The last new books of 2017. More new books in 2018.
H(A)PPY by Nicol(a) B(a)rker $48
Winner of the 2017 Goldsmiths Prize for "fiction at its most novel".
“Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY is a structural marvel to hold in the mind and in the hands. Line by line, colour by colour, this dystopic utopia is an ingenious closed loop of mass surveillance, technology, and personality-modifying psychopharmaceuticals. H(A)PPY is a fabulous demonstration of what the Goldsmiths Prize champions: innovation of form that only ever enriches the story. In Barker’s 3D-sculpture of a novel, H(A)PPY makes the case for the novel as a physical form and an object of art.” - Naomi Wood, Chair of Judges
The White Book by Han Kang $28
What is this whiteness in the world? What does this whiteness mark the absence of? What does it provide the space for? Han Kang, who was awarded the Man Booker international Prize for the exquisite and harrowing The Vegetarian, and also wrote the astonishing Human Acts, pulls the emotional threads that connect her to her older sister, who died two hours after birth, and considers the impact of loss and absence on the world and those who continue to exist in it. Can language overcome pain? Can writing about death in some way provide new life?
Tortot, The cold fish who lost his world and found his heart by Benny Lindelauf and Ludwig Volbeda $28
A heartless field cook seems immune to the sufferings of war until he gives (without compassion) shelter to a boy who has lost not only his brothers but also his legs. Crazed, moving and wonderfully illustrated.
In Search of Lost Books: The forgotten stories of eight mythical volumes by Giorgio van Straten $28
Just because these books have been lost from history for one reason or another hasn't prevented them from being culturally important and the foci of intense speculation. What are we to make of the memoirs of Lord Byron, the magnum opus of Bruno Schulz, the Hemingway novel mislaid at the Gare de Lyon, the second part of Gogol's Dead Souls or the contents of Walter Benjamin's suitcase?
Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with time by Vladimir Nabokov, edited by Gennady Barabtarlo $50
For 80 days in 1964-65 Nabokov carefully recorded his dreams in order to test the theories of J.M. Dunne, explicated in the eccentric An Experiment in Time (1927), that time can be thought of as running backwards. The results give remarkable insight into Nabokov's concerns, thought-processes and inner life.
The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee $28
As James Orr awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed by Bell's Palsy, leaving half his face paralysed. How does the sudden onset of an illness or disability affect the way we think of ourselves and the way others think of us, and the way we behave towards those close to us. A thoughtful and well written novella.
Savage Theories by Pola Oloixarac $35
A double-threaded narrative, each thread illuminating the other, concerning, on the one hand, a student pursuing a professor to demonstrate that she understands his Theory of Egoic Transmissions, and, on the other, a sort of sexual picaresque embedded in Argentina's Years of Lead in the 1970s.
"A stunning vibrant maximalist whirlwind of a novel. Oloixarac's wit and ambition are evident on every page. By comparison, most other contemporary fiction seems a little dull and simple-minded." - Hari Kunzru
"An exuberant blend of political satire and sexual picaresque. This book rewards total immersion: come for the inevitable Borges allusions, stay for the wild ride." - The New York Times
Kai and Culture: Food stories from Aotearoa edited by Emma Johnson $50
What does the food we eat tell us about who we are? What we eat is a manifestation of our cultural and personal identities and choices, and also an indication of who we are hoping or fearing to be. What ingredients make up our culture (and how long will it keep)? An interesting collection of illustrated essays.
The Story of Looking by Mark Cousins $55
What does it mean to look at something? Is looking passive or aggressive, expressive or empathetic? How are we bound to that at which we look? This book looks at the place of looking in our internal and communal lives, and helps us to think more about the visual world in which we find ourselves.
The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLauchlan $23
Teddy was raised by a poet and has an affinity with words, but only poets and children can hear a dog speak. Luckily, when two children are lost in the snow, they understand what Teddy says to them and they hold up in the cabin in which Teddy was raised. A quiet and beautiful story.
A World Gone Mad: The wartime diaries of Astrid Lindgren, 1939-1945 $23
Provides insights into the Soviet invasion of Finland and the ambiguities of Swedish neutrality, and asks questions about the nature of evil, and our capacity, as individuals, to stand against malevolent forces, and of the everyday as resistance to the extraordinary.
Lady Fanshawe's Receipt Book: The life and times of a Civil War heroine by Lucy Moore $45
How did the upheavals, uncertainties and reversals of the mid-seventeenth century affect the lives of women? The records left by this Royalist lady are illuminating.
The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars by Kathryn Lomas $55
How and why did a small group of Iron Age huts develop the requisites to establish an empire that would subsume much of the Western world and the Middle East?
"Lomas's clear narrative and up-to-date archaeological knowledge is just the right combination to illuminate the fascinating story of the emergence of Rome as a world power." - Christopher Smith, Director of the British School at Rome
Rome: A history in seven sackings by Matthew Kneale $45
The puncturing of Rome by exterior forces, from Gauls to the Nazis, has transformed the city and its place in wider history. Kneale compares the city before and after each attack and shows how each assault has made the city more dynamic and resilient.
Blood and Land: The story of Native North America by J.C.H. King $28
An astounding work, eschewing generalisation and instead emphasising and contrasting the great variety of experiences and cultures that populated and populate the United States, Canada and high arctic, from first contact until the successes and challenges of Native American leadership today.
Untypical Girls: Styles and sounds of the Transatlantic indie revolution by Sam Knee $45
From punk to postpunk through grunge and beyond, women have been remaking the music scene and assailing male definition of the underground.
Building Art: The life and work of Frank Gehry by Paul Goldberger $45
Gehry has had vast impact on architectural design and practice through his rethinking of the relationship between materials and form. This is his first full biography.
>> 29 buildings designed by Gehry.
In the Bonesetter's Waiting-Room: Travels through Indian medicine by Aarathi Prasad $28
The story of medicine in India is rich and complex: shaped by unique challenges and opportunities, uniting cutting-edge technological developments with ancient cultural traditions, fuelled by political changes which transformed the lives of millions and moulded by the energy of forceful individuals.
Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura $23
In a coastal village in medieval Japan, a young boy battles to keep his family alive against the odds. With his father gone, Isaku is forced to grow up well before his time. He must learn how to catch fish, how to distil salt, and about all the mysteries of the vast churning sea, not least the legend of O-fune-sama, of ships wrecked offshore providing the village with unexpected bounty.When a ship founders on the rocks, Isaku and the villagers rejoice. But the cargo is not at all the blessing they hoped for. At first mystifying, then terrifying, something dark is coming ashore and it's about to change their lives forever.
The Orchid Hunter: A young botanist's search for happiness by Leif Bersweden $28
A quest to find and photograph the 52 species of orchid native to Britain and Ireland in the field in one summer.
>> He's only 19.
Railways and the Raj: How the Age of Steam transformed India by Christian Wolmar $55
66000km of tracks were laid in India between 1842 and 1929, enabling the British to control the subcontinent and exploit its resources. The railways have remained integral to the functioning of modern India (transporting over 25 million passengers each day). Stripped of false nostalgia for the Raj and all its deceptions, India's railways still emerge as vital and enabling.
The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963 by Ed Ward $35
"Ward's writing is deeply researched, but conversational in tone. He nerds-out just the right amount, moving briskly from hit to hit and craze to craze, slowing down only to impart a few choice anecdotes. His faithful documentation of the genre's more obscure corners helps to point out that, early on, rock was weird. Ward underscores the vital point that rock was a music invented by people who knew better, but just couldn't help it." - The Washington Post
The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julie Sarda $35
The Liszts (including their pets) make lists, which guide them through every aspect of their lives. What happens when a guest arrives who is not on anyone's list? Stunning illustrations.
The Written World: How literature shaped history by Martin Puchner $37
Stories coinciding with recording technologies have produced texts that are integral to wider history.
"Lucid." - Kirkus
The King in Yellow by R.W. Chambers $25
The four weird tales in this volume are all linked by a play, the second act of which reveals "truths so terrible and beautiful that it drives all who read it to despair". First published in 1895.
"Altogether one of the greatest weird tales ever written." - H.P. Lovecraft
Inside Out by J.R. $119
In 2011 activist and artist J.R. embarked on a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work by pasting photographic portrait posters in diverse communities around the world (including Wellington). This remarkable book records the process and the results.
Eat Me: A natural and unnatural history of cannibalism by Bill Schutt $37
From the plot of Psycho to the ritual of the Eucharist, cannibalism is woven into our history, our culture and our medicine. And in the natural world, eating your own kind is everything from a survival strategy - practiced by polar bears and hamsters alike - to an evolutionary adaption.
"His generation's finest essayist. Taken as a whole the book is a powerful injunction to look, listen and reflect, our surest means of defiance against the encroaching dimness." - Richard Godwin, Evening Standard
"Mark Greif writes a contrarian, skeptical prose that is at the same time never cynical: it opens out on to beauty and the possibility of change." - Zadie Smith
"Mark Greif is the best essayist of my generation. No one is more modern or more classical - or more stylish. This has its alarming effects. When you read Against Everything, you will vow to change your life." - Adam Thirlwell
Now in paperback.
The Happy Reader #10 $8
Includes an extended interview with bibliophile Jarvis Cocker, and an exploration of Yevgeny Zamyatin's early dystopian novel We.
Nemo's Almanac: A quiz for book lovers by Ian Patterson $25
The 126th iteration of this annual literary quiz. How will you perform?
30% off all diaries while stocks last (and the new year hasn't even started yet). Come in or click through to choose.