NEW BOOKS FOR A NEW MONTH
Choose from this array of new releases
Some Things to Place in a Coffin by Bill Manhire $25
Language dances as death presses at it from behind, agency flees into objects, images draw themselves together on the brink of their own dissolution, small things become final containers for the large. Manhire's first collection for seven years takes its title, and many of its themes, from the elegy he wrote for his friend Ralph Hotere.
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin $23
A young woman lies dying in hospital. The boy at her bedside asks some questions which unleash the most terrifying of stories.
Long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.
"Terrifying but brilliant, this dangerously addictive novel in which a woman’s life speeds towards doom is haunted by the bleak landscape of rural Argentina. Schweblin remorselessly cranks up the tension until every sentence seems to tremble with threat. Fever Dream’s ambiguities, and the intricate psychologies with which Schweblin invests her characters, mean that rereading proves rewarding even when the suspense is removed. Wherever you decide the truth lies, aspects of Amanda’s story will continue to puzzle and haunt you long after she stops being able to tell it." - Guardian
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell $38
32-year-old Helen is in her Manhattan apartment when she receives a call that her adoptive brother has killed himself. Helen, who like her brother is Korean and was adopted by the same white Milwaukee couple, is shaken by the news and books a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. But what starts as a detective’s hunt for clues soon becomes Helen’s confrontation of her own place in the world and her estrangement from her past.
“Patty Yumi Cottrell’s adoption of the rambling and specific absurd will and must delight. This is a graceful claim not just about writing but about a way of being in the world, an always new and necessary way to contend with this garbage that surrounds us, these false portraits of our hearts and minds. This book is not a diversion—it’s a lifeline.” —Jesse Ball
The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, expats and ex-countries by Jessa Crispin $45
In her memoir of leaving settled life in search of a way of existing not based solely on either struggle or surrender, Crispin (author of Why I Am Not a Feminist) finds solidarity with Nora Barnacle, William James, Maude Gonne and Igor Stravinsky, fellow refusers of the stable caught always in the borderlands between dependence and independence.
Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg $28
Steeped in the author's own experiences, this novel protrays the life of a girl growing up in rural Southern Poland in the 1970s where the edges of reality are always assailed by Catholicism, Communism and folklore.
"Enchantingly elliptical. Greg moves back and forth across time with a poet’s panache. It is refreshing to find a fiction writer so free of stylistic pomp, so and finely attuned to the truth of her material, a novel so sensually saturated." - Kapka Kassabova, Guardian
This book has just been long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.
The Abundance by Annie Dillard $25
A selection of essays from the Pulitzer Prize-winner's various collections of essays.
"Annie Dillard's books are like comets, like celestial events that remind us that the reality we inhabit is itself a celestial event." - Marilynne Robinson
"Spirited and gale-force. She raps out her opinions; lyrical, gleeful, cymbal-clashing, peppery. The best thing is her glee, a pied-piperish glee at being in the world, which she evokes better than anyone else." - Robert MAcfarlane
"Annie Dillard is among the greatest nature writers who have ever lived. Like Thoreau, like Gilbert White, she combines a naturalist's sharp eye with a philosopher's curiosity and a poet's magical gift for language. Keen, urgent and impassioned, her subject is life itself, in all its teeming and marvellous forms." - Olivia Laing
Bright Air Black by David Vann $37
A deeply poetic and dark novel set in the 13th century BC and telling of Medea's journey with Jason across the Mediterranean on board the Argo bringing the Golden Fleece from Colchis. Vann has an almost uncanny ability to probe the furthest corners of his characters' motivations, weaknesses and strengths, and this is a nuanced treatment of an often maligned character.
"David Vann is surely one of the most powerful writers working today." - New Zealand Herald
>> Euripides attempted something similar.
>> As did Lars Trier.
>> Beware of centaurs.
Who Lost Russia? How the world entered a new Cold War by Peter Conradi $40
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it seemed possible that a new age of openness and co-operation with the West was possible. But the vacuum of the 1990s proved the ideal conditions for the growth of a worrying new nationalism with international repercussions led by Vladimir Putin.
"Nuanced yet fast-paced, this is the essential guide to our rocky relationship with a country we ignore at our peril." - Peter Pomerantsev
A Girl in Exile by Ismail Kadare $27
When a woman is found dead with a signed copy of Rudian Stefa's latest book in her possession, the author finds himself summoned for an interview by the Party Committee. He has never met the woman in question but he remembers signing the book. As the influence of a paranoid regime steals up on him, Rudian finds himself swept along on a surreal quest to discover what really happened to the mysterious woman to whom he wrote the dedication.
"A compelling amalgam of realism, dreaminess and elegiac, white-hot fury. Kadare communicates with awful immediacy the nature of tyranny and the accommodations that those subject to it must make - as Kadare himself had to do." - John Banville
The Burrow, And other stories by Franz Kafka $30
A much-anticipated new translation of some of Kafka's most interesting (but sometimes lesser-known) stories by the luminous Michael Hofman. Includes 'Building the Great Wall of China' and 'Investigations of a Dog'.
>> Hofman stands, speaks and reads.
>> Meet Franz K.
>> What makes something Kafkaesque?
>> Will Self finds K's dust.
The Greatest Story Ever Told... So Far: Why are we here? by Lawrence M. Krauss $38
How did we arrive at the current favoured model of physical reality? Why is the Standard Model of Particle Physics the best tool we have at the moment to understand the unseen forces that shape our everyday realities?
"A Homeric tale of science, history and philosophy revealing how we learned so much about the universe and its tiniest parts." - Sheldon Glashow (Nobel laureate in physics)
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart $18
When Reuben discovers an old pocket watch, he soon realizes it holds an incredible power: it can turn you invisible for fifteen minutes. He can't resist the lure of disappearance: for a time, he can vanish from the despotic regime of New Umbra. But the watch's power is even more extraordinary than he imagines. Soon, he's on the run from New Umbra's ruler, The Smoke, who's determined to possess it for himself...
From the author of the rather wonderful 'Mysterious Benedict Society' series.
Kruso by Lutz Seiler $37
At the end of the 80s a young literature student travels to the Baltic Island of Hiddensee, a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state. Although he tries to remain on the edges he feels himself drawn to charismatic Kruso, unofficial leader of the seasonal workers. What is Kruso's mission? What will happen as the wave of change in Germany hits the island?
"The first worthy successor to Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain to appear in contemporary German literature.” - Der Spiegel
>> Read an extract here.
Empires in the Sun: The struggle for the mastery of Africa by Lawrence James $40
Between 1830 and 1945, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Italy and the United States impressed their languages, laws, culture, religions, scientific and technical knowledge and economic systems upon Africa. What was the result?
Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea by Teffi $40
Teffi writes with superimposed sympathy, wit and clarity of her 1918-1920 journey by cart, freight train and steamer into exile during the Russian Civil War and of the ordinary and 'unheroic' people she encountered, many of them refugees.
"Like Nabokov, Platonov, and many other great Russian prose writers, Teffi was a poet who turned to prose but continued to write with a poet's sensitivity to tone and rhythm. Like Chekhov, she fuses wit, tragedy, and a remarkable capacity for observation; there are few human weaknesses she did not relate to with compassion and understanding." - Robert Chandler, New Yorker
"I never imagined such a memoir could be possible, especially about the Russian Civil War. Teffi wears her wisdom lightly, observing farce and foible amid the looming tragedy, in this enthralling book." - Antony Beevor
Coastline: The food of Mediterranean Italy, France and Spain by Lucio Galletto and David Dale $70
Accessible, enjoyable, authentic.
The Folded Clock: A diary by Heidi Julavits $35
"Exquisite. This diary is a diary in the way that Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater is a confession, or that Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year is a journal, or that Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book is a pillow book. Witty, sly, critical, inventive and adventurous, a work so artful that it appears to be without artifice. This diary is a record of the interior weather of an adept thinker. In it, the mundane is rendered extraordinary through the alchemy of effortless prose. It is a work in which a self is both lost and found, but above all made." - New York Times
A lovely hardback edition.
Landskipping by Anna Pavord $22
A deeply poetic and thoughtful consideration of the British landscape and the effect of place on the people who live there.
"Rangy, deeply felt and sometimes luminous. Like the raking light that exposes ancient lynchets at sunset, such knowledge brings out new detail in the one particular view over a gate which Pavord has loved in all seasons, and which she now evokes for us as it changes through a full year. From the vantage point of this ending, I look back and find that the mixed landscape of the whole book is cast in a very beautiful light." - Alexandra Harris, Guardian
Now in paperback.
Green Kitchen at Home: Quick and healthy vegetarian food for every day by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl $45
>> They've got a blog.
>> They've got a YouTube channel.
The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson $40
1775 of them.
[But did Dickinson consider any of her poems "complete"?]
>> Try this (Herman Melville-inflected) Emily Dickinson poetry generator.
>> Also in stock: the very lovely Envelope Poems.
A Land Without Borders: My journey around East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Nir Baram $40
Baram navigates the conflict-ridden regions and hostile terrain to speak with a wide range of people, among them Palestinian-Israeli citizens trapped behind the separation wall in Jerusalem, Jewish settlers determined to forge new lives on the West Bank, children on Kibbutz Nirim who lived through the war in Gaza, and ex-prisoners from Fatah who, after spending years detained in Israeli jails, are now promoting a peace initiative.
"Written with great talent, momentum and ingenuity. It expands the borders of literature to reveal new landscapes." - Amos Oz
"A book that is a fascinating and charged document about the meaning of home, security and freedom, on both sides of the divide." - NRG
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos $33
An interrogation of relationships, idolisation, and how the author's past intertwines with cultural history. Though the book explores bonds that Febos has with others—lovers, friends, lost and found family members—the relationship it ultimately depicts is the one that she builds with herself. It is also an origin story about creating the life of an activist, artist, teacher, and cultural theorist.
>> Read an interview with Febos here.
The Dog's Last Walk (And other pieces) by Howard Jacobson $27
A collection of his witty and iconoclastic columns for the Independent on everything from racism to darts.
"Jacobson is one of the great sentence-builders of our time. I feel I have to raise my game, even just to praise. He is one of the great guardians of language and culture - all of it. Long may he flourish." - Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
Utopia for Realists, And how we can get there by Rutger Bregman $24
"Brennan is part of a new generation of thinks who are suggesting exciting alternatives to the orthodoxies of the last forty years. In this surprising, accessible and often counterintuitive book Bregman explores some simple but brilliant ideas for making a better world." - Brian Eno
Rogues' Gallery: The history of art and its dealers by Philip Hook $45
Who controls the exchange between artists and their collectors? A tale of brilliance, cunning and greed spanning centuries.
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and her work by Bernadette Brennan $40
Brennan considers forty years of work by this revered and admired author. Garner often writes herself into her non-fiction, but just who is this 'I' of which she speaks? Insightful.
Junket is Nice by Dorothy Kunhardt $35
An old man with a red beard and red slippers is eating an endless bowl of junket. He says he will give something nice to whoever can guess what he is thinking about. The wildest guesses are wrong, but a small boy knows and the junket comes to an end. First published in 1932, this is a very silly book indeed.
>>> ("If you don't know what junket is, ask your nana about it.")