09/08/2018 10:04 AM

2018 Winners
(Judges' comments)

Click through to reserve your copies

Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop (Puffin)         $40
This book stood out for the judges as one which is innovative in its concept and format – they’d seen nothing quite like it before in New Zealand children’s publishing. It is masterful in its execution – a work of art that bears repeated and thoughtful viewing and reading of its vibrant and informative illustrations. It is also a book of enduring significance in the canon of New Zealand children’s literature – a landmark title which will stand the test of time. This is a story of nation and of family, illustrating our unique place in the world, and showing us the landscapes, event, and personalities that have built our culture and identity. It is a book for all ages, a bountiful celebration of Aotearoa, and a most worthy Supreme Winner.

I Am Jellyfish by Ruth Paul (Puffin)        $20
The text and illustration perfectly complement each other in this humour-filled tale of small but mighty. The layout of each page has been carefully thought out, through clever page orientation drawing the reader in and down into the perilous deep, where our luminous hero shines brightly. The colour palette and attention to detail invite the reader to linger over the pages and to reflect the emotions of the main characters as they descend into peril and the strong pink arms of the giant squid. When the unlikely hero, Jellyfish, saves and admonishes Swordfish, it’s a delightful and satisfying rescue. This is a book for all the unsung small heroes and it will be giggled over and read again and again.

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)          $19
In these days of climate change and worry about the future, Bren MacDibble brings us the dystopian vision of a future without bees; instead, agile children perform the bees’ tasks. The feisty heroine, 10-year-old Peony, has a passion for her family and the importance of her life in the country. The author has crafted a story of contrasts – city and country, rich and poor, kindness and cruelty. Flawed but genuine characters exist in a troubled world where violence is an everyday occurrence – yet still there is hope, seen through Peony’s eyes as she fiercely fights for her family and the life she loves. This is a tale to fire young readers with awareness and with courage for the future.

In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black (Hardie Grant)         $23
In the Dark Spaces is a high concept science fiction novel which hums with character and bravery, a strong sense of family, and aliens – big feathery aliens, who communicate in whistles. The author cleverly constructs a world which is engrossing, tense and irresistible; her skill at drawing the reader into an unfamiliar world is extraordinary. This book has so much to offer a young adult audience, and the sheer brilliance of its construction and the imagined world within its pages is stunning. Readers of any age will find a story that they can relate to, and also an impressive tale of world-class calibre. Such thrilling writing is indeed deserving of the highest award in its category.

Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop (Puffin)         $40
Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story is a wonderfully bold and abundant book, large in format and in scope. It takes us from Aotearoa’s pre-history to the modern day with stories of the people, places and events that have shaped us. The illustrations are dramatic and detailed, full of colour and pattern, with mātauranga Māori integrated throughout. They are complemented by minimal text, providing snippets of information which provide context and inspiration for readers to find out more. The large format gives generous scope for innovative and varied page design, leading us through a wealth of facts, ideas and details which inform, intrigue and entertain. This is a book for every home, school and library, a book for reading, re-reading and sharing with all ages.

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten tales from the deep, dark woods by Craig Phillips (Allen & Unwin)          $28
Craig Phillips has brought ten fantastical stories, drawn from mythology and fairy tales from around the globe, to life. They are made new in Phillips’ superb graphic stylings – each tale has its own individual and perfectly appropriate drawing style and colour palette. The skilful diversity of frame and layout, stroke and point of view, bring a freshness to the familiar, and delight to the previously unknown. The comic format is executed masterfully in this excellent publication and will be cherished by young and old.

Tu Meke Tūī! by Malcolm Clarke, FLOX (Hayley King) and Evelyn Tobin (Mary Egan)        $20
Me whakanui ka tika i te tohungatanga o te kaiwhakamāori, ā kupu, ā hā nei kia tino rongo i te wāirua, i tiro ā-Māori ki tōna ake ao. Ko te kīwaha Tu meke Tūī!, tētehi te tū ohorere, tērā atu he whakamiha mō tētehi mahi i whakamiharo. Tu Meke Tūī! showcases the expertise of translator Evelyn Tobin, who skilfully captures the breath and spirit of this story by Malcolm Clarke, locating it within a Māori viewpoint. With exquisite illustrations by FLOX, this is a feel-good story that encourages its young readers to appreciate each other’s differences and to see that helping out in times of trouble can end up better than expected.

Dawn Raid by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith (Scholastic)         $18
Dawn Raid is a vividly drawn snapshot of the 1970s, packed full of laugh-out-loud Pasifika humour. From the quest to find white go-go boots that fit to life on the milk run and avoiding boiled cabbage, Sofia navigates life with style. Issues of Pasifika identity and activism run throughout this book but are lightly woven into the story. Sofia’s growing political awareness of the dawn raids and their injustice and impact are sensitively told. This is a great story, and hugely relevant in our current geo-political climate. It will help children understand how political decisions about immigration that appear to only affect one group of people can have far-reaching implications for all our society.

31/07/2018 10:37 AM

{Reviews by Thomas}
Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes      $32
“Who knows? Maybe something valuable in these notes.” Does a series of notes on how a work might come to be written itself constitute a work? The day after his mother’s death in 1977, Barthes began writing observations on his mourning for her on small slips of paper. The fact that he isolated this accumulation from his other work (Camera Lucida, also addressing loss and memory, but via consideration of photography, specifically a photograph of his mother, was also written in this period) as well as intimations that making these notes into a book would bring the process of mourning to a close, rather than writing a book for posterity, as, he admits, has been the case for his previous books, suggests that had Barthes not had an unfortunate encounter with a laundry van in 1980, he might have used these notes to write a book. These notes are not that book, but it could be the case that these notes, for all their inconsistencies, vaguenesses and banalities, make a rawer and more compelling book than if they had been made into the book that Barthes had perhaps intended (this might also not be the case, of course), for the notes sketch nebulae from which diamonds might be compressed (if that was Barthes’s creative process) and demonstrate that his more rigorously intellectual works have emotional bases that they are perhaps constructed to conceal. Of his mother’s recent death (he  had shared an apartment with her for 60 years), Barthes writes, “I don’t want to talk about it, for fear of making literature out of it, although as a matter of fact literature originates within these truths.” Instead, he observes himself and his mourning: “In taking these notes, I’m trusting myself to the banality that is in me.” His loss alters the way he sees both life and literature, emphasising the significance of the seemingly banal and diminishing the importance of the seemingly profound. “Everywhere, I see each individual under the aspect of ineluctably having-to-die. And no less obviously, I see them as not knowing this to be so.” “My suffering is inexpressible but all the same utterable,” he notes. It is the very shortcomings of language, the necessity of labelling his suffering as intolerable, that makes his suffering tolerable. “The indescribableness of my mourning results from my failure to hystericise it. Maman’s death is perhaps the one thing in my life that I have not responded to neurotically. My grief has not been hysterical; doubtless, more hysterically parading my depression, I would have been less unhappy. I see that the non-neurotic is not good.” “Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering,” writes Barthes, and, despite his assurances that this will not happen (“my mourning does not wear away, because it is not continuous” (“I waver between the observation that I’m unhappy only by moments, and the conviction that in actual fact I am continually, all the time, unhappy.”)), his mourning does in fact wear away, “gradually narcissism gives way to a sad egoism.” Narcissism being a literary mode; egoism not, the diary becomes sporadic and less focused as this process advances. Early on, Barthes states, “I live in my suffering, and that makes me happy,” but eventually he has trouble maintaining his identification with his mother (“henceforth and forever I am my own mother,” he had said), and his unhappiness changes its texture: “I left a place where I was unhappy and it did not make me happy to leave it.” Eventually, observing the exhaustion of grief in the maintenance of its referents, he concludes, “we don’t forget, but something vacant settles in.”
In the Dark Room by Brian Dillon     $40
Unless we are wrested by a pervasive trauma from the entire set of circumstances which constitute our identities, which are always contextual rather than intrinsic, our memories are never kept solely within the urns of our minds, so to call them, but are frequently prodded, stimulated and remade by elements beyond ourselves, or, indeed, are outsourced to these elements. Brian Dillon’s In the Dark Room is thoughtful examination of the way in which his memories of his parents, who both died as he was making the transition into adulthood, are enacted through the interplay of interior and exterior elements (the book is divided into sections: ‘House’, ‘Things’, ‘Photographs’, ‘Bodies’, ‘Places’). It is the physical world, rather than time, that is the armature of memory: time, or at least our experience of it, is contained in space, is, for us, an aspect of space, of physical extension, of objects. It is through objects that the past reaches forward and grasps at the present. And it is through the dialogue with objects that we call memory that these objects lose their autonomy and become mementoes, bearers of knowledge on our behalf or in our stead. Memory both provides access to and enacts our exclusion from the spaces of the past to which it is bound. In many ways, when the relationship between the object and the memory seem closest, this relationship is most fraught. Photographs, which Dillon describes as “a membrane between ourselves and the world,” are not so much representations as obscurations of their subjects. The subjects of photographs both inhabit an immediate moment and are secured by them in the “debilitating distance” of an uninhabitable past. When Dillon is looking at a photograph of his mother, “the  feeling that she was manifestly present but just out of reach was distinctly painful. … Photography and the proximity of death tear the face from its home and memory and set it adrift in time.” All photographs (and, indeed, all associative objects) are moments removed from time and so are equivalents, contesting with interior memories to be definitive. Photographs, even more than other objects, but other objects also, are mechanisms of avoidance and substitution as much as they are mechanisms of preservation. Memory, illness, death all distort our experience of time, but so does actual experience, and it is this distortion that generates memory, that imprints the physical with experience “spreading itself everywhere like a disease of the retina” (in the words of George Eliot). Intense experience, especially traumatic experience, death, illness, loss, violence, occlude the normal functions of memory and push us towards the edges of consciousness, touching oblivion as they also imprison us in the actual. As Dillon found, if experience cannot be experienced all at once, the context of the experience can bear us through, but it must be revisited in memory, repeatedly, until the experience is complete, if this is ever possible. Memory will often co-opt elements of surroundings to complete itself, and, especially if associative objects are not present, it will magnify its trauma upon unfamiliar contexts, increasing the separation and isolation it also seeks to overcome. Must the past be faced as directly as possible so that we may at last turn away from it? 
Patient H.M.: A story of memory, madness and family secrets by Luke Dittrich        $30
In 1953, maverick neurosurgeon William Beecher Scoville performed a groundbreaking operation on a 27-year-old epileptic patient named Henry Molaison. The operation failed to eliminate Molaison's intractable seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. In a time when all neurological knowledge was based upon aberration and dysfunction, what was learned from this misadventure about both the neurological and the functional aspects of memory? 
>> More about Moliason
Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka       $28
A child exposed to experiences of a kind and scale that cannot be assimilated will create their own mythology to make life liveable. Otto Dov Kulka was a child in Auschwitz, and went on to become a prominent historian of the Holocaust. This book is remarkable as it deals specifically with the internal aspects of surviving in an intolerable situation, young Otto’s ‘Metropolis of Death’. One of the tragedies of the Holocaust was the way in which millions of people, each with their own personal narrative, were subsumed by a single narrative (one which led to the gas chambers and crematoria). It is unfortunate that even many of the most sympathetic portrayals and histories tend to reinforce the single narrative, the erasure, and it is interesting to read Kulka express his feelings of alienation when reading or watching accounts of concentration camp experiences. One of Kulka’s achievements in this deeply thoughtful book is to show how an individual can retain that individuality, and even find a sort of beauty and meaning, even under the irresistible weight of a subsuming narrative such as the ‘immutable law of the Great Death’.
The Mind of a Mnemonist by A.R. Luria         $60
'S' was a failure in most ways. He could never hold down a job and he found it difficult to communicate  and understand although he could learn vast tables of figures and recall them accurately seventeen years later. The strange processes of memory he evolved and his inability to forget the pains of childhood, made the simplest prose or poetry an impossible frustration, yet he could memorise whole pages of text in a language he didn't know. An almost magical use of his own imaginative powers enabled him to control his pulse and body temperature, but these same powers blurred the line that divides reality from fantasy. Luria's important study shows that a great gift is just as much a great defect, and that forgetting is essential to functioning sanity, something that a person incapable of forgetting can never achieve. Someone incapable of forgetting is perhaps as remote from having a personality as someone incapable of forming memories or someone whose memories are lost. 
Stammered Songbook: A mother's Book of Hours by Erwin Mortier        $25
Memory and personality are interdependent and could be seen to be aspects of each other. Both are constructs that enable us to function practically and socially, but both are tentative, fragile and vulnerable to erosion. When Erwin Mortier’s mother developed Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 65, her loss of memory was also a profound loss of personality and Mortier began to find it difficult to associate the memories he had of his once-vivacious mother with the person whose rapid mental and physical diminishment made her more of a lingering absence than a presence. Mortier’s book is beautifully written, intensely sad, unsentimental, unflinching and tender. His ability to use a tiny detail or turn of phrase to evoke a memory of his mother or his childhood or a step in his mother’s loss of memory and language and personality is remarkable. Written while his mother is still alive in an attempt to fix his memories of her lest they get sucked away in the slipstream of her departure, the book expresses the hope that, following her death, these memories will be freed from the mental decline which currently overwhelms them and that, through words, they may come together again to form an idea of the particular person his mother was. Perhaps our individuality, dependent as it is on language and memory, is what is gradually (or rapidly) eroded in Alzheimer’s, and what is left, the whimpering animal full of fear but occasionally responsive to small immediate comforts, is what we all have in common, what is always at our core, but which we obscure with layers of language, personality, belief and knowledge (all relatively recent evolutionary innovations) in order to function, to survive, to bear existence, to comfort ourselves and others.
W, Or, The memory of childhood by Georges Perec          $30
“I write: I write because we lived together, because I was once amongst them, a shadow amongst their shadows, a body close to their bodies. I write because they left in me their indelible mark, whose trace is writing. Their memory is dead in writing; writing is the memory of their death and the assertion of my life.” Both of Perec’s parents were killed in the 1939-1945 war, his father early on as a French soldier, and, soon after, his mother sent to a death camp. Their young son was smuggled out of Paris and spent the war years in a series of children’s homes and safe villages. “My childhood belongs to those things which I know I don’t know much about,” he writes. W alternates two narratives, the first an attempt by Perec to set down the memories of his childhood and to examine these not only for their accuracy but in order to learn the way in which memory works. Often factual footnotes work in counterpoint to the ‘remembered’ narrative, underscoring the limitations of the experiences that formed it. Right from birth the pull of the Holocaust is felt upon Perec’s personal biography, and his story is being shaped by this force, sucking at it, sucking his family and all stability away. Sometimes he attaches to himself experiences of which he was merely a witness, the memories transformed by remembering and by remembering the remembering, and so forth, and by the infection of memories by extraneous imaginative details. “Excess detail is all that is needed to ruin a memory.” The absences around which these memories circulate fill the narrative with suppressed emotion. The other narrative begins as a sort of mystery novel in Part One, telling how one Gaspard Winckler is engaged by a mysterious stranger to track down the fate of the boy whose name he had unknowingly assumed and who had gone missing with his parents in the vicinity of Terra del Fuego where they had gone in search of an experience that would relieve the boy’s mutism. In Part 2, the tone changes to that of an encyclopedia and we begin to learn of the customs, laws and practices of the land of W, isolated in the vicinity of Terra del Fuego, a society organised exclusively around the principles of sport, “a nation of athletes where Sport and life unite in a single magnificent effort.” Perec tells us that ‘W’ was invented by him as a child as a focus for his imagination and mathematical abilities during a time when his actual world and his imaginative world were far apart, his mind filled with “human figures unrelated to the ground which was supposed to support them, disengaged wheels rotating in the void” as he longed for an ordinary life “like in the storybooks”. Life and sport on W are governed by a very complex system of competition, ‘villages’ and Games, “the sole aim to heighten competitiveness or, to put it another way, to glorify victory.” It is not long before we begin to be uncomfortable with some of the laws and customs of W, for instance, just as winners are lauded, so are losers punished, and all individual proper names are banned on W, with athletes being nameless (apart from an alphanumeric serial number) unless their winnings entitle them to bear, for a time, the name of one of the first champions of their event, for “an athlete is no more and no less than his victories.” Perec intimates that there is no dividing line between a rationally organised society valuing competition and fascism, the first eliding into the second as a necessary result of its own values brought to their logical conclusions. “The more the winners are lauded, the more the losers are punished.” The athletes are motivated to peak performance by systematic injustice: “The Law is implacable but the Law is unpredictable.” Mating makes a sport of rape, and aging Veterans who can no longer compete and do not find positions as menial ‘officials’ are cast out and forced to “tear at corpses with their teeth” to stay alive. Perec’s childhood fantasy reveals the horrors his memoir is unable to face directly. We learn that the athletes wear striped uniforms, that some compete tarred and feathered or are forced to jump into manure by “judges with whips and cudgels.” We learn that the athletes are little more than skin and bone, and that their performances are consequently less than impressive. As the two strands of the book come together at the end, Perec tells of reading of the Nazi punishment camps where the torture of the inmates was termed ‘sport’ by their tormentors. The account of W ends with the speculation that at some time in the future someone will come through the walls that isolate the sporting nation and find nothing but “piles of gold teeth, rings and spectacles, thousands and thousands of clothes in heaps, dusty card indexes, and stocks of poor-quality soap.”
The Toy Catalogue by Sandra Petrignani             $30
"More than the game it's meant for, a plaything is usually remembered for its personal, incidental uses." This beautifully written and evocative alphabetical collection of short pieces about various toys, from abacus to baby doll to yo-yo to model zoo demonstrates how intimate objects become repositories of memory: experiences long forgotten gush forth in the most surprising fashion when we make contact with (or even consider) the objects we had unknowingly so loaded with that experience at some time in the past. Toys are remarkable in this regard: often accorded agency and specificity by children, they reward this dedication by delivering through time something of our lost selves. Although toys are often remembered for their "personal, incidental uses" rather than for their ostensible purposes, Petrignani's book is remarkable for showing how these "personal, incidental uses" are in fact common to all children, everywhere: who has not interacted with an abacus or a kaleidoscope in just the way that Petrignani describes? and who would have realised that these ways of interacting were not only personal?
The Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno           $42
“Writing is a way not to remember but to forget,” suggests Kate Zembrano in this book concerning both her grieving for her mother and her struggle to be free of her mother, who in some ways became more dominating after her death than she was when alive. “Or if not to forget, to attempt to leave behind,” continues Zembrano. The past dominates the present, not so much in the way in which the present is disposed as in the disposition of our minds towards it: that which we are foolish enough to think of as ourself is dependent utterly upon memory, upon the power of what is not us in the past. This dominance by the lost and unreachable (we cannot assail its moment of power for it lies against the flow of time) is most oppressive when we are unaware of it. Paradoxically, we need to remember in order to escape the past and exist more freely (if existing freely is our predilection). But merely to open ourselves to the past through memory is insufficient to free ourselves of it. To gain control it is necessary to assume authorship, not to change what we cannot reach against time, but to create a simulacrum that is experienced in the place of the experience of the past, a replacement that alters the grammar of our servitude, simultaneously a remembering and a forgetting. “In order to liberate myself from the past I have to reconstruct it. I have been a prisoner of my memories and my aim is to get rid of them,” said Louise Bourgeois. Since her mother’s death, Zembrano’s thoughts have been increasingly focussed on her loving but dominating mother, to the extent that her mother is taking over her life (“Sometimes my mouth opens up and my mother’s laugh jumps out. A parlour trick”). Very possibly, this influence was operative when her mother was alive, but it was at least concentrated in a person who could be interacted with and reacted against. Now “she is everywhere by being unable to be located.” Zambreno’s perceptive book is a study, through self-scrutiny, of the ambivalences of grief and of memory, and also of a path beyond grief: “If writing is a way of hoarding memories - what does it also mean to write to disown?” Not that either remembering or forgetting does any favours to the departed. Without an actual person upon whom an identity, a history, a character may be postulated, and without the generation of new information, however minor, that is possible only by living, the definition of that person belongs to anyone and no-one. Identity becomes contested in the absence of the arbiter. What remains but the impress, somewhere in the past, the shape of which must henceforth suffice as a stand-in for the departed? For better or for worse the pull is to the past, towards the unalterable occurrences that have what could almost be considered as a will to persist through whatever has received their impress. And the struggle for authorship is complicated by the persistence of objects. Death instantaneously transforms the everyday into an archive. Zembrano’s visits to her parents’ house in the years after the death of her mother brings her into contact with objects that have lost their ordinariness, the possessions of her mother’s that her father wishes to enshrine, objects that have stultified, that have not been permitted to either lose or accrete meaning. Both comfort and trap, the archive preserves the dominance of the past per se, preserves the fact of loss more than that which has been lost. Advances in medical science have meant that more of our lives, and more of the end period of our lives, has come to be defined by illness. Increasingly few of us reach our end without being overwritten by the story of its approach. Zembrano captures well her mother’s struggle with the disease that killed her, not so much over the her survival or otherwise as over how she would be remembered, over whether the idea others had of her would be replaced by the story of a disease. All memory proceeds as a scuffle between selection and denial, between nostalgia and resentment, between freedom and attachment, between the conflicting needs of actuality and representation. Memory is the first requirement of forgetting. 

28/06/2018 07:07 PM

Choose from this selection of interesting fiction at reduced prices. 

These books have been selected for their excellence but they are beginning to feel jostled on our shelves by more recent arrivals. We have reduced their prices for a short time to help you make your winter more interesting.

>> Click here to choose, reserve and/or purchase your winter reading. We can send the books anywhere. 

15/05/2018 10:55 PM

The 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
Winners (+ judges' comments)

The New Animals by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press)        $30
The New Animals is a strange, confrontational, revelatory novel that holds a mirror up to contemporary New Zealand culture. Adam handles a large ensemble of unrooted characters with skill. She gets beneath the skin of her characters in ways that make the reader blink, double-take, and ultimately reassess their sense of the capabilities of fiction. A transition late in the novel is both wholly unexpected and utterly satisfying. It’s stylistically raw and reveals a good deal in a modest way. The New Animals is so vivid in imagery and imagination that the judges haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In this category in 2018 it’s the book with the most blood on the page. It will give you an electric shock. It will bring readers back from the dead.

Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither (Auckland University Press)      $25
The 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Poetry Award is for a book by an esteemed and celebrated poet who contributes greatly to the New Zealand writing community. Night Horse delights in animals, reflects on the well-being and the passing of friends and family, and the minutiae of care, such as the poem about ironing a friend’s shirts in return for hospitality, or the friend whose swollen feet will only fit slippers despite racks and racks of shoes, or the sublime answer of Pope Francis to a child who asked how Jesus walked on water — ‘He walked as we walk’ — or the car lights focused on a horse at night entranced by moonlight, or lovers holding hands. These poems are gentle, uplifting, tender, humorous, well-crafted and luminous.

Tuai: A traveller in two worlds by Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins (Bridget Williams Books)          $40
Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds presents an evocative picture of young Māori travelling to England; their encounters with people, illness and industry there, and their return home. Tuai is empathetically written, providing the reader a window into a contested time of meeting, conversion and enterprise. The text and illustrations work in concert, presenting a rounded and rich experience for the reader, enhancing the breadth and depth of the research explored within.Key moments are presented so richly that they envelop and captivate the imagination. The care the authors have given these histories, acknowledging the autonomy that mātauranga Māori has in wider Aotearoa historical narratives, is striking, and we need more of it.

Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press)       $45
The toughest task of any book, whatever the form, is to make a sentence so good that you just have to read the next one, and the next one, and then wish it could just about go on forever. So it is with Driving to Treblinka. From the first page, Diana Wichtel’s memoir draws you into a fascinating ancestry: the story of a girl growing up in Canada, her mum a kiwi, her dad a Polish Jew, a man who leapt in desperation from a concentration-camp-bound train, a moment around which everything in this book orbits. Wichtel’s curiosity, alternately upsetting and uplifting, turns invisibly into a kind of mission. At its heart this is a family story, but one which cannot but shine a light on the vestiges of anti-Semitism that linger in Europe today. It is not just a beautifully written book, but an important book, too.

Baby by Annaleese Jochems  (Victoria University Press)       $30
A novel that shimmers with feverish, fatalistic intensity, Baby is a strange and strangely moving love story built on obsession, narcissism and damage. It is a much deserved recipient of the Best First Book Award for Fiction. Guest international judge, Alan Taylor, says of Baby: ‘Baby is the kind of novel that lingers in the memory long after you put it down. It is raw, bleak, blackly funny, unpredictable and unsentimental, with shafts of sunny lyricism and passages of clean prose that are veined with menace. It is by any standard a remarkable debut novel by a young writer who has set a very high bar for herself. Where Annaleese Jochems goes from here is anyone’s guess but wherever it is, the truly curious will want to follow her.

Fully Clothed and So Forgetful by Hannah Mettner (Victoria University Press)         $25
In Fully Clothed and So Forgetful Hannah Mettner opens doorways into thought and meanings that lie beneath the surface. Adept at ‘making strange’ — dislocating the ordinary and the familiar —­­ she stretches the imagination of both writer and reader. Mettner has something to say beyond massing detailed description and merely reporting back. Fully Clothed and So Forgetful reveals a writer who knows how to turn a poem into something else — the mark of poems of discovery and not mere invention. The collection’s opening poem, 'Higher Ground,' is an example of the mobile possibilities in this poetic approach. It combines the referential list poem with the oomph of slam and the reticent praises of psalms. These poems of poise and deceptive complexity demonstrate Mettner’s considerable talent.


Caves: Exploring New Zealand's subterranean wilderness by Marcus Thomas and Neil Silverwood (Whio Publishing)      $80 
The photographs in Caves are undeniably exquisite. They depict moments of wonder, an otherworldliness that a dedicated few access. Through the marriage of photographs and infographics this book provides a more general readership the privilege of seeing the subterranean parts of New Zealand’s environment that remain comparatively unknown. At times, the images and the narrative can be unnerving as we read of the deaths that come with discovery and view seemingly bottomless caverns, but the overarching feeling is one of awe at the immense beauty of our islands and the courage of the tightknit community of people that traverse them.


Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press)       $45 
Powerful, poignant, and not infrequently profound, Driving to Treblinka is an outrageously assured example of a first book. Diana Wichtel’s story goes way beyond the usual family memoir. In search of her father’s history Wichtel travels by memory and aeroplane and time to Poland, to the Jewish ghetto and a miraculous escape from execution at the Nazi death camp in Treblinka to a new life in Canada – and to another heart-wrenching, years-long unexplained family fissure. As uplifting as it is upsetting, Driving to Treblinka delivers an engrossing account of a life, and the indelible legacy of the Holocaust through generations.

01/05/2018 01:30 PM

A selection of books exploring the relationship between swimming and thought. 

Pondlife: A swimmer's journal by Al Alvarez         $25
Throughout his long life as a poet, critic, editor, novelist and poker player, Alvarez (now 88) has swum almost daily in the ponds of Hamstead Heath. How does this irrepressible person confront his aging, how does he recover from a stroke, and how do these facts of his life affect his outlook (if at all)? Thoughtful, fierce and funny. 
Swell: A waterbiography by Jenny Landreth        $22
 In the 19th century, swimming was exclusively the domain of men, and access to pools was a luxury limited by class. Women were allowed to swim in the sea, as long as no men were around, but even into the 20th century they could be arrested and fined if they dared dive into a lake. It wasn't until the 1930s that women were finally granted equal access. Part social history, part memoir, Swell uncovers a world of secret swimming in the face of these exclusions and shines a light on the `swimming suffragettes' who made equal access possible. It is also the story of her own realisation of the importance and meaning of swimming for herself.
Turning: A swimming memoir by Jessica Lee        $28
"I long for the ice. The sharp cut of freezing water on my feet. The immeasurable black of the lake at its coldest. Swimming then means cold, and pain, and elation." Seeking to overcome depression, Lee undertakes to swim 52 German lakes in 52 weeks.
"A lovely, poetic, sensuous and melancholy book." - Irish Examiner
"Turning is many things: a snapshot of Berlin seen through the prism of its lakes; the story of a broken and healing heart; a contemplation of identity; a coming-of-age story." - Guardian

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton         $34
A collection of thoughtful autobiographical sketches that explore the worlds of competitive and recreational swimming. From her training for the Olympic trials as a teenager, to meditative swims in pools and oceans as an adult, Leanne Shapton contemplates the sport that has shaped her life, and her practice as an artist and a writer. Illustrations include watercolours of her experience of pools, and a catalogue of her collection of swimming costumes. 
Haunts of the Black Masseur: The swimmer as hero by Charles Sprawson         $28
What meanings do we attach to water? What correlation is there between the physical act of inserting a body into a liquid medium and the depths of human psychology? What is the relationship between swimming and creativity? This interesting book surveys the swimmer as cultural hero.
"This splendid and wholly original book is as zestful as a plunge in champagne." - Iris Murdoch
Oxygen by William Trubridge          $40
Freediving tests the limits of psychology and physiology, and exposes the links between the two. What is it like to be so far from the surface? 

24/04/2018 04:51 PM

2018 short list
(The winner will be announced on 6 June)

The Idiot by Elif Batuman         $37
"I'm not Turkish, I don't have a Serbian best friend, I'm not in love with a Hungarian, I don't go to Harvard. Or do I? For one wonderful week, I got to be this worldly and brilliant, this young and clumsy and in love. The Idiot is a hilariously mundane immersion into a world that has never before received the 19th Century Novel treatment. An addictive, sprawling epic; I wolfed it down." - Miranda July
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar         $37
“What trapped creature does not strike out?” One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer their lives on a dangerous new course. What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?
"Historical fiction at its finest." - Irish Times
"A brilliantly plotted story of mermaids, madams and intrigue in 1780s London and I wouldn't be surprised to see it become the Essex Serpent of 2018." - The Pool
Sight by Jessie Greengrass         $38
An accomplished, thoughtful and somewhat melancholy novel, tracking the thoughts of an expectant mother whose own mother has just died, whose ruminations on the mind, the body, living and dying encompass swathes of science and philosophy (as well as her own life). 
"The writing is poised – but as if on the edge of a precipice. Hovering between the novel and the essay, unfolding through long, languorous sentences, Sight builds meaning through juxtaposition, through surprising mirrorings and parallels. - Guardian
When I Hit You, Or, A portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy         $22
Caught in the hook of love, a young woman marries a dashing university professor. She moves to a rain-washed coastal town to be with him, but behind closed doors she discovers that her perfect husband is a perfect monster. As he sets about battering her into obedience and as her family pressures her to stay in the marriage, she swears to fight back - a resistance that will either kill her or set her free.
"Explosive." - Guardian 
"Urgent." - Financial Times
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie         $27
Family, society, love and religion clash in this modern reworking of the themes of Antigone. Long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 
"Home Fire left me awestruck, shaken, on the edge of my chair, filled with admiration for her courage and ambition. Recommended reading for prime ministers and presidents everywhere." - Peter Carey 
"Shamsie's simple, lucid prose plays in perfect harmony with the heartbeat of modern times. Home Fire deftly reveals all the ways in which the political is as personal as the personal is political. No novel could be as timely." - Aminatta Forna

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward         $27
As 13-year-old Jojo approaches adulthood, how can he find his way in the U.S. South when all seems set for him and his family to fall foul of rural poverty, drug addiction, the penal system, the justice system, racism and illness? From the author of Salvage the Bones. 
"This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare. A must." - Margaret Atwood 
"A powerfully alive novel haunted by ghosts; a road trip where people can go but they can never leave; a visceral and intimate drama that plays out like a grand epic, Sing, Unburied, Sing is staggering." - Marlon James
>> Read Stella's review.

>> Visit the Women's Prize for Fiction website for news, interviews, &c

16/04/2018 01:31 PM

Six varied and interesting books in translation.
The winner will be announced on 22 May. 

The White Book by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith (Portobello Books)           $28
Han Kang's semi-autobiographical The White Book is a contemplation of life and death. It’s her meditative study of her sibling’s death at a few hours old, and how this event shapes her own history. Taking the colour white as a central component to explore this memory, she makes a list of objects that trigger responses. These include swaddling bands, salt, snow, moon, blank paper and shroud. “With each item I wrote down, a ripple of agitation ran through me. I felt I needed to write this book, and that the process of writing would be transformative, would itself transform, into something like a white ointment applied to a swelling, like a gauze laid over a wound.” Han Kang was in Warsaw - a place which is foreign to her when she undertook this project - and in being in a new place, she recalls with startling clarity the voices and happenings of her home and past. The book is a collection of quiet yet unsettling reflections on exquisitely observed moments. These capsules of text build upon each other, creating a powerful sense of pain, loss and beauty. Each moment so tranquil yet uneasy. Han Kang’s writing is sparse, delicate and nuanced. Describing her process of writing she states, “Each sentence is a leap forwards from the brink of an invisible cliff, where time’s keen edges are constantly renewed. We lift our foot from the solid ground of all our life lived thus far, and take that perilous step out into the empty air.” You can sense the narrator’s exploration and stepping out into the unknown in her descriptions of snow, in her observations as she walks streets hitherto unknown, and in her attempts to realise the view of her mother, a young woman dealing with a premature birth, and the child herself, briefly looking out at the world. Small objects become talismans of memory, a white pebble carries much more meaning than its actuality. Salt and sugar cubes each hold their own value in their crystal structure. “Those crystals had a cool beauty, their white touched with grey.” “Those squares wrapped in white paper possessed an almost unerring perfection.” In 'Salt', she cleverly reveres the substance while at the same time cursing the pain it can cause a fresh wound. The White Book is a book you handle with some reverence - its white cover makes you want to pick it up delicately. A small hardback, the text is interspersed with a handful of moody black and white photographs. This is a book you will read, pick up again to re-read passages, as each deserves concentration for both the writing and ideas. {Stella}
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), translated by Jennifer Croft (Text Publishing / Fitzcarraldo Editions)          $37
When something is at rest it is only conceptually differentiated from the physical continuum of its location, but when moving its differentiation is confirmed by the changes in its relations with the actual. Likewise, humans have in them a restlessness, a will to change, a fluidity of identity and belonging that Olga Tokarczuk in her fine and interesting book Flights would see as our essential vitality, an indicator of civilisation so far as it is acknowledged and encouraged, otherwise a casualty of repression or of fear. “Barbarians stay put, or go to destinations to raid them. They do not travel.” Flights is an encyclopedic sort-of-novel, a great compendium of stories, fragments, historical anecdotes, description and essays on every possible aspect of travel, in its literal and metaphorical senses, and on the stagnation, mummification and bodily degradation of stasis. The book bristles with ideas, memorable images and playful treatments, for instance when Tokarczuk reframes the world as an array of airports, to which cities and countries are but service satellites and through which the world’s population is constantly streaming, democratised by movement, no preparation either right or wrong in this zone of civilised indeterminacy. To create a border, to restrict a movement is to suppress life, to preserve a corpse. Tokarczuk’s fragments are of various registers and head in different directions, but several strands reappear through the book, such as the story of a father and young son searching for a mother who disappears on holiday on a small Croatian island. Historical imaginings include an account of the journey of Chopin’s heart from Paris to Poland following his death, the ‘biography’ of the ‘discoverer’ of the achilles tendon, and an account of the peripatetic sect constantly on the move to elude the Devil. For Tokarczuk, we find ourselves, if we find ourselves at all, somewhere in the interplay between impulse and constraint. {Thomas}
The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), translated by John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes (Tuskar Rock)         $33
The mistake, or at least one of the mistakes, being made by each of the narrators of the stories that comprise Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s The World Goes On is thinking that the occurrences that constitute what they think of as their lives have anything to do with them, and, although they are themselves insufficient reason for these or any other occurrences, the narrators nevertheless find it impossible to extricate themselves, to absent themselves from the proceedings in which they find themselves caught up. The sentences that constitute their lives, for us at least, and what else have they got, are both a grasping for and, by the fact of this grasping, a separation from the circumstances of which they are aware, or that constitute their awareness, so to call it. The characters achieve neither fulfilment nor dissolution, wavering in their inclinations between the two impossibilities, they strive for the meaning of their situation, so to call it, the meaning each time withheld, or in any case ungrasped, the difference between withholding and nongrasping being irrelevant to the reader, as if meaning was something that could either be grasped or withheld, as if anything could signify anything other than itself. Krasznahorkai’s narrators are paralysed by their own ambivalences, they naturally incline, as we all do, both towards the partial, which can be sensed, which cannot be understood, and also towards the general, towards the totality, towards understanding but away from sense, towards the point at which those things that can be grasped are cancelled out by other things that are not grasped, the quest for understanding leading towards the point at which that which could be understood is extinguished, knowledge only becomes possible at the point at which there is no longer anything to know, the whole being not so much the sum of the parts as their nullification. There is no wisdom to be gained from this world. If you are leaving, there is nothing that you need to take, even if you could take anything, even if you could leave, but there is no such possible departure: “History has not ended, and nothing has ended; we can no longer delude ourselves by thinking that anything has ended with us. We merely continue something, maintaining it somehow; something continues, something survives.” The world goes on. “Nothing ever happens without antecedents, actually everything is just an antecedent, as if everything were just always preparing for something else that came before, as if it were preparing for something, but at the same time, an in an appalling manner, as if preparing without any final cumulative goal, so that everything is just a continually dying spark, everything is always striving towards a future that can never occur, what no longer exists strives towards what does not yet exist … nothing can be said beyond the fact that in addition to antecedents there are also consequences [a better translation might be ‘subsequences’], but not occurring in time.” Krasznahorkai, whose native medium is language, must express the paradoxical relationship between meaning and its impossibility through the failure of language to achieve the ends of language. Attempts to represent in language the incomprehensible events in which his narrators are immersed, and they exist only in language after all, result in the incomprehensibility of these events transferring to language itself. Agency becomes indeterminate, narrative position unstable, identity at once both overdefined and underdefined. Understanding is not gained, because it is impossible, but the usefulness of language for even its most straightforward functions is destabilised and suspicion is thrown upon it as an agent of estrangement and obfuscation that leaves us incapable of distinguishing reality from theatre. The virtuosity at which Krasznahorkai aims is almost unattainable. The closer language can be brought to resemble thought the more the shortcomings, or rather limitations, of both language and thought will be revealed. The thirty-page single sentence of ‘A Drop of Water’ is not so much linear, or even circular, as spherical, a thread of words looped endlessly over the surface of a droplet, always encountering itself and then moving on towards the next such encounter, never breaching the surface, and the fifty-three page sentence of ‘That Gargarin’, to my mind the best story in this collection, gradually reveals the insanity of its narrator, or leads him, and us, into this insanity. In his narratives and the tendencies of thought that they embody, Krasznahorkai frequently reaches into the general and towards the universal, presumably in order to demonstrate the futility of such an approach. Only the failure of the perfect, and therefore impossible, attempt can prove the impossibility of the task, but, in the struggle for better failures, is there a point at which the impossibility of the task begins to outweigh the shortcomings of the attempt, a point at which we begin to sense that our failures are existential rather than individual, a point at which we are released from personal into communal hopelessness? {Thomas}
Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), translated by Camilo A. Ramirez (Tuskar Rock)      $37
On 4 April 1968, Martin Luther King was murdered by James Earl Ray. Before Ray’s capture and sentencing to 99 years’ imprisonment, he evaded the FBI for two months as he crossed the globe under various aliases. At the heart of his story is Lisbon, where he spent 10 days attempting to acquire an Angolan visa. Aided by the recent declassification of James Earl Ray’s FBI case file, Like a Fading Shadow weaves a taut retelling of Ray’s assassination of King, his time on the run and his eventual capture, tied together with an honest examination of the novelist’s own past.
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi  (Iraq), translated by Jonathan Wright (OneWorld)      $27
A monster created from human remains rampages around the streets of Baghdad. What qualifies as human in a city traumatised by war? From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, the junk dealer Hadi collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and give them a proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he's created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive – first from the guilty, and then from anyone who crosses his path. As the violence escalates and Hadi's acquaintances – a journalist, a government worker and a lonely old woman – become involved, the ‘Whatsitsname’ and the havoc it wreaks assume a magnitude far greater than anyone could have imagined. 
"An extraordinary piece of work. With uncompromising focus, Ahmed Saadawi takes you right to the wounded heart of war's absurd and tragic wreckage. A devastating but essential read." - Kevin Powers
"There is no shortage of wonderful, literate Frankenstein reimaginings but few so viscerally mine Shelley's story for its metaphoric riches." - Booklist
Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes (France), translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)        $38
An aging member of the once-vibrant youth culture of the 1980s finds himself increasingly at a loss in a society moving at a different pace and a different direction. Vernon Subutex was once the proprietor of Revolver, an infamous music shop in Bastille. His legend spread throughout Paris. But by the 2000s, with the arrival of the internet and the decline in CDs and vinyl, his shop is struggling. When it closes, Subutex is out on a limb, with no idea what to do next. Nothing sticks. Before long, his savings are gone, his employment benefit is cut, and when the friend who had been covering his rent dies suddenly, Subutex finds himself relying on friends with spare sofas and ultimately alone and out on the Paris streets. But, as he is stretching out his hand to beg from strangers in the street, a throwaway comment he made on Facebook is taking the internet by storm. Vernon does not realise this, of course. It has been many weeks since he was able to afford access to the internet, but the word is out: Vernon Subutex has in his possession the last filmed recordings of Alex Bleach, famous musician and Vernon’s benefactor, who recently died of a drug overdose. Unbeknownst to Vernon, a crowd of people, from record producers to online trolls and porn stars, are now on his trail. 
"One of the books of the year, if not the decade. No review could do it justice. Seldom has a novel with so much vicious humour and political intent also included moments of beautifully choreographed, unexpected tragedy. Bold and sophisticated, this thrilling, magnificently audacious picaresque is about France and is also about all of us: how loudly we shout, how badly we hurt." - Irish Times
"This is not just a novel, it's an electrocardiogram." - Figaro

>> The judges announce the short list. 

13/04/2018 09:47 PM


Find out about the books short-listed for each category in the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Click through to reserve your copies from our website. Use the OCKHAMETER to vote for your favourites and to win books.

Use the Ockhameter to vote for the books you think should win each section of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards (or, alternatively, for the books you think will win each section of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards).
Click on the horse or <here> to vote.
All entries go the draw to win a copy of each of the four winning books. Entries close 11 May. 

The New Animals by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press)        $30
In this strange, confrontational, revelatory novel that holds a mirror up to contemporary New Zealand culture, Pip Adam gets beneath the skin of her characters in ways that make you blink, double-take, and ultimately reassess your sense of the capabilities of fiction. It’s so vivid in imagery and imagination that it lingers in the mind, and a transition late in the novel is both wholly unexpected and utterly satisfying.

Salt Picnic by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press)      $30
This complex, insightful and superbly written novel about the slippery bond between language and reality is an imaginative response to the five months Janet Frame spent in Ibiza in 1956. Its inventive grasp of the island and the characters is phenomenal, and the narrative voice remarkably adroit. Patrick Evans has had a decades-long interest in Frame as a modernist writer, and the Frameish notion that language can make things appear and suddenly disappear makes Salt Picnic a powerful conclusion to his Frame trilogy.

Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson)         $29
A simple premise goes a long way in Sodden Downstream, a linear narrative developed with wonderful tonal control. The empathy with which Brannavan Gnanalingam creates his characters—from the heroine Sakt to the assorted misfits and samaritans she meets on her epic journey—is balanced throughout by a clear, sustained note of anger. The novel reveals New Zealand lives we seldom see in literary fiction and offers a perspective from the economic and social margins that feels enormously timely.

Baby by Annaleese Jochems  (Victoria University Press)       $30
A savagely funny and daring debut, this novel shimmers with feverish, fatalistic intensity. Baby is a strange and strangely moving love story built on obsession, narcissism and damage. Annaleese Jochems writes with uncanny insight and skill as well as with a raw and urgent power: her characters take the reader on an unpredictable ride in which it’s unclear who’s in control until the very end.

Anchor Stone by Tony Beyer (Cold Hub Press)       $40
Tony Beyer’s Anchor Stone is a considerable achievement. The poems reach out to the reader directly, and articulate a humanist vision. There is consistently a fine clarity in Beyer’s use of language, in particular of imagery and tonal colour. He responds to the relationship between the natural world and ourselves and excels at making the local, immediate world around us turn to and into deeper moments of experience

Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither (Auckland University Press)      $25
These are the poems of a first-rate poet at work, using her knowledge, long experience—this is Elizabeth Smither’s eighteenth collection of poetry—and practice of the craft of poetry to great advantage. As a whole Night Horse is a stimulating, thoughtful and pleasurable read, and it is distinctive for the way in which Smither consistently makes poems that get ‘lifted into the light’.

 Rāwāhi by Briar Wood (Anahera Press)      $25
With a highly tuned lyric voice, Briar Wood demonstrates how poetry can ‘make intimate everything that it touches’, enabling the reader to engage at an emotional and feeling level. A fine image maker, Wood time and again composes poems that express how the truth of the imagination can be discovered and enacted in a language rich with lyricism and cultural reference.

The Yield by Sue Wootton (Otago University Press)         $25
Sue Wootton takes an ordinary, familiar experience and/or object and imaginatively transforms it into something other, deeper in thought and larger in meaning. In a number of poems she shows a clear awareness of and concern for our relationship to the natural world [in crisis/crises]. She brings us the light and the dark of human experience, often divided of itself, seeking balance and reconciliation.

Tuai: A traveller in two worlds by Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins (Bridget Williams Books)          $40
Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds presents an evocative picture of young Māori travelling to England, their encounters with people, illness and industry there, and their return home. Tuai is empathetically written, deftly allowing the reader a window into this contested time of encounter, conversion and enterprise as people met, traded, interacted and travelled. The text and illustrations work in concert, presenting a rounded and rich experience for the reader, enhancing the breadth and depth of the research explored within.
Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson (Auckland University Press)       $75
The significance of tōtara to tāngata whenua sets the scene for Tōtara: A Natural and Cultural History. Tōtara is engagingly written, and contains a great breadth of content, spanning taxonomy to cultural history. Philip Simpson covers the tree’s place within the wider podocarp whānau, its importance to Māori, then settlers, and the enduring place it holds within Aotearoa. The illustrations are varied, signalling the variety of communities that the book represents: sleek photography, handy infographics, and amateur photography. Like the tree itself, this book will be a long-lasting resource.
Gordon Walters: New Vision by Zara Stanhope, Lucy Hammonds, Julia Waite, Laurence Simmons (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki/Dunedin Public Art Gallery)         $79
This generously illustrated and beautifully designed book provides a close examination of the work of one of New Zealand’s major artists. Nine authors in eight chapters help us see Gordon Walters with the ‘new vision’ of the title. An artist engaged in international art explorations as well as drawing on his home environment, Walters’ abstraction explored ‘the tension between interconnected forms’. Readers will come to a new appreciation of the deep currents of the art world to which Walters was responding with dedication and great refinement.
The Face of Nature: An environmental history of the Otago Peninsula by Jonathan West (Otago University Press)         $50
This generously illustrated and beautifully designed book provides a close examination of the work of one of New Zealand’s major artists. Nine authors in eight chapters help us see Gordon Walters with the ‘new vision’ of the title. An artist engaged in international art explorations as well as drawing on his home environment, Walters’ abstraction explored ‘the tension between interconnected forms’. Readers will come to a new appreciation of the deep currents of the art world to which Walters was responding with dedication and great refinement.

Dancing With the King: The rise and fall of the King Country, 1864-1885 by Michael Belgrave (Auckland University Press)        $65
A riveting account of a key period in New Zealand history, during which an extraordinary and colourful cast of characters, including Tāwhiao, Rewi Maniapoto, Donald McLean and George Grey, negotiated the role of the Māori King and the British Queen. Michael Belgrave illustrates the evolving relationship between Māori and Pākehā, tribe and Crown, which continues to shape New Zealand into the new millennium.

Tears of Rangi: Experiments across worlds by Anne Salmond (Auckland University Press)       $65
This is Anne Salmond’s most ambitious book to date. This is New Zealand, a place where multiple worlds engage and collide. Beginning with an examination of the early period of encounters between Māori and European, 1769-1840, Salmond proceeds to investigate clashes and exchanges in key areas of contemporary life—waterways, land, the sea and people—and points to new ways of understanding interactions between people and the natural world.

Drawn Out: A seriously funny memoir by Tom Scott (Allen & Unwin)      $45
An hilarious, heart-breaking and heart-warming book in which Tom Scott recounts his life with blistering wit. We are introduced to the people, places and events that have had an impact on his life, seen through a shrewd, acerbic and sometimes scathingly funny lens. Each chapter leaps about, but ultimately follows a logical progression as we come to know how the man, the journalist, the cartoonist and the writer has been formed by his uniquely New Zealand background.

Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press)       $45
Powerful, poignant, and not infrequently profound, Driving to Treblinka sets out in pursuit of the truth about the life and death of the author’s father. Diana Wichtel traces his story back to Poland, and from the Jewish ghetto and a miraculous escape from execution at the Nazi death camp in Treblinka to a new life in Canada and another heart-wrenching separation from family. As uplifting as it is upsetting, Driving to Treblinka delivers an engrossing account of a life, and the indelible legacy of the Holocaust through the generations.

>> Go to the OCKHAMETER.

18/03/2018 12:07 AM

The long list for the 2018 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE was announced this week. There are some excellent books included. Click through to find out more, and to read our reviews of several of them. 

16/03/2018 10:19 AM

The short lists for the OCKHAM NEW ZEALAND BOOK AWARDS have just been announced. The winners will be announced on 15 May.
Acorn Foundation Fiction PrizeThe New Animals by Pip Adam (VUP);Salt Picnic by Patrick Evans (VUP); Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson); Baby by Annaleese Jochems (VUP). 
PoetryAnchor Stone by Tony Beyer (Cold Hub Press); Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither (AUP); Rāwāhi by Briar Wood (Anahera Press); The Yield by Sue Wootton (Otago UP). 
Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-FictionDancing with the King: The rise and fall of the King Country, 1864-1885 by Michael Belgrave (AUP); Tears of Rangi: Experiments across worlds by Anne Salmond (AUP); Drawn Out: A seriously funny memoir by Tom Scott (Allen & Unwin); Driving to Trebrinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press). 
Illustrated Non-FictionTuai: A traveller in two worlds by Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins (Bridget Williams Books); Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson (AUP); Gordon Walters: New vision by Zara Stanhope et al (Auckland Art Gallery & Dunedin Public Art Gallery); The Face of Nature: An environmental history of the Otago Peninsula by Jonathan West (Otago UP). 

16/03/2018 10:18 AM

The long list for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Baileys Prize) has just been announced. There are some excellent books included. Click through to make your choice. 

07/03/2018 03:26 PM

A selection of 
compiled for International Women's Day (8.3.18).
Discover a new author.
The Complete Stories by Leonora Carrington         $38
“Carrington’s stories are optimistic and nihilistic, beautiful and grotesque, tender and cruel. She never contented herself with something simple or trite.” - Sheila Heti
“Her stories are vivid, funny and surprisingly fresh, combining satire with surrealist situations to deftly mock the pomposity of organized religion, sexual repression or the endless forms of bureaucratic hypocrisy and ineptitude.” - The New York Times
>> Leonora Carrington at VOLUME.
Inside Madeleine by Paula Bomer       $32
A collection of raw but unflinching stories, all examining the complexities of women's relationships with and through their bodies.
"Bomer offers her characters no outs only the creeping sense that they're doomed to swing forever between futile attempts at self-determination." - The New York Times
 "Reading Paula Bomer is like being attacked by a rabid dog - and feeling grateful for it. This is some of the rawest and most urgent writing I can remember encountering." - Jonathan Franzen

Black Ice Matter by Gina Cole        $32
A collection of short stories exploring connections between extremes of heat and cold. Sometimes this is spatial or geographical; sometimes it is metaphorical. Sometimes it involves juxtapositions of time; sometimes heat appears where only ice is expected. In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream. These are some of the unpredictable stories in this collection that follow themes of ice and glaciers in the heat of the South Pacific and take us into unusual lives and explorations.
"Aotearoa New Zealand has yet to hear a voice as striking as this one from its Pasifika diaspora: Fijian-infused, queer-inflected, and crafted with legal precision." - Selina Tusitala Marsh
The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook       $37
When her mother, a former slave, is killed by the panther that also leaves herself disfigured, Samantha crosses the Texan frontier with her brother Benjamin, and, with an unlikely posse, seeks revenge on this implacable and unknowable force of nature. 

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton        $37
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, was a poet, philosopher, essayist and playwright in the 17th century. Eccentric, erratically shy but desiring of fame, she was both shunned and celebrated by the aristocracy and the thinkers of the time. Dutton’s fictional account of this fascinating character is lively and absorbing. 
"A small miracle of imaginative sympathy." - Guardian
>> A Description of the New World, Called the Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish
>> An introduction to her philosophical work.

Not One Day by Anne Garréta         $30
An intimate exploration of the delicate connection between memory, fantasy, lover and desire, written under strict OuLiPian constraints: a tour de force of experimental queer feminist writing. 
Winner of the Prix Médicis.
"For Garréta, it may just be possible that the body occupies the space of language so powerfully as its capacity to produce it." - BOMB

Roxy by Esther Gerritsen          $35
When Roxy's husband and his lover are killed in a car accident, Roxy will not be denied her revenge. Who will she direct this at, though?Written in a concise, lucid style, this book is a clear exploration of the emotional weight grief and anger lever upon ordinary details. 
Gerritsen's skillful writing creates tension with its forward-propelling relentless plot, a compelling awkward narrator and uncertain outcomes. The clever ironic conversations between the characters and zany happenings hit you like a slap, while what is unsaid, what is hinted at and implied between the words and lines on the page, jolts you awake. Like CravingRoxy is a candid portrayal of damage and trauma, sometimes shocking, often blackly funny.
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti         $27
This book is at once an excoriating self-examination, a pitiless self-satire (although it may in fact not be as satirical as it seems to be) and an unforgivably self-indulgent exercise in self-exposure (and is these things all at once and not by turns). You will be irritated by Sheila, but she is irritating in pretty much the same way that you are irritating to yourself, and you will grow tired of Sheila, but in the same way that you grow tired of yourself. You will put the book aside, but, without really knowing why, you will keep coming back to it in pretty much the same way you keep coming back to vaguely important but imprecise and somewhat irritating aspects of your own life. Sheila nobly asks herself “How should a person be?”, and gets the same unsatisfactory, earnest and ridiculous answers as you would get if you asked yourself the same impossible question. The book contains passages of painful honesty and vapid bullshit (both at the same time, mostly), and beautiful, sad and hilarious passages, too (again, beautiful, sad and hilarious all at once and not by turns). By asking big questions in a life that contains only small answers, Sheila holds herself up to show us that we don’t know how to be, or how to make our lives the way we want them, or even to know what we want with any sureness or consistency. 
Baby by Annaleese Jochems           $30
"Sultry, sinister, hilarious and demented, Baby blazes with intelligence and murderous black humour. Heavenly Creatures for a new generation." – Eleanor Catton
"Patricia Highsmith meets reality TV in this compelling debut. Jochems nudges up the tension until we can’t bear to look – and can’t bear to look away: thrilling, dangerous and deliciously funny." – Catherine Chidgey 
"This funny, sexy, unnerving novel challenges received ideas and delivers jolts of pleasure and disquiet throughout. Jochems, like her extraordinary creation Cynthia, is a force to be reckoned with." –Emily Perkins
>> "The best novel of 2017." - Spinoff

Short-listed for the 2018 Acorn Prize in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
Mildew by Pauline Jonguitud      $26
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, a woman finds a green spot on her pubis. She scrapes at it half-heartedly but fails to remove it and it rapidly spreads over her lower body, a sort of mould or fungus about which she seems strangely not distressed but even seems to become rather fond of. As she wanders about her house, she wanders also through her memories, particularly concerning her niece, with whom she shares a name (and all the literary doubling that that implies), and the switching of her husband’s affections from the older to the younger Constanza. The further the mildew spreads, the less grip the narrator has on the habitual patterns of her life, or, rather, the less she is gripped by them, and the more her memories are shown to be arbitrary, partial, unreliable, self-seeking (or self-harming). As the mildew spreads, the reader, too, finds their grip on facts loosened and the psychological forces which underlie the narrative send filaments up through the pores in the surface of reality and softly overwhelm both its momentum and its meaning. Despite the great psychological weight carried in this book it is written very lightly and directly, with a sharp pen and not a wasted word, and the damp claustrophobia of the narrator’s mind is perfectly expressed, as is the release she (sort of) experiences as the mould or fungus becomes a symptom and externalises whatever it is that it is a symptom of.   
When I Hit You: Or, A portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy      $28
Seduced by politics, poetry and an enduring dream of building a better world together, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor. Moving with him to a rain-washed coastal town, she swiftly learns that what for her is a bond of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of an obedient wife, bullying her and devouring her ambition of being a writer in the process, she attempts to push back - a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape. At once the chronicle of an abusive marriage and a celebration of the power of art, this is a smart, fierce and courageous take on traditional wedlock in modern India.
"It would take Carol Ann Duffy, Caroline Criado-Perez, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie to match Kandasamy's infinite variety." - Independent 
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus        $23
First published in 1997, long before Knausgaard and Heti, this novel was a well-placed detonation beneath the wall dividing memoir and fiction. Ostensibly an account of Kraus’s all-consuming middle-aged crush on a man she has met only briefly and who has seemingly done nothing to encourage her obsession, the first half of the book consists of a hilarious compilation of letters addressed to ‘Dick’ by Kraus and her husband, with whom she plays a hugely ironic game of cultural and psycho-social toe-to-toe positioning. Following the delivery of the great mass of letters to ‘Dick’, Kraus and her husband separate and Kraus continues to pursue the passive ‘Dick’, who remains a tabula rasa for her projections, until he becomes little more than a ‘dear diary’ figure, recipient of essay-letters concerning art and cultural theory. Kraus pursues her ‘crush’ through a maze of received social constructs and gender-role expectations with a snide irony that both deepens and ridicules the pathos of her rather abject attempts to ‘possess’ ‘Dick’. A letter from the ‘real’ Dick at the end implies that the liaisons recounted in the second half of the book are entirely fictional, and that Kraus has used her projected ‘Dick’ as a sort of catalyst to examine and make changes in her personal and artistic life. In any quest for authenticity, each manifestation of the personal is a struggle with the demands of form. Here, Kraus forces the bourgeois genre of the epistolary novel to burst from interior pressure to allow the first person to penetrate from the letters into the more empowering narratorial frame.
Moonbath by Yanick Lahens         $30
A Haitian family is burdened by a curse lasting generations. This novel gives insight into the lives of disenfranchised women in the Caribbean. 
"Lahens describes her country with a forceful beauty - the destruction that befell it, political opportunism, families torn apart, and the spellbinding words of Haitian farmers who solely rely on subterranean powers." -Donyapress
Winner (in French) of the Prix Femina, 2014. 

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride        $30
Very occasionally you come across a book that impresses itself upon you so heavily that the next several books you read seem contrived and inconsequential by comparison. Eimear McBride’s story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, the on-going impact of his childhood brain tumour, their mother’s hysterical Catholicism and the narrator’s increasingly chaotic and self-annihilating sexuality is tremendously affecting because of the highly original (and note-perfect) way in which the author has broken and remade language to match the thought-patterns of the narrator. Short sentences like grit in the mind, snatches of unassimilable experience, syntax fractured by trauma, the uncertain, desperately repeated and painfully abandoned attempts to wring a gram of meaning or even beauty out of compound tragedy, to carry on, both living and telling, despite the impossibility of carrying on, situate the reader right inside the narrator’s head. This book is upsetting, intense, compassionate, revelatory, unflinching, and sometimes excoriatingly funny. It gives access to what you would have thought inaccessible. 
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado        $28
Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A sales assistant makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the dresses she sells. A woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest.
"Carmen Maria Machado is the best writer of cognitive dysphoria I’ve read in years. " - Tor
"Life is too short to be afraid of nothing." - Machado

Oreo by Fran Ross         $28
A playful, modernised parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery. First published in 1974. 

"A brilliant and biting satire, a feminist picaresque, absurd, unsettling, and hilarious, Ross' novel, with its Joycean language games and keen social critique, is as playful as it is profound. Criminally overlooked. A knockout." Kirkus
The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn       $27
When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: she cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object - and other women of Zion follow suit- the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray.

Black Wave by Michelle Tea      $32
Desperate to quell her addiction to drugs, disastrous romance, and nineties San Francisco, Michelle heads south for LA. But soon it's officially announced that the world will end in one year, and life in the sprawling metropolis becomes increasingly weird.While living in an abandoned bookstore, dating Matt Dillon, and keeping an eye on the encroaching apocalypse, Michelle begins a new novel, a sprawling and meta-textual exploration to complement her promises of maturity and responsibility. But as she struggles to make queer love and art without succumbing to self-destructive vice, the boundaries between storytelling and everyday living begin to blur, and Michelle wonders how much she'll have to compromise her artistic process if she's going to properly ride out doomsday.
"I worship at the altar of this book. A keen portrait of a subculture, an instant classic in life-writing, a go-for-broke exemplar of queer feminist imagination, a contribution to crucial, ongoing conversations about whose lives matter, Black Wave is a rollicking triumph." - Maggie Nelson
The Complete Madame Realism by Lynne Tillman       $35
Through her use of her fictional character Madame Realism, Tillman devised a new genre of writing that melded fiction and theory, sensation and critical thought, disseminating her third-person art writer's observations in such magazines as Art in America and in a variety of art exhibition catalogs and artist books. Two decades after the original publication of these texts, her approach to investigation through embodied thought has been absorbed by a new generation of artists and writers. Provocative and wholly pleasurable, Tillman's stories/essays dissect the mundane with alarming precision.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas            $35
In an increasingly plausible dystopian future America, women's reproductive rights have been overturned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers.
"Leni Zumas here proves she can do almost anything. Red Clocks is funny, mordant, baroque, political, poetic, alarming, and inspiring -not to mention a way forward for fiction now." - Maggie Nelson
"A lyrical and beautifully observed reflection on women's lives." — Naomi Alderman, The New York Times
>> Read an extract
>> Keri Hulme is an object of her gratitude

23/02/2018 06:06 PM

How to Write
Sometimes you need more than a pencil and paper.
Come and browse our display of books on writing, or click through to reserve the books you need. 
Syllabus: Notes of an accidental professor by Lynda Barry     $35
A very enjoyable set of writing classes presented graphically, especially good for those who appreciate the cross-fertilising potential of visual and verbal creativity. 
Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino         $24
"Words connect the visible track to the invisible thing, like a fragile makeshift bridge cast across the void." Calvino explores what he regards as the cardinal virtues of literature: Lightness, Quickness, Multiplicity, Exactitude and Visibility (Constancy was to be the sixth, but Calvino died while writing this book). Very thoughtful. 

How to Write Like Tolstoy: A journey into the minds of our greatest writers by Richard Cohen        $22
"This book is a wry, critical friend to both writer and reader. It is filled with cogent examples and provoking statements. You will agree or quarrel with each page, and be a sharper writer and reader by the end." - Hilary Mantel
Literature Class by Julio Cortázar       $40
Cortazar's novels and short stories ignited a whole generation of Latin American writers, and had an enthusiastic following through the Americas and Europe. In this series of masterclasses he discusses his approach to the problems and mechanisms of fiction writing: the short story form, fantasy and realism, musicality, the ludic, time and the problem of 'fate'. 
"Anyone who doesn't read Cortazar is doomed." - Pablo Neruda

The Very Short Story Starter: 101 flash fiction prompts for creative writing by John Gillard         $35
Useful and fun, this workbook will help you think about your writing in different ways, and find ways to incorporate it into your daily routines. 
The Situation and the Story: The art of personal narrative by Vivian Gornick          $32
In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth. How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell?
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr       $35
"Karr is a national treasure-that rare genius who's also a brilliant teacher. This joyful celebration of memoir packs transcendent insights with trademark hilarity. Anyone yearning to write will be inspired, and anyone passionate to live an examined life will fall in love with language and literature all over again. " - George Saunders

I Should Be Writing: A writer's workshop by Mur Lafferty       $23
Prompts! Exercises! Encouragement!
>> Podcasts!

Write to the Point: How to be clear, correct and persuasive on the page by Sam Leith          $33
Writing effectively is partly a matter of not making common mistakes and partly a matter of learning a few key skills. 
Write to the Centre: Navigating life with gluestick and words by Helen Lehndorf     $35
On the use of collage journaling to prepare the mind for writing. 
Juicy Writing: Inspiration and techniques for young writers by Brigid Lowry      $24
Doodle, daydream and discover your creativity - then write hard into the wild land of your imagination. 
Letters to a Young Writer: Some practical and philosophical advice by Colum McCann        $25
Create Your Own Universe: How to invent stories, characters and ideas by The Brothers McLeod        $25
Young creative types can use this book to accelerate their ideas for stories, animations, graphic novels, films, books, &c (and have a lot of fun, too). 

Draft No.4: On the process of writing by John McPhee         $37
A very useful guide for writers, especially on the aspects of a work, such as structure, that should go unnoticed by the reader. 
>> Read an excerpt. 
"A master class in writing. Every sentence sparkles. A superb book." - Kirkus 
"Matchless teaching from a master of the form—seductive, trustworthy and endearingly modest." - Helen Garner 

Children's Writer's Notebook: 20 great writers and 70 writing exercises by Wes Magee        $23
Notable for its range of writing exercises devised specifically for those writing for children.
The Exercise Book: Creative writing exercises from Victoria University's Institute of Modern Letters edited by Bill Manhire, Ken Duncum, Chris Price and Damien Wilkins      $35
Fifty writing exercises and countless triggers. Great stuff. Includes contributions from Elanor Catton, Curtis Sittenfeld, Emily Perkins, David Vann, Elizabeth and Sara Knox, Dora Malech and Kirsty Gunn. 

The Kite and the String: How to write with spontaneity and control - and live to tell the tale by Alice Mattison         $35
"An insightful guide to the stages of writing fiction and memoir without falling into common traps, while wisely navigating the writing life, from an award-winning author and longtime teacher.
A book-length master class." - The Atlantic 
Writing True Stories: The complete guide to writing autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, travel and creative non-fiction by Patti Miller       $40

The Story Cure: A book doctor's pain-free guide to finishing your novel or memoir by Dinty W. Moore         $35
A pharmocopoeia of cures for writer's block, plotting and characterization issues, and other ailments writers face when completing a novel or memoir, prescribed by the director of creative writing at Ohio University.
A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry by Gregory Orr      $26
Writing exercises, topics such as the personal and cultural threshold, the four forces that animate poetic language, tactics of revision, ecstasy and engagement as motives for poetry.

The Fuse Box: Essays on creative writing from Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters edited by Emily Perkins and Chris Price           $35
Contributions from James Brown, Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Damien Wilkins, Bill Manhire, Charlotte Wood, Ashleigh Young and Hera Lindsay Bird.

Daemon Voices: Essays on storytelling by Philip Pullman         $38
Interesting and enjoyable considerations of storymaking from the author of 'His Dark Materials', 'The Book of Dust', 'Sally Lockhart', &c. 

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau         $25
Take one small banal story about a man on a bus and a remark about a button, and rewrite it ninety-nine times according to different constraints, from sonnet to antiphrasis, from onomatopoeia to metaphor, from Dog Latin to double entry, from the gastronomical to the abusive, and you come up with a book that is inventive, erudite and very funny. Raymond Queneau is a verbal acrobat of the first order. Reading this book is to attend a circus of rigours - be prepared to be exhilarated.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke       $3
Advice on writing, love, sex, suffering, writing (again) and the nature of advice. 
Reality Hunger: A manifesto by David Shields         $30
“Who owns the words? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us. Though not all of us know it, yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.” At once iconoclastic and appropriative (most of the book is comprised of unattributed quotes from everyone from from Burroughs to Barthes, from Plutarch to Picasso, from Thoreau to Joyce), Shields maintains that actuality provides sufficient material for creative pursuit and that nothing needs to be (or can be) a game of 'let's pretend'. Shields is bored with the novel, he is fed up with the made up, he wants more immediacy, less artifice, more pace, he wants to be a ‘wisdom junkie’, he wants to feel really alive, he longs to escape his jaded state in the arms of the lyric essay or the memoir. Shields is against fiction (at least in the way it is generally understood), but he is ambiguous about 'reality', too: "There are no facts, only art." As an impassioned call for relevance, excitement and innovation in literature, Reality Hunger makes a challenge that deserves to be met.
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel: What to read and how to write by Jane Smiley       $36
A good overview of the purpose, qualities and potentials of a novel, with consideration of 101 novels from the entire history of the form. 
The Writer's Diet by Helen Sword        $25
A useful handbook for trimming the fat from your prose, leaving it lean, toned and fit for any purpose.
>> Is your writing flabby or fit? Take the test
Pilot 2018: A diary for writers      $15 (half price!)
An excellent diary with deadlines, writers' events, tips and ways to keep yourself both motivated and organised. 

20/02/2018 01:08 PM

There are some excellent books on the just-announced 2018 short list.
Blue Self-Portrait by Noémi Lefebvre (Les Fugitives)       $32
It takes approximately an hour and a half to fly from Berlin to Paris. Upon that hour and a half, a human memory, especially one working at neurotically obsessive speed, can loop a very large amount of time indeed, an hour and a half is plenty of time to go over and go over the things, or several of the things, the unassimilable things, that happened in Berlin, in an attempt to assimilate those things, though they are not assimilable, in an attempt, rather, albeit an involuntary attempt, to damage oneself by the exercise of one’s memories, to draw self-blame and self-disgust from a situation the hopelessness of which cannot be attributed to anything worthy of self-blame or self-disgust but which is sufficiently involved to exercise the self-blame and self-disgust that seethe always beneath their veneer of not-caring, of niceness, the veneer that preserves self-blame and self-disgust from resolution into anything other than self-blame and self-disgust. Upon this hour and a half can be looped, such is the efficacy of human memory, not only, obsessively, the unassimilable things that happened in Berlin but also much else that happened even into the distant past, but, largely speaking, the more recent things that have bearing upon, or occupy the same memory-pocket, not the best metaphor, as the unassimilable things that happened in Berlin, for disappointment and failure seldom happen in a vacuum but resonate with, even if they are not the direct result of, disappointments and failures reaching back even into the distant past, self-blame and self-disgust having the benefit, or detriment, if a difference can be told between benefit and detriment, of binding experiences to form an identity, and, not only this, upon that hour and a half can be looped also an endless amount of speculation and projection as to what may be occurring in the minds of others, or in the mind of, in this case, a specific other, a German-American pianist and composer with whom the narrator, who has been visiting Berlin with her sister, has had some manner of romantic encounter, so to call it, the extent of which is unclear, both, seemingly, to the narrator and, certainly, to the reader, the reader being necessarily confined to the mental claustrophobia of the narrator, on account of the obsessive speculation and projection and also the inescapable escapist and self-abnegating fantasising on the part of the narrator, together with the comet-like attraction-and-avoidance of her endless mental orbit around the most unassimilable things that happened in Berlin, or that might have happened in Berlin, or that did not happen in Berlin but are extrapolative fantasies unavoidably attendant upon what happened in Berlin, untrue but just as real as truth, for all thoughts, regardless of actuality, do the same damage to the brain. Lefebvre’s exquisitely pedantic, fugue-like sentences, their structure perfectly indistinguishable from their content, bestow upon her the mantle of Thomas Bernhard, which, after all, does not fall upon just any hem-plucker but, in this case, fully upon someone who, not looking skyward, has crawled far enough into its shadow when looking for something else. Where Bernhard’s narrators tend to direct their loathing outwards until the reader realises that all loathing is in fact self-loathing, Lefebvre’s narrator acknowledges her self-loathing and self-disgust, abnegating herself rather for circumstances in which self-abnegation is neither appropriate nor inappropriate, her self-abnegation arising from the circumstances, from her connection with the circumstances, from her rather than from the circumstances, her self-abnegation not, despite her certainty, having, really, any effect upon the circumstances. Not at all not-funny, pitch-perfect in both voice and structure, full of sly commentary on history and modernity, and on the frailties of human personality and desire, providing for the reader simultaneous resistance and release, Lefebvre shares many of Bernhard’s strengths and qualities, and the book contains memorable and effective passages such as that in which the narrator recalls playing tennis with her mother-in-law, now her ex-mother-in-law, and finding she is not the type for ‘collective happiness’, or her hilariously scathing descriptions of Berlin’s Sony Centre or of Brecht’s house, now a restaurant, or of the narrator's inability to acknowledge the German-American pianist-composer's wife as anything but 'the accompaniment', or, indeed many other passages, but the excellence of the book is perhaps less in the passages than in the book as a whole. I will be surprised if I read a better book this year.    {THOMAS}
Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz (Charco Press)      $32
If a thought is thought it must be thought through to its end. This formula is productive both of great misery and of great literature, but, for most people, either consequence is fairly easily avoided through a simple lack of tenacity or focus, or through fear. Unfortunately, we are not all so easily saved from ourselves by such shortcomings. The narrator of Ariana Harwicz’s razor-fine novel Die, My Love finds herself living in the French countryside with a husband and young child, 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. She both longs for and is revolted by family life with her husband and child, the violence of her ambivalences make her incapable of either accepting or changing a situation about which there is nothing ostensibly wrong, she withdraws into herself, and, as the gap separating herself from the rest of existence widens, her attempts to bridge it become both more desperate and more doomed, further widening the gap. Every detail of everything around her causes her pain and harms her ability to feel anything other than the opposite of the way she feels she should feel. This negative electrostatic charge, so to call it, builds and builds but she is unable to discharge it, to return her situation to ‘normal’, to relieve the torment. In some ways, the support and love of her husband make it harder to regain a grip on ‘reality’ - if her husband had been a monster, her battles could have been played out in their home rather than inside her (it is for this reason, perhaps, that people subconsciously choose partners who will justify the negative feelings towards which they are inclined). The narrator feels more affinity with animals than with humans, she behaves erratically or not at all, she becomes obsessed with a neighbour but the encounters with him that she describes, and the moments of self-obliterative release they provide, are, I would say, entirely fantasised. Between these fantasies and ‘objective reality’, however, falls a wide area about which we and she must remain uncertain whether her perceptions, understandings and reactions are accurate or appropriate. At times the narrator’s love for her child creates small oases of anxiety in her depression, but these become rarer. Harwicz’s writing is exquisite, both sensitive and brutal, both lucid and claustrophobic, her observations both subtle and overwhelming. As the narrator loses her footing, the writer ensures that we are borne with her on through the novel, an experience not dissimilar to gathering speed downhill in a runaway pram*. (*Not a spoiler.)    {THOMAS}
Darker With the Lights On by David Hayden (Little Island Press)       $32
The act of writing is an act of forgetting as much as it is an act of memory. Description replaces experience, if there was experience there to start with, or otherwise description precludes the experience described, permitting experience only of itself. The pencil’s mark obscures whatever line it traces. That which is described becomes digestible as text, becomes definite, finite and defined. Whatever is described becomes ersatz, the currency of exchange between a writer and a reader, the tin chip passed between parties to a language game, pretending understanding, pretending being understood, the cosiest, most intimate of couplings. How reassuring to have one’s expectations fulfilled by text, but how tiresome, this pact-as-habit, this plethora of detail, this obsessive mentioning that enervates the experience that gets obscured by words. But every signifier has its limit. Every mentioned thing is mentioned at the exclusion of another thing, the excluded or unincludable thing that pushes the mentioned into view while remaining, carefully, out of sight, hidden in the place of greater force, unseen, unfaced, the unseeable and unfaceable warping the mentioning by exerting its weight upon it from behind. A reader has no business to supply anything beyond the text, but also has to complete the text with nothing but their own paltry store of experiences to supply the meanings of the words. How to proceed? How to read the unseen mechanics behind but not referred to by the text? The reader too has ungraspable weights that can be induced to rise and touch the undersurface of the text, pressing up upon it as those of the author press down, two sides of one skin, the text the shared rind of two ungraspable depths, if there are such things as depths, otherwise, without depths, a synclastic and anticlastic flexing of the only surface, two dimensions modelled in a third. If it is what is excluded that potentises text, if it is what is destroyed by writing that makes writing do what writing does, then the stories of David Hayden in Darker with the Lights On move like the sharpened tip of a great black crayon as it scribbles out all memory and knowledge. Not in these stories the reassurance of the expected, nor that of continuity or clarity. Answers are not given, perhaps withheld, though withholding requires an existence for which no evidence ensues, but we are participants in the ritual taking away of knowledge, the deanswering of questions, itself a sort of understanding. Many of the stories concern themselves with the tensions between memory and perception, between two times running concurrently, memory snarling on details and producing not-quite-narrative but a stuttering intimation of the vast force of passing time. What unfaceable calamity bridged the idyll of memory with the torment of the present? In ‘Dick’, for me, perhaps, the most memorable story in the collection, the main character is buried to the waist in the sand, declaring snippets of memory, of idyll even, like some character shoved from Beckett to somewhere beyond the apocalypse, declarative not in Beckettian wearidom and decline but in extremis, the object of some cruelty, disoriented by their own presence, spouting words such as those that may have spoken by the condemnee in Kafka’s ‘Penal Colony’ reading aloud the words as they are inscribed into his flesh by the harrow. It often seems Hayden’s characters’ backgrounds are withheld not only from the reader but seemingly also from the characters themselves. They are being dememorised by their stories, or they exist, as perhaps we all do, with great voids where stories could be expected to be. But stories come from somewhere, unseen, and visit themselves upon us. “There were stories everywhere. Stories in the body, stories in and out of time, stories in the chosen and the unchosen, stories under glass, stories under water, stories under flesh, hot and cold, stories in tumult and silence.” Remembering and inventing contest the same attention, preclude each other but find themselves indistinguishable from one another, as a matter of course in fiction, more problematically so in the lives of writers and of readers. The characters are disoriented but grasp at every chance to climb into, or out of, some awareness: “He senses his head thinking, his trunk big and loose, his delicate fingers flickering at the ends of his arms and decides that he is conscious: real.” The stories’ worlds are composed of granules of awareness, snatches of phrases forced out against their silencing. Reading is akin to viewing through a narrow tube: the perspective is limited but the focus is immense. What is not seen is always there, deforming what is seen, but unglimpsable, unassailable beyond the vertigo of any attempt to look in its direction. Hayden produces a spare disorienting beauty on the level of the sentence. His admixture of restraint, even paucity, and excess, produces a surrealism truncated rather than efflorescent, its effects cumulative rather than expansive, a surrealism not the furthest expression of surrealism’s usual tired romantic literary inclinations but of their opposite, their extinguishment, not the surrealism of dreams but of the repetitive banging of the back of the head as the reader is dragged down a flight of steps, their eyes either closed or open.    {THOMAS}
Gaudy Bauble by Isabel Waidner (Dostoyevsky Wannabe)         $26
It is overwhelmingly, facetiously tempting to call Gaudy Bauble a detective novel, principally because it is one (a fake detective novel is just as much a detective novel as a non-fake one, if there can be such a thing as a non-fake detective novel). In Gaudy Bauble the detectives, so to call them, never actually detect anything, they never leave their flats (except for dental repairs, &c), they are effectively ineffectual, placebos, and, when the lost budgerigar that triggered the investigation, so to call it, returns, it is not due to any detecting on their part. “Is not detective work labelling work?” states a voice, presumably that of P.I. Belahg, a writer mainly not writing the script for a television series seemingly entitled Querbird, being filmed by Blulip, Belahg’s lesbian Gilbert-and-George-like double, a film-maker whose ideas change faster than they can be realised. The investigation gains no traction not because there is a lack of evidence but because there is too much. Everything is evidence of something (or of everything). The investigation gains no traction because it is too thorough. The details are too much evidence to amount to anything in particular, only to everything. Every detail, every association, every etymological permutation, every taxonomy, every history, every identity is interrogated and dissolved, every distinction is ruptured, the narrative, so to call it, constantly derailed by detail and by the refusal of detail to retain a fixed identity. In total flux, attributions and prescribed identities function as little more than costumes (clothes have more stable identities than persons), everything mentioned becomes activated by that mentioning, becomes a protagonist, pulls the plot, so to call it, towards it, off course, if it could be said ever to have had a course, or to be a plot. The world, after all, consists not of plot, which is always a fictive result of arbitrary interpretation of an unjustifiably normative kind, but of details, details about which little of certainty can be said without making similarly normative transgressions against their true nature, which lies not in identity but in momentum. In flux, in the tohubohu which is the natural state of all entities and from which entities become exiled at the moment they become entities, the state to which all entities long to return, the only certainty that can be maintained is that of momentum, if a certainty can be maintained at all. Gaudy Bauble retains all the excitement and pace and rigour of a detective novel. More and more characters appear, change names, blur their distinctions, overwhelm the narrative from locations in its margins or beyond: “There can never be too many crackpot agents. There could never be too much hyperactive riffraff interfering with events.” The dichotomy between the performative and the authentic is constantly ruptured, as if this dichotomy were a wall set to measure and constrain us, against which it is our nature to rebel, to seek release into illimitable inclusivity. The conflation of the performative and the authentic manifests in a doubling of entities, not only of P.I. Belahg and Blulip, but of the actual and the representation: budgerigar and statuette, tooth and denture, the characters and their appearances on the TV show Querbird. All categories are in flux. There may be a lost budgerigar, a broken tooth, statuettes, and so forth, but these categories are not exclusive of other categories, and tend always, by ontological clinamen, towards these categories. This ontology, since something must be said, or since the author, in choosing to write the novel, has put it about that something must be said in order for the novel to be written, makes language the territory in which this clinamen, this queerness in the nature of the particles, will in this instance be traced. All presences, all absences, all substances, all entities, all dissolutions, all metamorphoses, all wounds and all healing of wounds, are exercises of language, are both problems of language and solutions to these problems of language. Waidner, with nothing more constrained than hyperactive brilliance, somehow combines the register of Janet & John or the Teletubbies with that of specialist academic obscurantism without being anywhere between these poles, for only the extremes are worth conflating. At times there are similarities of rhythm with texts written under lipogrammatic or other artificial constraints, or with the lyric style of Mark E. Smith, or with impromptu dramatic performances using only the text of foreign-language phrasebooks (recommended). “Might sea urchin odontogenesis, fully understood, provide the biochemical tools to transform mainstream prosthodontics?” But, really, the book is quite unlike anything else, and is an exemplar of the sort of enjoyable and uncompromising queering experiment at the edge of literature and with the substance of literature itselfthat literature so desperately needs if it is to open new potentials within itself. When the novel comes to a (sort-of) end, new, more fluid entities have been achieved in a game of ‘real-life’ Exquisite Corpse, the budgerigar has returned, the momentum of the investigation has been expended. “The truth is the only thing left now. The truth ate everyone else alive.”   {THOMAS}
We That Are Young by Preti Taneja (Galley Beggar Press)       $38
A sprawling but incisive retelling of King Lear, set against a backdrop of tradition, misogyny and corruption in modern India.
Long-listed for the Republic of Consciousness Prize.  
>> Modern rewritings of King Lear tend to have Lear the CEO of a corporation. See also Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn. 

Attrib. And other stories by Eley Williams (Influx Press)       $32
This collection from centres upon the difficulties of communication and the way thoughts may never be fully communicable and yet can overwhelm you. Attrib. celebrates the tricksiness of language just as it confronts its limits. The stories are littered with the physical ephemera of language: dictionaries, dog-eared pages, bookmarks and old coffee stains on older books. 
"Vividly imagined instants of mental disarray." - Guardian

>> Attrib. has been awarded the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize!!

16/02/2018 04:56 PM

Featured publisher: CHARCO PRESS
Charco Press is a new publisher of contemporary literature in translation from Latin America. Based in Edinburgh, Charco is run by Argentinian-born Carolina Orloff and New Zealand-born Samuel McDowell. Click through to visit their website and learn more about these authors and their booksTheir first five titles are all from Argentina: 
Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz           $30
If a thought is thought it must be thought through to its end. This formula is productive both of great misery and of great literature, but, for most people, either consequence is fairly easily avoided through a simple lack of tenacity or focus, or through fear. Unfortunately, we are not all so easily saved from ourselves by such shortcomings. The narrator of Ariana Harwicz’s razor-fine novel Die, My Love finds herself living in the French countryside with a husband and young child, 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. She both longs for and is revolted by family life with her husband and child, the violence of her ambivalences make her incapable of either accepting or changing a situation about which there is nothing ostensibly wrong, she withdraws into herself, and, as the gap separating herself from the rest of existence widens, her attempts to bridge it become both more desperate and more doomed, further widening the gap. Every detail of everything around her causes her pain and harms her ability to feel anything other than the opposite of the way she feels she should feel. This negative electrostatic charge, so to call it, builds and builds but she is unable to discharge it, to return her situation to ‘normal’, to relieve the torment. In some ways, the support and love of her husband make it harder to regain a grip on ‘reality’ - if her husband had been a monster, her battles could have been played out in their home rather than inside her (it is for this reason, perhaps, that people subconsciously choose partners who will justify the negative feelings towards which they are inclined). The narrator feels more affinity with animals than with humans, she behaves erratically or not at all, she becomes obsessed with a neighbour but the encounters with him that she describes, and the moments of self-obliterative release they provide, are, I would say, entirely fantasised. Between these fantasies and ‘objective reality’, however, falls a wide area about which we and she must remain uncertain whether her perceptions, understandings and reactions are accurate or appropriate. At times the narrator’s love for her child creates small oases of anxiety in her depression, but these become rarer. Harwicz’s writing is exquisite, both sensitive and brutal, both lucid and claustrophobic, her observations both subtle and overwhelming. As the narrator loses her footing, the writer ensures that we are borne with her on through the novel, an experience not dissimilar to gathering speed downhill in a runaway pram*. (*Not a spoiler). {Review by THOMAS}
>>Die, My Love has just been short-listed for the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize
Fireflies by Luis Segasti          $30
How do we make our histories? Why is it that memory assembles certain illuminated moments into a kind of story? Segasti is fully aware that each moment in life or literature is an amalgam of numerous stories and times, all having bearing on a moment's experience, and concocts this novel with, among other referents,  dashes of Joseph Beuys, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Japanese poets and Russian cosmonauts. 

Southerly by Jorge Consiglio          $32
On the eve of an important battle, a colonel is visited in his tent by an indigenous woman with a message to pass on. A man sets about renovating the house of his childhood, and starts to feel that he might be rebuilding his own life in the process. At a private clinic to treat the morbidly obese, a caregiver has issues of her own. Stories of immigration, marginality, history, intimacy and obsession from an acclaimed Argentinian author. 

The President's Room by Ricardo Romoro         $29
In a nameless suburb in an equally nameless country, every house has a room reserved for the president. No one knows when or why this came to be. It’s simply how things are, and no one seems to question it except for one young boy. Can anyone - the narrator? even the reader? - be trusted to tell the truth? Overtones of Cortázar and Kafka potentise the sinister mystery surrounding the room that is both many rooms and no room. 

Slum Virgin by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara      $32
A Buenos Aires slum is transformed into a tiny utopia when a transvestite is led by a divine revelation to steer the community. The lively separatism of the shantytown attracts and then subsumes a journalist at first intent only on a story.
>> Read an extract.

>> Meet the Publisher

17/01/2018 02:12 PM

Browse some of the themed booklists issued by VOLUME in 2017.

The Booker 6

The Booker dozen

Books on the Brain

Featured publisher: CB Editions

Cultivate your mind with 10 gardening books

Featured publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions

Featured publisher: Les Fugitives

Featured publisher: Hard Press

How Jewish is that?

Lions have all the best books!

Literary Horses

Long Suffrage

Featured publisher: Maungatua Press

Novels retelling legends from Ancient Greece

Object Lessons

Ockham Book Awards

Quirky Books for Dull Days

Rebel Girls

Recent books on Russian history

School holiday wolves

Short Short Short Short Short

Ten Trees

Understanding America

Unstopped Text


The Wellcome Prize


 >> List #1: COOKBOOKS

>> List #2: POLITICS

>> List #3: BIOGRAPHY

>> List #4: SCIENCE

>> List #5: POETRY

>> List #6: FICTION

>> List #7: HISTORY




24/12/2017 04:42 PM


Use the VOLUME GIFT SELECTOR to select books to give away, or to keep for yourself. Click to browse our recommendations.

>> Don't forget, you can always come and talk to us, or e-mail us, about your specific gift requirements. 

>> List #1: COOKBOOKS

>> List #2: POLITICS

>> List #3: BIOGRAPHY

>> List #4: SCIENCE

>> List #5: POETRY

>> List #6: FICTION

>> List #7: HISTORY




14/12/2017 12:24 AM


Scroll this list to select from our recommendations. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection, or ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 

My Dog Mouse by Eva Lindström         $30
A lovely, sensitive picture book about a child's friendship with a very old dog. 

The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen        $28
When a mouse is swallowed by a wolf, a duck already resident in the wolf's belly shows it what a good life can be lived there. How can they defend their home against a hunter? 

Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley          $28
It's not easy being a tough guy. Sometimes things just don't work out. Sometimes tough guys can be frustrated and disappointed. But it's OK to show your feelings, even for tough guys. 

The Longest Breakfast by Jenny Bornholt and Sarah Wilkins        $30
Everyone wants something different for breakfast, but what will Malcolm give them? A lovely story. 

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault     $30
When Virginia wakes up feeling wolfish and starts making noises that frighten the visitors, will her sister be able to charm her back to humanity by painting her a garden called Bloomsberry?

Witchfairy by Brigitte Minne and Carll Cnutt    $30
What do you do if you're tired of being a fairy? Can you be a witch? Can you be both a fairy and a witch?  
Wolfy by Gregoire Solotareff       $30
A wolf who has never seen a rabbit and a rabbit who has never seen a wolf become the best of friends. What happens when they play at scaring each other? 
>> And here they are!

On a Magical, Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna        $28
A beautifully illustrated invocation of the wonders to be found outside on a rainy day. 

Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia O'Hara and Lauren O'Hara      $30
Hortense is irritated by the antics of her shadow, but its ability to take on new forms can be useful when you are threatened by bandits.

The Milk of Dreams by Leonora Carrington        $37
A very surreal picture book written and illustrated by the Surrealist writer and artist for her own children. Meet John, who has wings for ears, Humbert the Beautiful, an insufferable kid who befriends a crocodile and grows more insufferable yet, and the awesome Janzamajoria. 
A Case in Any Case ('Detective Gordon' #3) by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee       $20
Detective Gordon is on holiday, and Buffy is the sole detective at the small police station in the forest. It is not easy for a police officer to be alone. Especially when there are strange noises outside the station at night. The third in this delightful series

The World of Moominvalley by Tove Jansson and Philip Ardagh       $65
At last, an encyclopedia of the world of the Moomins and all the other creatures who live alongside them. 

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by 'his boy', Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather's roof he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. 
Illustrations by John Klassen. 

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson      $25
When 10-year-old Siri's younger sister is captured by the Captain Whitehead's Ice Sea Pirates, she must face wolves, frozen landscapes and treacherous sailors and mermaids as she journeys through the north to rescue her. Completely involving.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok       $28
In Miss Carbunkle's Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, the groundlings (part animal and part human) toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, a one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name - a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck - it is the only home he has ever known. A bird groundling named Trinket gives the Home's loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name and a best friend. The pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of Arthur's true destiny.

>> Read Stella's review.
"Every now and then  there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young adult literature. This is such a book." - Bob Docherty
>> Visit the Wonderling website

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon       $30
Archer B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers (until they got stuck on an iceberg). Now Archer's mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. Archer enlists Adelaide—the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile—and Oliver—the boy next door—to help him rescue his grandparents. Quite delightful, and with illustrations by the author. 

Also available: #2 The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, illustrated by Levi Pinfold       $23
In 1941 Emmaline is evacuated from London to Briar Hill hospital in Shropshire. There she discovers a hopeful deep secret: there are winged horses that live in a world through the hospital mirrors. 
"A remarkable book." - Michael Morpurgo 

DrawnonwarD: A back-to-front tale of hopelessness and hope by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer       $30
The same situation can have quite different interpretations, depending on your perspective. Read in one direction, this piece of graphic invention is a dismal when read in one direction, but full of hope when read in the other. A change of perspective (or reading direction) is all you need to turn your life around.

Nevermoor: The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend       $20
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
"Plenty of tricks, tumbles, twists and trials. Captivating, magical, daring and very good." - Stella (read her review)

Annual 2 edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris         $40
Everything that was ever good about the children's annuals of the past is good about the annuals of the present compiled by Kate De Goldi and Susan Price to include the best New Zealand writing and illustration for children. Last year's Annual was hugely popular, and this year's will be, too. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill        $48
A sumptuously illustrated new gift edition with extra content.
"No wizarding household is complete without a copy." - Albus Dumbledore

The Severed Land by Maurice Gee      $20
A thoughtful, fast-paced adventure with a wonderful heroine. The novel opens with Fliss observing some soldiers and their cannon. Never able to break through the invisible wall, they have become increasingly frustrated with their inability to colonise the other side. As mayhem breaks loose, a drummer boy runs from the soldiers only to find himself stuck between the wall and the barrel of a gun. Fliss, for reasons unknown to her, is able to pull the drummer boy through the wall. Can they journey together to rescue the Nightingale (whatever that is)? The great story-line and compelling characters, brave and stubborn, and their interactions with friends and foes will keep you entranced and leave you wanting more.

The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius         $28
Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she's an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja's turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name. 
"I don't know when I last read a book with such pure and unalloyed pleasure. It's ingenious, it's moving, it's charming, it's beautiful, it's exciting, and most importantly the characters are people I feel I know like old friends." - Philip Pullman

Zeustian Logic by Sabrina Malcolm           $25
If only real life could be like as magical as the stars in the night sky, as escapist as the stories of the Greek gods he tells his little brother to help him sleep at night, or as logical as a mathematical equation. Tuttle (Duncan) would rather look at stars, visit the Carter Observatory and play computer games with his mate, Attila the Pun, but life has other, more urgent things in train for our nerdy teen. Tuttle’s Dad, a once famous, now infamous, mountain climber has been missing, presumed dead in a storm on Mt. Everest, accused of leaving his paying customer to die on the mountain. Tuttle is determined to find out the truth, but more pressing still are his mother’s fall into depression, his younger brother’s anxiety, and how to make sure the family are fed, get to school on time and avoid all the hassles of the social worker and the persistent journalist.
>> Read Stella's review
The Empty Grave ('Lockwood & Co' #5) by Jonathan Stroud        $25
The final knuckle-whitening volume in this excellent series. Will Lucy, George and Lockwood solve the mystery of the plague of ghosts that has been afflicting London? Genuinely scary, genuinely funny, and with great characters, if you haven't read this, start with The Screaming Staircase.
"Jonathan Stroud is a genius." - Rick Riordan

La Belle Sauvage ('The Book of Dust' #1) by Philip Pullmamn       $35
The much anticipated first novel of a wonderful new series from the world of 'His Dark Materials', set ten years before Northern Lights and telling of the strange events surrounding Lyra Belacqua.

>> Also available in hardback
>> "A Triumph." - Read Stella's review

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann       $30
In a story drawn from Arthurian lore, Yvain kills a lord in battle and finds his fate entwined with that of the slain man's widow and that of her maid. Luminously drawn, this graphic novel is both an exploration of knightly virtues and of the lives of medieval women.
"A thoughtful, entertaining, and provocative presentation of this centuries-old story." - Booklist

'Iremonger' trilogy: Heap House, Foulsham, Lungdon by Edward Carey      $19 each
A deliciously written and possibly brain-renovating series following the fortunes of Clod Iremonger, scion of the family that rules over the great waste-heap of London, and Lucy, an irrepressible servant, who must withstand both tradition and novelty, secure their birth-objects, retain or reattain human form and somehow achieve freedom and love despite the forces that beset them on all sides. Brimming with ideas, great characters and genuine jaw-dropping moments. 
Thornhill by Pam Smy          $30
Ella is fascinated by the old house she sees from the window of her new room. "Keep Out" say the signs, but, after she sees a girl in the house's garden, Ella just has to go in. What does she find out about the house and its secrets? Will she ever be able to get back out? A chilling graphic novel.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge         $25
When a creature dies, its spirit can go looking for somewhere to hide. Some people have space inside them, perfect for hiding. Makepeace, a girl with a mysterious past, defends herself nightly from the ghosts which try to possess her. Then a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard for a moment. And now there's a ghost inside her. The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, but it may be her only defence in a time of dark suspicion and fear. As the English Civil War erupts, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession or death.
From the author of the Costa Award-winning The Lie Tree

>> Read Stella's review
"Everyone should read Frances Hardinge. Everyone. Right now." - Patrick Ness
Naondel ('The Red Abbey Chronicles' #2) by Maria Turtschaninoff    $23
In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose - to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.
>> Read the excellent Maresi first (and read Stella's review)!
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe       $30
14-year-old Dita is confined in the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb. In the classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. She becomes the books' librarian. Based on a true story.  

We See Everything by William Sutcliffe          $19
In a near-future, war-ravaged London, impoverished inhabitants are herded into “the Strip”, surveilled constantly by drones and periodically bombed into further submission. Gripping YA dystopia.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas     $20
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school. Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart          $23
Imogen is an heiress, a runaway, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a chameleon, and a liar. Imogen is done pretending to be perfect, and Jule refuses to go back to the person she once was. Somewhere between the mansions of Martha's Vineyard and the shores of Cabo San Lucas, their intense friendship takes a dark turn. From the author of We Were Liars

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green      $30
Aza Holmes is caught in the ever-tightening spirals of her own thoughts. The book also features lifelong friendship, an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and a tuatara. The long-awaited new novel from the author of The Fault in Our Stars (&c). 

08/12/2017 05:12 PM


Scroll this list to select from our recommendations. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection, or ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 

The Book of Bones by Gabrielle Balkan and Sam Brewster       $35
Have a look at the skeletons. Can you work out which animal they belong to, and where the animal lives? Why do these animals have the skeletons they do? Full colour images with textured skeletons give an idea how the animal operates in its natural habitat. 
>> Dry bones

Do Not Lick This Book (It's full of germs) by Idan Ben-Barak and Julain Frost      $23
Min is a microbe. She is small. Very small. In fact so small that you'd need to look through a microscope to see her. Or you can simply open this book and take Min on an adventure to amazing places she's never seen before - like the icy glaciers of your tooth or the twisted, tangled jungle that is your shirt.

Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop      $40
A breathtakingly wonderful large-format visual history of New Zealand, drawn by the inimitable Gavin Bishop. One of the outstanding New Zealand books of the year. 

Wild Animals of the South by Dieter Braun       $45
A beautiful and colourful menagerie of animals living in the southern hemisphere, a companion to Wild Animals of the North

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano          $35
A graphic novel about a refugee boy's journey of hope and desperation. 

Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love         $37
Excellent retellings, with excellent illustrations. Crossley-Holland's versions are both enjoyable and scrupulous to the sources. 
"Kevin Crossley-Holland is the master." - Neil Gaiman

Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davies       $30
From the smallest Pygmy Marmoset to the largest Mandrill, this book provides all the facts you wanted to know (and more). 

Anatomy: A cutaway look inside the human body by Helene Druvert and Jean-Claude Druvert       $45
Here's the human body as you've never seen it before. Clever laser cut-outs, flaps and overlays explore every detail of the organs, systems and senses. 

Good-Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 tales of extraordinary women by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo     $40
100 one-page biographies of inspiring women from all times and all places, each with a wonderful full-page illustration by one of 60 artists (who just happen to all be women), including New Zealander Sarah Wilkins.
>> Watch this!

General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie        $19
A clear and helpful board book. 

Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno       $45
How are mummies made? What's inside a pyramid? A beautifully drawn large-format lift-the-flap book, introducing the world of Ancient Egypt. 

If Apples Had Teeth by Milton and Shirley Glaser        $30
This silly, inventive picture book by the outstanding graphic designer of the protopsychedelic era will make your brain turn somersaults. Facsimile of the original 1960 edition. 

Follow Finn: A search-and-find maze book by Peter Goes       $30
A beautifully drawn and delightfully immersive maze boo with lots to find and an exciting plot. When goblins invade and then flee the house, Finn's dog gives chase - and so must Finn. Hours of fun. 

Women in Sports: 50 fearless athletes who played to win by Rachel  Ignotofsky        $35
A lively, beautifully illustrated survey.
"Rachel Ignotofsky provides young women with the courage and the confidence to follow the exciting paths these women have blazed before them." - Eileen Pollack
>> Also available: Women in Science
Here We Are: Notes for living on planet earth by Oliver Jeffers         $30
"Well, hello. And welcome to this Planet. We call it Earth. Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you've only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let's explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you'll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else. Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you've just got to be kind."

Mixed-Up Masterpieces: Funny faces       $23
Split pages let you make a vast number of different faces from images from the British Museum collection (and have a vast amount of fun). 

Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn't work by Alexandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielinski and Malgorzata Mycielska      $35
Just because something is impossible is no reason not to invent it. Throughout history, humans have dreamed up some improbable ideas. Some of them, while laughed at in their time, have been remarkably prescient of technology of the world centuries in their future. This wonderfully illustrated book, from the inventors of MapsH.O.U.S.Eand D.E.S.I.G.Nrewards hours of rapt attention. 

>> A comic review
A Sea Voyage: A pop-up story about all sorts of boats by Gerard Lo Monaco     $35
Two people and a dog sail out amongst ships of all kinds in this inventive pop-up book. There are even life-rings and mooring ropes. A lovely book. 

Today by Julie Morstad           $28
What should we do today? Where should we go? What should we wear? What should we eat? A beautifully illustrated book (with choices!) about all the options we have available to us every day. 
>> "Maybe I'll read my favourite book. Can you guess what it's about?"

Dinosaurium by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell       $42
A beautifully illustrated large-format book from the wonderful 'Welcome to the Museum' series. The latest facts with a retro feel. 

Cloth Lullaby: The woven life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault        $35

A beautifully illustrated children’s book outlining Bourgeois' early connection with textiles via her family’s work as tapestry restorers for generations in France, her early connection with nature, and her path to becoming an artist. While studying mathematics in Paris, Louise’s mother dies and Louise abandons her studies and begins her work as a painter and sculptor -  a homage to her mother.  

Illumanatomy by Silvia Quintanilla, Francesco Rugiand and Kate Davies        $40
Wonderful large-format illustrations of the wonders of the human body. See 3 images at once, or use the filters to untangle them.

Animals of a Bygone Era: An illustrated compendium by Maja Säfström         $30
Animals that no longer exist are just as fascinating as animals that still do. This beautifully illustrated book introduces us to some you'll know and some you won't, and describes many of their surprising quirks. 
A companion volume to Amazing Animal Facts

Botanicum by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis        $42
An absolutely stunningly beautiful large-format illustrated guide to the wonders and variety of the plant world. Seldom do we use so many adjectives to describe a book. Part of the 'Welcome to the Museum' series. 

Pantheon: The true story of the Egyptian deities by Hamish Steele      $30
Horus, son of Isis, vows bloody revenge on his Uncle Set for the murder and usurpation of his Pharaoh father. A huge amount of fun packed into one graphic novel. 
>> Before he colored it in

Marco Polo: Dangers and visions by Marco Tabilio       $28
An exquisite graphic novel account of the explorations and inner life of the Venetian merchant who travelled through Asia as far as Chine in the thirteenth century. 
>> Have a look at Tabilio's website

The Egg by Britta Teckentrup           $34
A beautifully illustrated survey of birds in nests and in art and mythology. 

Explore! Aotearoa by Bronwen Wall       $30
Kupe! Thomas Brunner! Freda du Faur! Kieran McKay! Kelly Tarlton! Other people!

The Big Book of Bugs and The Big Book of Beasts by Yuval Zommer     
Giant, splendidly illustrated, satisfyingly fact-filled books in the same series as The Book of Bees!

Bright Ideas for Young Minds: 70 step-by-step activities to do at home with your child         $40
An excellent resource for everyone from young parents to grandparents, showing how to provide developmentally rich experiences without specialist equipment. 

05/12/2017 09:30 PM

List #7: HISTORY

Scroll through and select some of these books about the past. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection, or ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 

Africa: A modern history, 1945-2015 by Guy Arnold        $80
From decolonisation through independence to disappointment and new hope. 

"Vast and brilliant. Orderly but still managing to nip down a fascinating byway when necessary. A groundbreaking book." - Giles Foden, Guardian

1947: When now begins by Elisabeth Åsbrink      $38
The world had to reboot itself after the Second World War, but what was to be saved, what could be rebuilt, and what was to be made entirely new? In the first few years of relocations, reinventions and redirections set in place many of the tropes that have defined the world since. In 1947, production began of the Kalashnikov, Christian Dior created the New Look, Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex, the first computer bug is discovered, the CIA is set up, Hassan Al-Banna drew up the plan that remains the goal of jihadists to this day, and a UN committee was given four months to find a solution to the problem of Palestine. 

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich        $38
"Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown. I want to write the history of that war. A women's history." An important oral history of Russian women's experiences in World War Two, in English for the first time. 

Fantasyland: How America went haywire, A 500-year history by Kurt Andersen       $40
If you are free to create your own reality in the Land of the Free, what happens when this reality is contradicted by actuality? Trump's post-factual universe has deep and long precedents in American history. 
"This is the indispensable book for understanding America in the age of Trump." - Walter Isaacson

Red Famine: Stalin's war on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum         $65
The Holodomor (man-made famine) of 1932-33 killed millions of Ukrainians by starvation, and amounts to genocide. To prevent an uprising, Stalin ensured food shortages, restricted movement, confiscated foodstuffs and prevented foreign aid. Applebaum's careful account makes for horrific reading. 

The Water Kingdom: A secret history of China by Philip Ball       $30
A grand history of China's deep and recent history told through its relationship and management of water.

Dancing With the King: The rise and fall of the King Country, 1864-1885 by Michael Belgrave        $65
When Maori were defeated at Orakau in 1864 and the Waikato War ended, Tawhiao, the second Maori King, and his supporters were forced into an armed exile in the Rohe Potae, the King Country. For the next twenty years, the King Country operated as an independent state - a land governed by the Maori King where settlers and the Crown entered at risk of their lives. For twenty years, representatives of the King and of the British Queen engaged in a dance of diplomacy involving gamesmanship, conspiracy, pageantry and hard headed politics, with the occasional act of violence or threat of it.

Nowherelands: An atlas of vanished countries, 1840-1975 by Bjorn Berge         $40
Where do countries go when they cease to exist? What are the histories of Biafra, New Brunswick, Labuan, Tannu Tuva, Inini and Eastern Karelia? Each of these defunct states issued their own stamps. Berge takes us to each and shows us some of the lesser-known dead ends of history. 

Old Nelson: A history in postcards, 1900-1940, Selected from the Rob Packer collection by Barney Brewster     $50
A huge amount of documentary detail, arranged by location and by theme.

Sun, Sea and Sustenance: The story of the Otaki Children's Health Camp by Di Buchan          $40
An excellent collection of oral history and context giving insight into the experience of children in one of New Zealand's health camps (to which children from the Nelson area were referred). From the late 1940s, health camps were established to provide health care and education for sickly, disadvantaged and 'at risk' children. 

Love of Country: A Hebridean journey by Madeleine Bunting       $28
The far-flung Hebrides lie on the outer edge not just of Britain, but of Europe. Bunting's finely written insular psychogeography explores the relationship of the land not only to the people who have lived on it or visited it, but to those for whom it forms an island for the mind. 
"Bunting's crisp and luminous prose is the ideal medium to capture the ambiguities and dichotomies of the landscape; between ever-shifting sea and unfathomably old rock; between tradition and modernity; between wilderness and depopulation; between feudal subsistence and aristocratic profligacy." - The Scotsman

The Epic City: The world on the streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury           $37
Everything that could possibly be wrong with a city was wrong with Calcutta. When Choudhury returned to the city as an adult he found it much unchanged from his childhood, a city of intense localism, very different from the new age of consumption that was revolutionising other Indian cities. Why?
"Beautifully observed and even more beautifully written, The Epic City marks the arrival of a major new talent." - William Dalrymple

Koh-i-Noor: The history of the world's most infamous diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand          $26
Greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation - a distillate of British colonial history. 

Death: A graveside companion by Joanna Ebenstein         $66
Death is common to all people but there is huge cultural variation in our relationship to the inevitable. This splendidly illustrated volume surveys the attitudes and practices and art relating to dying and the dead, both in memory and concerning the remains, through the world and throughout history. Compelling. Forward by Will Self.

Sagaland by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason         $45
Two friends travel to Iceland to experience the settings of (and to retell!) the Icelandic sagas they are both so fond of, and to find Gislason's roots. What is the relationship between land and stories, both ancient and modern, both culture-defining and personal? Where are the Vikings now? 
>> "Tales of blood feuds and dangerous women, fugitives and warrior poets." 
>> How they came to write the book

You Do Not Travel in China at the Full Moon: Agnes Moncrieff's letters from China, 1930-1945 edited by Barbara Francis       $50
New Zealander Agnes Moncrieff was the foreign secretary to the and the YWCA in China during the Sino-Japanese War. Her first-hand accounts of the horrors taking place around her are nuanced and 


The Balkans, 1804-2012: Nationalism, war and the great powers by Misha Glenny          $40
Glenny investigates the roots of the bloodshed, invasions and nationalist fervour that have come to define our understanding of the south-eastern edge of Europe, and presents portraits of its kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals, and politicians. Glenny shows that groups we think of as implacable enemies have, over the centuries, formed unlikely alliances, thereby disputing the idea that conflict in the Balkans is the ineluctable product of ancient grudges. He explores the often-catastrophic relationship between the Balkans and the rest of Europe, raising some disturbing questions about Western intervention.

A Revolution of Feeling: The decade that forged the modern mind by Rachel Hewitt         $55
Led by revolutionary foment in Europe, British intellectual and radicals in the 1790s formulated new ways of thinking, feeling and acting that would have far-reaching consequences through literature, art and social dynamics, what Edmund Burke called "the most important of all revolutions, the revolution of the sentiments." The project involved the complete rethinking of the relationship between the individual and society, between the individual and nature, between an individual's inner and outer lives.  

RisingTideFallingStar by Philip Hoare        $33
Hoare wraps his remarkable prose for a third time around a watery subject, this time tracing poets', artists', utopians',and adventurers' all-consuming and sometimes fatal attraction to the sea. 

Empires in the Sun: The struggle for the mastery of Africa by Lawrence James      $40
Between 1830 and 1945, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Italy and the United States exported their languages, laws, culture, religions, scientific and technical knowledge and economic systems to Africa. The colonial powers imposed administrations designed to bring stability and peace to a continent that seemed to lack both. The justification for occupation was emancipation from slavery - and the common assumption that late nineteenth-century Europe was the summit of civilisation - but the underlying motivations were about power and money and the legacies of these administrations have made the processes of independence fraught.
Futures of Black Radicalism edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin        $39
Surveys the black radical traditions since the nineteenth century to provide context for the new international wave of protests and awareness, tied to a critique of capitalism, privilege and power. 
>> Angela Davis on TV

Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann     $39

A remarkable piece of scholarship, unearthing the long-overlooked lives of free Africans in Renaissance England. 

The War is in the Mountains: Violence in the world's high places by Judith Matloff      $43
Mountainous regions are home to only ten percent of the world's population yet host a strikingly disproportionate share of the world's conflicts. Mountains provide a natural refuge for those who want to elude authority, and their remoteness has allowed various practices to develop and persist in isolation, resulting in a combustible mix those in the lowlands cannot afford to ignore. A new way of looking at conflict. 

October: The story of the Russian Revolution by China Mieville      $33
How was a ravaged and backward country, swept up in a desperately unpopular war, rocked by not one but two revolutions? A fresh and incisive account by this idiosyncratic novelist. 

St Petersburg: Three centuries of murderous desire by Jonathan Miles        $38
"Of all cities St Petersburg is most like a novel. Conceived in the mind of a Tsar like a writer might give birth to a book,it has never ceased to be relentlessly dramatic, as if being like a novel is its destiny. Miles tells the tale magnificently." - Peter Pomerantsev

The Hidden Ways: Scotland's forgotten ways by Alistair Moffat     $45
Centuries of people moving about have left tracks on the landscape, many of them almost erased by other land use and movement patterns. Moffat follows some Roman roads, pilgrims' ways, drove roads, turnpikes, ghost railroads and sea roads to evoke for us a different and often surprising view of landscape and history. 

Rooms of One's Own: 50 places that made literary history by Adrian Mourby       $28
How does the place where writing takes place affect what is written there? What can we learn about a book by visiting there? Mourby visits fifty rooms in which fifty writers wrote fifty books, and compares the locations with what ended up on the page.  

Tangata Ngai Tahu / People of Ngai Tahu edited by Takerei Norton and Helen Brown       $40
Fifty biographies of key figures in Ngai Tahu's history, up to the Deed of Settlement. Fully illustrated and fully interesting. 

The Ghost: A cultural history by Susan Owens      $45
"Five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has even been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it." - Samuel Johnson
A fascinating look at the literature and art that have been engendered or shaped by the belief or otherwise in the phenomenon, or should that be pseudophenomenon, of ghosts.  
"A work of profound scholarship and imaginative engagement, beautifully written and elegantly constructed. It's the finest study of its kind I've read." - The Literary Review

Istanbul: Memories and the city by Orhan Pamuk         $55
A beautifully illustrated edition of Pamuk's memoir, with 450 historical photographs. 

He Reo Wahine: Maori women's voices from the nineteenth century edited by Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla         $50
"This book presents a rich and ranging collection of Maori women speaking from the nineteenth-century archive. The hopes, the persistence, the effort to set down a cause are all apparent in the words of women presented in these pages. It is in various measures an inspiring, instructive and agonising read." - Charlotte Macdonald, Victoria University of Wellington

Farewell to the Horse: The final century of our relationship by Ulrich Raulff          $65
"Any reader interested in horses, history, art, literature or language will love this book, and be stunned by its scope and stylish intellect. This is about the end of a relationship between man and horse that Raulff likens to the dissolution of an idiosyncratic workers’ union, and what is thrilling is that the horse becomes a subtext – a new way of considering history via the stable door. The book is beautifully and idiosyncratically illustrated, in keeping with the text." - Guardian

Sad Topographies: A disenchanted traveller's guide by Damien Rudd and Kateryna Didyk      $52
What are the stories behind the most lugubrious places in the world? Beautifully drawn maps by Kateryna Didyk.
>> Sad online

Tears of Rangi: Experiments across worlds by Anne Salmond         $65
Polynesian and then European settlers arrived in New Zealand bringing with them world views and modes of practice that they then began to apply and adapt to the new land. This remarkable book calibrates the varying approaches of the differing peoples who came to Aotearoa, and suggests that a deeper understanding of these mind-sets can lead towards approaches that are more harmonious, not just between cultures but towards the natural world too. 

Belonging: The story of the Jews, 1492-1900 by Simon Schama        $40
"Simon Schama takes the reader through a grand sweep of Jewish history, but he makes it so personal you begin to feel you know the men and women whose lives shine out from the pages, and their foibles, and you get a sense of the fragility of their lives and their determination to survive. It's a brilliant piece of work" - Rabbi Julia Neuberger
"Profoundly illuminating." - Guardian
Short-listed for the 2017 Baillie-Gifford Prize.
>> An interview with Schama

The Last London by Iain Sinclair         $40
The outstanding psychogeographer strikes out on a series of solitary walks and collaborative expeditions to make a final reckoning with a capital stretched beyond recognition. Here is a mesmerising record of secret scholars and whispering ghosts. Of disturbing encounters. Night hospitals. Pits that become cameras. Mole Man labyrinths. And privileged swimming pools, up in clouds, patrolled by surveillance helicopters. Where now are the myths, the ultimate fictions of a many times revised city?

Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India by Shashi Tharoor         $38
A wonderfully unrelenting indictment of colonialism and the damage it did to what had been a thriving country. Two centuries of British rule devastated the economy, violated human rights, and introduced institutions and infrastructure that enabled Britain to thrive at India's expense. 

Make Her Praises Heard Afar: The untold history of New Zealand women in World War One by Jane Tolerton        $60
Many New Zealand women have been left out of the histories of the First World War. As well as the 550 nurses who followed the troops and the women who 'kept the home fires burning', many other New Zealand women were involved in the war, as doctors and ambulance drivers, munitions workers and mathematicians, civil servants and servicewomen in British units, and in many other roles. Tolerton tells these stories for the first time. 

Empire of Things: How we became a world f consumers, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first by Frank Trentmann      $38
Changes in our relationships with objects both manifest and underlie many of the other processes of history. This is a fascinating book. 

 Soviet Space Dogs by Olesya Turkina         $50
In the lead-up to Yuri Gagarin's first space flight, small robust stray dogs were plucked from the streets of Moscow and trained to endure gravitational pressure, low oxygen levels, a constipating diet, ungainly outfits and celebrity status before being launched into orbits from which some actually returned alive. This interesting book traces their history and also records the vast array of paraphernalia, from postcards to nightlights, designed to celebrate these remarkable dogs.  
>> Can you tolerate this? 
>> Was Ivan Ivanovich the model master? 
>> Chernushka today

A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield's Wellington by Redmer Yska         $40
"It's not enough to say I immensely enjoyed A Strange Beautiful Excitement; it's simply splendid." - Fiona Kidman
"The best account I have ever read of Wellington and Karori as they were in Mansfield's day. Vivid and vigorous, it is a pleasure to read." - K.M. biographer Kathleen Jones

02/12/2017 07:31 PM

List #6: FICTION 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Read Thomas's review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Read Stella's review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Read Stella's and Thomas's reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 (* including a few non-fiction novels)

02/12/2017 06:47 PM

List #5: POETRY

13 recent New Zealand Poetry books you might consider giving as gifts. Click through or come in to browse our full poetry section. 

Ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 

Hoard by Fleur Adcock           $25
Images, moments, feelings, persons. Hoard acts as a great poetic sieve, scooped through Adcock's life in New Zealand and the UK, through her reading, dreams and relationships.

Flow: Whanganui river poems by Airini Beautrais         $35
"This remarkable sequence winds and eddies like the Whanganui River, filtering the region's many histories into something rich and swimmable. Is verse the future of history?" - James Brown
The Internet of Things by Kate Camp        $25
Camp is adept at the interrogation of quotidian objects, surprising them into revealing dimensions of themselves to which we have been blinded by familiarity. In this book Camp tickles the objects in Aunt Mimi's kitchen to catch unexpected reflections of John Lennon. 
Collected Poems by Allen Curnow          $60
"Simply by sailing in a new direction / You could enlarge the world." Curnow's 70-year career in the vanguard of New Zealand poetry involved the defining and redefining of poetic sensibilities, moving from an antipodean to an autochthonic focus. 
>> Uniform with Terry Sturm's biography of Curnow (and also available as a slip-cased set).
Ginesthoi by Evangeline Riddiford Graham          $20
Presented as a series of fragments, much in the manner of the scraps of text discovered by archeologists, these poems are partial unearthings of an emotional life as intent upon concealing itself as it is upon revealing. What are we make of these twists of words, half earnest, half mocking, leaping back and forth across millennia, overlapping past and present while simultaneously reinforcing and dissolving the distinction between the two?
>> Read Thomas's review
Vanishing Points by Michele Leggott        $28
"Vanishing Points concerns itself with appearance and disappearance as modes of memory, familial until we lose sight of that horizon line and must settle instead for a series of intersecting arcs. It is full of stories caught from the air and pictures made of words. It stands here and goes there, a real or an imagined place. If we can work out the navigation the rest will follow."

Some Things to Place in a Coffin by Bill Manhire         $25
In the face of that of which the mind cannot conceive the senses speak with urgency, we experience simultaneously a grasping and a relinquishment, a change in contrast and in texture, if we may call them that, a new sense of purpose indistinguishable from resignation. In this book, Bill Manhire’s first collection in seven years, language dances as death presses at it from behind, agency flees into objects, images draw themselves together on the brink of their own dissolution, small things become final containers for the large. Wearing his art so lightly as at times to resemble artlessness, Manhire tests the strengths of finer and finer threads to very subtle effect. An excellent collection.
>>Read Thomas's review
 Tightrope by Selina Tusitala Marsh          $28
Built around the abyss, the tightrope, and the trick that we all have to perform to walk across it, Pasifika 'poetry warrior' Selina Tusitala Marsh brings to life in Tightrope her ongoing dialogue with memory, life and death to find out whether stories really can cure the incurable.
>> This video of Marsh launching her previous collection, Dark Sparring, is worth watching again. 
Fully Clothed and So Forgetful by Hannah Mettner        $25
"This book will push you down a marble staircase, and then cheerfully bring you a couple of aspirin.' — Hera Lindsay Bird
A Tongue is Not for Lashing by Panni Palasti       $25
A bilingual edition (English and Hungarian) volume of Palasti's poems, rich with the pains and pleasures of memory. 
"I love the writing, the honesty of it, the search that is always there, the courage to face hard truths and at the same time imagine other lives with compassion." - Elizabeth Smither
Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither        $25
"Elizabeth Smither's world is the people she knows, the places she visits, the animals she encounters. As they appear in her work they take on mysterious, sometimes surreal, qualities. Her imaginative world is charming and enchanted, peculiar, whimsical, and often very funny." - C. K. Stead

Selected Poems by Ian Wedde      $40
How can language contain the world that spills
From its torn rinds, how can my ode hold
On to language that ejects itself like birdsong
From pine trees still shady with dawn?
Five decades of word-and-brain work. 
The Yield by Sue Wootton      $25
Whether it is considering the relationship between medical institutions and individual suffering or the impact of climate change on personal creativity, Wootton's restless inventiveness liberates unexpected connections. 
"A richly mulled book about suffering and empowerment." - Siobhan Harvey

25/11/2017 11:24 PM

List #4: SCIENCE

A selection of books for those curious about the physical world and its workings. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection. 

The Runaway Species: How human creativity remakes the world by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman         $37
The latest neurological research shows how our brains are softwired (or live-wired!) rather than hardwired. This endless malleability enables us to reconceptualise our world and to construct experience. Where do new ideas come from? Eagleman, whose book The Brain is the best introduction to the philosophical and psychological implications of neurological research, teams up with composer Anthony Brandt to explore our need for novelty and our capacities to produce it like no other animal. 

Animals Among Us: The new science of anthrozoology by John Bradshaw         $50
Why do humans keep and cherish some animals i their homes and yet regard others as a source of food or sport? Our relationship with animals tells us much about our own nature as a species and as individuals. A thoughtful and enjoyable book. 


The Seabird's Cry: The lives and loves of puffins, gannets and other ocean voyagers by Adam Nicolson        $40
At the heart of the book are the Shiant Isles, a cluster of Hebridean islands in the Minch but Nicolson has pursued the birds much further-across the Atlantic, up the west coast of Ireland, to St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland and Norway; to the eastern seaboard of Maine and to Newfoundland, to the Falklands, South Georgia, the Canaries and the Azores - reaching out across the widths of the world ocean which is the seabirds' home. 
"I was entranced - my mind thrilling to the veers and lifts of thought, to the beautiful deftness of the prose. This marvellous book inhabits with graceful ease both the mythic and the scientific, and remains alert to the vulnerability of these birds as well as to their wonder. It is a work that takes wing in the mind." - Robert Macfarlane

Mysteries of the Quantum Universe by Thibault Damour and Mathieu Burniat        $48
Quantum physics gets its graphic-novel explication as Bob and his dog Rick have crepes with Max Planck, chat with Einstein about atoms and hang out, uncertainly, with Heisenberg in Heligoland. 
"Billed as 'Tintin meets Brian Cox', the book was created by theoretical physicist Thibault Damour and illustrator Mathieu Burniat so it's as scientifically accurate as it is beautiful." - BBC Focus 

Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky           $40
What drives human behaviours such as racism, xenophobia, tolerance, competition, morality, war, and even peace?
>> A neurobiologist in the bookshop
>> Are we hard-wired to be cruel to each other? 

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising observations of a hidden worldby Peter Wohlleben       $38
The aspects of ourselves that we hold as being the most human are in fact the ones that we share most widely with other animals. 
From the author of The Hidden Life of Trees
The Matter of the Heart: A history of the heart in eleven operations by Thomas Morris            $40
“Thomas Morris does for the history of cardiac surgery what The Right Stuff and Hidden Figures did for the space race. The book is – appropriately – pulse-thumpingly gripping and will be enjoyed by anyone who, in any sense of the phrase, has a heart.” – Mark Lawson
“Tremendous. An exhilarating sweep through ancient history and contemporary practice in surgery of the heart. It’s rich in extraordinary detail and stories that will amaze you. A wonderful book.” – Melvyn Bragg

The Wood for the Trees: A long view of nature from a small wood by Richard Fortey      $25
This biography of an English 'beech-and-bluebell' wood through the seasons and through history both natural and human, is a portrayal of the relationships of humans to nature and a demonstration that poetic writing can be scientifically precise. 
"'His remarkable scientific knowledge, intense curiosity and love of nature mean entries erupt with the same richness and variety as the woods they describe. Fortey's enthusiasm for his new wonderland is infectious and illuminating, deep and interesting." - Guardian 

Modern Death: How medicine changed the end of life by Haider Warraich          $43
Advances in medical science has meant not only that we live longer but that we spend more of that time dying. How has this changed our view of the world and our place in it? 

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks        $38
The latest advances in neuroscience have bearing on the dilemmas of both philosophy and psychology. Before he died, Sacks drew together some of his incisive essays on consciousness and on the relationship between the brain and the mind, experience and memory, to be presented as this important addition to his oeuvre. 

Moonshots: 50 years of NASA space exploration seen through Hasselbladt cameras by Piers Bizony       $130
The most extraordinary images of the Apollo and later missions, presented in this lavish large-format slip-cased volume. Who would have thought that such images could inspire such awe and wonder? 

A Crack in Creation: The new power to control evolution by Jennifer Doudna and Sam Sternberg          $40
Doudna's discovery of the genome editing capacities of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) has provided scientists with potentially the most powerful interventional tool yet in the field of genetics. 

The Voices Within: The history and science of how we talk to ourselvesby Charles Fernyhough        $28
As soon as we evolved language our minds assailed us with voices that could not be heard by anyone else. What do these voices tell us about the workings of our minds, the structures and function of language, and about our conception of ourselves and our place in our world?
>> Not I

Universe: Exploring the astronomical world by Paul Murdin       $90
A sumptuous collection of 300 images giving an overview of humanity's conceptions of the cosmos, from the earliest times to the latest discoveries and imaging techniques. 
>> See some sample pages here

The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor        $33
Hares are small animals with many predators but they have no burrow or tunnel to shelter them from danger. They survive by a combination of two skills honed to unimaginable extremes: hiding in plain sight, and running fast. This handsome book deals in detail with hares, both as they are, both biochemically and behaviourally, and as they are imagined in art, mythology and legend. 

Improbable Destinies: How predictable is evolution? by Jonathan Losos         $55
The natural world is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. Convergence suggests that evolution is predictable, and if we could replay the tape of life, we would get the same outcome. But there are also many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course. So are we humans, and all the plants and animals in the world today, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? 

Sound: Stories of hearing lost and found by Bella Bathurst        $40
A thoughtful consideration of the place of sound and hearing in our lives and culture and identities, springing from the author's progressive deafness and the recovery of her capacities.
International Travel Bureau Vacation Guide to the Solar System: Science for the savvy space traveller by Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich         $28
The essential planning guide for the curious space adventurer, covering all of the essentials for your next voyage, how to get there, and what to do when you arrive, and a vast amount of information about the planets. 
How to Survive a Plague: The story of how activists and scientists tamed AIDS by David France        $30
A remarkable, passionate, brutally human account of the shifts in societal attitudes and in science that enabled humanity to turn the tide against the AIDS epidemic. 
Winner of the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
Anaesthesia: The gift of oblivion and the mystery of consciousness by Kate Cole-Adams        $38
A hundred and seventy years ago many people would have chosen to die rather than undergo the ordeal of surgery. Today, even major operations are routine. Anaesthesia has made them possible. But how much do we really know about what happens when we go under? Can we hear what's going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don't remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body's experience of being cut open and ransacked? 

Stalin and the Scientists: A history of triumph and tragedy, 1902-1953 by Simon Ings       $28
War-torn, unstable and virtually bankrupt, revolutionary Russia tried to light its way to the future with the fitful glow of science. It succeeded through terror, folly and crime - but also through courage, imagination and even genius. Stalin believed that science should serve the state and with many disciplines having virtually unlimited funds, by the time of his death in 1953, the Soviet Union boasted the largest and best-funded scientific establishment in history - at once the glory and the laughing stock of the intellectual world. 
Soonish: The emerging technologies that will improve and/or ruin everything by Kelly Weinersmith       $55
From robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters - what technologies are coming? What technologies are needed? What are the impediments to useful progress? Fun. 

A Map of the Invisible: Journeys into particle physics by John Butterworth      $40
Over the last sixty years, scientists around the world have worked together to explore the fundamental constituents of matter, and the forces that govern their behaviour. The result, so far, is the 'Standard Model' of elementary particles: a theoretical map of the basic building blocks of the universe. With the discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012, the map as we know it was completed, but also extended into strange and wonderful new realms.

Beyond Infinity: An expedition to the outer limits of the mathematical universe by Eugenia Cheng      $37
Numbers are infinitely extensive but also infinitely divisible. Can one sort of infinity be said to be larger than another? 

Reading the Rocks: How Victorian geologists discovered the secrets of life by Brenda Maddox      $36
Was it a coincidence that geology has a pivotal science in an age of social and political repositioning? Maddox introduces us to the diverse range of geologists who kept focussed during the geology vs. Genesis showdown. 

Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson            $75
Among the biggest and oldest trees in the New Zealand forest, the heart of Maori carving and culture, trailing no. 8 wire as fence posts on settler farms, clambered up in the Pureora protests of the 1980s: the story of New Zealand can be told through totara.

Humankind: Solidarity with non-human people by Timothy Morton        $22
What is a person and what is not? If we rethink our notions of identity can we both include and overcome the notion of species and arrive at a more helpful model of our place on (or in) the planet? 
"I have been reading Timothy Morton's books for a while and I like them a lot." - Bjork

Void: The strange physics of nothing by James Owen Weatherall        $42
The physics of matter receive a lot of attention, but what about the physics of nothing and of absence? Both relativity and quantum theory tell us that nothingness can't be infinitely extensive. Nothing, Weatherall shows, turns out to be very similar to something, similarly structured and describable with the same laws. 

Paleoart: Visions of the prehistoric past by Zoe Lascaze        $160
How have artists envisaged  human and prehuman life in prehistoric times? Perhaps you have been moved or amused by the often poignant depictions of dinosaurs, mastodons or hominids in the books of your childhood. This vast volume collects the best of such art, in all its poignancy and ludicrosity, from 1830 to 1990. Beneath the dustwrapper, the book is bound in real dinosaur skin (or something very like it). 
>> A tour through the book (then resist it if you can).

Human Anatomy: Stereoscopic images of medical specimens by Jim Naughten        $100
Fascinating, unsettling, wonderful. The specimens are all drawn from the Vrolik Museum in Amsterdam. Includes stereoscope. 
The Reality Frame: Relativity and our place in the universe by Brian Clegg        $45
From religion to philosophy, humanity has traditionally sought out absolutes to explain the world around us, but as science has developed, relativity has swept away many of these certainties, leaving only a handful of unchangeable essentials such as absolute zero, nothingness, and light, leading to better science and a new understanding of our place in the physical world. 
Bird Words: New Zealand writers on birds by Elisabeth Easther      $35
An anthology of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, all concerned with the birds, both native and endemic, of New Zealand. 
Bee Quest by Dave Goulson        $45
A hunt for the world's most elusive bees leads Dave Goulson from the Salisbury plains to the Sussex hedgerows, from Poland to Patagonia. 
Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the myths of our gendered minds by Cordelia Fine       $33
 “A cracking critique of the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ hypothesis, Cordelia Fine takes to pieces much of the science on which ‘fundamental’ gender differences are predicated. Graced with precisely focused humour, the author makes a good case that men and women are far more alike than many  would claim. Feminist? Possibly. Humanist? Certainly. A compellingly good read.” - Richard Fortey
Winner of the 2017 Royal Society Science Book Prize.

Anatomy: A cutaway look inside the human body by Helene Druvert and Jean-Claude Druvert       $45
Here's the human body as you've never seen it before. Clever laser cut-outs, flaps and overlays explore every detail of the organs, systems and senses. 

In Search of Stardust: Amazing micrometeorites and their terrestrial imposters by Jon Larson      $33
The solar system is a dusty place. Every day approximately 100 metric tons of cosmic dust collides with Earth, mainly in the form of micrometeorites. Most of these mineral particles (iron, nickel, etc.) are smaller than grains of sand, and they are falling down on us all the time and all over the globe. This book shows you how to find and identify (and collect!) micrometeorites, and how to distinguish them from other microstuff. 
>> Stardust found

23/11/2017 05:48 PM


2017 has produced a number of compelling books concerning the lives of people who warrant attention for one reason or another. 

Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense by Jenny Uglow         $55
A man of deep ambivalences, contradictions and vulnerabilities, Edward Lear was unable to act on his deepest feelings but produced some of the oddest poetry of his time, as well as a body of art both serious and comic. Jenny Uglow, who could almost be said to specialise in biographies of odd characters who both exemplify and stand apart from their times, is Lear's perfect biographer, forensic yet sensitive to the most hidden corners of his psyche, his playfulness and his melancholy. 
"Jenny Uglow has written a great life about an artist with half a life, a biography that might break your heart." - Robert McCrum, Guardian

Literary Witches by Taisia Kitaiskaia, illustrated by Katy Horan       $42
A magical survey of 30 writers who are also women, giving insight into their verbal superpowers, biographies and principle works. Powerfully illustrated. Includes Janet Frame, 'Hermit of Hospitals, Belonging and Lost Souls'. 
>> Peek at a few witches here

Tuai: A traveller in two worlds by Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins           $40
One of the first Maori travellers to Europe, Tuai, a young Ngare Raumati chief from the Bay of Islands, took the opportunity in 1817 to visit England and elsewhere, observing Pakeha culture and technology in its own place. He returned in 1819, planning to integrate new European knowledge and relationships into his Ngare Raumati community, but the situation at home had changed in his absence. 

Simply by Sailing in a New Direction: Allen Curnow, A biography by Terry Sturm         $70
"Simply by sailing in a new direction / You could enlarge the world." Curnow's 70-year career in the vanguard of New Zealand poetry involved the defining and redefining of poetic sensibilities, moving from an antipodean to an autochthonic focus. 
Uniform with Curnow's Collected Poems (and available as a slipcased pair).

Threads: The delicate life of John Craske by Julia Blackburn        $48
John Craske, a Norfolk fisherman, was born in 1881, and in 1917 he fell seriously ill. For the rest of his life he kept moving in and out of what was described as 'a stuporous state'. In 1923 he started making paintings of the sea and boats and the coastline seen from the sea, and later, when he was too ill to stand and paint, he turned to embroidery, which he could do lying in bed. Julia Blackburn's account of his life is a quest which takes her in many strange directions - to fishermen's cottages in Sheringham, a grand hotel fallen on hard times in Great Yarmouth and to the isolated Watch House far out in the Blakeney estuary; to Cromer and the bizarre story of Einstein's stay there, guarded by dashing young women in jodhpurs with shotguns. Threads is a book about life and death and the strange country between the two.
"Oh, what a miraculous book this is: parochial, weird and inconclusive in a way that few books dare to be these days, and illustrated so generously, with something beautiful or interesting on every other page. Buy it, and let it take you out to sea, no sou'wester required." - Rachel Cooke, Observer
"Wonderful. I lay down her book without knowing the cause of the 'mental stupors' that defined Craske's life, or understanding his relationship to his complicated family, but feeling I had inhaled the cold salt of the East Anglian coastline from which he sailed when he was well, and run my fingers across the bright wool of the embroideries he made when he was not." - Telegraph

Strangers arrive: Émigrés and the arts in New Zealand, 1930-1980by Leonard Bell          $75
From the 1930s to the 1950s, forced migrants - refugees from Nazism, displaced people after World War II and escapees from Communist countries - arrived in New Zealand from Europe. Among them were extraordinary artists and writers, photographers, designers and architects whose European Modernism radically reshaped the arts in this country. How were migrants received by New Zealanders? How did displacement and settlement in New Zealand transform their work? How did the arrival of European Modernists intersect with the burgeoning nationalist movement in the arts in New Zealand? This book introduces us to a group of `aliens' who were critical catalysts for change in New Zealand culture. An outstanding piece of social and artistic history, beautifully illustrated. 

This is the Place to Be by Lara Pawson          $28
What do you report when you become uncertain of the facts, of the notion of truth and of the purpose of writing? What can you understand of yourself when you are uncertain how or if your memories can be correlated with known 'facts'? Is your idea of yourself anything other than the sum of your memories? Lara Pawson was for some years a journalist for the BBC and other media during the civil wars in Angola, and on the Ivory Coast. In this book, her experiences of societies in trauma, and her idealism for making the 'truth' known, are fragmented (as memory is always fragmented) and mixed with memory fragments of her childhood and of her relationships with the various people she encountered before, during and after the period of heightened awareness provided by war. It is this intermeshing of shared and personal perspectives, sometimes reinforcing and sometimes contradicting each other, always crossing over and back over the rift that separates the individual and her world, that makes this book such a fascinating description of a life. By constantly looking outwards, Pawson has conjured a portrait of the person who looks outwards, and a remarkable depiction of the act of looking outwards. Every word contributes to this pointillist self-portrait, and the reader hangs therefore on every word.

Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel       $45
When Diana Wichtel moved to New Zealand as a child with her mother and siblings, her father, a Polish Jew who had jumped off the train to the Treblinka extermination camp in World War II and who had hidden from the Nazis for the rest of the war, failed to follow them as planned. In adulthood, Wichtel began to wonder what had become of him, both before and after his brief presence in her life. Her search for answers led towards the Warsaw ghetto and to consider the ongoing consequences of trauma. Very well written. 
>> Wichtel talks to Kim Hill

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O'Farrell        $35
Death could come to us at any time, and in a range of guises. O'Farrell builds the memoir around the times in her life when death was nearer than at other times: childhood illness, teenage misadventure, mismanaged labour. Does the proximity of death make us act differently? 
"O'Farrell is a breathtakingly good writer, and brings all her elegance and poise as a novelist to the story of her own life." - Guardian 

The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria by Annie Gray        $40
Victoria's appetite for life was expressed in her appetite for food: the queen consistently over-ate all her life. Her appetites presided over a revolution in English cuisine. 
"Had me at the first sentence." - Nigel Slater 
"Zingy, fresh, and unexpected: Annie Gray, the queen of food historians, finds her perfect subject." - Lucy Worsley 
>> Gray on the importance of dinner to the British Empire

Why Dylan Matters by Richard F. Thomas         $30
When the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan in 2016, many wondered whether he even qualified for the award. Thomas makes the case for his inclusion in the literary canon. 

The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein      $43
1922, the year that Modernism was born. 

Drawn Out: A seriously funny memoir by Tom Scott       $45
Scott is one of New Zealand's favourite and longest-serving political cartoonists, columnists and satirists. Find out about the many unsuspected facets of his life. 

Edmund Hillary, A biography by Michael Gill         $60
Exhaustive and magisterial, this biography benefits from its author's first-hand knowledge and from his access to Hillary's personal papers. It reveals dimensions of Hillary's life not hitherto examined. 

The Man Who Climbs Trees: A memoir by James Aldred       $35
Nature writing from a professional tree-climber whose work has taken him into the upper strata of forests around the world. Beautifully written.

Making Trouble: life and politics by Lynne Segal      $27
What happens when angry young rebels become wary older women, ageing in a leaner, meaner time: a time which exalts only the 'new', in a ruling orthodoxy daily disparaging all it portrays as the 'old'? Delving into her own life and those of others who left their mark on it, Segal tracks through time to consider her generation of female dreamers, what formed them, how they left their mark on the world, where they are now in times when pessimism seems never far from what remains of public life.
Marx, Freud, Einstein: Heroes of the mind by Corinne Maier and Ann Simon       $33
Excellent and amusing graphic biographies.

Joan: The remarkable life of Joan Leigh Fermor by Simon Fenwick        $55
A photographer and independent woman in the London bohemian circles in the 1930s, Joan Eyres Monsell met Patrick Leigh Fermor when she was on assignment in Egypt during the Second World War. At last we have a biography of this interesting free-thinking woman, whose photographic work supported Patrick in his writing. 
"Engrossing." - Guardian

The Expatriates by Martin Edmond           $50
"The connection between a colony and its founder, centre and margin, is always paradoxical. Where once Britain sent colonists out into the world, now the descendants of those colonists return to interrogate the centre." This book rediscovers four men, born in New Zealand, who achieved fame in Europe as they were forgotten at home: Harold Williams, journalist, linguist, Foreign Editor of The Times; Ronald Syme, spy, libertarian, historian of ancient Rome; John Platt-Mills, radical lawyer and political activist; and Joseph Burney Trapp, librarian, scholar and protector of culture. Edmond, as always, writes thoughtfully and with insight. 
What You Did Not Tell: A Russian past and the journey home by Mark Mazower         $55
It was a family that fate drove into the siege of Stalingrad, the Vilna ghetto, occupied Paris, and even into the ranks of the Wehrmacht. Mazower's British father was the lucky one, the son of Russian Jewish emigrants who settled in London after escaping the civil war and revolution. Max, the grandfather, had started out as a socialist and manned the barricades against tsarist troops, but never spoke of it. His wife, Frouma, came from a family ravaged by the Great Terror yet somehow making their way in Soviet society. How did the confluence of these histories form the person Mark Mazower is? 
Last Inhabitant of Shackleton's Hut by Oliver Sutherland       $25
In 1962, as a young zoologist, Sutherland lived for 3 months alone in Shackleton's hut in Antarctica's McMurdo Sound, alone, that is, apart from visitors (up to 40 a day) who came to see him living alone in the famous explorer's hut. One of the visitors, Graham Billing, wrote a novel, Foxbrush and the Penguins, based on Sutherland, and this was subsequently made into a film starring John Hurt as Sutherland. Sutherland's own account of his stay is now available for the first time.

200 Women by Geoff Blackwell      $75
What really matters to you? What would you change in the world if you could? What brings you happiness? What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? What single word do you most identify with? Two hundred women from around the world, both famous and nonfamous, answer these same five questions. What would your answers be? This monumental book includes photographic portraits of all 200 interviewees. 

The Militant Muse: Love, war and the women of Surrealism by Whitney Chadwick      $55
How Surrealism, female friendship, and the experiences of war, loss, and trauma shaped individual women's transitions from someone else's muse to mature artists in their own right. Includes Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe, Lee Miller and Valentine Penrose, Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini, Frida Kahlo and Jacqueline Lamba.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough       $38
In 1954, a young television presenter was offered the opportunity to travel the world finding rare and elusive animals for London Zoo's collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC. His name was David Attenborough, and the programme, Zoo Quest, not only heralded the start of a remarkable career in broadcasting, but changed the way we viewed the natural world forever. 

These Possible Lives by Fleur Jaeggy           $21
Jaeggy, whose brief fictions, such as those in I am the Brother of XX, remain as pleasant burrs in the mind long after the short time spent reading them, has here written three brief biographies, of Thomas De Quincey, John Keats and Marcel Schwob, each as brief and effective as a lightning strike and as memorable. Jaeggy is interested in discovering what it was about these figures that made them them and not someone else. By assembling details, quotes, sketches of situations, pin-sharp portraits of contemporaries, some of which, in a few words, will change the way you remember them, Jaeggy takes us close to the membrane, so to call it, that surrounds the known, the membrane that these writers were intent on stretching, or constitutionally unable not to stretch, beyond which lay and lies madness and death, the constant themes of all Jaeggy’s attentions, and, for Jaeggy, the backdrop to, if not the object of, all creative striving. >> Read Thomas's review

Nick Cave: Mercy on Me by Reinhard Kleist       $33
"Reinhard Kleist, master graphic novelist and myth-maker has - yet again - blown apart the conventions of the graphic novel by concocting a terrifying conflation of Cave songs, biographical half-truths and complete fabulations and creating a complex, chilling and completely bizarre journey into Cave World. Closer to the truth than any biography, that's for sure! But for the record, I never killed Elisa Day." - Nick Cave
>> Live Mercy

21/11/2017 10:12 PM


Just a few of the interesting books at VOLUME on political issues.
Come and browse our full selection

The Mother of All Questions: Future feminisms by Rebecca Solnit          $28
Feminism if for everyone. Solnit continues the sharp and important wok she began in Men Explain Things to Me with this collection of commentary essays on feminism, misogyny, gendered binaries, masculine literary insecurity and related topics. 
"No writer has weighed the complexities of sustaining hop in our times of readily available despair more thoughtfully and beautifully, nor with greater nuance." - Maria Popova
BWB Texts (various titles)       $15 each
Incisive comment on social, political and environmental issues facing New Zealand from a swathe of leading writers and thinkers. Click through to find out more. Intelligent stocking-fillers. 

The Journal of Urgent Writing, 2017 edited by Simon Wilson      $40
Essays towards a better national conversation, including: Morgan Godfery on identity • Jess Berentson-Shaw on social investment • Andrew Judd on racism • Carys Goodwin on climate change • Conor Clarke on dirt • David Cohen on Popper, Plato, Hegel and Marx • Emma Espiner on a tikanga Māori world • Gilbert Wong on growing up Chinese • Giselle Byrnes on why universities matter • Jo Randerson on dying • Māmari Stephens on our threatened marae • Victor Rodger on being actually brown • Maria Majsa on Johnny Rotten • Max Harris on dreams • Mike Joy and Kyleisha Foote on dams • Raf Manji on a new progressive agenda • Sarah Laing on menstruation • Sylvia Nissen on youth and politics • Teena Brown Pulu on three Tongan funerals • Tim Watkin on explaining Trump • Simon Wilson on a radical centre.

Out of the Wreckage: A new politics for an age of crisis by George Monbiot         $27
The neoliberal experiment has brought society and the environment to the brink of disaster (and for many, over the brink). But humans are characterised not as much by competitive individualism as by altruism and co-operation. How can these be built into a politics that addresses the crises the world currently faces? 

Precarity: Uncertain, insecure and unequal lives in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Shiloh Groot et al                             $40
The precariat is a class-in-the-making. The precariat are our fellow citizens (if they are not us) for whom poverty, age, disability, homelessness, estrangement, mental or physical illness or estrangement from communities and cultures have resulted in uncertainty, dependency, powerlessness, perilousness and insufficiency. The precariat is very much an outcome of the dismantling of the welfare state and the violation of unwritten social contracts by the privileged. 

The New Zealand Project by Max Harris         $40
We face unprecedented challenges - climate change, rising inequality, economic uncertainties, a rapidly changing concept of ‘work', to mention just a few. The New Zealand Project is a serious, intelligent and thoughtful vision that challenges our preconceptions, tackles the tough questions, and gives us a framework on which to think about New Zealand’s political future and how changes in political concepts are vital to creating a better society for all.  Max Harris wants a discussion - he wants people to ask questions and debate concepts. This is a book that should be read, absorbed and discussed. 
No is Not Enough: Defeating the new shock politics by Naomi Klein          $35
"Trump, as extreme as he is, is less an aberration than a logical conclusion - a pastiche of pretty much all the worst and most dangerous trends of the past half century. A one-man megabrand, with wife and children as spin-off brands." Klein sees Donald Trump's presidency as the conclusion of the long corporate takeover of politics, using deliberate shock tactics to generate wave after wave of crises and force through radical policies that will destroy people, the environment, the economy and national security. This book provides a toolkit for resistance, starting with clarity of perception.
"I count Naomi Klein among the most inspirational political thinkers in the world today." -Arundhati Roy 
"Naomi Klein as a writer is an accusing angel." - John Berger
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui          $40
The Best We Could Do explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child. Thi Bui documents her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the diffiulties they faced building new lives for themselves in America.

A Moral Truth: 150 years of investigative journalism in New Zealandedited by James Hollings         $45
Spanning the wars in the Waikato to the present day, and including pieces from Robyn Hyde and Pat Booth to Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle, Mike White, Jon Stephenson, Nicky Hager and Phil Kitchin, the pieces in this anthology are fresh whatever their age, and remind us of the importance of the contribution made by journalists to public knowledge and discourse. 

Basic Income, And how we can make it happen by Guy Standing        $28
"Guy Standing has been at the forefront of the movement for nearly 4 decades, and in this superb and thorough survey he explains how it works and why it has the potential to revitalise life and democracy in our societies. This is an essential book." - Brian Eno
>> Protecting the precariat

Democracy and its Crisis by A.C. Grayling         $37
Why are the institutions of representative democracy seemingly unable to sustain themselves against forces they were designed to manage, and why does it matter?
Five Ideas to Fight For: How our freedom is under threat and why it matters by Anthony Lester         $22
Human Rights, equality, free speech, privacy, the rule of law: these dearly held principles of civilised society are under threat globally - from forces within government and without. 

Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles          $38
"Now more than ever, the world needs a book like Draw Your Weapons. With mastery, urgency and great courage, Sarah Sentilles investigates the histories of art, violence, war and human survival. In her haunting and absorbing narrative, the act of storytelling itself becomes a matter of life and death." -- Ruth Ozeki
"A beautiful, harrowing, and moving collage that portrays the making of art as a powerful response to making war." - Alice Elliott Dark
Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A brief history of capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis           $35
What is money and why does debt exist? Where do wealth and inequality come from? How come economics has the power to shape and destroy our lives? An excellent primer, using stories to explain and question the drivers of society. 
""The reason Varoufakis seems to have captured the imaginations of so many is that his words about the European crisis speak universal truths about democracy, capitalism and social policy." - Guardian
Freedom Hospital: A Syrian story by Hamid Sulaiman       $48
A graphic novel giving insight into one the tragedies of out time. Over 40,000 people have died since the start of the Syrian Arab Spring. In the wake of this, Yasmin has set up a clandestine hospital in the north of the country. The town that she lives in is controlled by Assad's regime, but is relatively stable. However, as the months pass, the situation becomes increasingly complex and violent. 
Age of Anger: A history of the present by Pankaj Mishra        $40
How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world - from American 'shooters' and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? 
"Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely. Throws light on our contemporary predicament, when the neglected and dispossessed of the world have suddenly risen up to transform the world we thought we knew." - John Banville

A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand by Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler        $25
New Zealand needs a constitution that is easy to understand, reflects our shared identity and nationhood, protects rights and liberties, and prevents governments from abusing power.

The Future is History: How totalitarianism reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen         $37
Gessen follows the lives of four Russians born in the last days of the Soviet Union and considers how their prospects have dwindled as the country has descended into what is effectively a Mafia state.
Antifa: The antifascist handbook by Mark Bray        $35
Traces the history of movements to counteract far-right, authoritarian and white supremacist movements from their roots in 1920s Europe to the grass-roots response to the fascist populism of Trump-era USA. The book also is a guide to recognizing and counteracting reactionary and racist invective and behaviour wherever it is found. 

The Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers confront the occupation edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman      $33
26 writers (including Colum McCann, Rachel Kushner, Colm Toibin, Dave Eggers, Madeleine Thien and Eimear McBride) from 14 countries bear witness to the human cost of the 50-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank. 
"Moving, heartbreaking, and infuriating, testifying to the chilling cruelty of Israel's policy toward Palestinians. Deeply unsettling and important." - Kirkus 
>> Trailer
Free Speech: Ten principles for a connected world by Timothy Garton Ash          $28
With the internet providing instant audience for any statement, how are we preserve our freedoms and also progress to a more humane and inclusive mode of discourse?
"Garton Ash's larger project is not merely to defend freedom of expression, but to promote civil, dispassionate discourse, within and across cultures, even about the most divisive and emotive subjects." - Guardian 
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 29 psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a President edited by Bandy Lee      $45
Everything you've ever suspected is backed up by an expert, but what is the mental health status of the nation that elected him? 

A World of Three Zeroes: The new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emissions by Muhammad Yunus        $38
In the decade since Yunus first began to articulate his ideas for a new model of economics, thousands of companies, nonprofits, and individual entrepreneurs around the world have embraced them. From Albania to Colombia, India to Germany, newly created businesses and enterprises are committed to reducing poverty, improving health care and education, cleaning up pollution, and serving other urgent human needs in ingenious, innovative ways. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in alleviating poverty. 
The New Odyssey: The story of Europe's refugee crisis by Patrick Kingsley            $25
An incomparable account from The Guaridan's refugee correspondent, who travelled to 17 countries and interviewed hundreds of refugees.
"A must-read for our times." - Yannis Varoufakis
The Courage of Hopelessness: Chronicles of a year acting dangerously by Slavoj Žižek       $30
Do we endorse the predominant acceptance of capitalism as a fact of human nature, or does today's capitalism contain strong enough antagonisms to prevent its infinite reproduction? Can we move beyond the perceived failure of socialism, and beyond the current wave of populist rage, and initiate radical change before the train hits?

Spinfluence: The hardcore propaganda manual for controlling the masses by Nick McFarlane         $22
A useful guide to the malleability of truth and the control of public opinion.