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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 …

——————————–

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.

——————————–

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!

 

2018 Preview

Monday, January 29th 2018 at 4:11 PM

**Please note that publication dates and schedules are subject to change without notice**

 

January

 

Non-fiction

Win! Compelling Conversations with 20 Successful South Africans by Jeremy Maggs – A book that gives you access to 20 of SA’s best of the best in their respective fields.

 

February

 

Fiction

The Chalk Man by C J Tudor – Brilliantly dark debut about childhood secrets.

The Fatuous State of Severity by Phumlani Pikoli – A fresh collection of short stories and illustrations that explore the experiences of a generation of young, urban South Africans coping with the tensions of social media, language and relationships of various kinds.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – “For someone who loves stories about brothers and sisters, as I do, The Immortalists is about as good as it gets. It’s amazing how good this book is.”   Karen Joy Fowler

A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey – From the double Booker Prize winner, a story of love, Empire and high-speed racing!

The Only Story by Julian 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. A discourse on love from the master of human feelings.

The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor – McGregor returns to the territory of the brilliant, Booker-longlisted Reservoir 13, revealing the web of connections that bind us, and the many layers on which we all build our truths.

 

Non-Fiction

Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Minds edited by Jen Thorpe – An inspiring and informative collection of essays about what feminism means to South Africans today.

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johan Hari – From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream, a radically new way of thinking about depression and anxiety.

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers – A heart-pounding adventure story, a tale of underdog entrepreneurship and true passion, and a fascinating modern take on the great American dream.

Wit issie ‘n color nie by Nathan Trantraal – A collection of life-stories about growing up in a township on the outskirts of the Cape Flats. Full of dark humour and raw honesty, this is a deeply personal and harrowing account of life on the Flats, written in the Kaapse dialect, from the author of Chokers and Survivors.

 

March

Fiction

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro – 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 life and loves lived and lost that cannot fail to echo in your own experience.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper – Follow-up to the hugely successful The Dry. Five women go hiking in the Australian bush – only four come back…

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi – A prize-winning horror novel from war-torn Iraq, which captures with white-knuckle horror and black humour the surreal reality of a city at war.

House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph CassaraA gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1980s and ’90s.

The Infinite Future by Tim Wirkus – A mindbending novel that melds two page-turning books in one. Part academic satire, part science-fiction, and part book-lover’s quest, this wholly original novel captures the heady way that stories inform and mirror our lives.

Knucklebone by NR Brodie – Nechama Brodie is a welcome new voice on the krimi scene. This is a disturbing story set in Johannesburg that wrangles sangomas, disillusioned cops and animal poaching.

The Lullaby by Leila Slimani – Winner of the Prix Goncourt. A terrifying and haunting thriller about what happens when the nanny is not what she seems…

The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – One of the most anticipated debuts of 2018, a story of curiosity and obsession, set in bustling and bawdy 18th Century London.

Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree by Niq Mhlongo – A new collection of short stories from the author of Affluenza and The Way Back Home, amongst others.

The Strange Bird: A Borne Story by Jeff Vandermeer – 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 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.

 

Poetry

Virgin: Poems by Analicia Sotelo –  A highly-acclaimed and vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman. Blistering and gorgeous, Virgin is an audacious act of imaginative self-mythology from a talented and promising young poet.

 

Non-fiction

Enlightenment by Steven Pinker – The Harvard psychologist follows up The Better Angels of Our Nature by arguing that our turbulent times call for reason and Enlightenment values.

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith – A second collection of essays from the fabulous Ms Smith.

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor – The bestselling account of India’s experience of British colonialism by the internationally acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor (first publication in South Africa).

The Knock on the Door: The Story of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee by Terry Shakinovsky and Sharon Court – An inspiring account of the DPSC and how ordinary people came together to stand up against racism and the abuse of power.

The Land is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi – This book 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 these men believed in a constitutional system that respected individual rights and freedoms, and they used the law as an instrument against injustice.

Living with the Gods: The World’s Stories by Neil MacGregor – The panoramic new history of belief from the celebrated author of A History of the World in 100 Objects.

Plucked! The Truth About Chicken by Maryn McKenna – A must-read for anyone who cares about the quality of food and the welfare of animals. Rich with characters who together propelled the story of chicken’s unintended consequences, Plucked! will reveal how the antibiotic era created modern agriculture. It is an eye-opening exploration of how the world’s most popular meat came to define so much more than just chicken nuggets.

Skin in the Game: The Underlying Matrix of Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The ‘hottest thinker in the world’ (Sunday Times) is back with a book about why we should only trust those who have something to lose – who have ‘skin in the game’.

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins – From one of the fiercest critics writing today, Morgan Jerkins’ highly-anticipated collection of linked essays interweaves her incisive commentary on pop culture, feminism, black history, misogyny, and racism with her own experiences to confront the very real challenges of being a black woman today.

What Are We Doing Here: Essays by Marilynne Robinson – New essays by the Orange and Pulitzer Prize winning author of GileadHome and Lila. In this collection, Marilynne Robinson, one of today’s most important thinkers – admired by President Obama, and so many others – impels us to action and offers us hope.

 

 

 

 

April

Fiction

The Book of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil – from the author of Narcopolis, an epic novel of contemporary Indian life that probes the mysterious margins where art bleeds into the occult, and celebrates the artist’s life itself as a final monument. It is Jeet Thayil’s spiritual, passionate, and demented masterpiece.

The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in his Head by John Hunt – The story of a boy growing up in Hillbrow in the ’60s and his friendship with an eccentric homeless person.

Dead Men’s Trousers by Irvine Welsh – Fast and furious, scabrously funny and weirdly moving, this is a spectacular return of the crew from Trainspotting.

Death Cup/Gifbeker by Irna van Zyl – New fiction from the award-winning journalist, magazine editor and author of Dead in the Water. Simultaneously published in Afrikaans.

A Girl in Exile by Ismail Kadare -A deeply affecting portrait of life and love under surveillance, infused with myth, wry humor, and the absurdity of a paranoid regime.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg – A collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

The Ones With Purpose by Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – From the author of Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, a novel of family, mourning and betrayal.

The Panic Room by Robert Goddard – Robert Goddard at his best. A sliver of a mystery kicks off a juggernaut of a thriller. Layers of secrets, half-truths and lies must be peeled back to reveal what really lies within.

Die rooikop en die redakteur en ander stories 1955-1959 deur André P. Brink – A collection of some of Brink’s earliest short stories, giving a picture of the development of a young literary star.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – A highy-anticipated, brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Murder on the Orient Express.

Tangerine by Christine Magnan – The perfect read for fans of Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith, set in 1950s Morocco, Tangerine is a gripping psychological literary thriller.

Under Glass by Claire Robertson – A high-stakes narrative of deception and disguise that will appeal to a range of readers of literary fiction by one of the country’s finest novelists.

 

Non-fiction

Believe in Tomorrow by Mmusi Maimane – A fascinating glimpse into the personal life and political beliefs of the leader of South Africa’s second largest party.

Blood on the Page: A Murder, A Secret Trial, a Search for the Truth by Thomas Harding  – “Meticulous 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.

Brutal Legacy: A Memoir by Tracy Going – A detailed and harrowing account of the media star’s brutal relationship with her ‘Prince Charming’ and the court battle that dragged on after his vicious assault.

Educated by Tara Westover – An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality by Chris Hughes – Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes makes the case that one percenters like him should pay their fortune forward in a radically simple way: a guaranteed income for working people.

Who Will Rule in 2019 by Jan-Jan Joubert – An insightful look at local politics from acclaimed journalist Jan-Jan Joubert.

May

Fiction

Agency by William Gibson – In William Gibson’s first novel since 2014’s bestselling The Peripheral, a gifted ‘app-whisperer’ is hired by a mysterious San Francisco start-up and finds herself in contact with a unique and surprisingly combat-savvy AI.

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth Church – A 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.

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson – From the author of The Kind Worth Killing. On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his step-mother Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father.But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife?

Census by Jesse Ball – A father and son who are census takers journey across a nameless country from the town of A to the town of Z in the wake of the father’s fatal diagnosis. Profoundly moving novel, glowing with wisdom and grace, and roaring with a desire to change the world.

Circe by Madeline Miller – From the Orange Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Song of Achilles comes the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer – From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, an electric, multilayered novel about ambition, power, friendship, and mentorship, and the romantic ideals we all follow deep into adulthood, not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.

Happiness by Aminatta Forna – In this breathtaking novel from the Orange Prize-shortlisted and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning author 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.

Homeland by Karin Brynard – The award-winning political journalist turned crime writer, author of Weeping Waters, with her latest novel, translated into English for the first time.

Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Jo Nesbo – A brilliantly dark and gritty retelling of Macbeth, set in Northern Scotland in the 1970s, from the master of noir.

Michael K by Nthikeng Mohlele – A brilliant take on JM Coetzee’s classic that explores the weight of history and of conscience, by one of South Africa’s most compelling young authors.

The Neighbourhood by Mario Vargas Llosa – From the Nobel Laureate comes a politically charged detective novel weaving through the underbelly of Peruvian privilege – a crime thriller that evokes the vulgarity of freedom in a corrupt system.

The Overstory by Richard Powers – Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

You Think I’ll Say It: Short Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld – Sharp and tender, funny and wise, this collection shows Sittenfeld’s knack for creating real, believable characters that spring off the page, while also skewering contemporary mores with brilliant dry wit.

 

Poetry

Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K Smith – The extraordinary new collection by the Poet Laureate of the United States

 

Non-Fiction

Born in Chains: The Diary of an Angry ‘Born Free’by Clinton Chauke – Debut author Chauke shows how his generation is still affected by apartheid policies but writes with wit and a unique sense of humour about his life. It’s a story of hope and perseverance, and of succeeding against all the odds.

Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City by Richard SennettBuilding and Dwelling summarises a lifetime’s thought about what makes cities work – or not – to the benefit of their communities.

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy – Witty and ruthlessly honest, a unique memoir of writing and womanhood from the twice-Man Booker-shortlisted author of Swimming Home.

Edge of Chaos by Dambisa Moyo – Dambisa Moyo (Dead Aid) sets out the new political and economic challenges facing the world, and the specific, radical solutions needed to resolve these issues and reignite global growth. It is a warning for advanced and emerging nations alike: we must reverse the dramatic erosion in growth, or face the consequences of a fragmented and unstable global future.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya – A raw personal story of fleeing the conflict on Rwanda, and the appalling aftershocks of war.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee – From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist – and how we form our identities in life and in art.

Ministry of Crime: An Underworld Explored by Mandy Wiener“The proximity of organised crime, politics and the police is frightening. I have spent years working at the coal face of crime and policing in the country and feel that the story has to be told in a book to explain the granular detail and complexity of the situation.”

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli – The bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics returns with an exploration of the meaning of time.

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon – A collection of essays on parenting and more. “As in his novels, he shifts gears easily between the comic and the melancholy, the whimsical and the serious, demonstrating once again his ability to write about the big subjects of love and memory and regret without falling prey to the Scylla and Charybdis of cynicism and sentimentality.”  Michiko Kakutani

See What Can Be Done: Essays by Lorrie Moore – In sparkling, articulate prose – studded with frequently hilarious insights – Moore’s meditations are a rare opportunity to witness a brilliant mind thinking things through and figuring things out on the page.

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray – A meditation on the importance of atheism in the modern world – and its inadequacies and contradictions – by one of Britain’s leading philosophers.

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean – From acclaimed, award-winning literary critic Michelle Dean, 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.

Tsk-Tsk: A Story of Childhood by Suzan Hackney – In a style reminiscent of Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Hackney writes of a childhood on the run, fighting to survive in a world of abandoned and abused children.

 

 

June

Fiction

Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk – In his new novel the author of Fight Club Palahniuk fearlessly makes real the logical conclusion of every separatist fantasy, alternative fact, and conspiracy theory lurking in the American psyche.

How to Rule the World by Tibor Fischer – Demonstrating Fischer’s inimitable talent for eviscerating social satire, How to the Rule the World is a magnificently funny read. A trip from the Garden of Eden to Armageddon, via London, plus reggae.

Last Stories by William Trevor – In this final collection of ten exquisite, perceptive and profound stories, William Trevor probes into the depths of the human spirit. These gorgeous stories – the last that Trevor wrote before his death – affirm his place as one of the world’s greatest storytellers.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

Motherhood by Sheila Heti Motherhood treats one of the most consequential decisions of early adulthood – whether or not to have children – with the intelligence, wit and originality that have won Sheila Heti international acclaim.

Patagonia by Maya Fowler – A new novel from the hugely talented local author of Elephant in the Room.

A Season of Glass by Rahla Xenopoulos – A beautiful new novel from the author of Bubbles, Tribe and A Memoir of Love and Madness.

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey – The follow-up to the highly acclaimed and brilliant Elizabeth is Missing. A 15 year-old girl disappears and then comes back – unharmed, but changed.

 

Non-Fiction

Against Memoir: Essays by Michelle Tea – Delivered with her signature honesty and dark humour. As she blurs the line between telling other people’s stories and her own, she turns an investigative eye to the genre that’s nurtured her entire career―memoir―and considers the price that art demands be paid from life.

Arnhem: The Last German Victory by Antony Beevor – Using often overlooked sources from Dutch, British, American, Polish and German archives, Beevor has reconstructed the terrible reality of this battle, known as ‘The Last German Victory’. Written in his inimitable and gripping narrative style, goes to the very heart of war,

Ndibhala iNto eThandwa Ndim (I Write What I Like isiXhosa) by Steve Biko – long-anticipated translation with full support of the Biko family by Professor Peter Mtuze

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxanne Gay – With an introduction by Roxane Gay, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on. Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.

 

July

Fiction

Florida: Short Stories by Lauren Groff – Over a decade ago, Groff moved to her adopted home state of Florida. The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida becomes their gravitational centre. Groff pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury – the moments that make us alive.

The Golddiggers by Sue Nyathi – The Zimbabwean author recounts the experiences of her fellow compatriots trying to make a life in Jozi. The stories of these desperate immigrants are both heart-breaking and heartwarming.

Good Trouble: Short Stories by Joseph O’Neill – A masterly collection of eleven stories about the way we live now from the best-selling author of Netherland. An incisive writer on the strange world we live in – he is deeply in touch with his characters’ heartbreaking vulnerability.

Kudos by Rachel Cusk – The third in the trilogy that began with Outline, Rachel Cusk’s Kudos takes as its theme the relationship between pain and honor, and investigates the moral nature of success as a precept of both art and living.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson – President Bill Clinton partners with No. 1 bestselling author James Patterson in a powerful, one-of-a-kind thriller filled with the kind of insider details that only a President can know.

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton – Fierce and lyrical, The Shepherd’s Hut 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.

A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia – a literary time travel novel with a daring and original African-centric story which also touches on global issues history, race and inequality. This might be the African time travel novel everyone was waiting for, and will appeal to fans of Blade RunnerCloud Atlas, District 9 and Stanislaw Lem, among others.

Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-JephcottThey told him everything. He told everyone else.

Based on ten years of research comes a dazzling literary debut about the rise and self-destructive fall of Truman Capote and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his swans.

A Suitable Girl by Vikram Seth – The long-awaited sequel to the million-selling, critically acclaimed A Suitable Boy (1993). This ‘jump sequel’ is set in the present day.

Upstate by James Wood – From the highly regarded literary critic comes a novel that is rich in subtle human insight, full of poignant and often funny portraits, and vivid with a sense of place – Upstate is a perceptive, intensely moving novel.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje – In 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, set in London after the Blitz.

 

Non-Fiction

Fallout: Disasters, Lies & the Legacy of the Nuclear Age by Fred Pearce – The science and environment journalist in a “shocking” book that considers seven decades of nuclear technology.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward – Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America.

I Beg to Differ by Peter Storey – Memoir of the head of the Methodist Church in SA during apartheid. Fought alongside Tutu, and never backed down frm the fight.

Mandela: The Making of a President by Xolela Mangcu – Mangcu’s new appraisal of the formative influences on Nelson Mandela challenges convention, presenting arguments based on previously unused sources.

The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading by Edmund White – Edmund White made his name as a writer, but he remembers his life through the books he read. For White, each momentous occasion came with books to match: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, which opened up the seemingly closed world of homosexuality while he was at boarding school; the Ezra Pound poems adored by a lover he followed to New York; the biography of Stephen Crane that inspired one of White’s novels. This is a wickedly smart and insightful account of a life in literature.

 

August

Fiction

Axis and Revolution by Gabeba Baderoon – A working title and no information yet, but this is, excitingly, the first novel from the poet and author of Regarding Muslims.

Calypso by David Sedaris – The long-awaited new collection of stories from David Sedaris, America’s favourite humourist.

CoDex by Sjon – Jósef Loewe enters the world as a lump of clay – carried in a hatbox by his Jewish father Leo, a fugitive in WWII Germany. At once playful and profoundly serious, this novel melds multiple genres into a unique whole: a mind-bending read and a biting, timely attack on nationalism.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh – The pitch-black Eileen made the 2016 Man Booker shortlist; this dark new novel features a privileged woman whose alienation is exacerbated by medication and an awful shrink.

So Much Life Left Over by Louis de Bernières – Brand new fiction from the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Talion: A Tragedy by Beyers de VosTalion is a work of fiction which follows four characters. Written within the spirit of classic tragedy, the tightly controlled plot and heightened tension, as well as the brutal violence, strives to create something more than your average detective novel. A literary and genre hybrid that is both entertaining and unusual, suspenseful and complex.

 

Non-fiction

Criminal Mind: Why SARS Once Beat Organised Crime but are Not Doing so Now by Johan van Loggerenberg – A timely look at the government’s inability to tackle organised crime, by the co-author of Rogue.

Out of My Head by Tim Parks – The bestselling novelist embarks on a quest to discover more about consciousness.

Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl’s Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené – ‘The love child of exasperation and optimism’, Slay in Your Lane springs from best friends Yomi and Elizabeth’s search for a book that would address the uniquely challenging experiences faced by black women today. From education, to work, to dating, to representation, money and health, they explore the ways in which being black and female affects each of these areas – and offer advice and encouragement on how to navigate them.

September

Fiction

Being Lily by Qarnita Loxton – The eagerly-awaited second novel from the author of the brilliant Being Kari.

Heads of the Colored People: Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires – Calling to mind the best works of Paul Beatty and Junot Díaz, this collection of moving, timely, and darkly funny stories examines the concept of black identity in this so-called post-racial era.

Now We Shall be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller – Costa- and Impac-winner Miller is known for his masterful historical novels: here, a soldier home from the disastrous campaign against Napoleon in 1809 runs from his demons towards the Hebrides.

Saving Noah Croome by Máire Fisher – New fiction from the author of the wonderful Birdseye.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker – From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration Trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature’s most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War.

The Theory of Flight by Siphiwe Ndlovu – No info yet as all very hush hush – but the publisher is very excited about this one!

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan – The Man Booker-shortlisted author of Half-Blood Blues returns with a novel based on a 19th-century criminal case about a young field slave in a Barbados sugar plantation who becomes servant to an eccentric abolitionist obsessed with flight.

 

Non-Fiction

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari – Hard on the heels of the astonishingly successful Sapiens, which looked back, and Homo Deus, which looked forward, Harari presents lessons on the here and now.

People, Politics and Ideology in South Africa by RW Johnson – From the author of How Long Will South Africa Survive.

 

 

October

Fiction

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart – When his dream of the perfect marriage, the perfect son, and the perfect life implodes, a Wall Street millionaire takes a cross-country bus trip in search of his college sweetheart and ideals of youth in the long-awaited novel, his first in seven years, from the acclaimed, bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story.

Love is Blind by William Boyd – A young Scottish musician heads to fin-de-siècle Paris to find himself, and is swept up in an obsessive love affair that takes him to Russia and back.

Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks – Contrasts the lives of Hannah, an American academic researching women during the German occupation of Paris, and Tariq, a Moroccan teenager on the run, to explore France’s troubled history.

Transcription by Kate AtkinsonTranscription is a bravura novel of extraordinary power and substance. Juliet Armstrong is recruited as a young woman by an obscure wartime department of the Secret Service. In the aftermath of war she joins the BBC, where her life begins to unravel, and she finally has to come to terms with the consequences of idealism.

 

Non-Fiction

Breaking News by Alan Rusbridger – Former Guardian editor-in-chief on who controls the news in this era of transformation and why it matters.

The Lies that Bind by Kwame Anthony Appiah – One of a number of books out this year on identity and how it works, from the philosopher and chair of judges for the 2018 Man Booker prize.

Louis Botha: A Man Apart by Richard Steyn – biography of the first Prime Minister of South Africa, from the author of Churchill & Smuts and Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness.

The Zulu Kings by John Laband – A history of the Zulu Nation through the reigns of eight kings from 1816 to the present. Author of The Assassination of King Shaka.

 

November

Fiction

American Weather by Jenny Offill – Offill made her name with 2014’s Dept. of Speculation; her new heroine is a librarian navigating polarised political opinion and family crises in turbulent contemporary America.

Bertha Isla by Javier Marías – From the author of The Infatuations, this story of Tomás, a half- Spanish, half-English man forced into the British secret service, and Berta, the woman he loves, examines the power of the state and a marriage built on lies.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry – The new novel from the author of The Essex Serpent is inspired by Charles Maturin’s 1820 gothic masterpiece Melmoth the Wanderer, and promises to investigate good and evil through a time-travelling narrative.

 

Non-Fiction

Identity by Francis Fukuyama – Still best known for The End of History, Fukuyama takes on populism, politicised Islam, the fractious “identity liberalism” of college campuses and white nationalism.

Johannesburg Then & Now – A companion volume to the hugely successful Cape Town: Then and Now.

 

December

Fiction

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami – The first novel in four years from the hugely popular Murakami.

 

Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the Surveillance State by Barton Gellman – A study of “the hidden superstructure that connects government espionage with Silicon valley” from the journalist and author who shared the Pulitzer prize for his role in bringing Snowden’s revelations to light.

Non-Fiction

Philip Larkin: Letters Home 1936-1977 edited by James Booth –  A collection that presents the last major unpublished Larkin archive: the letters to his family, chiefly his “conservative anarchist” father and beloved mother.

The Pink Line: The World’s New Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser – follows protagonists from nine countries over five years to tell the story of how LGBT Rights has become the world’s new human rights frontier.

 

HAPPY 2018 READING!

 

 

Christmas Stocking 2017

Tuesday, December 12th 2017 at 10:19 AM

It’s the time for giving – and what better gift for your nearest and dearest than a book!

The Book Lounge has assembled the list below of the wondrous and the witty to help you choose the perfect present. There is LOTS more instore, so do come in and consult one of our booksellers. Complimentary gift wrapping service available.

 

But first a look back at our Bestsellers for 2017

  1. The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw

  2. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

  3. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

  4. Collective Amnesia by Koleka Putuma

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

  6. Apartheid, Guns and Money by Hennie van Vuuren

  7. Killing Karoline: A Memoir by Sara-Jayne King

  8. Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang

  9. Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist by Pumla Dineo Gqola

  10. Being Chris Hani’s Daughter by Lindiwe Hani

 

And so to our Christmas Stocking…

 

Rijks: Masters of the Golden Age by Marcel Wanders

Image result for Rijks: Masters of the Golden Age by Marcel Wanders    Image result for Rijks: Masters of the Golden Age by Marcel WandersAn utterly exquisite homage to the 17th-century Dutch masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum’s prestigious Gallery of Honour, with over 60 iconic paintings such as Rembrandt’s Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmai.
Featuring writings of Ferran Adrià, David Allen, Alain de Botton, Anton Corbijn, Angela Missoni, Jimmy Nelson, Erwin Olaf and many more
Lavishly produced in genuine leather, beautiful hand-written calligraphy, and the finest printing technique and paper.

 

 

 

The Maths Behind…: Discover the Mathematics of Everyday Events by Colin Beveridge

Image result for The Maths Behind…: Discover the Mathematics of Everyday Events by Colin Beveridge

Have you ever wondered why traffic jams often turn out to have no cause when you get to the end of the queue? There’s a mathematical explanation for that. Or ever considered whether some lotteries might be easier to win than others? There’s a formula for that too.
This intriguing and illuminating book takes a scientific view of your everyday world, and can give you the answers to all the niggling questions in your life, along with many you never even thought to ask. From the science behind roller coasters, to the maths behind how to consistently win at Monopoly (and become very unpopular with your family), this is a fascinating look at the mathematical forces that run beneath our everyday transactions.

 

 

Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

Image result for Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

It begins with a chance encounter at the top of the world.
Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada – 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle – searching for answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, Fay for her disappeared grandfather. They soon learn that these two men have an unexpected link – a hidden share in one of the greatest enduring mysteries of polar exploration.
An extraordinary tale that warps actual history into something conjoined, poetic and thrilling . . . [A] marvel of a novel. “                                Independent on Sunday

 

 

Literary Wonderlands: A Journey through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created by Laura Miller

Image result for Literary Wonderlands: A Journey through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created by Laura Miller

Literary Wonderlands explores the timeless , captivating features of literature’s greatest fictional worlds and the minds that created them. The book is comprised of nearly 100 sections, each of which details the plot of a famous fantasy world, the historical circumstances that surrounded its production. Roaming from classic tales including C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, this truly global collection chronicles over two thousand years of literary creation. Accompanied by stunning visuals that elucidate the production of each work, Literary Wonderlands is an enchanting read for anyone who has ever been transported to another place through the power of the written word.

 

The Mysterium: Unexplained and Extraordinary Stories for a Post-Nessie Generation by David Bramwell and Jo Keeling

 

A catalogue of the extraordinary, the strange and the downright creepy…
Discover the unexplained mysteries and unsettling oddities of the modern world, from a beach in British Columbia awash with human feet, to the ‘tulpamancers’ who claim to be channeling the living spirit of My Little Pony. Ponder terrifying thought experiments (can you think yourself to death?), and reflect on life’s great questions (was the Garden of Eden located in Bedford?).
In The Mysterium David Bramwell and Jo Keeling (authors of The Oddirotium), present a user guide to the strange and unexplained corners of modern life. The Mysterium catalogues a host of bizarre, funny and intriguing stories for a post-Nessie generation still fascinated by the unknowable. Drawing on contemporary folklore, unsolved mysteries, and unsettling phenomena from the dark corners of the internet, this book celebrates the joy of asking questions and the thrill of finding answers which stop you dead in your tracks.

 

 

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Image result for Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.
But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. With tantalising twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide.
A first-rate mystery resplendent with shadowy scenery, a tight plot and a lead character that is both fragile and strong”                                 Washington Post

 

 

 

The Penguin Book of Puzzles by Dr Gareth Moore

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The ultimate stocking filler for the puzzle fanatic. A collection of challenges from throughout history, featuring some of the greatest ever puzzle masters . . .
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A Sumerian Riddle (circa 18th Century)
There is a house. The blind enter it and then come out seeing. What is that house?
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A Charade
I have wings, yet never fly – 
I have sails, yet never go – 
I can’t keep still, if I try,
Yet forever stand just so.
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From the riddles of the ancients to puzzles that perplex the greatest minds of today, The Penguin Book of Puzzles is a glorious compendium of conundrums from throughout history.

 

 

 

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

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Nick Harkaway: bonkers, brilliant and hilarious … Effervescent, clever and entirely fantastic.”        Sunday Times
“[Harkaway] is the missing, but somehow logical, link between David Mitchell and Terry Pratchett.”       Independent
Near-future Britain is not just a nation under surveillance but one built on it: a radical experiment in personal transparency. Every action is seen, every word is recorded.
Diana Hunter is a refusenik, a has-been cult novelist who lives in a house with its own Faraday cage: no electronic signals can enter or leave.  Denounced, arrested and interrogated by a machine that reads your life history from your brain, she dies in custody.
Mielikki Neith is the investigator charged with discovering how this tragedy occurred.  Aided – or perhaps opposed – by the pale and paradoxical Regno Lönnrot, Neith must work her way through the puzzles of her case and find the meaning of these impossible lives. As the stories combine and the secrets and encryptions of Gnomon are revealed, the question becomes the most fundamental of all: who will live, and who will die?

 

The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us about the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan F P Rose

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Jonathan F. P. Rose—a visionary in urban development and renewal—champions the role of cities in addressing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the twenty-first century.
Cities are birthplaces of civilization; centers of culture, trade, and progress; cauldrons of opportunity—and the home of eighty percent of the world’s population by 2050
In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—the man who “repairs the fabric of cities”—distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity.
A celebration of the city and an impassioned argument for its role in addressing the important issues in these volatile times, The Well-Tempered City is a reasoned, hopeful blueprint for a thriving metropolis—and the future.

 

The White Book by Han Kang

 

Image result for white book han kangBoth the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang. Written while on a writer’s residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. From the author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts comes a book like no other. The White Book is a meditation on colour, beginning with a list of white things. It is a book about mourning, rebirth and the tenacity of the human spirit. It is a stunning investigation of the fragility, beauty and strangeness of life.

 

 

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

 

Image result for 200 womenInterviews with 200 women from a variety of backgrounds provide a snapshot of female life around the globe. Each woman shares her unique reply to the same five questions: What really matters to you?, What brings you happiness?, What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?, What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with? With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength-inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality. Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project.

 

Chronicles of a Liquid Society by Umberto Eco

 

Image result for chronicles of a liquid societyUmberto Eco was an international cultural superstar. A celebrated essayist as well as novelist, in this, his last collection, he explores many aspects of the modern world with irrepressible curiosity and wisdom.
A crisis in ideological values, a crisis in politics, unbridled individualism – the familiar backdrop to our lives: a ‘liquid society’ where it’s not easy to find a polestar, though stars and starlets are not lacking.
In these pieces, written by Eco as articles for his regular column in l’Espresso magazine, he brings his dazzling erudition and keen sense of the everyday to bear on topics such as popular culture and politics, being seen, conspiracies, the old and the young, mobile phones, mass media, racism, good manners and the crisis in ideological values. It is a final gift to his readers – astute, witty and illuminating.

 

 

Blue Planet II by James Honeyborne and Mark Brownlow

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The perfect Christmas gift for the nature-lover in your life
Take a deep breath and dive into the mysteries of the ocean.
Our understanding of ocean life has changed dramatically in the last decade, with new species, new behaviours, and new habitats being discovered at a rapid rate. Blue Planet II, which accompanies an epic 7-part series on BBC1, is a ground-breaking new look at the richness and variety of underwater life across our planet.

 

 

Moonless Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo

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A rich and urgently necessary book.”                    New York Times Book Review
In A Moonless, Starless Sky Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony’s LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women’s basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. This debut book by one of America’s most acclaimed young journalists illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary–lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.

 

 

 

The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920-1970 by Martin Salisbury

Image result for The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920-1970 by Martin Salisbury  Image result for The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920-1970 by Martin SalisburyA deep dive into the history of the illustrated book jacket, tracing its development across the twentieth century, reflecting some of the most iconic designs of the era.
In the modern era, the “beautiful book,” an art object in its own right, has become the key to the ongoing attraction of print publishing as physical books continue to distinguish themselves from the screen.
The middle decades of the twentieth century saw an extraordinary flourishing of the illustrated, pictorial dust jacket. From the 1920s, as the potential for the book’s protective wrapping to be used for promotion and enticement became clear, artists and illustrators on both sides of the Atlantic applied their talents to this particular art form. Rising to the wide-ranging challenges posed by format and subject matter, leading artists and illustrators, brought their unique personal vision to bear on the world of books.
A selection of dust jackets – both known and too long forgotten – for each artist reveals how far the book as an artefact had travelled from the days of the plain wrapper in the nineteenth century.

 

 

Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir by Irvin D Yalom

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When Yalom publishes something – anything – I buy it, and he never disappoints. He’s an amazing storyteller, a gorgeous writer, a great, generous, compassionate thinker, and – quite rightly – one of the world’s most influential mental healthcare practitioners.”                   Nicola Barker, Guardian Best Books of 2017
Irvin D. Yalom has made a career of investigating the lives of others. In Becoming Myself, his long-awaited memoir, he turns his therapeutic eye on himself, delving into the relationships that shaped him and the groundbreaking work that made him famous.

 

 

The Company of Trees by Thomas Pakenham

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Thomas Pakenham is an indefatigable champion of trees. In The Company of Trees he recounts his personal quest to establish a large arboretum on the family estate, Tullynally in Ireland; his forays to other tree-filled parks and plantations; his often hazardous seed-hunting expeditions; and his efforts to preserve magnificent old trees and historic woodlands.
Whether writing about the terrible storms breaking the backs of hundred-year-old trees or a fire in the peat bog on Tullynally which threatens to spread to the main commercial spruce-woods, his fear of climate change and disease, or the sturdy young saplings giving him hope for the future, his book is never less than enthralling.

 

First Person by Richard Flanagan

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A young and penniless writer, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal: $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghostwrite his memoir in six weeks.
Kehlmann accepts but begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him―his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl―and who is Kif Kehlmann?
By turns compelling, comic and chilling, First Person is a haunting journey into the heart of our age.

 

A black comedy about the unreliability of memory and the warped values of modern publishing… the beauty of First Person is the way it blossoms into a much richer novel than that outline scenario suggests…. readable and thought-provoking.”                        Max Davidson, Mail on Sunday

 

 

 

Nowherelands: An Atlas of Vanished Countries 1840-1975 by Bjorn Berge

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These are the stories of fifty countries that once existed – however briefly – but have now have been erased from the map. Varying vastly in size and shape, location and longevity, they are nonetheless united by one fact: all of them endured long enough to issue their own stamps. Drawing on fiction and eye-witness accounts as well as historical sources, Bjørn Berge’s witty text casts an unconventional eye on these lesser-known nations, teasing out informative anecdotes and fascinating facts. At a time when issues of sovereignty and statehood are filling the media once again, this is a different kind of history book that will intrigue anyone keen to understand what makes a nation a nation.

 

 

 

Nudes: Addressing and Undressing My Truth by Siyanda Kakana

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“When it comes to domestic violence, the focus is usually on the abuser and the victim, we seldom consider the effect domestic violence had on children growing up in such an environment. The trauma and fear experienced by a child witnessing a mother being physically abused by the father can scar any child for a lifetime. In my book, I give personal accounts on how I was affected by growing up in that kind of environment. The journey is tumultuous and emotional as I struggled with many issues from my early teen years into my mid-twenties. I wrote my book to break the culture of silence, to live free from the guilt and shame. I wrote my book so we can have these discussions and not indirectly breed the next generation of abuser and victims of abuse. I wrote my book for women who’ve found themselves stuck in a constant cycle of toxic relationships with men. But most importantly, I wrote this book so that we can heal from the pain of our past and to gain strength from things which were meant to break us.”
 

 

Stolen Beauty: A Novel by Laurie Lico Albanese

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From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.
In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer–young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish–meets painter Gustav Klimt. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the facade of conventional society, the city is also troubled by a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism as political hatred simmers in the shadows of Adele’s coffeehouse afternoons and cultural salons.
Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria–and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her loved ones alive. Will Maria and her family escape the grip of Nazi rule? And what will become of the paintings for which her aunt sacrificed nearly everything?

 

 

Laurie Lico Albanese has given us a powerful and important tale of love and war, art and family. Filled with lush prose and vivid historical detail, Stolen Beauty is a work simultaneously intimate and sweeping in its scope. I was transported; I loved being swept up into the glorious, golden era of fin de siecle Vienna.”                       Allison Pataki

 

 

 

Bantam: Poems by Jackie Kay

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Jackie Kay’s first collection as Scottish Makar is a book about the fighting spirit – one, the poet argues, that we need now more than ever. Bantam brings three generations into sharp focus – Kay’s own, her father’s, and his own father’s – to show us how the body holds its own story. Kay shows how old injuries can emerge years later; how we bear and absorb the loss of friends; how we celebrate and welcome new life; and how we how we embody our times, whether we want to or not.
Bantam crosses borders, from Rannoch Moor to the Somme, from Brexit to Bronte country. Who are we? Who might we want to be? These are poems that sing of what connects us, and lament what divides us; poems that send daylight into the dark that threatens to overwhelm us – and could not be more necessary to the times in which we live.

 

 

Phantom Architecture by Philip Wilkinson

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A skyscraper one mile high, a dome covering most of downtown Manhattan, a triumphal arch in the form of an elephant: some of the most exciting buildings in the history of architecture are the ones that never got built.
These are the projects in which architects took materials to the limits, explored challenging new ideas, defied conventions, and pointed the way towards the future. Some of them are architectural masterpieces, some simply delightful flights of fancy. It was not usually poor design that stymied them – politics, inadequate funding, or a client who chose a ‘safe’ option rather than a daring vision were all things that could stop a project leaving the drawing board.

 

 

The Element in the Room: Science-y Stuff Staring You in the Face by Helen Arney

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These nerds are the real deal.”                 Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science
  • Why is it impossible to spin your right foot clockwise while you draw a 6 with your right hand?
  • Can you extract DNA from a strawberry daiquiri?
The Element in the Room will take you on a rib-tickling, experiment-fuelled adventure to explain everyday science that is staring you in the face. If you are sci-curious, pi-curious or just the-end-is-nigh-curious then this is the book for you.

 

 

 

Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump to Win the White House by Luke Harding

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MOSCOW, July 1987. Real-estate tycoon Donald Trump visits Soviet Russia for the first time at the invitation of the government.
LONDON, December 2016. Luke Harding meets former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to discuss the president-elect’s connections with Russia. Harding follows two leads; money and sex.
WASHINGTON, January 2017. Steele’s explosive dossier alleges that the Kremlin has been ‘cultivating, supporting, and assisting’ Trump for years and that they have compromising information about him. Trump responds on twitter, ‘FAKE NEWS.’
In Collusion, award-winning journalist Luke Harding reveals the true nature of Trump’s decades-long relationship with Russia and presents the gripping inside story of the dossier. It features exclusive new material and draws on sources from the intelligence community. This book gets to the heart of the biggest political scandal of the modern era. Russia is reshaping the world order to its advantage; this is something that should trouble us all.

 

 

 

The Darkest Day by Håkan Nesser

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It’s December in the quiet Swedish town of Kymlinge, and the Hermansson family are gathering to celebrate father Karl-Erik and eldest daughter Ebba’s joint landmark birthdays. But beneath the guise of happy festivities, tensions are running high, and it’s not long before the night takes a dark and unexpected turn . . .
Before the weekend is over, two members of the Hermansson family are missing, and it’s up to Inspector Barbarotti – a detective who spends as much of his time debating the existence of God as he does solving cases – to determine exactly what has happened. And he soon discovers he’ll have to unravel a whole tangle of sinister family secrets in the process . . .

 

 

 

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

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In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue.
So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London.
Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force with all Bernard Cornwell’s hallmark storytelling and a remarkable cast of characters: you walk the streets, explore the palaces, experience the scandals, rivalries and fierce ambitions, and stand side-by-side with the men and women of Elizabethan London.

 

Journey: An Illustrated History of Exploration and Travel

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A lavishly illustrated account of human travel from the voyages of the Vikings to the flight to the Moon.
Journeys have arisen from all manner of impulse, from migration and the search for food, to pilgrimages, trade, scientific curiosity, or simply the quest for adventure. Journey is a stunning visual guide to the stories of human movement and endeavour, from The Silk Road to the epic Voyager missions. Discover ancient maps, biographies of conquerors, explorers, and travellers, stories of scientific discovery and technological innovation, stunning works of art, and catalogues of travel-related memorabilia.

 

 

Bumper Book of Things That Nobody Knows: 1001 Mysteries of Life, the Universe and Everything by William Hartston

A witty and fascinating exploration of the limits of human knowledge of our planet, its history and culture, and the universe beyond.
There are many, many things that nobody knows…
Do animals have a sense of humour? Why do we have five fingers? What did Jesus do in his youth? Has human evolution stopped? Can robots become self-aware? What goes on inside a black hole?
Bringing together The Things That Nobody Knows and Even More Things That Nobody Knows, this bumper volume takes us on a guided tour of 1,001 gaps in our knowledge of cosmology, mathematics, animal behaviour, medical science, music, art and literature.

 

 

The Standing Chandelier by Lionel Shriver

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When Weston Babansky receives an extravagant engagement present from his best friend (and old flame) Jillian Frisk, he doesn’t quite know what to make of it – or how to get it past his fiancée. Especially as it’s a massive, handmade, intensely personal sculpture that they’d have to live with forever.
As the argument rages about whether Jillian’s gift was an act of pure platonic generosity or something more insidious, battle lines are drawn…
Can men and women ever be friends? Just friends?
Impressively sweeping… Shriver’s intelligence, mordant humour and vicious leaps of imagination all combine to make this a novel that is as unsettling as it is entertaining in its portrait of the cataclysmic unravelling of the American dream.”                      Financial Times

 

 

 

Secret Lives of Monks: From Atheism to the Zombie Apocalypse by David Waywell

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Lo! On the second day, God said: let there be light entertainment. And thus were monks created!
A book for atheists, agnostics, and perhaps a few believers too, The Secret Lives of Monks is your chance to join the only cult that promises more fun than a deep-sea baptism.
The monks might not help you save your soul but with their mixture of philosophy, stupidity, wit and irreverence, they might just make you laugh.

 

 

A Foot in the River: Why Our Lives Change and the Limits of Evolution by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

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We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way we live ― our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values ― seems to be changing at an ever accelerating pace. The effects can be dislocating, baffling, sometimes terrifying. Why is this? In A Foot in the River, best-selling historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto sifts through the evidence and offers some radical answers to these very big questions about the human species and its history ― and speculates on what these answers might mean for our future.
A revolutionary book which challenges scientistic assumptions about culture and how and why cultural change happens, A Foot in the River comes to conclusions which readers may well find by turns both daunting and also potentially hugely liberating.
A mix of wide and deep learning and rigorous argument, beautifully written … [a] delightful and indispensable book.”                 John Gray, Literary Review

 

 

Lost Kingdom: A History of Russian Nationalism from Ivan the Great to Vladimir Putin by Serhii Plokhy

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An astonishingly wide-ranging history of Russian nationalism chronicling Russia’s yearning for Empire and how it has affected its politics for centuries
In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine. While the world watched in outrage, this violation of national sovereignty was in fact only the latest iteration of a centuries-long effort to expand Russian boundaries and create a pan-Russian nation. In Lost Kingdom, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues that we can only understand the merging of imperialism and nationalism in Russia today by delving into its history.
Spanning over two thousand years, from the end of the Mongol rule to the present day, Plokhy shows how leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin have exploited existing forms of identity, warfare and territorial expansion to achieve imperial supremacy.
“Lost Kingdom tells the story of how the history of Russia was being written when that history was being made. . . A singularly fascinating account of Russian nationalism through the ages.”              Financial Times

 

 

Hollow Woods: Storytelling Card Game

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Fire your imagination with these fun storytelling cards. Reviving the Victorian craze for ‘myrioramas’, the 20 picture cards can be placed in any order to create seamless scenes. Almost infinite combinations of cards provide endless storyscaping possibilities. Traverse an enchanted landscape as you build a perpetual panorama inhabited by fire-breathing dragons, magical unicorns and sinister shadow figures. With many games to play and millions of stories to tell, each turn of the card is a new adventure. Where will the story take you? Over 2.4 quintillion storytelling possibilities, which stretch to over 5.5 feet.

 

 

F*ck That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson and Rachel Wharton

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This ain’t no cookbook. This ain’t no memoir. This is Action Bronson’s devotional, a book about the overwhelming power of delicious—no, f*cking amazing—food. Bronson is this era’s Homer, and F*ck, That’s Delicious is a modern-day Odyssey, replete with orgiastic recipes, world travel, siren songs, and weed.
Lavishly illustrated, Bronson’s F*ck, That’s Delicious includes 40-plus recipes inspired by his childhood, family, tours, and travels. Journey from bagels with cheese that represent familial love to the sex and Big Macs of upstate New York fat camp and ultimately to the world’s most coveted five-star temples of gastronomy. And: the tacos in LA. The best Dominican chimis. Jamaican jerk. Hand-rolled pasta from Mario. And lots more!

 

He’s big, bearded and very sweary. He’s also on a mission to tell you about great food.”                              Observer Magazine

 

 

 

Munchies: Late-Night Meals from the World’s Best Chefs by JJ Goode et al

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Munchies brings the hugely popular show Chef’s Night Out to the page with snapshots of food culture in cities around the world, plus tall tales and fuzzy recollections from 65 of the world’s top chefs, including Anthony Bourdain, Dominique Crenn, David Chang, Danny Bowien, Wylie Dufresne, Inaki Aizpitarte, and Enrique Olvera, among others.
Then there are the recipes: dishes these chefs cook when they’re done feeding customers, and ready to feed their friends instead. With chapters like “Drinks” (i.e. how to get your night started), “Things with Tortillas,” “Hardcore” (including pizzas, nachos, poutines, and more), and “Morning After” (classy and trashy dishes for the bleary-eyed next day), Munchies features more than 65 recipes to satisfy any late-night craving and plenty of drinks to keep the party going.

 

 

Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration by June Sarpong

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Engaging and informative … highlights our common humanity.”                             Kofi Annan
In troubling times, it’s tempting to retreat to our comfort zones. To people just like us.
But what if actively seeking the unfamiliar was proven to be the key to a brighter future – both personally and for society
at large?
In this fierce, empowering call to arms, June Sarpong MBE puts the spotlight on groups who are often marginalised in our society, including women, those living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. Diversify uncovers how a new approach to how we work, learn and live can help us reach our maximum potential, lessen the pressure on the state, and solve some of the most stubborn challenges we face.

 

 

The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Regained Russia by Masha Gessen

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Masha Gessen follows the lives of four Russians, born as the Soviet Union crumbled, at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children or grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own – as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers and writers, sexual and social beings. Gessen charts their paths not only against the machinations of the regime that would seek to crush them all (censorship, intimidation, violence) but also against the war it waged on understanding itself, ensuring the unobstructed emergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state.

 

“[From] a brave and eloquent critic of the Putin regime… For anyone wondering how Russia ended up in the hands of Putin and his friends, and what it means for the rest of us, Gessen’s book gives us an alarming and convincing picture.”                            The Times

 

 

African Muckraking: 100 Years of African Investigative Journalism edited by Anya Schiffrin

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Africa Muckraking is the first collection of investigative and campaigning journalism written by Africans and about Africa. The editors delved into the history of modern Africa to find the most important and compelling pieces of journalism on the stories that matter.
This collection of 41 pieces of African journalism includes passionate and committed writing on labour abuses, police brutality, women’s rights, the struggle for democracy and independence on the continent and other subjects. Each piece of writing is introduced by a noted scholar or journalist who explains the context and why the journalism mattered. Some of the highlights include: Feminist writing from Tunisia in the 1930s, hair-raising exposés of the secret tactics planned by the South African government during apartheid, Richard Mgamba’s searing description of the albino brothers in Tanzania who fear for the lives, the piece by Liberian journalist Mae Azongo’s on genital cutting which forced her to go into hiding.

 

 

Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero

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In 1968, the world experienced a brand-new kind of terror with the debut of George A. Romero’s landmark movie Night of the Living Dead. The newly dead rose to attack the living. Not as vampires or werewolves. This was something new . . . and terrifying. Since then, zombies have invaded every aspect of popular culture.
But it all started on that dreadful night in a remote farmhouse. . . .
Nights of the Living Dead returns to that night, to the outbreak, to where it all began. New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry teams with the godfather of the living dead himself, George A. Romero, to present a collection of all-new tales set during the forty-eight hours of that legendary outbreak.

 

 

Something’s Cooking by J’Something

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Portugal born Joao Da Fonseca, a.k.a. J’Something is known to millions of fans for his award winning hits as the lead singer and song writer of South African band Mi Casa. J’Something has won multiple awards with Mi Casa including 8 number 1 singles and 5 SAMA awards.
In 2014 his passion for cooking came to the fore culminating in two cooking shows; Something’s Cooking & What’s for Dinner that reached over 18 000 000 viewers across South Africa in two years. His spicy authentic Portuguese heritage and hearty homegrown South African food has become his trademark. Most recently showcased as a headline chef appearing next to greats such as Marco Pierre White, Jan Hendrick and George Calombaris.
Currently together with David Higgs he hosts and judges the smash-hit My Kitchen Rules South Africa on MNet prime time. When not performing he can be found at Something’s Cooking by J his first restaurant.

 

 

The Magic Lamp: Dreams of Our Age by Ben Okri & Rosemary Clunie

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Twenty-five stories, twenty-five paintings, five years to write, ten years to paint. This is an extraordinary collaboration between artist and artist: the Booker Prize-winning writer Ben Okri and the painter Rosemary Clunie. Together they have created a world, and peopled it with dreams.
Twenty-five fairy tales for adults, these narratives are a response to our times, informed by our world but not limited by it, imaginative, enchanting, haunting – both prescient and prophetic. Twenty-five original paintings, beautiful, playful, intimate, dreamlike, these works pull you in to a land of colour and vision.

 

 

Smoke Ashes Fable by William Kentridge

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The much-loved South African artist William Kentridge  has become famous for his time-lapse animation movies and installations, as well as his activities as an opera and theater director. This book offers a unique selection of Kentridge’s work curated for Sint-Janshospitaal in Bruges-at 800 years one of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings – organized around the themes of trauma and healing.

 

 

The Earth from the Air: New Edition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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The result of a five-year airborne odyssey across five continents and sixty countries, The Earth from the Air is the bestselling and most popular book of aerial photography ever published. This updated edition of the internationally acclaimed original features an updated text and over 100 breathtaking new photographs. New editorials by such renowned authors as Jane Goodall, Matthieu Ricard and Olivier Blond consider such perpetual issues as agriculture, climate and biodiversity, as well as the latest concerns – refugees, new technologies and environmental movements. A classic of its kind, this book will heighten everyone’s awareness of today’s urgent ecological issues. Now more than ever, The Earth from the Air stands as a call to action.

 

 

 

Why Are We Artists: 100 World Art Manifestos

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‘Art is not a luxury. Art is a basic social need to which everyone has a right’.
This extraordinary collection of 100 artists’ manifestos from across the globe over the last 100 years brings together activists, post-colonialists, surrealists, socialists, nihilists and a host of other voices. From the Négritude movement in Africa and Martinique to Brazil’s Mud/Meat Sewer Manifesto, from Iraqi modernism to Australia’s Cyberfeminist Manifesto, they are by turns personal, political, utopian, angry, sublime and revolutionary. Some have not been published in English before; some were written in climates of censorship and brutality; some contain visions of a future still on the horizon. What unites them is the belief that art can change the world.

 

Young Hitler: The Making of the Führer by Paul Ham

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When Adolf Hitler went to war in 1914, he was just 25 years old. It was a time he would later call the ‘most stupendous experience of my life’.
But this was not all about the war; the seeds of that hatred lay in Hitler’s youth.
By peeling back the layers of Hitler’s childhood, his war record and his early political career, Paul Ham’s Young Hitler: The Making of the Führer seeks the man behind the myth. How did the defining years of Hitler’s life affect his rise to power?
More broadly, Paul Ham seeks to answer the question: Was Hitler a freak accident? Or was he an extreme example of a recurring type of demagogue, who will do and say anything to seize power; who thrives on chaos; and who personifies, in his words and in his actions, the darkest prejudices of humankind?

 

 

Endangered by Tim Flach and Jonathan Baillie

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In Endangered, the result of an extraordinary multiyear project to document the lives of threatened species, acclaimed photographer Tim Flach explores one of the most pressing issues of our time. Traveling around the world—to settings ranging from forest to savannah to the polar seas to the great coral reefs—Flach has constructed a powerful visual record of remarkable animals and ecosystems facing harsh challenges. Among them are primates coping with habitat loss, big cats in a losing battle with human settlements, elephants hunted for their ivory, and numer­ous bird species taken as pets. With eminent zoologist Jonathan Baillie providing insightful commentary on this ambitious project, Endangered unfolds as a series of vivid, interconnected stories that pose gripping moral dilemmas, unforgettably expressed by more than 180 of Flach’s incred­ible images.

 

 

Little Miss Busy Surviving Motherhood and other Mr Men for Grown-ups

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The Mr. Men have been tickling children for generations with their funny and charming antics. The Mr Men for Grown-Ups series now gives adults the chance to laugh along as the Mr Men and Little Miss try to cope with the very grown-up world around them. Featuring Roger Hargreaves classic artwork alongside hilariously funny new text.

Gour

met Guide 2018: Top South African Restaurants, Their Chefs and Recipes

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Discover diverse restaurants from fine dining to fabulous food and gourmet getaways. Read about South Africa’s top 21 restaurants, meet their chefs – discover their passions, get to know them and be inspired by their recipes.

 

 

 

 

Shisanyama: Braai Recipes from South Africa by Jan Braai

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Jan Braai issued a crowdsourcing call in early 2017, and the response from the South African public was overwhelming – from the hundreds of entries received, Jan Braai has curated, tested and included over 80 favourite South African braai recipes. Each entry tells the story of how the recipe came about, why it is special – and of course celebrates the diversity of shisanyama available in South Africa. Shisanyama literally means ‘to burn meat’ in Zulu, and refers to the act of coming together to cook meat on an open fire.
Discover Mzansi favourites such as Bacon Bombs, Baby Back Ribs, B
reakfast Pizza, Chakalaka, Brandy & Coke Short Rib, Red Curried Black Mussels, Corn Bread, Mustard Ice-cream with T-Bone Steak, Thokoza Park Chuck, Watermelon Salad and Lamb Jaffles, with loads of other treasured recipes.

 

 

Artemis by Andy Weir

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By the author of The Martian.
WELCOME TO ARTEMIS. The first city on the moon.
Population 2,000. Mostly tourists.
Some criminals.
Jazz Bashara is a criminal. She lives in a poor area of Artemis and subsidises her work as a porter with smuggling contraband onto the moon. But it’s not enough.
So when she’s offered the chance to make a lot of money she jumps at it. But though planning a crime in 1/6th gravity may be more fun, it’s a lot more dangerous…
Jazz, Weir’s main character, is a moon-born version of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. She is young, rebellious and a petty criminal…Weir’s great strength, as he showed in The Martian, is to make us believe. His future society living inside massive domes built not far from where Armstrong set foot in 1969 is utterly plausible.”                                The Times

 

 

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

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‘These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That’s why I bought her heart online.’ 
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.
‘I’m fascinated by storytelling, and particularly fairy tales. How humans have always tried to explain things that they can’t possibly understand with, sometimes outrageous, stories’ Jen Campbell
From the author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series.
What A Book. It’s So Strange and Magical And The Writing Is Just Beautiful. I Loved It.”                               Louise O’Neill

 

 

For Younger Readers

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

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Stunning.”        John Green
A masterpiece.”              Huffington Post
An essential read for everyone.”             Teen Vogue
Outstanding.”                 Guardian
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

 

 

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape by Dermot O’Leary

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Toto the cat and her brother Silver live footloose and fancy-free in a townhouse in London. Toto is almost totally blind, and learned to trust her senses from a ninja cat-master who taught her back in Italy where they were born. By day, Toto and Silver seem to be ordinary cats, but by night, they love to have adventures!
One evening, news reaches Toto that a king cobra has escaped from London Zoo! Together with help from a very posh cat and two hungry tigers, Toto and Silver must investigate. Can they find the giant snake, before it’s too late?

 

The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles

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An incandescent, soul-searching story about a broken young woman’s search for a truth buried so deep it threatens to consume her, body and mind.
These are the things Lux knows:
She is an artist.
She is lucky.
She is broken.
These are the things she doesn’t know:
What happened over the summer.
Why she ended up in hospital.
Why her memories are etched in red.
‘The nightmares tend to linger long after your screams have woken you up …’
Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

 

 

 

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, illustrated by Levi Pinfold

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An exceptional and moving novel about the power of the imagination, illustrated by the winner of the Kate Greenaway medal.
An exceptional and moving novel about the power of stories and the imagination from the publisher of A Monster Calls. December 1941. Britain is at war. Emmaline has been evacuated away from the bombs to Briar Hill Hospital in Shropshire. When she gets there she discovers a secret. It’s not to be shared, not to be told to anyone, even her friend Anna. But she’ll tell you. This is Emmaline’s secret. There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill. Exquisitely illustrated by Levi Pinfold, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill has all the makings of a modern classic.

 

 

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell

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It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same.
Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . .
When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

 

 

Satellite by Nick Lake

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The Martian for teens – an epic, highly original space thriller with real science and heartbreaking beauty.
Leo has never set foot on Earth. Born and raised with twins Orion and Libra on the Moon 2 Space Station, they have grown up together in the most extraordinary of ways.
Now, they are preparing to make their first trip home – their first journey to Earth. But Leo, Orion and Libra cannot possibly imagine the irreversible consequences that their return will set into motion…

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World – Activity Book by Kate Pankhurst

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Join some of the world’s most inspiring women in this must-have activity book based on Kate Pankhurst’s bestselling book Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, full of fun and utterly inspiring activities and over 200 stickers.
Write your own stories with Jane Austen, lead a fashion revolution just like Coco Chanel and design your own pyjamas, walk in the footprints of Mary Anning and follow the dot-to-dot to uncover the skeletons of dinosaurs.

 

 

 

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

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The exquisite and thought-provoking new book from the multi award-winning, internationally best-selling picture book creator of Lost and Found, Oliver Jeffers.
Well, hello.
And welcome to this Planet.
We call it Earth.
Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you’ve only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let’s explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you’ll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else… Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.
An optimistic snapshot of contemporary life, this heartfelt hug of a book ought to become a classic.” The Guardian

 

 

Dinosaurium (Welcome to the Museum) by Wormell and Murray

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Welcome to the museum that is always open to explore…
Step inside the pages of this beautiful book to discover galleries of dinosaurs, expertly curated to bring you the experience of a fascinating exhibition from the comfort of your own home.
Dinosaurium features a wide range of dinosaurs from the most-loved Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex to lesser-known species such as Coelophysis and Tsintaosaurus. With stunning artwork from Chris Wormell (known for the cover of H is for Hawk and his picture books including George and the Dragon) and informative text with input from experts in palaeontology, Dinosaurium is the perfect gift for anyone with an interest in this fascinating field.

 

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Wishing all our customers a wonderful festive season!

 

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

Tuesday, November 28th 2017 at 11:35 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

SM: Definitely.

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

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

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

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

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

SM: Haha!

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

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

AK: Regal and magnificent indeed.

SM: She is indeed.

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

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

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

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

AK: That’s a startling truth right there!

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

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

SM: Best trip ever!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AK: How so, then?

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

AK: YASSS!!!! On fleek!

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

AK: So the priorities should be?

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

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

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

AK: Care to share one or two here?

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

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

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

AK: Wonderful and evident in your fearlessness!

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

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

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

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

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

AK:  I love you . Star struck again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BR:  Who edited it for you ultimately?

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

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

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

AK: Any plans for global or regional launches?

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

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

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

AK: Yes. And interesting times in Angola too.

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

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

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