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The Bequest

John De Falbe (Author)

1864. After years of service in the Russian navy and a gruelling expedition to Greenland, Captain Frederick Ziege of the Royal Danish Navy is enjoying chaperoning his mother, sister and two marriageable nieces for a season on the Riviera. There he meets Emmeline Leslie, a young Australian widower and veteran of the bush. The differences between their complex histories enrich their ensuing romance, but frustrate their search for a home. The Bequest takes the reader from Italy to France, North Africa, Greece, Siberia, Greenland, Australia, and finally England. It is a novel about identity and belonging; about the place of history and memory in uprooted lives. Objects - many of which are pictured, such as an ivory China trade puzzle, a jewelled pencil, a clock - have an almost talismanic role in the interlocking stories of this rich and moving tale.

Imago

Eva-Marie Liffner (Author)

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 The Wilderness

Manuel Rivas (Author)

A glorious cast of animals and birds, as well as humans, relate the magical stories that form the plot of Manuel Rivas's extraordinary novel. An old lady, Misia, tells how the 300 ravens of Xallas are the warrior-poets of the last King of Galicia. A priest, Don Xil, explains to a peasant girl, Rosa, that the beautifully carved women in the local church are not saints, but represent the seven deadly sins. A mouse, Matac-ns, a poacher in his previous life, is chased by a cat, the bagpiper and anarchist, Arturo of Lousame. A bat, Gaspar, relates his own death to a lizard. In a nearby cellar, half the parish are found to have transmigrated into spiders, snails, toads-Manuel Rivas's story emerges like spirals of smoke, in a series of memorably poetic images. His characters have their roots deep in the traditions, legends and history of his beloved Galicia. Few contemporary storytellers share his power of vision and sense of cultural identity, or can narrate their tales with such tenderness and humour.

Bone by Bone

Peter Matthiessen (Author)

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.

The Jade Cat

Suzanne Brogger (Author)

Beginning with the great-grandfather Isidor Levin and his emigration from Poland in the 19th century, his establishment of The Royal Danish Distillery - creators of the famous Danish snaps - and the family's successful assimilation in Denmark, the story follows the children and grandchildren, as they look for successes in Denmark and abroad, in business and within the arts. Suzanne Brogger's family saga takes us from Denmark to Riga and back, through two World Wars, to India and Afghanistan, to America as it was and as it is, and it takes us through boarding schools, mental hospitals, and almshouses for the poor. At the heart of the narrative is the grandmother, Katze, and her memories. She tells the story from her patrician apartment in Copenhagen's Gammel M-nt 14, where she has lived since the 1940s, and her story is a haunting portrait of the pride, conceitedness, grandness, and despair, that has followed the Levin family while the world outside the old apartment gradually fell apart. The family remains prey to drug addiction and suicide attempts. Some escape into sex, others into evangelical politics or religion. Regn becomes a UN diplomat in the Third World, his wife tries to kill their son, while their daughter serves her sexual apprenticeship in a Thai monastery-brothel and after a brief period of social acceptability, ends her days a bag lady in Copenhagen. As diverse and uncompromising as William Styron's Sophie's Choice and Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits. To have conjured up a cast of grotesques and rendered them sympathetic is a challenge that Suzanne Brogger has triumphantly brought off. .

Carl Haffner’s Love of the Draw

Thomas Glavinic (Author)

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.

Treading Air

Jaan Kross (Author) , Eric Dickens (Translator)

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.

The Death Of A Beekeeper

Lars Gustafsson (Author) , J K Swaffer & G H Weber (Translator)

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.'

The Faculty Of Useless Knowledge

Yury Dombrovsky (Author) , Alan Myers (Translator)

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.

Lovers Of Algeria

Anouar Benmalek (Author)

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.

Salman The Solitary

Yashar Kemal (Author)

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.

Scapegoat

Daniel Pennac (Author)

Pathetic, contrite and hapless, Benjamin is nonetheless the scapegoat at The Store: there is nothing for which he cannot be blamed. While his blunders remain minor, most of his unwitting victims can find it in their hearts to forgive him, but when violent explosions begin to follow him around, he inevitably becomes the prime suspect. With his girlfriend Julie by his side, Benjamin thrusts himself into uncovering the mystery, delving deep into underground Paris and pursuing the truth through a maze of bizarre criminality and oppressive shadows.

The Conspiracy & Other Stories

Jaan Kross (Author)

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.

The Last Of The Templars

William Watson (Author)

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.

Leopard V: An Island of Sound

George Szirtes (Author)

Published to coincide with the Hungarian Year of Culture (2003-4), this new volume in Harvill's celebrated Leopard series of anthologies comprises a selection of Hungarian prose and poetry from the second half of the twentieth century. Hungarian literature can be characterised as the literature of anxiety. Throughout the 1900s, as Europe's political and social fortunes changed, Hungary's writers reflected on those changes, absorbing and distilling them in work of documentary, poetic or comically grotesque power. This anthology of fiction and poetry begins by setting out some of the major landmarks from the end of the Second World War, then concentrates on the period before, during and after the key date of 1989, when Central Europe was transformed once again. The volume traces that history of change from Marai's wartime diaries, into the Stalinist period with the one-minute novels of Istvan Orkeny, past the paradoxical post-modernist humanism of Peter Esterhazy, and through the haunted waste-tracts of Laszlo Krasznahorkai. On the way, it gathers together the monumental, the mystical, the garrulous and the inward-driven poetries of Janos Pilinszky, Sando Weores, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Gyorgy Petri, Otto Orban and Zsuzsa Rakovszky and many younger writers. This extraordinary journey takes us up to Hungary's return to the European fold, as it moves from the psycho-geographic East towards the longed-for, lost, centre. It celebrates the anxiety, agitation, crying and whispering of the Hungarian literary imagination, posing the question that hangs above the door of the European Community: What is Europe? How do we live in it? And how do we respond to its darkness and its light?

Shame

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.

Bosnian Chronicle

Ivo Andric (Author)

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.

Bestiary

Julio Cortazar (Author)

"The common reality," writes Alberto Manguel in his Introduction, "that attached itself to Cortazar like a second skin - the political struggles, the difficult affairs of the heart, the messy business of literature with its passion for novelty and gossip - will quietly fade, and what will remain is the shining teller of uncanny tales, tales that hold a delicate balance between the unspeakable and that which must be told, between the daily horrors of which we appear to be capable and the magical events with which we are gifted every night in the labyrinthine recesses of the mind." The present volume includes many stories never previously published in English; it aims to provide a fully representative selection of Cortazar's genius as a short story writer, a genius that has been celebrated all over the world since the author's death in 1984.

The Towpath

Jesus Moncada (Author) , Judith Willis (Translator)

During the Great War, the Spanish town at the centre of this novel turned into a boom-town, due to the demand for coal. After that, the downhill slide began, hastened on by Anarchists and left-wingers; then the Civil War and Franco's depression. Then came the March of Progress.

The Bride From Odessa

Edgardo Cozarinsky (Author)

Set in Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Vienna, Budapest and Odessa, both before and after the Second World War, Edgardo Cozarinsky's stories belong to the spirit of Borges and to a great Argentine cosmopolitan tradition: that of the uprooted exile, the plaything of History, who, set down in a strange but proud land, looks back nostalgically to the Europe of his ancestral memories.

Cozarinsky's characters are writers, lovers, scholars, artists and dreamers. An ambitious young Jew, about to marry and embark for a new life in Argentina is accosted by an unknown woman who departs with him to Buenos Aires; a pianist in a Buenos Aires nightclub finds himself drawn back to Germany in 1937; an Argentine-American Jew travels to Lisbon to unravel the threads of his grandparents' wartime affair...

They are all travellers of a kind, characters who inhabit a secret land, without frontiers.

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