Saturday, 2 December 2017

List #6: FICTION 

Scroll through and select some of these excellent novels*, short story collections and other fictive texts as gifts or for yourself. 
Come in or click through to browse our full selection (we have a large number of interesting and unusual titles in stock), or ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood             $35
A splendid new edition of this excellent novel (and now a NetFlix series). A doctor specialising in amnesia interviews Grace Marks, imprisoned for the 1843 murder of her employer and his housekeeper. Grace claims to remember nothing. Was she guilty? 
"Brilliant. So intimate it seems to be written on the skin." - Hilary Mantel

Mrs Osmond by John Banville         $37
In this sequel to Henry James's A Portrait of a Lady, Banville assumes not only James's mantle but his eye and pen. 
“When I speak of style, I mean the style Henry James spoke of when he wrote that, in literature, we move through a blessed world, in which we know nothing except through style.” - John Banville
" Banville makes James something all his own." - Guardian 
"Banville is one of the writers I admire the most - few people can create an image as beautifully or precisely." - Hanya Yanagihara (author of A Little Life)

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba        $28
A girl arrives at an orphanage after the deaths of her parents in a car accident. Her presence is a wound to the orphans' idea of themselves, and they also begin to have a disturbing effect upon the incomer. What role does the girl's doll play in the hazards that soon beset the inmates of the orphanage? 
>> Read Thomas's review
"Barba inhabits the minds of children with an exactitude that seems to me so uncanny as to be almost sinister. Lying behind the shocks is a meditation on language and its power to bind or loosen thought and behaviour. It is about language, wounding, wickedness; but it is also about how fleeting and how vulnerable is the state of childhood innocence – that 'nothing which we are to perceive in this world/equals the power of its intense fragility'." - Sarah Perry, Guardian

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet         $35
Another remarkable novel from the author of HHhHWhat if the death of Roland Barthes in 1980 was not an accident but an assassination? What if the cultural theorist's death of the was part of an international intrigue, involving the use of language as an irresistible convincer (its ultimate 'seventh function'). Police Captain Jacques Bayard and his reluctant accomplice Simon Herzog set off on a global chase that takes them from the corridors of power and academia to seedy back streets. Both brainy and fun.

>> Read Thomas's review
"This is a novel that establishes Laurent Binet as the clear heir to the late Umberto Eco, writing novels that are both brilliant and playful, dense with ideas while never losing sight of their need to entertain. The 7th Function of Language is one of the funniest, most riotously inventive and enjoyable novels you’ll read this year." - Guardian

Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam          $29
The stresses of yet another once-in-a-lifetime storm in Wellington and not helped by the demands put upon Tamil refugee Sita by her employer, but support comes from unexpected quarters when the usual structures of urban life and upended.
>> "A subversion of the classic quest narrative."

The Beat of the Pendulum: A found novel by Catherine Chidgey     $35
This fascinating (and funny) new novel from the author of The Wish Child (winner of the 2017 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize) is sieved and assembled from the great flood of words that washed over Chidgey in 2016. Both an experiment in form and an exercise in documentary rigour, this novel is revelatory of the actual texture of life and an interrogation of the processes of memory.

>> Read Thomas's review

Tinderbox by Megan Dunn        $30
Like everyone, Megan Dunn had a book inside her. In Dunn's case, that book happened to be Fahrenheit 451, which had already been written by Ray Bradbury. Tinderbox is about the hold of literature on our minds and about the mechanisms by which society attempts to destroy that hold. It is about hope and failure and retail and living in the twenty-first century and failure (it's strong on failure), and it's fun to read. 
>> Read an extract
>> The 1966 film by Francis Truffaut
>> Megan's Julie Christie slide show
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan          $38
Egan follows the Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad with this historical novel set in Depression era and post-Depression era New York, a period in which modern American history was put on a new track. 

>> Read Stella's review. 
"This is a novel that will pull you in and under and carry you away on its rip tides. Its resonances continue to wash over the reader long after the novel ends." - Guardian

Compass by Mathias Enard        $40
Enard's text is like a ball-bearing rolling around indefinitely inside a box over surfaces imprinted with every sort of information about the wider Mediterranean, from Barcelona to Beirut, and Algiers to Trieste, past and present. Enard very effectively uses the necessarily one-directional movement of a sentence to sketch out, through endless repetition and variation, the multi-dimensional complexity of the political, cultural, historical, social and physical terrain of the entire zone, providing a panoramic view of the political and personal violence that has shaped the history and cultures of the area, and intimating the way in which an individual is caught irretrievably in the great web of their circumstances, submission to those circumstances being the price of travelling along them. 
Go Went Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck          $33
"Jenny Erpenbeck's magnificent novel is about the 'central moral question of our time,' and among its many virtues is that it is not only alive to the suffering of people who are very different from us but alive to the false consolations of telling 'moving' stories about people who are very different from us. Erpenbeck writes about Richard, a retired German academic, whose privileged, orderly life is transformed by his growing involvement in the lives of a number of African refugees—utterly powerless, unaccommodated men, who have ended up, via the most arduous routes, in wealthy Germany. Erpenbeck uses a measured, lyrically austere prose, whose even tread barely betrays the considerable passion that drives it onward." — James Wood, New Yorker
"Profound, unsettling and subtle." - The Guardian

Salt Picnic by Patrick Evans       $30
It's 1956 and Iola (a character both based and not based on Janet Frame) arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco's Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook and an imagination shaped by literature and movies. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? Nothing is stable or quite as it seems, and the mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she is brought close to a brighter, harsher reality.
From the author of Gifted

Decline and Fall on Savage Street by Fiona Farrell      $38
Under the house the earth moves according to its geological time, while upon it the lives and times of humans move by different rhythms. One house is the place where these forces interact. Farrell's new novel is a sort of counterpart to The Villa on the Edge of the Empire

>> Read Stella's review
First Person by Richard Flanagan       $48
Can a penniless writer retain any certainty, even of his own identity, when he is commissioned to ghost-write the memoir of a conman? From the author of the Booker-winning Narrow Road to the Deep North

Stories: The collected short fiction by Helen Garner        $37
"Garner's stories share characteristics of the postcard: they flash before us carefully recorded images that remind us of harsher realities not pictured. And like postcards they are economically written, a bit of conversation is transcribed, a memory recalled, an event noted, scenes pass as if viewed from a train-momentarily, distinct and tantalising in their beauty.'" - New York Times
>> Also available and uniform with this volume: True Stories.
A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman         $28
This taut depiction of a stand-up comedian falling apart on stage in front of an audience wanting entertainment won Grossman the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. Why are we so transfixed by tragedy, our own and others'? In reading literature, are we like Dovaleh's audience, seeking entertainment from the miseries of others? 
"Unrelentingly claustrophobic. The violence that A Horse Walks into a Bar explores is private and intimate. Its central interest is not the vicious treatment of vulnerable others but the cruelty that wells up within families, circulates like a poison in tight-knit groups, and finally turns inward against the self. Searing and poignant." - New York Review of Books 

The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova        $32
As surreal and "beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella" (to use words written in anticipation by le Comte de Lautréamont (with particular emphasis with reference to this collection upon the sewing machine)), Grodova's stories, full of baroque detail worn via patina to a thinness that makes them dangerously sharp to handle, take place in a world governed by strange customs, where significance is found in odd conjunctions, where obsessions assume the fatal ordinariness of custom, where only misfits approach normal, and where childhood is the conduit of immense threat, to children, parents and to wider society. All that is riven will henceforth continue to diverge, but Grodova's stories, lying on an axis of mitteleuropean flavour somewhere between Grimm's tales and accounts of Soviet privations, and on another axis somewhere between the stories of Angela Carter (pleasantly close to these) and  those of Ben Marcus, have as much delight (and even hope) in them as they do despair, for, after all, with an imagination as fertile (and a hand as steady) as Grudova's, anything could happen (not only the dreadful). - Thomas
Exit West by Moshin Hamid          $37
What place is there for love in a world torn by crisis? From the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

>> Read Stella's review
"Exit West is a novel about migration and mutation, full of wormholes and rips in reality. It is animated by a constant motion between genre, between psychological and political space, and between a recent past, an intensified present and a near future." - The Guardian

Kingdom Cons by Yuri Harrera         $26
The new book from the author of the astounding Signs Preceding the End of the World. "Part surreal fable and part crime romance", the whole book is a meditation on the durability of integrity when confronted with power. 
>> Read Stella's review
"Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding." - Valeria Luiselli
>> Read an extract
Sleeps Standing / Moetū by Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly       $35
The three-day siege of the Battle of Orakau in 1864, in which 1700 Imperial troops laid siege to a hastily constructed pa sheltering 300 Maori men, women and children, marked the end of the Waikato War. Ihimaera tells the history from the point of view of a Moetu, a boy on the side that refused to submit and fought to the end. With facing texts in English and Maori (by Hemi Kelly). First-hand accounts and documentary illustrations appended. 

>> Read Stella's review

The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen        $25
Living is hard both physically and mentally on a small island off the Norwegian coast. Ingrid's father dreams of building a causeway to the mainland, whereas her mother dreams of moving to a smaller, even more remote island. When Ingrid is sent to work on the mainland she learns that mainland life has trials of its own.
 Short-listed for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize
"Even by his high standards, his magnificent new novel The Unseen is Jacobsen's finest to date, as blunt as it is subtle and is easily among the best books I have ever read." - Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

I am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy         $28
These short stories come up with one surreally gothic image after another: deeply resonant and affecting beyond the reach of reason. 

"These stories do not take long to read but the images in them will be embedded in your mind for a long time, so precisely sharp are Jaeggy’s tiny burrs of observed detail." - Thomas (>> read his review)
"This book is twisted and hypnotizing and downright lovely. Reading it is not unlike diving naked and headlong into a bramble of black rosebushes, so intrigued you are by their beauty: it's a swift, prickly undertaking and you emerge the other end bloodied all over." - The Paris Review
Baby by Annaleese Jochems           $30
"Sultry, sinister, hilarious and demented, Baby blazes with intelligence and murderous black humour. Heavenly Creatures for a new generation." – Eleanor Catton
"Patricia Highsmith meets reality TV in this compelling debut. Jochems nudges up the tension until we can’t bear to look – and can’t bear to look away: thrilling, dangerous and deliciously funny." – Catherine Chidgey 
"This funny, sexy, unnerving novel challenges received ideas and delivers jolts of pleasure and disquiet throughout. Jochems, like her extraordinary creation Cynthia, is a force to be reckoned with." –Emily Perkins
>> "The best novel of 2017." - Spinoff

The Iron Age by Arja Kajermo                  $26
Tradition and superstition clash with economic reality in this illustrated short novel telling of family's migration from rural Finland to urban Sweden. 
"This quiet, assiduously written short novel about a girl living in Finland among the looming shadows of war achieves the alchemy every writer would love to conjure up: it’s somehow about every childhood, every twilit life. A radiantly beautiful book." – Joseph O’Connor"So bleakly funny that it makes Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes seem idyllic." – The Irish Times

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss           $30
A dazzlingly intelligent dual-narrative novel concerning, on the one hand, a retired New York lawyer who 'disappears' to Tel Aviv, and, on the other, a novelist named Nicole Krauss who comes home to find herself already there, and so sets off towards the point the narratives meet. Elegant and replete with Kraussian themes of memory, solitude and Jewishness.

"Wonderfully complex and thought-provoking." - Stella (>>read her full review and listen to her reviewing the book on RNZ National)
"Restores your faith in fiction." - Ali Smith
"Charming, tender, and wholly original." - J. M. Coetzee
What is ‘real’ and what isn’t, and do such questions even apply, really, to something that is entirely a construction, from beginning to end?" 

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser       $37
Which undoes the present more, a shadow cast by the past or one cast by the future? De Kretser's new novel gauges the dissonances between individual and collective identities. 
"I so much admire Michelle de Kretser's formidable technique - her characters feel alive, and she can create a sweeping narrative which encompasses years, and yet still retain the sharp, almost hallucinatory detail." - Hilary Mantel
"Michelle de Kretser writes quickly and lightly of wonderful and terrible things. She is a master storyteller." - A.S. Byatt

Twins by Dirk Kurbjuweit          $24
"We didn't want to be like twins-we wanted to be twins. We wanted to be absolutely identical. But because we hadn't been born twins, we had to make ourselves the same-and part of that, of course, was having to go through all our most important experiences together." Rowing partners Johann and Ludwig are best friends, but that's not enough. To defeat the region's current champions, identical twins from a nearby town, they must become twins too. Ludwig has a plan: they will eat, sleep, breathe and even think in perfect harmony. Only then will they have a chance of winning. But Johann has a secret he's been keeping from his friend-and when Ludwig begins acting strangely, Johann realises that his 'twin' wants to put their bond to the ultimate test.

The Answers by Catherine Lacey        $33
Mary is hired to play the part of the Emotional Girlfriend(alongside a Maternal Girlfriend, a Mundane Girlfriend, an Angry Girlfriend, &c) in a research project called The Girlfriend Experiment, which seeks to discover why two people, drawn together by forces beyond their control, can wake up one day as strangers to one another. 

>> Read Stella's review
"For Lacey’s remarkable skill to be fully embraced, we may need a new genre to categorize her work under. Lacey’s books are not really novels, in a similar way that Woolf’s The Waves, Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, or Rachel Cusk’s Outline are arguably not really novels. Still, no matter how you categorise them, it seems inevitable that her books will find a larger audience. Her sentences are like reading an iconic prose style before it’s become iconic." - Los Angeles Review of Books
Lacey's previous novel Nobody is Ever Missingset largely in New Zealand, was an international literary sensation. 
>> She's got a paperclip upon her wrist

Blue Self-Portrait by Noémi Lefebvre    $33
A wonderfully written interior monologue, reminiscent of Thomas Bernhard, of a difficult woman obsessed with a portrait of the composer Arnold Schoenberg and thrown off kilter by a romantic encounter with a musician.

"The best book I've read this year." - Thomas (>>read his review)
>> Read an extract

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack          $23
Written in one long sentence (in which line breaks perform as a higher order of comma), McCormack’s remarkable and enjoyable book succeeds at both stretching the formal possibilities of the novel (for which it was awarded the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize) and in being a gentle, unassuming and thoughtful portrait of a very ordinary life in a small and unremarkable Irish town. The flow of McCormack’s prose sensitively maps the flow of thought, drawing feeling and meaning from the patterning of quotidian detail as the narrator dissolves himself in the memories of which he is comprised. This wash of memory suggests that the narrator may in fact be dead, the narrative being the residue (or cumulation) of his life, the enduring body of attachments, thoughts and feelings that comprise the person. Few novels capture so well the texture of a person’s life, and this has been achieved through a rigorous experiment in form. - Thomas 

Tess by Kirsten McDougall        $25
What binds a family together tears a family apart. On the run, Tess is picked up on the side of the road by middle-aged father Lewis Rose, and drawn into the complexity of his life. Tess is a gothic love story set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium.

>> Read Stella's review.
"I love novels about amelioration, about people trying to mend and fix themselves. Kirsten McDougall's brave and brilliant Tess is one of these. A novel of tender observation and deftly judged suspense, Tess imagines what it might mean for someone to really know what goes on inside others." - Elizabeth Knox

False River: Stories, essays, secret histories by Paula Morris        $35
Fiction addresses itself to fact and fact addresses itself to fiction. These pieces range all over the place, occasionally observing themselves transforming from essay to fiction (or vice-versa), asking themselves, and us, what is the nature, or value, of truth? 

Elmet by Fiona Mozley         $35
A beautifully written novel about the relationship between a family and a landscape after the father's decision to withdraw from society. 

>> Read Stella's review.
" Elmet is at once both delicately beautiful and compellingly brutal, and is entirely memorable because of this." - Thomas (>>read his full review)

A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee             $37
The striving for a different life is one of the markers of modern existence. Can these five characters in Mumbai make better lives for themselves, or can they only achieve dislocation? From the author of The Lives of Others
"This is a great hymn to poor, scabby humanity-a devastating portrait of poverty and the inhumanity of the rich to the poor. A masterpiece." - Edmund White 
"Fans of Neel Mukherjee expect that his books will be exceptional and once again he has produced just that. A State of Freedom is formally audacious, vividly observed, and deeply imagined. Unsentimental yet full of heart, grimly real yet mysteriously dreamlike, with characters who continue to live their complicated lives long after you've turned the last page. Just a beautiful, beautiful piece of work." - Karen Joy Fowler

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami          $45
"I find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden." 
Seven stories of men choosing loneliness as a way of avoiding pain, even if it brings them close to self-erasure. Contains all your favourite Murakami signatures (cats, pasta, baseball, music, mysterious women). 

>> Read Stella's review
>> The playlist for this book

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting       $38
When a beautifully made coffin turns up for Edvard's grandfather, whose death is nowhere in sight, Edvard begins to unravel the mystery of his lost uncle and dead parents, an unravelling that takes him from the remote Norwegian farmstead where he grew up to the Shetland Islands, to the historic battlefields of France. The novel is neatly dovetailed throughout, just like the woodwork that runs through it. From the author of the incomparable Norwegian Wood
>> Mytting speaks with Kathryn Ryan

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa        $45
A fragmentary "factless autobiography" attributed by Pessoa largely to his semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares but left unedited and uncompleted (if such a project could be completed) at Pessoa's (and, by extension, Soares's) death. The book is a Modernist masterpiece of existential observation and self-observation, with musings on the scattershot distribution of meaning in everyday life. 
>> "The weirdest autobiography ever."
>> "A writer in flight from his name.
>>  On the destruction of the 'I'.

Basket of Deplorables by Tom Rachman        $24
Almost true stories for a post-truth world. Does being an American mean anything any more? 
"These bang-up-to-the-minute stories feel like essential reading as we get to grips with a bizarre new era." - Guardian

An Overcoat: Scenes from the afterlife of H.B. by Jack Robinson         $33
In June 1819 Henri Beyle (aka Stendhal) is rejected by the woman he loves. Beyle finds himself stranded in an afterlife populated by tourists, shoplifters and characters in novels he hasn't yet written. Footnoting a host of other writers, An Overcoat is an obsessional play upon the life and work of one of the founders of the modern novel.

"In this subtle and playful text, Charles Boyle (Boyle/Beyle), writing under his pen-name Jack Robinson, dissolves the distinction between historical fact and creative freedom, allowing each to infect or lubricate the other. Composed mostly of footnotes (and of footnotes to the footnotes), the brief impressionistic sections display and connect a wide experience of reading, thinking, feeling and writing." - Thomas (>>read his full review)"An Overcoat takes intellection as seriously as, say, being able to make a three-point turn in traffic; perhaps less so. This is the book’s charm, and possibly its point. It’s a mind at play, and Boyle’s silly pseudonym is a deliberate act of self-sabotage – as well as a nod to Stendhal’s fondness for different identities. I can’t think of a wittier, more engaging, stylistically audacious, attentive and generous writer working in the English language right now." - Nicholas Lezard , Guardian
My Private Property by Mary Ruefle       $35
A collection of devastating short prose pieces from on of America's sharpest poets. 

>> Read Thomas's review.
"The property that Ruefle deems private is the impalpable nature of the inner life we all share; it is at once ours and everyone's. Ruefle has shown a talent for elevating her acute observations and narrative inclination well above mere anecdote to create quietly disquieting moments. A literature of barbed ambiguity and unresolved disruption." - Bookforum
"Ruefle can seem like a supernally well-read person who has grown bored with what smartness looks like, and has grown attracted to the other side." - New York Times

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich         $37
How does a horrific act resonate along the lines of love and memory that link (and divide) a family? What changes, what endures? What can be recovered, and what must be constructed? 

>> Read Stella's review
"That an act of brutality inspires storytelling as beautiful as this is reason enough for this novel to stand out from the crowd. To discover the sheer exquisiteness of Ruskovich’s prose is an unforeseen added bonus. There’s a rare, rich plangent quality to her sentences, as present in the spaces between the words, in what’s not said, as much as in what is articulated." - Independent 

Dunbar by Edward St Aubyn          $34
A contemporary rewriting of King Lear, as part of the 'Hogarth Shakespeare' series, from the acid-tipped pen of one of the sharpest (and blackly funniest) satirists of contemporary mores. Henry Dunbar has handed over control of his global media corporation to his two eldest daughters and is stuck in his dotage in a care home in the Lake District. When he escapes into the hills, who will find him first, the two daughters keen to strip him of his estate or his youngest daughter, Florence? 
"Of all the novelist and play matches in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, that of Edward St Aubyn with King Lear seems the finest. Shakespeare’s blackest, most surreal and hectic tragedy sharpened by one of our blackest, most surreal and hectic wits. Our ur-text about the decay of patriarchal aristocratic power reimagined by a writer whose central subject is the decay of male aristocratic power." - Guardian

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders      $33
Winner of the 2017 MAN BOOKER PRIZE. 
Is this The American Book of the Dead? Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie died of typhoid in 1862. This inventive and much-anticipated novel from the author of the Folio Prize-winning Tenth of December has a president, "freshly inclined toward sorrow," driven by grief into communion with the disembodied spirits of the dead in what becomes a meditation on the force of death in personal and collective histories, notably the American Civil War. 

>> Read Stella's and Thomas's reviews

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin        $23
A young woman lies dying in hospital. The boy at her bedside asks some questions which unleash the most terrifying of stories. 
>> Read Thomas's review
"Terrifying but brilliant, this dangerously addictive novel in which a woman’s life speeds towards doom is haunted by the bleak landscape of rural Argentina. Schweblin remorselessly cranks up the tension until every sentence seems to tremble with threat. Fever Dream’s ambiguities, and the intricate psychologies with which Schweblin invests her characters, mean that rereading proves rewarding even when the suspense is removed. Wherever you decide the truth lies, aspects of Amanda’s story will continue to puzzle and haunt you long after she stops being able to tell it." - Guardian

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie         $27
Family, society, love and religion clash in this modern reworking of the themes of Antigone. Long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 
"Home Fire left me awestruck, shaken, on the edge of my chair, filled with admiration for her courage and ambition. Recommended reading for prime ministers and presidents everywhere." - Peter Carey 

Winter by Ali Smith     $34
In the second installment of Smith's seasonal quartet, a modern-day Scrooge reassesses her relationships in the context of Brexit Britain and the deep patterns of history and society. 
"Luminously beautiful. A novel of great ferocity, tenderness, righteous anger and generosity of spirit." - Guardian

To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm        $28
What happens when a man just walks away from his wife and children and doesn't come back? Beautifully translated by Michael Hofmann. 
"This inscrutable novel is a haunting love story of subtlety and pathos. Everything is so thoughtfully put together, so gently and subtly observed, that the question of whether Thomas and Astrid will ever be reunited, if such a thing is even possible, gathers an extraordinary pathos." - Tim Parks, Guardian

The Necessary Angel by C.K. Stead     $38
Paris: books/conversation, love/politics, fidelity/infidelity. 
"Edgy and lyrical, acerbic and witty, intellectually incisive but also visceral and bawdy, disarmingly direct and intricately plotted." - Andrew Bennett

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk         $37
We have in us a restlessness, a will to change, a fluidity of identity and belonging that Olga Tokarczuk in her fine and interesting book Flights would see as our essential vitality, an indicator of civilisation. Flights is an encyclopedic sort-of-novel, a great compendium of stories, fragments, historical anecdotes, description and essays on every possible aspect of travel, in its literal and metaphorical senses, and on the stagnation, mummification and bodily degradation of stasis. The book bristles with ideas, memorable images and playful treatments.
>> Read Thomas's review

Worlds from the Word's End by Joanna Walsh        $30
"Walsh toys with notions of realism versus fantasy and autobiography versus fiction. She exposes, and revels in, the absurdity of these boundaries, their indistinctness. Her clever, self-parodying stories capture the existential disarrangement of the writer, but also the existential disarrangement of anyone who finds real life strange and, at times, quite unreal." - Joanna Kavenna, Guardian

>> Read Thomas's review"A genuinely original collection, sharp and sparse." - Mike McCormack
>> Read an extract, 'Exes'

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward         $27
As 13-year-old Jojo approaches adulthood, how can he find his way in the U.S. South when all seems set for him and his family to fall foul of rural poverty, drug addiction, the penal system, the justice system, racism and illness? From the author of Salvage the Bones. 

>> Read Stella's review
"This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare." - Margaret Atwood 
"A powerfully alive novel haunted by ghosts; a road trip where people can go but they can never leave; a visceral and intimate drama that plays out like a grand epic, Sing, Unburied, Sing is staggering." - Marlon James

Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner    $28
The Breakstone family arrange themselves around their perfect daughter Heather, but as Heather grows she becomes the centre of other, darker orbits. 
"Heather, the Totality is superb. Weiner conveys the sense that beyond the brilliantly chosen details there was a wealth of similarly truthful social and psychological perception unstated. Then there was the ice-cold mercilessness, of a kind that reminded me (oddly, I suppose, but there it was) of Evelyn Waugh. This novel is something special." - Philip Pullman
"I cringed and shuddered my way through this short, daring novel to its terrible inevitable end. Each neat, measured paragraphcarpaccios its characters to get to the book's heart - one of Boschian self-cannibalising isolation. A stunning novel. Heather, the Totality blew me away." - Nick Cave
>> Matthew Weiner, the man who made Mad Men

Lifting by Damien Wilkins      $30
Wilkins' writing is both light and deft as he brings us inside the head and world of Amy, a store detective at Cutty's (for which read Kirkaldie and Stains) in the weeks leading up to the department store's closure. Why is Amy being interviewed by the police? What will change in her unremarkable life?
99 Stories of God by Joy Williams        $28
99 stories, most less than a page long, each written with such sharpness and lightness of touch that they draw blood unexpectedly and without pain.

"Brevity, sparsity, clarity: these stories are distillates of novels, tragedies told as jokes, aqua vitae for anyone who reads, observes, thinks or writes." - Thomas (>>read  his full review)
"Radically compressed. New territory for Williams, with a brevity and a strict whimsy you might encounter in Lydia Davis's work. Easy to follow and hard to fathom; easy to enjoy and harder to absorb." - New Yorker
"A collection of tiny, wry masterpieces." - New York Times
>> "There’s something unwholesome and self-destructive about the entire writing process."

Two Stories by Virginia Woolf and Mark Haddon      $26
Published to mark the centenary of the first Hogarth Press printing, Woolf's original story 'The Mark on the Wall' is here paired with a new story by Haddon. All the pleasures and production qualities of the original have been retained. 

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang      $27
Centred on a community of immigrants who have traded their endangered lives as artists in China and Taiwan for the constant struggle of life on the poverty line in 1990s New York City, the stories that make up Sour Heart examine the many ways that family and history can weigh us down, but also lift us up.
"As I read, I quickly realized this was something so new and powerful that it would come to shape the world, not just the literary world, but what we know about reality. Zhang's version of honesty goes way past the familiar, with passages that burst into a bold, startling brilliance. Get ready." - Miranda July 
"Obscene, beautiful, moving." - The New Yorker
>> Jenny Zhang and Lena Dunham.

Black Marks on the White Page edited by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti          $40
A beautifully presented, various and interesting collection of twenty-first century stories by Maori and Pasifika writers, both well-known and emerging (and some artists, too). 

McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #50         $55
A whole summer's worth of reading from Lydia Davis, Sarah Vowell, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Diane Williams, Jesse Ball, Sheila Heti, Carrie Brownstein, Etgar Keret, Jonathan Lehtam, Valeira Luiselli, Heidi Julavits, Sherman Alexie, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c (50 writers and artists).

 (* including a few non-fiction novels)

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