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Snow

Ellen Mattson (Author) , Sarah Death (Translator)

'The sky was now a block of darkness, punctured only by driving snow. The stars had gone out, the king was dead. And the wound on his arm refused to heal.' So begins Snow, the first novel by Ellen Mattson to be published in Britain - a brilliant exploration of an individual's codes of ethics and honour in the face of political and social collapse.

The man is Jakob Torn, a small-town apothecary, stumbling drunkenly through the streets, a refugee from his own home, carrying a deep stab-wound inflicted by his wife. He does not understand what brought on this sudden violence, any more than he can come to terms with the death, in battle, of his king. When the town begins to fill with the starving, frostbitten remnants of the defeated army, and Jakob is conscripted into helping to embalm the king's body, all his certainties are called into question.

Though set in 1718 in the west coast of Sweden, Snow is a profoundly modern and universal novel, interested less in the real-life historical drama that forms the backdrop than in the emotional and moral dilemma of Jakob Torn - a simple, loyal, honourable man who finds himself the damaged centre of a collapsing world.

Seeing Double

Patrick Wilmot (Author)

All is not well in the state of Niagra, the America of the African continent. The General - the Unique Miracle of the Century - has banned all but country and western music; a giant statue of Elvis desecrates the sacred Amuz Rock, street children are terrorised by the General's Disposal Units and someone is conducting experiments on unwitting Evangelical Christians. In Xanadu, Bob Marley, the sign painter, draws portraits that are more real than the real, more human than human and longs for the mother stolen from him by Idi Amin Ogwu. And in the oil-rich province of Lidiziam, villagers who refuse the attentions of the Burton Holly corporation, and its promises of US dollars in exchange for their oil, are massacred. The nation rejoices when idealistic young army officers stage a bloodless coup, but the revolution and dreams of utopian democracy are short-lived. A US-led 'coalition of the willing' sponsors a counter-coup and reinstates the General. The young idealists are rounded up, tortured and murdered. Forced to flee to the secret caves of Lidiziam, the girlfriends, wives and sisters of the revolutionaries gather together a guerrilla army of women and children and prepare to wage a very unorthodox war against the General and his powerful allies. Seeing Double is a provocative contemporary tale of dictatorship, kleptocracy, globalization and greed. It is a story of idealism, love, ganja, Sade, country & western music, Elvis, the art of sign painting, the war against terror and the politics of haute couture. With caustic humour and keen observation, Patrick Wilmot has written a satire that is as unforgiving in its analysis of world events as it is entertaining.

Burma Chronicles

Guy Delisle (Author)

Guy Delisle's newest travelogue revolves around a year spent in Burma (also known as Myanmar) with his wife and son. Burma is notorious for its use of concealment and isolation as social control: where scissor-wielding censors monitor the papers, the de facto leader of the opposition has been under decade-long house arrest, insurgent-controlled regions are effectively cut off from the world, and rumour is the most reliable source of current information.

An impressive and moving work of comics journalism from the author of Pyongyang and Shenzen.

Peter Duck

Arthur Ransome (Author)

‘Why do they call him Black Jake? Is it because of his hair?’ Titty asked.
‘Because of his heart’ said Peter Duck

The Swallows and Amazons, as well as Captain Flint and the ancient able seaman Peter Duck, set sail on the Wild Cat bound for the Channel. But they are shadowed by the Viper, manned by none other than Black Jake - a beastly pirate with a dark plan. Can the children race ahead and uncover the buried treasure before the pirate? Can they survive storms, earthquakes, crabs and even a waterspout and make it home?

Swallowdale

Arthur Ransome (Author)

'Ahoy! Ahoy! Swallows! Ahoy!'

Have you ever sailed in a boat or built a camp? Have you caught trout and cooked it yourself? The four Swallows, John, Susan, Titty and Roger return to the lake full of such plans and they can't wait to meet up with Nancy and Peggy, the Amazon Pirates. When the Swallow is shipwrecked and the Amazon's fearsome Great-Aunt makes decides to make a visit their summer seems ruined. Then they discover a wonderful hidden valley and things take a turn for the better...

Pigeon Post

Arthur Ransome (Author)

‘Barbecued billygoats!’

Can you imagine finding gold? That’s just what the Swallows and Amazons and Dick and Dorothea decide to hunt for in the hills high above the lake. But it’s a hot and dry summer and water is in scarce supply. Worse still for the troubled campers, they have competition: Squashy Hat. Anybody can see he is a prospector. And talk about squashy hats! The children have never seen squashier. Just who is he and what sort of traps is he laying? Using pigeons to carry messages, braving dangerous mines and fires, the Swallows, Amazons and D’s Mining Company must stake their claim before their dreaded rival...

Great Northern?

Arthur Ransome (Author)

Flat on his front, binoculars to his eyes, alone at dusk, Dick makes a remarkable discovery: two rare birds, never before seen in the British Isles. Captain Flint and his crew decide to consult an expert to confirm the discovery. But when the man they ask turns out to have his collector’s eye on the birds’ eggs, not to mention skins, an enjoyable voyage around the Outer Hebrides becomes a desperate race to save the birds, and themselves…

We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea

Arthur Ransome (Author)

'Like to spend a night in the Goblin?

The Swallows are staying on the Suffolk coast while they wait for their father to return home from China. But although the harbour is bursting with bobbing yachts, barges and steamers, this year there's no chance of any sailing for the landlocked Swallows. That is until they rescue young Jim Brading and his boat the Goblin from a sticky situation and to their delight are recruited as crew members. Mother agrees they can go, on one condition – they absolutely must not sail out past Beach End Buoy and into the open sea…

The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone

Ravi Thornton (Author) , Andy Hixon (Illustrator)

Brin and Bent are poolkeepers at The House for the Grossly Infirm. Their days are spent abusing the House residents with bleach and chlorine, spying on them through holes they have drilled in the walls. They do not know that someone else comes to the pool at night: Minno Marylebone, a child like no other.

Pure and beautiful, every night the child enters the water and becomes celestial, laughing and riding the currents as the pool turns into a sea. Then one night Brin and Bent find the wax that has spilled from Minno's candle and decide to lie in wait...

With this dark yet achingly beautiful tale, Ravi Thornton takes British graphic novels to a new level. The combination of her deft and masterful writing with the stunning artwork of Andy Hixon creates and an extraordinarily powerful and disturbing experience.

Apparition & Late Fictions

Thomas Lynch (Author)

A Methodist minister gone astray, a trout bum gone fishing with his father's ashes, an artist overwhelmed by embodied beauty-these are among the uncommon heroes and exquisite narratives in this first collection of stories by the American poet and essayist, Thomas Lynch. Set in Michigan's north woods, Ohio's interior, on islands, in casinos and distant cities, these fictions are linked by the gone and not forgotten: former spouses, dead parents, and missing children. In pursuit of love and its redemptions, Lynch's characters are haunted by memory, dogged by desire, made radiant by romance and its denouements.

With the elegant prose known to the readers of his earlier work, Lynch masterfully creates a world where mirage and apparition are commonplace, where people searching for safe harbour, reconnection and old comforts find them both near at hand and oddly out of reach.

Dead Man Talking

Roddy Doyle (Author)

Pat had been best friends with Joe Murphy since they were kids. But years ago they had a fight. A big one, and they haven’t spoken since --- till the day before Joe’s funeral.

What? On the day before his funeral Joe would be dead, wouldn’t he?

Yes, he would…

Roddy Doyle’s first book for the Quick Reads programme to support adult literacy is fast, funny and just a tiny bit spooky.

Footnotes in Gaza

Joe Sacco (Author)

Rafah, a town at the southernmost tip of the Gaza Strip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front rubbish-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. Situated on the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been reduced to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this most bitter of conflicts.

Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinian refugees dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah - coldblooded massacre or dreadful mistake - reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco arrives in Gaza and, immersing himself in daily life, uncovers Rafah, past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy.

As in Palestine and Safe Area Goražde, Joe Sacco's unique visual journalism has rendered a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Footnotes in Gaza, his most ambitious work to date, transforms a critical conflict of our age into intimate and immediate experience.

Drowntown

Jim Murray (Author) , Robbie Morrison (Author)

‘Just had a romantic Waterloo sunset spoiled by the sight of a corpse being dredged from the Thames? Welcome to Drowntown…

‘The name's Noiret, Leo Noiret. I'm a Minder, which means people hire me to protect them, figuring that my beer belly and monumental streak of bad luck are big enough to intercept any blades, bullets or bad feelings heading their way.

‘Staying alive isn’t easy, though, when everyone who’s anyone in Drowntown wants your new client dead in the water. I’m going to need a bigger belly…’

The world has changed forever, ravaged by climatic upheaval. The flooded metropolis of London has adapted to the rising sea levels, remaining a centre for international commerce and a magnet for environmental refugees. The elite gaze out over the ever-expanding Thames from their ivory towers, while the denizens of submerged pubs peer into the sunken streets like specimens in an aquarium.

Hired by notorious underworld figure Alexandra Bastet, Leo Noiret uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that stretches from the depths of Drowntown to the highest echelons of power and influence.

Struggling aqua-courier Gina Cassel learns that young love can be a dangerous game when she becomes romantically involved with the heir to the Drakenberg Corporation, which aims to control both the environment and the future of human evolution.

There’s a storm brewing in Drowntown, with Gina and Noiret at its heart…

Two More Pints

Roddy Doyle (Author)

Two men meet for a pint – or two – in a Dublin pub. They chew the fat, set the world to rights, curse the ref, say a last farewell… In this second collection of comic dialogues Doyle’s drinkers ponder:
- a topless Kate Middleton
- Barack and Michelle Obama (‘fuckin’ gorgeous’)
- David Beckham (‘Would you tattoo your kids’ names on the back of your neck?’ ‘They wouldn’t fit’)
- Jimmy Savile (‘a gobshite’)
- the financial crisis (again)
- abortion (again)
- and horsemeat in your burger…

Once again, those we have lost troop through their thoughts - Lou Reed, Seamus Heaney, Reg Presley, Nelson Mandela (‘he should never have left the Four Tops’), Phil Everly, Margaret Thatcher, Shirley Temple - and they still have that unerring ability to ask the really fundamental questions like ‘Would you take penalty points for your missis?’

The Fruit Of Stone

Mark Spragg (Author)

Set in Wyoming, in cattle country, The Fruit of Stone is the story of two men and one woman. McEban, a rancher, has loved Gretchen Reilly all his life; and all his life Bennett, Gretchen's husband, has been his best friend. When Gretchen leaves Bennett, the two men follow her trail on a strange, fateful journey across Wyoming to Nebraska.

Spragg's characters are unforgettable, his prose is at once tender and muscular, his portrait of the harsh but beautiful landscape breathtaking. With this remarkable novel he takes his place beside Cormac McCarthy, Thomas McGuane and Kent Haruf as one of the great contemporary chroniclers of the American West.

If

Steve Bell (Author)

In his daily cartoon for the Guardian and his long-running strip, IF, in the same paper, Steve Bell has proved that he is without equal in Britain as political cartoonist. Savage, funny, rude, constantly transgressing the rules of good taste, and of course beautifully drawn his cartoons are hated by those they lampoon and loved by everyone who likes to see authority subverted. In his new collection he covers the years of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, 2010-2015, fertile ground for Bell’s genius. From George Osborne in his bondage gear, the ‘Quiet Man’ zombie Ian Duncan Smith, Cable the elephant, Cameron the talking condom and Clegg the butler to Kipling and the IF penguins, every awful moment of the coalition years is re-run before your eyes … but Steve Bell style: ‘outrageous, anarchic, brilliant, sometimes inexplicable and a bit mad (not really)’ to quote John Pilger.

An Alphabet of Aunts

C. M. Dawnay (Author) , Mungo McCosh (Author)

Aunts have not had their due recognition - until now. But here, in the simple tasks and pleasures of her ordinary life, the aunt is portrayed with wonder and affection. Starting with the Ambulant, walking her dogs past G.F.Watts' statue of Physical Energy in Kensington Gardens, this book describes her in twenty-six beautifully observed portraits, one for each letter of the alphabet. Here is the Elegant on the catwalk; the Hydrant, watering her garden; the Indignant, watching those same plants being dug up by the ubiquitous canines who are so much a part of her life; the Mendicant, begging outside Daunt's bookshop; the Osculant, indulging in the pastime that aunts do best; the Ruminant, eating salad in her lonely cafe, not to forget the Truant, shamelessly sporting SEMPER ABSUM on her school blazer.


Each picture, meticulously drawn by Mungo McCosh, is followed on its subsequent page by the name of the aunt the picture describes. Beautiful and aptly chosen lettering tells us who she is - in case we can't guess for ourselves.

A book of wit and wisdom, for nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, everywhere.

Aya

Marguerite Abouet (Author) , Clément Oubrerie (Illustrator)

For the residents of Yopougon, everyday life is good. It is the early 1970s, a golden time - work is plentiful, hospitals are clean and well equipped, and school is obligatory. The Ivory Coast is as an island of relative wealth and stability in West Africa. For the teenagers of the town, though, worries are plentiful, and life in Yop City is far from simple.

Aya tells the story of its nineteen-year-old heroine, the clear-sighted and bookish Aya, and her carefree and fun-loving friends Adjoua and Bintou. Navigating meddling relatives and neighbours, the girls spend a last summer of their childhood on the sun-warmed streets of Yop City - sneaking out for dancing at open-air bars, strong solibra beer, chicken in peanut sauce and avoiding at all costs the scandal pages of the Calamity Morning....

Aya is a captivating, colourful and hugely entertaining portrayal of an Africa we rarely see, spirited and resilient, and full of the sounds, sights and smells of a prosperous town and its varied inhabitants.

Black Hole

Charles Burns (Author)

And you thought your adolescence was scary.

Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area's teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested any number of ways - from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) - but once you've got it, that's it. There's no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters - some kids who have it, some who don't, some who are about to get it - what unfolds isn't the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness of it, or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high-school alienation itself - the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape.

And then the murders start.

As hypnotically beautiful as it is horrifying (and, believe it or not, autobiographical), Black Hole transcends its genre by deftly exploring a specific American cultural moment in flux and the kids who are caught in it - back when it wasn't exactly cool to be a hippie any more, but Bowie was still just a little too weird.

To say nothing of sprouting horns and moulting your skin . . .

Fluffy

Simone Lia (Author)

Fluffy is story of unanswerable questions, love, despair, adventure and happiness. Fluffy is a baby rabbit who is being looked after by an anxious, single man called Michael Pulcino. Michael tries to make it clear to Fluffy that he is not his daddy, but Fluffy appears to be in denial. Michael is being pursued by Fluffy's nursery school teacher, and partly to escape her, he and Fluffy set off to visit his family in Sicily.

Will Michael escape her? Will Fluffy come to terms with the reality that he is not a human being? All is at least partly resolved in Simone Lia's utterly irresistible graphic novel.

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