We have a constantly shifting collection of new and second-hand books in stock. Pop into the shop or give us a call to see what we have in and to order. Below are some of our recently published favourites! 

JULY/AUGUST

A Shock by Keith Ridgway

A-Shock

A clutch of more or less loosely connected characters appear, disappear and reapper. They are all of them on the fringes of London life, often clinging on – to sanity, solvency or a story – by their fingertips.

Keith is a fairly local (SE London based) writer too!

 

 

 

Ghost Signs: Poverty and the Pandemic by Stu HenniganGhost-Signs

 

An eyewitness account of the impact of the early days of the pandemic on those living in poverty in Leeds, as Stu Hennigan delivered emergency food and medicine to communities that had already suffered 10 years of austerity.

 

 

 

Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen

Factory-Girls

 

It is the summer of 1994. In a small town on the Irish border Maeve and her two friends have just secured summer jobs in the local shirt factory. They plan to make as much money as they can while waiting for their A Level results before getting out of town and away to the UK. As the summer progresses and the marching season begins, tensions in the factory start to rise between the Catholic and Protestant workforce and events escalate putting Maeve’s chance of escape in jeopardy.

 

Nettleblack by Nat ReeveNettleblack

 

Told through journal entries and letters, Nettleblack is a picaresque ride through the perils and joys of finding your place in the world, challenging myths about queerness – particularly transness – as a modern phenomenon, while exploring the practicalities of articulating queer perspectives when you’re struggling for words.

 

 

 

At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime by A. Roger Ekirch 

At-Days-Close

From blanket fairs to night kings, curfews to crime, At Day’s Close is an intriguing and captivating investigation into the night.

Here, Ekirch explores how the night was lived in the past, through travel accounts, memoirs, letters, folklore, poems, court records and coroner’s reports.

 

 

 


May 2022

People Person by Candice Carty-WilliamsPeople Person

Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about. She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of TranquilityEdwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal–an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.

Bolla by Pajtim Statovci, transl. by David Hackston Bolla

It is April, 1995.

Kosovo is a country on the cusp of a dreadful war. Arsim is twenty-two, newly married, cautious – an Albanian trying to keep his head down and finish his studies in an atmosphere of creeping threat. Until he encounters Milos, a Serb, and begins a life in secret.

Bolla is the story of what happens when passion and history collide – when a relationship, already forbidden and laced with danger, is ripped apart by war and migration, separated by nations and fate.

What happens when you are forced to live a life that is not yours, so far from your desires?

Can the human remain?

Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

Maud MarthaWhen Maud Martha Brown is seven years old, what she likes even better than “candy buttons, and books, ..and the west sky” are dandelions: “Yellow jewels for everyday studding the patched green dress of her back yard.” Maud Martha’s nine-year-old sister, Helen, is heart-catchingly beautiful; Maud Martha comforts herself with knowing that what is common – like the demurely pretty dandelion with “only ordinary allurements” – is also a flower. Through pithy and poetic chapter-moments – “spring landscape: detail,” “death of grandmother,” “first beau,” “low yellow,” “everybody will be surprised” – Maud Martha grows up, gets married, and gives birth to a daughter. Maud Martha, a gentle woman with “scraps of baffled hate in her, hate with no eyes, no smile…” who knows “while people did live they would be grand, would be glorious and brave, would have nimble hearts that would beat and beat,” is portrayed with exquisitely imaginative and tender detail by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize.

The Premonitions Bureau by Sam KnightPremonitions Bureau

On the morning of October 21, 1966, Kathleen Middleton, a music teacher in suburban London, awoke choking and gasping, convinced disaster was about to strike. An hour later, a mountain of rubble containing waste from a coal mine collapsed above the village of Aberfan, swamping buildings and killing 144 people, many of them children. Among the doctors and emergency workers who arrived on the scene was John Barker, a psychiatrist from Shelton Hospital, in Shrewsbury. At Aberfan, Barker became convinced there had been supernatural warning signs of the disaster, and decided to establish a “premonitions bureau,” in conjunction with the Evening Standard newspaper, to collect dreams and forebodings from the public, in the hope of preventing future calamities.

Middleton was one of hundreds of seemingly normal people, who would contribute their visions to Barker’s research in the years to come, some of them unnervingly accurate. As Barker’s work plunged him deeper into the occult, his reputation suffered. But in the face of professional humiliation, Barker only became more determined, ultimately realising with terrible certainty that catastrophe had been prophesied in his own life.

In Sam Knight’s crystalline telling, this astonishing true story comes to encompass the secrets of the world. We all know premonitions are impossible—and yet they come true all the time. Our lives are full of collisions and coincidence: the question is how we perceive these implausible events and therefore make meaning in our lives. The Premonitions Bureau is an enthralling account of madness and wonder, of science and the supernatural. With an unforgettable ending, it is a mysterious journey into the most unsettling reaches of the human mind.

March/April 2022

DoloriadThe Doloriad by Missouri Williams 

In the wake of a mysterious environmental cataclysm that has wiped out the rest of humankind, the Matriarch, her brother, and the family descended from their incest cling to existence on the edges of a deserted city. The Matriarch, ruling with fear and force, dreams of starting humanity over again, though her children are not so certain. Together the family scavenges supplies and attempts to cultivate the poisoned earth. For entertainment, they watch old VHS tapes of a TV show in which a problem-solving medieval saint faces down a sequence of logical and ethical dilemmas. But one day the Matriarch dreams of another group of survivors and sends away one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering. When Dolores returns the next day, her reappearance triggers the breakdown of the Matriarch’s fragile order, and the control she wields over their sprawling family begins to weaken.

Told in extraordinary, intricate prose that moves with a life of its own, and at times striking with the power of physical force, Missouri Williams’s debut novel is a blazingly original document of depravity and salvation. Gothic and strange, moving and disquieting, and often hilarious, 
The Doloriad stares down, with narrowed eyes, humanity’s unbreakable commitment to life.

 

Mona by Pola Oloixarac Mona

Mona, a Peruvian writer based in California, presents a tough and sardonic exterior. She likes drugs and cigarettes, and when she learns that she’s something of an anthropological curiosity herself–a “woman writer of color” treasured in her university for the flourish of rarefied diversity she brings–she pokes fun at American academic culture and its fixation on identity.

When she is unexpectedly nominated for “the most important literary award in Europe,” Mona sees a chance to escape her spiral of sunlit substance abuse and erotic distractions, and so she trades the temptations of California for small, gray village in Sweden close to the Artic. Now she’s stuck in the company of all her jetlagged–and mostly male–competitors, arriving from Japan, France, Armenia, Iran, Colombia. Isolated as they are, the writers do what writers do: exchange compliments, nurse envy and private resentments, stab rivals in the back, and hop in bed together–and all the while, Mona keeps stumbling across the mysterious traces of a violence she cannot explain.

As her adventures in Scandinavia unfold, Mona finds that she has not so much escaped her demons as locked herself up with them in the middle of nowhere. In Mona, Pola Oloixarac paints a hypnotic, scabrous and finally jaw-dropping portrait of a woman facing a hipster elite in which she both does and does not belong. A survivor of both patronization and bizarre sexual encounters, Mona is a new kind of feminist. But her past won’t stay past, and strange forces are working to deliver her to the test of a lifetime.

Good Intentions by Kasim Ali

Good IntentionsIt’s the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Nur is steeling himself to tell his parents that he’s seeing someone. A young British Pakistani man, Nur has spent years omitting details about his personal life to maintain his image as the golden eldest child. And it’s come at a cost.

Once, Nur was a restless and insecure college student, struggling to present himself after being transplanted from his hometown with only the vaguest sense of ambition. At a packed house party, he meets Yasmina, a beautiful and self-possessed aspiring journalist. They start a conversation–first awkward, then absorbing–that grabs Nur’s attention like never before. And as their relationship develops, moving from libraries and cramped coffee shops to an apartment they share together, so too does Nur’s self-destruction. He falls deeper into traps of his own making, attempting to please both Yasmina and his family until he no longer has a choice. He must finally be honest and reveal to those who raised him the truth he’s kept hidden: Yasmina is Black, and he loves her.

Deftly transporting readers between that first night and the years beyond, Good Intentions exposes with unblinking authenticity the complexities of immigrant families and racial prejudice. It is a crackling, wryly clever depiction of standing on the precipice of adulthood, attempting to piece together who it is you’re meant to be.

Migrant City by Panikos Panayi 

The first history of London to show how immigrants have built, shaped and made a great success of the capital cityMigrant City

London is now a global financial and multicultural hub in which over three hundred languages are spoken. But the history of London has always been a history of immigration.

Panikos Panayi explores the rich and vibrant story of London– from its founding two millennia ago by Roman invaders, to Jewish and German immigrants in the Victorian period, to the Windrush generation invited from Caribbean countries in the twentieth century. Panayi shows how migration has been fundamental to London’s economic, social, political and cultural development.

Dancing Ledge by Derek Jarman

Dancing LedgeIn this Vintage reissue, Derek Jarman gives an explosive account of his life and art spanning over forty years. From his sexual awakening in post-war rural England to the libidinous excesses of the sixties and beyond, Jarman tells his story with an in-your-face immediacy that has become his trademark style in both films and books. His explorations take him from England to Italy, New York to Amsterdam, giving us a rapid succession of intimate and often graphic slices of his life. “Sexuality colors my politics,” Jarman writes in a section entitled Blow Job. But this is a journey into artistic as well as sexual discovery. In these pages we see Jarman’s imagination at work during the making of Sebastiane, Jubilee, The Tempest, and Caravaggio. Finally, there are nearly one hundred beautifully explicit black-and-white photographs of Jarman, his friends, lovers and inspirational heroes of gay culture.

February 2022

Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi AndreadesBrown Girls

We live in the dregs of Queens, New York, where airplanes fly so low that we are certain they will crush us…

This remarkable story brings you deep into the lives of a group of friends–young women of color growing up in Queens, New York City’s most vibrant and eclectic borough. Here, streets echo with languages from all over the globe, subways rumble above dollar stores, trees bloom and topple across sidewalks, and the briny scent of the ocean wafts from Rockaway Beach. Here, girls like Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique, and many others, attempt to reconcile their immigrant backgrounds with the American culture they come of age in. Here, they become friends for life–or so they vow.

In musical, evocative prose, Brown Girls illustrates a collective portrait of childhood, motherhood, and beyond, and is an unflinching exploration of race, class, and marginalization in America. It is an account of the forces that bind friends to one another, their families, and communities, and is a powerful depiction of women of color attempting to forge their place in the world. For even as the dueling forces of ambition and loyalty, freedom and marriage, reinvention and stability threaten to divide them, it is to each other–and to Queens–that the girls ultimately return. 

Open Water by Caleb Azumah-Nelson 

Open WaterTwo young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.

A glorious celebration of black exuberance and artistry and a stunning debut from Caleb, a local(!) It was also our bestselling book of 2021 in hardback, which is quite the achievement. 

 

Winchelsea by Alex Preston Winchelsea

The year is 1742. Goody Brown, saved from drowning and adopted when just a babe, has grown up happily in the smuggling town of Winchelsea. Then, when Goody turns sixteen, her father is murdered in the night by men he thought were friends.

To find justice in a lawless land, Goody must enter the cut-throat world of her father’s killers. With her beloved brother Francis, she joins a rival gang of smugglers. Facing high seas and desperate villains, she also discovers something else: an existence without constraints or expectations, a taste for danger that makes her blood run fast.

Goody was never born to be a gentlewoman. But what will she become instead?

THEYTHEY by Kay Dick

Books are confiscated
THEY are watching
Art galleries are purged
THEY are waiting
Subversives – writers, painters, the unmarried and the childless – are rounded up to be ‘cured’ of identity
THEY will not give up
A band of creatives remain
But THEY make it easy to forget . . .

 

Painting a nightmarish portrait of Britain, THEY begin with a dead dog, shadowy footsteps, confiscated books. Soon the National Gallery is purged; eerie towers survey the coast; savage mobs stalk the countryside destroying artworks – and those who resist.

THEY capture dissidents in military sweeps, ‘curing’ these subversives of individual identity.

Survivors gather together as cultural refugees, preserving their crafts, creating, loving and remembering. But THEY make it easier to forget . . .

Lost for over forty years, Kay Dick’s They (1977) is a rediscovered dystopian masterpiece of art under attack: a cry from the soul against censorship, a radical celebration of non-conformity – and a warning.

Wivenhoe by Samuel Fisher (SIGNED COPIES) Wicenhoe

WIVENHOE is a haunting novel set in an alternate present, in a world that is slowly waking up to the fact that it is living through an environmental disaster. Taking place over twenty-four hours and told through the voices of a mother and her adult son, we see how one small community reacts to social breakdown and isolation.

Samuel Fisher, founder of Burley Fisher books in East London, imagines a world, not unlike our own, struck down and on the edge of survival. Tense, poignant, and set against a dramatic landscape, WIVENHOE asks the question: if society as we know it is lost, what would we strive to save? At what point will we admit complicity in our own destruction?

Love Marriage by Monica Ali 

Love MarriageSet in London, a fresh and wickedly incisive novel about the daughter of Indian immigrants navigating love, family, and culture—by the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestselling Brick Lane, shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Yasmin Ghorami is twenty-six, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose domineering mother, Helen, is a famous feminist. Though both Yasmin’s parents and Joe’s mother approve of the marriage, the cultural gulf between Yasmin and Joe is vast.

The novel opens as Yasmin and her family pile into their car, packed with Indian food prepared by Yasmin’s mother, to go to dinner to meet Joe’s mother in her elegant townhouse in one of London’s poshest neighborhoods. Contrary to all of Yasmin’s fears, her unsophisticated mother is embraced and celebrated by Helen and her friends. But before long, complications ensue when Yasmin discovers Joe’s promiscuous nature, her brother is banished from the house by her father, and Yasmin’s mother moves to Helen’s house in protest. ​


January 2022 

East Side Voices, edited by Helena Lee 

East Side VoicesEssays celebrating East and Southeast Asian identity in Britain.

A strong, compelling, and quietly beautiful collection of stories that have gone untold for too long, from voices that have too often been sidelined from the artistic mainstream.’ Jonathan Liew

In this bold, first-of-its kind collection, East Side Voices invites us to explore a dazzling spectrum of experience from the East and Southeast Asian diaspora living in Britain today.

 

The Last One by Fatima DaasLast One

The youngest daughter of Algerian immigrants, Fatima Daas is raised in a home where love and sexuality are considered taboo, and signs of affection avoided. Living in the majority-Muslim suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, she often spends more than three hours a day on public transportation to and from the city, where she feels like a tourist observing Parisian manners. She goes from unstable student to maladjusted adult, doing four years of therapy—her longest relationship. But as she gains distance from her family and comes into her own, she grapples more directly with her attraction to women and how it fits with her religion, which she continues to practice. When Nina comes into her life, she doesn’t know exactly what she needs but feels that something crucial has been missing.

This extraordinary first novel, anchored and buoyed by the refrain “My name is Fatima,” is a vital portrait of a young woman finding herself in a modern world full of contradictions. Daas’s journey to living her sexuality in spite of expectations about who she should be offers a powerful perspective on the queer experience.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 

Begin AgainThe struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the presidency of Donald Trump, a president whose time in the White House represents the latest failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race.

For James Baldwin, a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America’s racism came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin – the great creative artist, often referred to as ‘the poet of the revolution’ – became a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair.

America is at a crossroads. Drawing insight and inspiration from Baldwin’s writings, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Seamlessly combining biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a more just future.

Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin
Gay Bar


Strobing lights and dark rooms; throbbing house and drag queens on counters; first kisses, last call: the gay bar has long been a place of solidarity and sexual expression—whatever your scene, whoever you’re seeking. But in urban centres around the world, they are closing, a cultural demolition that has Jeremy Atherton Lin wondering: What was the gay bar? How have they shaped him? And could this spell the end of gay identity as we know it?

In Gay Bar, the author embarks upon a transatlantic tour of the hangouts that marked his life, with each club, pub, and dive revealing itself to be a palimpsest of queer history. In prose as exuberant as a hit of poppers and dazzling as a disco ball, he time-travels from Hollywood nights in the 1970s to a warren of cruising tunnels built beneath London in the 1770s; from chichi bars in the aftermath of AIDS to today’s fluid queer spaces; through glory holes, into Crisco-slicked dungeons and down San Francisco alleys. He charts police raids and riots, posing and passing out—and a chance encounter one restless night that would change his life forever. 

The journey that emerges is a stylish and nuanced inquiry into the connection between place and identity—a tale of liberation, but one that invites us to go beyond the simplified Stonewall mythology and enter lesser-known battlefields in the struggle to carve out a territory. Elegiac, randy, and sparkling with wry wit, Gay Bar is at once a serious critical inquiry, a love story and an epic night out to remember. 

Abolition. Feminism. Now.  

AbolitionIn this landmark work, four of the world’s leading scholar-activists set out a vital, urgent manifesto for a truly intersectional, internationalist, abolitionist feminism.

As a politics and as a practice, abolitionism has increasingly shaped our political moment, amplified through the worldwide protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a uniformed police officer. It is at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement, in its demands for police defunding and demilitarisation, and a halt to prison construction. And it is there in the outrage which greeted the brutal treatment of women by police at the 2021 Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard.

As this book shows, abolitionism and feminism stand shoulder-to-shoulder in fighting a common cause: the end of the carceral state, with its key role in perpetuating violence, both public and private, in prisons, in police forces, and in people’s homes. Abolitionist theories and practices are at their most compelling when they are feminist; and a feminism that is also abolitionist is the most inclusive and persuasive version of feminism for these times.

Our Country Friends by Gary ShteyngartOur Country Friends

It’s March 2020 and a calamity is unfolding. A group of friends and friends-of-friends gathers in a country house to wait out the pandemic. Over the next six months new friendships and romances will take hold, while old betrayals will emerge, forcing each character to reevaulate whom they love and what matters most. The unlikely cast of characters include: a Russian-born novelist; his Russian-born psychiatrist wife; their precocious child obsessed with K-pop; a struggling Indian American writer; a wildly successful Korean American app developer; a global dandy with three passports; a young flame-thrower of an essayist, originally from the Carolinas; and a movie star, The Actor, whose arrival upsets the equilibrium of this chosen family.

In a remarkable literary feat, Gary Shteyngart has documented through fiction the emotional toll of our recent times: a story of love and friendship that reads like a great Russian novel set in upstate New York.


Kirkdale Advent 2021!

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Christmas Carol

‘If I had my way, every idiot who goes around with Merry Christmas on his lips, would be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. Merry Christmas? Bah humbug!’ 

This beautiful cloth bound edition is the perfect gift for Christmas*

*log fire and hot chocolate not included 

2. Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Second PlaceFrom the author of the Outline trilogy, a fable of human destiny and decline, enacted in a closed system of intimate, fractured relationships.

A woman invites a famed artist to visit the remote coastal region where she lives, in the belief that his vision will penetrate the mystery of her life and landscape. His provocative presence provides the frame for a study of female fate and male privilege, of the geometries of human relationships, and of the struggle to live morally in the intersecting spaces of our internal and external worlds.

With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, Rachel Cusk’s Second Place is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons.

3. Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson Before We Disappear

3! Is a magic number – and so is this YA offering from Shaun David Hutchinson. A magical, queer, ahistorical fantasy set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition, where the two assistants of two ambitious magicians find themselves falling in love amidst a bitter rivalry designed to tear them apart. Perfect for a night in with hot cocoa!

 

4. The Guyana Quartet by Wilson Harris

Guyana Quartet

Number 4 gives us an exciting reissue from Faber in the form of The Guyana Quartet by Wilson Harris! An epic & ‘exhilarating experience’ with a foreword by poet Ishion Hutchinson to mark Harris’ centenary. Faber seem to be outdoing themselves with reissues this year. We know you’re not meant to judge a book by its cover…..but come on! 

 

5. London in the Snow London in the snow

Sunday brought us Day 5 of December and the weather? didn’t bring us any snow. But! That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some pretty pictures of ‘London in the Snow’ and imagine what it might be like to have a white Christmas! Thanks to Hoxton Mini Press, we can be transported back in time, space…and snow! 

 

6. Feminist Baby! He’s a Feminist Too!

Feminist BabyNever too young to know….Meet Feminist Baby Boy in this follow-up to the New York Times bestseller by two-time Emmy Award-winning author Loryn Brantz!

Feminist Baby shoots for the sky,Feminist Baby knows it’s OK to cry!

Feminist Baby Boy loves learning, loves being himself, and knows the importance of being in touch with his feelings. This witty and important board book celebrates the joys of modern childhood while teaching that feminism is for everyone.

7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid  

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?Seven Husbands

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

 

8. Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.

eightBut that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.

If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary. But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .

 

9. The Story of Afro Hair by Kandace Chimbiri & Joelle Avelinoafro hair

Explore the incredible history of Afro hair. The Story of Afro Hair celebrates the fashion and styles of Afro hair over the last 5,000 years. From plaits to the Gibson Girl, cornrows to locks, the hi-top fade to funki dreds, The Story of Afro Hair is the ultimate book of Afro hairstories. Kicking off with an explanation of how Afro hair type grows and why, The Story of Afro Hair then takes us right back to the politics and fashion of Ancient Egypt. Speeding forwards to modern times we experience the Kingdom of Benin, Henry VIII’s court, the enslavement of African peoples, the Harlem Renaissance, the beginnings of Rastafarianism, Britain in the 1980s – and much more. With vibrant full colour illustrations by Joelle Avelino. 

 

10. Into the London Fog: Tales from the Weird City – edited by Elizabeth Dearnley

London Fog

 

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a gothic and ghostly London! So, this helping from The British Library’s Tales of the Weird series and edited by the magnificent Elizabeth Dearnley is perfect for Day 10 of our literary advent. 

 

11. Once Upon a Crime by Robin Stevens

Once. es un juego de palabras, ¿no? Exciting new short story collection in the bestselling & award winning Murder Most Unladylike Series! Once Upon A Crime

Featuring six marvellous mini-mysteries, including four original, brand-new and never-seen-before stories:

The Case of the Second Scream
: set aboard the ship carrying Daisy and Hazel back from Hong Kong

The Case of the Uninvited Guest: Uncle Felix and Aunt Lucy’s wedding is the target for an unlikely threat

The Hound of Weston School: the Junior Pinkertons investigate a mysterious arrival

The Case of the Deadly Flat: introducing Hazel’s little sister May, who’s determined to be the greatest spy ever

The Case of the Missing Treasure: the detectives crack fiendish codes to catch a daring thief who is targeting London’s famous museums

The Case of the Drowned Pearl: murder follows the Detective Society wherever they go, even on holiday…

12. Every Leaf a Hallelujah by Ben Okri, illustrated by Diana Ejaita 

A fairytale made for our times, written to be read by adults and children, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Famished Road.

Every LeafMangoshi lives with her parents in a village near the forest. When her mother becomes ill, Mangoshi knows only one thing can help her – a special flower that grows deep in the forest.

The little girl needs all her courage when she sets out alone to find and bring back the flower, and all her kindness to overpower the dangers she encounters on the quest.

Ben Okri brings the power of his mystic vision to a timely story that weaves together wonder, adventure and environmentalism.

 

13. Real Estate by Deborah Levy 

‘Three bicycles. Seven ghosts. A crumbling apartment block on the hill. Fame. Tenderness. The statue of Peter Pan. Silk. Melancholy. The banana tree. A Pandemic. A love story.’Real Estate

From one of the great thinkers and writers of our time, comes the highly anticipated final instalment in Deborah Levy’s critically acclaimed ‘Living Autobiography’
‘I can’t think of any writer aside from Virginia Woolf who writes better about what it is to be a woman’ Observer on The Cost of Living

Following the international critical acclaim of The Cost of Living, this final volume of Deborah Levy’s ‘Living Autobiography’ is an exhilarating, thought-provoking and boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it.

 

 

14. Keisha the Sket by Jade LB 

Where were you when Keisha the Sket first broke the internet?

KeishaKeisha is a girl from the ends, sharp, feisty and ambitious; she’s been labelled ‘top sket’ but she’s making it work. When childhood crush and long-time admirer, Ricardo, finally wins her over, Keisha has it all: power, a love life and the chance for stability. But trauma comes knocking and with it a whirlwind of choices that will define what kind of a woman she truly wants to be.

Told with the heart and soul of the inner city, with an unforgettable heroine, KEISHA THE SKET is a revelation of the true, raw, arousing and tender core of British youth culture.

In print for the first time, KEISHA THE SKET has lived in the phones and websites of fans for decades. This timeless coming of age story is not just a word-of-mouth sensation but also a British classic in the making.

Complete with essays from esteemed contemporary writers Candice Carty-Williams, Caleb Femi and others, this is the complete and definitive edition with edits and additional content from the author, perfect for readers – existing and new – to read and fall in love with over and over again.

 

15. The Angel and the Apothecary by Kate Rose 

Jeremiah I.S Goode, a gifted gentleman apothecary, tends to the poorest inhabitants of St Giles, London, 1741. Deep in debt and troubled by the past, Jeremiah is given a chance to redeem his life and escape prison. In order to do so, however, he must discover the healing power of love and how it can hold a mirror to one’s own imperfections.angel

“The Angel and the Apothecary is a rich, dark and wholly compelling story of pain, passing, healing and hope. It powerfully and wittily evokes a world in flux, as the enlightenment comes to terms with the wisdom of the ages. I loved it.” Emma Darwin, author of the Mathematics of Love.

Pick up your signed copy here!

 

16. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs 

The Snowman

 

Illustrated in full color, this is a wordless story. The pictures have “the hazy softness of air in snow.” A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night. The boy invites him home and in return is taken on a flight high above the countryside.

17. The Crystal Palace Chronicles – Star of Nimrod by Graham Whitlock

What if the past became your future? Join teenager Joe on a rollercoaster adventure travelling back in time to the heyday of Victorian Crystal Palace. Joe is lonely and bored. His best friend moved away, he’s stuck looking after his annoying little sister and Dad spends every hour in their struggling restaurant, Paradise. But Joe’s world is turned upside down when he discovers a shattered compass among the brambles where the Crystal Palace once stood and time travels through the maze back to 1888. With help from the teenage H. G. Wells and Samuel Coleridge Taylor, daredevil Iris Blondin, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of the Gypsies, Joe must foil dangerous diamond thieves to uncover dark secrets about the ‘People’s Palace’. Standing on boundaries between worlds, it’s secrets are tied to the fate of his family. Will Joe be trapped in the past with his new friends, find a way to return to his family or can he somehow have both?

 

18. Late King in Yellow Woods by Jacob Rollinson 

late king

Sam, a brooding and reactionary academic, feels left behind by politics and culture in the internet age. As he travels through the New England woods to meet a dying relative, he starts composing an essay on popular horror.

Pursued by guilt and lured by nostalgia, he hopes to write his way to vindication in the face of real and imagined enemies. But the mind is treacherous, and the culture wars are all-encompassing, and the woods are full of traps…

 

19. Checkout 19 by Claire Louise BennettCheckout

In a working-class town in a county west of London, a schoolgirl scribbles stories in the back pages of her exercise book, intoxicated by the first sparks of her imagination. As she grows, everything and everyone she encounters become fuel for a burning talent. The large Russian man in the ancient maroon car who careens around the grocery store where she works as a checkout clerk, and slips her a copy of Beyond Good and Evil. The growing heaps of other books in which she loses-and finds-herself. Even the derailing of a friendship, in a devastating violation. The thrill of learning to conjure characters and scenarios in her head is matched by the exhilaration of forging her own way in the world, the two kinds of ingenuity kindling to a brilliant conflagration.

Exceeding the extraordinary promise of Bennett’s mold-shattering debut, Checkout 19 is a radical affirmation of the power of the imagination and the magic escape those who master it open to us all.

20. The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye 

shonTrans people in Britain today have become a culture war ‘issue’. Despite making up less than 1% of the country’s population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised ‘debate’, which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice.

In this powerful new book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the ‘transgender issue’ to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system, and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond.

The Transgender Issue is a landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life. It is a manifesto for change, and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people and minorities. Trans liberation, as Faye sees it, goes to the root of what our society is and what it could be; it offers the possibility of a more just, free and joyful world for all of us.

21. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Hariri21 lessons

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

 

22. The Lewisham Cookbook

HouseofLewisham2_0703_Web_1800x1200Featuring mouthwatering illustrations from locally-based illustrator Nancy Ellis, the book  was written to coincide with what would have been Lewisham’s Borough of Culture year.  It features dishes chosen after speaking with local people about the meals they cook and their cultural significance.

They range from national dishes of Nigeria, to the meals cooked before the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, recipes shared by our Romani community, and traditional British favourites such as chicken and leek pie.

These recipes can be served as feasts, as the centrepieces of a family meal – they are fundamentally sociable food. But even though some recipes may seem intricate or different, they are all achievable. Every single one has been tested and cooked in a home kitchen.

Dishes are split into chapters of meat, poultry, fish, vegetarian, vegan and sweets – with something for every season.

A proportion of each sale will be donated to the Lewisham Food Bank and the Refugee Cafe, who work with refugees to break down barriers and create opportunity, employability and community for those granted asylum in London.

23. The Penguin Modern Classics Book, edited by Henry Eliotpenguin

For six decades the Penguin Modern Classics series has been an era-defining, ever-evolving series of books, encompassing works by modernist pioneers, avant-garde iconoclasts, radical visionaries and timeless storytellers.

This reader’s companion showcases every title published in the series so far, with more than 1,800 books and 600 authors, from Achebe and Adonis to Zamyatin and Zweig.

It is the essential guide to twentieth-century literature around the world, and the companion volume to The Penguin Classics Book.

24. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by
Clement C. Moore

twas

 

The Christmas classic and the only book we could choose for Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas everyone! 

 


November 2021

Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt

A dark, unflinching haunted house novel that takes readers from the well of the literary gothic, up through Brighton’s queer scene, and out into the heart of modern day trans experience in the UK.

The House spreads. Its arteries run throughout the country. Its lifeblood flows into Westminster, into Scotland Yard, into every village and every city. It flows into you, and into your mother. It keeps you alive. It makes you feel safe. Those same arteries tangle you up and night and make it hard for you to breathe. But come morning, you thank it for what it has done for you, and you sip from its golden cup, and kiss its perfect feet, and you know that all will be right in this godforsaken world as long as it is there to watch over you.”

Palace of the Peacock by Wilson Harris 

I dreamt I awoke with one dead seeing eye and one living closed eye …

A crew of men are embarking on a voyage up a turbulent river through the rainforests of Guyana. Their domineering leader, Donne, is the spirit of a conquistador, obsessed with hunting for a mysterious woman and exploiting indigenous people as plantation labour. But their expedition is plagued by tragedies, haunted by drowned ghosts: spectres of the crew themselves, inhabiting a blurred shadowland between life and death. As their journey into the interior – their own hearts of darkness – deepens, it assumes a spiritual dimension, guiding them towards a new destination: the Palace of the Peacock …

A modernist fever dream; prose poem; modern myth; elegy to victims of colonial conquest: Wilson Harris’ masterpiece has defied definition for over sixty years, and is reissued for a new generation of readers.

 

Rotten Days in Late Summer by Ralf Webb

In Rotten Days in Late Summer, Ralf Webb turns poetry to an examination of the textures of class, youth, adulthood and death in the working communities of the West Country, from mobile home parks, boyish factory workers and saleswomen kept on the road for days at a time, to the yearnings of young love and the complexities of masculinity.

Alongside individual poems, three sequences predominate: a series of ‘Love Stories’, charting a course through the dreams, lies and salt-baked limbs of multiple relationships; ‘Diagnostics’, which tells the story of the death from cancer of the poet’s father; and ‘Treetops’, a virtuosic long poem weaving together grief and mental health struggles in an attempt to come to terms with the overwhelming data of a life.

The world of these poems is close, dangerous, lustrous and difficult: a world in which whole existences are lived in the spin of almost-inescapable fates. In searching for the light within it, this prodigious debut collection announces the arrival of a major new voice in British poetry.

Silverview by John Le Carré

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish migrant living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.

When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . .

Silverview is the mesmerizing story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carré asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognize it.

Allegorizings  by Jan Morris 

‘Almost nothing in life is only what it seems.’

Soldier, journalist, historian, author of forty books, Jan Morris led an extraordinary life, witnessing such seminal moments as the first ascent of Everest, the Suez Canal Crisis, the Eichmann Trial, The Cuban Revolution and so much more. Now, in Allegorizings, published posthumously as was her wish, Morris looks back over some of the key moments of her life, and sees a multitude of meanings.

From her final travels to the USA and across Europe to late journeys on her beloved trains and ships, from the deaths of her old friends Hilary and Tenzig to the enduring relationships in her own life, from reflections on identity and nations to the importance of good marmalade, it bears testimony to her uniquely kind and inquisitive take on the world. 

The Library: A Fragile History
by Andrew Pettegree & Arthur der Weduwen

Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes or filled with bean bags and children’s drawings – the history of the library is rich, varied and stuffed full of incident.

In this, the first major history of its kind, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen explore the contested and dramatic history of the library, from the famous collections of the ancient world to the embattled public resources we cherish today. Along the way, they introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world’s great collections, trace the rise and fall of fashions and tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanours committed in pursuit of rare and valuable manuscripts.


October 2021

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

“In the year 1936 a writer planted roses.” So begins Rebecca Solnit’s new book, a reflection on George Orwell’s passionate gardening and the way that his involvement with plants, particularly flowers, and the natural world illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist, and the intertwined politics of nature and power.

Sparked by her unexpected encounter with the surviving roses he planted in 1936, Solnit’s account of this understudied aspect of Orwell’s life explores his writing and his actions—from going deep into the coal mines of England, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, critiquing Stalin when much of the international left still supported him (and then critiquing that left), to his analysis of the relationship between lies and authoritarianism. Through Solnit’s celebrated ability to draw unexpected connections, readers encounter the photographer Tina Modotti’s roses and her Stalinism, Stalin’s obsession with forcing lemons to grow in impossibly cold conditions, Orwell’s slave-owning ancestors in Jamaica, Jamaica Kincaid’s critique of colonialism and imperialism in the flower garden, and the brutal rose industry in Colombia that supplies the American market. The book draws to a close with a rereading of Nineteen Eighty-Four that completes her portrait of a more hopeful Orwell, as well as a reflection on pleasure, beauty, and joy as acts of resistance.

Burntcoat by Sarah Hall 

You were the last one here, before I closed the door of Burntcoat. Before we all closed our doors…

In an unnamed British city, the virus is spreading, and like everyone else, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness retreats inside. She isolates herself in her immense studio, Burntcoat, with Halit, the lover she barely knows. As life outside changes irreparably, inside Burntcoat Edith and Halit find themselves changed as well: by the histories and responsibilities each carries and bears, by the fears and dangers of the world outside, and by the progressions of their new relationship. And Burntcoat will be transformed too, into a new and feverish world, a place in which Edith comes to an understanding of how we survive the impossible–and what is left after we have.

A sharp and stunning novel of art and ambition, mortality and connection, Burntcoat is a major work from “one of our most influential short story writers” (Guardian). It is an intimate and vital examination of how and why we create–make art, form relationships, build a life–and an urgent exploration of an unprecedented crisis, the repercussions of which are still years in the learning.

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

A masterful exploration of human empathy, Oh William! captures the joy and pain of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that rearrange everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, despite the variety of obstacles we face in doing so. And at the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the very nature of existence. This is the way of life, Lucy says. The many things we do not know until it is too late.

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

It’s December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless–unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.

Jonathan Franzen’s novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and for their keen-eyed take on contemporary America. Now, in Crossroads, Franzen ventures back into the past and explores the history of two generations. With characteristic humor and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that resonates powerfully with our own.

A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, its action largely unfolding on a single winter day, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a pivotal moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen’s gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.

The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye

Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war ‘issue’. Despite making up less than 1% of the country’s population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised ‘debate’, which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice.

In this powerful new book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the ‘transgender issue’ to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system, and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond.

The Transgender Issue is a landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life. It is a manifesto for change, and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people and minorities. Trans liberation, as Faye sees it, goes to the root of what our society is and what it could be; it offers the possibility of a more just, free and joyful world for all of us.

Sour Grapes by Dam Rhodes

When the sleepy English village of Green Bottom hosts its first literary festival, the good, the bad and the ugly of the book world descend upon its leafy lanes. But the villagers are not prepared for the peculiar habits, petty rivalries and unspeakable desires of the authors. And they are certainly not equipped to deal with Wilberforce Selfram, the ghoul-faced, ageing enfant terrible who wreaks havoc wherever he goes.

Sour Grapes is a hilarious satire on the literary world which takes no prisoners as it skewers authors, agents, publishers and reviewers alike.


September 2021

Jane is Trying by Isy Suttie 

Jane is bright, funny and very anxious. Jane is in her late thirties but living with her parents. Jane is back in the sticks – having left London after a traumatic breakup with a boyfriend, prompted by their struggles to conceive and his infidelity. Jane is working part-time in an eccentric local bookshop, having left a successful career behind. Jane doesn’t know what to do next – but she is really, really trying!

Signed copies available here!

 

Exteriors by Annie Ernaux

Taking the form of random journal entries over the course of seven years, Exteriors concentrates on the ephemeral encounters that take place just on the periphery of a person’s lived environment. Ernaux captures the feeling of contemporary living on the outskirts of Paris: poignantly lyrical, chaotic, and strangely alive. Exteriors is in many ways the most ecstatic of Ernaux’s books – the first in which she appears largely free of the haunting personal relationships she has written about so powerfully elsewhere, and the first in which she is able to leave the past behind her. 

 

Consumed by Aja Barber

Aja Barber wants change.

In the ‘learning’ first half of the book, she will expose you to the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and the uncomfortable history of the textile industry; one which brokered slavery, racism and today’s wealth inequality. And how these oppressive systems have bled into the fashion industry and its lack of diversity and equality. She will also reveal how we spend our money and whose pockets it goes into and whose it doesn’t (clue: the people who do the actual work) and will tell her story of how she came to learn the truth.

In the second ‘unlearning’ half of the book, she will help you to understand the uncomfortable truth behind why you consume the way you do. She asks you to confront the sense of lack you have, the feeling that you are never quite enough and the reasons why you fill the aching void with consumption rather than compassion. And she makes you challenge this power disparity, and take back ownership of it. The less you buy into the consumer culture the more power you have.

CONSUMED will teach you how to be a citizen not a consumer.

The Kids by Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are ‘The Kids’, her students, the teenagers she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London. Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race – and their fundamental intersection with education – are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. The sonnet is re-energised, becoming a classroom, a memory box and even a mind itself as ‘The Kids’ learn and negotiate their own unknown futures. These boisterous and musical poems explore and explode the universal experience of what it is to be taught, and to teach, ultimately reaching out and speaking to the child in all of us.

Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley

London has changed a lot over the years. The Soho that Precious and Tabitha live and work in is barely recognisable anymore. And now, the building they call their home is under threat; its billionaire-owner Agatha wants to kick the women out to build expensive restaurants and luxury flats. Men like Robert, who visit the brothel, will have to go elsewhere. The collection of vagabonds and strays in the basement will have to find somewhere else to live. But the women are not going to go quietly. They have plans to make things difficult for Agatha but she isn’t taking no for an answer.

Hot Stew is an insightful and ambitious novel about property, ownership, wealth and inheritance. It is about the place we occupy in society, especially women, and the importance placed on class and money. It doesn’t shy away from asking difficult questions but does so with humour and intelligence. 

Shackleton by Ranulph Fiennes

To write about Hell, it helps if you have been there.

In 1915, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to traverse the Antarctic was cut short when his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice.

The disaster left Shackleton and his men alone at the frozen South Pole, fighting for their lives.

Their survival and escape is the most famous adventure in history.

Shackleton is an engaging new account of the adventurer, his life and his incredible leadership under the most extreme of circumstances. Written by polar adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who followed in Shackleton’s footsteps, he brings his own unique insights to bear on these infamous expeditions. Shackleton is both re-appraisal and a valediction, separating the man from the myth he has become.

 


August 2021

Mrs Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

The frogman was still there, sitting on the corner of her bed, looking towards her …

Dorothy is a grieving housewife in the Californian suburbs. Her infant son, unborn child, and dog have all just died; her husband is unfaithful; her only friend is an alcoholic. One day, the radio announces that a green-skinned sea monster has escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research – but little did she expect him to arrive in her kitchen. Muscular yet gentle, vegetarian, and excellent at housework, Larry the frogman is a revelation: and their passionate affair goes beyond their wildest dreams …

Reissued with a foreword by Irenosen Okojie, Rachel Ingalls’ Mrs Caliban is a surrealist masterpiece: as dazzling today as it was four decades ago.

 

The Employees: A Workplace Novel for the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn

The near-distant future. Millions of kilometres from Earth.

The crew of the Six-Thousand ship consists of those who were born, and those who were created. Those who will die, and those who will not. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew is perplexed to find itself becoming deeply attached to them, and human and humanoid employees alike find themselves longing for the same things: warmth and intimacy. Loved ones who have passed. Our shared, far-away Earth, which now only persists in memory.

Gradually, the crew members come to see themselves in a new light, and each employee is compelled to ask themselves whether their work can carry on as before – and what it means to be truly alive.

Structured as a series of witness statements compiled by a workplace commission, Ravn’s crackling prose is as chilling as it is moving, as exhilarating as it is foreboding. Wracked by all kinds of longing, The Employees probes into what it means to be human, emotionally and ontologically, while simultaneously delivering an overdue critique of a life governed by work and the logic of productivity.

Late King in Yellow Woods by Jacob Rollinson

Sam, a brooding and reactionary academic, feels left behind by politics and culture in the internet age. As he travels through the New England woods to meet a dying relative, he starts composing an essay on popular horror.

Pursued by guilt and lured by nostalgia, he hopes to write his way to vindication in the face of real and imagined enemies. But the mind is treacherous, and the culture wars are all-encompassing, and the woods are full of traps…

Jacob Rollinson’s sharp and hilarious debut novella draws on classic Stephen King and popular horror fiction. Interwoven with scrappy drafts of academic thought, the story of Sam’s short stay at the ultra-religious and borderline eerie Sassenach family home rapidly tailspins into ruminations on identity politics and flights of grotesque fantasy. How will Sam redeem himself in the eyes of his activist cousin? Can he hide a coke comedown from his unsuspecting relatives? Will he ever manage to finish his essay on Stephen King…?

“Rollinson packs more into this novella than many books ten times its length. A darkly comic masterpiece that captures the fragmentation of modern America, told in a voice that assures you from the first page that you are in the hands of a rare talent.” PAUL COOPER, AUTHOR OF RIVER OF INK & ALL OUR BROKEN IDOLS

Oh, What a Lovely Century by Roderic Fenwick Owen

For fear of growing up like his stiff-upper-lipped Uncle Dick, Roderic Fenwick Owen (1921-2011) survived Eton, Oxford and the Second World War to become a travel writer, experiencing the varied wonders of the 20th century’s people and places in that guise. Frequently finding himself party to crucial historical events (including experiencing Nazi Germany in 1939 and the Pentagon during the Cold War Years), his life featured a stellar cast of characters from Eisenhower and Jackson Pollock to Christopher Lee and Sean Connery.

At the heart of Roddy’s writing adventures lay his search for love, even if just for the night. He fell head over heels for, and married a Polynesian princess while beachcombing in Tahiti, but when a dazzling trip to 1950s New York opened his eyes to the fact he was more attracted to men than women, he was forced to continue his quest for his soulmate under threat of danger. This was at a time when the police were prosecuting and imprisoning more gay men than ever before, including some of his friends.

Junglist by Two Fingas & James T. Kirk

Back in print after two decades, Junglist tells the compelling, comic, stream-of-consciousness story of four young Black men coming of age among the raves and Jungle music scene in London during the 1990s. Layered with poetic verse, prose and humour, this cult classic of underground British fiction documents the rollercoaster ride of a weekend spent raving during Jungle’s cultural takeover in the summer of 1994. Jungle, with its booming basslines and Jamaican patois, burst from the pirate radio stations and mixtapes into cavernous clubs, pulling a generation of Black British ravers with it.

Originally written as a way to document street culture as it became a feature of London, charting a time when working-class kids, both Black and white, merged to dance as “one family”, Junglist is both a testament to Black British sound system culture and a rawthentic account of inner-city life.

Something Out of Place by Eimear McBride 

The blistering non-fiction debut from the author of the critically acclaimed A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. 

‘A fearless, interrogative work that speaks so much to structural inequality and misogyny. A fierce and fascinating manifesto in McBride’s persuasive prose’ Sinead Gleeson

Here, Eimear McBride unpicks the contradictory forces of disgust and objectification that control and shame women. From playground taunts of ‘only sluts do it’ but ‘virgins are frigid’, to ladette culture, and the arrival of ‘ironic’ porn, via Debbie Harry, the Kardashians and the Catholic church – she looks at how this prejudicial messaging has played out in the past, and still surrounds us today.

In this subversive essay, McBride asks – are women still damned if we do, damned if we don’t? How can we give our daughters (and sons) the unbounded futures we want for them? And, in this moment of global crisis, might our gift for juggling contradiction help us to find a way forward?


July 2021

Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki 

Three Summers

 

‘That summer we bought big straw hats. Maria’s had cherries around the rim, Infanta’s had forget-me-nots, and mine had poppies as red as fire. . .’

Three Summers
 is a warm and tender tale of three sisters growing up in the countryside near Athens before the Second World War. Living in a ramshackle old house with their divorced mother are flirtatious, hot-headed Maria, beautiful but distant Infanta, and dreamy and rebellious Katerina, through whose eyes the story is mostly observed. Over three summers, the girls share and keep secrets, fall in and out of love, try to understand the strange ways of adults and decide what kind of adults they hope to become.

 

The Service by Frankie Miren

Lori works illegally in a rented flat in central London, living in fear of police raids which could mean losing her small daughter and her dream of a new life.

Freya is a student who finds she can make far more money as an escort than she could in an office; life, after all, is already a tangle of madness and dissociation.The Service

And Paula is a journalist whose long-term campaign against prostitution has brought her some strange bedfellows.

After a shock change to the law, with brothels being raided by the authorities, lives across the country are fractured. As a threat from Lori’s past begins to catch up with her, the three women are increasingly, inevitably drawn into each other’s orbit

The Service is a powerful and challenging novel about women’s bodies, sex and relationships, mental health, entitlement, authenticity, privilege and power – as shocking as any dystopia, but touching and deeply humane.

 

Three Rooms by Jo Hamya

Three Rooms“A woman must have money and a room of one’s own.” So said Virginia Woolf in her classic A Room of One’s Own, but in this scrupulously observed, gorgeously wrought debut novel, Jo Hamya pushes that adage powerfully into the twenty-first century, to a generation of people living in rented rooms. What a woman needs now is an apartment of her own, the ultimate mark of financial stability, unattainable for many.

Set in one year, Three Rooms follows a young woman as she moves from a rented room at Oxford, where she’s working as a research assistant; to a stranger’s sofa, all she can afford as a copyediting temp at a society magazine; to her childhood home, where she’s been forced to return, jobless, even a room of her own out of reach. As politics shift to nationalism, the streets fill with protestors, and news drip-feeds into her phone, she struggles to live a meaningful life on her own terms, unsure if she’ll ever be able to afford to do so.

 

Lyonesse by Penelope Shuttle Lyonesse

After seeing the Scilly Isles from a small plane at a low altitude – flying over the Wolf Lighthouse ­- and then visiting the recent Sunken Cities exhibition at the British Museum, imagination and memory played their part in joining the Lyonesse dots together for her, prompting what she calls ‘a spontaneous inundation of approaches to the theme, images, soundings of Lyonesse’.

As she writes in a preface to this book: ‘The universality of loss, both of physical cities and of the human experience erased from the record, enhanced the resource of Lyonesse in my writing. Lyonesse is a place of paradox. It is real, had historical existence. It is also an imaginary region for exploring depths. It holds grief for many kinds of loss… The poems seek re-wilding of a city where human loss interconnects with mythic loss; myth is rooted in the real.’

 

We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba

We need to talk about money

An extraordinarily candid personal account of the ups and downs wrought by money, We Need To Talk About Money is a vital exploration of stories and issues that will be familiar to most. This is a book about toxic workplaces and misogynist men, about getting payrises and getting evicted. About class and privilege and racism and beauty. About shame and pride, compulsion and fear.

In unpicking the shroud of secrecy surrounding money – who has it, how they got it, and how it shapes our lives – this boldly honest account of one woman’s journey upturns countless social conventions, and uncovers some startling truths about our complex relationships with money in the process.

 

Nice Racism by Robin Diangelo

In Nice Racism, her follow-up work to White Fragility, the author draws on her background as a sociologist and over 25 years working as an anti-racist educator, picks up where White Fragility left off and moves the conversation forward.

Writing directly to white people as a white person, DiAngelo identifies many common white racial patterns and breaks down how well-intentioned white people unknowingly perpetuate racial harm.Nice Racism

DiAngelo explains how spiritual white progressives seeking community by co-opting Indigenous and other groups’ rituals create separation, not connection. She challenges the ideology of individualism and explains why it is OK to generalize about white people, and she demonstrates how white people who experience other oppressions still benefit from systemic racism. Writing candidly about her own missteps and struggles, she models a path forward, encouraging white readers to continually face their complicity and embrace courage, lifelong commitment, and accountability.

 

 


May 2021

100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell 

An irreverent, sensitive, and inimitable look at gay dysfunction through the eyes of a cult hero100 boyfriends

It’s like that saying, ‘Where god closes a door, he opens a window, ‘ but in this particular case the window was on the fifth floor and the house was on fire.

Transgressive, foulmouthed, and devastatingly funny, Brontez Purnell’s 100 Boyfriends is a revelatory spiral into the imperfect lives of queer men desperately fighting–and often losing–the urge to self-sabotage. His characters solicit sex on their lunch breaks, expose themselves to racist neighbors, sleep with their coworker’s husbands, rub Preparation H on their hungover eyes, and, in an uproarious epilogue, take a punk band on a disastrous tour of Europe. They also travel to claim inheritances, push past personal trauma, and cultivate community while living on the margins of a white supremacist, heteronormative society.

 

Real Estate by Deborah Levy

Real EstateFollowing the international critical acclaim of The Cost of Living, this final volume of Deborah Levy’s ‘Living Autobiography’ is an exhilarating, thought-provoking and boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it.

‘I began to wonder what myself and all unwritten and unseen women would possess in their property portfolios at the end of their lives. Literally, her physical property and possessions, and then everything else she valued, though it might not be valued by society. What might she claim, own, discard and bequeath? Or is she the real estate, owned by patriarchy? In this sense, Real Estate is a tricky business. We rent it and buy it, sell and inherit it – but we must also knock it down.’

 

 

 

Surrogate by Susan Spindler 

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A MOTHER’S LOVE…Surrogate

Ruth Furnival is a successful television executive with a perfect life: a nice house in London, a lawyer husband and two grown-up daughters. But at 54, with an empty nest and the menopause behind her, she feels restless and dissatisfied.

After multiple rounds of failed IVF, her eldest daughter Lauren has been told that the only chance for her and her husband to have their own child is surrogacy. Overwhelmed by the expense, they have run out of options. So when Ruth discovers that, with the right dose of hormones, she could carry their baby, out of desperation they agree.

Buoyed up by her sense of purpose, Ruth’s life disintegrates around her as the pregnancy progresses: her husband moves out, her TV company is near bankruptcy and Lauren can’t contain her corrosive envy. Isolated and alone in the pregnancy, Ruth starts to unravel…

 

The Foghorn’s Lament by Jennifer Lucy Allan

The Foghorn's LamentA truly unusual and strangely revealing lens through which to view music and history and the dark life of the sea’ Brian Eno

What does the foghorn sound like?

It sounds huge. It rattles. It rattles you. It is a booming, lonely sound echoing into the vastness of the sea. When Jennifer Lucy Allan hears the foghorn’s colossal bellow for the first time, it marks the beginning of an obsession and a journey deep into the history of a sound that has carved out the identity and the landscape of coastlines around the world, from Scotland to San Francisco.

Within its sound is a maritime history of shipwrecks and lighthouse keepers, the story and science of our industrial past, and urban myths relaying tales of foghorns in speaker stacks, blasting out for coastal raves.

An odyssey told through the people who battled the sea and the sound, who lived with it and loathed it, and one woman’s intrepid voyage through the howling loneliness of nature.

yes yes more more by Anna Wood YES yes more

Two schoolgirls in Bolton take acid just before their English class. A film journalist shares tea and a KitKat with Marcel Proust, more or less, during a long train journey. An afterparty turns into a crime scene. Colleagues, maybe in love, have lunch and don’t quite talk about their relationship. A woman flees to New Orleans and finds unexpected treasures there.

In her electric debut, Anna Wood skips through the decades of a woman’s life, meeting friends, lovers, shapeshifters and doppelgangers along the way. Pleasures and regrets pile up, time becomes non-linear, characters stumble and shimmy through moments of rupture, horror and joy.

Written with warmth, wit and swagger, these stories glide from acutely observed comic dialogue to giddy surrealism and quiet heartbreak, and always there is music – pop songs as tiny portals into another world. Yes Yes More More is packed with friendship, memory, sexuality, love, and the radical possibilities of pleasure

 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (exclusive indie edition!)

Thursday Murder ClubFour septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…
The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

 

April 2021

 

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese—and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby—and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it—Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family—and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

 

Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee

In the coastal resort of Margate, hotels lie empty and sun-faded ‘For Sale’ signs line the streets. The sea is higher – it’s higher everywhere – and those who can are moving inland. A young girl called Chance, however, is just arriving.

Chance’s family is one of many offered a cash grant to move out of London – and so she, her mother Jas and brother JD relocate to the seaside, just as the country edges towards vertiginous change.

In their new home, they find space and wide skies, a world away from the cramped bedsits they’ve lived in up until now. But challenges swiftly mount. JD’s business partner, Kole, has a violent, charismatic energy that whirlpools around him and threatens to draw in the whole family. And when Chance comes across Franky, a girl her age she has never seen before – well-spoken and wearing sunscreen – something catches in the air between them. Their fates are bound: a connection that is immediate, unshakeable, and, in a time when social divides have never cut sharper, dangerous.

Set in a future unsettlingly close to home, against a backdrop of soaring inequality and creeping political extremism, Rankin-Gee demonstrates, with cinematic pace and deep humanity, the enduring power of love and hope in a world spinning out of control

 

Peace Talks by Tim Finch

Edvard Behrens is a senior diplomat of some repute, highly regarded for his work on international peace negotiations. Under his arbitration, unimaginable atrocities are coolly dissected; invisible and ancient lines, grown taut and frayed with conflict, redrawn.

In his latest post, Edvard has been sent a nondescript resort hotel in the Tyrol. High up on this mountain, the air is bright and clear. When he isn’t working, Edvard reads, walks, listens to music. He confides in no one – no one but his wife Anna. Anna, who he loves with all his heart; Anna, always present and yet forever absent.

Honest, honourable, tragic, witty, wise, an unforgettable novel of love, loss, and the human longing for peace, Peace Talks maps the darkest and most tender territories of the human heart.

 

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

 

 

Spring Cannot Be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy by Martin Gayford

Spring Cannot Be Cancelled is an uplifting manifesto that affirms art’s capacity to divert and inspire. It is based on a wealth of new conversations and correspondence between Hockney and art critic Martin Gayford, his long-time friend and collaborator. Their exchanges are illustrated by a selection of Hockney’s new Normandy drawings and paintings alongside works by Van Gogh, Monet, Bruegel, and others. We see how Hockney is propelled ever forward by his infectious enthusiasms and sense of wonder. A lifelong contrarian, he has been in the public eye for sixty years, yet remains entirely unconcerned by the view of critics or even history. He is utterly absorbed by his four acres of northern France and by the themes that have fascinated him for decades: light, color, space, perception, water, trees. He has much to teach us, not only about how to see . . . but about how to live. 


October 2020

The Louder I Will Sing
by Lee Lawrence 

The-Louder-I-Will-Sing

What would you do if the people you trusted to uphold the law committed a crime against you? Who would you turn to? And how long would you fight them for?

On 28th September 1985, Lee Lawrence’s mother Cherry Groce was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her Brixton home. The bullet shattered her spine and she never walked again. In the chaos that followed, 11-year-old Lee watched in horror as the News falsely pronounced his mother dead. In Brixton, already a powder keg because of the deep racism that the community was experiencing, it was the spark needed to trigger two days of rioting that saw buildings brought down by petrol bombs, cars torched and shops looted.

But for Lee, it was a spark that lit a flame that would burn for the next 30 years as he fought to get the police to recognise their wrongdoing. His life had changed forever: he was now his mother’s carer, he had seen first-hand the prejudice that existed in his country, and he was at the mercy of a society that was working against him. And yet that flame – for justice, for peace, for change – kept him going.

The Louder I Will Sing is a powerful, compelling and uplifting memoir about growing up in modern Britain as a young Black man. It’s a story both of people and politics, of the underlying racism beneath many of our most important institutions, but also the positive power that hope, faith and love can bring in response. 

Piranesi by Susanna ClarkePiranesi

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s CircePiranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes

Pandoras-Jar

The Greek myths are one of the most important cultural foundation-stones of the modern world.

Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Virgil to from Aeschylus to Sophocles and Euripides. And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories first told almost three thousand years ago. But modern tellers of Greek myth have usually been men, and have routinely shown little interest in telling women’s stories.

Now, in Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes – broadcaster, writer and passionate classicist – redresses this imbalance. Taking Greek creation myths as her starting point and then retelling the four great mythic sagas: the Trojan War, the Royal House of Thebes, Jason and the Argonauts, Heracles, she puts the female characters on equal footing with their menfolk. The result is a vivid and powerful account of the deeds – and misdeeds – of Hera, Aphrodite, Athene and Circe. And away from the goddesses of Mount Olympus it is Helen, Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Antigone and Medea who sing from these pages, not Paris, Agamemnon, Orestes or Jason.

Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar

Homeland-Elegies

“Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable.” – Salman Rushdie

A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of belonging and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque adventure — at its heart, it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and our ideals have been sacrificed to the gods of finance, where a TV personality is president and immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds of 9/11 wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one — least of all himself — in the process.

Endless Fortune by Ify Adenuga

Endless-Fortune

How do you go from being a penniless student in a foreign country to becoming the mother of four of the most successful creatives working in Great Britain today?

In 1980, Ify exchanged war-torn Nigeria for the strange streets of London. Having overcome death, hunger and extreme poverty, she has to start a new life as a working-class immigrant and student in an environment far removed from her own in a city brimming with hostility. Ify meets her husband Joseph, a Yoruba man in 1981 at a bingo hall in east London where both were working migrants. After the birth of their children the couple returned to education before setting up their own businesses. Together they raised their children in the tough working-class area of Tottenham and encouraged them to explore their artistic instincts against the backdrop of sometimes violent situations and harsh environments.

Ify’s powerful memoir is the first book of it’s kind from the mother of four highly successful British creatives to examine the experience of the African diaspora from a personal perspective. Hugely inspirational, Ify explores what it takes to survive the cultural, social and political chasm between your place of birth and another land entirely – and to thrive in this new culture and country.

Reynard the Fox by Anne Louise Avery

Reynard-the-Fox

Reynard – a subversive, dashing, anarchic, aristocratic, witty fox from the watery lowlands of medieval East Flanders – is in trouble. He has been summoned to the court of King Noble the Lion, charged with all manner of crimes and misdemeanours. How will he pit his wits against his accusers – greedy Bruin the Bear, pretentious Courtoys the Hound or dark and dangerous Isengrim the Wolf – to escape the gallows? Reynard was once the most popular and beloved character in European folklore, as familiar as Robin Hood, King Arthur or Cinderella. His character spoke eloquently for the unvoiced and disenfranchised, but also amused and delighted the elite, capturing hearts and minds across borders and societal classes for centuries. Based on William Caxton’s bestselling 1481 English translation of the Middle Dutch, but expanded with new interpretations, innovative language and characterisation, this edition is an imaginative retelling of the Reynard story. With its themes of protest, resistance and duplicity fronted by a personable, anti-heroic Fox making his way in a dangerous and cruel world, this gripping tale is as relevant and controversial today as it was in the fifteenth century.

 


August 2020

The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams

The Liar's Dictionary

Peter Winceworth, a disaffected Victorian lexicographer, inserts false entries into a dictionary – violating and subverting the dictionary’s authority – in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. In the present day, Mallory, a young overworked and underpaid intern employed by the dictionary’s publishing house, is tasked with uncovering these entries before the work is digitised. As the novel progresses and their narratives combine, as Winceworth imagines who will find his fictional words in an unknown future and Mallory discovers more about the anonymous lexicographer’s life through the clues left in his fictitious entries, both discover how they might negotiate the complexities of an absurd, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, undefinable life.

Braiding together contemporary and historical narratives, the novel explores themes of trust, agency and creativity, celebrating the rigidity, fragility and absurdity of language.

Made Possible: Stories of Success by people with learning disabilities in their own words, edited Saba Salman

Success is a crucial part of being human. But what if society thought success and aspiration didn’t apply to you?

Made Possible

A human rights campaigner. A critically acclaimed actor. A civil rights activist. A singer-songwriter. A Paralympian and elite swimmer. A fine artist. An award-winning filmmaker and drag artist. An elected UK mayor.

These professionals have achieved astounding and awe-inspiring success. They’ve won national accolades in competitive fields such as film, theatre, music, fine art, campaigning and politics… and like 1.5 million people in the UK today, they all also happen to have a learning disability.

In Made Possible, these eight remarkable individuals present their authentic experiences – in their own words – and show us what society misses out on by overlooking them, pitying them, patronising them, simply tolerating them and labelling them in terms of their conditions.

Edited by social affairs journalist Saba Salman, this collection of groundbreaking and illuminating essays shatters preconceptions and offers a glimpse of the many types of success that can be achieved by people with a learning disability. Crucially, it reveals how people can make invaluable contributions to society when their potential is acknowledged and supported by those around them.

A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

A story of desire, love and language – and the meaning of home – told through conversations between two lovers.

A Chinese woman comes to London to start a new life – away from her dead parents, away from her old world. She knew she would be lonely, but will her new relationship with the Australian-British-German landscape architect bring her closer to this land she has chosen, will their love give her a home?

Lover's Discourse

A Lover’s Discourse is an exploration of romantic love told through fragments of conversations between the two lovers. Playing with language and the cultural differences that her narrator encounters as she settles into life in a Britain still reeling from the Brexit vote, Xiaolu Guo shows us how this couple navigate these differences, and their romance, whether on their unmoored houseboat or in a cramped and stifling flat share in east London… Suffused with a wonderful sense of humour, this intimate and tender novel asks universal questions: what is the meaning of home when we’ve been uprooted? How can a man and woman be together? And how best to be a woman and a mother?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

If I Can't Have You

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.
Happiness, at last.
Then you left me.
And now I am alone.
Everyone I love leaves in the end.
But not this time.
I’m not giving up on us.
I’m not giving up on you.
When you love someone, you never let them go.
That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

Not Far From the Junction by Will AshonNot Far From the Junction

Will Ashon spent the day of Tuesday May 21st 2019 hitching around the motorways and ‘A’ roads of England, chatting to whoever picked him up about their lives, dreams, aspirations, fears and favourite foods. The resulting transcripts, presented here edited and cross-cut through one another into a collage of voices, form a work in which generosity plays a far greater role than hate, reminding us of our nation’s better self. Sitting somewhere between Svetlana Alexievich and Rachel Cusk, NOT FAR FROM THE JUNCTION is a fresh, funny, moving and quietly radical work of non-fiction, exploring who we are and how we see the world.

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don’t exist? We Have Always Been Here

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.

When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit–became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.

So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.

 

July 2020

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

Rainbow Milk is an intersectional coming-of-age story, following nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah’s Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation.

rainbow-milkIn the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive.

At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London – escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black Country – but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by
Reni Eddo-LodgeWhy I'm no Longer Talking to White People About Race

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ that led to this book.

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X.Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.How to be an Antiracist

In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

A revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.Speak No Evil

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.


March 2020

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston

In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston—the sole black student at the college—was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.” During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts

Siberia’s story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell.

Lost Pianos of SiberiaDotted throughout this remote land are pianos – grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.

How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle.

But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world — and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on earth you would expect to find it.

Bina by Anakana Scholfield

“My name is Bina and I’m a very busy woman. That’s Bye-na, not Beena. I don’t know who Beena is but I expect she’s having a happy life. I don’t know who you are, or the state of your life. But if you’ve come all this way here to listen to me, your life will undoubtedly get worse. I’m here to warn you …”

Bina
So begins this “novel in warnings”–an unforgettable tour de force in the voice of an ordinary-extraordinary woman who has simply had enough. Through the character of Bina, who is writing out her story on the backs of discarded envelopes, Anakana Schofield filters a complex moral universe filled with humour and sadness, love and rage, and the consolations, obligations and mysteries of lifelong friendship. A work of great power, skill, and transformative empathy from a unique and astonishing writer, whose previous book, Martin John, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and whose debut, Malarky, won the Amazon First Novel Award.

The Rock Blaster by Henning Mankell

The Rock Blaster

Henning Mankell’s first novel, never before released in English, explores the reflections of a working class man who has struggled against the constraints of his station for his entire life. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL.

The year is 1911. The young rock blaster Oskar Johansson has been killed in an accident. Or so it says in the local newspaper. In spite of serious injuries, however, Oskar survives. Decades later, Oskar looks back and reflects on his working life as an invalid, his marriage, his dreams, and his hopes. Oskar’s life is woven together out of fragments of voices, images, and episodes that, taken together, provide a sharp and precise picture of life in Sweden for the working class.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Joint Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019!Girl, Woman, Other
Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood.

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

Thinking Again by Jan Morris

Necrophilia is not one of my failings, but I do like graveyards and memorial stones and such…

Thinking AgainFollowing the publication In My Mind’s Eye, her acclaimed first volume of diaries, a Radio 4 Book of the Week in 2018, Jan Morris continued to write her daily musings. From her home in the North West of Wales, the author of classics such as Venice and Trieste cast her eye over modern life in all its stupidity and glory.

From her daily thousand paces to the ongoing troubles of Brexit, from her enduring love for America to the wonders of the natural world, and from the vagaries and ailments of old age to the beauty of youth, she once again displays her determined belief in embracing life and creativity – all kindness and marmalade.


February 2020 (LGBTQ HISTORY MONTH)

Paul Takes the Form of  a Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal GirlMortal Girl by Andrew Lawlor

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco—a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

From Ace to Ze: The Little Book of
Ace to ZeLGBT Terms by Harriet Dyer

Language is one of the key paths to awareness, acceptance and empowerment but honestly, it can be confusing for many people. This easy-to-use dictionary introduces some of the most essential terminology surrounding gender, sexuality and LGBTQIA+ identity. If you have questions about yourself or about the terminology, or even if you’re simply interested in learning more, this essential guide will help you navigate the world with knowledge and kindness.

Trans Britain: 
Our Journey from the Shadows

Edited by Christine Burns 

Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye: Time declared 2014 a ‘trans tipping point’, while American Vogue named 2015 ‘the year of trans visibility’. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender people have suddenly become part of the zeitgeist.

Trans Britain

This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history. The renown of Paris Lees and Hari Nef has its roots in the efforts of those who struggled for equality before them, but were met with indifference – and often outright hostility – from mainstream society.

Trans Britain chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a marginalised community grow into the visible phenomenon we recognise today: activists, film-makers, broadcasters, parents, an actress, a rock musician and a priest, among many others.

Here is everything you always wanted to know about the background of the trans community, but never knew how to ask

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Confessions of Frannie Langton

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.

All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being held in the Old Bailey.

The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.

But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship.

Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.


January 2020

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House

For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.

Braised Pork by An Yu

One morning in autumn, Jia Jia walks into the bathroom of her Beijing apartment to find her husband – with whom she had been breakfasting barely an hour before – dead in the bathtub. Next to him a piece of paper unfolds like the wings of a butterfly, and on it is an image that Jia Jia can’t forget.Braised Pork
Profoundly troubled by what she has seen, even while she is abruptly released from a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia embarks on a journey to discover the truth of the sketch. Starting at her neighbourhood bar, with its brandy and vinyl, and fuelled by anger, bewilderment, curiosity and love, Jia Jia travels deep into her past in order to arrive at her future.

Braised Pork is a cinematic, often dreamlike evocation of nocturnal Beijing and the high plains of Tibet, and an exploration of myth-making, loss, and a world beyond words, which ultimately sees a young woman find a new and deeper sense of herself.

Shame on Me by Tessa McWatt

Shame on Me

‘What are you?’

Tessa McWatt knows first-hand that the answer to this question, often asked of people of colour by white people, is always more complicated than it seems. Is the answer English, Scottish, British, Caribbean, Portuguese, Indian, Amerindian, French, African, Chinese, Canadian? Like most families, hers is steeped in myth and the anecdotes of grandparents and parents who recount their histories through the lens of desire, aspiration, loss, and shame.

In Shame On Me she unspools all the interwoven strands of her multicoloured inheritance, and knits them back together using additional fibres from literature and history to strengthen the weave of her refabricated tale. She dismantles her own body and examines it piece by piece to build a devastating and incisively subtle analysis of the race debate as it now stands, in this stunningly written exploration of who and what we truly are.

Meaty by Samantha Irby

Meaty

Samantha Irby explodes onto the printed page with her debut collection of brand-new essays about trying to laugh her way through failed relationships, being black, taco feasts, bouts with Crohn’s disease, and more. Every essay is crafted with the same scathing wit and poignant candor thousands of loyal readers have come to expect from visiting her notoriously hilarious blog.

War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Line by David Nott

War DoctorFor more than 25 years, surgeon David Nott has volunteered in some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993 to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out lifesaving operations in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major metropolitan hospital. He is now widely acknowledged as the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world.

War Doctor
 is his extraordinary story, encompassing his surgeries in nearly every major conflict zone since the end of the Cold War, as well as his struggles to return to a “normal” life and routine after each trip. Culminating in his recent trips to war-torn Syria—and the untold story of his efforts to help secure a humanitarian corridor out of besieged Aleppo to evacuate some 50,000 people—War Doctor is a blend of medical memoir, personal journey, and nonfiction thriller that provides unforgettable, at times raw, insight into the human toll of war.

Abigail by Magda Szabo

Abigail

Abigail, the story of a headstrong teenager growing up during World War II, is the most beloved of Magda Szabó’s books in her native Hungary. Gina is the only child of a general, a widower who has long been happy to spoil his bright and willful daughter. Gina is devastated when the general tells her that he must go away on a mission and that he will be sending her to boarding school in the country. She is even more aghast at the grim religious institution to which she soon finds herself consigned. She fights with her fellow students, she rebels against her teachers, finds herself completely ostracized, and runs away. Caught and brought back, there is nothing for Gina to do except entrust her fate to the legendary Abigail, as the classical statue of a woman with an urn that stands on the school’s grounds has come to be called. If you’re in trouble, it’s said, leave a message with Abigail and help will be on the way. And for Gina, who is in much deeper trouble than she could possibly suspect, a life-changing adventure is only beginning.


December 2019

Car Park Life by Gareth E. Rees

‘I have stood in the psychedelic plains of Patagonia, thumb out in the hope of a passing vehicle; I have walked through a smoking lava flow in Iceland; but here on the central barrier of the concrete access ramp to Herne Bay’s rooftop Morrisons, I am a true pioneer.’

Car Park Life
Car parks: commonplace urban landscapes, little-explored and rarely featured in art and music, yet they shape the aesthetics of our towns and cities. Hotspots for crime, rage and sexual deviancy; a blind spot in which activities go unnoticed. Skateboarding, car stunts, drug dealing, dogging, murder.

Gareth E. Rees believes that the retail car park has as much mystery, magic and terror as any mountain, meadow or wood. He’s out to prove it by walking the car parks of Britain, journeying across the country from Plymouth to Edinburgh, much to the horror of his family, friends – and, most of all – himself. He finds Sir Francis Drake outside B&Q, standing stones in a retail park, and a dead body beside Sainsbury’s.

In this darkly satirical work of non-fiction, Gareth E. Rees presents a troubling vision of Brexit Britain through a common space we know far less about than we think.

Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
by László Krasznahorkai

Baron Wenckheims Homecoming

Set in contemporary times, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming tells the story of a Prince Myshkin–like figure, Baron Bela Wenckheim, who decides to return at the end of his life to the provincial Hungarian town of his birth. Having escaped from his many casino debts in Buenos Aires, where he was living in exile, he wishes to be reunited with his high school sweetheart Marika. What follows is an endless storm of gossip, con men, and local politicians, vividly evoking the small town’s alternately drab and absurd existence. All along, the Professor—a world-famous natural scientist who studies mosses and inhabits a bizarre Zen-like shack in a desolate area outside of town—offers long rants and disquisitions on his own attempts to immunize himself from thought. Spectacular actions are staged, death and the abyss loom, until finally doom is brought down on the unsuspecting residents of the town.

That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu

This is the story of K.That Reminds Me
K is sent into care before a year marks his birth. He grows up in fields and woods, and he is happy, he thinks. When K is eleven, the city reclaims him. He returns to an unknown mother and a part-time father, trading the fields for flats and a community that is alien to him. Slowly, he finds friends. Eventually, he finds love. He learns how to navigate the city. But as he grows, he begins to realise that he needs more than the city can provide. He is a man made of pieces. Pieces that are slowly breaking apart.

That Reminds Me is the story of one young man, from birth to adulthood, told in fragments of memory. It explores questions of identity, belonging, addiction, sexuality, violence, family and religion. It is a deeply moving and completely original work of literature from one of the brightest British writers of today.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

A new expanded and illustrated edition of the history-making speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young activist who has become the voice of a generation

‘We are the change and change is coming’

In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. A year later, she was joined in her strike by over seven million people around the world.

This is the record of a game-changing year in the fight against the climate crisis. Collecting the speeches that sparked a global movement, and iconic images of those who made it happen, No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.

Black Lives 1900: W.E.B. Du Bois at the Paris Exposition

BlackLives-New-Image_1024x1024 (2)

At the 1900 Paris Exposition the pioneering sociologist and activist W.E.B. Du Bois presented an exhibit representing the progress of African Americans since the abolition of slavery. In striking graphic visualisations and photographs (taken by mostly anonymous photographers) he showed the changing status of a newly emancipated people across America and specifically in Georgia, the state with the largest Black population. This beautifully designed book reproduces the photographs alongside the revolutionary graphic works for the first time, and includes a marvelous essay by two celebrated art historians, Jacqueline Francis and Stephen G. Hall.

The Cheffe by Marie Ndiaye

The Cheffe

The Cheffe is born into a very poor family in Sainte-Bazeille in south-western France, but when she takes a job working in the kitchen of a couple in the Landes region, it does not take long before it becomes clear that the Cheffe has an unusual, remarkable talent for cooking. She dreams in recipes, she’s always imagining food combinations and cooking times, she hunts down elusive flavours and aromas, and she soon usurps the couple’s cook.

But for all her genius, the Cheffe remains very secretive about the rest of her life. She becomes pregnant, but will not reveal her daughter’s father. She shares nothing of her feelings or emotions. And when the demands of her work and caring for her child become too much, she leaves her baby in the care of her family, and sets out to open her own restaurant, which will soon win rave reviews and be lauded by all.

But her relationship with her daughter will never be easy, and before long, it will threaten to destroy everything the Cheffe has spent her life perfecting.


November 2019

 

Joni Mitchell: Morning Glory on the Vine 

Morning Glory on the Vine

A gorgeous compendium of Joni Mitchell’s handwritten lyrics and drawings, originally handcrafted as a gift for a select group of friends in 1971 and now available to the public for the first time

In 1971, as her album Blue topped charts around the world, Joni Mitchell crafted one hundred copies of Morning Glory on the Vine as a holiday gift for her closest friends. For this stunningly beautiful book, Joni hand-wrote an exquisite selection of her own lyrics and poems and illustrated them with more than thirty of her original pictures. Handcrafted, signed, and numbered in Los Angeles, the existing copies of this labor of love have rarely been seen in the past half-century.

Now, during Joni’s seventy-fifth birthday year, Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings will be widely available for the first time. In this faithfully reproduced edition, Joni’s best-loved lyrics and poems spill across the pages in her own elegant script. The lively, full-color drawings depict a superb array of landscapes, still lifes, portraits of friends, self-portraits, innovative abstractions, and more. All the artwork from the original book is included, along with several additional pictures that Joni drew of her friends from the same period. Finally, the refreshed volume features an original introduction written by Joni. Morning Glory on the Vine is a gorgeous and intimate keepsake and an invitation to explore anew the dazzling, visionary world of Joni Mitchell.

Blue Moon by Lee Child 

“This is a random universe,” Reacher says. “Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.” This isn’t one of those times.
Blue Moon

Reacher is on a Greyhound bus, minding his own business, with no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there. Then he steps off the bus to help an old man who is obviously just a victim waiting to happen. But you know what they say about good deeds. Now Reacher wants to make it right.

An elderly couple have made a few well-meaning mistakes, and now they owe big money to some very bad people. One brazen move leads to another, and suddenly Reacher finds himself a wanted man in the middle of a brutal turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs.

Reacher has to stay one step ahead of the loan sharks, the thugs, and the assassins. He teams up with a fed-up waitress who knows a little more than she’s letting on, and sets out to take down the powerful and make the greedy pay. It’s a long shot. The odds are against him. But Reacher believes in a certain kind of justice . . . the kind that comes along once in a blue moon.

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar

A Month in Siena

When Hisham Matar was nineteen years old he came across the Sienese School of painting for the first time. In the year in which Matar’s life was shattered by the disappearance of his father the work of the great artists of Siena seemed to offer him a sense of hope. Over the years since then, Matar’s feelings towards these paintings would deepen and, as he says, ‘Siena began to occupy the sort of uneasy reverence the devout might feel towards Mecca or Rome or Jerusalem’.

A Month in Siena is the encounter, twenty-five years later, between the writer and the city he had worshipped from afar. It is a dazzling evocation of an extraordinary place and its effect on the writer’s life. It is an immersion in painting, a consideration of grief and a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and the human condition.

Stillicide by Cynan Jones

Water is commodified. The Water Train that serves the city increasingly at risk of sabotage. As news breaks that construction of a gigantic Ice Dock will displace more people than first thought, protestors take to the streets and the lives of several individuals begin to interlock.Stillicide

A nurse on the brink of an affair. A boy who follows a stray dog out of the city. A woman who lies dying.

And her husband, a marksman: a man forged by his past and fearful of the future, who weighs in his hands the possibility of death against the possibility of life. From one of the most celebrated writers of his generation, Stillicide is a moving story of love and loss and the will to survive, and a powerful glimpse of the tangible future.

The Goldblum Variations
by Helen McClory

The Goldblum Variations

We like Jeff Goldblum. You like Jeff Goldblum. Helen McClory likes Jeff Goldblum. Treat yourself to The Goldblum Variations, a collection of flash fictions, stories and games on the one and only Jeff Goldblum as he, and alternate versions of himself, travels through the known (and unknown) Universe in a mighty celebration of weird and wonderful Goldbluminess. Maybe he’s cooking, maybe he’s wearing a nice jumper, maybe he’s reading this very pamphlet. The possibilities are endless.

How to be an Antiracist
by Ibram X.Kendi

How to be an Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.

In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.


October 2019

 

A Drop of Patience
by William Melvin Kelley

October

In A Drop of Patience, William Melvin Kelley tells the searing story of Ludlow Washington, a black jazz musician, with the emotional intensity of the blues. Blind since childhood and put into a state home, Ludlow first learns the piano and later takes up the horn. When at fifteen he is released to the custody of a bandleader, his unmistakable talent takes him on an odyssey from Boone’s Cafe, a small dive in New Marsails, to New York where he becomes a leading, visionary jazz musician. This is the coming of age story of a man set apart – by blindness, by race, by artistry – who must learn through adversity not only who he is and whom to trust, but also from where he derives his self worth. The Dark Tower Series brings this neglected classic back into print after an absence of many years. Considered by Stanley Crouch to be one of the finest novels ever written about jazz – an exploration of the African-American experience that evokes comparisons to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man – A Drop of Patience is an exquisite and forceful parable of moral and spiritual blindness and a staggering work of art.

Golden Child by Claire Adam

Golden Child

A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices about scarcity, loyalty, and love

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters–leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, Golden Child is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.

Time Lived, Without Its Flow
by Denise Riley

Time Lived, Without Its Flow

This essay reflects on how perceptions of time may be altered after the sudden death of a child, and why inhabiting this sharply new temporality stops one’s habitual modes of telling. Neither tearful memoir nor testament of hope, the essay charts a vivid experience of such a suspended time and discovers an unsuspected intimacy between time and language. Although a life inside this ‘arrested’ time resists being described, it is neither exceptional or pathological; to outlive one’s child is historically common enough. But, because of this felt suspension of the usual flow of time which enables narration, it leaves few literary traces.

Patience by Toby Litt

Patience

MEET ELLIOTT.

Elliott is something of a genius. He is hugely intelligent. He’s an incredible observer. He is able to memorise and categorise in astonishing detail. He has a beautiful and unusual imagination.

More than that, Elliott is an ideal friend. He is overflowing with compassion and warmth and fun. To know him is to adore him.

But few people do know Elliott, properly. Because Elliott is also stuck. He lives in a wheelchair in an orphanage. It’s 1979. Elliott is forced to spend his days in an empty corridor, either gazing out of the window at the birds in a tree or staring into a white wall – wherever the Catholic Sisters who run the ward have decided to park him.

So when Jim, blind and mute but also headstrong, arrives on the ward and begins to defy the Sisters’ restrictive rules, Elliott finally sees a chance for escape. Individually, the unloved, unvalued orphans will stay just where they are; together, they could achieve a magnificent freedom – if only for a few hours.

But how can Elliott, unable to move or speak clearly, communicate all this to Jim? How can he even get Jim to know he exists?

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year.
Year of the Monkey
Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs–including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s words, “Anything is possible: after all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.” For Smith–inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing–the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.

William Blake Now: Why He Matters More Than Ever by John Higgs

William Blake

The visionary poet and painter William Blake is a constant presence throughout contemporary culture – from videogames to novels, from sporting events to political rallies and from horror films to designer fashion. Although he died nearly 200 years ago, something about his work continues to haunt the twenty-first century. What is it about Blake that has so endured? In this illuminating essay, John Higgs takes us on a whirlwind tour to prove that far from being the mere New Age counterculture figure that many assume him to be, Blake is now more relevant than ever.


September 2019

 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”
Margaret Atwood

This book is flying off the shelves at Kirkdale – get your copies quick! 

Girl by Edna O’Brien

I was a girl once, but not any more.Girl
So begins Girl, Edna O’Brien’s harrowing portrayal of the young women abducted by Boko Haram. Set in the deep countryside of northeast Nigeria, this is a brutal story of incarceration, horror, and hunger; a hair-raising escape into the manifold terrors of the forest; and a descent into the labyrinthine bureaucracy and hostility awaiting a victim who returns home with a child blighted by enemy blood. From one of the century’s greatest living authors, Girl is an unforgettable story of one victim’s astonishing survival, and her unflinching faith in the redemption of the human heart.

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth by William Feaver

Lives of Lucian Freud

Though ferociously private, Lucian Freud spoke every week for decades to his close confidante and collaborator William Feaver – about painting and the art world, but also about his life and loves. The result is this a unique, electrifying biography, shot through with Freud’s own words.

In Youth, the first of two volumes, Feaver conjures Freud’s early childhood: Sigmund Freud’s grandson, born into a middle-class Jewish family in Weimar Berlin, escaping Nazi Germany in 1934 before being dropped into successive English public schools. Following Freud through art school, his time in the Navy during the war, his post-war adventures in Paris and Greece, and his return to Soho – consorting with duchesses and violent criminals, out on the town with Greta Garbo and Princess Margaret – Feaver traces a brilliant, difficult young man’s coming of age.

An account of a century told through one of its most important artists, The Lives of Lucian Freud is a landmark in the story its subject and in the art of biography itself.

March of the Lemmings by
Stewart Lee

As a Metropolitan Elitist Snowflake, Stewart Lee was disappointed by the Brexit referendum result of 2016. But he knew how to weaponise his inconvenience.March of the Lemmings
He would treat all his subsequent writing, until we left the EU, as interrelated episodes of a complete work.

The cast of characters include Lemming-obsessed Michael Gove, violent tanning-salon entrepreneur Tommy Robinson and Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Bumboys Letterbox Cake Disaster Weightloss Haircut Bullshit Johnson. A dramatic chorus is made up of online commenters and Kremlin bots. And Lee himself would play the defeated, unreliable narrator-hero, whose resolve and tolerance would gradually unravel as the horror show dragged on. Until the 29 March, 2019, when it would all definitely be over.

Drawing on three years of newspaper columns, a complete transcript of the Content Provider stand-up show, and Lee’s caustic footnote commentary, March of the Lemmings is the scathing, riotous record the Brexit era deserves.

I Remain in Darkness by Annie Ernaux

I Remain in Darkness

An extraordinary evocation of a grown daughter’s attachment to her mother, and of both women’s strength and resiliency. “I Remain in Darkness” recounts Annie’s attempts first to help her mother recover from Alzheimer’s disease, and then, when that proves futile, to bear witness to the older woman’s gradual decline and her own experience as a daughter losing a beloved parent. “I Remain in Darkness” is a new high water mark for Ernaux, surging with raw emotional power and her sublime ability to use language to apprehend her own life’s particular music.

Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen

The first volume in The Copenhagen Trilogy, the searing portrait of a woman’s journey through love, friendship, ambition and addiction, from one of Denmark’s most celebrated twentieth-century writers.

Childhood
Tove knows she is a misfit, whose childhood is made for a completely different girl. In her working-class neighbourhood in Copenhagen, she is enthralled by her wild, red-headed friend Ruth, who initiates her into adult secrets. But Tove cannot reveal her true self to her or to anyone else. For ‘long, mysterious words begin to crawl across my soul’, and she comes to realize that she has a vocation, something unknowable within her – and that she must one day, painfully but inevitably, leave the narrow street of her childhood behind.

Childhood, the first volume in The Copenhagen Trilogy, is a visceral portrait of girlhood and female friendship, told with lyricism and vivid intensity.


August 2019

 

A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake, badly. She was trying to impress the man who would later become her husband.A Half Baked Idea
Afterwards, grief pushed Olivia into the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake. Her cakes sank and her custard curdled. But she found comfort in jams and solace in pies, and what began as a distraction from grief became a way of building a life outside grief, a way of surviving, and making sense of her life without her mum.

And so she concocted a plan: she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar and enrolled on the Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie, with all its challenges, frustrations and culinary rewards – and a mind-boggling array of knives to boot.

Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother’s shepherd’s pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.

This is Not Propaganda:
Adventures in the War Against Reality
by Peter Pomerantsev

This is Not Propaganda

When information is a weapon, every opinion is an act of war.

We live in a world of influence operations run amok, where dark ads, psyops, hacks, bots, soft facts, ISIS, Putin, trolls, and Trump seek to shape our very reality. In this surreal atmosphere created to disorient us and undermine our sense of truth, we’ve lost not only our grip on peace and democracy–but our very notion of what those words even mean.

Peter Pomerantsev takes us to the front lines of the disinformation age, where he meets Twitter revolutionaries and pop-up populists, “behavioral change” salesmen, Jihadi fanboys, Identitarians, truth cops, and many others. Forty years after his dissident parents were pursued by the KGB, Pomerantsev finds the Kremlin re-emerging as a great propaganda power. His research takes him back to Russia–but the answers he finds there are not what he expected.

Ducks, Newburyport by
Lucy Ellmann

LATTICING one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans?Ducks, Newburyport

A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel.

It’s also very, very funny.

Fierce Bad Rabbits by Clare Pollard

What is The Tiger Who Came to Tea really about? 
What has Meg and Mog got to do with Polish embroidery?
Why is death in picture books so often represented by being eaten?

Fierce Bad RabbitsWe’ve read Green Eggs and Ham, laughed at Mr Tickle and whetted our appetites with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But what lies behind the picture books that make up our childhood?

Fierce Bad Rabbits takes us on an eye-opening journey in a pea-green boat through the history of picture books. From Edward Lear through to Beatrix Potter and contemporary picture books like Stick Man, Clare Pollard shines a light on some of our best-loved childhood stories, their histories and what they really mean. Because the best picture books are far more complex than they seem – and darker too. Monsters can gobble up children and go unnoticed, power is not always used wisely, and the wild things are closer than you think.

Sparkling with wit, magic and nostalgia, Fierce Bad Rabbits weaves in tales from Clare’s own childhood, and her re-readings as a parent, with fascinating facts and theories about the authors behind the books. Introducing you to new treasures while bringing your childhood favourites to vivid life, it will make you see even stories you’ve read a hundred times afresh.

The Day the Sun Died by Yan Lianke

One dusk in early June, in a town deep in the Balou mountains, fourteen-year-old Li Niannian notices that something strange is going on. As the residents would usually be settling down for the night, instead they start appearing in the streets and fields. There are people everywhere.

The Day the Sun Died
Li Niannian watches, mystified. But then he realises the people are dreamwalking, carrying on with their daily business as if the sun hadn’t already gone down. And before too long, as more and more people succumb, in the black of night all hell breaks loose.

Set over the course of one night, The Day the Sun Died pits chaos and darkness against the sunny optimism of the ‘Chinese dream’ promoted by President Xi Jinping. We are thrown into the middle of an increasingly strange and troubling waking nightmare as Li Niannian and his father struggle to save the town, and persuade the beneficent sun to rise again.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

The Nickel BoysAs the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative.


July 2019

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America by Martin Duberman

Stonewall

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, was raided by police. But instead of responding with the typical compliance the NYPD expected, patrons and a growing crowd decided to fight back. The five days of rioting that ensued changed forever the face of gay and lesbian life.

In Stonewall, renowned historian and activist Martin Duberman tells the full story of this pivotal moment in history. With riveting narrative skill, he re-creates those revolutionary, sweltering nights in vivid detail through the lives of six people who were drawn into the struggle for LGBTQ rights. Their stories combine to form an unforgettable portrait of the repression that led up to the riots, which culminates when they triumphantly participate in the first gay rights march of 1970, the roots of today’s pride marches.

Fifty years after the riots, Stonewall remains a rare work that evokes with a human touch an event in history that still profoundly affects life today.

Windrush: A Ship Through Time
by Paul Arnott

For three decades the Windrush was the maritime Zelig of

the 20th century. Designed in 1930 in the Hamburg boatyard of a Jewish shipbuilder to ferry Germans to a new life in South America, it wasn’t long before Goebbels requisitioned Windrushher. She became a Nazi troop carrier, a support vessel for the pocket battleship Tirpitz, and a prison ship transporting Jews to Auschwitz. Captured by the British in 1945 and renamed the SS Empire Windrush, she then spent years evacuating displaced service people and, in her famous single voyage from the Caribbean, she brought the first wave of black migrants to Britain. This vivid biography combines the memories of people who were there with a gripping account of an extraordinary merchant ship at the end of empires.

Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Malina

Here is the story of lives painfully intertwined.

An unnamed narrator is haunted by nightmarish memories of her father and desperate for the attentions of her lover. Her only companion is the androgynous Malina with whom she lives, an initially remote and dispassionate man who ultimately becomes an ominous influence. Plunging towards its riveting finale, Malina lays bare the struggle for love and the limits of discourse between men and women.

Part detective novel, part love story, part psychoanalytic case study, Bachmann’s 1971 masterpiece brings us to the broken heart of human experience, eros, neurosis and history.

Afropean: Notes from Black Europe by Johnny Pitts

Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where. afropeanEuropeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.

 


June 2019

The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of Geroge Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

An authoritative, wide-ranging and incredibly timely history of 1984 — its literary sources, its composition by Orwell, its deep and lasting effect on the Cold War, and its vast influence throughout world culture at every level, from high to pop.

Ministry of Truth

Nineteen Eighty Four isn’t just a novel; it’s a key to understanding the modern world. George Orwell’s final work is a treasure chest of ideas and memes — Big Brother, the Thought Police, Doublethink, Newspeak, 2+2=5 — that gain potency with every year. Particularly in 2016, when the election of Donald Trump made it a bestseller (“Ministry of Alternative Facts,” anyone?). Its influence has morphed endlessly into novels (The Handmaid’s Tale), films (Brazil), television shows (V for Vendetta), rock albums (Diamond Dogs), commercials (Apple), even reality TV (Big Brother). The Ministry of Truth is the first book that fully examines the epochal and cultural event that is 1984 in all its aspects: its roots in the utopian and dystopian literature thatpreceded it; the personal experiences in wartime Great Britain that Orwell drew upon as he struggled to finish his masterpiece in his dying days; and the political and cultural phenomenon that the novel ignited at once upon publication and which far from subsiding, has only grown over the decades. It explains how fiction history informs fiction and how fiction explains history.

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

Celestial Bodies

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019

In the village of al-Awafi in Oman live three sisters. Mayya marries after a heartbreak. Asma marries from a sense of duty. Khawla rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. Elegantly structured, Celestial Bodies is the story of the history and people of modern Oman told through one family’s losses and loves.

 

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective.A Thousand Ships
In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash . . .

The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all…

Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.

Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf illus. by Katyuli Lloyd 

Flush is the biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel.

Flush A BiographyIn clear, fast and vivid prose, we follow Flush on his adventures from the bucolic Berkshire countryside, to the grand houses of Wimpole Street and the Dickensian dog-nappers of the East End. After his rescue, and as party to the clandestine elopement of Elizabeth and Robert Browning, Flush bounds into the heat, colours and scents of Florence.

This edition is richly illustrated by Katyuli Lloyd. These images were short-listed for the V&A Illustraion Awards 2016.


May 2019

 

Constellations: Reflections from Life by Sinéad Gleeson

Constellations

I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles.

How do you tell the story of life that is no one thing? How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? And how do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In these powerful and daring essays, Sinead Gleeson does that very thing. In doing so she delves into a range of subjects: art, illness, ghosts, grief, and our very ways of seeing. In writing that is in tradition of some of our finest writers such as Olivia Laing, Maggie O’Farrell, and Maggie Nelson, and yet still in her own spirited, warm voice, Gleeson takes us on a journey that is both personal and yet universal in its resonance.

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

This book is about why black hair matters.Don't Touch My Hair
Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and on to today’s Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond. We look at everything from hair capitalists like Madam C.J. Walker in the early 1900s to the rise of Shea Moisture today, from women’s solidarity and friendship to ‘black people time’, forgotten African scholars and the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian’s braids.

The scope of black hairstyling ranges from pop culture to cosmology, from prehistoric times to the (afro)futuristic. Uncovering sophisticated indigenous mathematical systems in black hairstyles, alongside styles that served as secret intelligence networks leading enslaved Africans to freedom, Don’t Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 

Queenie

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

DAYGLO: The Poly Styrene Story by Celeste Bell and Zoë Howe

Dayglo

Poly Styrene was a singer-songwriter, a free-thinker, a post-modern style pioneer, and a lifelong spiritual seeker: a true punk icon. But this rebel queen with the cheeky grin was also a latter-day pop artist with a wickedly perceptive gift for satirizing the world around her—her playful aesthetic sharply at odds with the stark monochrome style and nihilism of punk.

Here, for the first time, the jigsaw of Poly’s inspiring and often moving story has been lovingly pieced together by her daughter, singer-songwriter Celeste Bell, and writer-artist Zoë Howe. From growing up mixed-race in Brixton in the 1960s to being at the forefront of the emerging punk scene with X-Ray Spex in the 1970s, from finding faith with the Hare Krishna movement to balancing single motherhood with a solo music career and often debilitating mental health issues, the book openly explores Poly’s exceptional life, up until her untimely passing in 2011. Based on interviews with those who knew and loved Poly whether personally or through music, this oral history book includes testimonies from Vivienne Westwood, Don Letts, Glen Matlock, Jonathan Ross, Neneh Cherry, The Slits’ Tessa Pollitt, Thurston Moore, Jon Savage, and many others.

April 2019

 

Black Car Burning by Helen Mort

Black Car Burning

Alexa is a young police community support officer whose world feels unstable. Her father is estranged and her girlfriend is increasingly distant. Their polyamorous relationship – which for years felt so natural – is starting to seem strained. As she patrols Sheffield she senses the rising tensions in its disparate communities and doubts her ability to keep the peace, to help, to change anything.

Caron is pushing Alexa away and pushing herself ever harder. A climber, she fixates on a brutal route known as Black Car Burning and throws herself into a cycle of repetition and risk. Leigh, who works at a local gear shop, watches Caron climb and feels complicit.

Meanwhile, an ex-police officer compulsively revisits the April day in 1989 that changed his life forever. Trapped in his memories of the disaster, he tracks the Hillsborough inquests, questioning everything.

As the young women negotiate the streets of the city and its violent inheritance, the rock faces of Stanage and their relationships with each other, the urban and natural landscape watches over them, an ever-present witness. Black Car Burning is a brilliant debut novel of trust and trauma, fear and falling, from one of our best young writers.

 

Blossoms in Autumn by Zidrou
and 
Aimee De Jongh

Ulysses is a 59-year-old widower who, since retiring, has been in the grip of loneliness. The former moving man is without direction or purpose. He can’t even find solace in the company of his children: his daughter is dead, his son consumed by work.

Blossoms in AutumnMrs. Solenza is a 62-year-old former model. Once a magazine cover star, she now runs the family business: a cheese shop owned by her late mother.

She, too, is alone. Two lives drift sadly by, inching ever closer to old age. Until, one day, they collide-and an emotional earthquake happens.

A unique collaboration between veteran comics writer Zidrou and rising star Aimee de Jongh, Blossoms in Autumn is a masterful exploration of growing old and falling in love.

Constellations: Reflections from Life by Sinead Gleeson 

Constellations

I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles.

How do you tell the story of life that is no one thing? How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? And how do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In these powerful and daring essays, Sinead Gleeson does that very thing. In doing so she delves into a range of subjects: art, illness, ghosts, grief, and our very ways of seeing. In writing that is in tradition of some of our finest writers such as Olivia Laing, Maggie O’Farrell, and Maggie Nelson, and yet still in her own spirited, warm voice, Gleeson takes us on a journey that is both personal and yet universal in its resonance.

Character Breakdown
by Zawe Ashton

Character Breakdown

Zawe Ashton has been acting since she was six. She has played many different roles, from ‘cute little girl’ to ‘assassin with attitude’, Oscar Wilde’s Salome to St Trinian’s schoolgirl by way of Fresh Meat’s Vod.

To stay sane, an actress must tread a high-wire between life and art, keep sight of where a character ends and the real person begins. So she doesn’t lose herself completely.

In Character Breakdown, Zawe scrolls through a version of her life. Or is it a version of her art? Or something in between. In it, she encounters glamour, horror, absurdity and questions like: is a life spent more on performance than reality any life at all?


March 2019

 

LannyLanny by Max Porter

There’s a village sixty miles outside London. It’s no different from many other villages in England: one pub, one church, red-brick cottages, council cottages and a few bigger houses dotted about. Voices rise up, as they might do anywhere, speaking of loving and needing and working and dying and walking the dogs.

This village belongs to the people who live in it and to the people who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, a figure schoolchildren used to draw green and leafy, choked by tendrils growing out of his mouth.

Dead Papa Toothwort is awake. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to his English symphony. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, enchanting boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny.

Mother: An Unconventional History by Sarah Knott

‘Timely and fascinating’ Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

What was mothering like in the past?

Mother

When acclaimed historian Sarah Knott became pregnant, she asked herself this question. But accounts of motherhood are hard to find. For centuries, historians have concerned themselves with wars, politics and revolutions, not the everyday details of carrying and caring for a baby. Much to do with becoming a mother, past or present, is lost or forgotten.

Using the arc of her own experience, from miscarriage to the birth and early babyhood of her two children, Sarah Knott explores the ever-changing habits and experiences of motherhood across the ages. Drawing on a disparate collection of fascinating material – interrupted letters, hastily written diary entries, a line from a court record or a figure in a painting – Mother vividly brings to life the lost stories of ordinary women.

From the labour pains felt by a South Carolina field slave to the triumphant smile of a royal mistress pregnant with a king’s first son; from a 1950s suburban housewife to a working-class East Ender taking her baby to the factory; from a pioneer with eight children to a 1970s feminist debating whether to have any; these remarkable tales of mothering create a moving depiction of an endlessly various human experience.

Four Words for Friend : Why Using More Than One Language Matters Now More Than Ever by Marek Kahn

four words for fiend

A compelling argument about the importance of using more than one language in today’s world

In a world that has English as its global language and rapidly advancing translation technology, it’s easy to assume that the need to use more than one language will diminish—but Marek Kohn argues that plural language use is more important than ever. In a divided world, it helps us to understand ourselves and others better, to live together better, and to make the most of our various cultures.

Kohn, whom the Guardian has called “one of the best science writers we have,” brings together perspectives from psychology, evolutionary thought, politics, literature, and everyday experience. He explores how people acquire languages; how they lose them; how they can regain them; how different languages may affect people’s perceptions, their senses of self, and their relationships with each other; and how to resolve the fundamental contradiction of languages, that they exist as much to prevent communication as to make it happen.

mouth full of bloodMouth Full of Blood by Toni Morrison

Spanning four decades, these essays, speeches and meditations interrogate the world around us. They are concerned with race, gender and globalisation. The sweep of American history and the current state of politics. The duty of the press and the role of the artist. Throughout A Mouth Full of Blood our search for truth, moral integrity and expertise is met by Toni Morrison with controlled anger, elegance and literary excellence.

The collection is structured in three parts and these are heart-stoppingly introduced by a prayer for the dead of 9/11, a meditation on Martin Luther King and a eulogy for James Baldwin. Morrison’s Nobel lecture, on the power of language, is accompanied by lectures to Amnesty International and the Newspaper Association of America. She speaks to graduating students and visitors to both the Louvre and America’s Black Holocaust Museum. She revisits The Bluest Eye, Sula and Beloved; reassessing the novels that have become touchstones for generations of readers.

A Mouth Full of Blood is a powerful, erudite and essential gathering of ideas that speaks to us all.

Invisible Women : Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women

Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman.

Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.

Award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women. In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.

February 2019

Golden Child by Claire Adam

Golden Child

A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices about scarcity, loyalty, and love

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters–leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, Golden Child is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.

claire adam

An Orchestra of Minorities
by Chigozie Obioma

A heart-breaking and mythic story about a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves, by Man Booker Finalist and author of The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma.

Orchestra of MinoritiesA contemporary twist on the Odyssey, An Orchestra of Minorities is narrated by the chi, or spirit of a young poultry farmer named Chinonso. His life is set off course when he sees a woman who is about to jump off a bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, he hurls two of his prized chickens off the bridge. The woman, Ndali, is stopped in her tracks.

Chinonso and Ndali fall in love but she is from an educated and wealthy family. When her family objects to the union on the grounds that he is not her social equal, he sells most of his possessions to attend college in Cyprus. But when he arrives in Cyprus, he discovers that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements for him. Penniless, homeless, we watch as he gets further and further away from his dream and from home.

Chasm: A Weekend by Dorothea Tanning

Chasm A Weekend

The estate is called Windcote, its very name a masquerade, and its master, the odious Raoul Meridian, has invited a group of guests to spend a weekend, during the course of which they will find themselves driven by obsessions and confusions unlike any they ve experienced before. Among them is Albert, a disowned scion searching for an identity, and his too-beautiful companion Nadine, who is irresistibly drawn to the desert and the inscrutable vortex of Windcote. Living deep within this world of fevers and failures is the indomitable child Destina, who will lead them into the heart of a mysterious canyon, where desire and cruelty forge an implacable truth.

Dorothea Tanning, whose surrealist vision has been acclaimed worldwide as one of our era s most bold and acute, brings her formidable imagination and exquisite prose style to bear on a novel of incantatory power. As perceptively inventive as Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and as disquieting as Henry James’s The Turn of the ScrewChasm is a novel that will linger in the memories of readers long after they turn its last page.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were “thunder.” In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety–perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.

When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted asylum in the United States, where she embarked on another journey–to excavate her past and, after years of being made to feel less than human, claim her individuality.


January 2019

Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath

9780571351732

Lips the colour of blood, the sun an unprecedented orange, train wheels that sound like ‘guilt, and guilt, and guilt’: these are just some of the things Mary Ventura begins to notice on her journey to the ninth kingdom.

‘But what is the ninth kingdom?’ she asks a kind-seeming lady in her carriage. ‘It is the kingdom of the frozen will,’ comes the reply. ‘There is no going back.’

Sylvia Plath’s strange, dark tale of independence over infanticide, written not long after she herself left home, grapples with mortality in motion.

The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary by Emma Mitchell

the wild remedy

Emma Mitchell has suffered with depression – or as she calls it, ‘the grey slug’ – for twenty-five years. In 2003, she moved from the city to the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens and began to take walks in the countryside around her new home, photographing, collecting and drawing as she went. Each walk lifted her mood, proving to be as medicinal as any talking therapy or pharmaceutical.
In Emma’s hand-illustrated diary, she takes us with her as she follows the paths and trails around her cottage and further afield, sharing her nature finds and tracking the lives of local flora and fauna over the course of a year. Reflecting on how these encounters impact her mood, Emma’s moving and candid account of her own struggles is a powerful testament to how reconnecting with nature may offer some answers to today’s mental health epidemic.

Cheddar Gorge: A Book of English Cheeses by John Squire, illus. by Ernest H. Shepard

cheddar gorge

Where can you read about a monstrous cheese big enough to hold a girl of 13 inside? Or that the invention of the bicycle directly, and poorly, impacted sales of cheddar? Or that some of the first cheese makers hid gold coins inside their wheels of dairy as a sales tool? Brethren, the writer calls you this because he hopes that you are `cheese-minded’ like himself. This classic and charming book, a timeless love letter to English cheeses was first published in 1937, newly rediscovered and charmingly illustrated by EH Shepard. It is a treasure trove of wonderful anecdotes including the tale of the monstrous cheese big enough to hold a 13-year-old inside, the Stilton that purred like a cat and the famous cheese-maker in Manchester who selected which Cheshire cheese to sell based on where the mice had been nibbling `as they were the best judges of a good cheese’.

Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy by Benjamin Balint

kafka's last trial

Kafka’s Last Trial begins with Kafka’s last instruction to his closest friend, Max Brod: to destroy all his remaining papers upon his death. But when the moment arrived in 1924, Brod could not bring himself to burn the unpublished works of the man he considered a literary genius—even a saint. Instead, Brod devoted his life to championing Kafka’s writing, rescuing his legacy from obscurity and physical destruction.

Benjamin Balint offers a gripping account of the controversial trial in Israeli courts—brimming with dilemmas legal, ethical, and political—that determined the fate of Kafka’s manuscripts. Deeply informed, with sharply drawn portraits and a remarkable ability to evoke a time and place, Kafka’s Last Trial is at once a brilliant biographical portrait of a literary genius, and the story of two countries whose national obsessions with overcoming the traumas of the past came to a head in a hotly contested trial for the right to claim the literary legacy of one of our modern masters.


December 2018

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.
Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

The Penguin Classics Book by Henry Eliot

penguin classics book

The Penguin Classics Book is a reader’s companion to the largest library of classic literature in the world.

Spanning 4,000 years from the legends of Ancient Mesopotamia to the poetry of the First World War, with Greek tragedies, Icelandic sagas, Japanese epics and much more in between, it encompasses 500 authors and 1,200 books, bringing these to life with lively descriptions, literary connections and beautiful cover designs.

The Secret Network of Nature: The Delicate Balance of All Living Things by Peter Wohlleben

Secret Network of Nature

Did you know that trees can influence the rotation of the earth?
Or that wolves can alter the course of a river?
Or that earthworms control wild boar populations?

The natural world is a web of intricate connections, many of which go unnoticed by humans. But it is these connections that maintain nature’s finely balanced equilibrium.

Drawing on the latest scientific discoveries and decades of experience as a forester and bestselling author, Peter Wohlleben shows us how different animals, plants, rivers, rocks and weather systems cooperate, and what’s at stake when these delicate systems are unbalanced.

The earth’s ecosystems are too complex for us to compartmentalise and draw up simple rules of cause and effect; but The Secret Network of Nature gives us a chance to marvel at the inner workings and unlikely partnerships of the natural world, where every entity has its own distinct purpose.

And the more light that is shed on relationships between species, the more fascinating nature’s web becomes.

 

Francis: A Life in Songs by Ann Wroe

Francis A Life in Songs

Throughout her career Ann Wroe has constantly confounded expectations, following her own unique path. Now, in Francis, she turns to verse to tell the life of St Francis of Assissi. This is a sequence only Ann Wroe could write, combining a troubadour’s musicality with full grasp of the moment, and a luminous sense of Francis as both myth and man, across history and culture, in nature and community. It is a remarkable and immensely beautiful book.

St Francis was one of the most compelling spirits the world has seen. He was also a poet, a musician and a dancer. His world was coloured by troubadour lays, brightened by birdsong, ordered by the bells and chants of the Church and transfigured by the angel-lyres he heard about him. For Ann Wroe, this seems a good reason to write his life in songs. It is also an excuse to record, in songs, the many ways his presence and his music still linger round us. They surprise us in chance encounters in city streets; they waylay us amid the humdrum banalities of working life; they persist in the beauties of nature. Great spirits never leave us. They echo on and on.


November 2018

 

In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

In Extremis

Written by fellow foreign correspondent Lindsey Hilsum, this is the story of the most daring war reporter of her time. Drawing on unpublished diaries and interviews with Marie’s friends, family and colleagues, Hilsum conjures a fiercely compassionate, complex woman who was driven to an extraordinary life and tragic death. In Extremis is the story of our turbulent age, and the life of a woman who defied convention.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shootFriday Black intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god.

Adjei-Brenyah’s writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage, and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world.

Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds

Cassandra Darke

Cassandra Darke is an art dealer, mean, selfish, solitary by nature, living in Chelsea in a house worth £7 million.

She has become a social pariah, but doesn’t much care. Between one Christmas and the next, she has sullied the reputation of a West End gallery and has acquired a conviction for fraud, a suspended sentence and a bank balance drained by lawsuits. On the scale of villainy, fraud seems to Cassandra a rather paltry offence – her own crime involving ‘no violence, no weapon, no dead body’.

But in Cassandra’s basement, her young ex-lodger, Nicki, has left a surprise, something which implies at least violence and probably a body… Something which forces Cassandra out of her rich enclave and onto the streets. Not those local streets paved with gold and lit with festive glitter, but grimmer, darker places, where she must make the choice between self-sacrifice and running for her life.

Hokusai Manga by Hokusai

In 1814, Hokusai’s sketches were published in a handbook of Hokusai Mangaover 4,000 images: Hokusai Manga. It surpassed expectations as a student reference book, and became a bestseller. Here, in an elegant, three-volume package, an expansive selection of these works are revealed, presenting all of the themes, motifs and drawing techniques found in his art.

The caricatures, satirical drawings, multi-panel illustrations and narrative depictions found in the book can clearly be seen as the basis for manga as it is understood today. One volume explores The Life and Manners of the Day (studying habits and objects of the everyday, from architectural features to wrestling moves and facial expressions); the second The Whole Earth Catalogue (largely concerned with nature, from animals to rock faces and fish); and the third presents the Fanciful, Mythical and Supernatural (with images narrating myths and displaying fantastical creatures).


October 2018

 

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Melmoth

Twenty years ago Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But her sheltered life is about to change.

A strange manuscript has come into her possession. It is filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world. Condemned to walk the Earth forever, she tries to beguile the guilty and lure them away for a lifetime wandering alongside her.

Everyone that Melmoth seeks out must make a choice: to live with what they’ve done, or be led into the darkness. Helen can’t stop reading, or shake the feeling that someone is watching her. As her past finally catches up with her, she too must choose which path to take.

Exquisitely written, and gripping until the very last page, this is a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.

Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif 

Red Birds

An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn’t what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it’s an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home.

In the camp, teenager Momo’s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind.

Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.

Piggy Goes to University by Ezra Elia and Miriam Elia

Piggy Goes to University

Piggy goes to University is the story of a precocious young pig, and his rise to the forefront of the Anti-Piggest socialist Justice Movement. When he leaves his rural community for Central State University, he learns of the terrible legacy of Pig-Imperialism, and that words and ideas can be just as violent as actual acts of genocide. With the help of his comrades, Piggy elects to become a hero of the oppressed, and to ban anyone from saying anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. And yet, in creating a world of absolute kindness, he soon finds himself at the mercy of his own extremist rhetoric.

I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche
by Sue Prideaux

A groundbreaking new biography of philosophy’s greatest iconoclast
I Am DynamiteFriedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts—the Übermensch, the will to power, slave morality—have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche—beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingering association with nihilism and fascism? Where do we place a thinker who was equally beloved by Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, Martin Buber, and Adolf Hitler?

Nietzsche wrote that all philosophy is autobiographical, and in this vividly compelling, myth-shattering biography, Sue Prideaux brings readers into the world of this brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man, illuminating the events and people that shaped his life and work. From his placid, devoutly Christian upbringing—overshadowed by the mysterious death of his father—through his teaching career, lonely philosophizing on high mountains, and heart-breaking descent into madness, Prideaux documents Nietzsche’s intellectual and emotional life with a novelist’s insight and sensitivity.


 

September 2018

Rise by Gina Miller 

Rise Gina Miller

Gina Miller came to prominence when she brought one of the most significant constitutional cases ever to be heard in the British Supreme Court. Gina successfully challenged the UK government’s authority to trigger Article 50 – the formal notification to leave the European Union – without parliamentary approval.

For standing up for what she believed was right, Miller became the target of not just racist and sexist verbal abuse, but physical threats to herself and her family. She was repeatedly asked: how could she keep going at the cost of so much pain and aggravation? To her the answer was obvious: she’d been doing it all her life.

In Rise, Gina Miller draws on a lifetime of fighting injustice and looks at the moments that made her; the trauma, failures and successes that gave her the confidence in her voice, the ability to know how to use it and the strength not to let others diminish it, even when it came at incredible cost. To those who say one person cannot make a difference, this memoir demonstrates irrefutably how you can.

 

The Lies That Bind Us: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah

From the best-selling author of Cosmopolitanism comes this revealing exploration of

The Lies that Bind

how the collective identities that shape our polarised world are riddled with contradiction. Who do you think you are? That’s a question bound up in another: What do you think you are? Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. Such affiliations give contours to our sense of self, and shape our polarised world. Yet the collective identities they spawn are riddled with contradictions, and cratered with falsehoods. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Lies That Bind is an incandescent exploration of the nature and history of the identities that define us. It challenges our assumptions about how identities work. We all know there are conflicts between identities, but Appiah shows how identities are created by conflict.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Silence of the Girls

‘A very good, very raw rendition of the Trojan war from the point of view of the women’ Kate Atkinson

There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now.

Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story?

Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison 

From the author of Costa-shortlisted and Baileys-longlisted At Hawthorn Timecomes a major new novel. Set on a farm in Suffolk just before the Second World War, it introduces a girl All Among the Barleyon the cusp of adulthood 

‘A masterpiece’ Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13

The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, although the Great War still casts its shadow over the fields and villages around her beloved home, Wych Farm.

Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to document fading rural traditions and beliefs. For Edie, who must soon face the unsettling pressures of adulthood, the glamorous and worldly outsider appears to be a godsend. But there is more to the older woman than meets the eye.

As harvest time approaches and pressures mount on the entire community, Edie must find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.

 


August 2018

 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight illus. and translated 

by Michael Smith

Michael Smith’s translation of this magnificent Arthurian romance draws on his intimate experience of the North West of England and his knowledge of mediaeval history, culture and architecture.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

He takes us back to the original poetic form of the manuscript and brings it alive for a modern audience, while revealing the poem’s historic and literary context. The book is beautifully illustrated by throughout with detailed recreations of the illuminated lettering in the original manuscript and the author’s own linocut prints, each meticulously researched for contemporary accuracy. This is an exciting new edition that will appeal both to students of the Gawain-poet and the general reader alike.

Country by Michael Hughes

Country

Inspired by the oldest war story of them all, this powerful new Irish novel explores the brutal glory of armed conflict, and the bitter tragedy of those on both sides who offer their lives to defend the honour of their country.

“A hard, rigorous and necessary book” – Eoin McNamee, The Irish Times

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

In this crackling debut collection Nafissa Thompson-Spires interrogates our supposedly post-racial era. To wicked and devastating effect she exposes the violence, both external andHeads of Colored People self-inflicted, that threatens black Americans, no matter their apparent success. A teenager is insidiously bullied as her YouTube following soars; an assistant professor finds himself losing a subtle war of attrition against his office mate; a nurse is worn down by the demand for her skills as a funeral singer.

And across a series of stories, a young woman grows up, negotiating and renegotiating her identity. Heads of the Colored People shows characters in crisis, both petty and catastrophic. It marks the arrival of a remarkable writer and an essential and urgent new voice.

The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail

The Beekeeper of Sinjar

In The Beekeeper of Sinjar, the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail tells the harrowing stories of women from across Iraq who have managed to escape the clutches of ISIS. Since 2014, ISIS has been persecuting the Yazidi people, killing or enslaving those who won’t convert to Islam. These women have lost their families and loved ones, along with everything they’ve ever known. This powerful work of literary nonfiction offers a counterpoint to ISIS’s genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk torture and death to save the lives of others.

 


 

July 2018

Cicely Saunders: A Life and Legacy by David Clark

Born at the end of World War One into a prosperous London family, Cicely Saunders struggled at school before gaining entry to Oxford University to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. As World War Two gained momentum, she quit Cicely Saundersacademic study to train as a nurse, thereby igniting her lifelong interest in caring for others. Following a back injury, she became a medical social worker, and then in her late 30s, qualified as a physician. By now her focus was on a hugely neglected area of modern health services: the care of the dying.

When she opened the world’s first modern hospice, St. Christopher’s, here in Sydenham on Lawrie Park Road in 1967, a quiet revolution got underway.

Education, research, and clinical practice were combined in a model of ‘total care’ for terminally ill patients and their families that quickly had a massive impact.

In Cicely Saunders: A Life and Legacy, David Clark draws on interviews, correspondence, and the publications of Cicely Saunders to tell the remarkable story of how she pursued her goals and how her work became considered the basis of modern hospice philosophy.

Crudo by Olivia Laing

A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City.

Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of

Crudo

2017 and the whole world is falling apart. Fast-paced and frantic, Crudo unfolds in real time from the full-throttle perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker.

From a Tuscan hotel for the superrich to a Brexit-paralyzed United Kingdom, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties adjusting to the idea of a lifelong commitment. But it’s not only Kathy who’s changing. Fascism is on the rise, truth is dead, the planet is heating up, and Trump is tweeting the world ever-closer to nuclear war. How do you make art, let alone a life, when one rogue tweet could end it all?

In Crudo, her first work of fiction, Olivia Laing radically rewires the novel with a fierce, compassionate account of learning to love when the end of the world seems near.

Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke

Slay In Your Lane

Arguably the book for 2018′ Arifa Akbar, Observer The long-awaited, inspirational guide to life for a generation of black British women inspired to make lemonade out of lemons, and find success in every area of their lives. Elle’s 12 addictive books you have to read to get through in 2018 Metro’s best new books you have to get through in 2018 BBC’s hotly anticipated debut authors for 2018 `Black women today are well past making waves – we’re currently creating something of a tsunami. Women who look like us, grew up in similar places to us, talk like us, are shaping almost every sector of society.’ From education to work to dating, this inspirational, honest and provocative book recognises and celebrates the strides black women have already made, while providing practical advice for those who want to do the same and forge a better, visible future.

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. Bullock

From Sia to Elton John, Dusty Springfield to Little Richard, LGBT voices have changed the course of modern music. But in a world before they gained understanding and a place in the mainstream, how did the queer musicians of yesteryear fight to

David Bowie Made Me Gay

build foundations for those who would come after them? Pulling back the curtain on the colourful legacy that has shaped all of our musical and cultural landscape, music aficionado and writer Darryl W. Bullock reveals the inspiring and often heart breaking stories of internationally renowned stars, as well as numerous lesser-known names that have driven the revolution from all corners of the globe: those whose personal stories against the threat of persecution during decades of political and historical turmoil – including two world wars, Stonewall and the AIDS crisis – has led to some of the most significant and soul searching music of the last century.


June 2018

Last StoriesLast Stories by William Trevor

The beloved and acclaimed William Trevor’s last ten stories, six of which have never been published

With a career that spanned more than half a century, William Trevor was regarded as one of the greatest writers of short stories in the English language. Now, in Last Stories, the admired master storyteller delivers ten exquisitely rendered stories that illuminate the human condition which will surely linger with the reader long after closing the book. Subtle yet powerful, Trevor gives readers insights into the lives of ordinary people, from the relationship between a former teacher and student to the tragic past of a former dancer. With the inclusion of six previously unpublished stories, this special collection is a gift to lovers of short stories and Trevor.

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

Natives

A searing modern polemic from the BAFTA- and MOBO-award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives will speak directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire.

The Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre by Don 

Paterson

The Poem

Don Paterson is not only one of our great poets, but also an

esteemed authority on the art of poetry. The Poem is a treatise

on the art of poetry in three sections – one on lyric, the music of poetic speech; one on sign, and how poetry makes its unique kind of sense; and one on metre, the rhythm of the poetic line.

 

Making Oscar Wilde by Michele Mendelssohn

Making Oscar Wilde

Following the twists and turns of Wilde’s journey, Mendelssohn vividly depicts sensation-hungry Victorian journalism and popular entertainment alongside racial controversies, sex scandals, and the growth of Irish nationalism. This ground-breaking revisionist history shows how Wilde’s tumultuous early life embodies the story of the Victorian era as it tottered towards modernity. Riveting and original, Making Oscar Wilde is a masterful account of a life like no other.


May 2018

Proms 2018BBC Proms Guide 2018 

The BBC Proms is the world’s biggest and longest ­running classical music festival and one of the jewels in the crown for the BBC. It is one of the strongest brand names in the music world and attracts a glittering array of artists and orchestras from the UK and around the world in over 150 concerts, talks, workshops and family events around London every summer. Whether you’re a first­ time visitor or an experienced Prommer, watching at home or listening on radio or online, the BBC Proms Guide will help you to plan your summer of music and discover in depth what lies behind the Proms – from the composers to the performers to how the events are broadcast. The Proms Guide contains brand­ new articles on featured composers and insights on performers, new music and accompanying events.

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken

Welcome to the world of the Secret Barrister. These are the stories of life inside the courtroom. They are sometimes funny, often moving and ultimately life-changing.

secret barrister

How can you defend a child-abuser you suspect to be guilty? What do you say to someone sentenced to ten years who you believe to be innocent? What is the law and why do we need it?

And why do they wear those stupid wigs?

From the criminals to the lawyers, the victims, witnesses and officers of the law, here is the best and worst of humanity, all struggling within a broken system which would never be off the front pages if the public knew what it was really like.

Both a searing first-hand account of the human cost of the criminal justice system, and a guide to how we got into this mess, The Secret Barrister wants to show you what it’s really like and why it really matters.

The Lido by Libby Page

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

The LidoKate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.


April 2018 Book Choices

The One who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla

Nikesh

Mukesh has just moved from Kenya to the drizzly northern town of Keighley. He was expecting fame, fortune, the Rolling Stones and a nice girl, not poverty, loneliness and racism. Still, he might not have found Keith Richards, but he did find the girl.

Neha is dying. Lung cancer, a genetic gift from her mother and an invocation to forge a better relationship with her brother and her widowed father before it’s too late.

Rakesh is grieving. He lost his mother and his sister to the same illness, and his career as a comedian is flat-lining.

Ba has never looked after her two young grandchildren before. After her daughter died, her useless son-in-law dumped them on her doorstep for a month and now she has to try and work out how to bond with two children who are used to England, not to the rhythms of Kenya…

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Diana

South London, 2008. Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning, on the brink of acceptance or revolution. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her but, in the crooked walls of a narrow Victorian terrace, she begins to disappear. Michael, growing daily more accustomed to his commute, still loves Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Meanwhile out in the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their three children, but the death of Damian’s father has thrown him into crisis – or is it something, or someone, else? Are they all just in the wrong place? Are any of them prepared to take the leap?

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Kit

Mona is a dollmaker. She crafts beautiful, handmade wooden dolls in her workshop in a sleepy seaside town. Every doll is special. Every doll has a name. And every doll has a hidden meaning, from a past Mona has never accepted.

Each new doll takes Mona back to a different time entirely – back to Birmingham, in 1972. Back to the thrill of being a young Irish girl in a big city, with a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding house. Back to her first night out in town, where she meets William, a gentle Irish boy with an easy smile and an open face. Back to their whirlwind marriage, and unexpected pregnancy. And finally, to the tragedy that tore them apart.

Atlas of Improbable Places by Travis Elborough & Alan Horsfield

It is perhaps the eighth wonder of our world that despite modern mapping and satellite photography our planet

Travis

continues to surprise us. Travis Elborough goes in search of the obscure and bizarre, the beautiful and estranged. From the church tower of San Juan Parangaricutiro – that miraculously stands as the sole survivor of a town sunk by lava – to the underground realms of Berlin and Beijing dug for refuge and espionage, these maps reveal incredible stories of hidden lairs, forgotten cities and improbable wonders.


March 2018 Book Choices

The Wife’s Tale by Aida Edemariam

The Wifes Tale

Here is something unique and mind-blowing. This book charts one woman’s life through the many abrupt reversals of nearly a hundred years in the history of Ethiopia. Read this to learn about an extraordinary country and to remember the stark contradictions of the last century.

 

All the Perverse Angels by Sarah K. Marr

All the Perverse Angels

When somebody takes the time to write an unashamedly intelligent first novel about things that actually matter, and when the intrepid people of Unbound help to bring that book to public attention, it is the pleasant duty of Kirkdale Bookshop to applaud.. Is this for you? You know who you are.

What Are We Doing? By Marilynne Robinson

What Are We Doing Here

What indeed. It’s a nuisance, really, that there are still isolated pockets of moral intelligence at large in the world. Even in America (IKR?). There is never going to be a bad time to revel in a mind like that of Marilynne Robinson, the only person I can think of who is complimented when one calls her a Calvinist. A wonderful new collection of essays to make America great for the first time.

Folk by Zoe Gilbert

Folk

Maybe people are writing freaky post-apocalyptic fiction because they’ve realised that is actually what the world has become. Just a thought – in any case, that would mean it’s too late. So why not curl up with this ingenious début novel while you wait for the smoke to clear? Fleet of foot and rich music, this book is an absolute treat.


February 2018 Book Choices

 

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson

largesse of the sea maiden

One year on from his death, it’s an absolute treat to welcome this final collection of stories from the American master. Right from the beginning you are gripped by the same compelling voice which was first heard 25 years ago in “Jesus’ Son”.

 

 

A Long Way from Home by Peter CareyA long way fro home

I’ve not been entirely sold on Carey’s most recent run, so it’s a real pleasure to welcome this fine return to form.  A motor race round the continent serves as the setting for Carey to address the biggest, oldest and most difficult of all Australian questions.

the mermaid and mrs hancockThe Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower

A satisfyingly weird romp through late eighteenth-century London, this début novel flirts with magic realism- but the real pleasure here comes from the author’s meticulous description of real artefacts, costumes and colours of the time. One to watch.

 

Brit(ish) by Afua HirschBrit(ish)

The more uncomfortable it gets, the more necessary this conversation becomes. Afua Hirsch really goes for the jugular here, setting up the familiar problems of exoticisation and its relation to class and history, in order to show just how rich and complex all identities are.

 


 

January 2018 Book Choices

 

Peach by Emma GlassPeach Emma Glass

This is a truly amazing début novel which can be read in an afternoon, but will be remembered for a long time after that. It’s actually very difficult to describe beyond saying that it’s written from, and almost by, the body – a continuous stream of strongly rendered sense impressions as the main character struggles to articulate and act upon a traumatic experience. One for fans of Elena Ferrante or Eimear McBride.

 

 

Savages by Sabri LouatahSavages by Sabri Louatah (translated by Gavin Bowd)

This, the first in a quartet of novels, is a wild and sprawling portrait of contemporary France- and not the version successive French governments have laboured to concoct! It opens as the country’s first Arab candidate stands on the brink of securing the presidency. A worthy rebuttal to the nihilism of Houellebecq’s submission, this is a political thriller and family saga for today.

 

 

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani (translated by Sam Taylor)lullaby

A domestic novel which turns into a psychological thriller – correspondingly, a novel about contemporary Paris which lays bare the permanent damage caused by France’s (or anybody’s) grim colonial past. This is taut and visceral writing, straight out of Haneke territory. Highly recommended.

 

 

9781846973758Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark by Alan Taylor

2018 is the centenary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Alan Taylor, who knew Spark during the last twenty years of her life, offers not so much a biography as a character sketch punctuated by vignettes. But we are dealing with Muriel Spark here, so these episodes flash and sting just like so many moments in her own work. The highlight for me is her sweet revenge upon poor innocent John Bayley (though she knew that nobody is innocent). This book adds to Spark’s mystery, and we’re all better off for that.

 


December Book Choices

winterWinter by Ali Smith

This is the second volume of Ali Smith’s projected quartet of fictions. Like its predecessor, it has been written in rapid reaction to current events; but here, as a Christmas narrative is underlaid by messages from ancient history and myth, there is much more beneath the surface. May Spring be not long in the coming!

 

The Calculus Story by David Acheson

calculus

Frankly, what could be more Christmassy than developing a method to calculate the area enclosed by a curve? This

is a strangely readable account of the “race” between Newton and Leibniz to break through to the groovy core of mathematics. By the final credits you’ll be cleverer than before!

 

cowsThe Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

It turns out there is more than we thought to our old pal the cow. You’ll see this creature in a different light after reading this entertaining book which wears its learning lightly. There is much to ruminate on here –and it’s conveniently small enough to fit in your reticule. I can’t do puns for the other two stomachs of a cow.

 

 November Book Choices

 

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway gnomon-tpb

This is, essentially a thriller about everything. In other words, Harkaway has taken reality and the status quo- and injected it with a dose of something urgent and threatening. As long as this book remains fiction, we may be just about OK. I’d be underselling this if I described it as the first novel of Brexit, but it’s that as well.

Origin-Others-Toni-MorrisonThe Origin of Others by Toni Morrison

Remember America? One of its greatest living writers has chosen a very opportune moment to go behind the scenes of her work, particularly “Beloved”, to unpick the strategies she used in discussing the American tragedy of race. Conversely, this short book also offers suggestions towards a remedy in the way each of us sees and creates “others”.

 

 

Women & Power by Mary Beard

women and power