In The Master, Colm Tóibín captures the exquisite anguish of a man who circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, who was astonishingly vibrant and alive in his art, and yet whose attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. It is a powerful account of the hazards of putting the life of the mind before affairs of the heart.
John McGahern - Amongst Women
Moran is an old Republican whose life was forever transformed by his days of glory as a guerilla leader in the War of Independence. Now, in old age, living out in the country, Moran is still fighting - with his family, his friends, even himself - in a poignant struggle to come to terms with the past.
Margaret Atwood - Cat's Eye
Herself the daughter of a Canadian forest entomologist, Atwood writes in an autobiographical vein about Elaine Risley, a middle-aged Canadian painter (and daughter of a forest entomologist) who is thrust into an extended reconsideration of her past while attending a retrospective show of her work in Toronto, a city she had fled years earlier in order to leave behind painful memories. Most pointedly, Risley reflects on the strangeness of her long relations with Cordelia, a childhood friend whose cruelties, dealt lavishly to Risley, helped hone her awareness of our inveterate appetite for destruction even while we love, and are understood as characteristically femininea betrayal of other women that masks a ferocious betrayal of oneself. Atwood's portrayal of the friendship gives the novel its fraught and mysterious center, but her critical assessment of Cordelia and the "whole world of girls and their doings" also takes the measure of a coercive, conformist society (not quite as extreme as in the futuristic The Handmaid's Tale ). Emerging "the stronger" for her latecoming understanding of herself, Risley in the final pages rises above the ties that bound her, transcendently alive to the possibilities of "light, shining out in the midst of nothing." (From Publisher's Weekly)
Jeffrey Eugenides - The Virgin Suicides
First published in 1993, "The Virgin Suicides" announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, "The Virgin Suicides" is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami's new novel is at once a classic tale of quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is an entertainment of a very high order.
Sarah Waters - Fingersmith
Fingersmith is the third slice of engrossing lesbian Victoriana from Sarah Waters. Although lighter and more melodramatic in tone than its predecessor Affinity, this hypnotic suspense novel is awash with all manner of gloomy Dickensian leitmotifs: pickpockets; orphans; grim prisons; lunatic asylums; „laughing villains” and, of course, „stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad”. Oliver Twist (which is mentioned on the opening page), The Woman in White and The Prince and the Pauper all exert an influence on it but none overawe. Like Peter Ackroyd, Waters has an uncanny gift for inventive reconstruction. Divided into three parts, the tale is narrated by two orphaned girls whose lives are inextricably linked. It begins in a grimy thieves kitchen in Borough, South London with 17-year-old orphan Susan Trinder. She has been raised by Mrs Sucksby, a cockney Ma Baker, in a household of fingersmiths (pickpockets), coiners and burglars. One evening Richard „Gentleman” Rivers, a handsome confidence man, arrives. He has an elaborate scheme to defraud Maud Lilly, a wealthy heiress. If Sue will help him she'll get a share of the „shine”. Duly installed in the Lillys' country house as Maud's maid, Sue finds that her mistress is virtually a prisoner. Maud's eccentric Uncle Christopher, an obsessive collector of erotica (loosely modelled on Henry Spenser Ashbee) controls every aspect of her life. Slowly a curious intimacy develops between the two girls and as Gentleman's plans take shape, Sue begins to have doubts. The scheme is finally hatched but as Maud commences her narrative it suddenly becomes more than a tad difficult to tell quite who has double-crossed who. Waters' penchant for Byzantine plotting can get a bit exhausting but even at its densest moments–and remember this is smoggy London circa 1862–it remains mesmerising. A damning critique of Victorian moral and sexual hypocrisy, a gripping melodrama and a love story to boot, this book ingeniously reworks some truly classic themes.–Travis Elborough
Aleksandar Hemon - Nowhere Man
A native of Sarajevo, where he spends his adolescence trying to become Bosnia’s answer to John Lennon, Jozef Pronek comes to the United States in 1992—just in time to watch war break out in his country, but too early to be a genuine refugee. Indeed, Jozef’s typical answer to inquiries about his origins and ethnicity is, “I am complicated.” And so he proves to be—not just to himself, but to the revolving series of shadowy but insightful narrators who chart his progress from Sarajevo to Chicago; from a hilarious encounter with the first President Bush to a somewhat more grave one with a heavily armed Serb whom he has been hired to serve with court papers. Moving, disquieting, and exhilarating in its virtuosity, Nowhere Man is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a magnetic young man stranded in America by the war in Bosnia.
J. M. Coetzee - Elizabeth Costello (angol)
In 1982, J. M. Coetzee dazzled the literary world with the now classic Waiting for the Barbarians. Five novels and two Booker prizes later, Coetzee is a writer of international stature and a novelist whose publication of a new work is heralded as a literary event. Now, in his first work of fiction since The New York Times bestselling Disgrace, he has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale. Elizabeth Costello is a distinguished and aging Australian novelist whose life is revealed through an ingenious series of eight formal addresses. From an award-acceptance speech at a New England liberal arts college to a lecture on evil in Amsterdam and a sexually charged reading by the poet Robert Duncan, Coetzee draws the reader inexorably toward its astonishing conclusion. Vividly imagined and masterfully wrought in his unerring prose, Elizabeth Costello is, on its surface, the story of a woman's life as mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling that only a writer of Coetzee's caliber could accomplish.
J. M. Coetzee - Foe (angol)
With the same electrical intensity of language and insight that he brought to Waiting for the Barbarians and The Master of Petersburg, J.M. Coetzee reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe - and in so doing, directs our attention to the seduction and tyranny of storytelling itself. In 1720 the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe is approached by Susan Barton, lately a castaway on a desert island. She wants him to tell her story, and that of the enigmatic man who has become her rescuer, companion, master and sometime lover: Cruso. Cruso is dead, and his manservant, Friday, is incapable of speech. As she tries to relate the truth about him, the ambitious Barton cannot help turning Cruso into her invention. For as narrated by Foe - as by Coetzee himself - the stories we thought we know acquire depths that are at once treacherous, elegant, and unexpectedly moving.
J. M. Coetzee - In the Heart of the Country
A novel set in colonial South Africa, where a lonely sheepfarmer makes a bid for private salvation in the arms of a black concubine, while his daughter dreams of and executes a bloody revenge. From the author of DUSKLANDS and WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS.
Chuck Palahniuk - Cigányút
A szerző negyedik regénye újabb lázálomszerű mélyrepülés az amerikai pszichébe, a Harcosok klubja anarchisztikus lázadója helyett azonban az oldalakon ezúttal egy passzív-agresszív szenvedélybeteg szenvedéstörténete pereg. Victor Mancini szexmániások csoportterápiáin táplálja nemi éhségét. Reménytelen szerelem hevíti Alzheimer-kóros édesanyja csinos kezelőorvosa iránt, miközben estéről estére megöli magát, hogy fedezni tudja a kórházi költségeket: éttermi vacsorák alatt szándékosan félrenyeli ételét, hogy a megmentésére sietők a későbbiekben elkötelezett pártfogókként támogassák.
Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting (angol)
Mark Renton is a very sick young man, sick of heroin, sick of trying to get off it. Most of us, he's sick of himself, his friends and growing up in the AIDS/HIV capital of Europe. The nihilistic youth sees nothing ahead in the future: 'Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye've produced. Choose life.' Trainspotting became an instant classic howl of rage, despair and style from the Scottish capital's forgotten streets that would be heard all over the world.
Nicole Krauss - The History of Love
Leo Gursky is just about surviving life in America, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbour know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And, although he doesn't know it yet, the book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book and although she has her hands full keeping track of her little brother Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild, she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake, and save her family. In her extraordinary new novel Nicole Krauss has created some of the most memorable and moving characters in recent fiction. In its heartbreaking exploration of hope and survival, of loneliness and the redemptive power of love, The History of Love confirms Nicole Krauss as one of the most remarkable writers of her generation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
David Dabydeen - Disappearance
This novel that echoes the styles of Joseph Conrad and V. S. Naipaul follows a young Guyanese engineer appointed to help save and shore up a Kent coastal village's sea defenses, and his relationship with the old woman with whom he lodges. Learning more about the village's history through his relationship with Mrs. Rutherford, the narrator discovers that underlying the village's Englishness is a latent violence that echoes the imperial past, forcing him to not only reconsider his perceptions of himself and his native Guyana, but also to examine the connection between land and memory.
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Namesake
'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes...' For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that the boy be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' - after his favourite writer. Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss... Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri's much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane storytelling. Elegant, subtle and moving, The Namesake is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, Interpreter of Maladies.
Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy
In three brilliant variations on the classic detective story, Paul Auster makes the well-traversed terrain of New York City his own, as it becomes a strange, compelling landscape in which identities merge or fade and questions serve only to further obscure the truth. What emerges in an investigation into the art of storytelling, notions of identity and the very essence of language.
John Irving - The Cider House Rules
Set among the apple orchards of rural Maine, it is a perverse world in which Homer Wells' odyssey begins. As the oldest unadopted offspring at St Cloud's orphanage, he learns about the skills which, one way or another, help young and not-so-young women, from Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder -- a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether.Dr Larch loves all his orphans, especially Homer Wells. It is Homer's story we follow, from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to his adult life running a cider-making factory and his strange relationship with the wife of his closest friend.
Bruce Chatwin - On the Black Hill
An elegantly written tale of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home. In depicting the lives of Benjamin and Lewis and their interactions with their small local community, Chatwin comments movingly on the larger questions of human experience.
Hella S. Haasse - Forever a Stranger and Other Stories
Hella S. Haasse, one of Holland's most popular contemporary authors, was born in the Dutch East Indies in 1918. The influence of her early years in this region, where she left behind unforgettable memories, is clearly reflected in her writing. The stories in this collection, translated into English for the first time, contain outstanding descriptions of the Indonesian landscape and evoke remarkable images of a fascinating country and its people. 'Forever a Stranger', from which this collection takes its name, is of special significance to Mrs Haasse. Ostensibly a story about a Dutch boy and his Indonesian friend whose childhood bond was increasingly undermined by race and class differences and ultimately destroyed by the Indonesian revolution, at a more fundamental level represents Mrs Haasse's attempt to come to terms with the realization that she had `never been anything more than a foreigner' in the country she had so naturally loved as a child. The other two stories -'Lidah Boeaja' (Crocodile's Tongue) and 'An Affair (Egbert's Story)' - were first published in Mrs Haasse's autobiographical volume entitles Een Handvol Achtergrond (A Handful of Ground). Both excellent stories with interesting characters and suspenseful plots, they show clearly Mrs Haasse's sensitivity to impressions absorbed into her memory and imagination during her childhood and youth in the Indies.
Jamie O'Neill - At Swim, Two Boys
A truly original - and utterly compulsive - novel, reminiscent of MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN and A SUITABLE BOY for its scope and vitality. Set in Dublin and its near surrounds AT SWIM, TWO BOYS follows the turbulent year to Easter 1916. At its core it tells the love of two boys, Jim, a naive and reticent scholar, the younger son of foolish, aspirant shopkeeper Mr Mack, and Doyler, the dark rough diamond son of Mr Mack's old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, the two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: that Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of the Muglins rock, to raise the Green and claim it for themselves. As Ireland sets forth towards her uncertain glory there unfolds a love story of the utmost tenderness, carrying the reader through the turbulence of the times like a full blown sail. AT SWIM, TWO BOYS is written with great verve and mastery. It shares those elements that are the marks of all great books - the breadth of its canvas, the skill of its brush, the intensity of its subjects and, above all, the shining light of its humanity.
A. S. Byatt - The Virgin in the Garden
Antonia Byatt's glittering, stylish novel is set in Yorkshire in 1952. And, as the inhabitants of the area set about celebrating the accession of a new Queen with the production of _Astraea_, a verse drama celebrating the great Virgin Queen, the new Elizabethan age is seen to be a curious distortion of that older, fertile age.