New books for a new month
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker $37
In this remarkable feminist version of The Iliad, Barker gives a voice to Briseis, the queen enslaved by Achilles after he killed her husband during the Trojan war. Trapped in a world defined by men and traumatised by war, can she become the author of her own story?
"Brilliant. This is an important, powerful, memorable book that invites us to look differently not only at The Iliad but at our own ways of telling stories about the past and the present, and at how anger and hatred play out in our societies." - Emily Wilson, The Guardian
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari $38
Having cast his consideration back over human history in Sapiens, and forward into the human future in Homo Deus, Harari turns his attention to what he considers the most pressing issues facing humans at present, the moment at which the future is being made into the past. Why is liberal democracy in crisis? Is God back? Is a new world war coming? What does the rise of Donald Trump signify? What can we do about the epidemic of fake news? Which civilisation dominates the world – the West, China, Islam? Should Europe keep its doors open to immigrants? Can nationalism solve the problems of inequality and climate change? What should we do about terrorism? What should we teach our kids? What should we teach our children? Intelligent, passionate, thought-provoking, discussable.
>> Listen to Harari talk about the book.
The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke by Tina Makereti $38
The long-awaited new novel from the author of Where the Rekohu Bone Sings follows the experiences of the orphaned son of a Maori chief who, while being exhibited as a curiosity in Victorian London, turns his own gaze upon the multilayered deceptions and pretensions of an alien society.
And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Rovina Cai $28
"Call me Bathsheba." A remarkable inversion of and futuristic riff on Moby-Dick for older children and young teens, told from the point of view of the whale and no less a portrayal of the damaging effects of obsession and brutality. Beautifully illustrated and produced.
>> Ness talks about the book.
Metamorphica by Zachary Mason $40
“Faces are drawn in water, and names written in dust. Even persons are ephemeral—in the end, there’s only pattern.” A stunning modern spin on Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which the characters have interior lives, doubts and previously unexplored motives.
>> Read an extract.
People in the Room by Norah Lange $34
A woman becomes obsessed with the women who live across the street. The stories she projects upon them become more and more extreme, creating a fascinating portrait of desire, voyeurism and isolation. The first novel of this significant Argentine author (and associate of Borges) to be translated into English. Why has it taken so long?.
"A deathly scene from a wax museum come to life." - Cesar Aira
>> "Not a novel to be read for pleasure."
>> Read an extract.
Tatau: A cultural history of Samoan tattooing by Sean Mallon and Sebastien Galliot $75
This first history of Samoan tatau explores the people, encounters, events and external forces that have defined Samoan tattooing over many centuries. The Samoan Islands are unusual in that tattooing has been continuously practised for 3000 years with indigenous techniques. Beautifully produced and illustrated.
Another Kyoto by Alex Kerr and Kathy Arlyn Sokol $28
An insider's meditation on the hidden wonders of Japan's most enigmatic city. Drawing on decades living in Kyoto, and on lore gleaned from artists, Zen monks and Shinto priests, Alex Kerr illuminates the simplest things - a temple gate, a wall, a sliding door - in a new way.
"A rich book of intimate proportions. In Kyoto, facts and meaning are often hidden in plain sight. Kerr's gift is to make us stop and cast our eyes upward to a temple plaque, or to squint into the gloom of an abbot's chamber." - Japan Times
The Raven's Children by Yulia Yakovleva $18
Leningrad, 1939. When Shura and Tanya's parents and baby brother suddenly disappear, it's rumoured that they have been kidnapped by the mysterious Black Raven - and that their parents were spies. Determined to find his family, Shura decides to hand himself in to the Raven. Flagging down a KGB car, he is taken to the Grey House, where everyone is given a new name and a set of grey clothes, and everyone seems to forget their families and who they really are. Now Shura must do everything he can to cling to his memories, and to escape...
French Exit by Patrick deWitt $33
A compulsively readable 'tragedy of manners' from the author of the hopelessly funny The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor. When a wealth widow and her son flee scandal in New York and move to Paris, they encounter a sequence of singular characters and situations for which they are totally unprepared.
Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale $38
Drawing on Gale's own experience as a young person coming to terms with a strictured world and finding a sense of belonging in musical performance, his 16th novel is a sensitive portrayal of self-discovery.
"Elegiac and contemplative." - The Guardian
Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Mary M. Talbot and Bryan Talbot $38
Two graphic-novel coming-of-age narratives: that of Lucia, the daughter of James Joyce, and that of author Mary Talbot, daughter of the eminent Joycean scholar James S. Atherton. Intelligent, funny and sad.
"Lucia Joyce's tragic descent from creativity into fragmentation is brilliantly brought home by the writing and art of the Talbot team." - Irish Times
>> See also the excellent Lucia by Alex Pheby
>> The lost story of Lucia Joyce as a Parisian avant-garde dancer.
Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin $33
"Darragh Martin’s bulging, big-hearted novel charts the hugely altered landscape of Ireland from Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979 up to the Icelandic volcano eruption of 2010. Epic in scale and a pleasure to read, the Dublin author’s ability to write with heart, humour and recognition make for an engrossing novel that tackles everything from religion to abortion, contraception to gay rights, the Fianna Fáil tent to the recession. That Martin manages to do this without ever sounding preachy shows his immense skill as a storyteller." - Irish Times
The Milk of Paradise: A history of opium by Lucy Inglis $38
The ultimate assuager of pain, the ultimate underminer of predetermined concepts of reality, the ultimate commodity, opium has affected our history and culture in surprising ways.
Eco Home: Smart ideas for sustainable New Zealand homes by Melinda Williams $45
Considers every room and detail. Includes floor plans and endless ideas.
That F Word: Growing up feminist in Aotearoa by Lizzie Marvelly $35
A wake-up call. A battle cry. A history. A stock take. A plan of action.
Women, Equality, Power by Helen Clark $45
Speeches spanning Clark's career, from entering parliament, through her Prime Ministership and into her developmental role at the United Nations, articulating a consistent and precise vision for the bettering of the lives of all in society, particularly those disadvantaged by the status quo.
The Village. by Matt and Lentil Purbrick $50
Good food, gardening and nourishing traditions to feed your village (however small).
>> Visit Grown & Gathered.
A History of Pictures for Children by David Hockney and Martin Gayford $35
Hockney and Gayford turn the conversational approach so successful in A History of Pictures to this thoughtful and companionable book introducing children to interesting art.
Journeys to the Other Side of the World by David Attenborough $38
Continues Attenborough's memoirs on from where he left off in the late 1950s in Adventures of a Young Naturalist.
Ko Wai e Huna Ana? by Satoru Onishi $20
Who is Hiding? in te Reo.
He Raiona i Roto o nga Otaota by Margaret Mahy and Jenny Williams $20
A Lion in the Meadow in te Reo.