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Animal Farm is one of the most famous warnings ever written. Orwell's immortal satire - 'against Stalin' as he wrote to his French translator - can be read on many levels. With its piercing clarity and deceptively simple style it is no surprise that this novel is required reading for schoolchildren and politicians alike. This fable of the steadfast horses Boxer and Clover, the opportunistic pigs Snowball and Napoleon, and the deafening choir of sheep remains an unparalleled masterpiece.
One reviewer wrote 'In a hundred years' time perhaps Animal Farm ... may simply be a fairy story: today it is a fairy story with a good deal of point.' Over sixty years on in the age of spin, it is more relevant than ever.
Rejected by such eminent publishing figures as Victor Gollancz, Jonathan Cape and T.S. Eliot, Animal Farm was published to great acclaim by Martin Secker and Warburg on 17 August 1945 in an edition of 4500 copies. In the centenary year of Martin Secker, Ltd., Harvill Secker is proud to publish this special edition with a brand-new introduction by Christopher Hitchens.
Published: 15 Apr 2010
Italy, June 1300. In a disused church on the outskirts of Florence, the master craftsman, Ambrogio, is found murdered at the foot of an unfinished mosaic.
A young Dante Alighieri, (future author of The Divine Comedy) the recently elected Prior to the City of Florence, is called upon to investigate. He learns that the church is being transformed into a university at the behest of the new Pope, Bonifacius VIII. Closer inspection reveals catacombs beneath the floor, populated with beggars and thieves, who speak of witchcraft and satanic rituals practised above. Meanwhile, the Church, on learning of Dante's involvement, begins to show an unusual interest in Ambrogio's fate.
But Dante has one further lead; Ambrogio belonged to a society of learned men, The Third Heaven. Dante hears they are in Florence for the founding of the new university, and believes that if he can infiltrate this group he may uncover the significance of Ambrogio's work. Perhaps the key to the murder is the mosaic itself.
Leoni sets this clever thriller in a city on edge, nervously recovering from civil war. Medieval Florence is portrayed with stunning clarity; a city on the cusp of the Renaissance, in which new learning - in the guise of Dante - takes on the dark forces of old. The Third Heaven Conspiracy is a breathtaking whodunnit.
Per Petterson masters the art of writing simply about big subjects, and this is the heartwarming debut that brought the author of the highly acclaimed Out Stealing Horses to prominence
Arvid Jansen is a young boy who lives on the outskirts of Oslo. It’s the early sixties, his father works in a shoe factory and his Danish mother works as a cleaner. Arvid wets his bed at night and has nightmares about crocodiles, but slowly he is beginning to piece the world together.
Per Petterson’s debut, in which he introduces Arvid Jansen to the world, is a delicate portrait of childhood in all its complexity, its wonders and confusions that will delight fans of Out Stealing Horses and new readers alike.
The Mafia and the Ten Commandments meet in these interlinked short stories about the undebelly of Naples. Ten uncovers the raw heart of a city, telling the stories of ordinary people forced to make extraordinary compromises in a place permeated by crime.
We encounter a son who finds that he is capable of a terrible act when faced with his mother’s suffering 'because someone had to do it'; a girl whose only outlet for the horrors of an adult’s abuse is to confide in a stuffed toy; an ancient nightclub singer whose ambition has led him to become a drug tester for a Mafia boss; and Ray-Ban who, during a night of mayhem with his friends, manages to steal the wrong car and pays dearly for it.
Each comes to life with painful precision in the hands of Andrej Longo – their fears, regrets, energy and grace. In direct and sometimes brutally raw prose, he conjures a searing new vision of Naples. With the lightest of brush strokes, Longo builds a vivid portrait of a city, its people, and their dreams of escape.
Brett is in Central America, away from her husband, Paul, when she meets his friend Eduard. Though unimpressed with him at first, the two soon launch into a passionate affair.
Unlike stable Paul, Eduard encourages Brett’s dark side. Her sobriety soon slips out of her grasp, and she finds herself on a downward spiral of sneaking off for weeks with her lover and blacking out in hotels. Brett still has the clarity to see that she is destroying her life, but is unable to stop.
Though coming undone is something we all try to avoid, Love in Central America is a fiery, powerful novel, marrying tragedy and comedy, that reminds us that going off the rails is sometimes part of the ride.
‘Cheating on your husband is like doing cocaine,’ says Brett at one point. ‘It’s rarely pleasurable, but try quitting.’
Published: 4 Aug 2016
A man's obsession with literature leads him to see the world through the eyes of fiction
Literature can be contagious; it can also be our only means of salvation. That at least is the experience of Montano, the 'unreliable narrator' of Enrique Vila-Matas' prize-winning novel, a man and a writer who is so obsessed with the books of certain celebrated contemporaries that he is unable to put pen to paper or utter a word without summoning up their work or their lives, and whose malady is that he finds it impossible to distinguish between real life and fictional reality. Part picaresque novel, part intimate diary, part memoir, part philosophical musings, Vila-Matas has created a labyrinth in which writers as various as Cervantes, Sterne, Kafka, Musil, Perec, Bolaño, Coetzee, Sebald and Magris cross endlessly surprising paths, while his protagonist leads the reader on an unsettling journey from European cities such as Nantes, Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague and Budapest to the Azores and the Chilean port of Valparaíso.
Yet for all the author's dazzling literary pyrotechnics, this is a novel that is always witty and accessible.
Published: 25 Jan 2016
Jola is a beautiful and privileged soap star who wants very much to be taken seriously; her partner Theo is a middle-aged author with writers’ block. In an attempt to further her career, Jola is determined to land the lead role in a new film about underwater photographer and model Lotte Hass.
To improve her chances, the couple travel to Lanzarote and hire diving instructor Sven, paying him a large sum for exclusive tuition. Sven is meticulously planning his most ambitious expedition yet – to an untouched wreck 100 metres down on the ocean floor. Diving calls for a cool head and, as a sinister love triangle develops, events rapidly get out of hand. But whose story do we trust - Sven's or Jola's?
Deliciously claustrophobic, smart, and unrelentingly intense, this psychological thriller with shades of Patricia Highsmith will leave readers gasping for air.
NAMED AS AN EDGAR AWARDS FINALIST 2017: BEST FIRST NOVEL
The death mask of Montezuma. A priceless artefact.
Lost. Looted. Sold. Stolen. Traded. Hunted. Wanted. Needed.
Anna has just discovered her father’s credibility as a renowned art collector is in ruins and her own reputation as a fact checker is in tatters.
But she has a chance to redeem herself, to restore both her and her father. She needs to go to Mexico, find the mask, and bring it to America where it will form the focal point of a new exhibition.
But other people want that mask – and they will stop at nothing to get it.
Lili Wright's exuberant, energetic, exciting debut takes us into a world of heat, colour and danger, where to survive Anna must negotiate with criminals, flatter the powerful and take her life in her hands.
An impassioned correspondence between two former school friends as they reach crisis in middle age, from the prize-winning Spanish novelist Carmen Martin Gaite
Sofia is a mother of three grown-up children and trapped in a loveless marriage to Eduardo. Mariana is a successful psychiatrist, incapable of forming stable relationships with men.
As their lives reach crises in middle age, these two women, former school friends who had grown apart, reach out to each other through an exchange of impassioned letters in Gaite's effusive epistolary novel.
Mariana, a psychiatrist and TV pundit, flees Madrid for a friend's empty house in a coastal resort, where she obsesses over Raimundo, a suicidal, manic-depressive writer who seems part friend, part patient, part lover. Her old friend, Sofia, walks out on her vain, hypercritical husband, Eduardo, a business executive who talks only about money, and moves in with her three rebellious children, who share a disorderly apartment.
In alternating voices mixing letters with notebook excerpts and invented stories, the two women relentlessly analyze their relationships, erotic fantasies and trips abroad. Strewn with allusions to Kafka, Dali, Bunuel, Tagore and Katherine Mansfield, their outpourings incorporate meditations on memory, love, sex, the treacherous nature of words, chance and the difficulty of confronting one's past without embellishing it.
Flight follows this troubled foster teenager - a boy who is not a 'legal' Indian because he was never claimed by his father - as he learns that violence is not the answer.
The journey for Flight's young hero begins as he's about to commit a massive act of violence. At the moment of the decision, he finds himself shot back through time to resurface in the body of an FBI agent during the civil rights era, where he sees why 'Hell is Red River, Idaho, in the 1970s'. Red River is only the first stop in an eye-opening trip through moments in American history. He will continue travelling back to inhabit the body of an Indian child during the battle at Little Bighorn and then ride with an Indian tracker in the nineteenth century before materialising as an airline pilot jetting through the skies today. During these travels through time, his refrain grows: 'Who's to judge?'
This novel seeks nothing less than an understanding of why human beings hate. Flight is irrepressible and fearless - Sherman Alexie at his most brilliant.
Published: 3 Jan 2008
'My first mistake was to be heterosexual.'
Such is one of several complaints in the first of four conversations between Henry Hart - who is a married father of two young girls - and his long-time friend, Darius Saddler - who is gay and unattached.
It is just over a year since the two men last met. Crippled and humiliated by debt, Hart - a dealer in antique maps - has managed to ruin his marriage, to commit an undeniable act of theft, and to become a suspect in France for a very serious crime.
With a lover on the side, a stolen map in his pocket, an ace French detective on his trail, a wife who is unusually cold and in the know, it is time for Hart to enlist the help of his oldest friend.
Confessions of a Map Dealer relates the attempts of Hart and Saddler to knit their lives together again, and to extricate Hart from the myriad problems he has brought upon himself.
A mystery, a one-sided love story, a tale of guilt, blackmail and self-delusion, Confessions of a Map Dealer is an intricate comedy of errors from a celebrated practitioner of the genre.
"What is frightening is the loss of the sacred in the human, particularly in sexual relations, because it means no true union is possible." Marguerite Yourcenar
Shortly before her death in a car accident, Camille, a quiet, erudite, somewhat mysterious unmarried woman in her sixties, had entrusted to a friend - the narrator of this book - a manuscript that described a passionate love affair she had experienced when she was forty. Rapture is this woman's meticulously detailed and totally candid account of the highs and lows of a physical and spiritual relationship with a man, Julien, that overwhelmed and obsessed her, and of their secret meetings and rituals in a white bedroom. Rarely in fiction has sexuality, both male and female, been analysed so extensively - and so honestly - from a woman's perspective. Interspersed with Camille's introspective analysis of the growth and decline of her love for Julien are a series of reflections taken from Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille and Proust, among others, that serve as a counterpoint to this memorable tale of an all-consuming love affair.
Published: 3 Nov 2005
The Keeper of Antiquities is simultaneously one of the great Russian modern novels and a key to understanding the terrible Stalinist purges of the late 1930s.
Set far from Moscow in the remote Kazakhstan capital of Alma-Ata, The Keeper of Antiquities begins with a leisurely, almost scholarly air - like a devious story by Borges. But very soon we find ourselves watching with horror as professional rivalry between the keeper of the town's museum and the chief librarian turns into a deadly struggle for control over the meaning of the past - and therefore over the present.
Published: 18 Dec 2012
Joan-Marc’s out of work, he’s alone, he has a heart condition, his mother’s addicted to pills, he can’t stand his sister. Otherwise, life is beautiful.
And there’s a lot that his estranged second wife doesn’t know about him. But in Divorce is in the Air he now sets out to tell her. He begins with the failure of his first marriage, describing a holiday taken in a last-ditch attempt to salvage a once passionate relationship.
Recalling this ill-fated trip triggers a life-story’s worth of flashbacks. From pivotal childhood scenes – his earliest sexual encounters, his father’s suicide – he moves on through the years, hopscotching between Barcelona and Madrid, describing a life of indulgence and of appetites.
The result is an unapologetic, daring, acerbic novel by an electrifying young writer about love and the end of love, and how hard it can be to let go.
"A Proustian journey into the interior, a dazzling psychodrama and, arguably, one of the best novels out of Spain in recent decades" Kirkus Reviews
On the day he is released from prison in Madrid, Leonardo learns of his parents' death in a car crash. He returns to their empty town house, a rich young man now, but with a life to reconstruct out of fragments. At first all he wants is to be atone to took over books, diaries, and old photographs, the mute witnesses to his own childhood and his parents' wretched marriage. But in time he concentrates on the Quinta Blanca, the white house by the cuff edge where his grandmother used to nourish him on stories, especially Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen".
When Leonardo revisits this childhood home at Christmas as the guest of its new owner, Casilda, he, too, has the sliver of ice removed from his heart by the one woman capable of doing so, and his own redemption is at hand.
The Farewell Angel is about storytelling, about the determining power of stories to harm and to heat. Centered around a lighthouse and the sea-washed rocks beneath it, this haunting novel is a triumph of subtle narrative by the prize-winning author of Variable Cloud.
As compulsively page-turning as a thriller, Carmen Martin Gaite's drama of broken dreams, lies, and the search for love is an intense meditation on the strange adventure of living
"Ever since the beginning of the world, living and dying have been two sides of one coin, tossed in the air - But for me - to be perfectly honest - living's the strange thing"
The protagonist of this novel, a 35-year-old woman who has lived hard and loved hard, has just lost her mother. Struggling to keep her curiosity about an inexplicable world intact, she finds her precarious equilibrium constantly besieged by resurfacing oddballs from her past and her own tendency to daydream. To force a little structure into her life, she decides to pick up her old, unfinished doctoral dissertation about an extravagant 18th century adventurer. As she wades through old papers in a dusty archive, she is forced to confront her own strange childhood, her parents' strange relationship, and the feelings that bond her to the strange architect she shares a life with.
Will Ferguson takes us on a wild romp across the dust bowl of West Texas. The year is 1939. The world is on the brink of war, and the American Dream is rusting out from the inside.
Jack McGreary is adrift in the faded boomtown of Paradise Flats. Raised by his eccentric and increasingly erratic father, Jack has learned to live by his wits. He outsmarts the local businessmen, out-argues the local priest, and even outplays a gang of hardened carnies at a seedy fairground. And when a pair of fast-talking swindlers named Virgil and Miss Rose blow through town, Jack falls in with them. Together they go on a crime spree across the American Southwest, staging a series of elaborate and often hilarious cons. Young Jack is swept along into a world of hot jazz and cold calculating crimes of the heart, as the sexual tension between him and Miss Rose comes to a boil. Someone is being set up. Are Miss Rose and Virgil playing Jack? Or is Jack playing them?
Published: 3 Jan 2008
Fully illustrated and beautifully designed, this is a unique and wonderfully creepy tale that is sure to delight Murakami fans.
'All I did was go to the library to borrow some books'.
On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. This is his first mistake.
Led to a special 'reading room' in a maze under the library by a strange old man, he finds himself imprisoned with only a sheep man, who makes excellent donuts, and a girl, who can talk with her hands, for company. His mother will be worrying why he hasn't returned in time for dinner and the old man seems to have an appetite for eating small boy's brains. How will he escape?
When the university merged his Department of Linguistics with English, Professor Desmond Bates took early retirement, but he is not enjoying it. He misses the purposeful routine of the academic year, and has lost his appetite for research.
His wife Winifred's late-flowering career goes from strength to strength, reducing his role to that of escort and househusband, while the rejuvenation of her appearance makes him uneasily conscious of the age gap between them. The monotony of his days is relieved only by wearisome journeys to London to check on the welfare of his eighty-nine-year-old father, an ex dance musician who stubbornly refuses to move from the house he is patently unable to live in with safety.
But these discontents are nothing compared to the affliction of hearing loss, which is a constant source of domestic friction and social embarrassment. In the popular imagination, he observes, deafness is comic, as blindness is tragic, but for the deaf person himself it is no joke. It is through his deafness that Desmond inadvertently gets involved with a young woman whose wayward and unpredictable behaviour threatens to destabilise his life completely.
Funny and moving by turns, Deaf Sentence is a brilliant account of one man's effort to come to terms with deafness and death, ageing and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human lives.
The path to true love rarely runs smoothly...
Teo, a medical student, meets Clarice at a party. Teo doesn’t really like people, they’re too messy, but he immediately realises that he and Clarice are meant to be together. And if Clarice doesn’t accept that? Well, they just need to spend some time together, and she’ll come to realise that too.
And yes, he has bought handcuffs and yes, he has taken her prisoner and yes, he is lying to her mother and to his mother and to the people at the hotel he’s keeping her at, but it’s all for her own good.
She’ll understand. She’ll fall in love. She’ll settle down and be his loving wife.