Intelligence, human and otherwise!

Did you know Ian McEwan has written a novel on artificial intelligence, or AI? People have struggled with the concept of AI since the idea was first imagined at least 3000 years ago, and Machines Like Me and People Like You continues this tradition. McEwan examines the fuzzy logic and morals of the human form, and the best intentions that AI contains. But intelligence of its own kind will develop in its own way–human or machine.

Our collection offers some other great creations focussed on artificial intelligence and how humans rationalise and interact with them. These can be found in science fiction and general fiction in a range of formats. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverMachines like me and people like you / Ian McEwan
Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding. This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control.” (Syndetics summary)

All systems red / Wells, Martha (print), (eBook)
The first of four award winning novellas. “On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.” (Catalogue)

Plum rains / Romano-Lax, Andromeda
“2029: In Tokyo, Angelica Navarro, a Filipina nurse who has been in Japan for the last five years, works as caretaker for Sayoko Itou, a moody, secretive woman about to turn 100 years old. One day, Sayoko receives a present: a cutting-edge robot “friend” that will teach itself to anticipate Sayoko’s every need. Angelica wonders if she is about to be forced out of her much-needed job by an inanimate object–one with a preternatural ability to uncover the most deeply buried secrets of the humans around it…” (Catalogue)

The municipalists : a novel / Fried, Seth
“Henry Thompson has dedicated his life to improving America’s infrastructure as a proud employee of the United States Municipal Survey. So when the agency comes under attack, he dutifully accepts his unexpected mission to visit Metropolis looking for answers. But his plans to investigate quietly, quickly, and carefully are interrupted by his new partner: a day-drinking know-it-all named OWEN, who also turns out to be the projected embodiment of the agency’s supercomputer.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover I Still Dream, James Smythe (ebook)
“Laura Bow invented Organon, a rudimentary artificial intelligence. Now she and her creation are at the forefront of the new wave of technology, and Laura must decide whether or not to reveal Organon’s full potential to the world. If it falls into the wrong hands, its power could be abused. Will Organon save humanity, or lead it to extinction?” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Guardian Angels and Other Monsters, Daniel H. Wilson (eAudiobook)
“In All Kinds of Proof, a down-and-out drunk makes the unlikeliest of friends when he is hired to train a mail-carrying robot; in Blood Memory, a mother confronts the dangerous reality that her daughter will never assimilate in this world after she was the first child born through a teleportation device; in Miss Gloria, a robot comes back to life in many different forms in a quest to save a young girl. Guardian Angels and Other Monsters examines how artificial intelligence both saves and destroys humanity.” (Overdrive description)

The soldier / Asher, Neal L. (print)
“A corner of space swarms with alien technology, a danger to all sentient life. It’s guarded by Orlandine, who must keep it contained – as it could destroy entire civilizations. An alien intelligence shares her vigil. But she doesn’t share everything with Dragon . . . Orlandine is hatching a plan to obliterate this technology, removing its threat forever.” (Catalogue)

The Crying Machine / Chivers, Greg (print), (eBook) or (eAudiobook)
“The world has changed, but Jerusalem endures. Overlooked by new superpowers, the Holy City of the future is a haven of spies and smugglers, exiles and extremists. A refugee with strange technological abilities searches for a place to disappear. An ambitious young criminal plots the heist. A corrupt minister harnesses the power of the past in a ruthless play for complete control. And the wheels of another plan begin to turn…” (Catalogue)

Our latest new New Zealand fiction showcase

In dividing the light, things are seen. And we notice ourselves.”
― John Allison New Zealand poet. 

New Zealand literature is a rich and diverse field one full of many voices and many stories. This range and diversity is well represented in our latest fiction showcase to focus  on new New Zealand fiction releases.

Our latest showcase ranges from the compulsive, tense, nail biting  page turner that is Call me Evie by J.P. Pomare to the more gentle captivating A dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino there is also the latest outing from best selling  author Catherine Robertson called What you wish for and Pearly Gates set in and celebrating small town New Zealand by Owen Marshall.  As well as  a veritable  host of  wonderful other voices and stories to be experienced and enjoyed.

Call me Evie / J.P. Pomare
“Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here. Jim says he’s keeping her safe. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A dream of Italy / Nicky Pellegrino.
“The picturesque mountain town of Montenello is selling off some of its historic buildings for just one euro each. To be considered as a future resident of Montenello contact the town’s mayor, Salvio Valentini. Many people read Salvio’s advertisement with excitement. Elise is in her twenties and desperate to get on the property ladder. Edward wants to escape a life he finds stifling. Mimi is divorced and starting afresh. And there is one person whose true motivation won’t be clear for some time. These four people all have a dream of Italy. And it’s going to change their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Julian calendar / William Henry.
“A bright young photojournalist returns to London with the aim of releasing himself from a profound love affair that has stalled without explanation. Instead, he is derailed by memories of the secretive nurse who broke his heart, and rejuvenated by a man whose unexpected and intense friendship challenges the fundamental notion of love itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Photos of you / Tammy Robinson.
“People are here for me, to celebrate the anniversary of the day I was given life. On the very same day I’d just been told my life was all but over.’ When Ava Green turns twenty-eight, she discovers this will be her last birthday. The cancer she thought she’d beaten three years ago is back, only this time it’s terminal. But she is not going to let the cancer define her last, precious months, she is going to make her childhood dream come true: her wedding.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat you wish for / Catherine Robertson.
“Dr Ashwin Ghadavi, the newly imported GP, is trying hard to fit into Gabriel’s Bay. His challenges include the immovable force of his office manager, Mac, the ambiguities of the Kiwi idiom, and his unrequited attraction to Mac’s daughter, Emma. Having returned home, Emma is determined to help her old friend, Devon, whether he wants it or not. She’s also on a mission to right eco wrongs, and her targets include local farmer Vic Halsworth, who’s already neck deep in the proverbial and, to make matters worse, seems to be having visions of moose.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPearly Gates : a novel / Owen Marshall.
“This entertaining and insightful novel both skewers and celebrates small-town New Zealand. Pat `Pearly’ Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements. He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries. He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor. Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes. But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRotoroa / Amy Head.
“On tiny, isolated Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf is a treatment facility for alcoholic men. It’s here, at the Salvation Army-run home, that three characters at very different points in their lives will find themselves gathered, each for reasons of their own. There is Katherine, known to history as Elsie K. Morton, famous journalist and author; Jim, a sleepless alcoholic sent to the island by his family; and Lorna, a teenage mother who joins the Salvation Army looking for a fresh start. As the stories of their lives are revealed, so too are their hopes and vulnerabilities.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Ice Shelf / Anne Kennedy.
“The Ice Shelf: an eco-comedy” On the eve of flying to Antarctica to take up an arts fellowship, thirty-something Janice, recently separated, has a long night of remembrance, regret and realisation as she goes about the city looking for a friend to take care of her fridge while she’s away. En route she discards section after section of her novel in the spirit of editing until there is nothing left to edit. The Ice Shelf, a novel written as Acknowledgements, is an allegory for the dangers of wasting love and other non-renewable resources.” (Syndetics summary)

Admissions : tales of life, death & love in a hospital not far from here … / Mira Harrison.
“Here are the stories of eight women doctors, nurses, cooks and cleaners at the heart of a hospital that connects them all in a city that could be anywhere. Inspired by Mira Harrison’s experiences in healthcare in the UK and NZ, these engrossing narratives unveil the shifting balance between professional and private worlds. Our scrupulous or haphazard plans are disrupted by falling in love; by our connections to others; by the birth of our children; by loss, grief, and ultimately death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The latest fiction from the Zambezi river to Graceland

This autumn find a great new read from the libraries latest acquisitions.  Indulge in romance, challenging assumptions, voyage through family sagas or prepare for a gripping ride with an unexpectedly disconcerting thriller these tales from new and experienced adept authors have something for everyone.

Queenie / Carty-Williams, Candice
“Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?” All of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.” (Catalogue)

Schoolgirl missing / Fortin, Sue (eBook) (eAudiobook) (print)
“A gripping portrayal of a family caught on the wrong side of the law. When fourteen-year-old Poppy vanishes on a family boating trip, suspicion soon turns close to home – to the two people who should do everything to keep her safe, her parents, Kit and Neve.
Neve has a secret. Kit is lying. Everyone is watching. Who do you believe? (Catalogue)

 

Syndetics book coverThe parade : a novel / Dave Eggers.The Parade: A Novel
“An unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade at war, and to commemorate the armistice the government commissions a new road connecting two halves of the state. Two men, foreign contractors from the same company, are sent to finish the highway. While one is flighty and adventurous, wanting to experience the nightlife and people, the other wants only to do the work and go home. But both men must eventually face the absurdities of their positions, and the dire consequences of their presence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKaddish.com / Nathan Englander.
“Larry is the secular son in a family of Orthodox Brooklyn Jews. When his father dies, it’s his responsibility to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror and dismay of his sister, Larry refuses, imperiling the fate of his father’s soul. To appease her, Larry hatches an ingenious if cynical plan, hiring a stranger through a website called kaddish.com to recite the prayer and shepherd his father’s soul safely to rest.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMemories of the future : a novel / Siri Hustvedt.
Memories of the Future tells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York City in the late 1970s.  S.H., aka “Minnesota,” transcribes her neighbor’s bizarre and increasingly ominous monologues in a notebook. One frightening night Lucy bursts into her apartment on a rescue mission. Forty years later, S.H., now a veteran author, discovers her old notebook while moving her aging mother from one facility to another.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLost children archive / Valeria Luiselli.
“Suppose you and Pa were gone, and we were lost. What would happen then? A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. A mother, a father, a boy and a girl, they head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. A grandmother or aunt has packed a backpack for them, putting in a bible, one toy, some clean underwear. They have been met by a coyote: a man who speaks to them roughly. They cross a river on rubber tubing and walk for days. Then they climb to the top of a train and travel precariously in the open container on top. In a breath-taking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archive intertwines these two journeys to create a masterful novel.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe old drift : a novel / Namwali Serpell.The Old Drift: A Novel
“1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGraceland / Bethan Roberts.
“What happens when your only son becomes The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll? From the moment she first holds him, after his twin brother is stillborn, Gladys Presley loves her son Elvis ferociously. And he will love her back, even as his heart is turned by the blues, clothes and girls. But while he makes it big in Hollywood, brings audiences across the land to their knees and achieves unimagined wealth and fame, there is another story – of drinking and diet pills, loneliness and loss. While the heat and music of the American South in the 40s and 50s play in the background, a heartbreaking portrait of a mother’s love and a son’s devotion takes centre stage. When Elvis reaches the height of his power, he buys his family the ultimate mansion on the hill, Graceland, where he hopes his mother will be happy. The reality, though, is very different, and Elvis finds that even kings must go on alone.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Hope, Cults and Lyrical Dystopias: New General Fiction!

New to our libraries in March: a scintillating selection of new fiction titles! While the Central Library has become a no-go zone, our recently acquired fiction material is still available through branches, and in some cases online as eBooks with Overdrive or on your Libby App. We’re getting great new material to you any way we can!

This month we have titles from the much anticipated Tom Barbash and a debut Gothic novel from Sophie Draper which you can read in print or electronically and listen to as a downloadable audiobook. Poet Natasha Carthew, a writer dedicated to creating in the outdoors, has created a lyrical dystopian tale of human resilience and hope.

Our selection also features tales to set the pulse racing with the latest international thrillers. Writing duo Hendricks and Pekkanen’s An Anonymous Girl is available electronically or in print, while Fog Island, the first in a new trilogy from Swedish writer Mariette Lindstein, draws the reader into the world of an isolated cult under the thrall of a charismatic leader.

Reserves are now free! So select what you like and collect from any open branch. Go wild!

All rivers run free / Carthew, Natasha
“A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life. On the flooded coast of Cornwall, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a childless marriage, as rough and stubborn as the sea. When a strange young girl washes up on the beach, Ia’s rescue is only the beginning of a dangerous journey, one that will take them downriver, into the fringes of a collapsing society and for Ia, towards something she hopes might be love. A vision of the near-future and an odyssey of motherhood, All Rivers Run Free is a true original from a powerful new voice.” (Catalogue)

Damnation / Beck, Peter
“Dead clients are bad for business, something Tom Winter, head of security for a discrete Swiss private bank, knows all too well. After a helicopter explodes, leaving behind the charred bodies of a client and a colleague, he teams up with Fatima, a mysterious Egyptian businesswoman. Together they follow the money trail around the world and back into the Swiss mountains, the NSA watching their every move. When taciturn Winter, a former special forces commander, closes in on the truth, they turn from being the hunters to the hunted and realize they are in a deadly, high-stakes race against the clock.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Cuckoo, Sophie Draper (ebook) (print) (eAudio)
“There’s a stranger in your house… When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again. But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do. As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?” (Overdrive description)

Islands / Frew, Peggy (print) (eBook)
“Helen and John’s relationship is collapsing and they don’t notice their daughters suffering. Junie is growing up brittle and defensive while Anna is difficult and rebellious. When Anna fails to return home one night, her mother isn’t too worried as it has happened before and she has always returned. Helen waits three days before she reports Anna’s disapperance” (Catalogue)

 

Overdrive cover The Dakota Winters, Tom Barbash (eBook) (print)
“It’s the fall of 1979 when 23-year-old Anton Winter, back from the Peace Corps and on the mend from a nasty bout of malaria, returns to his childhood home in the Dakota Building in New York City. Anton’s father, the famous late-night host Buddy Winter is there to greet him, himself recovering from a breakdown. Before long Anton is swept up in an effort to reignite Buddy’s stalled career, a mission that takes him from the gritty streets of New York, to the slopes of the Lake Placid Olympics, to the Hollywood Hills, to the blue waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and brings him into close quarters with the likes of Johnny Carson, Ted and Joan Kennedy, and a seagoing John Lennon.”  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover An Anonymous Girl, Greer Hendricks (ebook) (print)
“When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.” (Overdrive description)

Cemetery Road : a novel / Iles, Greg
“Sometimes the price of justice is a good man’s soul.When Marshall McEwan left his Mississippi hometown at eighteen, he vowed never to return. The trauma that drove him away spurred him to become one of the most successful journalists in Washington, DC. But as the ascendancy of a chaotic administration lifts him from print fame to television stardom, Marshall discovers that his father is terminally ill, and he must return home to face the unfinished business of his past. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth, he would give almost anything not to have to face it.” (Catalogue)

A version of the truth / Walter, B. P. (print) (eBook) (eAudio)
“Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be. A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?” (Catalogue)

Fresh February Fiction a go-go

The library fiction shelves show fleeting glimpses of new material before it’s whisked away by our literature loving patrons. Luckily, we have a list of some of the great new fiction titles for you to peruse at your leisure. These bring you the lives of people informed by authors exploring the cultures of Mexico, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria and Aotearoa New Zealand. Debut author Joshua Pomare has been drawing acclaim for Call me Evie, his work of suspense is set in the small coastal community of Maketu. Delving into our fallible memories this book takes the reader through layers of reality and plot twists that leave you guessing until the very end.

Syndetics book coverCall me Evie / J.P. Pomare.
“Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here. Jim says he’s keeping her safe. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories? An incredible literary thriller for readers of bestsellers such as Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and Girl on the Train from an exciting new Australian voice.” (Syndetics summary)

Not bad people / Scott, Brandy
“It’s New Year’s Eve. Three thirty-something women – Aimee, Melinda and Lou – best friends for decades, let off sky lanterns filled with resolutions: for meaning, for freedom, for money. As the glowing paper bags float away, there’s a bright flare in the distance. It could be a sign of luck – or the start of a complete nightmare. The day after their ceremony, the newspapers report a small plane crash – two victims pulled from the wreckage, one a young boy. Were they responsible? Aimee thinks they are, Melinda won’t accept it, and Lou has problems of her own. It’s a toxic recipe for guilt trips, shame, obsession, blackmail and power games. They’re not bad people. But desperate times call for desperate measures.” (Catalogue)

Music love drugs war / Quigley, Gerladine
“The end of the school year is approaching, and siblings Paddy and Liz McLaughlin, Christy Meehan, Kevin Thompson and their friends will soon have to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. But it’s hard to focus when there’s the allure of their favourite hangout place, the dingy ‘Cave’, where they go to drink and flirt and smoke. Most days, Christy, Paddy and Kevin lie around listening to Dexys and Joy Division. But this is Derry in 1981, and they can’t ignore the turmoil of the outside world. A friend is killed, and Christy and Paddy, stunned out of their stupor, take matters into their own hands. Some choices are irreversible, and choosing to fight will take hold of their lives in ways they never imagined.” (Catalogue)

Golden child: a novel / Adam, Claire
“Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their twin sons Paul and Peter, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters–leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.” (Catalogue)

Hark: a novel / Lipsyte, Sam
“In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and, perhaps most immediately, just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”… is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status. It’s a role he never asked for, and one he is woefully underprepared to take on. Hark is a smart, incisive look at men, women, and children seeking meaning and dignity in a chaotic, ridiculous, and often dangerous world.” (Catalogue)

My sister, the serial killer: a novel / Braithwaite, Oyinkan
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favourite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works is the bright spot in her life. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.” (Catalogue)

Among the lost / Monge, Emiliano
“A devastating and surreal novel about the defining issue of the 21st century: illegal immigration. In this grim inferno, a fierce love blossomed – one that was born in pain and cruelty and one that will live or die on this day. Estela and Epitafio too were trafficked, they grew together in the brutal orphanage, fell in love, but were ripped apart. They have played an ugly role in the very system that abused them and done the bidding of the brutal old priest for too long. They have traded in migrants, put children to work as slaves, hacked off limbs and lives without a thought, though they have never forgotten the memory of their own shackles. Like the immigrants whose hopes they extinguish, they long to be free; free to be together and alone.” (Catalogue)

Night train: new and selected stories / Jones, Thom
“A posthumous and definitive collection of new and selected stories by short-fiction icon and National Book Award finalist Thom Jones, with a stunning introduction by Amy Bloom Thom Jones’s stories are high-octane, prose-drunk entertainment. His characters are grifters and drifters, rogues and ne’er-do-wells – some lovable, some not – but each with a voice that never fails to grab you by the collar. They include Vietnam soldiers, amateur boxers, psych ward veterans and an unforgettable adolescent DJ radio host, among others. Perfectly capturing the essence of this icon of the American short story, Night Train showcases the sheer breadth and power of his inimitable stories.” (Catalogue)

The killer collective / Eisler, Barry
“When a joint FBI-Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry–a hit that had been offered to John Rain. Suspecting that the FBI themselves were behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc team to identify and neutralize the threat. With uncertain loyalties, conflicting agendas, and smouldering romantic entanglements, this group is hardly a team. But in a match as uneven as this one, a collective of killers might be just what they need.” (Catalogue)

A change of key / Jansen, Adrienne
“Marko has come to the ends of the earth to escape a once illustrious past in Bulgaria. So why does a Polish bookstore owner call him a traitor? And who covertly photographed him for the newspaper? Someone knows who he is. They are trying to expose him in his new country, and there is nothing he can do to prevent it. A Change of Key tells the story of a multicultural group of migrants living in an inner-city block of social housing flats in New Zealand. It explores themes of social change and the hardships associated with existing in isolation from one’s family and culture. As they struggle through the realities of living in deprivation, Marko and the other migrants find salvation in friendship, community and classical music.” (Catalogue)

The lost girls of Paris / Jenoff, Pam
“1946, Manhattan Grace Healy is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs, each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station. Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.” (Catalogue)

 

Focus on Maori writers for Waitangi day

Kōrero paki Aotearoa, New Zealand fiction has a flavour like no other. The place and the people have a unique creative influence.

Jacquie (J C Sturm) at the Wellington Central Library

We have a selection of Māori novelists based around Wellington, Apirana Taylor, Tina Makereti, Hinemoana Baker and Patricia Grace. Including the remarkable J C Sturm, who began writing in 1940’s, working for many years at Wellington Public Library where we knew her as Jacquie Baxter. The house of the talking cat, her collection of short stories was crafted in the 1960’s finding a publisher in the 1980’s to much success and acclaim.

 

These writers have turned their hand to myth and contemporary fiction, bringing characters to life in situations from history to current times, using personal relationships, family interactions and events that have swept through people’s lives leaving marked changes on potential futures and a mysterious past to be unveiled. Our selection also includes the piercing writing of Alice Tawhai (pen name) and Paula Morris’s excellently drawn characters.

Short story compilations are a great way of discovering new authors. Huia Short stories : Contemporary Māori fiction showcases a variety of winners from the Pikihuia awards. This recent collection features a diverse range of voices including Genesis Te Kuru White, Olivia Aroha Giles and Iraia Bailey, writing in English and te reo.  Explore the journey to becoming a writer with Te Papa Tupu where Te Waka Taki Kōrero / The Māori Literature Trust support emerging writers.

There is more to discover on our New Zealand Fiction page, just scroll down to Māori writer/Māori life.

Syndetics book coverHuia short stories 12 : contemporary Māori fiction.
“Here are the best short stories and novel extracts from the Pikihuia Awards for Maori writers 2017 as judged by Whiti Hereaka, Paula Morris, Poia Rewi and Rawinia Higgins. The book contains the stories from the finalists for Best Short Story written in English, Best Short Story written in te reo Maori and Best Novel Extract categories. This writing competition, held every two years, is organised by the Maori Literature Trust and Huia Publishers as a way to promote Maori writers and their work. The awards and the collection of finalists fiction celebrate Maori writing and bring new writers to light.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack marks on the white page / edited by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti.
“Here are the glorious, painful, sharp and funny 21st century stories of Maori and Pasifika writers from all over the world. Vibrant, provocative and aesthetically exciting, these stories expand our sense of what is possible in Indigenous Oceanic writing. Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti present the very best new and uncollected stories and novel excerpts, creating a talanoa, a conversation, where the stories do the talking. Join us as we deconstruct old theoretical maps and allow these fresh Black Marks on the White Page to expand our perception of the Pacific world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Tina Makereti.
“While exhibited as a curiosity, a Maori boy turns his gaze on Victorian London. ‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’ So begins the tale of James Poneke- orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises. Although London is everything James most desires, this new world is more dark and dazzling than he could have imagined.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFive strings / Apirana Taylor.
“Mack is a larger-than-life street philosopher and Puti¿s a former gang member looking for something more. Together, they¿re at the bottom of the heap. They live out their lives in a haze of smoke and alcohol, accompanied by a host of other characters scraping by on the fringes of society. Will any of them be redeemed? A poignant and humorous love story.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverChappy / Patricia Grace
“Uprooted from his privileged European life and sent to New Zealand to sort himself out, twenty-one-year-old Daniel pieces together the history of his Maori family. As his relatives revisit their past, Daniel learns of a remarkable love story between his Maori grandmother Oriwia and his Japanese grandfather Chappy. The more Daniel hears about his deceased grandfather, the more intriguing – and elusive – Chappy becomes.
In this touching portrayal of family life, acclaimed writer Patricia Grace explores racial intolerance, cross-cultural conflicts and the universal desire to belong. Spanning several decades and several continents and set against the backdrop of a changing New Zealand, Chappy is a compelling story of enduring love.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLuminous / Alice Tawhai.
“Tawhai’s tales combine characters and occurrences that are at once cripplingly dark and yet also tinged with a quiet beauty and optimism and she deftly covers subjects such as identity, addiction, devotion and abandonment.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

Syndetics book coverFalse river : stories, essays, secret histories / Paula Morris.
“Riffing on truth, lies and secrets, this collection uses fiction to explore fact, and fact to explore fiction. These pieces range the world – from America, to Antwerp to Aotearoa – and talk about writers and writing, famous figures, family members, witch-burning in Denmark, cyclones and numerous pertinent and stimulating topics. All brilliantly written, each will leave you thinking and desperate to jump back in for more.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Myths and Legends inspiring contemporary fiction writers

Circe book cover

Amongst our recent fiction titles are a range of books inspired by myths and legends from Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Myths and legends magnetically draw authors; these ideas reemerge in writing as the tales that form culture, ideas of who we are, and define social boundaries which prove to be an excellent landscape for characters. This selection has a great range of styles and settings, encompassing action, family drama and psychological fiction, set in the modern day and ancient times.

Syndetics book coverEverything under / Daisy Johnson.
“Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though almost a lifetime ago and those memories have faded. Now she works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe mere wife / Maria Dahvana Headley.
“Herot Hall is a fortress guarded by an intense network of gates, surveillance cameras, and motion-activated lights. Dylan and Gren live on opposite sides of the perimeter, neither boy aware of the barriers erected to keep them apart. Gren lives with his mother, Dana, just outside the limits of Herot Hall. A former soldier, Dana didn’t want Gren, didn’t plan Gren, and doesn’t know how she got Gren. But now that she has him, she’s determined to protect him from a world that sees him only as a monster. When Gren crosses the border into Herot Hall and runs off with Dylan, he sets up a collision between Dana’s and Willa’s worlds that echoes the Beowulf story – and gives sharp, startling currency to the ancient epic poem.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverApple and knife / Intan Paramaditha ; translated by Stephen J Epstein.
“Intan Paramaditha’s long-awaited English debut, announcing herself to the West as a startling and provocative new voice. Inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales, Apple and Knife is an unsettling ride that swerves to the supernatural, exploring the danger and power of occupying a female body. These short fictions, set in the Indonesian everyday–in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages–reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface. This is subversive feminist horror at its best, where men and women alike are arbiters of fear, and where revenge is sometimes sweetest when delivered from the grave.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOlympus bound / Jordanna Max Brodsky.
“Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.
Summer in New York: a golden hour on the city streets, but a dark time for Selene. She’s lost her home and the man she loves. A cult hungry for ancient power has kidnapped her father and targeted her friends. To save them, Selene must face the past she’s been running from – a past that stretches back millennia, to when the faithful called her Huntress. Moon Goddess. Artemis. With the pantheon at her side, Selene must journey back to the seat of her immortal power: from the streets of Rome and the temples of Athens — to the heights of Mount Olympus itself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCirce : a novel / Madeline Miller.
“Circe is not powerful like her father Helios, nor viciously alluring like her mother Perse. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power– the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many figures in mythology. When Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, she ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians.”

Syndetics book coverFor the immortal / Emily Hauser.
“Thousands of years ago, in an ancient world where the gods control all and heroes fight to have their names remembered down the ages, two extraordinary women become entangled in one of the greatest heroic tales of all time . . . and must face how much they are willing to risk for immortality. Desperate to save her dying brother, Admete persuades her father, the king of Tiryns, to let her join Hercules on one of his legendary twelve labours. Travelling to the renowned female warrior Amazons in search of a cure, Admete soon discovers that both Hercules and the fearsome Amazons are not as they first seemed.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe testament of Loki / Joanne M. Harris.
“Ragnarok was the End of Worlds. Asgard fell, centuries ago, and the old gods have been defeated. Some are dead, while others have been consigned to eternal torment in the netherworld – among them, the legendary trickster, Loki. A god who betrayed every side and still lost everything, who has lain forgotten as time passed and the world of humans moved on to new beliefs, new idol and new deities . . . But now mankind dreams of the Norse Gods once again, the river Dream is but a stone’s throw from their dark prison, and Loki is the first to escape into a new reality.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAwayland : stories / Ramona Ausubel.
“An inventive story collection that spans the globe as it explores love, childhood, and parenthood with an electric mix of humor and emotion. And though some of the stories are steeped in mythology, they remain grounded in universal experiences: loss of identity, leaving home, parenthood, joy, and longing.
Crisscrossing the pages of Awayland are travelers and expats, shadows and ghosts. A girl watches as her homesick mother slowly dissolves into literal mist. The mayor of a small Midwestern town offers a strange prize, for stranger reasons, to the parents of any baby born on Lenin’s birthday. And a lonely heart searches for love online, never mind that he’s a Cyclops.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeneath the mother tree / D.M. Cameron.
“Beneath the Mother Tree is a spine-chilling mystery and contemporary love story, played out in a unique and wild Australian setting interwoven with Indigenous history and Irish mythology. This spiritual subtext becomes a stage for unforgettable characters who navigate vital questions of identity and belonging. The result is a compelling portrait of how our dark history and dreaming landscape can make extraordinary things of ordinary lives.” (Syndetics summary)

Recent acquisitions: a feast of fiction

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke.

Our fiction showcase of recently acquired novels is rich and diverse full of new beginnings in so many ways. Here’s to the New Year, enjoy and Sláinte!

Syndetics book coverSlow days, fast company : the world, the flesh, and L.A. / Eve Babitz ; introduction by Matthew Specktor.
“There was a time when no one burned hotter than Eve Babitz. Possessing skin that radiated “its own kind of moral laws,” spectacular teeth, and a figure that was the stuff of legend, she seduced seemingly everyone who was anyone in  1960s and ’70s Los Angeles. But there was one man who proved elusive, and so Babitz did what she did best, she wrote him a book. In ten sun-baked, Santa Ana wind-swept sketches, Babitz re-creates a Los Angeles of movie stars; socialites on drug binges, evading their East Coast banking husbands; soap-opera actors worried that tomorrow’s script will kill them off; Italian femme fatales even more fatal than she is.  In the end it doesn’t matter if Babitz ever gets the guy, she seduces us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMilkman / Anna Burns.
“In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unreliable man / Jostein Gaarder ; translated from the Norwegian by Nichola Smalley.
“Jakop is a lonely man. Divorced from his wife, with no friends apart from his constant companion Pelle, he spends his life attending the funerals of people he doesn’t know, obscuring his identity in a web of improbable lies. As his addiction spirals out of control, he is forced to reconcile his love of language and stories with the ever more urgent need for human connection. An Unreliable Man is a moving and thought-provoking novel about loneliness and truth, about seeking a place in the world, and about how storytelling gives our lives meaning.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe splendor before the dark : a novel of the Emperor Nero / Margaret George.
“Ascending to the throne was only the beginning… With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire. But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero’s complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace–and the politicians…Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little snake / A.L. Kennedy.
“This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend. The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and war creeps in. He sees Mary and her family leave their home, he sees her grow up and he sees her fall in love. But Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, when his destiny will break them apart, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will lose them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe moon sister : Tiggy’s story / Lucinda Riley.
“Tiggy Aplièse is offered a job on the vast and isolated Kinnaird estate as a wildlife consultant by the elusive and troubled Laird, Charlie Kinnaird. She meets Chilly, an ancient gipsy, who has lived for years on the estate, having fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense, passed down from her gipsy ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home… As Tiggy follows the trail back to her exotic but complex Spanish past, and – under the watchful eye of a gifted gypsy bruja – begins to accept and develop her own gift, she too must decide to whether to return to Kinnaird, and Charlie…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTony’s wife : a novel / Adriana Trigiani.
“Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption. Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBridge of Clay / Markus Zusak.
“Let me tell you about our brother. The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay. Everything happened to him. We were all of us changed through him. The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world. It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive. A miracle and nothing less.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Fresh words from far off places

Tropic of Violence book cover

Translated books can telescope the reader through to different cultures and eras; the English language seems so prolific, but it’s only one way the creative word is crafted. Many authors’ works don’t reach the English language audience until many years after publication.

Japanese award-winning author Mariko O’Hara is one such author — her Haiburiddo Chairudo was lauded in Japan back in 1991, with the Seiun Award for the best Japanese speculative fiction of the year. Finally translated in 2018 for the English reading audience, Hybrid child (link and review below) pivots on ideas of monstrosity and innocence, and is the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.

Slovenian author Jasmin Felih is another author whose book is just reaching an English language audience, albeit with a shorter publication gap — her book In/Half (below) was first published in 2013 and explores the way people connect and rely on using current communication systems, looking at three fragmented lives after ‘the Great Cut’.

Who we really bring into a relationship, and how the tensions of love and duty play out are the subject of Berta Isla, by Javier Marais, translated from Spanish (linked below).

In a totally different vein, Eva Meijer — a Dutch author, musician and philosopher — explores how, for some, human interaction is not a main driver. Her novel Bird Cottage is based on the figure of Gwendolen “Len” Howard, and is a fictional account of a turning point in her life. An accomplished musician, she pivots from life as a concert violinist to a solitary existence documenting her observations of the common birds that surround her cottage. Her musical background leads her to record their song as musical notation and she devotes herself to describing every aspect of the avian life around her. Perhaps most enigmatically, her two books on the subject — written in solitude — were bestsellers.

We’ve included these and other recently published titles in translation below. In January 2019 we will be further exploring the rich and diverse world of translated fiction in a special fiction showcase — ‘Not lost in translation’. We hope you enjoy this preview!

Hybrid child : a novel / Mariko Ōhara ; translated by Jodie Beck.
“A classic of Japanese speculative fiction that blurs the line between consumption and creation when a cyborg assumes the form and spirit of a murdered child. With the familiar strangeness of a fairy tale, Ohara’s novel traverses the mysterious distance between body and mind, between the mechanics of life and the ghost in the machine, between the infinitesimal and infinity. The child as mother, the mother as monster, the monster as hero: this shape-shifting story of nourishment, nurture, and parturition is a rare feminist work of speculative fiction. Hybrid Child is the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn/Half / Jasmin B. Frelih ; translated from the Slovenian by Jason Blake.
“Twenty-five years into the future, a glitch in the global communications network is ripping a previously united world apart at the seams. The millennials find themselves hardest hit, trapped in a crumbling world they did not want – among them childhood friends Evan, an addict theatre director; Kras, a family patriarch and ex-war-minister; and Zoja, an anarchist poet. As they each prepare to celebrate their fiftieth birthdays, the friends desperately try to recapture the magic of their former lives and hold on to some sort of sense of belonging. With its experimental style and sharp focus on the contradictions of modernity, In/Half is a powerful statement on the perils of the future.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe day I found you / Pedro Chagas Freitas ; Translated form the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
“The restaurant is crowded and noisy. The man sits by the window, watching the grey sky, bored, as he is every Monday morning. Suddenly he turns and she’s there, standing in front of him. Years have passed since he last saw her, since the day he left, without an explanation, without a reason. With his intimate, almost whispered style, Pedro Chagas Freitas takes the reader on a journey to explore the deepest layers of their feelings and to discover the truth about love; the kind of love that touches, grabs and thrills you, that discovers and conceals, that wounds and heals, that seizes you and sets you free.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBerta Isla / Javier Marías ; translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
“For a while, she wasn’t sure that her husband was her husband. Sometimes she thought he was, and sometimes not. Berta and Tomas meet in Madrid and, though both young, they decide to spend their lives together. Eighteen and betrothed, Tomas leaves to study at Oxford. His talent for languages quickly catches the interest of a certain government agency. After university he returns to marry her, knowing he won’t be able to stay for long. Gripping and intricate, Berta Isla is about a relationship built on secrets and lies – and the equal forces of resentment and loyalty at its core.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTropic of Violence / Nathacha Appanah, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan.
“Marie, a nurse on the island of Mayotte, adopts an abandoned baby and names him Moïse, raising him as a French boy. As he grows up, Moïse struggles with his status as an “outsider” and to understand why he was abandoned as a baby. Narrated by five different characters, Tropic of Violence is an exploration of lost youth on the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. Shining a powerful light on problems of violence, immigration, identity, deprivation and isolation on this island that became a French département in 2011, it is a remarkable, unsettling new novel that draws on the author’s own observations from her time on Mayotte.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBird cottage / Eva Meijer ; translated by Antoinette Fawcett.
“Len Howard, the daughter of a famous poet, and a successful concert violinist was forty years old when she decided to devote the rest of her life to her true love: birds. She bought a small cottage in Sussex, where she wrote two international bestsellers, astonishing the world with her observations on the tits, robins, sparrows and other birds that lived in and around her house, and would even perch on her shoulder as she typed. This moving, finely crafted novel tells the story of a remarkable woman’s life and loves, and of how she defied society’s expectations and changed our understanding of bird behaviour. It is also a wonderful evocation of the English countryside and the joy that can come from a living, breathing relationship with the natural world around us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFour soldiers : a novel / Hubert Mingarelli ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“Hubert Mingarelli’s simple, powerful, and moving stories of men in combat have established him as one of the most exciting new voices in international fiction. In Four Soldiers he tells the story of four young soldiers in 1919, members of the Red Army during the Russian civil war. It is set in the harsh dead of winter, just as the soldiers set up camp in a forest in Galicia near the Romanian front line. Due to a lull in fighting, their days are taken up with the mundane tasks of trying to scratch together what food and comforts they can find, all the time while talking, smoking, and waiting. Waiting specifically for spring to come. Waiting for their battalion to move on. Waiting for the inevitable resumption of violence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe second rider / Alex Beer ; translated from the German by Tim Mohr.
“Most of the remaining population of Vienna–a city scarred by World War I in which the grandeur of the Habsburg Empire is a fading memory–is surviving by its wits, living hand to mouth in a city rife with crime, prostitution, and grotesquely wounded beggars. There are shakedowns on every street corner, the black market is the only market, and shortages of vital goods create countless opportunities for unscrupulous operators. Into this cauldron of vice comes Inspector August Emmerich, a veteran himself, whose ambitions lead him to break the rules when necessary and whose abiding wish is to join the Viennese major crimes unit. When a corpse is found in the woods outside the city and immediately labeled a suicide, Emmerich, convinced it was nothing of the sort, sees a chance to prove his mettle. His investigations will reveal an insidious and homicidal urge lurking in the city.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Katharina code / Jørn Lier Horst ; translated by Anne Bruce.
“Set between the icy streets and dark forests of Norway, The Katharina Code is a heart-stopping story of one man’s obsession with his coldest case. Twenty-four years ago Katharina Haugen went missing. All she left behind was her husband Martin and a mysterious string of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper. Every year on October 9th Chief Inspector William Wisting takes out the files to the case he was never able to solve. Stares at the code he was never able to crack. And visits the husband he was never able to help. But now Martin Haugen is missing too.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverE.E.G. / Daša Drndić ; translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth.
“Andreas Ban failed in his suicide attempt. Even as his body falters and his lungs constrict, he taps on the glass of history – an impenetrable case filled with silent figures – and tries to summon those imprisoned within. Mercilessly, fearlessly, he continues to dissect society and his environment, shunning all favours as he goes after the evils and hidden secrets of others. History remembers the names of perpetrators, not of the victims.” (Syndetics summary)

The burgeoning Spring Fiction collection

Ponti book cover

The unpredictable spring season brings a wealth of new material to the library. New to the fiction collection are seasoned writers exploring new territory and first time writers with a unique take on the world. In Milkman, prize winning author Anna Burns delivers a disturbing account of how personally affecting times of conflict can be, when distrust is sown in the closest of communities. Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif also takes the reality of conflict as a starting point for his novel on how wartime affects your view of others. Marcus Zuzak takes his writing in a new direction with Bridge of Clay describing the transformation of a family. First time novelist Daisy Johnson upturns the myth of Oedipus Rex in Everything Under, using an invented childhood language to prise open memories.

Countering springtime, the spectre of Halloween is raised by a long established voice in vampire literature, Anne Rice has a new work on the long reign of Prince Lestat. New author Sharlene Teo spins a tale around the lives of three women defined by the ghostly role in a horror movie. Korean writer Ŏn-su Kim’s fast paced translated novel The Plotters looks to satisfy more than one audience with a deft plot, quirky characters and two cats named Reading Lamp and Book Stand.

Something for all to enjoy in the Fiction selection from October.

Milkman / Burns, Anna
Written in a perfectly-rendered Irish vernacular Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. The story of inaction with enormous consequences and decisions that are never made, but for which people are judged and punished. Middle sister is our protagonist. Middle sister is about to become ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Red birds / Hanif, Mohammed
“An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn’t what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it’s an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home. In the camp, teenager Momo ‘s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind…” (Catalogue)

Boomer1 / Torday, Daniel
“Mark Brumfeld, a bluegrass musician and newly minted English PhD. When his punk bassist girlfriend Cassie rejects his marriage proposal he retreats to the basement of his childhood home. From there, he launches a series of acidulous online video monologs blasting Baby Boomers for their grip on available jobs. But as his videos go viral, Mark loses control of what he began with consequences that ensnare himself and ex-girlfriend in a matter of national security. Told through the perspectives of Mark, Cassie, and Mark’s mother, Julia, a child of the ’60s whose life is more conventional than she ever imagined, Boomer1 is timely, suspenseful, and in every line alert to the siren song of endless opportunity that beckons and beguiles all of us.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ponti / Teo, Sharlene
“I am Miss Frankenstein, I am the bottom of the bell curve.” So declares Szu, a teenager living in a dark, dank house on a Singapore cul-de-sac. Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress, who gained fame for her portrayal of a ghost – and now a hack medium performing seances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into a fraught friendship that will haunt them both for decades to come. With remarkable emotional acuity, dark comedy, and in vivid prose, Sharlene Teo’s Ponti traces the suffocating tangle the lives of four misfits, women who need each other as much as they need to find their own way.” (Catalogue)

Everything under / Johnson, Daisy
“Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago. Daisy Johnson’s debut novel turns classical myth on its head and takes readers to a modern-day England unfamiliar to most. As daring as it is moving, Everything Under is a story of family and identity, of fate, language, love and belonging that leaves you unsettled and unstrung.” (Catalogue)

Love is blind : the rapture of Brodie Moncur / Boyd, William
Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. When Brodie is offered a job in Paris, he seizes the chance to flee Edinburgh and sparks an obsessive love affair with a beautiful Russian soprano. Brodie’s love for Lika and its dangerous consequences pursue him around Europe and beyond, during an era of overwhelming change as the nineteenth century becomes the twentieth.” (Catalogue)

Hippie / Coelho, Paulo
Drawing on the rich experience of his own life, best-selling author Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to relive the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order. In Hippie, he tells the story of Paulo, who wants to become a writer and sets off on a journey in search of a deeper meaning for his life. Paulo’s travels take him to Amsterdam here he meets Karl. She convinces Paulo to join her on a trip aboard the Magic Bus that travels across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu. They embark on the journey in the company of fascinating fellow travelers, each of whom has a story to tell, and each of whom will undergo a personal transformation, changing their priorities and values along the way.” (Catalogue)

Bridge of Clay / Zusak, Markus
“Bridge of Clay is about a boy who is caught in the current – of destroying everything he has, to become all he needs to be. He’s a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for memory and tragedy. He builds a bridge to save his family, but also to save himself. It’s an attempt to transcend humanness, to make a single, glorious moment: A miracle and nothing less.” (Catalogue)

Blood communion : a tale of Prince Lestat / Rice, Anne
“In this spellbinding novel, Lestat, rebel outlaw, addresses the tribe of vampires, directly, intimately, passionately, and tells the mesmerizing story of the formation of the Blood Communion and how he became Prince of the vampire world. As the tale unfolds, Lestat takes us from the towers and battlements of his ancestral castle in the snow-covered mountains of France to the verdant wilds of lush Louisiana with its lingering fragrances of magnolias and night jasmine; from the far reaches of the Pacific’s untouched islands to the 18th-century city of St. Petersburg and the court of the Empress Catherine.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The plotters / Kim, Ŏn-su
“The important thing is not who pulls the trigger but who’s behind the person who pulls the trigger, the plotters, the masterminds working in the shadows. Raised by Old Raccoon in The Library of Dogs, Reseng has always been surrounded by plots to kill, and by books that no one ever reads. In Seoul’s corrupt underworld, he was destined to be an assassin. Until he breaks the rules. That’s when he meets a trio of young women; a convenience store worker, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed obsessive knitter, with an extraordinary plot of their own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)