The Angel of History
By Rabih Alameddine
'A profoundly beautiful novel that infolds the political with the personal in unexpected and new ways . . . An extraordinary book' Neel Mukherjee, New Statesman, 'Books of the Year 2016''His stories take the reader into the labyrinth that is the mind . . . The Angel of History is digressive and daring' the Economist'Alameddine has created a scintillating, original work whose moral complexity and detail of observation are wholly contemporary and entirely his own' SpectatorSet over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Hovered over by the presence of alluring, sassy Satan who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past and dour, frigid Death who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by 14 saints. Set in Cairo and Beirut; Sana'a, Stockholm, and San Francisco; Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrait of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound, philosophical and hilariously winning story of the war between memory and oblivion we wrestle with every day of our lives.'Here is a book, full of story, unrepentantly political at every level. At a time when many western writers seem to be in retreat from saying anything that could be construed as political, Alameddine says it all, shamelessly, gloriously and, realised like his Satan, in the most stylish of forms' the Guardian
As Kingfishers Catch Fire
By Alex Preston, Neil Gower
'A magical book: an inimitable fusion of ornithology, literary anthology and autobiography' Tom Holland'Delightful . . . an original look at the literature inspired by Britain's birdlife' the Guardian, Best Nature Books of 2017When Alex Preston was 15, he stopped being a birdwatcher. Adolescence and the scorn of his peers made him put away his binoculars, leave behind the hides and the nature reserves and the quiet companionship of his fellow birders. His love of birds didn't disappear though. Rather, it went underground, and he began birdwatching in the books that he read, creating his own personal anthology of nature writing that brought the birds of his childhood back to brilliant life. Looking for moments 'when heart and bird are one', Preston weaves the very best writing about birds into a personal and eccentric narrative that is as much about the joy of reading and writing as it is about the thrill of wildlife. Moving from the 'high requiem' of Keats's nightingale to the crow-strewn sky at the end of Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, from Ted Hughes's brooding 'Hawk in the Rain' to the giddy anthropomorphism of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, this is a book that will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light. Beautifully illustrated and illuminated by the celebrated graphic artist Neil Gower, As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a book to love and to hold, to return to again and again, to marvel at the way that authors across the centuries have captured the endless grace and variety of birds.'As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a memoir/gallimaufry of ornithological obsession by Alex Preston. He watches birds in the sky and on the page darting between myths, stories and memoir like a swift. The characterful illustrations by Neil Gower add a whole new dimension to this gorgeous book' Damian Barr, Guardian Best Books of 2017
Ashes of Honor (Toby Daye Book 6)
By Seanan McGuire
It's been almost a year since October "Toby" Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day's sleep. She's tried to focus on her responsibilities-training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester's knight, and paying the bills-but she can't help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.To make matters worse, Toby's just been asked to find another missing child... only this time it's the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn't even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She's a teleporter, like her father. She's also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the kind with all the strength and none of the control. She's opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before-and there's a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn't stopped.Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby's help with the biggest challenge he's ever faced.Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.
An Artificial Night (Toby Daye Book 3)
By Seanan McGuire
Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October "Toby" Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike. Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children-and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby's closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home, Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael's realm-home of the legendary Wild Hunt-and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to Blind Michael's inescapable power.And it doesn't bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye-the harbinger of Toby's own death-has suddenly turned up on her doorstep...An Artificial Night is the third installment of the highly praised Toby Daye series.
An Untamed State
By Roxane Gay
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti's richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father's Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents. An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a wilful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
An Unnecessary Woman
By Rabih Alameddine
Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family's 'unnecessary appendage'. Every year, she translates a new favourite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read - by anyone.This breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman follows Aaliya's digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colourful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya's own volatile past. As she tries to overcome her ageing body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the prodigiously gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a magnificent rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East.
Anywhere But Here
By Mona Simpson
Anywhere But Here is a moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer. As they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions, Ann and Adele bring to life a novel that is a brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving, even at the risk of profound disorientation. Simpson's first novel is ultimately a heart-rendering tale of a mother and daughter's invaluable relationship.
The Accidental Universe
By Alan Lightman
In The Accidental Universe, physicist and novelist Alan Lightman explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind.Here, in a collection of exhilarating essays, Lightman shows us our own universe from a series of fascinating and diverse perspectives. He takes on the difficult dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has divorced us from enjoying a direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws alone.With his customary passion, precision, lyricism and imagination, in The Accidental Universe Alan Lightman leaves us with the suggestion - heady and humbling - that what we see and understand of the world and ourselves is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.Praise for Alan Lightman:'...a gem of a novel that is strange witty erudite and alive with Lightman's playful genius.' Junot Diaz.'It would not seem possible for Alan Lightman to match his earlier tour de force, Einstein's Dreams, but in Mr g he has done so - with wit, imagination, and transcendent beauty.' Anita Desai.
Arms Wide Open
By Tom Winter
Jack and Meredith are non-identical twins; the only similarity between them is their lives rapidly falling apart. Jack's high-flying career in advertising has crashed and burned. Meredith's world is also crumbling - a decomposing yogurt in her fridge now a symbol of her failed marriage. Her children, Jemima and Luke, offer little support, too consumed with the worlds of online dating and amateur taxidermy. All their lives, Jack and Meredith believed their father to be dead. One day, a throwaway comment leads Jack to question this, but with their mother fading ever-deeper into the grip of dementia, answers are hard to come by. As revelations start to untangle, the twins soon learn that what you seek is not always what you find.
The Angelic Darkness
By Richard Zimler
San Francisco, 1986 - a city where Dionysian liberation is beginning to pall beneath the first shadows of a strange new darkness. Bill Ticino's fruitless and numbing marriage finally breaks up. Plagued by insomnia and spiritually lost, Bill finds a lodger as the solution to his problems: a handsome, charismatic Portuguese man named Peter, whose pet bird is a hoopoe named Maria. Bill finds himself drawn into a world of kabbalistic storytelling, charms and ritual. Peter ignites Bill's repressed obsessions by telling him emotionally charged tales of hidden meaning.One night they venture together into the Tenderloin district, a dead-end world of prostitutes and transvestites. Bill begins to see that his new tenant has plans that will force him down a perilous sexual and spiritual oath, with the power to both redeem and destroy.
An Inventory of Heaven
By Jane Feaver
As a young woman, Mavis Gaunt leaves post-war London to make a new life for herself in rural Devon, where she spent a few blissful months of her childhood as an evacuee. Living alone in the verdant hamlet of Shipleigh, she believes she's found a heaven on earth - until a violent tragedy brings trouble to paradise, and turns Mavis's idyllic solitude into a tormented, guarded isolation. Decades later, the arrival of a newcomer to the village forces Mavis to make a final reckoning: should she take her horrible secret to the grave? Or, should she summon up her ghosts and, in doing so, lay them to rest? An Inventory of Heaven is a lyrical and intimate meditation on the rural life, falling in love and the long passing of time.
By Jo Walton
'It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.'Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks... She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.
By Helene Hegemann
'Horrible lives are a godsend,' writes 16-year-old Mifti in her diary. Since the death of her mother, she has been living in Berlin in an increasingly dire state of disarray. Diagnosed as a 'pseudo stress-debilitated' problem child, she becomes enmeshed in the Berlin party scene, surviving her so called life through a haze of sex, drugs and club culture. What sets Mifti apart is her hypersensitivity and her open, questioning curiosity about an older generation that doesn't seem to be able to care for its children. Torn between genius and madness, she delves into the language of adults, their conventions and toys with what she calls, 'the general decay of their worlds, where the pursuit of prosperity has led to neglect'.
The Auschwitz Violin
By Maria Angels Anglada
In the winter of 1991, at a concert in Krakow, an older woman with a marvelously pitched violin meets a fellow musician who is instantly captivated by her instrument. When he asks her how she obtained it, she reveals the remarkable story behind its origin. . . .Imprisoned at Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, Daniel feels his humanity slipping away. Treasured memories of the young woman he loved and the prayers that once lingered on his lips become hazier with each passing day. Then a visit from a mysterious stranger changes everything, as Daniel's former identity as a crafter of fine violins is revealed to all. The camp's two most dangerous men use this information to make a cruel wager: If Daniel can build a successful violin within a certain number of days, the Kommandant wins a case of the finest burgundy. If not, the camp doctor, a torturer, gets hold of Daniel. And so, battling exhaustion, Daniel tries to recapture his lost art, knowing all too well the likely cost of failure.Written with lyrical simplicity and haunting beauty-and interspersed with chilling, actual Nazi documentation-The Auschwitz Violin is more than just a novel: it is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of beauty, art, and hope to triumph over the darkest adversity.
Anthropology of an American Girl
By Hilary Thayer Hamann
Falling in love, maintaining fragile family relationships and growing to understand the incremental effect of every experience, Hilary Thayer Hamann's coming-of-age novel is a depiction of sexual and intellectual awakening against the backdrop of East Hampton in the 1970s and moneyed, high-pressured Manhattan in the 1980s.As Evie Auerbach surrenders to the dazzling emotional highs of love and the crippling loneliness of heartbreak, she strives to reconcile her identity with the constraints that all relationships inherently place on us. Though she stumbles and strains against social conventions, Evie remains a strong yet sensitive observer of the world around her, often finding beauty and meaning in unexpected places.More than just a love story, Anthropology of an American Girl is an extraordinary piece of writing, original in its vision and thrilling in its execution.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
By Seth Grahame-Smith
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness"."My baby boy..." she whispers before dying. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an axe, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of America's greatest president for the first time - all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of the nation.
At the Chime of a City Clock
By D.J. Taylor
Summer 1931 in seedy Bayswater and James Ross is on his uppers. An aspiring writer whose stories nobody will buy ('It's the slump'), with a landlady harassing him for unpaid rent and occasional sleepless nights spent in the waiting room at King's Cross Station, he is reduced to selling carpet-cleaning lotion door-to-door. His prospects brighten when he meets the glamorous Suzi ('the red hair and the tight jumper weren't a false card: she really was a looker and no mistake'), but their relationship turns out to be a source of increasing bafflement. Who is her boss, the mysterious Mr Rasmussen - whose face bears a startling resemblance to one of the portraits in Police News - and why he so interested in the abandoned premises above the Cornhill jeweller's shop?Worse, mysterious Mr Haversham from West End Central is starting to take an interest in his affairs. With a brief to keep an eye on Schmiegelow, James finds himself staying incognito at a grand Society weekend at a country house in Sussex, where the truth - about Suzi and her devious employer - comes as an unexpected shock. Set against a backdrop of the 1931 financial crisis and the abandonment of the Gold Standard, acted out in shabby bed-sitters and Lyons tea-shops, At the Chime of a City Clock is an authentic slice of Thirties comedy-noir.Praise for Kept: A Victorian Mystery:'Very entertaining and well done, with a sharp appreciation for the details' The Times'An ingenious tale of madness, murder and deception.' The Guardian'A stylish page-turner ... all done with humour and cunning.' Sunday Telegraph