Aiming to track down a small oasis town deep in the Sahara, some of whose generous inhabitants came to her rescue on a black day in her adolescence, Annie Hawes leaves her home in the olive groves of Italy and sets off along the south coast of the Mediterranean. Travelling through Morocco and Algeria she eats pigeon pie with a family of cannabis farmers, and learns about the habits of djinns; she encounters citizens whose protest against the tyrannical King Hassan takes the form of attaching colanders to their television aerials a practice he soon outlaws and comes across a stoneage method of making oliveoil, still going strong. She allows a tenyearold to lead her into the fundamentalist strongholds of the suburbs of Algiers where she makes a good friend. Plunging southwards, regardless, into the desert, she at last shares a lunch of saltcured Saharan haggis with her old friends, in a green and pleasant palm grove perfumed by flowering henna: once, it seems, the favourite scent of the Prophet Mohammed. She discovers at journey's end that life in a datefarming oasis, haunting though its songs may be, is not so simple and uncomplicated as she has imagined. Annie Hawes has legions of fans. Her writing has the wellbuilt flow of fiction and the selfeffacing honesty of a journal.
On 2 March 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a Russian Jewish immigrant to Chicago, tried to deliver a letter to the home of the city’s Chief of Police, George Shippy. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. Lazarus Averbuch, Shippy claimed, was an anarchist assassin and an agent of foreign operatives who wanted to bring the United States to its knees. His sister, Olga, was left alone and bereft in a city – and country – seething with political and ethnic tensions. In the twenty-first century, Brik, a young Bosnian writer in Chicago, becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to Lazarus. And so Brik and his friend Rora, a charming and unreliable photographer, set off on a journey back to Lazarus Averbuch’s birthplace, through a history of pogroms and poverty and a present of gangsters and prostitutes. ‘Masterful . . . troubling, funny and redemptive . . . ingenious . . . Hemon is as much a writer of the senses as of the intellect. He can be very funny: the novel is full of jokes and linguistic riffs that justify comparisons to Nabokov’ Washington Post 'The fearless and spirited expression of a turbulent literary talent . . . For all Hemon's nods to other writers -- one catches glimpses not only of Nabokov and Sebald but of Bulgakov, Pamuk, Amis, Poe -- he is entirely his own man, an original who owes no dets to anyone' Patrick McGrath, Book Forum ‘Profoundly moving . . . A literary page-turner that combines narrative momentum with meditations on identity and mortality’ Kirkus
'Brilliant and terrifying' Observer I had to be the man who was doing well and more than well, the man whose drab shop concealed some bigger operation that made millions. I had to be the man who had planned it all, who had come to the destroyed town at the bend in the river because he had foreseen the rich future. 'Salim, the narrator, is a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast of Centeral Africa. Salim has left the coast to make his way in the interior, there to take on a small trading shop of this and that, sudries, sold to the natives. The place is "a bend in the river"; it is Africa. The time is post-colonial, the time of Independence. The Europeans have withdrawn or been forced to withdraw and the scene is one of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation, poverty and a lack of prepartion for the modern world they have entered, or partially assumed as a sort of decoration. It is a story of historical upheaval and social breakdown. Naipaul has fashioned a work of intense imaginative force. It is a haunting creation, rich with incident and human bafflement, played out in an immense detail of landscape rendered with a poignant brilliance.' Elizabeth Hardwick 'Always a master of fictional landscape, Naipaul here shows, in his variety of human examples and in his search for underlying social causes, a Tolstoyan spirit' John Updike
‘A uniquely brilliant book . . . told in language as subtly beautiful as its desert setting. One of the most important pieces of American writing of our time’ Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times John Grady Cole is the last bewildered survivor of long generations of Texas ranchers. Finding himself cut off from the only life he has ever wanted, he sets out for Mexico with his friend Lacey Rawlins. Befriending a third boy on the way, they find a country beyond their imagining: barren and beautiful, rugged yet cruelly civilized; a place where dreams are paid for in blood. All the Pretty Horses is an acknowledged masterpiece and a grand love story: a novel about childhood passing, along with innocence and a vanished American age. Steeped in the wisdom that comes only from loss, it is a magnificent parable of responsibility, revenge and survival. ‘A darkly shining work . . . executed with consummate skill and much subtlety – the effect is magnificent’ John Banville, Observer ‘An exhilarating, exceptional novel’ Spectator ‘In a single stride it takes McCarthy to the forefront of contemporary American fiction. All the Pretty Horses is indisputably a masterpiece’ Financial Times
When art historian Max Morden returns to the seaside village where he once spent a childhood holiday, he is both escaping from a recent loss and confronting a distant trauma. The Grace family had appeared that longago summer as if from another world. Mr and Mrs Grace, with their worldly ease and candour, were unlike any adults he had met before. But it was his contemporaries, the Grace twins Myles and Chloe, who most fascinated Max. He grew to know them intricately, even intimately, and what ensued would haunt him for the rest of his years and shape everything that was to follow. ‘A novel in which all of his remarkable gifts come together to produce a real work of art, disquieting, beautiful, intelligent, and in the end, surprisingly, offering consolation’ Allan Massie, Scotsman ‘You can smell and feel and see his world with extraordinary clarity. It is a work of art, and I’ll bet it will still be read and admired in seventyfive years’ Rick Gekoski, The Times ‘Poetry seems to come easily to Banville. There is so much to applaud in this book that it deserves more than one reading’ Literary Review ‘A brilliant, sensuous, discombobulating novel’ Spectator
Willie Chandran is a man who has allowed one identity after another to be thrust upon him. In his early forties, after a peripatetic life, he succumbs to the encouragement of his sister – and his own listlessness – and joins an underground movement in India. But years of revolutionary campaigns and then prison convince him that the revolution ‘had nothing to do with what we were fighting for’, and he feels himself further than ever ‘from his own history.’ When he returns to Britain where, thirty years before, his wanderings began, Willie encounters a country that has turned its back on its past and, like him, has become detached from its own history. He endures the indignities of a culture dissipated by reform and compromise until, in a moment of grotesque revelation – a tour de force of parodic savagery from our most visionary of writers – Willie comes to an understanding that might finally allow him to release his true self. Praise for Magic Seeds: ‘Original, ruthlessly honest, intellectually stimulating and masterfully written’ The Times ‘A radica further step in one of the great imaginative careers of our time . . . Magic Seeds demands our attention, and nothing more authoritative will be published this year’ Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph ‘Spare, concentrated and always capable of breaking out into extraordinary flashes of sympathy, awareness, and insight’ D. J. Taylor, Literary Review
This wonderful collection of essays by V.S. Naipul features pieces taken from his earlier books - The Overcrowded Barracoon, The Return of Eva Peron and Finding the Centre - and also includes several previously uncollected essays. Concentrating mainly on V.S. Naipaul's writings about India, the Americas, Africa and the Diaspora, it is a clear-eyed and magnificent introduction to the writer's extraordinary world. 'How few writers there are, if any, who share his sense of mission and moral authority, who have his willingness to learn and to travel and his miraculous gift of language. Is there no one who could persuade him to go on one last journey?' Observer 'As these essays lavishly demonstrate, he is a true citizen of the world, and he richly deserves the Nobel prize he was awarded last year' Scotlandon Sunday
A moving and beautiful novel of the transformation of rural England.Taking its title from the strangely frozen picture by surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, THE ENIGMA OF ARRIVAL is the story of a young Indian from the Crown Colony of Trinidad who arrives in post-imperial England and consciously, over many years, finds himself as a writer.As he does so, he also observes the gradual but profound and permanent changes wrought on the English landscape by the march of "progress", as an old world is lost to the relentless drift of people and things over the face of the earth. But while this is a novel of dignity, compassion and candour it is also, perhaps surprisingly, a work of celebration.'A wonderful book... a magical book' Jan Morris, Independent
Clay comes home to L.A. for Christmas vacation and re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and moral entropy, where everyone drives Porsches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine. He tries to renew feelings for his girlfriend, Blair, and for his best friend from high school, Julian, who is careering into hustling and heroin. Clay's holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs. Morally barren, ethically bereft and tinged with implicit violence, Less Than Zero is a shocking coming-of-age novel about the casual nihilism that comes with youth and money. ‘An extraordinarily accomplished first novel’ New Yorker ‘One of the most disturbing novels I’ve read in a long time. It possesses an unnerving air of documentary reality’ Michiko Kakutani, New York Times ‘The Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation’ USA Today ‘Remarkable. A killer – sexy, sassy, sad’ Village Voice
A Turn in the South is a reflective journey by V. S. Naipaul in the late 1980s through the American South. Naipaul writes of his encounters with politicians, rednecks, farmers, writers, ordinary men and women, both black and white, with the insight and originality we expect from one of our best travel writers. Fascinating and poetic, this is a remarkable book on race, culture and country. 'Naipaul's writing is supple and fluid, meticulously crafted, adventurous and quick to surprise. And, as usual, there's the freshness and originality of his way of looking at things . . . a fine book by a fine man, and one to be read with great enjoyment: a book of style, sagacity and wit' Sunday Times 'A tissue of brilliantly recorded hearsay, of intense listening by a man with a remarkable ear' New York Times Review of Books
‘His own modern labour of love, loss and disquiet, this really is a book to treasure’ Malcolm Bradbury, Sunday Express This vastly innovative novel explores colonial inheritance through a series of narratives that span continents, swing back and forth between past and present and delve into both autobiography and fiction. Naipaul offers a personal choice of examples of Spanish and British imperial history in the Caribbean, including an imagined vision of Raleigh’s last expedition and an introduction to Francisco de Miranda, a would-be liberator and precursor to Bolívar, which are placed within a context of echoing modernity and framed by two more personal, heavily autobiographical sections sketching the narrator – an eloquent yet humble man of Indian descent who grew up in Trinidad but spent much of his adult life in England and Africa. Meditative and dramatic, these historical reconstructions, imbued with Naipaul’s acute perception, drawn with his deft and sensitive touch, and told in his beautifully wrought prose, are transmuted into an astonishing novel exploring the profound and mysterious effect of history on the individual. ̵One of his supreme triumphs’ Adam Thorpe, European ‘A bewitching piece of work by a mind at the peak of its abilities’ New York Times Book Review
For Patrick Melrose, ‘family’ is more than a double-edged sword. As friends, relations and foes trickle in to pay final respects to his mother, Eleanor – an heiress who forsook the grandeur of her upbringing for ‘good works’, freely bestowed upon everyone but her own child – Patrick finds that his transition to orphanhood isn’t necessarily the liberation he had so long imagined. Yet as the service ends and the family gather for a final party, as conversations are overheard, danced around and concertedly avoided, amidst the social niceties and the social horrors, the calms and the rapids, Patrick begins to sense a new current. And at the end of the day, alone in his rooftop bedsit, it seems to promise some form of safety, at last. One of the most powerful reflections on pain and acceptance, and the treacheries of family, ever written, At Last is the brilliant culmination of the Melrose books. It is a masterpiece of glittering dark comedy and profound emotional truth.
Science. Does the word fill you with excitement, or dread, or something in between? Science – and the art of science writing – can, and should, be something to get excited about. The extracts featured in this anthology span centuries and continents, but are connected by their authors’ desire to understand, explain and enrich the world. The Art of Science is not a book about great scientific theories, complicated equations or grand old men and women in their laboratories; instead, it’s about the places we draw our inspiration from; about daily routines and sudden flashes of insight; about dedication, and – sometimes – desperation; and the small moments, questions, quests, clashes, doubts and delights that ultimately make us human. From Galileo to Lewis Carroll, from Humphry Davy to Charles Darwin, from Marie Curie to Stephen Jay Gould, from rust to snowflakes, from the first use of the word ‘scientist’ to the first computer, from why the sea is salty to Newtonian physics ‘for the ladies’, The Art of Science is a book about people, which is to say it’s a book about passion, politics, and poetry. Above all, though, it’s a book about the good that science, nd scientific thinking, can – and does – do.
First published in 1984, White Noise, one of DeLillo's most highly acclaimed novels, tells the story of Jack Gladney and his wife Babette who are both afraid of death. Jack is head of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. His colleague Murray runs a seminar on car crashes. Together they ponder the instances of celebrity death, from Elvis to Marilyn to Hitler. Through the brilliant and often very funny dialogue between Jack and Murray, Delillo exposes our common obsession with mortality and delineates Jack and Babette's touching relationship and their biggest fear - who will die first? 'An extraordinarily funny book on a serious subject, effortlessly combining social comedy, disaster, fiction and philosophy ... hilariously, and grimly, successful' Daily Telegraph 'An astonishing novel ... unforgettable... nearly every page crackles with memorable moments and perfectly turned phrases... dizzying, darkly beautiful fiction' Sunday Times
Winnie would say she's no trouble. She's content to let the days go by, minding her own business, bothering noone. She'd rather not recall the past and, at 72, doesn't see much point in thinking about the future. But when her closed existence is shattered by a random act of violence, Winnie is catapulted out of her exile. Robbed of everything she owns, she embarks on a journey to track down the thief but she soon finds that what began as a search for stolen belongings has become the rediscovery of a stolen life.
Lewis is haunted by the memory of his brother, by a stolen car and a river running full, and most of all by the boy at the wheel. Anna is haunted too, but her ghost is very much alive. Rita, Anna’s mother, is the exact opposite of her daughter – loud, carefree, and a daredevil, at seventysix. When Rita suffers a fall, Anna must leave London and spend the winter looking after her mother in Yarmouth. As they search for solutions to their problems, Anna and Lewis find themselves having to face troubling truths about who they are and what they might become – with electrifying consequences. ‘Subtle and forceful . . . [A] finely judged and emotionally intricate novel’ Guardian ‘Artful . . . Beguiling . . . A novel marked by poetic delicacy . . . Azzopardi has a gift for characterization – a magpieeye for the human spark – and equally for the humanity of things’ Times Literary Supplement ‘Limpid prose . . . [A] lyrical sense of place . . .Startling and arresting . . .Unlikely urban sites take on a fierce and mysterious beauty in Azzopardi’s hands’ Irish Times ‘Here’s proof, if anyone needs it, that the best writing does not need to be inaccessible . . . [Winterton Blue] has the . . . strange, captivating quality of real life shot through with poetry . . . Beautifully evoked’ The Times ‘Intricte, quietly brilliant . . . Some haunting snapshots of contemporary Britain . . . A vivid, sensuous rendition of the Norfolk coast’ Daily Telegraph ‘Funny, bizarre and addictive’ Eve Biographies Trezza Azzopardi was born in Cardiff and lives in Norwich. The Hiding Place, her first novel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2000.
Mothers and Sons is a sensitive and beautifully written meditation on the dramas surrounding this most elemental of relationships. Psychologically intricate and emotionally incisive, each finely wrought story teases out the delicate and difficult strands woven between mothers and sons. This is an acute, masterful and moving collection that confirms Tóibín as a great prose stylist of our time. 'Colm Tóibín is a writer of extraordinary emotional clarity. Each of the nine stories is a snapshot of a point of crisis . . . Tóibín perfectly understands the instantaneous nature of the ideal short story; the sense that the pen is going straight into a major vein. These are beautiful stories, beautifully crafted’ Kate Saunders, Literary Review 'The last story in this excellent collection is a superbly powerful tale of betrayal and desertion. Quintessential Tóibín’ Spectator ‘Moving . . . beautifully captured moments of longing and loss . . . Tóibín is a subtle, intelligent and deeply felt writer’ Guardian 'By turns surprising and illuminating, always beautifully written, Mothers and Sons places Tóibín in the front rank of modern Irish fiction . . . It may not be going too far to suggest Irish fiction has found its first Master of the new century’ Scotland on Sunday
Noone knows a city like the people who live there – so who better to relate the history of Paris than its inhabitants through the ages? Taking us from 1750 to the new millennium, Parisians introduces us to some of those inhabitants: we meet spies, soldiers, scientists and alchemists; police commissioners, photographers and philosophers; adulterers, murderers, prisoners and prostitutes. We encounter political and sexual intrigues, witness real and wouldbe revolutions, assassination attempts and several all too successful executions; we visit underground caverns and catacombs, enjoy the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, are there for the opening of the Metro, accompany Hitler on a flying visit to the French capital – and much more besides. Entertaining and illuminating, and written with Graham Robb’s customary attention to detail – and, indeed, the unusual – Parisians is both history and travel guide, yet also part memoir, part mystery. A book unlike any other, it is at once a book to read from cover to cover, to lose yourself in, to dip in and out of at leisure, and a book to return to again and again – rather like the city itself, in fact. Praise for The Discovery of France: 'An extraordinary journey of discovery that will delight even the most indolent armchair traveller' Daily Telegraph 'A superior historical guidebook for the unhurried traveller, and altogether a book to savour' Independent
With her children evacuated and her husband at the front, Tory Pace is grudgingly sharing the family home with her irascible mother; working at the local gelatine factory – to help the war effort – and generally doing just about as well as could be expected in difficult times. Her quiet life is thrown into turmoil, however, when her prisonerofwar husband, Donald, makes an outrageous demand for sexual gratification. He wants a dirty letter, by return of post! Horrified, at first, that Donald is being turned into some sort of monster by the Nazis, Tory’s disgust gradually gives way to a sense of marital duty, and taking in the libraries, bookshops, public conveniences and barbers’ shops of SouthEast London, she begins a quest to master the language of carnal desire: a quest that takes a sudden and unexpected turn into far more dangerous territory. Beginning with an act of unintentional cannibalism, and flirting with a scheme to end world hunger by the use of protein pills, Nourishment ranges widely across the Continent and yet always returns home: to family, to people, to relationships. Woodward offers a prescient examination of the ways in which we both nurture and consume each other in the face of adversity.
Noon is a profound and far-reaching novel set amidst two decades of convulsive change in the ‘new’ New World, with at its core a man whose heart is split across two cultures’ troubled divide. Rehan Tabassum has grown up in a world of nascent privilege in Delhi. His mother is a self-made lawyer and her new husband a wealthy industrialist, their lives the embodiment of a dazzling, emergent India. But there is a marked absence in Rehan’s life: his father, Sahil Tabassum, who remains a powerful shadow across the border in Pakistan. Written with insight and passion, this is an electrifying, often surprising story of a young man coming of age alongside the two countries out of which he was born, as Rehan travels through lands of sudden wealth and hidden violence, in a frequently toxic atmosphere of political quicksand and moral danger, towards the centre of his father’s world. In the book’s final section – a thrilling piece of storytelling set in a sinister port in Pakistan and one of the more remarkable endings in modern fiction – Noon confirms its place as a major work of fiction from a writer uniquely placed to bear witness to some of the most urgent questions of our times. Praise for The Temple-Goers ‘Naipaul’s praise israre enough to be notable; and Taseer lives up to it . . . among the sharpest and best-written fictions about contemporary India’ Independent ‘A coolly accomplished, pulsating account of modern-day Delhi’ Guardian
The Sunday Times Novel of the Year ‘With The Stranger’s Child, an already remarkable talent unfurls into something spectacular’ Sunday Times In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge friend Cecil Valance, a charismatic young poet, to visit his family home. Filled with intimacies and confusions, the weekend will link the families for ever, having the most lasting impact on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne. As the decades pass, Daphne and those around her endure startling changes in fortune and circumstance, reputations rise and fall, secrets are revealed and hidden and the events of that long-ago summer become part of a legendary story, told and interpreted in different ways by successive generations. Powerful, absorbing and richly comic, The Stranger’s Child is a masterly exploration of English culture, taste and attitudes over a century of change. ‘I would compare the novel to Middlemarch . . . a remarkable, unmissable achievement’ Independent ‘Magnificent . . . universlly acclaimed as the best novel of the year’ Philip Hensher
Among the Believers is V.S. Naipaul’s classic account of his journeys through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia; ‘the believers’ are the Muslims he met on those journeys, young men and women battling to regain the original purity of their faith in the hope of restoring order to a chaotic world. It is a uniquely valuable insight into modern Islam and the comforting simplifications of religious fanaticism. ‘This book investigates the Islamic revolution and tries to understand the fundamentalist zeal that has gripped the young in Iran and other Muslim countries . . . He is a modern master’ Sunday Times ‘Beautifully written and almost impossible to put down’ Auberon Waugh ‘The edgy exactitude of Naipaul’s writing is both effortlessly classical and yet at the same time brilliantly contemporary, as sharp and lucid as a spear of glass . . . He is inimitable, truly great and truly deserving of the Nobel’ Robert McCrum, Observer ‘His level of perception is of the highest, and his prose has become the perfect instrument for realizing those perceptions on the page. His travel writing is perhaps the most important body of work of its kind in the second half of the century’ Martin Amis
‘Think Reservoir Dogs or Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. Think Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy’ LIONEL SHRIVER, Daily Telegraph Jimmy Luntz owes money to a man called Juarez. Trouble is, Juarez isn't the most patient of men. And when he gets bored of waiting, he sends someone round to collect. Luntz doesn't actually plan to shoot the guy, but the way he sees it, it's shoot or be shot. Either way, though, Luntz is out of his league, and he knows it: nobody messes with Juarez – or, at least, nobody messes with Juarez and lives to tell the tale. ‘Johnson can’t help slathering the story’s pages in his usual idiosyncratic brilliance . . . Reaching the end, the exhilarated reader is blindsided by the hint of something huge’ Guardian ‘A fast-paced, violent, hugely entertaining crime caper, packed with terrific set pieces and crackling dialogue. The fun that Johnson obviously had writing it steams off every page’ Sunday Telegraph ‘Johnson’s writing looks extremely simple. Let me tell you it is not – this kind of sare, poetic, humorous storytelling is only for the big boys. This is brilliant’ The Times