Friday 21 February 2020

Shakti by Rajorshi Chakraborti          $36
Amid a political climate of right-wing, nationalist leadership, three very different women in the city of Calcutta find themselves gifted with magical powers that match their wildest dreams. There is one catch — the gifts come with a Faustian price. The Man Who Would Not See was long-listed for the Acorn Prize in the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. 
"Chakraborti has embarked on one of the most interesting career trajectories seen in recent times." —The Sunday Guardian
>>Read Stella's review
>>Raj reads from the book and discusses its context. 

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts            $38
A fascinating history of Siberia as told through the pianos that have made their ways into houses there over the centuries. 
"An elegant and nuanced journey through literature, through history, through music, murder and incarceration and revolution, through snow and ice and remoteness, to discover the human face of Siberia. I loved this book." —Paul Theroux
>>A journey to the end of everything
Actress by Anne Enright         $35
Looking back on her mother's life and career as an actor, both in Ireland and in Hollywood, a woman finds herself reassessing her own life and her relationship with her parents. 
"This novel achieves what no real actor’s memoir could. Enright triumphs as a chameleon: memoirist, journalist, critic, daughter – her emotional intelligence knows no bounds. This is a study of possession that includes the subtly implied pain of having to share your mother with a crowd." —Guardian
Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and me by Deirdre Bair        $33
Becket and Beauvoir lived on essentially the same street, and, apparently, despised each other. Bair wrote incisive biographies of each. How did she juggle these personalities, and the different approaches she needed to take with each of them? 
>>Bair talks about the book

Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg           $48
A beautifully drawn and thoughtful graphic novel about the imaginary world invented by the four Brontë siblings when they were children — and what happened to that world when its creators grew up and abandoned it. From the author of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth and The One Hundred Nights of Hero
Humiliation by Paulina Flores          $33
Short stories revealing new dimensions of often marginal life in Chile. 
"In this impressive debut, nimbly translated by Megan McDowell, Flores explores the indignities of poverty, widespread in her native Chile. Like Alice Munro, Flores sparks empathy with a careful attention to details. Humanity, she makes clear, is bound together by a shared vulnerability." —Guardian 
"If reading can feel like a hand reaching out and taking yours (as Alan Bennett memorably put it), it’s still rare to encounter a debut with a grip this sure. A number of stories are written from the perspective of children, and are so saturated with misunderstandings and swollen emotions that they really do transport you backwards. Flores perfectly captures how silly things and life-changingly serious ones can acquire the same weight for a child trying to make sense of a grown-up world. There’s a masterly steadiness to her writing: no flash or dash, but neat psychological insight and understated, sometimes drily funny storytelling. There are also some killer twists. For all that she eschews high drama, I still physically winced a couple of times." —Observer
Translation (Documents of contemporary art) edited by Sophie Wilkinson        $55
The movement of global populations, and subsequently the task of translation, underlies contemporary culture. Economic and environmental migration, forced political exiles, and the plight of refugees are now superimposed upon the intricacies of ancient and modern diasporas, generations of colonisation, and the transportation of slaves. This timely anthology considers translation's ongoing role in cultural navigation, empathy, and understanding disparate experiences. It explores the approaches of artists, poets, and theorists in negotiating increasingly protean identities—from the intrinsic intimacy of language, to translation's embedded structures of knowledge production and interaction, to its limitations of expression, and, ultimately, its importance in a world of multiple perspectives. Artists surveyed include: Meric Algun Ringborg, Geta Bratescu, Tanya Bruguera, Jesse Darling, Chto Delat, Chohreh Feyzdjou, Susan Hiller, Glenn Ligon, Teresa Margolles, Shirin Neshat, Helio Oiticica, Pratchaya Phinthong, Kurt Schwitters, Yinka Shonibare, Mladen Stilinovic, Erika Tan, Kara Walker, Wu Tsang. Writers include: Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Luis Camnitzer, Jean Fisher, Stuart Hall, bell hooks, Sarat Maharaj, Martha Rosler, Bertrand Russell, Simon Sheikh, Gayatri Spivak, Hito Steyerl, Lawrence Venuti
Forever by Beatrice Alemagna          $30
Beautiful illustrations with clever overlays show that we are surrounded by change, but the most important thing will last for ever. 
We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and their forgotten battle for post-war Britain by Daniel Sonabend         $43
Returning to civilian life, at the close of the Second World War, a group of Jewish veterans discovered that, for all their effort and sacrifice, their fight was not yet done. Creeping back onto the streets were Britain's homegrown fascists, directed from the shadows by Sir Oswald Mosley. Horrified that the authorities refused to act, forty-three Jewish ex-servicemen and women resolved to take matters into their own hands. In 1946, they founded the 43 Group and let it be known that they were willing to stop the far-right resurgence by any means necessary. Their numbers quickly swelled. Joining the battle-hardened ex-servicemen in smashing up fascist meetings were younger Jews, including hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, and gentiles as well, some of whom volunteered to infiltrate fascist organisations. The Group published its own newspaper, conducted covert operations, and was able to muster a powerful force of hundreds of fighters who quickly turned fascist street meetings into mass brawls. The struggle peaked in the summer of 1947 with the Battle of Ridley Road, where thousands descended on the Hackney market to participate in weekly riots. Fascinating (and appropriately priced).
>>Sabotage and street scuffles
Grow Fruit and Vegetables in Pots: Planting advice and recipes from Great Dixter by Aaron Bertelsen          $70
Container gardening, and cooking (also using containers (of another sort)). 50 delicious recipes; excellent photographs; New Zealand author. 
Democracy May Not Exist, But we'll miss it when it's gone by Astra Taylor         $33
Is democracy a means or an end? A process or a set of desired outcomes? What if the those outcomes, whatever they may be - peace, prosperity, equality, liberty, an engaged citizenry - can be achieved by non-democratic means? Or if an election leads to a terrible outcome? If democracy means rule by the people, what does it mean to rule and who counts as the people? Incisive. Urgent. 
Comrade: An essay on political belonging by Jodi dean        $35
In the twentieth century, people across the globe addressed each other as 'comrade'. Now, among the left, it's more common to hear talk of 'allies'. Dean insists that this shift exemplifies the key problem with the contemporary left: the substitution of political identity for a relationship of political belonging that must be built, sustained, and defended. Dean offers a theory of the comrade. Comrades are equals on the same side of a political struggle. Voluntarily coming together in the struggle for justice, their relationship is characterised by discipline, joy, courage, and enthusiasm.

Lives and Deaths by Leo Tolstoy            $33
Short stories, newly translated by Boris Dralyuk. Includes the novella, 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich', together with shorter works 'Three Deaths', 'Pace-setter' and the fable-like 'Alyosha the Pot'. 
Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt        $25
"Few contemporary writers are as satisfying and stimulating to read as Siri Hustvedt. Her sentences dance with the elation of a brilliant intellect romping through a playground of ideas, and her prose is just as lively when engaged in the development of characters and story. Her wonderful new novel, “Memories of the Future,” is, among other things, a meditation on memory, selfhood and aging, but the plot is driven by the encounters of a present-day narrator with the young woman she was when she moved to New York City in August 1978. The drama that arises from these encounters is a reckoning between male privilege and female rage as timeless as “Medea” and as contemporary as #MeToo." —Washington Post
New paperback edition. 

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom        $35
Broom's remarkable book tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area in New Orleans. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina.
Granta 150: There Must Be Ways to Organise the World with Language         $28
Fiction, reportage, poetry, photography. Carmen Maria Machado, Oliver Bullogh, Andrew O'Hagan, Sidik Fofana, Amy Leach, Mazen Maarouf, Jack Underwood, Che Yeun, Tommi Parrish, Michael Collins, Jay G. Ying, Iain Willms, Pwaangulongii Dauod, Noriko Hayashi. 
Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš       $25
When Baroness Valtraute von Bruegen's officer husband's body is severed in two she is delighted to find that the lower half has been sewn onto the upper body of the humble local Captain Ulste. She conceives a child only to see the return of her husband in one piece. What happens next? A darkly bizarre novel flitting between 18th century Baltic gentry and the narrator's life in contemporary Latvia. 
The Writing Deck: 52 prompts for putting pen to paper by Emily Campbell and Harry Oulen         $40
Prompts, constraints, exercises, suggestions — your writing year in a deck of cards. 
Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-Ha          $23
In the titular story of this darkly funny collection, a one-time serial killer with dementia sets his sights on one last target: his daughter's boyfriend. 
"Filled with the kind of sublime, galvanizing stories that strike like a lightning bolt, searing your nerves." —Nylon 
"Kim delicately weaves philosophical debates on the nature of happiness and morality into his characters' inner narrations. Both jarring and atmospheric, this is a cerebrally satisfying collection." —Booklist
Meet Me in Buenos Aires by Marlene Hobsbawm         $35
Recounts her hugely eventful and various life, especially with her husband, the historian Eric Hobsbawm, often under constant scrutiny by MI5. 
The Star Factory by Ciaran Carson           $23
Could there be a better guide to the streets, stories, histories and cultural depths of Belfast than the author of Shamrock Tea and Fishing for Amber
Identity and Involvement: Auckland Jewry into the 21st century edited by Ann Gluckman        $50
This, the third volume of Gluckman's monumental record of 180 years of Jewish life in Auckland (and wider New Zealand), gathers family and individual stories of migration and identity. Contributors include Max Cryer, Sir Peter Gluckman, Walter Hirsh, Juliet Moses, Professor Paul Moon, Dame Lesley Max, Bob Narev, David Galler, Diana Wichtel, Judge David Robinson, Deb Filler and Maria Collins. 
Radicalised by Cory Doctorow       $23
Four dystopian sci-fi novellas set in a near future and exploring issues of migration and toxic economic and technological stratification.

Puligny-Montrachet: Journal of a village in Burgundy by Simon Loftus        $33
Loftus explores the mystery of how seven and a half acres of impoverished soil became the most precious agricultural land on earth, producing the grandest of all white wines: Puligny-Montrachet.

An Atlas of Geographical Wonders: From mountaintops to riverbeds by  Gilles Palsky, Jean-Marc Besse, Philippe Grand and Jean-Christophe Bailly         $100
An outstanding selection of comparative maps and tableaux, mostly drawn from nineteenth century publications. Endlessly wonderful. 
On Flowers: Advice from an accidental florist by Amy Merrick    $85
"I wanted the book to feel like this delightful collection of surprises, where you wouldn’t quite know what was coming next, a bit like a classic 1950s flower arranging manual but also a scrapbook of inspiration and ideas." —Amy Merrick
>>An interview with Amy Merrick.
Speak Italian: The fine art of the gesture by Bruno Munari      $30
With this superbly designed and photographed "supplement to the Italian dictionary" you will learn what Italians are saying with their hands — and what this says about them.
>>How to talk without using words

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