The Mirror and the Light ('Wolf Hall' #3) by Hilary Mantel $50
"If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?"*
The intensely and long-anticipated and superlatively wonderful conclusion of Mantel's trilogy based on the life of Thomas Cromwell (1485—1540).
*Apologies for the spoiler!
"A novel of epic proportions, every bit as thrilling, propulsive, darkly comic and stupendously intelligent as its predecessors. This is a masterpiece that will keep yielding its riches, changing as its readers change, going forward with us into the future." —Guardian
Weather by Jenny Offill $33
Very funny on top of an underlying anxiety, Offill's new novel is absolutely on the pulse. The burdens and ironies of contemporary urban life — motherhood, sisterhood, wifehood, workerhood — are exemplified in Lizzie's endless surges of underachievement and misdirection.
"Perhaps the most powerful portrait of Trump’s America yet." —Guardian
>>Read Thomas's review of Offill's Dept. of Speculation.
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor $37
The Witch is dead. After a group of children playing near the irrigation canals discover her decomposing corpse, the village of La Matosa is rife with rumours about how and why this murder occurred. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, Fernanda Melchor paints a moving portrait of lives governed by poverty and violence, machismo and misogyny, superstition and prejudice.
"Brutal, relentless, beautiful, fugal, Hurricane Season explores the violent mythologies of one Mexican village and reveals how they touch the global circuitry of capitalist greed. This is an inquiry into the sexual terrorism and terror of broken men. This is a work of both mystery and critique. Most recent fiction seems anaemic by comparison." —Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School
>>Read an extract.
>>Fernanda Melchor in conversation with her translator, Sophie Hughes.
Indelicacy by Amina Cain $26
A cleaning woman at a museum of art nurtures aspirations to do more than simply dust the paintings. Her marriage to a rich man seems to offer a path to liberty and the realisation of her dreams, but having gained a husband, a house and a maid of her own, she finds that her life of privilege is no less constrained. Now that she is, however passively, forcing other women to clean up after her, she realises that a more drastic solution is necessary.
"The real magic of Cain’s slim novel lies in its restraint and precision." —Observer
>>Read an extract.
>>"Stripped down like a chalk-lined set."
Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas $15
Decolonisation is a term that scares some, and gives hope to others. It is an uncomfortable and bewildering concept for many New Zealanders yet it needs to be addressed if we are going to build a country that is fair and equal for all who live there.
Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey $33
Popkey's novel follows one woman as she makes her way through two decades of bad relationships, motherhood, crisis and consolation, each new episode narrated through the conversations she has with other women: in private with friends, at late-night parties with acquaintances, with strangers in hotel rooms, in moments of revelation, shame, intimacy, cynicism and desire.
"A brilliant new voice in contemporary fiction." —Ben Marcus
"An intimate evisceration of our narrow imaginings of female sexuality, a brilliantly structured character study and a book that repeatedly asks how women can fully trust their own desires when they've grown up steeped in the wrong stories." —Karen Russell
The Lifers by Michael Steven $28
From Sean Macgregor's lounge occupied by stoned youths, to three bank robbers en route to the Penrose ANZ, Michael Steven's second poetry collection presents his clear, clean vision of 'the lifers' who inhabit these islands and beyond. A generation's subterranean memories of post-Rogernomics New Zealand are a linking thread, in the decades straddling the millennium, while other poems echo with the ghostly voices of the dead, disappeared and forgotten.
>>Walking to Jutland Street.
Square Haunting: Five women, freedom, and London between the wars by Francesca Wade $45
Mecklenburgh Square, on the radical fringes of interwar Bloomsbury, was home to activists, experimenters and revolutionaries; among them were the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and writer and publisher Virginia Woolf. They each alighted there seeking a space where they could live, love and, above all, work independently.
"Outstanding. I'll be recommending this all year." —Sarah Bakewell
"A beautiful and deeply moving book." —Sally Rooney
Going Dark: The secret social lives of extremists by Julia Ebner $33
By day, Julia Ebner works at a counter-extremism think tank, monitoring radical groups from the outside, but two years ago, she began to feel that she was only seeing half the picture. She needed to get inside the groups to truly understand them. So she decided to go undercover in her spare hours - late nights, holidays, weekends - adopting five different identities, and joining a dozen extremist groups from across the ideological spectrum. Her journey would take her from a Generation Identity global strategy meeting in a pub in Mayfair, to a Neo-Nazi Music Festival on the border of Germany and Poland. She would get relationship advice from 'Trad Wives' and Jihadi Brides and hacking lessons from ISIS. She was in the channels when the alt-right began planning the lethal Charlottesville rally, and spent time in the networks that would radicalise the Christchurch terrorist. In Going Dark, Ebner takes the reader on a deeply compulsive, terrifying, illuminating journey into the darkest recesses of extremist thinking, exposing how closely we are surrounded by their fanatical ideology every day, the changing nature and practice of these groups, and what is being done to counter them.
>>Fear, loathing and democracy in an age of disinformation.
>>"The far right have a safe haven on-line."
Stories of the Sahara by Sanmao $33
"When I first arrived in the desert, I desperately wanted to be the first female explorer to cross the Sahara. The thought of it used to keep me up all night." Born in China in 1943, Sanmao moved from Chongqing to Taiwan, Spain to Germany, the Canary Islands to Central America, and, for several years in the 1970s, to the Sahara. Stories of the Sahara invites us into Sanmao's extraordinary life in the desert: her experiences of love and loss, freedom and peril, all told with a voice as spirited as it is timeless.
"Stories of the Sahara has endured for generations of young Taiwanese and Chinese women. Sanmao's prose, which oscillates between memoir and fiction, has a laconic elegance that echoes the Beat poets." —New York Times
"A remarkable and brave book. Sanmao was a freewheeling feminist who broke all the rules and did so with a gleeful, mischievous style. Sanmao deserves all the praise, even if it has been a long time coming." —David Eimer, South China Morning Post
The Climate Dispossessed: Justice for the Pacific in New Zealand? by Teall Crossen $15
This book explores what a just response to climate change displacement in the Pacific could look like. For many Pacific Islands, talking about plans to abandon their country risks providing the international community with an excuse to not reduce emissions. Yet internal climate change displacement cannot be avoided, and cross-border displacement may become a reality without urgent climate action.
The Beauty and the Terror: An alternative history of the Italian Renaissance by Catherine Fletcher $40
We revere Leonardo for his art but few now appreciate his ingenious designs for weaponry. We know the 'Mona Lisa' for her smile but not that she was married to a slave-trader. We visit Florence to see Michelangelo's 'David' but see nothing of the thousands who were massacred at the republic's downfall. In focusing on the Medici in Florence and the Borgias in Rome, we miss the vital importance of the Genoese and Neapolitans, the courts of Urbino and Mantua. Rarely do we hear of the women writers, Jewish merchants, the mercenaries, engineers, prostitutes, farmers and citizens who lived the Renaissance every day. An eye-opening book.
Somewhere: Women's stories of migration edited by Lorna Jane Harvey $30
From the fleeing refugee to the political and economic migrant, to those seeking new possibilities, a broad range of migration by people of many cultures, ethnicities and beliefs is part of the New Zealand's social fabric. Identity, belonging, assimilation and alienation are some of the key topics in this sometimes sad but also joyful book.
These Silent Mansions: A life in graveyards by Jean Sprackland $40
"I can remember my life by the graveyards I have known.” Sprackland's elegaic account of a lifetime spent in the gardens of the dead makes us think about these liminal places and the patterns of life and nature distilled therein.
"Filled with fascinating details and told with a poet's skill." —Guardian
And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon by Nikolai Gogol $33
New translations by Oliver Ready of six of Gogol's best stories. Includes 'The Nose', 'The Overcoat' and 'Diary of a Madman'.
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga $33
Tambudzai, living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare and anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job. At every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point. Written in the second person throughout,This Mournable Body reintroduces the circumstances of the protagonist of Nervous Conditions, published 30 years ago.
Look Hamlet by Barbro Lindgren and Anna Höglund $33
Shakespeare's tragedy boiled down to 100 words, with suitably darkly comic etchings. You always knew, really, that Hamlet was the darkest possible story, so dark it is funny. Irreverent and humane.