Friday 19 August 2022


Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi (translated by Lucy North and David Boyd)            $35
Thirty-four-year-old Ms Shibata works for a company manufacturing cardboard tubes and paper cores in Tokyo. Her job is relatively secure: she's a full-time employee, and the company has a better reputation than her previous workplace, where she was subject to sexual harassment by clients and colleagues. But the job requires working overtime almost every day. Most frustratingly, as the only woman, there's the unspoken expectation that Ms Shibata will handle all the menial chores: serving coffee during meetings, cleaning the kitchenette, coordinating all the gifts sent to the company, emptying the bins. One day, exasperated and fed up, Ms Shibata announces that she can't clear away her colleagues' dirty cups, because she's pregnant. She isn't. But her 'news' brings results: a sudden change in the way she's treated. Immediately a new life begins. How long can she sustain this deception? 
"Diary of a Void advances one of the most passionate cases I've ever read for female interiority, for women's creative pulse and rich inner life." —The New Yorker
>>Read Stella's review
Marble by Amalie Smith (translated by Jennifer Russell)           $38
Recently unearthed from the ground, Marble leaves her new lover in Copenhagen and travels to Athens. The city is overflowing with colour, steam and fragrance, cats cry like babies at night, the economic crisis is raging. In this volatile landscape, Marble grasps the world by exploring its immediate surfaces. Capturing specks of colour on ancient sculptures in the Acropolis Museum with an infrared camera, she simultaneously traces the pioneering sculptor Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, who spent several months in the same place 110 years earlier. Far away from her husband and children, Carl-Nielsen showed that Archaic sculptures were originally painted in bright colours — a feat which meant defying Victorian gender roles and jeopardising her marriage. Marble is a galvanizing novel about the materials life is made of, about korai and sponge diving, about looking and looking again.
"A novel that, by virtue of its mix of literary suggestion, aesthetic experience and art historical insight, makes something that is simultaneously straightforwardly concrete and almost incomprehensibly abstract come alive." —Jyllands-Posten
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra (translated by Megan McDowell)               $23
Reader, your life is full of choices. Some will bring you joy and others will bring you heartache. Will you choose to cheat (in life, the examination that follows) or will you choose to copy? Will you fall in love? If so, will you remember her name and the number of freckles on her back? Will you marry, divorce, annul? Will you leave your run-down neighbourhood, your long-suffering country and your family? Will you honour your dead, those you loved and those you didn't? Will you have a child, will you regret it? Will you tell them you regret it? Will you, when all's said and done, deserve a kick in the balls? Will you find, here, in this slender book, fictions that entertain and puzzle you? Fictions that reflect yourself back to you? Will you find yourself? Relax, concentrate, dispel any anxious thoughts. Let the world around you settle and fade. Are you ready? Now turn over your papers, and begin.
>>Read Thomas's review
Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-jin (translated by Jamie Chang)            $38
When a mother allows her thirty-something daughter to move into her apartment, she wants for her what many mothers might say they want for their child: a steady income, and, even better, a good husband with a good job with whom to start a family. But when Green turns up with her girlfriend, Lane, in tow, her mother is unprepared and unwilling to welcome Lane into her home. In fact, she can barely bring herself to be civil. Having centred her life on her husband and child, her daughter’s definition of family is not one she can accept. Her daughter’s involvement in a case of unfair dismissal involving gay colleagues from the university where she works is similarly strange to her. And yet when the care home where she works insists that she lower her standard of care for an elderly dementia patient who has no family, who travelled the world as a successful diplomat, who chose not to have children, Green’s mother cannot accept it. Why should not having chosen a traditional life mean that your life is worth nothing at all? 
"I can't help but be moved by a story about women meeting, fighting, helping each other, looking after one another, and raising their voices against the prejudice and criticism they are subject to." —Cho Nam-joo, author of Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
Dinner with Joseph Johnson: Books and friendship in a revolutionary age by Daisy Hay           $48
Joseph Johnson became a bookseller and a maker of books in an age when books appeared to have the potential to change the world. Between 1760 and 1809, the years of Johnson's adulthood, Britain experienced a period of political, social, scientific, cultural, religious and scientific change during which nothing was certain and everything seemed possible. On paper Johnson's dinner guests charted the evolution of Britain's relationship first with America and then with Europe- several were intimately involved in the struggles that reformed the world order. They pioneered revolutions in medical treatment and scientific enquiry and they proclaimed the rights of women and children. The men and women who gathered around Johnson had no communal name and they never moved as a single group. Some, like Wollstonecraft, Fuseli, Bonnycastle and Lindsey, frequented his shop and his dining room without waiting to be invited, treating his home as an extension of their own. Others, like Priestley and Barbauld, viewed St Paul's Churchyard as their pole star. Paine, Trimmer and Darwin left fewer textual traces of their physical presence in Johnson's house. One man, Johnson's engraver William Blake, came to dinner only rarely. The poet William Cowper never visited London but he made his presence felt in the dining room just as surely as did those who came to Johnson's shop and home. Johnson turned his home into a place where writers of contrasting politics and personalities could come together. The dining room provided space for thinking and talking but it also symbolised and served as a sanctuary at times of crisis. Johnson's guests had to contend with events that threatened their physical security as well as their intellectual liberty. In the tumultuous years either side of the French Revolution they faced riots, fire, exile and prison, alongside the more quotidian but no less serious threats of homelessness, mental collapse, poverty and the exigencies of childbirth. Throughout Johnson's house provided a refuge, and his labours allowed his visitors to make their voices heard even when external forces conspired to silence them.
I'll Keep You Close by Jeska Verstegen             $19
A young girl comes to understand why her mother is so fearful and overprotective when her class starts studying the Holocaust. Jeska doesn't know why her mother keeps the curtains drawn so tightly every day. And what exactly is she trying to drown out when she floods the house with Mozart? What are they hiding from? When Jeska's grandmother accidentally calls her by a stranger's name, she seizes her first clue to uncovering her family's past, and hopefully to all that's gone unsaid. With the help of an old family photo album, her father's encyclopedia collection, and the unquestioning friendship of a stray cat, the silence begins to melt into frightening clarity: Jeska's family survived a terror that they've worked hard to keep secret all her life. And somehow, it has both nothing and everything to do with her, all at once. A true story of navigating generational trauma as a child, I'll Keep You Close is about what comes after disaster: how survivors move forward, what they bring with them when they do, and the promise of beginning again while always keeping the past close.
My Own Worst Enemy: Scenes of a childhood by Robert Edric            $40
An honest and moving memoir of a working-class childhood in 1960s Sheffield, and the relationship between a touchy, overbearing bully of a father and a son whose acceptance to grammar school puts him on another track entirely. With a novelist's eye, Robert Edric vividly depicts a now-vanished era: of working-men's clubs; of tight-knit communities in factory towns; and of a time when a woman's place was in the home. And he brings to colourful life his family, both close and extended - though over all of it hovers the vanity and barely-suppressed anger of his own father.
This Is Not My Memoir by André Gregory and Todd London          $40
This Is Not My Memoir tells the life story of André Gregory, iconic theater director, writer, and actor. For the first time, André shares memories from a life lived for art, including stories from the making of My Dinner with André. Taking on the dizzying, wondrous nature of a fever dream, This Is Not My Memoir includes fantastic and fantastical stories that take the reader from wartime Paris to golden-age Hollywood, from avant-garde theaters to monasteries in India. Along the way we meet Jerzy Grotowski, Helene Weigel, Gregory Peck, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Wallace Shawn, and many other larger-than-life personalities.
>>My Dinner with André.
>>Wallace Shawn's Night Thoughts
Motherlands: In search of our inherited cities by Amaryllis Gacioppo         $33
Our creation stories begin with the notion of expulsion from our 'original' home. We spend our lives struggling to return to the place we fit in, the body we belong in, the people that understand us, the life we were meant for. But the places we remember are ever-changing, and ever since we left, they continue to alter themselves, betraying the deal made when leaving. Australian writer Amaryllis Gacioppo has been raised on stories of original homes, on the Palermo of her mother, the Benghazi of her grandmother and the Turin of her great-grandmother. But what does belonging mean when you're not sure of where home is? Is the modern nation state defined by those who flourish there or by those who aren't welcome? Is visiting the land of one's ancestors a return, a chance to feel complete, or a fantasy?
A Little Devil in America: In praise of Black performance by Hanif Abdurraqib          $26
"Hanif Abdurraqib's genius is in pinpointing those moments in American cultural history when Black people made lightning strike. But Black performance, Black artistry, Black freedom too often came at devastating price. The real devil in America is America itself, the one who stole the soul that he, through open eyes and fearless prose, snatches back. This is searing, revelatory, filled with utter heartbreak, and unstoppable joy." —Marlon James
Conquered: The last children of Anglo-Saxon England by Eleanor Parker            $44
The Battle of Hastings and its aftermath nearly wiped out the leading families of Anglo-Saxon England. What happened to the children this conflict left behind?Conquered offers a fresh take on the Norman Conquest by exploring the lives of those children, who found themselves uprooted by the dramatic events of 1066. Among them were the children of Harold Godwineson and his brothers, survivors of a family shattered by violence who were led by their courageous grandmother Gytha to start again elsewhere. Then there were the last remaining heirs of the Anglo-Saxon royal line - Edgar Ætheling, Margaret, and Christina - who sought refuge in Scotland, where Margaret became a beloved queen and saint. Other survivors, such as Waltheof of Northumbria and Fenland hero Hereward, became legendary for rebelling against the Norman conquerors. And then there were some, like Eadmer of Canterbury, who chose to influence history by recording their own memories of the pre-conquest world. From sagas and saints' lives to chronicles and romances, Parker draws on a wide range of medieval sources to tell the stories of these young men and women and highlight the role they played in developing a new Anglo-Norman society. 
Birdgirl by Mya-Rose Craig            $40
"Birdwatching has never felt like a hobby, or a pastime I can pick up and put down, but a thread running through the pattern of my life, so tightly woven in that there's no way of pulling it free and leaving the rest of my life intact."
Meet Mya-Rose — otherwise known as 'Birdgirl'. Birder, environmentalist, diversity activist. To date she has seen over five thousand different types of bird- half the world's species. Every single bird a treasure. Each sighting a small step in her family journey — a collective moment of joy and stillness amidst her mother's deepening mental health crisis. And each helping her to find her voice.
"Lyrical, poignant and insightful." —Margaret Atwood
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin          $37
Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987. One is visiting her sister, the other is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there. Their love of video games becomes a shared world — of joy, escape and fierce competition. But all too soon that time is over, fades from view. When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love — making games to delight, challenge and immerse players, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars. This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.
"Utterly brilliant. In this sweeping, gorgeously written novel, Gabrielle Zevin charts the beauty, tenacity, and fragility of human love and creativity." —John Green
Atoms by John Devolle                $25
What is an atom? Where did they come from? Were dinosaurs made of atoms too? Atoms combines bold, colourful illustrations with jokes and incredible facts to explain some amazing scientific concepts in terms that a four-year-old can understand-from atomic theory to the Big Bang, evolution and the fact that you, your dog and everyone you know are all actually made of stardust!
Ways of Being: Beyond human intelligence by James Bridle           $50
What does it mean to be intelligent? Is it something unique to humans — or do we share it with other beings? Recent years have seen rapid advances in 'artificial' intelligence, which increasingly appears to be something stranger than we ever imagined. At the same time, we are becoming more aware of the other intelligences which have been with us all along, unrecognised. These other beings are the animals, plants, and natural systems that surround us, and are slowly revealing their complexity and knowledge — just as the new technologies we've built are threatening to cause their extinction, and ours. In Ways of Being, writer and artist James Bridle considers the fascinating, uncanny and multiple ways of existing on earth. What can we learn from these other forms of intelligence and personhood, and how can we change our societies to live more equitably with one another and the non-human world?
The human movement of diseases and pests has affected every corner of the globe, even Antarctica. We need effective management approaches that cause the least possible harm, especially as our population grows and we become increasingly connected. Lester explores the problems of international movement, methodologies designed to limit the unintentional introduction of species across borders, New Zealand’s biosecurity legislation, the limits and possibilities of eradication as a goal, the means of population control, and the management of pathogens in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Illuminating this discussion are stories of cats on parachutes, angry hippos, cannibalistic cane toads, and a cook who unwittingly gave typhoid to at least 51 other people. 
Men to Avoid in Art and Life by Nicole Tersigni          $30
Uses captioned artworks from the Old Masters and others to highlight common instances of presumption, mansplaining, insensitivity, gaslighting, and gross sexism. 

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