Thursday 23 June 2022


Here Be Icebergs by Katya Adaui (translated by Rosalind Harvey)          $34
The mysteries of kinship (families born into and families made) take disconcerting and familiar shapes in these refreshingly frank short stories. A family is haunted by a beast that splatters fruit against its walls every night, another undergoes a near-collision with a bus on the way home from the beach. Mothers are cold, fathers are absent—we know these moments in the abstract, but Adaui makes each as uncanny as our own lives: close but not yet understood.
"With this book Katya Adaui consolidates her position as one of the most subtle and original Peruvian writers in recent years." —El País
Absence by Lucie Paye (translated by Natasha Lehrer)            $36
A painter obsessively attempts to depict a mysterious female figure who keeps on appearing under his brush. An anonymous woman addresses letters to an absent loved one. Through a sequence of affecting images, Absence dramatises the role of the unconscious in artistic creation and the power of unconditional love.
"Enigmatic and magnetic. An elusive novel, its heartbeat muffled and secretive. Its oscillations are at first intriguing, then captivating, and finally mesmerising. The book’s pulse goes to the reader’s head like a strong liquor sipped slowly." – Le Matricule des Anges
"In her first novel Lucie Paye sets words to the page with a fine brush. Nothing is overworked, least of all pain. Paye appreciates the half-lights, and her delicate style favours these nuanced feelings. Within these pages is a melancholy and disquiet in the ‘Pessoan’ sense of the word, but they are never overcast. ‘Painters, like writers, are thieves. They transfer and transport landscapes, in their dreams and in their worlds,’ wrote painter Kees van Dongen. Rarely have these words seemed so true as when reading this novel, at the confluence of the two art forms. Paye’s novel explores the link between the artist and their work, through the unconscious and the creative process. It also examines the relation of the viewer of a work, projecting emotions and desires onto it – and seeing in it what we want to see. Our personal perspective can distance us from the artist’s own intentions. It doesn’t matter, the main thing is to have felt something, to have been given access to the things of which, without art, we could never have dreamed." –Le Figaro Littéraire
Much attention has been paid to so-called late style — but what about last style? When does last begin? How early is late? When does the end set in? Dyer sets his own encounter with late middle age against the last days and last achievements of writers, painters, athletes and musicians who've mattered to him throughout his life. He examines Friedrich Nietzsche's breakdown in Turin, Bob Dylan's reinventions of old songs, J.M.W. Turner's paintings of abstracted light, John Coltrane's cosmic melodies, Jean Rhys's return from the dead (while still alive) and Beethoven's final quartets — and considers the intensifications and modifications of experience that come when an ending is within sight. Oh, and there's some mention of Roger Federer and tennis too.
“A masterful, beautiful, reluctantly moving book — that is, moving despite its subject being naturally moving, courting no pathos, shrewd and frank — and Dyer’s best in some time. Indeed, one of his best, period.” —Los Angeles Times
Stretto by David Wheatley                $35
Stretto is both a novel of travel and of migration, moving between Ireland, England and Scotland over a twenty-year period, and an exploration of the nature of self and reality, reconnecting with the modernist energies of Joyce and Beckett.
"David Wheatley has composed a text so intricately figured, made out of the tones and notes and embellishments of family life and of work and the many-faceted elements of the imagination, that it reflects precisely the impetus and forward motion of the musical movement its title describes. Each section is a bar of poetry both fitted within and overlaying the prose that describes it; each page and a half is measured to sing out exactly in the key and time signature to which it has been set. Wondrous." —Kirsty Gunn

Otherlands: A world in the making by Thomas Halliday          $40
An exhilarating journey into deep time, showing us the Earth as it used to exist, and the worlds that were here before ours. Travelling back in time to the dawn of complex life, and across all seven continents, Halliday gives us a mesmerizing up close encounter with eras that are normally unimaginably distant. Halliday immerses us in a series of ancient landscapes, from the mammoth steppe in Ice Age Alaska to the lush rainforests of Eocene Antarctica, with its colonies of giant penguins, to Ediacaran Australia, where the moon is far brighter than ours today. We visit the birthplace of humanity; we hear the crashing of the highest waterfall the Earth has ever known; and we watch as life emerges again after the asteroid hits, and the age of the mammal dawns. These lost worlds seem fantastical and yet every description—whether the colour of a beetle's shell, the rhythm of pterosaurs in flight or the lingering smell of sulphur in the air—is grounded in the fossil record. Otherlands is an imaginative feat: an emotional narrative that underscores the tenacity of life—yet also the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, including our own. To read it is to see the last 500 million years not as an endless expanse of unfathomable time, but as a series of worlds, simultaneously fabulous and familiar.
>>Also available as a nice hardback, $54.

Worn: A people's history of clothing by Sofi Thanhauser             $55
Linen, Cotton, Silk, Synthetics, Wool. Through the stories of these five fabrics, Sofi Thanhauser illuminates the world we inhabit in a startling new way, travelling from China to Cumbria to reveal the craft, labour and industry that create the clothes we wear. From the women who transformed stalks of flax into linen to clothe their families in 19th century New England to those who earn their dowries in the cotton spinning factories of South India today, this book traces the origins of garment making through time and around the world. Exploring the social, economic and environmental impact of our most personal possessions, Worn looks beyond care labels to show how clothes reveal the truth about what we really care about.
The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate, culture, catastrophe by Mark Bould           $33
Today’s movies, television, and novels are pregnant with catastrophe, with extreme weather and rising waters, with environmental wildness and climate weirdness, but this book is more interested in how the Anthropocene and especially anthropogenic climate destabilisation manifests in texts that are not overtly about climate change — that is, unconsciously. The Anthropocene, Bould argues, constitutes the unconscious of 'the art and literature of our time'. Tracing the outlines of the Anthropocene unconscious in a range of film, television and literature, this playful and riveting book draws out some of the things that are repressed and obscured by the term 'the Anthropocene', including capital, class, imperialism, inequality, alienation, violence, commodification, patriarchy and racial formations.
The Delivery by Peter Mendelsund                $35
Countries go wrong sometimes, and sometimes the luckier citizens of those countries have a chance to escape and seek refuge in another country—a country that might itself be in the process of going wrong. In the bustling indifference of an unnamed city, one such citizen finds himself trapped working for a company that makes its money dispatching an army of undocumented refugees to bring the well-off men and women of this confounding metropolis their dinners. Whatever he might have been at home, this citizen is now a Delivery Boy: a member of a new and invisible working class, pedaling his power-assist bike through traffic, hoping for a decent tip and a five-star rating. He is decidedly a Delivery Boy; sometimes he even feels like a Delivery Baby; certainly he's not yet a Delivery Man, though he'll have to man up if he wants to impress N., the aloof dispatcher who sends him his orders and helps him with his English. Can our hero avoid the wrath of his Supervisor and escape his indentured servitude? Can someone in his predicament ever have a happy ending? Who gets to decide? And who's telling this story, anyway?
When a chief’s son is taken by the taniwha, Te Hiakai, the people devise many plans to trap and kill the taniwha, but each time Te Hiakai outwits them. In the end, Pōhutukawa, a chief’s daughter, speaks to the taniwha. Through her words a spell is broken, and the taniwha transforms into a young warrior, Te Haeata, who had been cursed by a tohunga long ago. Pōhutukawa and Te Haeata fall in love and live out their lives together. But Te Haeata never quite shakes off the spell, and in old age, he transforms into an eel and becomes a guardian in the Rangitāiki river.
Available in either te Reo or English. 
Control: The dark history and troubling present of eugenics by Adam Rutherford           $45
Throughout history, people have sought to improve society by reducing suffering, eliminating disease or enhancing desirable qualities in their children. But this wish goes hand in hand with the desire to impose control over who can marry, who can procreate and who is permitted to live. In the Victorian era, in the shadow of Darwin's ideas about evolution, a new full-blooded attempt to impose control over our unruly biology began to grow in the clubs, salons and offices of the powerful. It was enshrined in a political movement that bastardised science, and for sixty years enjoyed bipartisan and huge popular support. Eugenics was vigorously embraced in dozens of countries. It was also a cornerstone of Nazi ideology, and forged a path that led directly to the gates of Auschwitz. But the underlying ideas are not merely historical. The legacy of eugenics persists in our language and literature, from the words 'moron' and 'imbecile' to the themes of some of our greatest works of culture. Today, with new gene editing techniques, very real conversations are happening - including in the heart of British government - about tinkering with the DNA of our unborn children, to make them smarter, fitter, stronger. Control tells the story of attempts by the powerful throughout history to dictate reproduction and regulate the interface of breeding and society. It is an urgently needed examination that unpicks one of the defining and most destructive ideas of the twentieth century. To know this history is to inoculate ourselves against its being repeated.
Unlocking the World: Port cities and globalisation in the Age of Steam, 1830—1930 by John Darwin          $26
Steam power transformed our world, initiating the complex, resource-devouring industrial system the consequences of which we live with today. It revolutionised work and production, but also the ease and cost of movement over land and water. The result was to throw open vast areas of the world to the rampaging expansion of Europeans and Americans on a scale previously unimaginable. 
Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo            $33
A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animal denizens lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals - along with a new leader. A charismatic horse who commanded the sun and ruled and ruled and kept on ruling. For forty years he ruled, with the help of his elite band of Chosen Ones, a scandalously violent pack of Defenders and, as he aged, his beloved and ambitious young donkey wife, Marvellous. But even the sticks and stones know there is no night ever so long it does not end with dawn. And so it did for the Old Horse, one day as he sat down to his Earl Grey tea and favorite radio programme. A new regime, a new leader. Or apparently so. And once again, the animals were full of hope... An energetic novel exploring the fall of Robert Mugabe. 
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley           $33
Kiara Johnson does not know what it is to live as a normal seventeen-year-old. With her mother in a rehab facility and an older brother who devotes his time and money to a recording studio, she fends for herself - and for nine-year-old Trevor, whose own mother is prone to disappearing for days at a time. As the landlord of their apartment block threatens to raise their rent, Kiara finds herself walking the streets after dark, determined to survive in a world that refuses to protect her. Then one night Kiara is picked up by two police officers, and the gruesome deal she is offered in exchange for her freedom lands her at the centre of a media storm. If she agrees to testify in a grand jury trial, she could help expose the sickening corruption of a police department. But honesty comes at a price - one that could leave her family vulnerable to their retaliation, and endanger everyone she loves.
"Nightcrawling marks the dazzling arrival of a young writer with a voice and vision you won't easily get out of your head. When asked how to write in a world dominated by a white culture, Toni Morrison once responded: 'By trying to alter language, simply to free it up, not to repress or confine it. Tease it. Blast its racist straitjacket.' At a time when structural imbalances of capital, heath, gender, and race deepen divides, the young American Leila Mottley's debut novel is a searing testament to the liberated spirit and explosive ingenuity of such storytelling." —The Guardian
"A truly beautiful and powerful book." —Ruth Ozeki
How To Be a Refugee: One family's story of exile and belonging by Simon May          $25
The most familiar fate of Jews living in Hitler's Germany is either emigration or deportation to concentration camps. But there was another, much rarer, side to Jewish life at that time: denial of your origin to the point where you manage to erase almost all consciousness of it. You refuse to believe that you are Jewish. How to Be a Refugee is Simon May's account of how three sisters - his mother and his two aunts - grappled with what they felt to be a lethal heritage. Their very different trajectories included conversion to Catholicism, marriage into the German aristocracy, securing 'Aryan' status with high-ranking help from inside Hitler's regime, and engagement to a card-carrying Nazi. Even after his mother fled to London from Nazi Germany and Hitler had been defeated, her instinct for self-concealment didn't abate. Following the early death of his father, also a German Jewish refugee, May was raised a Catholic and forbidden to identify as Jewish or German or British. In the face of these banned inheritances, May embarks on a quest to uncover the lives of the three sisters as well as the secrets of a grandfather he never knew.
The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls              $22
Seventeen-year-old Margot Allan was a respectable vicar's daughter and madly in love with her fiancé Harry. But when Harry was reported Missing in Action from the Western Front, and Margot realised she was expecting his child, there was only one solution she and her family could think of in order to keep that respectability. She gave up James, her baby son, to be adopted by her parents and brought up as her younger brother.Now two years later the whole family is gathering at the Vicarage for Christmas. It's heartbreaking for Margot being so close to James but unable to tell him who he really is. But on top of that, Harry is also back in the village. Released from captivity in Germany and recuperated from illness, he's come home and wants answers. Why has Margot seemingly broken off their engagement and not replied to his letters? Margot knows she owes him an explanation. But can she really tell him the truth about James?
 "Nuanced and evocative, this is bittersweet perfection." —Guardian
"Sally Nicholls conjures another era with a miraculous lightness of touch that fills me with joy and envy. Her characters don't just leap off the page, they grab you by the collar, demand your sympathy and surprise you at every turn."—Frances Hardinge
The Hospital: Life, death and dollars in a small American town by Brian Alexander           $40
By following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital, and the patients who walk, or are carried, through its doors, The Hospital takes readers into the world of the American medical industry in a way no book has done before. Americans are dying sooner, and living in poorer health. Alexander argues that no plan will solve America's health crisis until the deeper causes of that crisis are addressed. Alexander strips away the wonkiness of policy to reveal Americans' struggle for health against a powerful system that's stacked against them, but yet so fragile it blows apart when the pandemic hits.
"America is broken, but sometimes it takes looking at the smallest shattered pieces to realize how broken. That is the sad lesson at the core of Alexander's The Hospital." —Rolling Stone
Poems, 1962—2020 by Louise Glück             $65
A career-spanning collection of the Nobel Prize-winning poet's work. For fifty years, Louise Gluck has been a major force in modern poetry, distinguished as much for the restless intelligence, wit and intimacy of her poetic voice as for her development of a particular form — the book-length sequence of poems. This volume brings together the twelve collections Glück has published to date. 

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