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Shylock is My Name

Howard Jacobson (Author)

Winner of the Booker Prize

'The funniest British novelist since Kingsley Amis or Tom Sharpe' Mail on Sunday

AS SEEN ON BBC IMAGINE

‘Who is this guy, Dad? What is he doing here?’

With an absent wife and a daughter going off the rails, wealthy art collector and philanthropist Simon Strulovitch is in need of someone to talk to. So when he meets Shylock at a cemetery in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, he invites him back to his house. It’s the beginning of a remarkable friendship.

Elsewhere in the Golden Triangle, the rich, manipulative Plurabelle (aka Anna Livia Plurabelle Cleopatra A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever Christine) is the face of her own TV series, existing in a bubble of plastic surgery and lavish parties. She shares prejudices and a barbed sense of humour with her loyal friend D’Anton, whose attempts to play Cupid involve Strulovitch’s daughter – and put a pound of flesh on the line.

Howard Jacobson’s version of The Merchant of Venice bends time to its own advantage as it asks what it means to be a father, a Jew and a merciful human being in the modern world.

'Jacobson is quite simply a master of comic precision. He writes like a dream' Evening Standard

White Powder, Green Light

James Hawes (Author)

In Soho Paul Salmon, co-producer of the ghastly Britpack Russian Mafia caper Base Metal, is busy chasing his next project and not taking cocaine. In Pontypool, Dr Jane Feverfew is busy wooing her ludicrous students and fighting her leek-carrying ex. In Cardiff, the Welsh cultural mafia are busy planning the disposal of next year's subsidies.

Jane can hardly remember what sex is like. Her only excitement in life is a coy e-flirtation @ ResistYoof.co.uk. But the net was made for liars, and the coke-fuelled Salmon mistakes Jane for a writer who might save his bacon - and warm up his bed - and Jane dives happily into the white powder desert of actors, agents and W1 clubs.

As the Day of Reckoning arrives for her film and for Soho, Jane comes to her senses too late - or at least too late for salvation to come from any but the most unlikely of quarters-

The Conversations At Curlow Creek

David Malouf (Author)

The year is 1827, and in a remote hut on the high plains of New South Wales, two strangers spend the night in talk. One, Carney, an illiterate Irishman, ex-convict and bushranger, is to be hanged at dawn. The other, Adair, also Irish, is an officer of the police who has been sent to supervise the hanging. As the night wears on, the two discover unexpected connections between their lives, and learn new truths.

Outside the hut, Adair's troopers sit uneasily, reflecting on their own pasts and futures, waiting for the morning to come. With ironic humour and in prose of starkly evocative power, the novel moves between Australia and Ireland to explore questions of nature and justice, reason and un-reason, the workings of fate, and the small measure of freedom a man may claim in the face of death.

A Boy's Guide to Track and Field

Sabrina Broadbent (Author)

Lem Gulliver (25, maths teacher), can't seem to leave home. His mother (46, courtroom artist) and step-father (49, AA patrol man), make no secret of the fact that he's become a cuckoo in the nest but since his girlfriend left him for a dog trainer, Lem has returned to his natural state of emotional drift. He can't understand how the people around him manage the plot of a grown-up life.

A Boy's Guide to Track and Field starts at Walthamstow and travels southbound towards Brixton; the reader is swept along with Lem in a review of the past which gradually accelerates into the present.

Strangers On A Train

Patricia Highsmith (Author)

The psychologists would call it folie a deux...

'Bruno slammed his palms together. 'Hey! Cheeses, what an idea! I kill your wife and you kill my father! We meet on a train, see, and nobody knows we know each other! Perfect alibis! Catch?''

From this moment, almost against his conscious will, Guy Haines is trapped in a nightmare of shared guilt and an insidious merging of personalities.

Long John Silver

Björn Larsson (Author)

The true and eventful History of my Life of Liberty and Adventure as a Gentleman of Fortune and Enemy to Mankind.

What ever happened to Long John Silver, the enigmatic, treacherous and yet attractively subversive pirate whose exploits made him the anti-hero of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island? He lived out his twilight years on Madagascar, rich, one-legged and attended by a handful of devoted slaves whose freedom he had purchased in teh West Indies by inciting them to rebellion.

That he had a price on his head and the Navy out looking to bring him to justice bothered him less than the thought of posthumous obscurity. So he set down these memoirs to give his side of the story.

Dolce Agonia

Nancy Huston (Author)

Take a drop of existential angst, mix with a group of old friends, stir in the sweet agony of midlife nostalgia, and you have the recipe for the Thanksgiving dinner from hell - especially when it's narrated in part by a mischievous God who pulls their strings and show us the workings.

A group of cosmopolitan friends in midlife gather in New England for a Thanksgiving dinner - and are trapped there when it snows. Sean, the Irish hard-drinking poet is their host, but hasn't told them he's dying of cancer. In fact none of them would be there if they didn't have the kind of dysfunctional lives and problems which prevent them being with their own families.

With the exception of the enigmatic outsider, a new young trophy wife, they all know too much about each other, their weak points and failures. Relationships and histories criss-cross; they have little in common except a mutual past and a search for meaning in the present. And meanwhile they're all at the mercy of fate - both inevitable and surprising, funny and tragic.

The Virgin In The Garden

A S Byatt (Author)

Set in Yorkshire in 1952 as the inhabitants of the area set about celebrating the accession of a new Queen, this is the tale of a brilliant and eccentric family fatefully divided.

The Virgin in the Garden is a wonderfully entertaining novel, in which enlightenment and sexuality, Elizabethan drama and comedy intersect richly and unpredictably. It is the first novel to feature Frederica Potter, and the beginning of a triumphant quartet of novels.

Mr Muo's Travelling Couch

Dai Sijie (Author)

Dai Sijie's bestselling and much loved first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, was a delightful fable. His second is a Chinese Don Quixote following the peripatetic misadventures of Mr Muo, China's first psychoanalyst.

It's been over ten years since Muo left China. He's been happily studying Freud in France since then. But when he hears that his first love has been thrown into a Chinese jail he rushes home to rescue her. Muo tries to bribe Judge Di but, sick of cash and cars, the judge demands that he find him a virgin to deflower instead. And so Muo embarks on a hilarious quest...

Witty, surreal, moving, wonderfully picaresque, it is packed full of stories, anecdote, incident and mishap, all resulting in a highly enjoyable satire of one innocent man's attempt to negotiate the mind-boggling maze of modern China.

Winner of the Prix Femina.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Reif Larsen (Author)

T.S. Spivet is a genius mapmaker who lives on a ranch in Montana. His father is a silent cowboy and his mother is a scientist who for the last twenty years has been looking for a mythical species of beetle. His brother has gone, his sister seems normal but might not be, and his dog - Verywell - is going mad. T.S. makes sense of it all by drawing beautiful, meticulous maps kept in innumerable colour-coded notebooks.He is brilliant, and the Smithsonian Institution agrees, though when they award him a major scientific prize they don't suspect for a moment that he is twelve years old.
So begins T.S.'s life-changing adventure, travelling two thousand miles across America to reach the awards dinner, the secret-society membership and the TV interviews that beckon. But is this what he wants? Do maps and lists explain the world? And why are adults so strange?

Ports Of Call

Amin Maalouf (Author)

A graceful story of love across an insuperable gulf and a powerful allegory for the conflict that has beset the Middle East for the last half century.

To call your son Ossyane is like calling him Rebellion. For Ossyane’s father it is a gesture of protest by an excited Ottoman prince, for Ossyane himself it is a burdensome responsibility. At eighteen he leaves Beirut to study in Montpellier, far away from his father’s revolutionary aspirations for him. But it is 1938, and when war breaks out in Europe, Ossyane is drawn into the Resistance. His return to Beirut is a rebel hero’s welcome after all, and a joyful reunion with Clara, whom he first met in France. But if one war has brought the Jewish-Muslim couple together, another, much closer to home, is destined to separate Ossyane from the people and the world that he loves.

A Light-hearted Look at Murder

Mark Watson (Author)

Andreas is a German post-grad who looks like Hitler.
Rose is the fifth tallest woman in Britain.

Their tumultuous, bizarre love affair plays out through a prisoner's correspondence with the heartbroken Alexandra.

And as Andreas' peculiar tragedy unveils, Alexandra begins to find solitude in an uncanny world of lookalikes and murder.

The Cry Of The Owl

Patricia Highsmith (Author)

Robert Forester didn't look like the kind of man to be a prowler. His ex-wife had told the police he was erratic, liable to violence, had even fired a gun at her. Maybe he was psychopathic murderer...

The Heart of the Country

Fay Weldon (Author)

At 6.30pm one Thursday, Natalie Harris's world fell apart when she discovered her husband, Harry Harris, had eloped with Miss Eddon Gurney 1978. Natalie is utterly abandoned in the heart of the country, but then she meets Sonia and her life is changed forever.

From the bestselling author of The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil and The Cloning of Joanna May.

The Courilof Affair

Irène Némirovsky (Author) , Sandra Smith (Translator)

From the author of the bestselling Suite Française.

In 1903 Léon M - the son of two Russian revolutionaries - is given the responsibility of 'liquidating' Valerian Alexandrovitch Courilof, the notoriously brutal and cold-blooded Russian Minister of Education, by the Revolutionary Committee. The assassination, he is told, must take place in public and be carried out in the most grandiose manner possible in order to strike the imagination of the people.

Posing as his newly appointed personal physician, Léon M takes up residence with Courilof in his summer house in the Iles and awaits instructions. But over the course of his stay he is made privy to the inner world of the man he must kill - his failing health, his troubled domestic situation and, most importantly, the tyrannical grip that the Czar himself holds over all his Ministers, forcing them to obey him or suffer the most deadly punishments.

Set during a period of radical upheaval in European history, The Courliof Affair is an unsparing observation of human motives and the abuses of power, an elegy to a lost world and an unflinchingly topical cautionary tale.

The Mysteries

Robert McGill (Author)

Robert, a young traveller, finds himself in the small Ontario town of Sunshine, in the middle of a party at the town's wildlife park. A stranger he picked up on the way has given him a dirty yellow notebook and told him to give it to an Alice Pedersen. But Alice Pedersen disappeared two years ago.

Six months before Robert's arrival, human remains have been recovered from the local shoreline. Stoddart Fremlin has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Daniel Barrie, who was having an affair with Alice and who left for England immediately after her disappearance, has unexpectedly returned. At the same time, Rocket de Witt, one of the last people to see Alice alive, has left town. And amid all this, there is a tiger on the loose.

The mystery of Alice's disappearance slowly unravels, at the same time revealing the dark and murky secrets of the inhabitants of Sunshine.

The Little Black Book Of Stories

A S Byatt (Author)

A new collection of stories from A. S. Byatt is always a winner, and this one takes an unexpected turn, bringing shivers as well as delights. Leaves rustle underfoot in a dark wood: two middle-aged women walk into a forest, as they did when they were girls, confronting their fears and memories and the strange thing they saw in their childhood - or thought they saw - so long ago. A distinguished obstetrician and young woman artist find they have sharply contrasting ideas about body parts, birth and death; an innocent member of an evening class harbours unexpected view on 'raw material'. The stories in this marvellous collection are by turns funny, spooky, sparkling and haunting. The Little Black Book of Stories holds its secrets, adding a dark quality to Byatt's famous skill in mixing folk and fairy tale with everyday life.

Make Believe

Joanna Scott (Author)

Because her black boyfriend Kamon Gilbert was killed in a city street before the birth of their child, Jenny Templin moved out of the city.

Because she lived so far away, she bought a car, and because she had a car she took a job. Because she had a job she gave her boy to his black grandparents to care for most of the time.

Because she worked so hard she liked to relax with a few drinks after work before she picked up the boy. And because she'd had too many drinks one night and because she was dead tired, her car spun on the road and rolled, leaving the boy orphaned at the age of three, with two sets of grandparents, one white and one black, each determined to raise the boy their own way.

Lizard Tails

Juan Marse Carbo (Author)

David's alcoholic father, who is being pursued for political reasons, has deserted David and his attractive red-haired mother. David inhabits a fantasy world, fuelled by the films he sees at his local cinema and by images of war - Spitfires crashing into the sea, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima - and by the image of an RAF pilot whose photograph is pinned on his bedroom wall. David and his friend spend their time collecting detachable lizards' tails; symbolic of the detachment and uncertainty which characterises their young lives in troubled post-war Spain.

Lizard Tails was winner of the Spanish National Narrative Prize.

Good Women

Jane Stevenson (Author)

Jane Stevenson arrived on the British literary scene with a book called Several Deceptions. A collection of four novellas, it was unashamedly erudite, marvellously witty and just a little bit cruel. It revived a neglected form quite brilliantly.

Now, after four acclaimed novels, she returns with another sparkling novella collection. In 'Light My Fire' a passionate relationship cannot withstand a clash of tastes and an ancient Aga; a housewife's life is transformed when she starts to see angels in 'Walking with Angels'; and 'Garden Guerillas' follows a widow plotting an elaborate horticultural revenge on her daughter-in-law. Despite being framed by domesticity, these stories are wickedly potent and each has a string in its tale.

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