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Crime

Ferdinand von Schirach (Author) , Carol Brown Janeway (Translator)

Meet Fahner, the retired small-town doctor who resorts to the garden axe when his patience with his cruel wife runs out.

Or Patrick, so entranced by the sight of his sleeping girlfriend that he cuts a small piece out of her back, just to see what she tastes like.

Or the silent assassin who calmly despatches two Neo-Nazi thugs on a railway platform.

A nameless lawyer invites us to read an extraordinary dossier of violent and unspeakable acts. All the crimes have one thing in common: the guilty are never convicted in a court of law. But however heinous the crime, the narrator shows how the human circumstances behind events can tell a different story.

Ferdinand von Schirach, himself a criminal lawyer, unveils a terrifying world where criminals elude justice, and the apparent innocents are perhaps the most dangerous of all. 'Guilt,' writes von Schirach, 'always presents a bit of a problem.' In this nuanced and telling collection, guilt is indeed never as clear cut as the crime.

Raising Sparks

Michael Symmons Roberts (Author)

After his first collection - SOFT KEYS - Michael Symmons Roberts was hailed by Les Murray as 'a poet for the new, chastened, unenforcing age of faith that has just dawned'. The metaphysical concerns of that first book are central to this new collection, written in a language at once philosophical, sensuous and lyrical. From a doctor who washes lungs to the structure of genes, from mythical hounds born to fire to a cat's-eye souvenir from a smashed-up road, the scope of this collection is impressive. Whatever the subject, these poems are concerned with elemental themes, with the mapping of experience, and the search for sparks of life at its heart. At the heart of RAISING SPARKS are two sequences - 'Smithereens' and 'Quickenings' - which form part of a continuing collaboration with the composer James MacMillan; the former set as a song cycle and the latter as amajor choral piece. These sequences - alongside intamate lyrics and dramatic meditations on creation, redemption and the end of time - show a poet of enormous range and depth.

Turning Back The Sun

Colin Thubron (Author)

Far away from the city of his birth, in a frontier town on the edge of tribal wilderness, a doctor tries to resolve the seemingly unreconcilable demands of his public career and his personal feelings. He believes his exile her to be temporary, and youthful memories of the distant city torment him with an unbearable sense of loss. Yet he has grown to love a fellow exile, a woman of fierce independence and strong will, who belongs by nature to the warmth and chaos of the frontier? But, during a summer of drought and disease, the desert erupts into savagery and he is at last confronted by the choice of returning to the city or of remaining with her.

Happy Birthday, Wanda June

Kurt Vonnegut (Author)

For eight years, big game hunter and war hero Harold Ryan has been presumed dead, lost in the Amazon rainforest while hunting for diamonds. Now he’s back, only to find his wife engaged to a hippy doctor and his son transformed into a pampered sissy. Though his hunting trophies remain, an inexplicable birthday cake sits in the living room bearing a strange icing inscription: Happy Birthday Wanda June. Can the household bear the returning force of Harold’s machismo? And who on earth is Wanda June?

A Story Like The Wind

Laurens Van Der Post (Author)

This is a story of an almost vanished Africa; a world of myth and magic in which the indigenous peoples of the continent lived for uncountable centuries before the Europeans came to shatter it.

The main character is a boy who has a relationship with this Africa not unlike Kipling's Kim with the antique world of India. François Joubert, whose Huguenot ancestors settled in Africa three hundred years ago, lives as a solitary child on his father's farm. 'Hunter's Drift'. Here, in the far interior of Africa, he experiences the wonder and mystery of an ageless, natural primitive life, his perception of it heightened by the influence of three people in particular - his Bushman nurse, the head herdsman of the local Matabele clan (his father's chosen partners in the pioneering of Hunter's Drift), and a hunter of legendary fame, now the chief ranger of a vast game reserve nearby.

François' meeting with an untamed Bushman, Xhabbo, whose intuitive teaching nourishes his spirit; his strange pilgrimage to the distant krall of a powerful witch-doctor; his dramatic encounter and relationship with the daughter of a retired colonial governor; all are examples of African point and European counterpoint, in a highly original theme, moving to a strangely presaged and omened climax.

The Cockatoos

Patrick White (Author)

The wild and beautiful birds of the title are the cockatoos who - welcome trespassers in a surburban garden - transform the lives of those they condescend to visit. The Davorens, who for seven years have lived in total silence, are united suddenly in mutual worship of their exotic guests. Miss Le Cornu, the lonely spinster for whom Davoren's calls have become a needed ritual, regards the birds' descent on her chimney-pot as a privilege little short of divine grace.

Savage but kind-eyed, tearing with fierce beak at his chosen victim, the cockatoo appears in many disguises in this masterly collection of short novels and stories. Essentially, the book's theme is intimacy, that close relationship in which possessive love can invade and cripple the spirit. In A Woman's Hand, and elderly man married to a proud, manipulative woman perceives in another man's magnificent isolation the stillness and contentment that he will never achieve. Allegedly raped by a mystery intruder, the respectable daughter of respectable and doting parents in The Night the Prowler sets out to violate the social codes that chain her to an unreal identity. In Sicilian Vespers, a doctor's wife on holiday attempts to exorcise her childhood specters in what could be a blasphemous and joyless act of adultery or, on the other hand, a surrender to hysterical fantasy.

So complete and richly furnishes is the writing of Patrick White that ideas and images within each story are as satisfying as the whole; each story is as nourishing as the book itself. The Cockatoos achieves a majesty to match the grandeur of his finest novels.

The Song And The Truth

Helga Ruebsamen (Author)

Helga Ruebsamen's extraordinary achievement in this, her first novel to be translated into English, is in finding a voice for a sensitive and highly imaginative child who must endure the painful transition from life in the paradise of the Dutch East Indies to the savage realities of wartime Holland.

Lulu lives on the lush island of Java with her father, a doctor, her narcissistic mother and her Aunt Margot. By day, she plays quietly in the humid heat and tries not to trouble her mother. At night she roams the jungle, creating a magical place of her own in which reality and fantasy merge, where people and animals are transformed by the moonlight into gods and devils.

When Lulu's uncle arrives, filling the day with adventures - bringing even her mother to life- Lulu discovers that the adults have begun visiting her nocturnal world. When she describes to Aunt Margot what she has seen in the night, she triggers a chain of events that lead to her family leaving their sensual tropical paradise and sailing for her father's homeland, Holland. But it is 1939 and Lulu is Jewish. Soon the German invasion is upon them. Her mother flees to England, her aunt returns to Java, and Lulu and her father are forced into hiding. This is a new, cold and hostile world, and Lulu must abandon her childhood, sustained only by her vivid imagination and her fierce, increasingly tested courage.

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