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Blackden

Duncan McLean (Author)

Things can get overheated in a small Scottish town, even in the depths of winter. Outside it’s so cold they’re curling on the tennis court, but inside the head of Patrick Hunter, eighteen-year-old auctioneer’s assistant, the blood is boiling.

Fuelled by a potent mix of stovies and beer, Patrick spends a November weekend racing around the hills and dens, half in escape from worn-out friends, drudging work and painful memories, half in pursuit of sex, laughs, a witches’ Sabbath, a message-bike handed down through the generations…and himself.

Duncan McLean’s book of stories, Bucket of Tongues, received high praise for its ‘crisp snapshots of Scotland’s seamier side’ (The Face). His first novel is just as fast-moving, as painfully funny and as telling in its eye for the small details of speaking, eating, loving, playing and working that make up our lives. The characters are as lively as before, but less defeated, the humour is warmer, more generous, and the vision of contemporary rural life is enriched by an awareness of the past. Blackden is an outstanding novel by one of our most talented writers.

Absolutely on Music

Haruki Murakami (Author) , Seiji Ozawa (Author) , Jay Rubin (Translator)

An unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros.

Haruki Murakami's passion for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and the aesthetic and emotional power of music permeates every one of his much-loved books. Now, in Absolutely on Music, Murakami fulfills a personal dream, sitting down with his friend, acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa, to talk about their shared interest.

They discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from record collecting to pop-up orchestras, and much more.

Murder in the Snow

Gladys Mitchell (Author)

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

(Please note that this book was previously published as Groaning Spinney.)

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…

Blue Dog

Louis de Bernières (Author)

'The kind of book that changes readers for the better' Guardian

When a family tragedy means Mick is sent to the outback to live with his Granpa, it looks as if he has a lonely life ahead of him. The cattle station is a tough place for a child, where nature is brutal and the men must work hard in the heat and dust. However, after a cyclone hits, things change for Mick. Exploring the floodwaters, he finds a lost puppy covered in mud and half-drowned. Mick and his dog immediately become inseparable as they take on the adventures offered by their unusual home, and the business of growing up, together.

In this charming prequel to the much-loved Red Dog, Louis de Bernières tells the moving story of a young boy and his Granpa, and the charismatic and entertaining dog who so many readers hold close to their hearts.

Birth of a Dream Weaver

Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Author)

‘Exquisite in its honesty and truth and resilience, and a necessary chronicle from one of the greatest writers of our time’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in the Guardian

When Ngugi wa Thiong’o arrives at the prestigious Makerere University, it embodies all the potential and excitement of the early 1960s. Campus is a haven of opportunity for the brightest African students, a meeting place for thinkers and writers from all over the world, and its alumni are filling Africa’s emerging political and cultural positions.

Despite the challenges he faces as a young black man in a British colony, it is here that Ngugi begins to find his voice as a playwright, journalist and novelist, writing his first, pivotal works just as the countries of East Africa enter the final stages of their independence struggles.

Home and Away

Karl Ove Knausgaard (Author) , Don Bartlett (Translator) , Fredrik Ekelund (Author) , Sean Kinsella (Translator)

Selected as a Book of the Year in The Times and Evening Standard

Karl Ove Knausgaard is sitting at home in Skåne with his wife, four small children and a dog. He is watching football on TV and falls asleep in front of the set. He likes 0-0 draws, cigarettes, coffee and Argentina.

Fredrik Ekelund is away in Brazil, where he plays football on the beach and watches matches with friends. Fredrik loves games that end up 4-3 and teams that play beautiful football. He likes caipirinhas and Brazil.

In Home and Away, two writers use football and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to reflect on life and death, art and politics, class and literature and the most important question: was this the best football championship ever?

The Invention of Angela Carter

Edmund Gordon (Author)

WINNER OF THE SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARD

NBCC AWARD FINALIST

Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Financial Times, Spectator and Observer

Angela Carter’s life was as unconventional as anything in her fiction. Through her fearlessly original and inventive books, including The Bloody Chamber and Nights at the Circus, she became an icon to a generation and one of the most acclaimed English writers of the last hundred years. This is her first full and authorised biography.

Edmund Gordon uncovers Carter’s life story – from a young woman trying to write in a tiny bedsit in Tokyo, to one of the most important and daring writers of her day. From a life full of adventure sprang work so fantastic, dazzling and seductive that it permanently changed and reinvigorated British literature. This is the story of how Angela Carter invented herself.

'An exemplary piece of work... Everyone should read it' Spectator

The Snowman

Jo Nesbo (Author) , Don Bartlett (Translator)

NOW A MAJOR FILM STARRING MICHAEL FASSBENDER

36 MILLION BOOKS SOLD WORLDWIDE

Soon the first snow will come

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Outside, he sees her favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

And then he will appear again

Detective Harry Hole soon discovers that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

And when the snow is gone…

When a second woman disappears, Harry’s worst suspicion is confirmed: a serial killer is operating on his home turf.

…he will have taken someone else

Do You Mr Jones?

Neil Corcoran (Author)

In 2016, Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’. This collection of essays by leading poets and critics – with a new foreword by Will Self – examines Dylan’s poetic genius, as well as his astounding cultural influence over the decades.

‘From Orpheus to Faiz, song and poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition’ Salman Rushdie

‘The most significant Western popular artist in any form or medium of the past sixty years’ Will Self

‘For fifty and some years he has bent, coaxed, teased and persuaded words into lyric and narrative shapes that are at once extraordinary and inevitable’ Andrew Motion

‘His haunting music and lyrics have always seemed, in the deepest sense, literary’ Joyce Carol Oates

‘There is something inevitable about Bob Dylan… A storyteller pulling out all the stops – metaphor, allegory, repetition, precise detail… His virtue is in his style, his attitude, his disposition to the world’ Simon Armitage

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.

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.

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)

Selected as a Book of the Year in 2017 in the Irish Times and The Times

SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2017

‘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

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 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.

The Comet Seekers

Helen Sedgwick (Author)

Two lives. One night sky.

Róisín and François first meet in the snowy white expanse of Antarctica, searching for a comet overhead.

While Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland, ablaze with a passion for science and the skies, François was raised by his restless young mother, who dreamt of new worlds but was unable to turn her back on her past.

As we loop back through their lives we see their paths cross as they come closer and closer to this moment, brought together by the infinite possibilities of the night sky.

Threads

Julia Blackburn (Author)

Winner of the East Anglian Book of the Year 2015
Winner of the New Angle Book Prize 2017

John Craske, a Norfok fisherman, was born in 1881 and in 1917, when he had just turned thirty-six, he fell seriously ill. For the rest of his life he kept moving in and out of what was described as ‘a stuporous state’. In 1923 he started making paintings of the sea and boats and the coastline seen from the sea, and later, when he was too ill to stand and paint, he turned to embroidery, which he could do lying in bed. His embroideries were also the sea, including his masterpiece, a huge embroidery of The Evacuation of Dunkirk.

Very few facts about Craske are known, and only a few scattered photographs have survived, together with accounts by the writer Sylvia Townsend Warner and her lover Valentine Ackland, who discovered Craske in 1937. So - as with all her books - Julia Blackburn’s account of his life is far from a conventional biography. Instead it is a quest which takes her in many strange directions - to fishermen’s cottages in Sheringham, a grand hotel fallen on hard times in Great Yarmouth and to the isolated Watch House far out in the Blakeney estuary; to Cromer and the bizarre story of Einstein’s stay there, guarded by dashing young women in jodhpurs with shotguns.

Threads is a book about life and death and the strange country between the two where John Craske seemed to live. It is also about life after death, as Julia’s beloved husband Herman, a vivid presence in the early pages of the book, dies before it is finished.

In a gentle meditation on art and fame; on the nature of time and the fact of mortality; and illustrated with Craske’s paintings and embroideries, Threads shows, yet again, that Julia Blackburn can conjure a magic that is spellbinding and utterly her own.

Hag-Seed

Margaret Atwood (Author)

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017

Selected as a Book of the Year – Observer, Sunday Times, Times, Guardian, New Statesman, i magazine

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other. It will boost his reputation. It will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. Also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

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