08/11/2018 11:43 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is Michael Ondaatje's latest novel, Warlight (published by Jonathan Cape). Two teenagers, left by their parents in London after World War 2 under the protection of a man called The Moth and his mysterious companions, realise only much later the significance of what happened in this time and the truth about what they thought was their mother's betrayal. 
"His best novel since The English Patient." - New York Times

>> Read Stella's review. 

>> Ondaatje says his novels always start with a landscape and end with a conversation.

>> The book has been long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize (as have these other books)

>> Ondaatje talks with Wallace Chapman on Radio NZ National

>> Ondaatje on writing

>> "I feel tenderness towards my books." 

>> The Ondaatje archive - his writing methods revealed!

>> Ondaatje's The English Patient was recently awarded the 'Golden Man Booker Prize'.

We will be discussing Warlight at Talking Books - VOLUME's book discussion evening on Thursday 16 August at 5 PM. Join us for a rigorous (or semi-rigorous) and fun (possibly wildly fun) discussion. Bring your opinions! 

08/04/2018 12:53 AM

This week's Book of the Week was recently awarded the over-all Best Book award at the 2018 PANZ Book Design Awards. New China Eye Witness: Roger Duff, Rewi Alley and the art of museum diplomacy by James Beattie and Richard Bullen (published by Canterbury University Press) documents a group of objects given to the Canterbury Museum by Rewi Alley and uses them to provide insight into the 1956 visit to China of a group of New Zealand cultural notables (including Roger Duff, James Bertram, Evelyn Page, Angus Ross and Ormond Wilson) and the negotiations with the Chinese government needed to circumvent its own ban on the export of antiquities. In the end, seven crates of uncommonly interesting artefacts were shipped to New Zealand. The book includes Roger Duff's diary of the visit, snapshots, illustrations, and plates of a selection of artefacts, as well as Chinese translation by Xiongbo Shi.

>> The book earned designer Aaron Beehre a raft of prizes at the 2018 PANZ Book Design Awards

>> How did Canterbury Museum come to acquire the largest collection of Chinese antiquities in New Zealand? 

>> The entire stunning collection can be viewed on-line

>> Rewi Alley, the most famous New Zealander in China

>> The New Zealand China Friendship Society was founded in 1952 to further the work of Rewi Alley and to help New Zealanders learn about China

GIVEAWAY. We have a copy of New China Eye Witness to give away, courtesy of Canterbury University Press. To go in the draw, tell us (books[at]volume[dot]nz) who donated the collection of Chinese antiquities described in the book to the Canterbury Museum. The winner will be drawn on 17.8.18.

07/28/2018 03:43 AM

Is love possible in a world in the throes of political and environmental crises? The protagonist of Crudo very much resembles the book's author, Olivia Laing (with some notable intrusions from Kathy Acker), whose 2017 summer and marriage is related in this enjoyable roman-à-clef in ‘real time’ (whatever that means).

>> Read Thomas's review

>> Read an extract from the novel.

>> How to write a novel in seven weeks

>> Which books inspired Crudo?

>> What should we make of Laing's obsession with Kathy Acker?

>> The official Crudo playlist.

>> Why is there a fly on the covers of both the UK (Picador) and US (W.W. Norton) editions of Crudo? What has Laing to say about the UK cover?

>> Other excellent books by Olivia Laing (click through to learn more): 

The Lonely City: Adventures in the art of being alone
When Laing moved to New York in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by this most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. 

The Trip to Echo Spring: On writers and drinking
What is the link between alcohol and creativity? Is there a link?

To the River: A journey beneath the surface
Over sixty years after Virginia Woolf drowned in the River Ouse, Olivia Laing set out one midsummer morning to walk its banks, from source to sea. Along the way, she explores the roles that rivers play in human lives, tracing their intricate flow through literature, mythology and folklore.

07/21/2018 02:18 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is Aliens and Anorexia by Chris Kraus. Following I Love Dick and Torpor , Aliens and Anorexia completes Kraus's trilogy of detonations under the wall that lies between fiction and memoir. Aliens and Anorexia unfolds like a set of Chinese boxes, using stories and polemics to travel through a maze that spirals back into itself. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philosopher of sadness, the artist Paul Thek, Kraus herself, and her virtual S&M partner who’s shooting a big-budget Hollywood film in Namibia while Kraus holes up in the Northwest Woods for the winter to chronicle the failure of Gravity & Grace, her own low-budget independent film. Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor “self-esteem.” Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism this culture hands us through its food.

>> Read Thomas's review of I Love Dick.

>> "I'm just a channel for all that shit."

>> What is this 'female consciousness'?

>> Changing lives

>> I Love Dick 'became' a television series

>> Kafka's 'A Hunger Artist'

07/14/2018 12:55 AM

Kamila Shamsie's powerful and affecting novel Home Fire is our Book of the Week this week. The book concerns the fates of young Muslims in the West, and is full of insight, fury and compassion.

>> Read Stella's review

>> On adapting Antigone and googling while Muslim

>> Writing and radicalisation

>> Shamsie in Paris

>> Home Fire has just been awarded the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction

>> The 'story of our times'

>> The book is a politically and emotionally astute modern version of Antigone

07/07/2018 06:04 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is the riveting new children's book from Eirlys Hunter, The Mapmakers' Race (illustrated by Kirsten Slade and published by Gecko Books). 
Four children temporarily lose their parents just as they are about to begin the race that offers their last chance of escaping poverty. Their task is to map a rail route through an uncharted wilderness. They overcome the many obstacles posed by nature—bears, bees, bats, river crossings, cliff-falls, impossible weather—but can they survive the treachery of their competitors?

>> Read Stella's review

>> Read the first chapter

>> Read another extract

>> Meet Eirlys Hunter

>> Meet the illustrator, Kirsten Slade

06/30/2018 01:07 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, the hotly anticipated new novel from the author of The Flamethrowers
It is 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at a women's prison. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth, and her young son. Inside is a world operating on its own mechanisms: thousands of women scrabbling to survive, and a power structure based on violence and absurdity. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> Stella reviews the book on Radio NZ National

>> Rachel Kushner thinks prisons should exist only in fiction

>> How Kushner learned about the American prison industry

>> Standing up for the guilty

>> Kushner discusses the book. 

>> The final sentence

>> Rachel Kushner at VOLUME

06/23/2018 11:47 AM

Kudos by Rachel Cusk (published by Faber & Faber) is this week's Book of the Week at VOLUME. 
By narrating the stories of others as told to her, Cusk's anti-protagonist Faye embodies the struggle for ownership and identity at the core of all fiction. This book causes tectonic shifts in the reader's preconceptions. 

>> Read Thomas's review

>> Choose your own Rachel Cusk

>> "Perhaps the cruellest novelist at work today."

>> "Some people do not like Rachel Cusk." 

>> "Negative literature."

>> Cusk's Outline and Transit form a sort of 'Faye' trilogy with Kudos. It is not necessary, however, to read them all or in order. 


06/16/2018 02:10 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo, comprising two novellas and a swathe of short stories from this exciting Colombian writer. Each of the stories portrays characters grappling with, or pushing against, the limitations of their situations, their capabilities or their pasts, fatally drawn to whatever it is they lack, their intentions too easily derailed (or revealed) by their encounters with others, seemingly oblivious of the consequences of their actions until it is too late (at least for them). 

>> An extract of Fish Soup

>> Charlotte Coombe on translating Margarita García Robayo's work. (>>Find out more about the translator.)

>> 'Orchids'.

>> The author reads (in Spanish)

>> The book is published by Charco Press, a tiny press based in Edinburgh, bringing Latin American authors into English

>> The cover is designed by Pablo Font. See some more of his work

>> Carolina Orloff of Charco Press on Latin American literature

>> Other Charco Press books at VOLUME

>> Also published by Charco Press, Ariana Harwicz's indelible Die, My Love was long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize. Read Thomas's review

06/08/2018 10:15 PM

The thought part of the act. Our Book of the Week this week is this fascinating first retrospective collection of the work of Christchurch artist Tony de Lautour. US v THEM (published by the Christchurch Art Gallery) is an excellent survey of the practices and obsessions of this savagely interesting artist sprung from Christchurch's itching cultural underbelly. With essays and contributions from Peter Vangioni, Blair Jackson, Lara Strongman, James Dann, Sara Devine, André Hemer and Peter Robinson. 

>> The "low-brow high art world of Tony de Lautour".

>> Standing room only (with image gallery).

>> From earthquakes to fatherhood

>> Real Art

>> At CAC: "De Lautour’s early works drew from wide-ranging sources including seedy underground street culture, tattoos, post-punk music and comic books as well as fine English porcelain and antiques. De Lautour was awarded a New Zealand Arts Laureate in 2012, and over the past decade his painting has developed into a unique take on geometric abstraction."

>> High on the wall (timelapse).

>> About the cover image.

>> The thought part of the act

06/01/2018 09:20 PM

To the Mountains: A collection of New Zealand alpine writing edited by Laurence Fearnley and Paul Hersey (published by Otago University Press) is this week's Book of the Week. This thoughtful and wide-ranging collection, surveys the ways we think about, view, approach, climb and dream about mountains. New Zealand, after all, is only held above the surface of the ocean by the mountains upon which it depends. The selection of non-fiction, poetry, fiction and journals includes work by Rachel Bush, Freda du Faur, John Pascoe, Brian Turner, Graeme Dingle, Fleur Adcock, Edmund Hillary and Hone Tuwhare. 

>>Alpine Inspiration (an interview with Laurence Fearnley and Paul Hersey)

>> Vintage NZ climbing

>> 'Winter 4K' by Sam Deuchrass

05/26/2018 02:26 AM

BRAZEN: Rebel ladies who rocked the world by Pénélope Bagieu is a series of witty and enjoyable graphic-novel-style biographies of women from across the globe and throughout time whose indomitable spirit enabled them to live remarkable lives despite overwhelming adversity. BRAZEN is our BOOK OF THE WEEK. 

>> An interview with Bagieu about the book

>> Watch Bagieu draw a mermaid

>> An interview (in French).

>> Someone looks through the book.

>> Live illustration! 

>> Other graphic novels by Bagieu

05/18/2018 10:53 PM

Use our Book of the Week to make new mythical beasts out of pre-existing mythical beasts. The pages of Myth Match: A fantastical flip-book of extraordinary beasts are split, providing endless permutations, both of the pictures and (cleverly) the descriptive text.

>> See how the book works

>> The book is designed by Good Wives and Warriors

>> How the book was made

>> Try it yourself

05/12/2018 12:30 PM

"This will be a classic of New Zealand literature," says The New Zealand Listener of this week's Book of the Week this week, All This by Chance by Vincent O'Sullivan (published by Victoria University Press). This thoughtfully written novel traces the trauma of the Holocaust and of unspoken secrets through three generations of a family, crossing between Britain and New Zealand. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> O'Sullivan reads and talks

>> "The best New Zealand novel of 2018." (The Spinoff)

>> O'Sullivan has a long and rich career as a poet and writer of short stories

>> The cover is by Keely O'Shannessy.

>> Focus! (a book trailer for O'Sullivan's poetry collection Us, Then)

>> O'Sullivan will be at the Marlborough Book Festival in July (recommended). 

05/05/2018 12:41 AM

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Ostensibly a memoir of sixteen years living with their dog, Rosie, Afterglow by Eileen Myles is a beautifully written contemplation of everything that has touched on Myles's life in that time (and a lively experiment in the memoir form).

>> I Must Be Living Twice: New and selected poems, 1975-2014

>> Chelsea Girls, Myles's autobiographical novel of surviving as a poet in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, assailed the 'wall' between memoir and fiction. 

>> Merk

>> Myles would have made a good US President

>> The story behind the presidential bid

>> Myles will be NO LONGER appearing next week at the Auckland Writers Festival as their event has been CANCELLED

>> Myles will be judging this year's Sarah Broom Poetry Prize.

>> Meet Myles at her home page.

04/28/2018 01:58 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is Jesmyn Ward's novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. As 13-year-old Jojo approaches adulthood, how can he find his way in the U.S. South when he and his family race rural poverty, drug addiction, the penal system, the justice system, racism and illness? 

>> Read Stella's review

>> "A ghost story about the real struggles of living." 

>> Ghost whisperers.

>> In conversation with Edwidge Dendicat

>> Sing, Unburied, Sing has just been short-listed for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction. Find out what else is on the list

>> Jesmyn Ward at VOLUME

04/21/2018 01:12 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is New Zealand's answer to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. GO GIRL: A STORYBOOK OF EPIC N.Z. WOMEN, written by Barbara Else and illustrated by Sarah Laing, Sarah Wilkins, Fifi Coulston, Ali Teo, Helen Taylor, Phoebe Morris, Sophie Watkins, Rebecca ter Borg and Vasanti Unka, is full of inspiring stories and wonderful illustrations. It includes Whina Cooper, Janet Frame, Beatrice Tinsley, Frances Hodgkins, Georgina Beyer, Huria Matenga, Jane Campion, Joan Wiffen, Karen Walker, Kate Edger, Katherine Mansfield, Mai Chen, Merata Mita, Mojo Mathers, Patricia Grace, Suzie Moncrieff, Farah Palmer, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Lucy Lawless, Kate Sheppard, Nancy Wake, Sophie Pascoe, Margaret Mahy, Lydia Ko, Merata Mita, Lorde, Rita Angus and Te Puea Herangi.

>> Barbara Else on why Go Girl needed to be written.

>> The problem with Hairy Maclary

>> We'll be posting a woman each day on our instagram page and on FaceBook

>> See also: 
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.
Literary Witches ; 
Brazen: Rebel ladies who rocked the world
I Know a Woman: The inspiring connections between the women who have shaped our world ; 
Bygone Badass Broads
The Periodic Table of Feminism
Rad Women Worldwide
I Am a Wonder Woman
Three Cheers for Women! ;
A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing stories of women in space ;
Power in Numbers: The rebel women of mathematics
Women in Sports: 50 fearless athletes who played to win ;
Because I Was a Girl
Herstory: 50 women and girls who shook the world ;
Visible: 60 women at 60 ;
200 Women
And, of course, Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different

04/14/2018 05:59 AM

Wanted: The search for the Modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor is our Book of the Week this week at VOLUME. Edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith and published by Massey University Press, the book shows that New Zealand artist E. Mervyn Taylor was not only an internationally influential wood engraver. During the burgeoning of New Zealand cultural nationalism of the 1960s, he also produced a dozen murals for government and civic buildings. Some were later destroyed or covered over. This book records the recovery of a distinctive artistic legacy. 

>> The great mural hunt

>> Pictorial parade (1962): "Hutt Science, Patrons of the arts".

>> The restoration of 'Te Ika-a-Akoranga'. 

>> A list of the murals, some of which had been boarded over before rediscovery.

>> Some wood engravings in the Auckland Art Gallery

>> A brief biography (Te Ara). 

04/07/2018 10:18 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is Jesse Ball's intelligent and beautifully written new novel Census (published by Text). In Census, when a widowed doctor, who cares for his adult son who has Down Syndrome, learns that he hasn't long to live, he takes a job as a census taker for a mysterious government agency and takes to the road with his son. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> Hear Stella review the book (without singing) on Radio NZ National (podcast).

>> Read an extract

>> Pursuing an abstract form of writing

>> Ball talks about writing the book

>>...and about walking around with his dog

>> Ball talks about how his relationship with his brother, who had Down Syndrome, led him to write this book

>> The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association

>> Other books by Jesse Ball at VOLUME

03/31/2018 10:51 AM

In Ariana Harwicz's sensitive and brutal novel Die, My Love, a woman finds herself incapable of feeling anything other than displaced in every aspect of her life, both trapped by and excluded from the circumstances that have come to define her. This beautifully written, uncompromising book is this week's Book of the Week at VOLUME. 

>> Read Thomas's review

>> Read an excerpt

>> An actor reads an extract

>> Ariana Harwicz and her publisher Carolina Orloff in conversation at our shop in Paris

>> The author reads an extract in Spanish

>> What is it like to be listed for the Man Booker International Prize? 

>> Visit the website of Charco Press. The tiny Edinburgh-based press is run by two people (a New Zealander and an Argentinian) and is dedicated to publishing translations of contemporary Latin American literature. 

>> Have a look at the other books published by Charco Press

>> Read our reviews of other books were shortlisted for the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize

>> Find out which other books have been long-listed for this year's Man Booker International Prize

>> Follow the white rabbit. 

03/24/2018 12:09 AM

Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson is our Book of the Week this week at VOLUME. As well as profiling the tree and its habits, the well-illustrated book explores its significance to Maori and to settlers, and its plight in the modern era.

>> Simpson (who lives in Golden Bay) shares his love of tōtara.

>> An interview with Philip Simpson

>> Tōtara are easy to grow (hint).

>> Threats to totara

>> Totara for the future

>> The book has been short-listed in the Illustrated Non-Fiction section of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

03/17/2018 12:10 PM

Our Book of the Week this week is Noémi Lefebvre's astounding novel Blue Self-Portraita single virtuoso looping interior monologue of a narrator caught up in regrets about her social failings and ambivalent impulses.

>> Read Thomas's review

>> Read an extract

>> Hear an extract read

>> The book is short-listed for the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize

>> A review by Eimear McBride in The Guardian

>> "An intelligent woman is supposed to raise herself above these anxieties." 

>> Arnold Schoenberg's Blue Self-Portrait

>> The book is published by the exemplary Les Fugitives, a press that  publishes only books written by award-winning, female, francophone writers who have previously not been translated into English. Visit their website

>> Other titles from Les Fugitives at VOLUME:
Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger (read Thomas's review)
Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi (read Thomas's review)
Translation as Transhumance by Mireille Gansel (just arrived!)

03/11/2018 11:18 PM

50 writers and artists (Lydia Davis, Sarah Vowell, Sarah Manguso, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Diane Williams, Jesse Ball, Sheila Heti, Carrie Brownstein, Etgar Keret, Jonathan Lehtam, Valeira Luiselli, Heidi Julavits, Sherman Alexie, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c) have contributed to this week's Book of the Week, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #50the bumper 50th issue of one of the most interesting outlets of good writing from America.  

>> Read Stella's review.      

>> Enjoy McSweeney's Internet Tendency.  

>> A fuller list of contributors

03/03/2018 10:09 AM

Book of the Week: If Apples Had Teeth by Milton and Shirley Glaser
If apples had teeth, they would bite back. If trees were pink, they would be nevergreens. This silly, inventive picture book illustrated by the outstanding graphic designer of the protopsychedelic era will make your brain turn somersaults. Each page presents a counterfactual situation, encouraging children to speculate about their world in a playful way. Art, poetry and meaning are all profitably generated from nonsense, and a creative life can be achieved by learning to look at the familiar in fresh ways. A facsimile of the original 1960 edition, the book is exquisitely produced and printed (on just the right paper stock!), and is the perfect addition to the shelf of either an imaginative child or anyone interested in period design. Sometimes the counterfactual is counter-counterfactual (how liberating!): If a zebra wore striped pajamas, you would never know. {T}

>> Also in stock (and new): Posters by Milton Glaser. From the early psychedelic work to recent production, with Glaser's own commentary, this book marks half a century at the forefront of graphic design. 

>> Visit Glaser's studio

>> To inform and delight

>> Milton Glaser's website

>> "Great design makes ideas new."

02/24/2018 07:19 AM

Is it preferable to love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? Our Book of the Week this week is The Only Story by Julian Barnes. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> "Time, love and the slippery nature of memory."

>> Julian Barnes on the art of fiction

>> Julian chats with Clive

>> "Barnes writes with such shattering emotional acuity."

>> Thoughtful answers to interesting questions from Spanish students

>> The author's website

>> Mixed doubles, a long tradition

>> Julian Barnes at VOLUME