Franz Kafka Stories 1904-1924
By Franz Kafka
From the expressionism of his early prose pieces to his very last work, JOSEPHINE, these stories cover the full range of Kafka's writing career, culminating in THE METAMORPHOSIS, which Elias Canetti described as "one of the few great and perfect works of poetic imagination written during this century."Kafka's stories, argues Borges in his foreword, are superior even to his novels, which is why this collection "gives us the full dimesion of this unique writer.' J.A Underwood's acclaimed translation gives the reader all the chilling atmosphere of Kafka's darkly comic universe, as reflected in the commanding precision of his language.
French Lessons In Africa
By Peter Biddlecombe
Having travelled across West Africa for over ten years, Peter Biddlecombe's often hilarious account of a long and lingering liaison dangereuse with the sixty per cent of the continent that is French-speaking is a highly readable, hugely entertaining introduction to the je ne sais quoi of French Africa.In countries such as Togo, Mali and Burkina Faso, Biddlecome encounters old-fashioned camel butchers, modern witch doctors who run mail-order companies, gold smugglers and counterfeiters who send their sons to Oxford. He also experiences a delicious foie gras of places: from eerie voodoo ceremonies in the old slave port of Ouidah to Italian ice-cream parlors in the middle of the Sahara desert.And Biddlecombe reveals not only Francophone Africa's politics, often bizarre business traditions and culture, but also provides a mass of practical advice on everything from how to eat a water-rat to talking your way through a road block in the middle of an attempted coup.
The First Century After Beatrice
By Amin Maalouf
A French entomologist, attending a symposium in Cairo, finds a cruious kind of bean being on a market stall. It is claimed the beans, derived from the scarab beetle, have magic powers; specifically the power to guarantee the brith of a male infant - and when the entomologist does some research in to the matter, discovering the incidence of female birth has become increasingly rare, he is left in no doubt that the world has entered intoa critical phase of its history.As this beloved daughter Beatrice approaches maturity, the entomologist and his partner question the validity of gender bias, and attempt to redress the growing imbalance before it reaches irreversible proportions. But in the poverty and famine of the South, where male children can mean the difference between survival and starvation, the popularity of the scarab beans is already taking devastating effect.
The Far Corner
By Harry Pearson
A book in which Wilf Mannion rubs shoulders with The Sunderland Skinhead: recollections of Len Shakleton blight the lives of village shoppers: and the appointment of Kevin Keegan as manager of Newcastle is celebrated by a man in a leather stetson, crooning 'For The Good Times' to the accompaniment of a midi organ, THE FAR CORNER is a tale of heroism and human frailty, passion and the perils of eating an egg mayonnaise stottie without staining your trousers.
Freedom In Exile
By The Dalai Lama
In 1938 a two year old boy was recognised through a traditional process of discovery as being the reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas, the spiritual rulers of Tibet. Taken away from his parents, he was brought up in Lhasa according to a monastic regimen of rigorous austerity and in almost total isolation. Aged seven he was enthroned in the 1000-room Potala palace as the supreme spiritual leader of a nation the size of Western Europe, with population of six million. And at fifteen, he became head of state.With Tibet under threat from the newly Communist Chinese, there followed a traumatic decade during which he became the confidant of both Chairman Mao and Jawaharal Nehru as he tried to maintain autonomy for his people. Then in 1959, he was finally forced into exile - followed by over 100,000 destitute refugees.Here, in his own words, he describes what it was like to grow up revered as a deity among his people, reveals his innermost feelings about his role, and discusses the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism.
Frost On My Moustache
By Tim Moore
Inspired by the swashbuckling travelogues of Victorian diplomat Lord Dufferin, frail surburbanite Tim Moore sets out to prove his physical and spiritual worth before his sceptical Nordic in-laws by retracing Dufferin's epic voyage to Iceland and Spitzbergen. Dufferin's battles with icebergs, polar bears and the deep potations of hospitable Norsemen is a tale of derring-do; Moore's struggle against seasickness, vertigo and over-priced groceries is all too plainly one of derring-don't. As his bid to emulate the Empire tradition of fearless pluck in the face of adversity crumbles before haughty Icelandic skippers, a convoy of Norwegian Vikings and Spitzbergen's Soviet ghost towns, he finds himself transferring his affections to Dufferin's valet Wilson, a man so profoundly gloomy that 'he was seen to smile but once, when told that his colleague, the steward, had been almost thrown overboard'. As Moore says, 'Dufferin seems the personification of Kipling's 'If'. I'm more of a 'But... ' man myself.' FROST ON MY MOUSTACHE is the wretched apologia of a big earl's blouse.
The Farming Of Bones
By Edwidge Danticat
It is 1937, and Amabelle Desir is a young Haitian woman working as a maid for a wealthy family in the Dominican Republic, across the border from her homeland. The Republic, under the iron rule of the Generalissimo, treats the Haitians as second-class citizens, and although Amabelle feels a strong sense of loyalty to her employers, especially since her own parents drowned crossing the river from Haiti, racial tensions are heightened when Amabelle's boss accidentally kills a Haitian in a car accident. The accident is a catalyst for a systematic round-up of Haitians, ostensibly for repatriation but in fact a prelude to slaughter. Amabelle, caught up in the chaos and confusion, returns to Haiti after much hardship to make a new life, but is for years uncertain of the fate of her lover, Sebastian, and haunted by a nagging sense of guilt.A powerful, fiercely economical and deceptively moving work, blending historical accuracy with lyrical brilliance.
By James Gleick
Time rules our lives. The frenetic purpose - more than we want to admit, is to save time. Think of one of those conveniences that best convey the most elemental feeling of power over the passing seconds: the microwave oven. In your hurry sickness, you may find yourself punching 88 seconds instead of 90 because it is faster to tap the same digit twice. Do you stand at the microwave for that minute and a half? Or is that long enough to make a quick call or run in the next room to finish paying a bill? If haste is the gas pedal for the pace of our lives, then multi-tasking is overdrive. FASTER dissects with acute insight and mordant wit our unceasing daily struggle to squeeze as much as we can - but never enough - into the 1440 minutes of each day.Speed is the key strategy for saving time, and James Gleick shows us how in just about every area - from business cycle time to beeper medicine, from Federal Express to quick playback buttons on answering machines, from the pace of television to our growing need to do two things at once, how speed has become the experience we all have in common - it, more than the message, is what connects us.
By Anita Shreve
Set 100 years ago in Boston, Fortune's Rocks is a classic of literary and romantic storytelling. Fourteen-year-old Olympic Biddeford is spending the summer with her parents at their seasonal house at Fortune's Rocks. Her father handles her education himself and is in fact a publisher of mildly liberal literature. One author he admires, who also practises as a physician, comes to visit the house. 40 years old, married with four children, he still embarks on an affair with the adolescent girl. They have a swift, passionate summer, torn apart when they are discovered together during Olympic's fifteenth birthday party. She is taken back to Boston, her parents are mortified and remove themselves from society. When Olympic is delivered of a baby boy nine months later, he is taken from her and she finds herself in exile at a ladies college and then as a governess. She decides she must get her child back, which means returning to Fortune's Rocks... This sensuality of a girl's rite of passage, the descriptions of landscape, weather, music and light, are vintage Shreve and her seventh novel will thrill her many admirers.
By Candace Bushnell
FOUR BLONDES charts the romantic intrigues, liaisons, betrayals and victories of four modern women: a beautiful B-list model finagles rent-free summerhouses in the Hamptons from her lovers until she discovers she can get a man but can't get what she wants; a high-powered magazine columnist's floundering marriage to a literary journalist is thrown into crisis when her husband's career fails to live up to her expectations; a 'Cinderella' records her descent into paranoia in her journal as she realises she wants anybody's life except her own; an artist and aging 'It girl' - who fears that her time for finding a man has run out - travels to London in search of the kind of love and devotion she can't find in Manhattan...Studded with her trademark wit and stiletto-heel-sharp insight, FOUR BLONDES is dark, true, and compulsively readable.
Father And I
By Carlo Gebler
The story spans nearly a hundred years. In Carlo Gebler's early childhood, his relationship with his father, Ernest, was a disaster. A man of the left, Ernest's politics had been 'hammered out in the nineteen thirties'. His early life as the son of a Jewish immigrant was spent working as a rat catcher in a cinema, snatching moments alone to educate himself, but the one with the literary talent was his second wife, Edna O'Brien - Gebler's mother - who left after Ernest claimed authorship of her work. As his father saw it, Carlo and his brother Sasha were over-fed members of the bourgeoisie, and toys and sweets were banned from their lonely childhood, filled with memories of abuse and neglect. Years later, on hearing his estranged father was now senile, Gebler made the journey to southern Ireland and through his past, through diaries that confirmed Ernest's hatred for his sons, yet also revealed the abuse Ernest in turn suffered as a young man, a life of extreme poverty and the abandonment of his first wife. This not a story that ends in hate; by the time Carlo Gebler reached their final years together, he no longer felt the anger that had dogged their relationship.
The Flight Of The Maidens
By Jane Gardam
This delightful novel describes the post-war summer of 1946 - and follows the growing-up of three young women in the months between leaving school and taking up their scholarships at university. Una Vane, whose widowed mother runs a hairdressing salon in her front room ('Maison Vane Glory - Where Permanent Waves are Permanent'), goes bicycling with Ray, the boy who delivers the fish and milk. Hetty Fallowes struggles to become independent of her possessive, loving, tactless mother. And Lieselotte Klein, who had arrived in 1939 on a train from Hamburg, uncovers tragedy in the past and magic in the present.Rooted in the north of England, THE FLIGHT OF THE MAIDENS is peopled with extraordinary characters, who are evoked with all the humour, compassion and eye for detail that mark Jane Gardam as one of Britain's most gifted and original novelists.
Facing The Congo
By Jeffrey Tayler
At thirty-three one's direction in life should be clear, and mine was not.' In search of some direction, or at least a new challenge, Jeffrey Tayler gave up his day job of opening rejection letters from publishers and went exploring. Having always been fascinated by Africa and the great age of Victorian exploration he went to Kinshasa in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and found a boat to take him up-river to Kisangani, deep in the heart of the jungle. Not content with that, he then bought a pirogue (a kind of canoe), hired a guide and set out to paddle the 1,000 miles back to Kinshasa.A personal journey, an intrepid voyage, an exceptionally well-written travelogue: FACING THE CONGO is all these things and more. A wonderfully vivid and exciting read for armchair adventurers everywhere.