Man Booker Prize — Winning Author of THE FINKLER QUESTION.
Swathed in his kimono, drinking tea from his samovar, Henry Nagle is temperamentally opposed to life in the 21st century. Preferring not to contemplate the great intellectual and worldly success of his best boyhood friend, he argues constantly with his father, an upholsterer turned fire-eater — and now dead for many years. When he goes out at all, Henry goes after other men’s wives.
But when he mysteriously inherits a sumptuous apartment, Henry’s life changes, bringing on a slick descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson, an excitable red setter, and a wise-cracking waitress with a taste for danger. All of them demand his attention, even his love, a word which barely exists in Henry’s magisterial vocabulary, never mind his heart.
From one of England’s most highly regarded writers, is a ravishing novel, at once wise, tender and mordantly funny.
From the beginning Oliver Walzer is a natural-at ping-pong. Even with his improvised bat (the Collins Classic edition of he can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not a natural, being shy and frightened of women, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, fellow member of the Akiva Social Club Table Tennis team, his game improves. And while the Akiva boys teach him everything he needs to know about ping-pong, his father, Joel Walzer, teaches him everything there is to know about "swag." Unabashedly autobiographical, this is an hilarious and heartbreaking story of one man's coming of age in 1950's Manchester.
Marvin Kreitman, the luggage baron of South London, lives for sex. Or at least he lives for women. At present he loves four women-his mother, his wife Hazel, and his two daughters-and is in love with five more. Charlie Merriweather, on the other hand, nice Charlie, loves just the one woman, also called Charlie, the wife with whom he has been writing children's books and having nice sex for twenty years. Once a week the two friends meet for lunch, contriving never quite to have the conversation they would like to have-about fidelity and womanizing, and which makes you happier. Until today. It is Charlie who takes the dangerous step of asking for a piece of Marvin's disordered life, but what follows embroils them all, the wives no less than the husbands. And none of them will ever be the same again.
Surviving the childhood trauma of his parents’ untimely deaths in the early skirmishes of World War I, Mümtaz is raised and mentored in Istanbul by his cousin Ihsan and his cosmopolitan family of intellectuals. Having lived through the tumultuous cultural revolutions following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of the early Turkish Republic, each is challenged by the difficulties brought about by such rapid social change.
The promise of modernization and progress has given way to crippling anxiety rather than hope for the future. Fragmentation and destabilization seem the only certainties within the new World where they now find themselves. Mümtaz takes refuge in the fading past, immersing himself in literature and music, but when he falls in love with Nuran, a complex woman with demanding relatives, he is forced to confront the challenges of the World at large. Can their love save them from the turbulent times and protect them from disaster, or will inner obsessions, along with powerful social forces seemingly set against them, tear the couple apart?
A Mind at Peace, originally published in 1949 is a magnum opus, a Turkish Ulysses and a lyrical homage to Istanbul. With an innate awareness of how dueling cultural mentalities can lead to the distress of divided selves, Tanpinar gauges this moment in history by masterfully portraying its register on the layered psyches of his Istanbulite characters.
Cartilage and Skin is a dark literary thriller about a loner named Dr. Parker. He leaves his city apartment on an indefinite quest, not for love or friendship, but for “a drop of potency.” Yet he is quickly beset by obstacles. Through a series of bad decisions, he ends up being stalked by a violent madman and scrutinized by the law for a crime he claims he did not commit.
Meanwhile, he finds himself becoming involved with a kind, generous divorced woman named Vanessa Somerset. She seems to him receptive, if not eager, to love. Little does she know, because he does not tell her, that he is on the run, his life is in shambles, and an absurd horror lurks close by, ready crash down on them.
Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall—an enormous concrete barrier around its entire border. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and attack constantly. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. And then the Others attack...
On November 11, 1997, Veronika decided that the moment to kill herself had—at last!—arrived.
She does not die; instead, she wakes up in Villette—the “famous and much-feared lunatic asylum”—only to be told that, having damaged her heart irreparably, she has just a few days to live. What she faces now is a waiting game and the strange world of Villette: the rules and regulations which govern the lives of its inmates and the doctors who treat them. Coelho's question may be a familiar one: crudely, who, or what, is mad? But his fiction is a remarkable, sometimes chilling, response to it. “Everyone has an unusual story to tell” is the starting-point of the new treatment initiated at Villette by the enigmatic Dr Igor; it's also the insight from which this book takes off to explore the impact of a “slow, irreparable death” on a young woman and the mad men and women around her.
"Every family has its black sheep-in ours it was Uncle Petros": the narrator of Apostles Doxiadis's novel Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture is the mystified nephew of the family's black sheep, unable to understand the reasons for his uncle's fall from grace. A kindly, gentle recluse devoted only to gardening and chess, Petros Papachristos exhibits no signs of dissolution or indolence: so why do his family hold him in such low esteem? One day, his father reveals all:
Your uncle, my son, committed the greatest of sins… he took something holy and sacred and great, and shamelessly defiled it! The great, unique gift that God had blessed him with, his phenomenal, unprecedented mathematical talent! The miserable fool wasted it; he squandered it and threw it out with the garbage. Can you imagine it? The ungrateful bastard never did one day's useful work in mathematics. Never! Nothing! Zero!
Instead of being warned off, the nephew instead has his curiosity provoked, and what he eventually discovers is a story of obsession and frustration, of Uncle Petros's attempts at finding a proof for one of the great unsolved problems of mathematics-Goldbach's conjecture.
If this might initially seem undramatic material for a novel, readers of Fermat's Last Theorem, Simon Singh's gripping true-life account of Andrew Wiles's search for a proof for another of the great long-standing problems of mathematics, would surely disagree. What Doxiadis gives us is the fictional corollary of Singh's book: a beautifully imagined narrative that is both compelling as a story and highly revealing of a rarefied world of the intellect that few people will ever access. Without ever alienating the reader, he demonstrates the enchantments of mathematics as well as the ambition, envy and search for glory that permeate even this most abstract of pursuits. Balancing the narrator's own awkward move into adulthood with the painful memories of his brilliant uncle, Doxiadis shows how seductive the world of numbers can be, and how cruel a mistress. "Mathematicians are born, not made," Petros declares: an inheritance that proves to be both a curse and a gift.-Burhan Tufail
If you enjoyed Fermat's Last Theorem, you'll devour this. However, you don't need to be an academic to understand its imaginative exploration of the allure and danger of genius. Old Uncle Petros is a failure. The black sheep of a wealthy Greek family, he lives as a recluse surrounded by dusty books in an Athenian suburb. It takes his talented nephew to penetrate his rich inner world and discover that this broken man was once a mathematical prodigy, a golden youth whose ambition was to solve one of pure maths' most famous unproven hypotheses – Goldbach's Conjecture. Fascinated, the young man sets out to discover what Uncle Petros found – and what he was forced to sacrifice. Himself a mathematician as well as a novelist, Doxiadis succeeds in shining a light into the spectral world of abstract number theory where unimaginable concepts and bizarre realities glitter with a cold, magical and ultimately destructive beauty. (Kirkus UK)
Get a Life begins with Paul Bannerman, a South African ecologist, being treated for thyroid cancer with radioactive iodine. To spare his wife and child any peril from the radioactivity, he returns to his parents' home to recuperate. He's returned to his childhood state, being cared for by his mother, a civil rights lawyer, and the black housekeeper who's been with the family his whole life. Paul's wife, an advertising executive, realizes that her clients are facilitating the foreign corporations who want to take advantage of liberal land use laws for their own interests. Paul's illness forces them all the re-evaluate both their lives and the new challenges facing their country. Nadine Gordimer's has received mostly positive reviews with the Philadelphia Inquirer saying, "At first whiff, Get a Life feels an odd title for this novel. But as the action progresses, and Gordimer masterfully grinds her yarn to a quivering conclusion, no answers have been provided, and the moniker she has given this provocative book seems perfect."
Zadie Smith's White Teeth is a delightfully cacophonous tale that spans 25 years of two families' assimilation in North London. The Joneses and the Iqbals are an unlikely a pairing of families, but their intertwined destinies distill the British Empire 's history and hopes into a dazzling multiethnic melange that is a pure joy to read. Smith proves herself to be a master at drawing fully-realized, vibrant characters, and she demonstrates an extraordinary ear for dialogue. It is a novel full of humor and empathy that is as inspiring as it is enjoyable.
White Teeth is ambitious in scope and artfully rendered with a confidence that is extremely rare in a writer so young. It boggles the mind that Zadie Smith is only 24 years old, and this novel is a clarion call announcing the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction. It is a raucous yet poignant look at modern life in London and is clearly the book to read this summer.
Cloud atlas is a cleverly written book consisting of six seperate, but connecting stories set across six different periods in time. Each story has been chopped in two and symmetrically placed in the book so you don’t discover the conclusion to the first tale until the very end of the book.
This layout effectively creates a storytelling ripple where the sixth and final story is told, as a whole, at the books central core, before the reader then moves back out in the direction they came to discover each of the other characters destiny’s.
When this true-crime story first appeared in 1980, it made the New York Times bestseller list within weeks. Two decades later, it's being rereleased in conjunction with a film version produced by DreamWorks. In the space of five years, Frank Abagnale passed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. He did it by pioneering implausible and brazen scams, such as impersonating a Pan Am pilot (puddle jumping around the world in the cockpit, even taking over the controls). He also played the role of a pediatrician and faked his way into the position of temporary resident supervisor at a hospital in Georgia. Posing as a lawyer, he conned his way into a position in a state attorney general's office, and he taught a semester of college-level sociology with a purloined degree from Columbia University.
The kicker is, he was actually a teenage high school dropout. Now an authority on counterfeiting and secure documents, Abagnale tells of his years of impersonations, swindles, and felonies with humor and the kind of confidence that enabled him to pull off his poseur performances. "Modesty is not one of my virtues. At the time, virtue was not one of my virtues," he writes. In fact, he did it all for his overactive libido-he needed money and status to woo the girls. He also loved a challenge and the ego boost that came with playing important men. What's not disclosed in this highly engaging tale is that Abagnale was released from prison after five years on the condition that he help the government write fraud-prevention programs. So, if you're planning to pick up some tips from this highly detailed manifesto on paperhanging, be warned: this master has already foiled you. -Lesley Reed
"A book that captivates from first page to last." – West Coast Review of Books
"Whatever the reader may think of his crimes, the reader will wind up chortling with and cheering along the criminal." – Charlottesville Progress
"Zingingly told… richly detailed and winning as the devil." – Kirkus Reviews – Review
This crime-laden novel is full of deceitful characters, illegal monies and lots of booze. Bryce Courtenay’s The Potato Factory concerns the notorious criminal Ikey Solomon who is the undisputed king rat. While he is on top of the underworld, he is only fearful of his ambitious and resentful wife Hannah. Together they share a safe with plenty of money in it, yet they each only have half the combination. So when Hannah and Mary, Ikey’s razor sharp mistress, are deported to the penal colony in Van…
From Publishers Weekly
It is temping at first but unwise to assume Candace Shapiro is yet another Bridget Jones. Feisty, funny and less self-hating than her predecessor, Cannie is a 28-year-old Philadelphia Examiner reporter preoccupied with her weight and men, but able to see the humor in even the most unpleasant of life's broadsides. Even she is floored, however, when she reads "Good in Bed," a new women's magazine column penned by her ex-boyfriend, pothead grad student Bruce Guberman. Three months earlier, Cannie suggested they take a break apparently, Bruce thought they were through and set about making such proclamations as, "Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world." Devastated by this public humiliation, Cannie takes comfort in tequila and her beloved dog, Nifkin. Bruce has let her down like another man in her life: Cannie's sadistic, plastic surgeon father emotionally abused her as a young girl, and eventually abandoned his wife and family, leaving no forwarding address. Cannie's siblings suffer, especially the youngest, Lucy, who has tried everything from phone sex to striptease. Their tough-as-nails mother managed to find love again with a woman, Tanya, the gravel-voiced owner of a two-ton loom. Somehow, Cannie stays strong for family and friends, joining a weight-loss group, selling her screenplay and gaining the maturity to ask for help when she faces something bigger than her fears. Weiner's witty, original, fast-moving debut features a lovable heroine, a solid cast, snappy dialogue and a poignant take on life's priorities. This is a must-read for any woman who struggles with body image, or for anyone who cares about someone who does.
After ten years of quietude, author Christopher Priest (nominated one of the Best of Young British Novelists in 1983) returns with a triumphant tale of dueling prestidigitators and impossible acts.
In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in a darkened salon during the course of a fraudulent sйance. From this moment, their lives spin webs of deceit and exposure as they feud to outwit each other. Their rivalry takes them both to the peak of their careers, but with terrible consequences. It is not enough that blood will be spilt — their legacy is one that will pass on for generations.
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner-2004 (Best Novel)
Henry Townsend, a black farmer, bootmaker, and former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor—William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful man in antebellum Virginia’s Manchester County. Under Robbins’s tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation—as well as of his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart at their plantation: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery begin to betray one another. Beyond the Townsend estate, the known world also unravels: low-paid white patrollers stand watch as slave “speculators” sell free black people into slavery, and rumors of slave rebellions set white families against slaves who have served them for years.
An ambitious, luminously written novel that ranges seamlessly between the past and future and back again to the present, The Known World weaves together the lives of freed and enslaved blacks, whites, and Indians—and allows all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multidimensional world created by the institution of slavery.
WINNER OF THE 1994 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
WINNER OF THE 1993 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
WINNER OF THE IRISH TIMES INTERNATIONAL FICTION PRIZE
Named one of the notable books of the year by The New York Times
Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award
“Ms. Proulx blends Newfoundland argot, savage history, impressively diverse characters, fine descriptions of weather and scenery, and comic horseplay without ever lessening the reader’s interest.” – The Atlantic
“Vigorous, quirky… displays Ms. Proulx’s surreal humor and her zest for the strange foibles of humanity.” – Howard Norman, The New York Times Book Review
“An exciting, beautifully written novel of great feeling about hot people in the northern ice.” – Grace Paley
“The Shipping News … is a wildly comic, heart-thumping romance… Here is a novel that gives us a hero for our times.” – Sandra Scofield, The Washington Post Book World
“The reader is assaulted by a rich, down-in-the-dirt, up-in-the-skies prose full of portents, repetitions, hold metaphors, brusque dialogues and set pieces of great beauty.” – Nicci Gerrard, The Observer (London)
“A funny-tragic Gothic tale, with a speed boat of a plot, overflowing with Black-comic characters. But it’s also that contemporary rarity, a tale of redemption and healing, a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit, and most rare of all perhaps, a sweet and tender romance.” – Sandra Gwynn, The Toronto Star
Annie Proulx has written some of the most original and brilliant short stories in contemporary literature, and for many readers and reviewers, Brokeback Mountain is her masterpiece.
Brokeback Mountain was originally published in The New Yorker. It won the National Magazine Award. It also won an O. Henry Prize. Included in this volume is Annie Proulx's haunting story about the difficult, dangerous love affair between a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy. Also included is the celebrated screenplay for the major motion picture " Brokeback Mountain," written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. All three writers have contributed essays on the process of adapting this critically acclaimed story for film.
Rabbit, now in his 50s and with a heart condition, is living in a condo in Florida. Nelson and his family come to stay and disaster unfolds. Rabbit has a serious heart attack after a boating accident with his granddaughter and Nelson has been embezzling the family firm to feed his cocaine habit.
It's 1989, and Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom feels anything but restful. In fact he's frozen, incapacitated by his fear of death-and in the final year of the Reagan era, he's right to be afraid. His 55-year-old body, swollen with beer and munchies and racked with chest pains, wears its bulk "like a set of blankets the decades have brought one by one." He suspects that his son Nelson, who's recently taken over the family car dealership, is embezzling money to support a cocaine habit.
Indeed, from Rabbit's vantage point-which alternates between a winter condo in Florida and the ancestral digs in Pennsylvania, not to mention a detour to an intensive care unit-decay is overtaking the entire world. The budget deficit is destroying America, his accountant is dying of AIDS, and a terrorist bomb has just destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 above Lockerbie, Scotland. This last incident, with its rapid transit from life to death, hits Rabbit particularly hard:
Imagine sitting there in your seat being lulled by the hum of the big Rolls-Royce engines and the stewardesses bring the clinking drinks caddy… and then with a roar and giant ripping noise and scattered screams this whole cozy world dropping away and nothing under you but black space and your chest squeezed by the terrible unbreathable cold, that cold you can scarcely believe is there but that you sometimes actually feel still packed into the suitcases, stored in the unpressurized hold, when you unpack your clothes, the dirty underwear and beach towels with the merciless chill of death from outer space still in them.
Marching through the decades, John Updike's first three Rabbit novels-Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), and Rabbit Is Rich (1981)-dissect middle-class America in all its dysfunctional glory. Rabbit at Rest (1990), the final installment and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, continues this brilliant dissection. Yet it also develops Rabbit's character more fully as he grapples with an uncertain future and the consequences of his past. At one point, for example, he's taken his granddaughter Judy for a sailing expedition when his first heart attack strikes. Rabbit gamely navigates the tiny craft to shore-and then, lying on the beach, feels a paradoxical relief at having both saved his beloved Judy and meeting his own death. (He doesn't, not yet.) Meanwhile, this all-American dad feels responsible for his son's full-blown drug addiction but incapable of helping him. (Ironically, it's Rabbit's wife Janice, the "poor dumb mutt," who marches Nelson into rehab.)
His misplaced sense of responsibility-plus his crude sexual urges and racial slurs-can make Rabbit seems less than lovable. Still, there's something utterly heroic about his character. When the end comes, after all, it's the Angstrom family that refuses to accept the reality of Rabbit's mortality. Only Updike's irreplaceable mouthpiece rises to the occasion, delivering a stoical, one-word valediction: "Enough."
The hero of John Updike's Rabbit, Run (1960), ten years after the hectic events described in Rabbit Redux (1971), has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, the President collapses while running in a marathon, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national confidence. Nevertheless, Harry Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last – until his son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot. New characters and old populate these scenes from Rabbit's middle age, as he continues to pursue, in his erratic fashion, the rainbow of happiness.
In the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, prose magician Michael Chabon conjured up the golden age of comic books – intertwining history, legend, and storytelling verve. In The Final Solution, he has condensed his boundless vision to craft a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that reimagines the classic nineteenth-century detective story.
In deep retirement in the English country-side, an eighty-nine-year-old man, vaguely recollected by locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than with his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out – a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts perhaps? Or something more sinister? Is the solution to this last case – the real explanation of the mysterious boy and his parrot – beyond even the reach of the once-famed sleuth?
Subtle revelations lead the reader to a wrenching resolution. This brilliant homage, which won the 2004 Aga Khan Prize for fiction, is the work of a master storyteller at the height of his powers.
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