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City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
Forty years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the Northside Rises and the eerie bogs of Big Nothin’ that the city really lives.
For years, the city has been in the cool grip of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say his old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight… And then there’s his mother.
City of Bohane is a visionary novel that blends influences from film and the graphic novel, from Trojan beats and calypso rhythms, from Celtic myth and legend, from fado and the sagas, and from all the great inheritance of Irish literature. A work of mesmerising imagination and vaulting linguistic invention, it is a taste of the glorious and new.
The Map and
the Territory by Michel Houellebecq
Translated from the original French by
Artist Jed Martin emerges from a ten-year hiatus with good news. It has nothing to do with his broken boiler, the approach of another lamentably awkward Christmas dinner with his father or the memory of his doomed love affair with the beautiful Olga. It is that, for his new exhibition, he has secured the involvement of none other than celebrated novelist Michel Houellebecq.
The exhibition brings Jed new levels of global fame. But, his boiler is still broken, his ailing father flirts with oblivion and, worst of all, he is contacted by an inspector requiring his help in solving an unspeakable, atrocious and gruesome crime, involving none other than celebrated novelist Michel Houellebecq…
Pure by Andrew Miller
Paris, 1785. A year of bone, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting priests. A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love… A year unlike any other he has lived.
Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young provincial engineer charged by the kink with demolishing it.
At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.
Translated from the original Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip
The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo.
Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a stand-still, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.
Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?
Aomame and Tengo’s stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, as the two come closer and closer to intertwining. As 1Q84 accelerates towards its conclusion, both are pursued by persons and forces they do not know and cannot understand. As they begin to decipher more about the strange world into which they have slipped, so they sense their destinies converging. What they cannot know is whether they will find one another before they are themselves found.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Julie Otsuka’s long-awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
The Tragedy of Arthur is an emotional and elaborately constructed tour de force from “one of the best writers in America” (The Washington Post). Its doomed hero is Arthur Phillips, a young novelist struggling with a con artist father who works wonders of deception. Imprisoned for decades and nearing the end of his life, Arthur’s father reveals a treasure he’s kept secret for half a century: The Tragedy of Arthur, a previously unknown play by William Shakespeare. Arthur and his twin sister inherit their father’s mission: to see the manuscript published and acknowledged as the Bard’s last great gift to humanity . . . unless it’s their father’s last great con. By turns hilarious and haunting, this virtuosic novel, which includes Shakespeare’s (?) lost play in its entirety, brilliantly subverts our notions of truth, fiction, genius, and identity, as the two Arthurs—the novelist and the ancient king—play out their strangely intertwined fates.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.
Mouth of the Whale by Sjón (Icelandic)
Translated from the original Icelandic
by Victoria Cribb.
Men of science marvel over a unicorn’s horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret and both books and men are burnt.
Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jonas recalls his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjoll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children. From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age.
The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am by Kjersti
Translated from the original Norwegian by Kerri A. Pierce.
Mathea Martinsen has never been good at dealing with other people. After a lifetime, her only real accomplishment is her longevity: everyone she reads about in the obituaries has died younger than she is now. Afraid that her life will be over before anyone knows that she lived, Mathea digs out her old wedding dress, bakes some sweet cakes, and heads out into the world—to make her mark. She buries a time capsule out in the yard. (It gets dug up to make room for a flagpole.) She wears her late husband’s watch and hopes people will ask her for the time. (They never do.) Is it really possible for a woman to disappear so completely that the world won’t notice her passing? The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am is a macabre twist on the notion that life “must be lived to the fullest.”
Tommy Wieringa (Dutch)
Translated from the original Dutch by Sam Garrett.
In the port of Alexandria, a very long time ago, Julius Caesar impregnated and then abandoned Cleopatra. The child of their union – groomed for greatness by his devoted mother but destined for tragedy – was called Caesarion. Little Caesar.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. In our time, another boy, Ludwig, is born in Alexandria and again the father flees the scene of the birth. The boy and his mother are soon obliged to move on. She, Marthe, is stormy, impetuous and vain. She will not rest until she finds their ideal home – which needs to be both dramatic and cheap. And so Ludwig and his mother end up on a clifftop in Suffolk in a house being eaten from the inside by woodworm and eroded from the outside by the waves attacking its foundations. In the hours mother and son spend together preening in front of the dressing-table mirror, a melodramatic intensity is born. But this stormy novel does not develop as you might then predict. Instead it opens out into a page-turning exploration of the power of the absent parent versus the power of the too-present parent. And it moves between Cartagena in the Caribbean and Viennese crypts, the rugby pitch and the chemotherapy ward, LA and London, the Mediterranean and the Pacific, as Ludwig’s gifts as a pianist open the world up.
Caesarion is a novel that asks how anyone can ever know for sure how to be the right parent for their child, and how any child can know how to let themselves be parented. It is a beautiful, strong and brave novel. It confirms Tommy Wieringa as a storyteller of great range and real distinction.