Friday 10 June 2022


Thread Ripper by Amalie Smith (translated from the Danish by Jennifer Russell)            $38
A double-stranded novel about weaving, programming, and the treatment of women by history. A tapestry-weaver in her thirties embarks on her first big commission: a digitally woven tapestry for a public building. As she works, devoting all her waking hours to the commission, she draws engrossing connections between the stuff that life is made from – DNA, plant tissue, algorithms, text, and textile – and that which disrupts it – radiation, pests, entropy, and doubt. In the novel’s second strand, we meet Ada Lovelace, the 1830s mathematician and pioneer of computer programming, and mythical figures such as Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, who wove and unpicked a shroud to put off her 108 suitors. Contemplative yet clear-sighted, and reviving women’s histories, Amalie Smith’s bracing hybrid of a novel bares the aching interwovenness of art and life.
"A dreamy, spacious book which threads together many exquisite components: the languages of data, irradiated gardens, computer bugs, sensate plants, the experience of longing. It tells stories of what it's like to live now, in our hybrid bodies, and it gives the oldest technologies new life." –Daisy Hildyard
"Made of interconnected texts that summon stories from the recent past, personal memory and obscure historical periods, Thread Ripper is an absorbing and compulsive read. Moments in bended time are summoned or recalled by a single mind, and woven together, electrified like a neural network. Amalie Smith’s book reflects how it feels to be inside a generative mind and a body, and celebrates the desire to ask provocative questions without the need for definitive answers." –Alice Hattrick
"A mesmerizing choreography of textile and technology, archive and memory. With cellular precision, Amalie Smith weaves connective tissue between selfhood and history through vital, tactile accumulations of affect and imagery. Innovative, intricate and achingly bodily, Thread Ripper is a rare treasure." –Elinor Cleghorn
>>On translating the novel.
>>Flora digitalica
How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (a.k.a. Jessica Hansell)           $28
A hugely energetic, genre-bending, cinematic work of autobiographical fiction. From one of Aotearoa's fiercest and most versatile artists comes a day in the life of three friends beefing with their own city. There is the gorgeous Q (Tongan, Fijian "with a dash of Indian and Solomon"); a sensitive poet-in-denial with a shitty bakery day-job, "her long hair always to one side, which friends dub 'the ramen sweep'". Meet Rosina (Hawaiian, Rarotongan, Samoan, Irish), a hungry artist on the rise with an unfortunate weakness for privileged white boys. "The words 'what's that supposed to mean?' should be tattooed on her neck (among the others)." Then there's Te Hoia (Maori and Filipino). A cranky political science student and our narrator, "she identifies with the toffee waves being churned in the (constantly-broken) ice-cream machine." Together, they navigate the stuffy busses, streets and markets of Tamaki Makaurau at the height of summer. With gentrification closing in around them and racial tensions sweltering, the three must cling to their friendship like a life raft. Coming of age while struggling with family, identity and attraction, the trio are determined not to let their neighbourhood drift out to sea.
"Imbued with fierce intelligence and cosmic warmth. " —Rose Matafeo
"One of the most exciting books I've ever read." —Pip Adam
Democracy in Aotearoa New Zealand: A survival guide by Geoffrey Palmer and Gwen Palmer Steeds          $40
An important and accessible book outlining the principles and mechanisms of our democracy and showing how it can be made to function optimally. The book unravels the mysteries of our political system and show how ordinary people can navigate the political world and influence decisions made by our government. Its forty chapters include a brief history of government in Aotearoa New Zealand; introductions to our principal institutions; interviews with the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Governor-General, Speaker, and Chief Justice; advice on how to campaign, complain and obtain information; and consideration of future challenges of climate change, decolonisation, and engaging rangatahi in the political process. Much of it written as a series of exchanges between Geoffrey Palmer (a former Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Attorney-General, and an expert on constitutional law), and his granddaughter Gwen Palmer Steeds (a student of political communication and political science at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, and a youth political activist), the book is both urgent and engaging. Read it and use it to ensure democracy's survival. 
Iro: The essence of colour in Japanese design by Rossella Menegazzo         $110
The traditional colours of Japan have been in use since the seventh century, originally to indicate rank and social hierarchy but, over time, their significance has broadened to include all manner of designed objects. This landmark volume celebrates a curated selection of 200 colours (iro in Japanese), with each traditional shade illustrated by one or more items — ranging from 16th-century kimonos to contemporary chairs, humble kitchen utensils to precious ceramics — providing a unique route to a deeper appreciation of Japanese design. Beautifully bound in the Japanese traditional manner, this volume makes a good companion to Wa: The essence of Japanese design
>>Some sample pages
The Shiatsung Project by Brigitte Archambault             $40
An outstanding graphic novel. A woman lives alone in a small house situated in a tidy yard surrounded by a seemingly impenetrable wall. She spends her days reading, swimming, and watching TV. She eats regular meals and keeps her house clean. But the simplicity is deceiving, because the woman has no idea how she came to live in her house, and—most importantly—what exists beyond the wall. Her only source of information is a talking TV monitor in her living room called Shiatsung. The entity controlling the monitor is committed to keeping the woman hydrated and educated, but it refuses to answer any of her existential questions and keeps her under constant surveillance. Lonely and frustrated, the woman begins to search for answers of her own. The Shiatsung Project explores surveillance culture and authoritarian control, and how they disrupt our very human need for connection, intimacy, and a meaningful life. 
>>Meet Brigitte
Lāuga: Understanding Samoan oratory by Sadat Muaiava         $40
Lāuga or Samoan oratory is a premier cultural practice in the faasāmoa (Samoan culture), a sacred ritual that embodies all that faasāmoa represents, such as identity, inheritance, respect, service, gifting, reciprocity and knowledge. Delivered as either lāuga faamatai (chiefly speeches) or lāuga faalelotu (sermons), lāuga is captivating and endowed with knowledge, praxis and skill. Lāuga is enjoyed by many, but today many Samoan people, especially in the Samoan diaspora, also remain disconnected from it and lack proficiency in its rhetorical inventory. It is critical that the knowledge and skills that underpin lāuga are retained. This accessible book explains the intricacies of lāuga and its key stages and is an ideal companion for those who may be called upon to speak at significant occasions, those wanting to improve their knowledge and skills, and all those interested in faasāmoa. 
Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets (translated by Eugene Ostashevsky)     $38
"Published in Ukraine in 2018, these surreal short stories by a noted photographer probe the experiences of women from the Donbas region, many of whom fled the separatist conflict that erupted in 2014 and now live as refugees in Kyiv. The stories, ethnographic in perspective but Gogolian in register, gravitate toward inexplicable disappearances, repressed memories, and phantasmagoria. Belorusets writes of 'the deep penetration of traumatic historical events into the fantasies of everyday life' and richly evokes the fatalistic humour of her marginalised characters, one of whom observes, 'If you had the luck to be born here, you take things as they come.'" —The New Yorker
Through a series of unexpected encounters, we are pulled into the ordinary lives of these anonymous women: a florist, a cosmetologist, readers of horoscopes, the unemployed, cardplayers, a witch who catches newborns with a mitt. One refugee tries unsuccessfully to leave her broken umbrella behind as if it were a sick relative; another sits down on International Women’s Day and can no longer stand up. With a mix of humor, verisimilitude, the undramatic, and a profound irony reminiscent of Gogol, Belorusets threads these tales of ebullient survival with twenty-three photographs that form a narrative in lyrical and historical counterpoint.
"Belorusets is interested in the histories of the defeated, of the unseen and unheard, and above all in the experiences of eastern Ukrainian women in wartime. Her willingness to exist between document and fiction is daring, even provocative. This is a moment when facts are both utterly compromised and vastly overvalued—asked to do all the work of politics, to justify whole worldviews with single data points. Belorusets, by contrast, is for plurality, subjectivity, a kind of narrative democracy. She wants us to remember that even documentary photographs and factual narratives are determined, and sometimes distorted, by the worldview that shaped them.” —The Baffler
>>Belorusets's diary of the current Russian invasion
FARCE by Murray Edmond            $25
"Dead hobbits, A4-isms, eradication plans for feral poets in Titirangi, capers and encomiums, blue bottle blues, swirled together in the bottom of the glass. In questionable taste and all the better for it, in turns rude, sardonic, reflective, witty and mercurial, FARCE shows an unfashionable disregard for contemporary pieties. Murray Edmond is back on the night shift, striding across the arsehole of the world in his squeaky crocs." —Victor Billot

Pesticides and Health: How New Zealand fails in environmental protection by Neil Pearce           $15
New Zealand has been one of the world's heaviest users of pesticides, including some contaminated with dioxin, a notorious toxic chemical. A leading epidemiologist uses the example of dioxin to illustrate how badly New Zealand handles problems of environmental pollutants, and why we can do better. Concern with public health has been recast by the Covid-19 pandemic. Neil Pearce's eye-opening account of our country's ongoing failures in environmental protection shows there is much more work to be done.

I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart           $44
In November 2013, thousands of Ukrainian citizens gathered at Independence Square in Kyiv to protest then-President Yanukovych's failure to sign a referendum with the European Union, opting instead to forge a closer alliance with President Vladimir Putin and Russia. The peaceful protests turned violent when military police shot live ammunition into the crowd, killing over a hundred civilians. I Will Die in a Foreign Land follows four individuals over the course of a volatile Ukrainian winter, as their lives are forever changed by the Euromaidan protests. Katya is an Ukrainian-American doctor stationed at a makeshift medical clinic in St. Michael's Monastery; Misha is an engineer originally from Pripyat, who has lived in Kyiv since his wife's death; Slava is a fiery young activist whose past hardships steel her determination in the face of persecution; and Aleksandr Ivanovich, a former KGB agent, who climbs atop a burned-out police bus at Independence Square and plays the piano. As Katya, Misha, Slava, and Aleksandr's lives become intertwined, they each seek their own solace during an especially tumultuous and violent period. The story is also told by a chorus of voices that incorporates folklore and narrates a turbulent Slavic history.
"As thoughtful as it is explosive." —Buzzfeed
"Intensely moving." —Washington Post
White Tears / Brown Scars: How white feminism betrays women of colour by Ruby Hamad           $35
Taking us from the slave era, when white women fought in court to keep 'ownership' of their slaves, through centuries of colonialism, when women offered a soft face for brutal tactics, to the modern workplace, in which tears serve as a defense to counter accusations of bias and micro-aggressions, White Tears/Brown Scars tells a charged story of white women's active participation in campaigns of oppression. It offers a long-overdue validation of the experiences of women of colour and an urgent call-to-arms in the need for true intersectionality. Hamad builds a powerful argument about the legacy of white superiority that we are socialised within, a reality that we must all apprehend in order to fight for true equality.
Every Good Boy Does Fine: A love story, in music lessons by Jeremy Denk               $40
Pianist Jeremy Denk explores what he learned from his teachers about classical music: its forms, its power, its meaning - and what it can teach us about ourselves. In this enjoyable memoir, Denk explores both the joys and miseries of artistic practice, hours of daily repetition, mystifying early advice, pressure from parents and teachers who drove him on in an ongoing battle of talent against two enemies: boredom and insecurity. Denk also explores how classical music is relevant to 'real life,' despite its distance in time. He dives into pieces and composers that have shaped him - Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms, among others - and gives unusual lessons on melody, harmony, and rhythm. Why and how do these fundamental elements have such a visceral effect on us? 
My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee         $35
Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself.
"An extraordinary book, acrobatic on the level of the sentence, symphonic across its many movements. My Year Abroad is a a caper, a romance, a bildungsroman, and something of a satire of how to get filthy rich in rising Asia." —Vogue
GROW: Wāhine finding connection through food by Sophie Merkens       $60
Merkens takes us on a journey across Aotearoa meeting 37 inspiring women who find meaning and connection through food. From mothers, gardeners, hunters, chefs and hobbyists, their conversations dive deep into how food influences their lives. Meet women who know which mushrooms to pick, how to preserve the olives growing along public land, how to make rosewater from blooms, and how to make 'coffee' from roasted dandelion roots.

The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan             $30
When Anne-Lise Briard books a room at the Beau Rivage Hotel for her holday on the Brittany coast, she has no idea this trip will start her on the path to unearthing a mystery. In search of something to read, she opens up her bedside table drawer in her hotel room, and inside she finds an abandoned manuscript. Halfway through the pages, an address is written. She sends pages to the address, in hopes of hearing a response from the unknown author. But not before she reads the story and falls in love with it. The response, which she receives a few days later, astonishes her. Not only does the author write back, but he confesses that he lost the manuscript thirty years earlier. And then he reveals that he was not the author of the second half of the book. Anne-Lise can't rest until she discovers who this second mystery author is, and in doing so tracks down every person who has held this manuscript in their hands. Through the letters exchanged by the people whose lives the manuscript has touched, she discovers long-lost love stories and intimate secrets. Romances blossom and new friends are made. And finally, with a plot twist you don't see coming, she uncovers the astonishing identity of the author who finished the story. Charming. 
The Tip Shop by James Brown          $25
Oblivion’s final sieve meets your lucky day. Found poems jostle with autobiographical poems, essayistic with epigrammatic, formally expert with some of his very best freeform sprawls.  
"How gifted Brown is at the craft of poetry, the game of word and sounds on the page that are tidy and tight and clever and cool. And also how he lifts aside that cleverness to show us the tender inner self, the moist soft core of James Brown and his world." —Anna Livesey, Academy of New Zealand Literature
Everyone Is Everyone Except You by Jordan Hamel            $25
Jordan Hamel is falling in and out of love with his own mediocrity. Caught between the instinct to build a franchise of rock hard abs, and succumb to death among the kitchen appliances of Briscoes, Jordan is the star of his own demise. He’s on the brink of  becoming the world’s worst life coach, or the plot twist to a bygone reality show. But absurd delusions of grandeur reveal a more unsettling feeling—the pointlessness of being alive. In the face of existential dread, what is the purpose of a life if not for entertainment value? The result: this poetry collection. 

The Hospital: The inside story by Christle Nwora and Ginnie Hsu         $20
It's another busy day at the hospital! Meet doctors and nurses, ride in an ambulance, and discover the magic of medicine. This book is perfect for any child who is nervous about a trip to the hospital. Dr Christle Nwora takes readers behind the scenes to meet the people who keep you healthy, from surgeons to mental health therapists. Dr Nwora also explains the science behind how things work, from X-rays to operating theatres. As you turn the pages of this book, marvel at the way hospital staff work together for the good of us all.

The Astromancer: The rising of Matariki by Witi Ihimaera            $25
The Astromancer is looking for four new apprentices to learn about Matariki and the Maramataka calendar. She chooses three boys and an orphan girl, Aria, who will come only if she can bring her smelly dog. Aria, though, is bored by the lessons, and she doesn't want to be told what to do. But these are dangerous times, and Ruatapu the Ravenous is about to threaten the safety of the whole tribe. Will Aria step up to save them?

Ko Whetū Toa rāua ko te Tangata Tūmatarau nā Steph Matuku, nā Kararaina Uatuku i whakamāori        $25
This is the Māori language edition of Whetū Toa and the Magician. When Whetu’s mother takes a job at a magician’s house and farm, Whetū becomes the animal keeper, looking after some unusual animals and the magician’s stage assistant – a troublesome white rabbit called Errant. Errant’s been playing around with magic and done something he can’t undo. Rather than face the magician, Errant disappears, and Whetū becomes the magician’s new assistant, just in time for the royal performance. It all seems to be going well until Errant reappears, and Whetū must save the day.
Solo: Backcountry adventuring in Aotearoa New Zealand by Hazel Phillips           $40
One afternoon, journalist Hazel Phillips decided to close her laptop and head for the hills. She then spent the next three years living in mountain huts and tramping alone for days at a time, all the while holding down a full-time job. As she ranged from Arthur's Pass and the Kaimanawa Forest Park to the Ruahine Range and Fiordland, she had her share of danger and loneliness, but she also grew in confidence and backcountry knowledge. 

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman           $23
Unicorns don’t belong in fairy tales; they belong in nightmares. So begins Skandar and the Unicorn Thief. Soar into a world where unicorns are real – and they’re deadly. They can only be tamed by the rider who hatches them. Thirteen-year-old Skandar Smith has only ever wanted to be a unicorn rider, and the time has finally come for him to take his Hatchery Exam, which will determine whether he is destined to hatch a unicorn egg. But when Skandar is stopped from taking the exam, and the mysterious and frightening Weaver steals the most powerful unicorn in the world, becoming a rider proves a lot more dangerous than he could ever have imagined. And what if Skandar was always destined to be the villain rather than the hero?
He Wkeke Wai Mamangu Au by Stephanie Thatcher and Pania Pāpā       $20
He Wheke Wai Mamangu Au presents educational facts about the wheke (octopus) in a fun and colourful way for early readers – where it lives, and what makes it unique in its realm. The story and illustrations  will appeal to children’s imaginations, and are elevated by the translator’s use of te reo Māori. Lots of fun. 

No comments:

Post a Comment