Everything Under by Daisy Johnson $40
Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn't seen her mother since the age of sixteen, and those memories have faded. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel's isolation and throws up questions from long ago. She begins to remember the private vocabulary of her childhood. She remembers other things, too: the wild years spent on the river; the strange, lonely boy who came to stay on the boat one winter; and the creature in the water, swimming upstream, getting ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but go back.
“A hypnotic, mythic, unexpected story from a beguiling new voice. Everything Under is an exploration of family, gender, the ways we understand each other and the hands we hold out to each other – a story that’s like the waterways at its heart: you have to take the trip to understand what’s underneath.” - The judges' comment, on long-listing the book for the 2018 Man Booker Prize
In the Distance by Hernán Díaz $23
A young Swedish immigrant finds himself penniless and alone in California. The boy travels east in search of his brother, moving on foot against the great current of emigrants pushing west. Driven back again and again, he meets naturalists, criminals, religious fanatics, swindlers, Indians, and lawmen, and his exploits turn him into a legend. Diaz defies the conventions of historical fiction and genre, offering a probing look at the stereotypes that populate our past and offers a portrait of radical foreignness.
"Diaz sends a shotgun blast through standard received notions of the Old West and who was causing trouble in it." - Laird Hunt
The Farewell Tourist by Alison Glenny $28
Poems assailed by blankness, by ice, by erasure, by exhaustion, by the dissolution of form.
"The work takes full advantage of the white pages on which the words appear. In particular it plays with ideas of erasure, as if all our words, like any evidence of human presence, can be extinguished by a fresh fall of snow." - Bill Manhire
Recipient of the 2017 Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award.
Granta 144: Generic Love Story edited by Sigrid Rausing $28
Devorah Baum reads Grace Paley to find out what women want, Stella Duffy looks for LGBT voices in the #MeToo debate, Fernanda Eberstadt remembers the 70s drag scene in New York, Debra Gwartney breaks her silence, Ottessa Moshfegh gets what she wants, TaraShea Nesbit revisits her lost childhood, Brittany Newell deconstructs Paris Hilton's sex tape, Lisa Wells on the process of revisiting trauma. Also: new fiction from: Tara Isabella Burton, Paul Dalla Rosa, Tommi Parrish, Sally Rooney, Miriam Toews, Zoe Whittall and Leni Zumas. Plus: poetry by Momtaza Mehri and Fiona Benson. And: photoessays by Sébastien Lifshitz and Tomoko Sawada, introduced by Andrew McMillan and Sayaka Murata.
Bonsai: Best small stories from New Zealand edited by Michelle Elvy, Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe $40
200 gems of flash fiction and associated forms, none exceeding 300 words, all exemplars of concision.
Rooms With a View: The secret life of grand hotels by Adrian Mourby $25
Grand hotels are a world unto themselves, with their own customs and mores, their own restrictions and liberations. Salvador Dalí once asked room service at Le Meurice in Paris to send him up a flock of sheep. When they were brought to his room he pulled out a gun and fired blanks at them. George Bernard Shaw tried to learn the tango at Reid's Palace in Madeira, and the details of India's independence were worked out in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel, Delhi. Mourby, who wrote the wonderfully personable Rooms of One's Own, here visits fifty of the world's grandest, including the Adlon in Berlin, the Hotel de Russie in Rome, the Continental in Saigon, Raffles in Singapore, the Dorchester in London, Pera Palace in Istanbul and New York's Plaza, as well as some lesser known grand hotels like the Bristol in Warsaw, the Londra Palace in Venice and the Midland in Morecambe Bay.
>> Visit the Grand Budapest Hotel.
An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans $23
A partisan fighting with the Red Army in Germany comes across a grand, abandoned house, seemingly untouched by the devastation sweeping the country. Exhausted, he falls asleep in the living room, but wakes to find a German patrol marching up the garden path. His only hope is to pose as the house’s owner, but how will he keep up the pretence when the real owner returns? A novel of the dehumanisation of war, consistent with Hermans's credo of “creative nihilism, aggressive pity, total misanthropy.” Introduction by Cees Nooteboom.
There's No Place Like the Internet in the Springtime by Erik Kennedy $25
"Layering comedy over insight over rue and pathos over comedy, mixing its flexible couplets with beautifully spiky free verse, Erik Kennedy's first collection should climb up all the right charts: his phrases can go anywhere, then come back, and he has figured out how to sound both trustworthy and nonplussed, both giddy and humble, in the same breath. Sometimes he impersonates spiny lobsters; sometimes he's a socialist chambered nautilus. Sometimes he's our best guide to the globe-trotting ridiculous. And sometimes (start with 'Mailing in a Form Because There's No Online Form') hes the un-flick-off-able, so-wrong-he's-just-right guide to the way we live now." - Stephanie Burt
The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada $25
An ecological disaster has contaminated the soil of Japan. Children are born frail but wise, and the elderly are new creatures, full of vitality. Yoshiro frets about the declining health of his grandson Mumei, but Mumei is a beacon of hope, guiding his grandfather towards "the beauty of the time that is yet to come" (but which way does time run?).
"Both unsettling and enchanting, gentle and sharp-edged. Tawada writes beautifully about unbearable things" - Sara Baume
>>Also published as The Emissary.
Studio Dreams: NoBrow 10 edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (no.0679 of an edition of 1000) $43
70 illustrators were given the brief to illustrated their "dream studios" - with such wonderful results. These are the centres of creative vortices, places where dreams cross between an illustrator's internal and external worlds by means of paper.
Child I by Steve Tasane $17
A group of undocumented children with letters for names are stuck living in a refugee camp, with stories to tell but no papers to prove them. As they try to forge a new family among themselves, they also long to keep memories of their old identities alive. Will they be heard and believed? And what will happen to them if they aren't? Excellent for 9+.
Whale in a Fishbowl by Troy Howell and Richard Jones $35
When a girl in a paisley dress tells the whale in a fishbowl, "You belong in the sea," the whale starts to wonder. What is the sea?
Poeta: Selected and new poems by Cilla McQueen $40
A selection from 14 volumes spanning five decades, with new work and drawings.
A Case for Buffy ('Detective Gordon' #4) by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee $20
The most important case ever investigated in Detective Gordon's forest: Where is Buffy's mother? If you haven't read the other 'Detective Gordon' books, now is the time to start.
The Art of Lettering: Perfectly imperfect hand-crafted type design by Brooke Robinson $95
A collection of new and established graphic designers at the forefront of hand lettering.
What's the Difference? 40+ pairs of the seemingly similar by Guillaume Plantevin and Emma Strack $35
What distinguishes a mandarin orange from a clementine, an iris from a pupil, a tornado from a cyclone, and a bee from a wasp? The difference is in the details. Beautifully illustrated throughout.
Rough Spirits and High Society: The culture of drink by Ruth Ball $55
Why is such a lot of socialising done with a drink in the hand? Why is alcohol seen as a social and cultural lubricant? Why were coffee houses the birthplace of so many of our institutions? A thoroughly illustrated and thoroughly browsable survey.
Happiness by Jack Underwood $25
What is happiness? What is poetry? How do happiness and poetry sustain themselves in the face of melancholy and mundanity? Can poetry be reached from the mundane, and happiness from a state of melancholy?
"An unconventional talent." - The Guardian
>> Why should anyone care?
Louder by Kerrin P. Sharpe $25
A fourth collection of Sharpe's urgent and engaged poems.
Food Fights and Culture Wars: A secret history of taste by Tom Nealon $60
Eclectic, peripatetic and sumptuously illustrated, this is a very enjoyable, browsable book on the history of food and its place in society.
100 Poems by Seamus Heaney $28
The most representative collection, in a nice hardback edition.
Where the Animals Go: Tracking wildlife with technology in 50 maps and graphics by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti $40
New technology has made it possible to track the movements and migrations of animals as never before - and the results are often surprising.
The Graphene Revolution: The weird science of the ultra-thin by Brian Clegg $23
In 2003, Russian physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov found a way to produce graphene - the thinnest substance in the world - by using sticky tape to separate an atom-thick layer from a block of graphite. Their efforts would win the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics, and now the applications of graphene and other 'two-dimensional' substances form a worldwide industry. Graphene is far stronger than steel, a far better conductor than any metal, and able to act as a molecular sieve to purify water. Electronic components made from graphene are a fraction the size of silicon microchips and can be both flexible and transparent, making it possible to build electronics into clothing, produce solar cells to fit any surface, or even create invisible temporary tattoos that monitor your health.
Raising a Forest by Thibaud Herem $22
Illustrator Thibaud Herem is nurturing a homegrown arboretum in his flat. With over 30 species of tree ranging from oak to Japanese maple to giant redwood, this is a documentation of his obsession as well as a visual exploration of the beautiful shapes and forms found in nature. Within a personal narrative, this little book includes fascinating information about the trees, the process of planting and cultivating them, and musings on society's relationship to the architecture of trees.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara $33
McNamara became obsessed with finding the 'Golden State Killer', a serial rapist and muderer who terrorised California in the 1970s and 1980s. He was eventually caught this year (after McNamara's death). Compelling.
Hāpata: Te kuri maia o te moana nā Robyn Belton $20
At last: the beloved Herbert the Brave Sea Dog in te Reo.
Paraweta by Stephanie Blake $20
And at last: the wonderful Poo Bum in te Reo.