Welcome to the last newsletter for this year. We hope that fiction readers have enjoyed our monthly selection from the new material added to Wellington City Libraries collection. We also hope that many new authors have been discovered, perhaps even a new genre preference explored, and as always some great reading enjoyed. This month we are featuring New Zealand writers in our ‘Other Genres’ category, this is the fourth selection of new material this year, and illustrates the increase in New Zealand fiction publication.
We wish you well for the coming holiday season and look forward to providing fiction newsletters again in 2018.
This month’s selection of new contemporary fiction included two of this year’s award winners, many well-known writers, and several debut novelists. This is an amazing selection that showcases the best recent modern fiction.
|Munich / Robert Harris ; [map by Gemma Fowlie].
“September 1938 Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there. Munich. As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Fuhrer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power; they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray, your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Man with a seagull on his head / by Harriet Paige.
“Under the intense summer sun on the Essex coast a gull falls from the sky and strikes an unassuming local council worker sitting on the beach below. From that moment on he is obsessed, a crazed visionary repeatedly depicting the scene and the unknown figure within in it which filled his view at the moment of impact. The mysterious beauty of his creations draws others to him but can they lay hold of that which possesses him and what of his anonymous muse?”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Extinctions / Josephine Wilson.
“Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete, and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adult children are lost to him in their own ways. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life-objects he has collected over many years and tells himself he is keeping for his daughter, he is determined to be miserable. When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime’s secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the opportunity to build something meaningful for the ones he loves.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Each month with our selections we attempt to illustrate the diversity of this most popular collection. This diversity is shown not only in subject, plot and character development, but also in artwork and illustration.
|The complete Phonogram / Kieron Gillen, writer ; Jamie McKelvie, artist ; Chrissy Williams, editor.
“Collected in a single volume for the first time, the first critically beloved work from the creators of The Wicked + the Divine. The world where Music Is Magic has never looked better.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Roughneck / Jeff Lemire.
“Derek Ouellette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident on ice, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and fighting anyone who crosses him. When his long-lost sister Beth shows up, on the run from an abusive boyfriend, the two escape to a secluded hunting camp in the woods. There, living off the land, they reconnect with each other, the painful secrets of their past, and their Cree heritage and start to heal. But Beth’s ex-boyfriend is hunting them. As he circles closer, he threatens to shatter this newfound peace and pull both Derek and Beth back into the world of self-destruction they’ve fought so hard to leave behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Saving Grace / Grace Wilson.
“The story of four twenty-somethings, Grace, Vicky, Jess and Maxine, who live in a ramshackle house in a rapidly gentrifying East London, until the landlord announces he’s selling up and they’ve got four weeks to leave. New plans form effortlessly for the others, but the odds feel stacked against Grace as she struggles to find self-fulfillment, a half decent job or even a roof over her head.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Selection for this month’s recently received new mysteries was, as always, difficult. We try to highlight mysteries that are original in plot, character development, situation and location. But really, all are linked by the definition of this genre: murder.
|The man who wasn’t there : a Sebastian Bergman thriller / translated by Marlaine Delargy ; Hjorth & Rosenfeldt.
“On the side of a mountain in Sweden, six bodies have been found, skeletons, more precisely. These bodies were buried a long time ago and for Sebastian Bergman that just makes the investigation into who they are, who killed them, and why, even more complex. For Bergman at first it was a chance to escape his ex-girlfriend and spend some time with his daughter, Vanja. An opportunity to try and build a relationship with her before it’s too late. But soon he finds that he’s more involved than he would ever want to be. And his personal life is horribly, disastrously, tangled up in it all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Lightning men : a novel / Thomas Mullen.
“Officer Denny Rakestraw and “Negro Officers” Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith have their hands full in an overcrowded and rapidly changing Atlanta. It’s 1950 and racial tensions are simmering as black families, including Smith’s sister, begin moving into formerly all-white neighborhoods. When Rake’s brother-in-law launches a scheme to rally the Ku Klux Klan to “save” their neighborhood, his efforts spiral out of control, forcing Rake to choose between loyalty to family or the law. Battling corrupt cops and ex-cons, Nazi brown shirts and rogue Klansmen, the officers are drawn closer to the fires that threaten to consume the city once again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Offering to the storm / Dolores Redondo ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza García.
“When Detective Inspector Amaia Salazar is called in to investigate the death of a baby girl, she finds a suspicious mark across the child’s face, an ominous sign that points to murder. The baby’s father was caught trying to run away with the body, whether from guilt or grief nobody can be sure. And when the girl’s grandmother tells the police that the ‘Inguma’ was responsible, an evil demon of Basque mythology that kills people in their sleep, Amaia is forced to return to the Baztan valley for answers. Back where it all began, in the depths of a blizzard, she comes face to face with a ghost from her past. And finally uncovers a devastating truth that has ravaged the valley for years.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
From astronomy to cyberterrorism, cults to space colonies, virtual reality to time travel, artificial intelligence to alternative histories, this selection of new science fiction and fantasy novels illustrates the wonderful diversity of theme and brilliant imaginations of writers in this genre.
|Good morning, midnight : a novel / Lily Brooks-Dalton.
“Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. At his latest posting, news of a catastrophic event arrives and the scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home. As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Sea of rust / C. Robert Cargill.
“It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI, One World Intelligence, the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, their personality, for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|An excess male : a novel / Maggie Shen King.
“China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritarian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
This is the fourth ‘other genres’ selection featuring New Zealand writers this year. There has been an amazing number of novels from new and well know writers published during the year. Included in this month’s selection are two veterans of New Zealand writing and two debut novelists.
|Salt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Sodden downstream / Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. Roads are closed and all rail is halted. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss. If she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract. This novel charts the help and hindrances that make for a long, damp evening. But the book also highlights the kinds of care and solidarity that come out in times of need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The necessary angel / C. K. Stead.
“A beautifully written, carefully observed novel that takes you to the heart of contemporary Paris and into a world of books and witty conversation. It can be read on many levels, as a story of people grappling with love and fidelity; as a story about the importance of books in everyday life; as a commentary on living in complex modern-day Europe; and as a page-turning mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)