Friday 31 March 2023


Chicanes by Clara Schulmann (translated from French by Anna Clement, Ruth Diver, Lauren Elkin, Jennifer Higgins, Natasha Lehrer, Sophie Lewis, Naima Rashid, and Jessica Spivey)          $38
As she tries to collect them for an essay she is planning to write, other women’s words begin interfering in Clara Schulmann’s life — heard on the radio, in podcasts, songs, and films; words of novelists, feminist intellectuals, friends or strangers overheard in the street. They invade her psyche, reshaping the essay that she once had in mind into a picaresque adventure which investigates the fault lines around women’s voices: and in particular those moments of overflow and excess where wayward words take seed. Chicanes heralds a new French feminism through a meticulously orchestrated chorus of the wildest female voices, from figures in the history of feminist writing to the stranger on the street, blurring the boundaries between body and art; personal and political. A poly-translation, by eight female translators, from established to emerging, Chicanes brings the individual voice of each translator into subtle relief.
"This is a book to treasure and love." —Deborah Levy
>>The voice that cannot be controlled
Ninth Building by Zhou Jingzhi (translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang)          $38
Revisiting his experiences as a boy in Beijing and then as a teenager exiled to the countryside, Zou captures a side of the Cultural Revolution that is seldom talked about — the sheer tedium and waste of young life under the regime, as well as the gallows humour that accompanies such desperate situations. 
"A kaleidoscopic and understated collection of interlocking tales of life in an apartment building under the Cultural Revolution – the daily tedium of its inhabitants, lit by brief and tenuous moments of shared humanity." —judges' citation, The International Booker Prize 2023
>>Read an extract. 
>>Other books long-listed for the 2023 International Booker Prize.
Why Read: Selected writings, 2001—2021 by Will Self               $37
Self's intellectual acumen and verbal prowess have always protruded well beyond his fiction, and he never shies away from provoking whatever or whoever needs to be provoked. These essays all test the interplay between 'reality' and 'fiction', and ask how literature can help us be sharper about the problems of contemporary life.  Contents: 1: Why Read? 2: The Death of the Shelf; 3: Absent Jews and Invisible Executioners: W. G. Sebald and the Holocaust; 4: Chernobyl; 5: Kafka's Wound; 6: A Care Home for Novels: The Narrative Art Form in the Age of Its Technical Supersession; 7: The Last Typewriter Engineer; 8: Isenshard; 9: How Should We Read? 10: Junky; 11: Being a Character; 12: Australia and I; 13: The Rise of the Machines; 14: Literary Time; 15: The Printed Word in Peril; 16: The Secret Agent; 17: What to Read? 18: On Writing Memoir; 19: Apocalypse Then; 20: The Technology of Journalism; 21: St George for the French; 22: Will Self-Driving Cars Take My Job? 23: Reading for Writers.
"The finest essays here are incisive, perceptive and provocative. But they are also wildly entertaining." —Washington Examiner
"Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation, a writer whose formidable intellect is mercilessly targeted on the limits of the cerebral as a means of understanding. Yes, he makes you think, but he also insists that you feel." —Guardian 
"Self often enough writes with such vividness it's as if he is the first person to see anything at all." —New York Times 
"Self has indeed been a goat among the sheep of contemporary English fiction, a puckish trickster self-consciously at odds with its middle-class politeness." —New York Review of Books 
While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer (translated from German by Katy Derbyshire)       $45

Rico, Mark, Paul and Daniel were 13 when the Berlin Wall fell in autumn 1989. Growing up in Leipzig at the time of reunification, they dream of a better life somewhere beyond the brewery quarter. Every night they roam the streets, partying, rioting, running away from their fears, their parents and the future, fighting to exist, killing time. They drink, steal cars, feel wrecked, play it cool, longing for real love and true freedom. Startlingly raw and deeply moving, While We Were Dreaming is an extraordinary coming of age novel by one of Germany's most ambitious writers, full of passion, rage, hope and despair.
"The cumulative power of the well-constructed, pitiless and unflinching dispatches from the underbelly of society is remarkable. Historical events often pass unnoticed by those living through them, unaware even of how much their lives have been changed. It is Meyer’s achievement to capture the profound effects those events had on the lives of those at the bottom of German society." — David Mills, Sunday Times
"A book like a fist. German literature has not seen such a debut for a long time, a book full of rage, sadness, pathos and superstition. —Felicitas von Lovenberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Clemens Meyer’s great art of describing people takes the form of the Russian doll principle: a story within a story within a story. So much is so artfully interwoven that his work breaks the mould of the closed narrative." —Katharina Teutsch, Die Zeit
>>Read an extract.
>>Other books long-listed for the 2023 International Booker Prize.

Trench Coat ('Object Lessons' series) by Jane Tynan            $23

We think we know the trench coat, but where does it come from and where will it take us? From its origins in the trenches of WW1, this military outerwear came to project the inner-being of detectives, writers, reporters, rebels, artists and intellectuals. The coat outfitted imaginative leaps into the unknown. Trench Coat tells the story of seductive entanglements with technology, time, law, politics, trust and trespass. Readers follow the rise of a sartorial archetype through media, design, literature, cinema and fashion. Today, as a staple in stories of future life-worlds, the trench coat warns of disturbances to come.
>>Other books in the 'Object Lessons' series

Anaximander and the Nature of Science by Carlo Rovelli           $40
Over two millennia ago, a Greek philosopher had a number of wondrous insights that paved the way to cosmology, physics, geography, meteorology and biology, setting in motion a new way of seeing the world. Anaximander's legacy includes the revolutionary idea that the earth floats in a void, that the world can be understood in natural rather than supernatural terms, that animals evolved, and that universal laws govern all phenomena. He introduced a new mode of rational thinking with an openness to uncertainty and to the progress of knowledge.  Rovelli brings to light the importance of Anaximander's overlooked legacy to modern science. He examines Anaximander as a scientist interested in shedding light on the deep nature of scientific thinking, which Rovelli locates in his rebellious ability to reimagine the world again and again. 
Artificial Hells: Participatory art and the politics of spectatorship by Claire Bishop          $25
Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: That by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson. Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as 'social practice'. Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Pawel Althamer and Paul Chan. Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinises the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling, and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.

>>Where are we now? 

Tekebash and Saba: Recipes from the Horn of Africa by Saba Alemayoh               $50
A celebration of the food of Ethiopia's northernmost state Tigray, interweaved with the compelling story of author Saba Alemayoh and her mother Tekebash Gebre, who came to Australia as refugees and have nurtured a connection to their beloved homeland through shared recipes and rituals.

Victory City by Salman Rushdie          $37
In the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for the goddess Parvati, who begins to speak out of the girl's mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana's comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga - literally 'victory city' - the wonder of the world. Over the next two hundred and fifty years, Pampa Kampana's life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga's, from its literal sowing out of a bag of magic seeds to its tragic ruination in the most human of ways: the hubris of those in power. Whispering Bisnaga and its citizens into existence, Pampa Kampana attempts to make good on the task that Parvati set for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world. But all stories have a way of getting away from their creator, and Bisnaga is no exception. As years pass, rulers come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, the very fabric of Bisnaga becomes an ever more complex tapestry - with Pampa Kampana at its center. 
The Dollhouse by Charis Cotter         $21
Alice's world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they've cancelled their yearly cottage trip — the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mother are heading to some small town where Alice's mother will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly woman. The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect — not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that's an exact replica of the house she's living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed — a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse... When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn't looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?
Stroller ('Object Lessons' series) by Amanda Parrish Morgan         $23
Among the many things expectant parents are told to buy, none is a more visible symbol of status and parenting philosophy than a stroller. Although its association with wealth dates back to the invention of the first pram in the 1700s, in recent decades, four-figure strollers have become not just status symbols but cultural identifiers. There are sleek jogging strollers for serious athletes, impossibly compact strollers for parents determined to travel internationally with pre-ambulatory children, and those featuring a ride-on kick board or second, less "babyish" seat, designed with older siblings in mind. Despite the many models available, we are all familiar with the image of a harried mother struggling to use a stroller of any kind in a public space that does not accommodate it. There are anti-stroller evangelists, fervently preaching the gospel of baby wearing and attachment parenting. All of these attitudes, seemingly about an object, are also revealing of how we believe parents and children ought to move through the world.
Children of the Rush by James Russell            $23
It's 1861, and gold fever is sweeping the world. Otherwise sensible adults have gone mad and will do anything to get their hands on the precious metal. But two children have been caught up in the rush. Michael and Atarangi couldn't be more different, but they share one thing: each has a remarkable and magical talent. Circumstances conspire to bring the children together in the remote and inhospitable goldfields, and they're thrust into a world where lawlessness, greed, and cruelty reign. When the children find out that a cut-throat gang stalks the goldfields, preying upon the innocent, they have a choice to make: turn a blind eye, or fight back?

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