Saturday 1 April 2023


New books and book news!

Read our latest NEWSLETTER (#323)


CHILDREN'S BOOK SALENourish and delight a child (or the child within) with a selection of our wonderful children's books at reduced prices. Now is the time to ensure that the children in your life have plenty of excellent reading material for the coming Easter, school holidays, winter, years, &c. >>Click through to start choosing. There are single copies only of most titles. 


Our Book of the Week is Cheon Myeong-Kwan's lively and inventive novel WHALE, translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim. On listing the book for the 2023 International Booker Prize, the judges described it as "a carnivalesque fairy tale that celebrates independence and enterprise, a picaresque quest through Korea’s landscapes and history, Whale is a riot of a book. Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s vivid characters are foolish but wise, awful but endearing, and always irrepressible. This is a hymn to restlessness and self-transformation." 
>>Read an extract. 
>>Part of the world. 
>>Revenge plays. 
>>The news in Korea
>>Your copy of Whale
>>Other books long-listed for the 2023 International Booker Prize.


>> Read all Stella's reviews.


And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Rovina Cai  {Reviewed by STELLA}

“Call me Bathsheba,” are the first lines of this inventive novel mimicking another famous story.  Patrick Ness’s And the Ocean Was Our Sky is a stunning wonder of a story. In this inverse Moby-Dick, we are introduced to a pod of whales that hunt man. In this world, the sea is the right way up and our sky is the Abyss. The action takes place in and on the ocean as we travel with the whales. Our narrator Bathsheba is the Third Apprentice under the lead of Captain Alexandra — a fearless giant of a whale, a harpoon embedded in her head, survivor of numerous battles with man. When the pod come across a wrecked human ship, bodies afloat, drowned, it is difficult to tell whether this is the work of man or whale. If whale, it is messy — wasteful — the bodies haven’t been harvested for their teeth nor bone. If man, why? As they approach the ship, a hand clutching a disc protruding from the capsized hull is spied: a hand that belongs to a young man — a prisoner — called Demetrius, and he has a message about (or from) Toby Wick - the nemesis of the whales. Toby Wick, feared and hated by man and whale, is a mysterious and vicious hunter — a legend. None who have seen him live to tell the tale of who he is and the powers he can summon to win every battle. Alexandra, obsessed with overcoming Toby Wick, is determined to fulfill a prophecy — one that has been passed down through generations. The great Toby Wick will be confronted. Demetrius is kept alive under the ocean and Bathsheba is commanded to interrogate him. A relationship builds between man and whale - for centuries prejudice and hatred have reigned supreme between the species, each hunting the other, each having just cause for revenge. Yet Bathsheba is intrigued by this meeting with Demetrius, who is merely a pawn in Toby Wick’s game — not a hunter, not an enemy. As Bathsheba’s loyalty is tested, the pod swim closer to their meeting with the mythic Toby Wick. What awaits them is fearsome and surprising. And the Ocean Was Our Sky is an epic journey for Bathsheba — physically but even more so philosophically and emotionally. Her interactions with Demetrius and the encounter with Toby Wick will change her forever, and the relationship between man and whale will create a new prophecy. This mind-bending story about fear, prejudice, loyalty and legend is brilliantly and beautifully illustrated by Rovina Cai.  It’s a tale for any age much like Ness’s excellent A Monster Calls.   

>>This wonderful book is just one of the superb titles to be found in our Children's Book Sale. Browse the sale now.


 >> Read all Thomas's reviews. 

Poetics of Work by Noémi Lefebvre (translated from French by Sophie Lewis)  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
How should we occupy ourselves, he wondered, whatever that means, lest we be occupied by someone else, or something else, how do we keep our feet, if our feet at least may be said to be our own to keep, by leaning into the onslaught or by letting it wash through us? Too many metaphors, if they’re even metaphors, he thought, too much thought thought for us by the language we use to think the thoughts, he thought, too many ready-made phrases, who makes them and why do they make them, and what are their effects on us, he wondered, where is the power that I thought was mine, where is the meaning that I meant to mean, how can I reclaim the words I speak from those against whom I would speak them? No hope otherwise. The narrator of Noémi Lefebvre’s Poetics of Work happens to be reading Viktor Klemperer’s Language of the Third Reich, in which Klemperer demonstrates that the success of, and the ongoing threat from, Nazism arose from changes wrought on the ways in which language was used and thus upon the ways people thought. Whoever controls language controls thought, he thought, Klemperer providing examples, authority exerts its power through linguistic mutation, but maybe, he thought, power can be resisted by the same means, resistance is poetry, he shouted, well, perhaps, or at least a bit of judicious editing could be effective in the struggle, he thought, rummaging in the draw of his desk for his blue pencil, it’s in here somewhere. Fascism depends on buzzwords, says Klemperer, buzzwords preclude thought, and the first step in fighting fascism, says Klemperer, is to challenge the use of these buzzwords, to re-establish the content of discourse, to rescue the particular from the buzzword. Could he think of some current examples of such buzzwords, he wondered, and he thought that perhaps he could, perhaps, he thought, if terms such as the buzzword ‘woke’ or the buzzword ‘cancel’ were removed from discourse and the wielders of these buzzwords had no recourse but to say in plain language what they meant, these once-were-wielders would be revealed to be either ludicrous or dangerous or both ludicrous and dangerous and the particulars of a given situation could be more clearly discussed. That is a subversive thought, he thought, to edit is to unpick power. “There isn’t a lot of poetry these days, I said to my father,” says the narrator at the beginning of Poetics of Work. A state of emergency has been declared in France, it is 2015, terror attacks have resulted in a surge of nationalism, intolerance, police brutality, the narrator, reading Klemperer as I have already said, is aware of the ways in which language has been mutated to control thought, power acts first through language and then turns up as the special police, it seems. What purchase has poetry in a language also used to describe police weaponry, the narrator wonders. “I could feel from the general climate that imagination was being blocked and thought paralysed by national unity in the name of Freedom, and freedom co-opted as a reason to have more of it.” Freedom has become a buzzword, it no longer means what we thought it meant, but even, perhaps, well evidently, its opposite. “Security being the first of freedoms, according to the Minister of the Interior, for you have to work.” You have to work, is this the case, the narrator wonders, you have to work and by working you become part of that which harms you. The book progresses as a series of exchanges between the narrator and their father, the internal voice of their father, of all that is inherited, of Europe, of the compromise between capital and culture, of all that takes things at once too seriously and nowhere near seriously enough. “He’s there in my eyes, he hunches my shoulders, slows my stride, spreads out before me his superior grasp of all things,” the narrator says, embedded in their father, struggling to think a thought not thought for them by their father, their struggle is a struggle for voice, as all struggles are. “I am like my father but much less good, my father can do anything because he does nothing, while I do nothing because I don’t know how to defend a person who’s being crushed and dragged along the ground and kicked to a pulp with complete impunity, nor do I know how to get a job or write a CV or any biography, nor even poetry, not a single line of it.” What hope is there? Is it possible to find “non-culture-sector poetry”, the narrator wonders, or even to write this “non-culture-sector” poetry if there could be such a thing? What sort of poetry can be used to come to grips with even the minor crises of late capitalism, for instance, if any of the crises of late capitalism can be considered minor? “I watched the water flow south, and the swans driven by their insignificance, deaf and blind to the basic shapes of the food-processing industry, ignorant that they, poor sods, were beholden to market price variation over the kilo of feathers and to the planned obsolescence of ornamental fowls.” The book sporadically and ironically gestures towards being some sort of treatise on poetry, it even has a few brief “lessons,” or maxims, but these are too half-hearted and impermanent to be either lessons or maxims, perhaps, he thought, they might qualify as antilessons or antimaxims, if such things could be imagined, though possibly they ironise an indifference to both. “Indifference is a contemplative state, my father said one day when he’d been drinking.” Doing nothing because there is nothing to be done, or, rather, because one cannot see what can be done, is very different from doing nothing from indifference, but the effect is the same, or the lack of effect, so something must be done, the narrator thinks, even if it is the case that nothing can in the end be done. For those to whom language is at once both home and a place of exile, the struggle must be made in language, or for language, resistance is poetry, or poetry is resistance, I have forgotten what I shouted, I will sharpen my blue pencil, after all one must be “someone among everyone,” as the narrator says. “There’s a fair bit of poetry at the moment, I said to my father,” the narrator says at the end of Poetics of Work. “He didn’t reply.”

Friday 31 March 2023


Chicanes by Clara Schulmann (translated from French by Anna Clement, Ruth Diver, Lauren Elkin, Jennifer Higgins, Natasha Lehrer, Sophie Lewis, Naima Rashid, and Jessica Spivey)          $38
As she tries to collect them for an essay she is planning to write, other women’s words begin interfering in Clara Schulmann’s life — heard on the radio, in podcasts, songs, and films; words of novelists, feminist intellectuals, friends or strangers overheard in the street. They invade her psyche, reshaping the essay that she once had in mind into a picaresque adventure which investigates the fault lines around women’s voices: and in particular those moments of overflow and excess where wayward words take seed. Chicanes heralds a new French feminism through a meticulously orchestrated chorus of the wildest female voices, from figures in the history of feminist writing to the stranger on the street, blurring the boundaries between body and art; personal and political. A poly-translation, by eight female translators, from established to emerging, Chicanes brings the individual voice of each translator into subtle relief.
"This is a book to treasure and love." —Deborah Levy
>>The voice that cannot be controlled
Ninth Building by Zhou Jingzhi (translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang)          $38
Revisiting his experiences as a boy in Beijing and then as a teenager exiled to the countryside, Zou captures a side of the Cultural Revolution that is seldom talked about — the sheer tedium and waste of young life under the regime, as well as the gallows humour that accompanies such desperate situations. 
"A kaleidoscopic and understated collection of interlocking tales of life in an apartment building under the Cultural Revolution – the daily tedium of its inhabitants, lit by brief and tenuous moments of shared humanity." —judges' citation, The International Booker Prize 2023
>>Read an extract. 
>>Other books long-listed for the 2023 International Booker Prize.
Why Read: Selected writings, 2001—2021 by Will Self               $37
Self's intellectual acumen and verbal prowess have always protruded well beyond his fiction, and he never shies away from provoking whatever or whoever needs to be provoked. These essays all test the interplay between 'reality' and 'fiction', and ask how literature can help us be sharper about the problems of contemporary life.  Contents: 1: Why Read? 2: The Death of the Shelf; 3: Absent Jews and Invisible Executioners: W. G. Sebald and the Holocaust; 4: Chernobyl; 5: Kafka's Wound; 6: A Care Home for Novels: The Narrative Art Form in the Age of Its Technical Supersession; 7: The Last Typewriter Engineer; 8: Isenshard; 9: How Should We Read? 10: Junky; 11: Being a Character; 12: Australia and I; 13: The Rise of the Machines; 14: Literary Time; 15: The Printed Word in Peril; 16: The Secret Agent; 17: What to Read? 18: On Writing Memoir; 19: Apocalypse Then; 20: The Technology of Journalism; 21: St George for the French; 22: Will Self-Driving Cars Take My Job? 23: Reading for Writers.
"The finest essays here are incisive, perceptive and provocative. But they are also wildly entertaining." —Washington Examiner
"Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation, a writer whose formidable intellect is mercilessly targeted on the limits of the cerebral as a means of understanding. Yes, he makes you think, but he also insists that you feel." —Guardian 
"Self often enough writes with such vividness it's as if he is the first person to see anything at all." —New York Times 
"Self has indeed been a goat among the sheep of contemporary English fiction, a puckish trickster self-consciously at odds with its middle-class politeness." —New York Review of Books 
While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer (translated from German by Katy Derbyshire)       $45

Rico, Mark, Paul and Daniel were 13 when the Berlin Wall fell in autumn 1989. Growing up in Leipzig at the time of reunification, they dream of a better life somewhere beyond the brewery quarter. Every night they roam the streets, partying, rioting, running away from their fears, their parents and the future, fighting to exist, killing time. They drink, steal cars, feel wrecked, play it cool, longing for real love and true freedom. Startlingly raw and deeply moving, While We Were Dreaming is an extraordinary coming of age novel by one of Germany's most ambitious writers, full of passion, rage, hope and despair.
"The cumulative power of the well-constructed, pitiless and unflinching dispatches from the underbelly of society is remarkable. Historical events often pass unnoticed by those living through them, unaware even of how much their lives have been changed. It is Meyer’s achievement to capture the profound effects those events had on the lives of those at the bottom of German society." — David Mills, Sunday Times
"A book like a fist. German literature has not seen such a debut for a long time, a book full of rage, sadness, pathos and superstition. —Felicitas von Lovenberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Clemens Meyer’s great art of describing people takes the form of the Russian doll principle: a story within a story within a story. So much is so artfully interwoven that his work breaks the mould of the closed narrative." —Katharina Teutsch, Die Zeit
>>Read an extract.
>>Other books long-listed for the 2023 International Booker Prize.

Trench Coat ('Object Lessons' series) by Jane Tynan            $23

We think we know the trench coat, but where does it come from and where will it take us? From its origins in the trenches of WW1, this military outerwear came to project the inner-being of detectives, writers, reporters, rebels, artists and intellectuals. The coat outfitted imaginative leaps into the unknown. Trench Coat tells the story of seductive entanglements with technology, time, law, politics, trust and trespass. Readers follow the rise of a sartorial archetype through media, design, literature, cinema and fashion. Today, as a staple in stories of future life-worlds, the trench coat warns of disturbances to come.
>>Other books in the 'Object Lessons' series

Anaximander and the Nature of Science by Carlo Rovelli           $40
Over two millennia ago, a Greek philosopher had a number of wondrous insights that paved the way to cosmology, physics, geography, meteorology and biology, setting in motion a new way of seeing the world. Anaximander's legacy includes the revolutionary idea that the earth floats in a void, that the world can be understood in natural rather than supernatural terms, that animals evolved, and that universal laws govern all phenomena. He introduced a new mode of rational thinking with an openness to uncertainty and to the progress of knowledge.  Rovelli brings to light the importance of Anaximander's overlooked legacy to modern science. He examines Anaximander as a scientist interested in shedding light on the deep nature of scientific thinking, which Rovelli locates in his rebellious ability to reimagine the world again and again. 
Artificial Hells: Participatory art and the politics of spectatorship by Claire Bishop          $25
Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: That by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson. Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as 'social practice'. Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Pawel Althamer and Paul Chan. Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinises the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling, and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.

>>Where are we now? 

Tekebash and Saba: Recipes from the Horn of Africa by Saba Alemayoh               $50
A celebration of the food of Ethiopia's northernmost state Tigray, interweaved with the compelling story of author Saba Alemayoh and her mother Tekebash Gebre, who came to Australia as refugees and have nurtured a connection to their beloved homeland through shared recipes and rituals.

Victory City by Salman Rushdie          $37
In the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for the goddess Parvati, who begins to speak out of the girl's mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana's comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga - literally 'victory city' - the wonder of the world. Over the next two hundred and fifty years, Pampa Kampana's life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga's, from its literal sowing out of a bag of magic seeds to its tragic ruination in the most human of ways: the hubris of those in power. Whispering Bisnaga and its citizens into existence, Pampa Kampana attempts to make good on the task that Parvati set for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world. But all stories have a way of getting away from their creator, and Bisnaga is no exception. As years pass, rulers come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, the very fabric of Bisnaga becomes an ever more complex tapestry - with Pampa Kampana at its center. 
The Dollhouse by Charis Cotter         $21
Alice's world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they've cancelled their yearly cottage trip — the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mother are heading to some small town where Alice's mother will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly woman. The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect — not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that's an exact replica of the house she's living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed — a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse... When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn't looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?
Stroller ('Object Lessons' series) by Amanda Parrish Morgan         $23
Among the many things expectant parents are told to buy, none is a more visible symbol of status and parenting philosophy than a stroller. Although its association with wealth dates back to the invention of the first pram in the 1700s, in recent decades, four-figure strollers have become not just status symbols but cultural identifiers. There are sleek jogging strollers for serious athletes, impossibly compact strollers for parents determined to travel internationally with pre-ambulatory children, and those featuring a ride-on kick board or second, less "babyish" seat, designed with older siblings in mind. Despite the many models available, we are all familiar with the image of a harried mother struggling to use a stroller of any kind in a public space that does not accommodate it. There are anti-stroller evangelists, fervently preaching the gospel of baby wearing and attachment parenting. All of these attitudes, seemingly about an object, are also revealing of how we believe parents and children ought to move through the world.
Children of the Rush by James Russell            $23
It's 1861, and gold fever is sweeping the world. Otherwise sensible adults have gone mad and will do anything to get their hands on the precious metal. But two children have been caught up in the rush. Michael and Atarangi couldn't be more different, but they share one thing: each has a remarkable and magical talent. Circumstances conspire to bring the children together in the remote and inhospitable goldfields, and they're thrust into a world where lawlessness, greed, and cruelty reign. When the children find out that a cut-throat gang stalks the goldfields, preying upon the innocent, they have a choice to make: turn a blind eye, or fight back?

Saturday 25 March 2023


New books and book news!

Read our 322nd NEWSLETTER.



{STELLA}>> Read all Stella's reviews.

As a child, I would go to the library every Friday. It was the highlight of my week, and I managed to read my way around the shelves (some books several times). The small bookcase at home had a few treasures — my own books. And I still remember most of these titles vividly. Reading them into the small hours of the morning with my torch or making a den among the trees, hidden away with my books was my special pleasure and a secret world only I could enter. Joining my friends on the page and discovering worlds outside my own, reading books was a surprise, a wonder, company and solace. The school holidays are fast approaching, as well as the Easter break, so now is a good time to stock up for yourself, the children in your family, or to give a gift to someone who would appreciate the wonder of a new book for their special shelf. We have many beautiful and excellent children’s books in stock, and because we would like to see these books in homes, we are offering a selection at reduced prices.
Here are some picks from our sale that would captivate young readers: I would recommend Still Stuck — learning to dress oneself is hilarious fun;  The Witches of Benevento: The Secret Janara — this delightful series features stand-alone stories of history and mischief with a gaggle of curious children; the thoughtful (and stunningly illustrated) And the Ocean Was Our Sky. For excellent teen fantasy, try A Winter’s Promise. And then there are the large, beautiful, illustrated non-fiction books — hours, days, years of looking and learning — highlights: The SkyAnimalium and A World of Art to just mention a few.
Happy browsing! And let us know if you would like your purchases gift-wrapped. 

>>Browse our Children's Book Sale now.

 >> Read all Thomas's reviews. 



Tropisms by Nathalie Sarraute (translated by Maria Jolas)   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
In biology, the
 directional response of a plant’s growth either towards or away from an external stimulus that either benefits or harms it is termed tropism. Nathalie Sarraute, in this subtly astounding book, first published in 1939, applies the term to her brief studies of ways in which humans are affected by other humans beneath the level of cognitive thought. In these twenty-four pieces she is interested in describing “certain inner ‘movements’, which are hidden under the commonplace, harmless appearances of every instant of our lives. These movements, of which we are hardly cognisant, slip through us on the frontiers of consciousness, in the form of undefinable, extremely rapid sensations. They hide behind our gestures, beneath the words we speak. They constitute the secret source of our existence.” We are either attracted or repulsed by the presence of others, though attraction and repulsion are indistinguishable at least in the degree of connection they effect, we are either benefitted or harmed by others, or both at once, but we cannot act upon or even acknowledge our impulses without making intolerable the life we have striven so hard to make tolerable in order to survive. Neurosis may be a sub-optimal functional mode, but it is a functional mode all the same. We wish to destroy but we fear, rightly, being also destroyed. We sublimate that which would overwhelm us, preferring inaction to action for fear of the reaction that action would attract, but we cannot be cognisant of the extent to which this process forms the basis of our existence for such awareness would be intolerable. We must deceive ourselves if we are to make the intolerable tolerable, and we must not be aware that we so deceive ourselves. Such devices as character and plot, which we both apply to ‘real life’ and practise in the reading and writing of novels, are “nothing but a conventional code that we apply to life” to make it liveable. Sarraute’s brilliance in this book, which is the key to her other novels, and which constitutes an object lesson for any writer, is to observe and convey the impulses “constantly emerging up to the surface of the appearances that both conceal and reveal them.” Subliminal both in its observations and in its effects, the book suggests the urges and responses that form the understructure of relationships, unseen beneath the effectively compulsive conventions, expectations and obligations that comprise our conscious quotidian lives. Many of the pieces suggest how children are subsumed, overwhelmed and harmed by adults: “They had always known how to possess him entirely, without leaving him an inch of breathing space, without a moment’s respite, how to devour him down to the last crumb.” Sarraute is not interested here in character or plot, but in the unacknowledged impulses and responses that underlie our habits, attitudes and actions. Each thing emerges from, or tends towards, its opposite. All that is beautiful moves towards the hideous. Against what is hideous, something inextinguishable moves to rebel, to survive. ‘Tropism’ also suggests the word ‘trop’ in French, in the sense of ‘too much’. The ideas we have of ourselves are flotsam on surging unconscious depths in which there is no individuality, only impulse and response. Sarraute’s tropisms give insight into the patterns, or clustering tendencies, of these impulses and responses, and are written in remarkable, beautiful sentences. “And he sensed, percolating from the kitchen, squalid human thought, shuffling, shuffling in one spot, going round and round, in circles, as if they were dizzy but couldn’t stop, as if they were nauseated but couldn’t stop, the way we bite our nails, the way we tear off dead skin when we’re peeling, the way we scratch ourselves when we have hives, the way we toss in our beds when we can’t sleep, to give ourselves pleasure and to make ourselves suffer, until we are exhausted, until we’ve taken our breath away.”

Friday 24 March 2023

Book of the Week. Alice Vincent suspected that the histories of women who gardened had been buried, and she set out to dig them up. As she was doing so, she met some interesting people (including Ali Smith and Cosey Fanni Tutti) and began to speculate on a relationship between women and the soil, a relationship that sometimes pushes other relationships into the background. Vincent 's book, Why Women Grow: Stories of soil, sisterhood and survival, is beautifully presented and a joy to read. 
>>A host of new friends
>>The joy of growing things
>>Read an extract
>>Compost and nasturtiums
>>Other books on gardening
Your copy of Why Women Grow.  


Whale by Cheon Myeong-Kwan (translated by Chi-Young Kim)       $38
An adventure-satire of epic proportions, which sheds new light on the changes Korea experienced in its rapid transition from pre-modern to post-modern society. Set in a remote village in South Korea, Whale follows the lives of three linked characters: Geumbok, an extremely ambitious woman who has been chasing an indescribable thrill ever since she first saw a whale crest in the ocean; her mute daughter, Chunhui, who communicates with elephants; and a one-eyed woman who controls honeybees with a whistle. A fiction that brims with surprises and wicked humour, from one of the most original voices in South Korea.  
"A carnivalesque fairy tale that celebrates independence and enterprise, a picaresque quest through Korea’s landscapes and history, Whale is a riot of a book. Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s vivid characters are foolish but wise, awful but endearing, and always irrepressible. This is a hymn to restlessness and self-transformation." —judges' citation, 2023 International Booker Prize
Women have always gardened, but their stories have so often been buried with their work. Alice Vincent explores what encourages women to go out, work the soil, plant seeds and nurture them, even when so many other responsibilities sit upon their shoulders. This book emerged from a deeply rooted desire to share the stories of women who are silenced and overlooked. In doing so, Alice fosters connections with gardeners that unfurl into a tender exploration of women's lives, their gardens and what the ground has offered them, with conversations (with Ali Smith, Hazel Gardiner, Cosey Fanni Tutti, and others) spanning creation and loss, celebration and grief, power, protest, identity and renaissance. 
"Alice Vincent has written something wonderful. Why Women Grow is a book that not only presents us with the beauty of the earth but asks one of the most fundamental questions to the human condition: what does it mean to create? I loved the way she wrote about the ambivalent power of the maternal question. I was delighted to travel around the country with her, digging into people's lives, private spaces and plants. We need more books about women, wombs and our role in the world; Alice has done that with charm, humour and an impressive depth of knowledge." —Nell Frizzell
Deranged As I Am by Ali Zamir (translated by Alice Banks)             $38
Set on the island of Anjouan, Comoros, Deranged As I Am follows the story of a humble dock worker. With his ramshackle cart and patched-up clothes, he spends his days trying to find enough work to feed himself. This whirlwind of a novel takes place over just a few days, yet Ali Zamir's poetic and energetic prose transports readers to the docks, its noises, colors, and smells. This lively and often darkly humorous story does not draw away from the more serious themes of class, poverty, and exploitation that Zamir explores. A rich and significant text that questions literature and language itself.
The South Island of New Zealand from the Road by Robin Morrison             $75
In 1979 the photographer Robin Morrison and his family spent seven months on the road in the South Island, where Morrison photographed people and places. The resulting book was published in 1981 by Alister Taylor and became an overnight success. Alas, conflict between Taylor and the printer, and the later loss of some images, meant it was never reprinted once it had sold out. It now has near legendary status and sells for hundreds of dollars in the used-book market. Now this groundbreaking book is back in a new edition. Morrison's original Kodachrome slides have been digitised using the latest technology, and his friend and fellow journalist Louise Callan has written a major essay on the book and its legacy, including assessments and recollections by Robin White, Laurence Aberhart, Grahame Sydney, Owen Marshall, Ron Brownson, Dick Frizzell, Alistair Guthrie and Sara McIntyre. 
The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier (translated by Daniel Levin Becker)                $45
Buried deep in rural France, little remains of the isolated hamlet of the Three Lone Girls, save a few houses and a curiously assembled quartet: Patrice Bergogne, inheritor of his family’s farm; his wife, Marion; their daughter, Ida; and their neighbour, Christine, an artist. While Patrice plans a surprise for his wife’s fortieth birthday, inexplicable events start to disrupt the hamlet’s quiet existence: anonymous, menacing letters, an unfamiliar car rolling up the driveway. And as night falls, strangers stalk the houses, unleashing a nightmarish chain of events. Told in rhythmic, propulsive prose that weaves seamlessly from one consciousness to the next over the course of a day, The Birthday Party is a deft unravelling of the stories we hide from others and from ourselves, a gripping tale of the violent irruptions of the past into the present. 
"The Birthday Party is a strange and marvellous thing: a thriller in slow motion. The tension builds so patiently that you almost miss it, with the result that when shocking events occur it’s too late to turn away. This is a dark and discomfiting work of beauty and violence, made all the more disturbing by its idyllic setting." —Jon McGregor
"This impressive and fascinating book reconciles two primal feelings: empathy and dread. It is a very scary book, rooted in the traditions of horror. It is as scary as when we listened to stories about ogres and wolves as children." —judges' citation on listing the book for the 2023 International Booker Prize
Dig Where You Stand: How to research a job by Sven Lindqvist            $45
Whatever your job is, it is part of a web of relations that affect other people, and the environment too. But how can you know the effects of your work? Who holds the power of the work that you do, and what do they use it for? Dig Where You Stand is a rallying cry for workers to become researchers, to follow the money, take on the role as experts on their job, and 'dig' out its hidden histories in order to take a vital step towards social and economic transformation. This how-to guide makes the case that everyone — not just academics — can learn how to critically and rigorously explore history, especially their own history, and in doing so find a blueprint for how to transform society for the better. In a world where the balance of power is overwhelmingly stacked against the working-class, Dig Where You Stand's manifesto for the empowerment of workers through self-education, historical research and political solidarity is urgent, important and relevant..
“This pioneering work is as relevant today as it was on first publication, as capital continues to unceasingly move around the world, desperate to avoid accountability for its disastrous social and environmental consequences.” —Ken Worple
"Lindqvist’s book shows with vivid clarity how capitalism permeates society, our homes, lungs, and children’s future. And yet, at the end, there is not despair and hopelessness but an empowering sense that things can and will be changed.” —Catharina Thörn
Chinatown by Thuận (translated by Nguyen An Ly)         $36

The Métro shudders to a halt: an unattended bag has been found. For the narrator, a Vietnamese woman teaching in the Parisian suburbs, a fantastical interior monologue begins, looking back to her childhood in early ‘80s Hanoi, university studies in Leningrad, and the travails and ironies of life in France as an immigrant and single mother. But most of all she thinks of Chinese-Vietnamese Thụy, who she married in the aftermath of the Sino-Vietnamese war, much to her parents’ disapproval, and whom she has not seen now for eleven years. The mystery around his disappearance feeds her memories, dreams and speculations, in which the idea of Saigon’s Chinatown looms large. There’s even a novel-in-progress, titled I’m Yellow, whose protagonist’s attempts to escape his circumstances mirror the author-narrator’s own. Interspersed with extracts from I’m Yellow, the narrator's book-length monologue is an attempt, at once desperate, ironic, and self-deprecating, to come to terms with the passions that haunts her.
Chinatown exerts a near-tidal pull on the reader. I swallowed it down in one gulp.” — Lily Meyer
Chinatown is a fever dream, a hallucination, a loop in time and life that Thuân masterfully deploys to capture the disorienting and debilitating effects of migration, racism, and a broken heart in both Vietnam and France. I was completely immersed in this spellbinding novel.” — Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Earth Transformed: An untold story by Peter Frankopan              $45
 Following his Silk Roads books, Frankopan turns his attention to our ancestors who, like us, worshipped, exploited and conserved the natural environment — and draws salutary conclusions about what the future may bring. In this book, Frankopan shows that engagement with the natural world and with climatic change and their effects on us are not new — exploring, for instance, how the development of religion and language and their relationships with the environment; tracing how growing demands for harvests resulted in the increased shipment of enslaved peoples; scrutinising how the desire to centralise agricultural surplus formed the origins of the bureaucratic state; and seeing how efforts to understand and manipulate the weather have a long and deep history. Understanding how past shifts in natural patterns have shaped history, and how our own species has shaped terrestrial, marine and atmospheric conditions is not just important but essential at a time of growing awareness of the severity of the climate crisis.
Stagioni: Modern Italian cooking to capture the seasons by Olivia Cavalli           $54
Stagioni, meaning 'seasons' in Italian, will take you on a journey through the culinary year with recipes for every craving and occasion. Chef and food writer Olivia Cavalli brings together traditional recipes and contemporary creations with an enthusiastic aim to put fruit and vegetables centre stage. From refreshing summer salads to steaming bowls of wintery pasta, you'll find classics such as aubergine parmigiana, stuffed tomatoes and amaretti peaches alongside more unusual combinations of chestnut gnocchi, grape focaccia and courgette cake. Nicely done. 
The Remains by Margo Glantz (translated by Ellen Jones)           $38
The way you hold a cello, the way light lands on a Caravaggio, the way the castrati hit notes like no one else could—a lifetime of conversations about art and music and history unfolds for Nora García as she and a crowd of friends and fans send off her recently deceased ex-husband, Juan. Like any good symphony, there are themes and repetitions and contrapuntal notes. We pingpong back and forth between Nora's life with Juan (a renowned pianist and composer, and just as accomplished a raconteur) and the present day (the presentness of the past), where she sits among his familiar things, next to his coffin, breathing in the particular mix of mildew and lilies that overwhelm this day and her thoughts. In Glantz's hands, music and art access our most intimate selves, illustrating and creating our identities, and offering us ways to express love and loss and bewilderment when words cannot suffice. As Nora says, "Life is an absurd wound: I think I deserve to be given condolences." Glantz fuses Yiddish literature, Mexican culture, and French tradition to create an experimental new work of literature.
"An erudite meditation on the link between mortality and the nature of art." —Publishers Weekly
"Reading Margo Glantz's virtuoso novel is like letting oneself go while listening to Glenn Gould interpret Mozart." —Ilan Stavans
Iris and Me by Philippa Werry          $25
In January 1938 Iris Wilkinson—better known by her pen name Robin Hyde— left New Zealand for England. On the way, intrigued by glimpses of China, she ventured inland despite the war raging there, becoming one of the first female war correspondent—a feat that was all the more remarkable because she struggled with mental health and suffered a disability that meant she had a lifelong limp. Her story—here presented in verse form—is narrated by a loyal but mysterious companion who asks the reader to guess their secret.

Arabesques by Anton Shammas (translated by Vivian Eden)          $46
Arabesques engages with history and politics not as propaganda but as literature. That engagement begins with the language in which the book is written: Anton Shammas, from a Palestinian Christian family and raised in Israel, wrote in Hebrew, as no Arab novelist had before. The choice was provocative to both Arab and Jewish readers. Arabesques (first published in 1988) is divided into two sections: 'The Tale' and 'The Teller'. 'The Tale' tells of several generations of family life in a rural village, of the interplay of past and present, of how memory intersects with history in a part of the world where different people have both lived together and struggled against each other for centuries. 'The Teller' is about the writer's voyage out of that world to Paris and the United States, as he comes into his vocation as a writer, and raises questions about the authority of the storyteller and the nature of the self. Shammas's tour de force is both a personal and a political narrative—a reinvention of the novel as a way of envisioning and responding to historical and cultural legacies and conflicts.
"Intricately conceived and beautifully written. A crisp, luminous, and nervy mixture of fantasy and autobiography and an elegant example of postmodern baroque." —John Updike, The New Yorker
"If Hebrew literature is at all destined to have its Conrads, Nabokovs, Becketts and Ionescos, it could not have hoped for a more auspicious beginning." —Muhammad Siddiq, Los Angeles Times 
How to Get Fired by Evana Belich             $37
Wry and astute, these linked short stories all deal with work in Aotearoa — how to get it, avoid it, or lose it. In 'BurgerKai', Mel is given a motivational talk on what she says is "failing at a stupid, screwed-up sales job, selling stupid plastic shelving". Her days at Pacific Wave Plastics are numbered. Meanwhile, in the next story, Vic bikes through Christchurch collecting mementoes from the houses she has lived in, while her ex-partner Emma makes the decision to move to Auckland to work at a plastics factory... And so the chain continues — characters walk from one story to the next, often oblivious to each other, perhaps related through colleagues, or having once attended the same school, or simply crossed paths on a beach that offers escape from work. Oblique connections unite them, as does their daily struggle to negotiate relationships while they try to survive employment, or avoid it, or face getting fired.
"Reading these stories was an utterly absorbing experience. Belich demonstrates insider knowledge of unions and working conditions in real peoples' everyday lives with a profound compassion that is never sentimental. Her characters are deeply observed as they thread their way in and out of loosely linked narratives. I was reminded of Elizabeth Strout's wonderful Olive Kitteridge. I kept catching my breath as I came across familiar detail presented with a fresh and loving eye; this is simply a must-read." —Fiona Kidman
Millions of people climb the grand marble staircase to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art every year. But only a select few have unrestricted access to every nook and cranny. They're the guards who roam unobtrusively in dark blue suits, keeping a watchful eye on the two million square foot treasure house. Caught up in his glamorous fledgling career at The New Yorker, Patrick Bringley never thought he'd be one of them. Then his older brother died of cancer and he found himself needing to escape the mundane clamor of daily life. So he quit The New Yorker and sought solace in the most beautiful place he knew. To his surprise and the reader's delight, this temporary refuge becomes Bringley's home away from home for a decade. We follow him as he guards delicate treasures from Egypt to Rome, strolls the labyrinths beneath the galleries, wears out nine pairs of company shoes, and marvels at the beautiful works in his care. Bringley enters the museum as a ghost, silent and almost invisible, but soon finds his voice and his tribe—the artworks and their creators and the lively subculture of museum guards—a mosaic of artists, musicians, blue-collar stalwarts, immigrants, cutups, and dreamers. As his bonds with his colleagues and the art grow, he comes to understand how fortunate he is to be walled off in this little world, and how much it resembles the best aspects of the larger world to which he gradually, gratefully returns.
Stolen by Ann-Helen Laestadius          $37
Nine-year-old Elsa lives just north of the Arctic Circle. She and her family are Sami, Scandinavia's indigenous people and make their living herding reindeer. One morning when Elsa goes skiing alone, she witnesses a man brutally killing her reindeer calf, Nastegallu. Elsa recognises the man but refuses to tell anyone least of all the Swedish police force about what she saw. Instead, she carries her secret as a dark weight on her heart. Elsa comes of age fighting two wars- one within her community, where male elders expect young women to know their place; and against the ever-escalating wave of prejudice and violence against the Sami. When Elsa finds herself the target of the man who killed her reindeer calf all those years ago, something inside of her finally breaks. The guilt, fear, and anger she's been carrying since childhood come crashing over her like an avalanche, and will lead Elsa to a final catastrophic confrontation.
"Stolen is an extraordinary novel. A coming-of-age-story you'll get lost in, about youth and heritage and the never-ending struggle to be allowed to exist. Although set in the coldest and most northern part of Scandinavia, I'm convinced it's a universal story to be loved everywhere in the world." —Frederik Backman
The Hotel Witch by Jessica Miller          $21
Sometimes the simplest spells are the most powerful. Sibyl is the apprentice hotel witch at the splendid Grand Mirror Hotel. She is busy each day, under the watchful eye of her grandmother, drawing useful spell patterns to keep the hotel guests happy — spells to shine shoes, spells to make the pastry chef's cakes rise, spells to remove dust and spells to return lost things like hats and gloves to their owners. But Sibyl dreams of other possibilities-possibilities like her mother returning from the Black Mountains, and like Grandma letting her draw spell patterns from the Book of Advanced and Dangerous Magic. When Grandma gets stuck in last Tuesday, somewhere on the hotel's thirteenth floor, Sibyl must perform all the magic herself. Just when a very mysterious and perplexing problem arises and a very important guest must be taken care of. With the help of her friend Ahmed, the lift attendant, an aloof cat called Alfonso and Dora the concierge, Sibyl must solve the mystery of the missing shadows and find the right spell pattern to get them back. Will she open the Book of Advanced and Dangerous Magic? And will it contain the answers she needs?