July 1960: The newly independent Congo is hit by the secession of its mineral rich-province Katanga, led by Moïse Tshombe and backed by Belgium and Britain.June 1961: Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien arrives in Katanga as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, his task (under a UN resolution) to arrest and repatriate the mercenaries and foreign interests propping up Tshombe. The consequences of this mission will prove fateful for all parties.This is the story of how a brilliant Irish diplomat found himself in Africa amid one of history's maelstroms. O'Brien reconstructs the complex, tragic, sometimes comic events of a drama in which he found himself controversially at centre stage. The result is history from the inside: a valuable study of 'the game of nations', and of the UN's unique functioning and malfunctioning.
The Lacuna is the heartbreaking story of a man's search for safety of a man torn beween the warm heart of Mexico and the cold embrace of 1950s McCarthyite America.Born in the U.S. and reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salomé. Making himself useful in the household of the famed Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution. A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in World War II. In the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina he remakes himself in America's hopeful image. But political winds continue to throw him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach - the lacuna - between truth and public presumption. A gripping story of identity, loyalty and the devastating power of accusations to destroy innocent people. The Lacuna is as deep and rich as the New World.
Barbara Kingsolver opens her home to us, as she and her family attempt a year of eating only local food, much of it from their own garden. With characteristic warmth, Kingsolver shows us how to put food back at the centre of the political and family agenda. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is part memoir, part journalistic investigation, and is full of original recipes.
'This handsomely produced and interestingly illustrated volume is two works in one. The first part offers a survey of Jewish history and literature. The second part presents what the preface describes as 'a thematic analysis of the teachings and practices of Judaism.' Israel Finestein, Jewish Chronicle 'Fluently written, with an admirable fair-mindedness in surveying both history and belief.' A.J. Shermann, Times Literary Supplement 'The intelligent non-expert gets a clear picture of Jewish life, letters and history and it will be an endlessly useful reference book.' Julia Neuberger, Times Educational Supplement 'A wide-ranging account of things Jewish that one can truly recommend to intellectually curious Gentiles, as well as to the majority of modern secularized Jews who know relatively little about their complex tradition.' Louis Marcus, Irish Times
A rollicking and hugely enjoyable contemporary novel describing the outrageous mid-winter tour around Scotland of a group of musicians called 'The Ossians'. The band's driving force is twenty-four-year-old lead singer, Connor - intelligent but self-destructive, pretentious but charismatic, gloriously opinionated and with an extraordinary ability to get beaten up. The band is on the verge of signing a major record deal before setting off on a two-week tour of the cities and hinterland of Scotland, a tour expected to culminate triumphantly in a defining Glasgow gig. On their travels there is a seagull massacre, hapless drug deals, a mysterious stalker, a radioactive beach, a bomb-testing range, an epileptic fit, a town full of riotous Russian submariners, deadly snowstorms, epiphanies, regular beatings and random shootings. The Ossians is both hilariously readable and satirically astute, a story of rock'n'roll obsession as well as a search for identity and a sense of community, written with delicious insight, pace and brio.
Your best mate just fell off a cliff in mysterious circumstances and you were the last person to see him alive. What do you do?Well, if you're David Lindsay from Arbroath, you get the hell out of there and don't return. Not for at least fifteen years. Until Nicola Cruickshank - yes, that Nicola, the girl you always fancied but never had the guts to approach - gets in touch and asks - no, demands - that you go back for a school reunion. To the place where it happened. The place you've been running from for fifteen years. Of course you go. Not to belatedly lay your mate to rest, but because you still fancy Nicola.The thing is, if you are David Lindsay, then returning to Arbroath isn't going to lay any ghosts to rest. And when someone else takes a dive off the cliffs - an act the locals have taken to calling 'tombstoning' - while David's there, he has a choice: run away again, or finally find out why people keep dying around him . . .
'A comic novel on the grand scale written with tremendous confidence and verve. Mario, 18-year-old law student and radio news-editor, falls scandalously for his Aunt Julia, the 32-year-old divorced wife of a cousin, and the progressively lunatic story of this affair is interwoven with episodes from a series of radio soap-operas written by his friend Pedro Comacho. Vargas Llosa's huge energy and inventiveness is extravagant and fabulously funny.' New Statesman
Clint is one of the old reliables in Lake Wobegon - the treasurer of the Lutheran church and the auto mechanic who starts your car on below-zero mornings. For six years he has run the Fourth of July parade, turning what was once a line of pickup trucks and girls pushing baby carriages that hold their cats into a dazzling spectacle that has attracted the attention of CNN and prompted the governor to put in an appearance as well. The town is dizzy with anticipation.Until, that is, they hear of Clint's ambition to run for Congress. They're embarrassed for him. They know him too well - his unfortunate episodes involving vodka sours, his rocky marriage. And then there is his friendship, or whatever it is, with the twenty-four-year-old girl who dresses up as the Statue of Liberty for the parade. It's rumoured that underneath those robes she is buck naked, and that her torch contains a quart of booze.It's Lake Wobegon as it's always been - good, loving people who drive each other crazy.
In Lake Wobegon lives a good Lutheran lady who wishes for her ashes placed inside a bowling ball and dropped into the lake. Meanwhile, a wedding between a veterinary aromatherapist and her boyfriend Brent is set to take place aboard a pontoon boat. A delegation of renegade Lutheran pastors from Denmark has come to town, and there's Raoul of the cigars and tinted shades, come to visit his elderly lover. All is in readiness for the wedding - the French champagne, the flying Elvis, the giant duck decoys - and then something quite unexpected happens . . .
The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely ( JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.
If you are not a citizen of Voorstand, you may not be familiar with the strange case of Tristan Smith and his illegal appropriation of Bruder Mouse. Even if you are a citizen of faraway Efica, you will only have heard rumours about the juggling, the somersaulting, the Burro Plasse tunnel, and the motel on the border . . . Here, for the first time, is the truth about Tristan Smith. This fully annotated edition follows Tristan's career from his birth in the Republic of Efica in the year 371 to the present day.
Illywhacker is a dazzling comic narrative, from the lips of the 109-year-old Herbert Badgery, the 'illywhacker' or confidence trickster of the title. Overflowing with magic, jokes and inventions, peopled with aviators, car salesmen, Chinamen and impressarios, Peter Carey's novel is a contemporary classic.
Aurelio Zen returns to his native Venice to investigate the disappearance of a rich American resident but he soon learns that, amid the hazy light and shifting waters of the lagoon, nothing is what it seems. As Zen is drawn deeper into the complex and ambiguous mysteries surrounding the discovery of a skeletal corpse on an ossuary island in the north lagoon, he is also forced to confront a series of disturbing revelations about his own life.
Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident. Plagued by insomnia, he tries to push back thoughts of things he would prefer to forget - his wife's recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter's boyfriend, Titus - by telling himself stories. He imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall, and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union, and a bloody civil war ensued. Brill gradually opens up to his granddaughter, recounting the story of his marriage and confronting the grim reality of Titus's death. Man in the Dark is a novel of our time, a book that forces us to confront the blackness of night whilst also celebrating the existence of ordinary joys in a brutal world.
In this, his first volume of original verse since the award-winning Landing Light, Don Paterson is found writing at his most memorable and direct. In an assembly of masterful lyrics and monologues, he conjures a series of fables and charms that serve both to expose us to the unsettling forces within the world and simultaneously offer some protection against them. Whether outwardly elemental in their address, or more personal in their direction, these poems - to the rain and the sea, to his young sons or beloved friends - never shy from their inquiry into truth and lie, embracing everything in scope from the rangy narrative to the tiny renku. Rain, which includes the winner of this year's Forward Prize for the Best Individual Poem and an extended elegy for the poet Michael Donaghy, is Don Paterson's most intimate and manifest collection to date.
Love in a Life, Andrew Motion's sixth volume of poetry, marks a conspicuous development in the work of the founder of the modern Narrative School. Directness and a new colloquialism are wedded to Motion's distinctive obliquities in a volume where the idea of marriage governs the architecture of each poem and the book as a whole. The stories of two marriages gradually emerge, like chapters in a narrative, and are themselves bound to more public material, so that each lends profound resonances to the other.
A collection of poems by Tom Paulin, who is also known as an essayist and from his appearances on television and radio. The title of the book is taken from a statement by the modernist painter Paul Klee.
In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to the most important poets in our literature.Earth has not anything to show more fair:Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty . . .-- Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,September 3, 1802
The Black Book is Orhan Pamuk's tour de force, a stunning tapestry of Middle Eastern and Islamic culture which confirmed his reputation as a writer of international stature. Richly atmospheric and Rabelaisian in scope, it is a labyrinthine novel suffused with the sights, sounds and scents of Istanbul, an unforgettable evocation of the city where East meets West, and a boldly unconventional mystery that plumbs the elusive nature of identity, fiction, interpretation and reality.
Matthew Arnold praised the Iliad for its 'nobility', as has everyone ever since -- but ancient critics praised it for its enargeia, its 'bright unbearable reality' (the word used when gods come to earth not in disguise but as themselves). To retrieve the poem's energy, Alice Oswald has stripped away its story, and her account focuses by turns on Homer's extended similes and on the brief 'biographies' of the minor war-dead, most of whom are little more than names, but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably - and unforgotten - in the copiousness of Homer's glance.'The Iliad is an oral poem. This translation presents it as an attempt - in the aftermath of the Trojan War - to remember people's names and lives without the use of writing. I hope it will have its own coherence as a series of memories and similes laid side by side: an antiphonal account of man in his world... compatible with the spirit of oral poetry, which was never stable but always adapting itself to a new audience, as if its language, unlike written language, was still alive and kicking.'- Alice Oswald
When a storm sweeps through the country, Asa wakes up the next day to find that his town is almost unrecognisable - trees have fallen down, roofs have collapsed and debris lies everywhere. But amongst the debris in his back garden Asa makes an astounding discovery - the body of a small winged creature. A creature that looks very like a fairy.Do fairies really exist? Asa embarks on a mission to find out. A mission that leads him to the lost journals of local eccentric Benjamin Tooth who, two hundred years earlier, claimed to have discovered the existence of fairies. What Asa reads in those journals takes him on a secret trip to Windvale Moor, where he discovers much more than he'd hoped to . . .Charming and utterly unforgettable, The Windvale Sprites is Mackenzie Crook's debut children's novel, containing his own exquisite illustrations.