the participating art grad students but also includes an original piece of art from one of the participating graduate artists.

 

 

 

 

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame

 

Image result for My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh TagameWhen a cuddly Canadian comes to call, Yaichi – a single Japanese dad – is forced to confront his painful past. With his young daughter Kana leading the way, he gradually rethinks his assumptions about what makes a family. Renowned manga artist Gengoroh Tagame turns his stunning draftsmanship to a story very different from his customary fare, to delightful and heartwarming effect.”                       Alison Bechdel, author of Are You My Mother

 

Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.

 

Heartbreaking yet hopeful, Gengoroh Tagame’s beautifully rendered meditation on the struggle for gay acceptance in today’s Japan is quietly dazzling. I am already looking forward to part two!”                          CNN

“My Brother’s Husband is one of the most poignant books about self-growth I’ve read in a long time, and almost certainly the most moving graphic novel I’ve ever encountered . . . a beautiful piece of fiction.”                      Scott Manley Hadley, Triumph of the Now

 

 

Teen Pride

Saturday, March 24th 2018 at 5:00 PM

Teen Pride

Teen-run social event for queer teens and their straight allies.

Whether you’re in the closet or out, queer or questioning, you’re welcome.

Come meet other LGBTQ+ teens.

Snacks, drinks and books!

When: Saturday, 24th March

Where: The Book Lounge, corner of Roeland Street and Buitenkant Street, Cape Town

Time: 5pm-8pm

RSVP to: teenprideinfo@gmail.com

Any questions can be sent to the email above.

Teen Pride badges for sale & all proceeds go to Pride Shelter Trust. R20 each

@teenpridecpt

February 2018

Tuesday, February 27th 2018 at 11:01 AM

Fiction

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The Only Story by Julian Barnes

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Image result for only story barnesWould you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.

First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention.

As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.

Tender and wise, The Only Story is a deeply moving novel by one of fiction’s greatest mappers of the human heart.

 

A novelist at the height of his powers…. Quietly devastating.”                                  The Times

A gentle, bleak, and brilliant novel.”                                       Financial Times

Immensely powerful.”                                 Alex Clark, New Statesman

This intense, taut, sad and often beautiful tale may well be Barnes’ best novel for years.”                           Lara Feigel, Spectator

A tender and heartbreaking novel.”                      Alex Preston, Observer

 

 

 

Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

 

Image result for Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria MachadoSHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FICTION PRIZE 2017

 

Brilliantly inventive and blazingly smart.”            Garth Greenwell

 

A wild thing … covered in sequins and scales, blazing with the influence of fabulists from Angela Carter to Kelly Link and Helen Oyeyemi.”                                New York Times

 

In her provocative debut, Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the borders between magical realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. Startling narratives map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited on their bodies, both in myth and in practice.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the mysterious green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague spreads across the earth. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery about a store’s dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted house guest.

Bodies become inconsequential, humans become monstrous, and anger becomes erotic. A dark, shimmering slice into womanhood, Her Body and Other Parties is wicked and exquisite.

 

The stories in Her Body and Other Parties vibrate with originality, queerness, sensuality and the strange. Her voracious imagination and extraordinary voice beautifully bind these stories about fading women and the end of the world and men who want more when they’ve been given everything and bodies, so many human bodies taking up space and straining the seams of skin in impossible, imperfect, unforgettable ways.”                      Roxane Gay

 

 

The Other Hoffman Sister by Ben Fergusson

 

Image result for The Other Hoffman Sister by Ben FergussonFor Ingrid Hoffmann the story of her sister’s disappearance began in their first weeks in Southwest Africa…

Ingrid Hoffmann has always felt responsible for her sister Margarete and when their family moves to German Southwest Africa in 1902, her anxieties only increase. The casual racism that pervades the German community, the strange relationship between her parents and Baron von Ketz, from whom they bought their land, and the tension with the local tribes all culminate in tragedy when Baron von Ketz is savagely murdered. Baroness von Ketz and their son, Emil, flee with the Hoffmanns as the Baron’s attackers burn down the family’s farm.

Both families return to Berlin and Ingrid’s concerns about Margarete are assuaged when she and Emil von Ketz become engaged on the eve of the First World War. But Margarete disappears on her wedding night at the von Ketz’s country house. The mystery of what happened to her sister haunts Ingrid, but as Europe descends into chaos, her hope of discovering the truth becomes ever more distant.

After the war, in the midst of the revolution that brings down the Kaiser and wipes out the aristocracy that her family married into, Ingrid returns to the von Ketzes’ crumbling estate determined to find out what really happened to her sister.

 

A fascinating look at racism and snobbery. Broken postwar Germany is superbly drawn and events in Africa are horrific.”                                The Times

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award in 2015, Ben Fergusson was much praised for his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier…The Other Hoffmann Sister confirms the talent for atmospheric, morally complex historical fiction that Fergusson showed in his first novel…An engrossing exploration of the ways that secrecy, racism and snobbery take their toll on its finely realised characters.”                 Sunday Times

 

Lullaby by Leïla Slemani

 

Image result for Lullaby by Leïla SlemaniThe baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.

The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered…

 

Consistently spellbinding: a supremely confident and provocative novel that deserves similar success to Gillian Flynn’s bestseller.”                          TLS

A masterpiece: a brilliant exploration of the collision of race, gender, and class wrapped up in a gripping psychological thriller. I absolutely loved it – and read it in one sitting.”                  Amy Chua, New York Times bestselling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
The acid, throwaway beauty of so many of Slimani’s descriptions and phrases [means] that you are taken deep into a fragile, damaged yet somehow rationally irrational psyche. I closed this book feeling very shaken but also with a sense that I’d just had an experience that almost no other art form could have given me. Long live the novel.”                          Julie Myerson, Observer Book of the Day

 

This is a political book about emotional work, about women and children and their costs and losses. But, partly because Slimani looks so clearly at these losses, not only giving them their due, but placing them carefully for full narrative impact, Lullaby also works as a thriller, which is quite a balancing act to pull off.”                              Guardian

 

“[Myriam’s] complexity is the best element of the novel. […] There is a fearless honesty in presenting a mother who knows there is more to life than her offspring. Slimani horribly illuminates the darkest fears of a great many parents of small children anxiously trying to get on with their lives.”                          David Mills, Sunday Times

 

A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey

 

Image result for A Long Way from Home by Peter CareyIrene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in rural south eastern Australia. Together with Willie, their lanky navigator, they embark upon the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the continent, over roads no car will ever quite survive.

A Long Way from Home is Peter Carey’s late style masterpiece; a thrilling high speed story that starts in one way, then takes you to another place altogether. Set in the 1950s in the embers of the British Empire, painting a picture of Queen and subject, black, white and those in-between, this brilliantly vivid novel illustrates how the possession of an ancient culture spirals through history – and the love made and hurt caused along the way.
The Australian double Booker Prize-winner returns with a novel of road racing and postcolonial reckoning set in the small-town Victoria of his youth.‘”                       Financial Times

 

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Hoffmann

 

Image result for 9781472244994It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them? Golden-boy Simon escapes to San Francisco, searching for love; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician; eldest son Daniel tries to control fate as an army doctor after 9/11; and bookish Varya looks to science for the answers she craves.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists is a story about how we live, how we die, and what we do with the time we have.

 

For someone who loves stories about brothers and sisters, as I do, The Immortalists is about as good as it gets. A memorable and heartfelt look at what might happen to a family who knows too much. It’s amazing how good this book is.”                          Karen Joy Fowler

A captivating family saga.”                       New York Times Book Review

As deft and dizzying as a high-wire act… the reader is beguiled with unexpected twists and stylish, crisp prose…[an] ambitious, unorthodox tale.”                     Economist

The very best kind of literary thriller.”                    Richard Russo

A beautiful, compassionate, and even joyful novel. Chloe Benjamin has written an inspiring book that makes you think hard about what you want to do with the time you’re given. This is not really a book about dying – it’s a book about how to live.”                      Nathan Hill, author of The Nix

 

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

 

Image result for The Chalk Man by C.J. TudorWonderfully creepy – like a cold blade on the back of your neck.”              Lee Child

 

A tense gripper with a leave-the-lights-on shock ending”            Sunday Times

 

You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?

 

Completely engrossing. Reminiscent of those unsettling Stephen King stories of childhood.”                       John Boyne author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

Plenty of plot twists and an evocative portrait of small-town-life in the 1980s . . . a riveting read.”                            Guardian

 

Knuckle Bone by N.R. Brodie

 

Image result for Knuckle Bone by NR BrodieSangomas and cops don’t mix. Usually. But this is Joburg, a metropolis that is equal parts flash and shadow, and where not everything can be easily explained. Ian Jack, a disillusioned former police officer, teams up with Reshma Patel, a colleague from his old life, to investigate a routine housebreaking gone bad. But when they uncover links to a possible animal poaching and trafficking syndicate, things go from complicated to dangerous to downright evil.

Set against the richly textured backdrop of a livewire African city, this fast-paced thriller offers a disturbing contemporary take on justice and morality. To be read with the lights on.

 

 

The Confession by Jo Spain

 

Image result for The Confession by Jo SpainSOMETIMES THE TRUTH IS NOT ALL IT SEEMS…
SOMETIMES A CONFESSION IS THE BEGINNING… NOT THE END.

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

 

I can’t praise The Confession enough. Brilliant writing, great story . . . a really cracking read.”   BA Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors

Fabulous . . . Clever, pacey, compulsive.”                            Sunday Mirror

Enthralling – Spain dissects her characters’ secrets with razor-sharp precision.”                 JP Delaney, author of The Girl Before

A clever and unusual premise . . . punchy and energetic . . . a brilliant hook and rapid-fire ride.”                                Irish Independent

 

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

 

Image result for Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga MakumbiA soaring and sublime epic. One of those great stories that was just waiting to be told.”                              Marlon James, Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

 

A captivating, ambitious and haunting novel of breathtaking scope, from the winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize

The year is 1750. As he makes his way to the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda Kingdom, Kintu Kidda unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. As the centuries pass, the tale moves down the bloodline, exploring the lives of four of Kintu Kidda’s descendants. Although the family members all have their own stories and live in very different circumstances, they are united by one thing – the struggle to break free from the curse and escape the burden of their family’s past.

Blending Ganda oral tradition, myth, folktale and history, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has brought to life an extraordinarily colourful cast of characters to produce a powerful epic – a modern classic.

 

Kintu is an important book. It is also a very good one…inventive in scope, masterful in execution, [Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi] does for Ugandan literature what Chinua Achebe did for Nigerian writing.”                   Guardian
A multicharacter epic that emphatically lives up to its ambition.”             Sunday Times
Kintu is a triumph of east African literature and one that delights in the pliant nature of storytelling itself, the ways in which family lore is passed down and the impact of variations on it… This rich drama examines the power of such legacies, and the potential for even the most far-flung, estranged families to unite in the face of ages-old evil.”                    Financial Times
Immediately engaging…as gruelling vignettes of gender injustice jostle with hallucinatory dream sequences.”                  Observer

An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato

 

Image result for An Unremarkable Body by Elisa LodatoEvery mother is a woman with a past.

An intriguing tale of love, loss and missed opportunities . . . written with verve and delivers an amazing twist.”                  Sunday Mirror

Tender and moving, this part-thriller, part-memoir will leave you floored.”                          Emerald Street

When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life that consumes her daughter, Laura.

The medical examiner’s report, in which precious parts of Katharine’s body are weighed and categorised, motivates Laura to write her own version of events; to bear witness to the unbearable blank space between each itemised entry.

It forces her to confront a new version of the woman she knew only as her mother – a woman silenced by her own mother, and wronged by her husband. A woman who felt shackled by tradition and unable to love freely.

With the heart of a memoir and the pace of a thriller, An Unremarkable Body reveals an overwhelming desire to make sense of an unfulfilled life – and to prove that an unremarkable body does not mean an unremarkable life.
Pleasingly distinct . . . the structuring of the chapters by means of an introductory extract from the autopsy report is a rather ingenious one . . . . this organizational quirkiness sets Lodato’s work apart from the start . . . a novel that shows notable promise . . . . I’m already intrigued to see what Lodato writes next.”                        Independent

 

 

The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor

 

Image result for The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregorHe leaves behind all other writers of his generation.”                     Sarah Hall

 

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.

But the aftershocks of Becky Shaw’s disappearance have origins long before then, and those in the village have losses, and secrets, and stories of their own…

A woman remembers a son’s inexperience – and a father’s rage; a young wife pushes against the boundaries of her marriage, whilst an older one finds ways to ensure the survival of hers. A hunt for a birthday present takes an alarming turn, and a teenage game grows serious.

Fresh hurts open old wounds, salvation comes from unexpected quarters and chance encounters release long-buried memories.

First broadcast as a series of specially commissioned stories on BBC Radio 4, The Reservoir Tapes returns to the territory of the Booker-longlisted Reservoir 13, revealing the web of connections that bind us, and the many layers on which we all build our truths.

 

It’s an astonishing achievement, both effective and deeply affecting…”                               Guardian

 

For anyone who enjoyed Reservoir 13, it is essential reading.”                  Financial Times

 

An elegant collection of short stories, which can stand firmly by itself.”                 TLS

 

 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

 

Image result for The Woman in the Window by A.J. FinnWhat did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

 

“The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.”                               Stephen King

 

An incredible debut, I absolutely loved it. I read The Woman in the Window in a single day. Full of suspense and surprises and told with heart, The Woman in the Window will send readers racing through its pages. A stunning first outing from A. J. Finn. He is a tremendous new talent.”                    Jane Harper, bestselling author of The Dry

 

A truly phenomenal debut. A taut, utterly compelling story. Smart, heart-wrenching―and really scary.”                             Nicci French

 

Astounding. Thrilling. Lovely and amazing. I could weave in more superlatives but you get the idea. Finn has created a noir for the new millennium, packed with mesmerizing characters, stunning twists, beautiful writing and a narrator with whom I’d love to split a bottle of pinot. Maybe two bottles―I’ve got a lot of questions for her.”                               Gillian Flynn

 

 

 

Non-fiction

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Brutal Legacy by Tracy Going

 

Image result for Brutal Legacy by Tracy GoingSearing, heartbreaking, triumphant: Brutal Legacy is for anyone who’s been punched in the face by someone they loved and then stood up again. It’s for every mother who has run, every sister who has picked up the pieces and every friend who hasn’t fled. It’s for every brother who’s cried and for the children who have watched. Every South African should read it.” – Sisonke Msimang, author of Always Another Country

 

When South Africa’s golden girl of broadcasting, Tracy Going’s battered face was splashed across the media back in the late 1990s, the nation was shocked.

South Africans had become accustomed to seeing Going, glamorous and groomed on television or hearing her resonant voice on Radio Metro and Kaya FM. Sensational headlines of a whirlwind love relationship turned horrendously violent threw the “perfect” life of the household star into disarray. What had started off as a fairy-tale romance with a man who appeared to be everything that Going was looking for – charming, handsome and successful – had quickly descended into a violent, abusive relationship.

 

The rosy love cloud burst just five months after meeting her “Prince Charming” when she staggered into the local police station, bruised and battered. A short relationship became a two-and-a-half-year legal ordeal played out in the public eye. In mesmerising detail, Going takes us through the harrowing court process – a system seeped in injustice – her decline into depression, the immediate collapse of her career due to the highly public nature of her assault and the decades-long journey to undo the psychological damages in the search for safety and the reclaiming of self.

 

 

The Land is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers and the Birth of Constitutionalism by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

 

Image result for The Land is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers and the Birth of Constitutionalism by Tembeka NgcukaitobiThe Land Is Ours tells the story of South Africa’s first black lawyers, who operated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an age of aggressive colonial expansion, land dispossession and forced labour, these men believed in a constitutional system that respected individual rights and freedoms, and they used the law as an instrument against injustice.

 

The book follows the lives, ideas and careers of Henry Sylvester Williams, Alfred Mangena, Richard Msimang, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Ngcubu Poswayo and George Montsioa, who were all members of the ANC. It analyses the legal cases they took on, explores how they reconciled the law with the political upheavals of the day, and considers how they sustained their fidelity to the law when legal victories were undermined by politics.

 

The Land Is Ours shows that these lawyers developed the concept of a Bill of Rights, which is now an international norm. The book is particularly relevant in light of current calls to scrap the Constitution and its protections of individual rights: it clearly demonstrates that, from the beginning, the struggle for freedom was based on the idea of the rule of law.

 

 

Making Love in a War Zone by Jonathan Jansen

 

Image result for Making Love in a War Zone by Jonathan JansenMy father-in-law did not show up for the wedding. My future wife had to leave her family home the moment we asked permission to ‘go out’ together, a tradition in those days. There were certain members of the family whom she visited on her own; my presence was not welcomed. I was a confident human being and a proud black man, but those things stick when it comes to flesh and blood.”                          Jonathan Jansen

 

Can racism and intimacy co-exist? Can love and friendship form and flourish across South Africa’s imposed colour lines?

Who better to engage on the subject of hazardous liaisons than the students Jonathan Jansen served over seven years as Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State.

The context is the University campus in Bloemfontein, the City of Roses, the Mississippi of South Africa. Rural, agricultural, insular, religious and conservative, this is not a place for breaking out.

But over the years, Jansen observed shifts in campus life and noticed more and more openly interracial friendships and couples, and he began having conversations with these students with burning questions in mind.

Ten interracial couples tell their stories of love and friendship in their own words, with no social theories imposed on their meanings, but instead a focus on how these students experience the world of interracial relationships, and how flawed, outdated laws and customs set limits on human relationships, and the long shadow they cast on learning, living and loving on university campuses to this day.

The Knock on the Door: The Story of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee by Terry Shakinovsky & Sharon Cort with Lauren Segal

 

Image result for The Knock on the Door: The Story of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee by Terry Shakinovsky & Sharon Cort with Lauren SegalThe Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC) was started in 1981 in Johannesburg. It was set up by the parents, spouses and families of activists who were detained and had no recourse to legal intervention. Many in this movement had not been politically involved.

Members of the DPSC stood on street corners with placards calling for the release of their children. They organised food, clothing and legal representation for detainees across the country, and they supported the detainees’ families. DPSC activists marched, petitioned, argued, wrote and protested for the release of all detainees. They made public the brutal operations of the security establishment.

The DPSC helped to draw international attention to the atrocities being perpetuated against children – some as young as nine – by the apartheid state. And the evidence amassed by the DPSC helped to lay some of the groundwork for South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The Knock on the Door tells the story of the DPSC and of how the anti-detention movement became part of the mass uprising that brought down apartheid. It is an inspiring account of ordinary people coming together to stand up against racism and the abuse of power.

 

 

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor

 

Image result for Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi TharoorIn the eighteenth century, India’s share of the world economy was as large as Europe’s. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. Beyond conquest and deception, the Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation.

British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes on and demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial “gift”―from the railways to the rule of law―was designed in Britain’s interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain’s Industrial Revolution was founded on India’s deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry. In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain’s stained Indian legacy.

 

“Inglorious Empire is a timely reminder of the need to start teaching unromanticised colonial history in British schools. A welcome antidote to the nauseating righteousness and condescension pedalled by Niall Ferguson in his 2003 book Empire.”                                Irish Times

 

Tharoor convincingly demolishes some of the more persistent myths about Britain’s supposedly civilizing mission in India … [he] charts the destruction of pre-colonial systems of government by the British and their ubiquitous ledgers and rule books … The statistics are worth repeating.”                     Financial Times

Ferocious and astonishing. Essential for a Britain lost in sepia fantasies about its past, Inglorious Empire is history at its clearest and cutting best.”                           Ben Judah, author of This is London
Tharoor’s book ― arising from a contentious Oxford Union debate in 2015 where he proposed the motion “Britain owes reparations to her former colonies” ― should keep the home fires burning, so to speak, both in India and in Britain … He makes a persuasive case, with telling examples.”                              History Today
This book burns with the power of intellect married with conviction … this is erudite, well-written, thoroughly documented and persuasive history that focuses varied sources into a coherent critique of colonialism in the Indian context. Tear up your copies of Ferguson’s neo-liberal mind rot and get angry like Tharoor.”                    Morning Herald
His writing is a delight and he seldom misses his target … Tharoor should be applauded for tackling an impossibly contentious subject … he deserves to be read. Indians are not the only ones who need reminding that empire has a lot to answer for.”                       Literary Review
Those Brits who speak confidently about how Britain’s “historical and cultural ties” to India will make it easy to strike a great new trade deal should read Mr Tharoor’s book. It would help them to see the world through the eyes of the … countries once colonised or defeated by Britain.”                              Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

 

Brave by Rose McGowan

 

Image result for Brave by Rose McGowanMy life, as you will read, has taken me from one cult to another. BRAVE is the story of how I fought my way out of these cults and reclaimed my life. I want to help you do the same.”                      Rose McGowan

 

A revealing memoir and empowering manifesto .

 

Rose McGowan was born in one cult and came of age in another, more visible cult: Hollywood.

In a strange world where she was continually on display, stardom soon became a personal nightmare of constant exposure and sexualization. Rose escaped into the world of her mind, something she had done as a child, and into high-profile relationships. Every detail of her personal life became public, and the realities of an inherently sexist industry emerged with every script, role, public appearance, and magazine cover. The Hollywood machine packaged her as a sexualized bombshell, hijacking her image and identity and marketing them for profit.

Hollywood expected Rose to be silent and cooperative and to stay the path. Instead, she rebelled and asserted her true identity and voice. She reemerged unscripted, courageous, victorious, angry, smart, fierce, unapologetic, controversial, and real as f*ck.

 

Brave is her raw, honest, and poignant memoir/manifesto―a no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches account of the rise of a millennial icon, fearless activist, and unstoppable force for change who is determined to expose the truth about the entertainment industry, dismantle the concept of fame, shine a light on a multibillion-dollar business built on systemic misogyny, and empower people everywhere to wake up and be BRAVE.

 

Her memoir is an unapologetically furious read. Sweary, raw and unrefined, Brave is female rage as it is rarely allowed to be seen.”                             The Pool

 

Sensationally explosive…A battle cry you want to get behind.”                                 Sunday Times

 

Rose McGowan’s courage is palpable in an exposé that condemns Hollywood misogyny and the ‘monster’.”                   Observer

 

 

Of Women: In the 21st Century by Shami Chakrabarti

 

Image result for Of Women: In the 21st Century by Shami ChakrabartiA powerful, urgent and timely polemic on why women still need equality, and how we get there

It is the greatest human rights abuse on the planet. It blights first and developing worlds, rich and poor women’s health, wealth, education, representation, opportunity and security everywhere. It is no exaggeration to describe it as an ‘apartheid’, but not limited to one country or historical period. Gender injustice, Shami Chakrabarti shows, is an ancient and continuing wrong that is millennial in duration and global in reach.

As we move forward in the twenty-first century, a time of crises the world over, Shami Chakrabarti lays out the huge challenges we face with honesty and clarity. We have not yet done enough to create a more equal world: one where women and men share power, responsibility and opportunity. One that is potentially happier and more peaceful. One where no life is wasted, and everyone has a chance to fulfil their potential. Instead, we’ve been playing around at the edges. What’s needed now is radical change.

From the disparity in the number of births to issues of schooling, work, ownership, faith, political representation and international diplomacy, Of Women outlines what needs fixing and makes clear, inspiring proposals about what we do next, putting women’s rights at the centre of the progressive political agenda.

 

A vital book on how we bring about gender equality.”                  Jeremy Corbyn

Thought-provoking … Chakrabarti draws in every chapter on stories from India or Kenya or Latin America as well as home … This book is likely to appeal to people who have frankly had enough of reading about the politics of waxing or the deeper meaning of Beyoncé, and who worry that western feminism is in danger of disappearing up itself in pursuit of rather glossy and superficial concerns, but still don’t for one minute think the battle is won … A welcome global perspective on gender injustice.”                            Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian

“[A] crisp, contemporary treatise on the rights of women … punchy, passionate and fiercely rational … If just half of her ideas were put into practice, gender equality could be well within reach.”                              New Internationalist

 

 

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

 

Image result for Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann HariFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream, a radically new way of thinking about depression and anxiety

What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Hari´s journey took him from a mind-blowing series of experiments in Baltimore, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin. Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions – ones that work.

It is an epic journey that will change how we think about one of the biggest crises in our culture today. His TED talk – ‘Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong’ – has been viewed more than 8 million times and revolutionized the global debate. This book will do the same.

 

If you have ever been down, or felt lost, this amazing book will change your life. Do yourself a favour – read it now.”                     Elton John
“Lost Connections offers a wonderful and incisive analysis of the depression and alienation that are haunting … society.”                                Hillary Rodham Clinton

Wise, probing and deeply generous Hari has produced a book packed with explosive revelations about our epidemic of despair … I am utterly convinced that the more people read this book, the better off the world will be.”                  Naomi Klein

A brilliant, stimulating, radical take on mental health.”                                Matt Haig

Extraordinary … A highly personal book, written with humility, humour and candour, it nonetheless heralds a crucial new discussion about our mental health – and health of the world we’ve created for ourselves . I honestly couldn’t put it down. What a stunning piece of work.”                               Brian Eno

 

The Know-it-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball  by Noam Cohen

 

Image result for The Know-it-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball by Noam CohenThe Beginning: a Stanford University lab embarked on an idealistic quest to create an artificial intelligence that would benefit society, perhaps even profit the makers. There were few women or minorities in the department and its head rejected the very idea of authority, but really – what could go wrong?

Now: more and more aspects of our lives are being dictated by a tiny, unaccountable elite, a breakaway sect of free-market libertarians who are determined to bypass government and enrich themselves at the expense of society. Pioneers and self-proclaimed geniuses like Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg have not only made the Internet what it is today – their impact on the world has been profound.

This is a history of Silicon Valley through its eleven greatest entrepreneurs and a damning indictment of the greed, bias and outright prejudice of an industry that is fracturing America and taking the rest of us with it.

 

Important… A valuable addition to the growing body of literature that’s trying to explain how a culture of under-socialized wunderkind CEOs drove tech’s future into a ditch.”                      Wired
Many people have started to suspect that something has gone wrong in Silicon Valley. This book explains what that is. The Know-It-Alls is a smart, insightful, and ultimately terrifying read about the sinister motives behind the utopian rhetoric. A fantastic read.”                          Dan Lyons, author of New York Times bestseller, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

 

 

Making Marigold: Beaders of Bulawayo by Joni Brenner and Elizabeth Burroughs

 

Making Marigold: Beaders of Bulawayo is a portrait of a women’s beading co-operative specialising in loomed beadwork, based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Over 200 photographs reveal the sumptuous glamour of the Marigold beadwork and necklaces. Short, stand-alone narrative vignettes offer background insights into the making and development of the Marigold co-operative.

How did these women, whose skilled practice and creative impulses evident in every necklace, perfect this practice?

And what has sustained their efforts across the decades?

Making Marigold offers the opportunity to look closely at this sumptuous and beautiful beadwork, and to get to know the creative talent behind it.

 

 

 

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively

 

Image result for Life in the Garden by Penelope LivelyRich and unusual, this is a book to treasure.”                    Alex Preston, Observer

 

Penelope Lively has always been a keen gardener. This book is partly a memoir of her own life in gardens: The large garden at home in Cairo where she spent most of her childhood, her grandmother’s garden in a sloping Somerset field, then two successive Oxfordshire gardens of her own and the smaller urban garden in the North London home she lives in today. It is also a wise, engaging and far-ranging exploration of gardens in literature, from Paradise Lost to Alice in Wonderland, and of writers and their gardens, from Virginia Woolf to Philip Larkin.

 

Exquisite and original.”                               Daily Telegraph

A gentle, scholarly progress through the lives and works of Penelope Lively’s favoured authors – from Jane Austen to Beatrix Potter, Philip Larkin to Tom Stoppard.”                   The Times

Wonderful. A manifesto of horticultural delight.”                            Literary Review

 

Sad Topographies: A Disenchanted Traveller’s Guide by Damien Rudd

 

Image result for Sad Topographies: A Disenchanted Traveller’s Guide by Damien RuddSad Topographies is an illustrated guide for the melancholic among us.

Dispirited travellers rejoice as Damien Rudd journeys across continents in search of the world’s most joyless place names and their fascinating etymologies.

Behind each lugubrious place name exists a story, a richly interwoven narrative of mythology, history, landscape, misadventure and tragedy. From Disappointment Island in the Southern Ocean to Misery in Germany, across to Lonely Island in Russia, or, if you’re feeling more intrepid, pay a visit to Mount Hopeless in Australia – all from the comfort of your armchair.

With hand drawn maps by illustrator Kateryna Didyk, Sad Topographies will steer you along paths that lead to strange and obscure places, navigating the terrains of historical fact and imaginative fiction. At turns poetic and dark-humoured, this is a travel guide quite like no other.

 

 

In Code

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De/Cipher: The Greatest Codes Ever Invented & How to Break Them by Mark Frary

 

Image result for In Code De/Cipher: The Greatest Codes Ever Invented & How to Break Them by Mark FraryA timely reference work in the light of the rise of Wikileaks, GCHQ and recent political hacking activity.

Codes win wars, conceal state secrets, protect privacy, secure banks and transmit messages. Through 45 of the world’s most influential codes and ciphers, DECIPHER presents a compelling insight into the art and science of cryptography. Structured chronologically, DECIPHER provides practical tools for understanding and using these fascinating codes and ciphers. It features a diverse range of codes, including the Caesar shift cipher, Easter Island’s bewildering Rongorongo and the famous Enigma code at Bletchley Park. DECIPHER also includes features on famous codebreakers of history such as Alan Turing, Jonas Nordby and Auguste Kerckhoffs, providing a comprehensive overview to this beguiling, secretive world.

 

A delightful little book … an ideal introduction to ciphers to a mathematically minded teenager and a good way to expand your knowledge if you’re an adult who sees the fun to be had from ciphers, but doesn’t know much detail.”                        Popular Science

 

This eclectic introduction to the mathematics, technology and personalities behind cryptography … ranges from the baffling ancient Indus script to Alan Turing’s crucial Second World War codebreaking and the promise of quantum cryptography. Brief biographies of codebreakers both famous and obscure enliven the challenging codes”                           Nature

 

 

The GCHQ Puzzle Book

 

Image result for The GCHQ Puzzle BookWould GCHQ recruit you? Pit your wits against the people who cracked Enigma in the official puzzle book from Britain’s secretive intelligence organisation …

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Odd word out

The themes in the following words are identical, but totally different! Which is the odd word out in each case?

  1. a) ANGLE, BRING, CLAMP, DIRTY, EXACT, FIELD, GRASS, HEART, IMAGE, JAUNT
    b) ABBEY, BURST, COURT, DRINK, ENJOY, FOUND, GIANT, HARMS, IDIOT, JUMPY

Identify Me

My first is in a combine harvester, but not in a ploughshare.
My second is in a pigsty, but not in a cowshed.
My third does not exist.
My whole is in a farmyard, but not in a jungle.
Identify me.

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GCHQ is a top-secret intelligence and security agency which recruits some of the very brightest minds. Over the years, their codebreakers have helped keep our country safe, from the Bletchley Park breakthroughs of WWII to the modern-day threat of cyberattack. So it comes as no surprise that, even in their time off, the staff at GCHQ love a good puzzle. Whether they’re recruiting new staff or challenging each other to the toughest Christmas quizzes and treasure hunts imaginable, puzzles are at the heart of what GCHQ does. Now they’re opening up their archives of decades’ worth of codes, puzzles and challenges for everyone to try.

 

Fiendish . . . as frustrating, divisive and annoying as it is deeply fulfilling.”                           Guardian

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry

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Virgin by Analicia Sotelo

 

Image result for 9781571315007Selected by Ross Gay as winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Analicia Sotelo’s debut collection of poems is a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman.

In Virgin, Sotelo walks the line between autobiography and mythmaking, offering up identities like dishes at a feast. These poems devour and complicate tropes of femininity – of naiveté, of careless abandon – before sharply exploring the intelligence and fortitude of women, how “far & wide, / how dark & deep / this frigid female mind can go.”

 

At every step, Sotelo’s poems seduce with history, folklore, and sensory detail – grilled meat, golden habaneros, and burnt sugar – before delivering clear-eyed and eviscerating insights into power, deceit, relationships, and ourselves. Here is what it means to love someone without truly understanding them. Here is what it means to be cruel. And here is what it means to become an artist, of words and of the self.

Blistering and gorgeous, Virgin is an audacious act of imaginative self-mythology from one of our most promising young poets.

 

‘We’re all performing our bruises, ‘ says a speaker in Analicia Sotelo’s brilliant book, Virgin, and that’s exactly the kind of precise and wise and not-a-little-bit-hurting observations this book is made of. I suppose this book, too, then, s a performance of a kind of bruise, or bruising. But what I love is how, by leaning into the many registers of heartbreak, Sotelo makes something incredibly beautiful. Something that, in its beauty, is a kind of salve.”                 Ross Gay

 

Virgin gorgeously, sensuously explores the pleasures and problems of the feminine experience. Sotelo’s language is as lush and hot as the inside of a woman’s mouth; her words can feel like a fever, like your eyes will blister if you stare too long at the page. . . . And what a pleasure to be hurt this way, with these words.”                           Nylon

“Virgin introduces readers to a young, Mexican-American feminist narrator who is sarcastic and unafraid, curious and self-discovering, and interested in everything from unrequited love and heartbreak to un-romanticized sex and the historically fraught terrain of virginity, and so much more. Analicia Sotelo dives headfirst into the complexities of the female experience and mind, and you’re going to love her for it.”                   Bustle

A significant debut. . . . Sotelo’s poetry reveals the weight of desire, how our hearts drag our bodies. . . . Imbued with Catholic cultural touches, Sotelo mines the Marian paradox with complexity, grace, and power.”                              The Millions

 

 

Vertigo: Of Love & Letting Go: An Odyssey about a Lost Poet in Retrograde by Analog de Leon

 

Image result for Vertigo: Of Love & Letting Go: An Odyssey about a Lost Poet in Retrograde by Analog de LeonYou could always feel Vertigo enter the room.
She was the something of revival.

In this modern epic, poet Analog de Leon (Chris Purifoy) weaves together a collection of poems into one rich story about star-crossed love and the turbulence of letting go. Vertigo offers an empowering message to anyone who has loved, lost, or yearned for freedom. It explores what it means to be human by examining our connection with nature, the cosmos, and each other.

Inspired by a Syrian monk who lived atop a pillar in protest to the injustice of the day, Vertigo is a voice of resistance, urging the reader to be more present and intentional. It is a map laced in allegory for a lost generation of anxious people holding on for life as the train of progress careens violently forward into midnight.

The poetry, quotes and illustrations seen throughout Vertigo’s pages act as a handbook for anyone attempting to embark on a journey from separation to wholeness. It conveys deep inner truths in a relatable package—allowing readers of all ages and intellects to seek inward and empower themselves with self-love.

 

 

Animist Chants and Memorials by Harry Garuba

 

Image result for harry garubaThe poems collected in Harry Garuba’s long-awaited second volume mediate, through a deft deployment of images and symbols, and with unmatched sensitivity and tenderness, personal experiences and memories while extending his preoccupation with historical trauma of the scars of history – that is to say, the legacies of slavery, colonialism, post-colonialism, civil war and contemporary politics. Where his distinguished debut, Shadow and Dream, is defined by lush cadences and a lyrical late-modernist vision, this new volume, while retaining his aesthetic technique of modernism and lucid lines of pure poetry, is marked by a stripped down lyricism and, perhaps, a new-found maturity.”                                                                                  Idowu Omoyele

 

HAPPY READING!