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This Is Just My Face

Gabourey Sidibe (Author)

This Is Just My Face is the whirlwind tour of Gabourey Sidibe’s life so far. In it, she shows us around the Harlem studio apartment where she grew up, and we meet the psychic who told her she’d one day be ‘famous like Oprah’; she relives the debilitating depression that hit her at college, and her first ever job as a phone sex ‘talker’ (less creepy than you’d think); she ushers us down the red carpet dressed in an outfit that cost $120, and describes what it feels like to be told by the President of the United States: ‘You’re the bomb, girl!’ Told with full-throttle honesty, irreverence and humour, this is a book for anyone who has ever felt like they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, who has dreamed of a brighter future or wondered what Obama is really like.

Armand V

Dag Solstad (Author)

‘Solstad doesn’t write to please other people. Do exactly what you want, that’s my idea…the drama exists in his voice’ Lydia Davis

Armand is a diplomat rising through the ranks of the Norwegian foreign office, but he’s caught between his public duty to support foreign wars in the Middle East and his private disdain of Western intervention. He hides behind his knowing ironic statements about the war, which no one grasps and which change nothing in the real world. Armand’s son joins the Norwegian SAS to fight in the Middle East, despite being specifically warned against such a move by his father, which leads to catastrophic, heartbreaking consequences.

Told exclusively in footnotes to an unwritten novel, this is Solstad's radically unconventional novel about how we experience the passing of time: how it fragments, drifts, quickens, and how single moments can define a life.

The Years, Months, Days

Yan Lianke (Author)

A terrible drought hits the population of a small mountain village and they flee to better climes. Incapable of marching for days, one old man and his blind dog stay behind, keeping watch over his single ear of corn. Every day is a victory over death.

The Years, Months, Days is a universal story, an homage to all that is good in mankind. A bestseller in China and now available in English for the first time, this is a powerful, moving fable by ‘one of China’s greatest living authors’ (Guardian).

Wrestling with the Devil

Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Author)

In 1977, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s new play, I Will Marry When I Want, opened in his home village of Kamiriithu, Kenya. It caused a political furore. Six weeks later, it was shut down by the Kenyan regime and he was detained without trial.

Wrestling with the Devil is Ngugi’s searing memoir of one year in prison. He describes the degradation and humiliation of political prisoners, the neglect and casual cruelty that undermined their health, and the debilitating blend of tension and tedium that marked each day. As he reflects on this difficult period, his mind turns to his endeavours as a writer and to the way forward for the people of his country.

My Life as a Russian Novel

Emmanuel Carrère (Author)

Set in Paris and Kotelnich, a small post-Soviet town, My Life as a Russian Novel traces Carrère's pursuit of two consuming obsessions: the disappearance of his Russian grandfather amid suspicions that he was a Nazi collaborator in the Second World War; and his erotic fascination with a woman he loves but cannot keep from destroying.

In elegant and impassioned prose, Carrère weaves the strands of his story into a travelogue of a journey inward, grappling with his tortured psyche. Road trip, confession, and erotic tour de force, this fearless reckoning illuminates the schemes we devise to evade ourselves, and the price paid for real self-understanding.

A Life's Work

Rachel Cusk (Author)

When it was first published, Cusk’s memoir of new motherhood shocked readers and critics alike: it was called ‘as compulsive as a thriller’ by the Observer, ‘an incitement to riot’ by Esther Freud and ‘career suicide’ by the New York Times. Cusk was accused of self-obsession, of hating her child and of having post-natal depression, just as she was being celebrated by others for having the courage to speak the truth about being a mother.

A modern classic and the antithesis of a parenting manual, in A Life’s Work Cusk writes with unflinching honesty and wry humour about the sleepless nights, the loneliness, the moments of despair but also of fierce heart-stopping love.

Murder in the Snow

Gladys Mitchell (Author)

‘A delight… An amateur sleuth to rival Miss Marple’ Guardian

Mrs Bradley, sharp-eyed detective and celebrated psychiatrist, has decided to spend Christmas with her nephew at his beautiful house in the Cotswolds.

It isn’t long before a mystery unfolds. There are strange events occurring in the nearby wood and local villagers are receiving anonymous threatening letters. Then the snow begins to fall – and a body is discovered.

Mrs Bradley is on the case, but she’ll have to hatch an ingenious plan to reveal the truth and find the culprit…

A Field Guide to the North American Family

Garth Risk Hallberg (Author)

From the author of the New York Times bestseller City on Fire
A Granta Best of Young American Novelist 2017
‘A young author of boundless and unflagging talents’ New York Times


We can all agree on this much, Marnie thought: nobody saw the Hungate divorce coming. In the privacy of her own mind, she saw them as the last of a dying breed, the Great American Family.

Two families – the Hungates and the Harrisons – live side by side in Long Island, New York. They lead charmed lives: good jobs in the city, weekends by the pool, cheerleading practice after school and backyard barbecues in the summer. But within these lives lie hundreds of little deceptions.

Told through a mix of photographs and words, this is a dazzlingly inventive depiction of two families falling apart and coming together and the thousand different truths of the American Dream.

The Novels

Bruce Chatwin (Author) , Hanya Yanagihara (Introducer)

While Bruce Chatwin is best known as a master of travel literature, his three acclaimed novels must not be overlooked. Here we see a writer exploring human life, from its freedoms to its limits, in ever more exhilarating and unexpected ways.

In On the Black Hill, twin brothers begin to realise that the world beyond their familiar fields is changing. In Utz, a scholar visits a communist state to meet an eccentric porcelain collector. And in The Viceroy of Ouidah, an ambitious slave trader makes a choice that could threaten his ultimate dream.

The Marches

Rory Stewart (Author)

LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2017

‘This is travel writing at its best.’
Katherine Norbury, Observer
An Observer Book of the Year

His father Brian taught Rory Stewart how to walk, and walked with him on journeys from Iran to Malaysia. Now they have chosen to do their final walk together along ‘the Marches’ - the frontier that divides their two countries, Scotland and England. Brian, a ninety-year-old former colonial official and intelligence officer, arrives in Newcastle from Scotland dressed in tartan and carrying a draft of his new book You Know More Chinese Than You Think. Rory comes from his home in the Lake District, carrying a Punjabi fighting stick which he used when walking across Afghanistan.

On their six-hundred-mile, thirty-day journey - with Rory on foot, and his father ‘ambushing’ him by car – the pair relive Scottish dances, reflect on Burmese honey-bears, and on the loss of human presence in the British landscape. On mountain ridges and in housing estates they uncover a forgotten country crushed between England and Scotland: the Middleland. They cross upland valleys which once held forgotten peoples and languages – still preserved in sixth-century lullabies and sixteenth-century ballads. The surreal tragedy of Hadrian’s Wall forces them to re-evaluate their own experiences in the Iraq and Vietnam wars. The wild places of the uplands reveal abandoned monasteries, border castles, secret military test sites and newly created wetlands. They discover unsettling modern lives, lodged in an ancient land. Their odyssey develops into a history of nationhood, an anatomy of the landscape, a chronicle of contemporary Britain and an exuberant encounter between a father and a son.

And as the journey deepens, and the end approaches, Brian and Rory fight to match, step by step, modern voices, nationalisms and contemporary settlements to the natural beauty of the Marches, and a fierce absorption in tradition in their own unconventional lives.

Watch Her Disappear

Eva Dolan (Author)

YOU CAN RUN FROM YOUR PAST. BUT YOU CAN'T RUN FROM MURDER.

The body is found by the river, near a spot popular with runners.

With a serial rapist at work in the area, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are initially confused when the Hate Crimes Unit is summoned to the scene. Until they discover that the victim, Corinne Sawyer, was born Colin Sawyer.

Police records reveal there have been violent attacks on trans women in the local area. Was Corinne a victim of mistaken identity? Or has the person who has been targeting trans women stepped up their campaign of violence? With tensions running high, and the force coming under national scrutiny, this is a complex case and any mistake made could be fatal...

The Tunnel Through Time

Gillian Tindall (Author)

Crossrail, the ‘Elizabeth’ line, is simply the latest way of traversing a very old east–west route through what was once countryside to the city and out again. Visiting Stepney, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, Gillian Tindall traces the course of many of these historical journeys across time as well as space.

The Tunnel Through Time uncovers the lives of those who walked where many of our streets still run. These people spoke the names of ancient farms, manors and slums that now belong to our squares and tube stations. They endured the cycle of the seasons as we do; they ate, drank, worked and laughed in what are essentially the same spaces we occupy today. As Tindall expertly shows, destruction and renewal are a constant rhythm in London’s story.

Enough Said

Mark Thompson (Author)

LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2017

How do we discuss serious ideas in the age of 24-hour news? What was rhetoric in the past and what should it be now? And what does Islamic State have in common with Donald Trump?

We’ve never had more information or more opportunity to debate the issues of the day. Yet the relationship between politicians, the media and the public is characterised by suspicion, mistrust and apathy. What has gone wrong?

Enough Said reveals how political, social and technological change has transformed our political landscape – and how we talk about the issues that affect us all. Political rhetoric has become stale and the mistrust of politicians has made voters flock to populists who promise authenticity, honesty and truth instead of spin, evasiveness and lies.

Featuring Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin, Tony Blair and George Osborne, Silvio Berlusconi and many more star performers, Enough Said shows how public language is losing its power, and how an ominous gap is opening between the governed and those who govern. The result of decades of first-hand experience of politics and media, this is an essential, brilliant diagnosis of what we should stop doing and what we should start doing in order to reinvigorate Western democracy.

Montpelier Parade

Karl Geary (Author)

‘A delicate, crystalline, hugely impressive novel… He's yet another masterful younger writer coming through… Wonderful’ Sebastian Barry

Her house is on Montpelier Parade – just across town, but it might as well be a different world. Sonny is fixing a crumbling wall in the garden when he sees her for the first time, coming down the path towards him. Vera.

Vera is older, wealthier, sophisticated, but chance meetings quickly become shy arrangements, and soon Sonny is in love for the first time. But there is something unsettling that Vera is keeping from him. Unfolding in the sea-bright Dublin of early spring, Montpelier Parade is an indelible novel about the things that remain unspoken between lovers. It is about how deeply we can connect with one another, and the choices we must make alone.

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017

I Contain Multitudes

Ed Yong (Author)

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE 2017 AND THE ROYAL SOCIETY INSIGHT INVESTMENT SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2017


THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Your body is teeming with tens of trillions of microbes. It’s an entire world, a colony full of life.

In other words, you contain multitudes.

They sculpt our organs, protect us from diseases, guide our behaviour, and bombard us with their genes. They also hold the key to understanding all life on earth.

In I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong opens our eyes and invites us to marvel at ourselves and other animals in a new light, less as individuals and more as thriving ecosystems.

You'll never think about your mind, body or preferences in the same way again.

'Super-interesting... He just keeps imparting one surprising, fascinating insight after the next. I Contain Multitudes is science journalism at its best' Bill Gates

Transit

Rachel Cusk (Author)

‘An extraordinary piece of writing – stunningly bold, original and humane’ Joanna Kavenna, Daily Telegraph

A Guardian / New Statesman / Observer / Spectator Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize

In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions – personal, moral, artistic, practical – as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children.

Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility and the mystery of change.

Suddenly In the Depths of the Forest

Amos Oz (Author) , Sondra Silverston (Translator)

In a village far away, deep in a valley, all the animals and birds disappeared some years ago. Only the rebellious young teacher and an old man talk about animals to the children, who have never seen such (mythical) creatures. Otherwise there's a strange silence round the whole subject. One wretched, little boy has dreams of animals, begins to whoop like an owl, is regarded as an outcast, and eventually disappears.

A stubborn, brave girl called Maya and her friend Matti, are drawn to explore in the woods round the village. They know there are dangers beyond and that at night, Nehi the Mountain Demon comes down to the village. In a far-off cave, they come upon the vanished boy, content and self-sufficient. Eventually they find themselves in a beautiful garden paradise full of every kind of animal, bird and fish - the home of Nehi the Mountain Demon. The Demon is a pied piper figure who stole the animals from the village. He, too, was once a boy there, but he was different, mocked and reviled, treated as an outsider and outcast.

This is his terrible revenge, one which has punished him too, by removing him from society and friendship, and every few years he draws another child or two to join him in his fortress Eden, where he has trained the sheep to lie down with the wolves, and where predators are few. He lets the two children return to the village, telling them that one day, when people are less cruel and his desire for vengeance has crumbled, perhaps the animals might come back...

Easternisation

Gideon Rachman (Author)

WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR

The West’s domination of world politics is coming to a close. The flow of wealth and power is turning from West to East and a new era of global instability has begun.

Easternisation is the defining trend of our age – the growing wealth of Asian nations is transforming the international balance of power. This shift to the East is shaping the lives of people all over the world, the fate of nations and the great questions of war and peace.

A troubled but rising China is now challenging America’s supremacy, and the ambitions of other Asian powers – including Japan, North Korea, India and Pakistan – have the potential to shake the whole world. Meanwhile the West is struggling with economic malaise and political populism, the Arab world is in turmoil and Russia longs to reclaim its status as a great power.

We are at a turning point in history: but Easternisation has many decades to run. Gideon Rachman offers a road map to the turbulent process that will define the international politics of the twenty-first century.

The Kingdom of Speech

Tom Wolfe (Author)

'A great journalist with a whip-like satirical prose style… Wolfe’s great gift is to make the heavy seem light and this book is such an entertaining polemic that I read it in a day and immediately wanted to read it again.' - Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey through language. The Kingdom of Speech is a paradigm-shifting argument that speech - not evolution - is responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in our Kingdom of Speech.

The Gardener and the Carpenter

Alison Gopnik (Author)

Selected as a Book of the Year by the Financial Times
The Gardener and the Carpenter should be required reading for anyone who is, or is thinking of becoming a parent’ Financial Times

Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call ‘parenting’ is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the huge industry surrounding it have transformed childcare into obsessive, controlling, and goal-orientated labour intended to create a particular kind of child, and therefore a particular kind of adult.

Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is profoundly important, it is not a matter of shaping them to turn out a particular way. Children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and to be very different both from their parents and from each other. The variability and flexibility of childhood lets them innovate, create, and survive in an unpredictable world. ‘Parenting’ won't make children learn – but caring parents let children learn by creating a secure, loving environment.

In The Gardener and the Carpenter, the pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parenting is profoundly wrong – it's not just based on bad science, it's bad for children and their parents too.

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