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Fri, 14 May 2010 03:30
A never-before-translated collection by the bestselling author of Suite Francaise:
Written between 1934 and 1942, these ten gem-like stories mine the same terrain of Nemirovsky's bestselling novel Suite Francaise: a keen eye for the details of social class; the tensions between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives; the manners and mannerisms of the French bourgeoisie; questions of religion and personal identity. Moving from the drawing rooms of pre-war Paris to the lives of men and women in wartime France, here we find the beautiful work of a writer at the height of her tragically short career.
Posted by Mark
Fri, 14 May 2010 03:20
David Mitchell's novels have captivated critics and readers alike, as his Man Booker shortlistings and Richard and Judy Book of the Year award attest. Now he has written a masterpiece:
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the kind of book that comes along once in a decade -- enthralling in its storytelling, imagination and scope. Set at a turning point in history on a tiny island attached to mainland Japan, David Mitchell's tale of power, passion and integrity transports us to a world that is at once exotic and familiar: an extraordinary place and an era when news from abroad took months to arrive, yet when people behaved as they always do - loving, lusting and yearning, cheating, fighting and killing. Bringing to vivid life a tectonic shift between East and West, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is dramatic, funny, heartbreaking, enlightening and thought-provoking. Reading it is an unforgettable experience.
Posted by Mark
Fri, 07 May 2010 06:33
How did an eccentric drifter and inconsequential artist become one of history's most powerful rulers? Claus Hant's controversial "non-fiction novel", Young Hitler, takes a closer look at this momentous transformation (with more information at younghitler.com):
This is the story of the young Adolf Hitler, an insignificant young man from provincial Austria who suddenly emerged as a momentous historical figure and ultimately the very personification of evil. How did that happen? To answer this question, the narrative takes the reader into the mind of the man before the monster. 150 pages of intriguing appendices substantiate the work's provenance. It tells the story of the seventeen-year-old school drop-out and starving artist; the vagrant who spends years on the streets and in the shelters of Vienna; the Lance Corporal who is fatefully changed by the First World War. In the aftermath of that Great War, amongst the ashes of a demoralised and bankrupt Germany, the narrative follows the bizarre series of events that culminate in this lonely and eccentric young man becoming 'The Fuhrer' of the Third Reich.
Fri, 30 Apr 2010 04:33
In this major collection of his essays, Alberto Manguel, whom George Steiner has called 'the Casanova of reading', argues that the activity of reading, in its broadest sense, defines our species:
'We come into the world intent on finding narrative in everything', writes Manguel, 'landscape, the skies, the faces of others, the images and words that our species create'. Reading our own lives and those of others, reading the societies we live in and those that lie beyond our borders, reading the worlds that lie between the covers of a book are the essence of A Reader on Reading.
The thirty-nine essays in this volume explore the crafts of reading and writing, the identity granted to us by literature, the far-reaching shadow of Jorge Luis Borges, to whom Manguel read as a young man, and the links between politics and books and between books and our bodies. The powers of censorship and intellectual curiosity, the art of translation, and those 'numinous memory palaces we call libraries', also figure in this remarkable collection.
For Manguel and his readers, words, in spite of everything, lend coherence to the world and offer us 'a few safe places, as real as paper and as bracing as ink', to grant us roof and board in our passage.
Fri, 23 Apr 2010 04:34
The title for Tony Judt's latest book comes from the Eighteenth Century Anglo-Irish writer, poet, and physician Oliver Goldsmith: "Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay." It is an unsettling line that succintly sums up Judt's wider concerns:
Something has gone profoundly amiss in our public affairs over the past thirty years. In the West, we are wealthy and secure enough to allow ourselves to drift very far off course before anything has to be done. But we have forgotten how to think about the life we live together: its goals and purposes. Not only are we post-ideological; we have become post-ethical. When we ask ourselves whether a particular policy objective should be pursued -- universal healthcare or investment in public transportation -- we know only how to inquire about its efficiency: its profitability or cost, its impact upon growth and the National Product, its implications for taxation. We have lost touch with the old questions that have defined politics since the Greeks: is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society? A better world?
The US and UK today are more unequal -- in incomes, wealth, health, education, life chances -- than at any time since 1914. Is this desirable? Is it prudent? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. Until we have learned -- or re-learned -- how to pose them, we shall go on as before. Can we go on 'like this'? Yes. Should we? No. If we are to replace fear with confidence then we need a different story to tell, about state and society alike: a story that carries moral and political conviction. Providing that story is the purpose of this book.
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