52 results 1-20
It is 1938. A corpse is found in a peat bog in Schleswig-Holstein, a tiny but hotly contested fragment of Europe's coastal landscape between Germany and Denmark. The body is that of a nineteenth-century soldier bent double underneath his coat - a disquieting reminder of old ferocious battles just when a new world war is about to begin.
Three men - a Danish policeman, a young German-Jewish refugee and a German professor - venture out into the quagmire to find clues to the mummified soldier's identity. Soon afterwards, the professor disappears.
It is the year 2000. Esmé Olsen, a cleaner in the Institute for Historical Studies in Copenhagen, stumbles upon documents concerning the find in the bog while cleaning up after a party. A quirky amateur historian, she can't resist 'borrowing' the documents to read. Thus begins a many-layered journey into the past, both real and imagined. Esmé's childhood, her relationship with her eccentric father, the particular opulence of 1960s American automobiles, a packet of letters to the writer J.D. Salinger, the young soldier's drunken rape and the discovery of the German professor's body down a well are subtly interwoven to create a multivalent tale of mystery, memory and remembrance.
In this magnificent novel, which is the conclusion to the celebrated Watson trilogy, E.J. Watson tells his own story, through his turbulent life, to his death at the hands of vigilantes. From his destitute childhood in South Carolina, and the terrible events which haunt him for the rest of his days, the narrative shifts to the wilds of the Florida Everglades. Here, Watson establishes himself as a successful sugar-cane farmer, trying in vain to escape his past, and the uncontrollable, vicious side of his nature which is ultimately his downfall.
Intelligent, a devoted husband and a lover, a stern father and a man capable of cruelty and cold-blooded murder, Watson is a character staggeringly real in his complexity. Bone by Bone confronts not only the racism, brutality and entrepeneurial greed of the American South at the turn of the century but also the paradox at the heart of human nature: our capacity for fierce love, compassion and unspeakable violence.
In Vienna, in the winter of 1910, the world of chess is aghast and the city abuzz. The unthinkable has happened: in the fifth round of the World Championship the renowned defending champion, Emanuel Lasker, has made an elementary error and lost a match. The little-known Austrian challenger, Carl Haffner, stands in the limelight, the title within his grasp.
Haffner is a shy and fragile man, brought up in extreme poverty, from which his only escape is his exceptional gift for chess. His is a game shaped by the harsh experiences he has undergone. He has an obsessive fear of defeat, and his tactics and overall strategy are based on the sheer artistry of defence. But this confrontation with Lasker is not merely a clash between rook and knight; it is a collision between two men with vastly differing attitudes to life: the wealthy, worldly, self-confident champion on the one hand, the lonely, idealistic and penniless Haffner on the other.
Carl Haffner is modelled on the Austrian grandmaster Karl Schlechter, and in his brilliant first novel Thomas Glavinic brings to life both the events surrounding the ten-match world championship and the atmosphere of the cafés and chess clubs of Vienna and Berlin in the years before the First World War. With mature insight, he analyses the reasons for Haffner's view of the world, a world that is thrown into further confusion by the appearance of the fascinating and beautiful Anna.
Translated by Eric Dickens
Treading Air follows the life of Ullo Paerand through 30 years of violent political upheaval. Abandoned by his father as a child, he grows up to become an electoral assistant to the parliamentary office in Tallinn and it is in this position that Ullo witnesses first the Soviet and then the German occupation of Estonia. Forced out of his honest profession Ullo becomes involved with the Resistance but, when many Estonians flee the country, he chooses to remain. An interlude of a decade shows much has changed since the end of the War; Soviet influence is marked in the style of government and the manner of the people. The narrative unfolds in stories imparted to an unknown "author" by a 70-year-old Ullo. Just before the end, however, Kross introduces a teasing ambiguity: Ullo dies before he is able to answer the last question about his life.
In the beginning of the winter thaw, Lars Lennart Westin has learned that he will not live through the spring. Told through the journals of this schoolteacher turned apiarist, The Death of a Beekeeper is his gentle, courageous, and sometimes comic meditation on living with pain.
Westin has refused to surrender the time left to him to the impersonality of a hospital, preferring to take his fate upon himself, to continue his solitary, reflective life in the Swedish countryside. While he watches his inner landscape reforming, the relentlessly intimate burning in his gut provides a point of psychological detachment. 'We begin again,' he insists, 'we never give up.'
Published: 11 Apr 2016
The Year of Terror, 1937. Zybin, an exiled intellectual and archaeologist in the far province of Alma-Ata, finds himself wrongly accused of a crime during the darkest days of Stalin's reign. Soon, he and his colleagues are caught up in an ambitious Cheka investigator's attempts to set up a show trial to rival those taking place in Moscow.
Vivid, courageous and defiant, The Faculty of Useless Knowledge is the crowning achievement by the author of The Keeper of Antiquities and The Dark Lady and draws heavily on autobiographical experience. First published in Russian in 1978, it is a masterpiece of anti-totalitarian literature, and stands alongside the works of Solzhenitsyn and Bulgakov in illuminating the chaos, absurdity and bureaucratic labyrinths of Soviet Russia.
Published: 11 Feb 2013
In the small Bosnian town of Visegrad the stone bridge of the novel's title, built in the sixteenth century on the instruction of a grand vezir, bears witness to three centuries of conflict. Visegrad has long been a bone of contention between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, but the bridge survives unscathed until 1914, when the collision of forces in the Balkans triggers the outbreak of World War I.
The bridge spans generations, nationalities and creeds, silent testament to the lives played out on it. Radisav, a workman, tries to hinder its construction and is impaled alive on its highest point; beautiful Fata leaps from its parapet to escape an arranged marriage; Milan, inveterate gamble, risks all in one last game on it. With humour and compassion, Andric chronicles the lives of Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Christians unable to reconcile their disparate loyalties.
Published: 5 Apr 1994
A Swiss woman, Anna, walks the paths of a cemetery in present-day Algiers. She is searching for two names, those of her children, murdered more than 40 years previously by the FLN, the organization that fought for Algerian independence from the French in the early 1960s and whose leaders were convinced that the children's father, Nassreddine, was a traitor to their cause.
Anna has returned to an Algeria rife with terrorism and the excesses of fundamentalism. "The devil has entered our country, and his footprints are everywhere," her friend Majid tells her as she sets out, undaunted, disguised in Muslim dress, on a perilous quest to find out whether the man she once loved is still alive. She is guided through the harsh and beautiful landscape by Jallal, a boy who sells peanuts in the Place des Martyrs. Captured by the militant "forces of Allah", the woman and boy must witness and endure all manner of brutality and degradation before Anna's and Nassreddine's destinies can finally converge.
Anouar Benmalek's courageous novel confronts the tragedy of Algeria, its immediate past and present, as no other writer has done since Albert Camus, and in the process he tells a love story of immense tenderness.
Published: 18 Oct 2001
In the last months of World War II, a young man with a fatal disease, straight out the army, is sent to a TB sanatorium near Palermo. It feels like a leper colony- people arrive, but never leave until they are dead, usually in a matter of months. Even the doctor has the illness in his cells. But the sap of life cannot be stopped from flowing.
The men's and women's wings of the sanatorium are strictly segregated, but there are permits to go into town for patients who have passed a screening; there are little boys to run lovers' errands; and there is human ingenuity. In the long, hot summer of 1946, at an evening of amateur theatricals organised by the doctor, our narrator falls in love with Marta, a young ballerina who has not lost her grace. But what sort of future can be expected of such a romance?
Published: 22 Nov 2016
Turkey’s greatest novelist, Yashar Kemal was an unsurpassed storyteller who brought to life a world of staggering violence and hallucinatory beauty. Kemal’s books delve deeply into the entrenched social and historical conflicts that scar the Middle East. At the same time scents and sounds, vistas of mountain and stream and field, rise up from the pages of his books with primitive force.
It was during the anarchic days when Russian invaders had put the Turkish army to flight and filled the roads of eastern Turkey with a horde of desperate refugees that the Kurdish Ismail Agha, fleeing with his family from his village on the shores of Lake Van, picked up a child left to die by the roadside with maggot-infested wounds.
Thus did Salman become the adopted son of Ismail Agha who, after many reversals of fortune, achieved wealth in his new home. Salman grew up to worship the very ground on which his "father" trod, and to stand armed guard at his gate in all weathers. Change came with the eventual birth of a son, Mustafa, to Ismail Agha, who had come to despair of ever having an heir of his own flesh from his yet too young wife.
Now the green-eyed serpent, Jealousy, entered the household: Mustafa grew up to be terrified of his adoptive brother, a man of unpredictable mood-swings - and impeccable marksmanship. But Jealousy chose a different and quite unexpected target when finally the knives came into play.
Published: 21 Jul 2014
When these stories were written the Estonians were not masters of their own house: the Soviets had been the occupying Power since 1940, apart from the three years 1941-44 when the Nazis were in occupation. Young Estonians, conscripted into the armies of both belligerents, found themselves compelled to fight each other. This is the background of these six stories featuring Peeter Mirk, a young law student who is more often in than out of prison and labour camp during these years - like his creator Jaan Kross. Forever carrying a charge of guilt that he has only contributed to his friends' misfortunes, he describes two thwarted attempts at escape ("The Wound", "Lead Piping"), his own dilemma when he can save his life only by sacrificing a friend's ("The Stahl Grammar"), his hand in a practical joke perpetrated by prisoners on one of their number in Tallinn Central Jail, which goes badly wrong ("The Conspiracy"). The last two stories (" The Ashtray", "The Day Eyes Were Opened") involve train journeys, chance encounters, and the unavoidable necessity of giving Fate a run for its money.
If the tone is necessarily sombre as Kross recalls the years when Hitler and Stalin determined his countrymen's destiny, a wry humour keeps slipping through at every turn, which will suggest to the reader that Peeter Mirk must be cousin to the Good Soldier Schweik.
In the chaotic aftermath of the fall of Acre in 1291 and the reconquest of the Holy Land by the Moslems, the last survivors of the Order of the Temple make their bloody retreat from the Middle East. Loading the treasure of their Order into a decrepit, leaky vessel, they set sail for Europe, where, unbeknownst to them, King Philip of France plots their destruction.
Among their number is Beltran, a native of the Holy Land, who has led the life of a soldier-monk for the past thirty years. World-weary yet incorruptible, Beltran is guardian both of the treasure and the Rule of the Order. As his companions' loyalties waver, he struggles to keep the faith, only to witness the end of the Order as the Templars are thrown to the Inquisition and their Grand Master burned at the stake.
Published: 18 May 2010
Bergljot Haff (Author), Sverre Lyngstad (Translator)Translated by Sverre Lyngstad. Idun Hov's experiences condemn her to a life spent mostly in a mental hospital where she begins to write. The trials of Idun Hov's life and of Norway itself enter her writing, Idun's own experiences fuse with the German occupation of Norway, the shame of collaboration and the upheavals of a small nation betrayed.
Set in the town of Travnik, Bosnian Chronicle presents the struggle for supremacy in a region that stubbornly refuses to submit to any outsider. The time is Napoleonic and the novel, both in its historical scope and psychological subtlety, is Tolstoyan. Inevitably, in its portrayal of conflict and fierce ethnic loyalties, the story is eerily relevant to readers today.
Ottoman viziers, French consuls, and Austrian plenipotentiaries are consumed by a ceaseless game of diplomacy and double-dealing: expansive and courtly face-to-face, brooding and scheming behind closed doors. As they have for centuries, the Bosnians themselves observe and endure the machinations of greater powers that vie, futilely, to absorb them. Ivo Andric’s masterwork is imbued with the richness and complexity of a region that has brought much tragedy to our century and known so little peace.
Published: 1 Jul 2015