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The Explosion Chronicles

Yan Lianke (Author)

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL 2017

With the Yi River on one side and the Balou Mountains on the other, the village of Explosion was founded a thousand years ago by refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era, the name takes on a new significance as the rural community grows explosively from a small village to a town to a city to a vast megalopolis.

Behind this rapid expansion are three rival clans linked together by a web of ambition, madness and greed. The four Kong brothers; Zhu Ying, the daughter of the former village chief; and Cheng Qing, who starts out as a secretary and goes on to become a powerful political and business figure in her own right, transform their hometown into a Babylon of modern times -- an unrivalled urban superpower built on lies, sex and thievery.

Brimming with absurdity, intelligence and wit, The Explosion Chronicles considers the high stakes of passion and power, the consequences of corruption and greed, the dynamics of love and hate, as well as the seemingly boundless excesses of capitalist culture.

'One of the masters of modern Chinese literature' Jung Chang

'One of China’s most successful writers . . . [Yan Lianke] writes in the spirit of the dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich, who observed that "reality and satire are the same"' Evan Osnos, New Yorker

Overland

Graham Rawle (Author)

Welcome to Overland! Where the California sun shines down on synthetic grass and plastic oranges bedeck the trees all year round. Steam billows gently from the chimney tops and the blue tarpaulin lake is open for fishing…

Hollywood set-designer George Godfrey has been called on to do his patriotic duty and he doesn’t believe in half-measures. If he is going to hide an American aircraft plant from the threat of Japanese aerial spies he has an almighty job on his hands. He will need an army of props and actors to make the Lockheed factory vanish behind the semblance of a suburban town. Every day, his “Residents” climb through a trapdoor in the factory roof to shift model cars, shop for imaginary groceries and rotate fake sheep in felt-green meadows.

Overland is a beacon for the young women labouring below it: Queenie, dreaming of movie stardom while welding sheet metal; Kay, who must seek refuge from the order to intern “All Persons of Japanese Ancestry”. Meanwhile, George’s right-hand Resident, Jimmy, knows that High Command aren’t at all happy with the camouflage project...

With George so bewitched by his own illusion, might it risk confusing everybody – not just the enemy?

Overland is a book like no other -- to be read in landscape format. Based on true events, it is a novel where characters' dreams and desires come down to earth with more than a bump, confronting the hardships of life during wartime. As surreal and playful as it is affecting and unsettling, no-one other than Graham Rawle could have created it.

Fatal Sunset

Jason Webster (Author)

In the hills above Valencia is a notorious nightclub called Sunset. When its larger-than-life owner, Jose Luis, dies suddenly, everyone assumes it was a heart attack. Perfectly understandable for a man of his age, size and lifestyle.

Meanwhile, all is not well for Max Cámara at HQ. His new boss, Rita Hernández, has it in for him and his idiosyncratic methods. He must abandon a complex investigation into home-grown extremism to check out what looks like a routine death at Sunset. But an anonymous phone call suggests otherwise…

Back in the city, Max’s journalist girlfriend, Alicia, is working on a lead that could turn out to be the story of her career. How her own investigation connects with Max’s at Sunset, and an unholy network of drug dealers, priests and shady officials protecting a dark government secret, will place both their lives in jeopardy and push everything to the very edge.

Every Day, Every Hour

Nataša Dragnic (Author) , Liesl Schillinger (Translator)

Dora and Luka are inseparable: ever since he fainted at the sight of her - walking into the classroom with her new schoolbag - and she woke him with a chaste kiss, it has been love at first sight. 'There's something in the air when the two of them are together. You can't call it calm, you can't call it storm.' Theirs is a friendship made of chocolate and mandarin oranges; of shape-shifting clouds and coloured canvases; and, as Dora's family leave Croatia for Paris, of farewells and memories.

It is not until years later, when a promising artist faints at the familiar sight of a young actress entering a Parisian gallery on his opening night, that Luka and Dora are reunited. But just as chance brings them together, fateful choices and forces bigger than themselves conspire to keep the couple apart. Will they ever truly be able to find or forget one another?

Bursting with drama and ardour, at turns heartbreaking and exhilarating, and told with the same overwhelming intensity as the bond it describes, this is a dazzling tour de force of a very special love affair.

Kneller's Happy Campers

Etgar Keret (Author)

Kneller's Happy Campers is a strange, dark but funny tale set in a world very much like our own but it's an afterlife populated by people who have killed themselves - many of them are young, and most of them bear the marks of their death... bullet wounds, broken necks...(those who have over-dosed are known as 'Juliets').

When Mordy, our hero, discovers that his girlfriend from his life before has also 'offed' herself, he sets out to find her, and so follows a strange adventure...

Full of the weird and wonderful characters, and the slightly surreal twist of events that we've come to expect from Etgar Keret, this novella is full of humour and comic flashes, but it is also wistful, longing for a better world and perfect love.

The Evening Road

Laird Hunt (Author)

*Selected as a 2017 Book of the Year by the Financial Times*

'A strange, dazzling novel, as audacious as it is lyrical, that hauls up insight, sorrow, and even - somehow - wit from the well of American history.' EMMA DONOGHUE


'A vivid, disturbing book, able to subvert itself in half a line, constantly challenging the reader's expectations. Its ghost map is quickly established in the reader's head, and as the characters fade into the margin of the final page, it is as if an inner landscape has altered. It is mature, accomplished, impressive.' HILARY MANTEL

You can’t tell me you haven’t heard.’
‘Heard what?’
‘About the lynching over in Marvel.’
‘The what?’

Meet Ottie Lee Henshaw. Quick of mind and pleasing to the eye, she navigates a stifling marriage, a lecherous boss, and on one day in the summer of 1920, an odyssey across the countryside to witness a dark and fearful celebration.

Meet Calla Destry. A young black woman desperate to escape a place where the stench of violence hangs heavy in the air, and to find the lover who has promised her a new life.

Every road leads to the bedlam of Marvel. There are buses laid on and Klan members gathering. On the road lives will collide and be changed forever. The Evening Road is the story of two remarkable women on the move through an America riven by fear and hatred, eager to flee the secrets they have left behind.

The Woolgrower’s Companion

Joy Rhoades (Author)

Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family's sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales. The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched. But with her father succumbing to wounds he's borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate's shoulders.

With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower's Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge. However the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too -- especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.

Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.

The Woolgrower’s Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight to save her home and a passionate tribute to Australia’s landscape and its people.

‘A heartbreaking tale, beautifully told. Magical.’ Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help

Canaan's Tongue

John Wray (Author)

From the acclaimed and prizewinning author of The Right Hand of Sleep ("Brilliant . . . A truly arresting work"-The New York Times Book Review),an explosive allegorical novel set on the eve of the Civil War, about a gang of men hunted by both the Union and the Confederacy for dealing in stolen slaves.

Geburah Plantation, 1863: in a crumbling estate on the banks of the Mississippi, eight survivors of the notorious Island 37 Gang wait for the war, or the Pinkerton Detective Agency, to claim them. Their leader, a bizarre charismatic known only as "the Redeemer," has already been brought to justice, and each day brings the battling armies closer. The hatred these men feel for one another is surpassed only by their fear of their many pursuers. Into this hell comes a mysterious force, an "avenging angel" that compels them, one by one, to a reckoning of their many sins.

Canaan's Tongue isrooted in the criminal world of John Murrell, as infamous in his day as Jesse James or Al Capone. It tells the story of his reluctant protégé, Virgil Ball, who derives riches, sexual privilege, and power from the commerce in stolen slaves, known only as "the Trade"-and discovers, when he finally decides to free himself from the Redeemer's yoke, that the force he is challenging is far more formidable than he imagined. It is as old as the river, as vast as the country itself, and it is with us to this day.

First Person

Richard Flanagan (Author)

As heard on BBC Radio 4's 'Book at Bedtime': the blistering story of a ghostwriter haunted by his demonic subject, the Man Booker Prize winner turns to lies, crime and literature with devastating effect

A young and penniless writer, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal: $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghostwrite his memoir in six weeks.

Kehlmann accepts but begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him—his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl—and who is Kif Kehlmann?

By turns compelling, comic and chilling, First Person is a haunting journey into the heart of our age.

The Wish Child

Catherine Chidgey (Author)

Winner of the New Zealand Book Awards Fiction prize

Germany, 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Siggi lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who excises prohibited words (‘promise’, ‘love’, ‘mercy’). Erich is an only child living a lush rural life, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions.

Drawn together as Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Siggi and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.

Watching over Siggi and Erich is the wish child, the mysterious narrator of their story. He sees what they see, he feels what they feel, yet his is a voice that comes from deep inside the wreckage of a nation’s dream.

People In The Park

Marjorie Leet Ford (Author)

If we thought we could get away with it, this would be called 'Tails of the City'-It's a witty, warm, wonderfully eccentric novel which like Maupin's throws an irresistible concoction of San Francisco characters and life together, this time in a park and with their dogs. Inevitably the owners grow like their dogs, if they aren't already; they (that's the owners) pour out their souls to strangers in the park; they fall in love, requited and unrequited; they write poetry; they grow old, they worry, have affairs, learn French, cooking, horticulture - life, with its ups and downs like the San Francisco streets, goes on- for Tobin, the ex-hippie poet gardener, who holds it all together; and for skinny Hillary Birdwood with her thick specs and wild silver retriever Tess; for the saturnine and sexy psychiatrist and his unlikely corgi; for Jake and his Aghan trio; for Anna Leone and Dr Hawthorne with Posy the bichon fries and Romeo the rottweiler; and Nigel, Chantal and Roger the standard poodle, and a whole host of others and their pooches - all set against the irresistible backdrop of one of the most enticing and evocative cities in the world.

Blood Communion

Anne Rice (Author)

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vampire Chronicles and Queen of the Undead comes a chilling and exhilarating tale of ruin and redemption, with the beloved hero Prince Lestat de Lioncourt at its very heart

There is action. There is intrigue. There is danger.

From his meticulously restored ancestral château, high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat is grappling to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming all of the Undead – from far and wide – into his court, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. One enemy in particular, the infamous Rhoshamandes, is notoriously powerful. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

An enthralling, sweeping adventure, full of drama and suspense, Blood Communion will have readers gripped to the very end. It is not just a compelling tale of a troubled leader, but a novel about the power of ambition, as well as a timely reflection on the struggle of individuals to find and defend their place in the world.

The Day the Sun Died

Yan Lianke (Author)

One dusk in early June, in town deep in the Balou mountains, fourteen-year-old Li Niannian notices that something strange is going on in his town. As the residents would usually be getting ready for bed and falling asleep, instead they start appearing in the streets and fields. There are people everywhere.

Li Niannian watches, mystified. But then he realises the people are dreamwalking, carrying on with their daily business as if the sun hadn’t already gone down. And before too long, as more and more people succumb, in the black of night all hell breaks loose.

Set over the course of one night, The Day the Sun Died sets chaos and darkness against the sunny optimism of the ‘Chinese dream’ promoted by President Xi Jinping. We are thrown into the middle of an increasingly strange and troubling waking nightmare as Li Niannian and his father struggle to save the town, and persuade the beneficent sun to rise again.

Praise for Yan Lianke's books

‘Nothing short of a masterpiece’ Guardian

‘A hyper-real tour de force, a blistering condemnation of political corruption and excess’ Financial Times

‘Mordant satire from a brave fabulist’ Daily Mail

‘Exuberant and imaginative’ Sunday Times

‘I can think of few better novelists than Yan, with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth’ New York Times Book Review

The Female Persuasion

Meg Wolitzer (Author)

'The wit, intelligence and deep feeling of Wolitzer's writing are extraordinary.' Jeffrey Eugenides

‘Greer didn’t really know why Faith took an interest. But what she knew for sure, eventually, was that meeting Faith Frank was the thrilling beginning of everything. It would be a very long time before the unspeakable end.’

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college student when she meets the woman who will shape her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant, has been a pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others. Hearing Faith speak for the first time, in a crowded campus chapel, Greer – misunderstood yet full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place – feels herself changed. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites her to make something out of this new sense of purpose, with a career opportunity that leads her down the most exciting and rewarding path as it winds towards and away from her meant-to-be love story with high school sweetheart Cory and the future she had always imagined.

Expansive and wise, compassionate and witty, The Female Persuasion is about the spark we all believe is flickering inside us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time, and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.

Bella Wallis

Brian Thompson (Author)

Bella Wallis is a glamorous widow with a secret identity: in an office buried deep within the dodgy backstreets of Victorian London, she writes sensationalist novels exposing the scoundrels that litter high society under the pen name Henry Ellis Margam. With dodgy deals, scheming aristocrats and stolen kisses behind closed doors, prize-winning author Brian Thompson conjures up an irresistible quartet filled top to toe with seedy Dickensian glamour.

We start with The Widow's Secret, an effervescent romp to Paris on the trail of the owner of a mysterious cigar case; then The Sailor's Ransom, a tale of pearls and swine, set on the Cornish coast and the high seas; and The Player's Curse, where kidnap, cricket and cross-dressing coincide in a riotous mystery. We end with the previously unpublished The Whole Story, in which Bella is caught up in an anarchist bomb attack at her favourite restaurant, Fracatelli's on the Strand... and only just survives to tell the tale.

A State of Freedom

Neel Mukherjee (Author)

*Selected as a 2017 Book of the Year in the Guardian, New Statesman and The Irish Times*

'A brave and frequently devastating novel whose themes of displacement and dehumanisation are all too timely' Paul Murray

'The most astonishing and brilliant novel I have read in a long, long time' Hanya Yanagihara

What happens when we attempt to exchange the life we are given for something better? Can we transform the possibilities we are born into?

A State of Freedom prises open the central, defining events of our century – displacement and migration – but not as you imagine them. Five characters, in very different circumstances, from a domestic cook in Mumbai, to a vagrant and his dancing bear, and a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city, find out the meanings of dislocation, and the desire for more.

Set in contemporary India and moving between the reality of this world and the shadow of another, this novel of multiple narratives – formally daring, fierce but full of pity – delivers a devastating and haunting exploration of the unquenchable human urge to strive for a different life.

Ordinary People

Diana Evans (Author)

'Diana Evans is a lyrical and glorious writer; a precise poet of the human heart' Naomi Alderman

‘You can take a leap, do something off the wall, something reckless. It’s your last chance, and most people miss it.’

South London, 2008. Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning, on the brink of acceptance or revolution. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her but, in the crooked walls of a narrow Victorian terrace, she begins to disappear. Michael, growing daily more accustomed to his commute, still loves Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Meanwhile out in the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their three children, but the death of Damian’s father has thrown him into crisis – or is it something, or someone, else? Are they all just in the wrong place? Are any of them prepared to take the leap?

Set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s historic election victory, Ordinary People is an intimate, immersive study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and aging, and the fragile architecture of love. With its distinctive prose and irresistible soundtrack, it is the story of our lives, and those moments that threaten to unravel us.

The Country of Ice Cream Star

Sandra Newman (Author)

My name be Ice Cream Fifteen Star and this be the tale of how I bring the cure to all the Nighted States, save every poory children, short for life. Is how a city die for selfish love, and rise from this same smallness. Be how the new America begin, in wars against all hope – a country with no power in a world that hate its life. So been the faith I sworn, and it ain’t evils in no world nor cruelties in no red hell can change the vally heart of Ice Cream Star.

In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her people survive by scavenging in the detritus of an abandoned civilization. Theirs is a world of children – by the time they reach twenty, each of them will die from a disease they call posies.
When her brother sickens, Ice Cream sets out on the trail of a cure, led by a stranger whose intentions remain unclear. It’s a quest that will lead her to love and heartbreak, to captivity and to a nation’s throne, and ultimately into a war that threatens to doom everyone she loves.

Heads of the Colored People

Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Author)

In this crackling debut collection Nafissa Thompson-Spires interrogates our supposedly post-racial era. To wicked and devastating effect she exposes the violence, both external and self-inflicted, that threatens black Americans, no matter their apparent success.

A teenager is insidiously bullied as her YouTube following soars; an assistant professor finds himself losing a subtle war of attrition against his office mate; a nurse is worn down by the demand for her skills as a funeral singer. And across a series of stories, a young woman grows up, negotiating and renegotiating her identity.

Heads of the Colored People shows characters in crisis, both petty and catastrophic. It marks the arrival of a remarkable writer and an essential and urgent new voice.

The Comforts of Home: Simon Serrailler Book 9

Susan Hill (Author)

The ninth Simon Serrailler case, from the bestselling author of The Woman in Black

His last case put Simon Serrailler in mortal danger and left him confronting a new reality. Recovering on the remote Scottish island of Taransay, his peace doesn’t last long. He must take on a murder enquiry for the local police who are struggling to deal with a massive terrorist incident.

It’s good to be back on the job. When Simon returns to Lafferton, an arsonist is on the rampage and a woman whose daughter disappeared some years before, is haunting the police station seeking closure. She will not let it rest, and Simon is called in to do a cold-case review.

At home, Simon is starting to get used to having a new brother-in-law – in the form of his Chief Constable Kieron Bright. His sister Cat has embarked on a new way of practising medicine, and his nephew Sam is trying to work out what to do with his life. Their tricky father, Richard, is living in France with a new companion. But things change, as always, and in a way which does not make Cat's Chief Constable husband very happy.

In this gripping new Serrailler thriller, Simon's personal and professional lives intertwine in more complex and devastating ways than ever before.

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