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)

Golden Age of Crime

A Different Kind of Evil cover

In 1930’s Britain an eclectic group of authors banded together to form The Detection Club. Some of the participants included Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, G K Chesterton and A A Milne. The members were all known for their literary excellence and were not shy of mining the darker side of human conduct. They wrote tales of mystery that have enthralled their audience from publication to current times. Their club oath defines what would become the style of the ‘Golden Age of Crime’:

To do and detect all crimes by fair and reasonable means; to conceal no vital clues from the reader; to honour the King’s English… and to observe the oath of secrecy in all matters communicated to me within the brotherhood of the club”

The gentle tropes perfected by the Golden Age writers has been reprised and honoured by modern authors using both style and characters. Referencing Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926, Andrew Wilson presents the ‘Dame of crime’ with mysteries of her own. Private detective Hercule Poirot is revived through the work of Sophie Hannah. Below are some classic titles and some new works that reference the style of the era:

Murder on the Orient Express / Christie, Agatha
“Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.” (Catalogue)

 

The complete Father Brown stories / Chesterton, G. K.
“Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton’s kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths. This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.” (Catalogue)

Party girls die in pearls / Sykes, Plum
“Not rich and not glamorous, Oxford outsider Ursula Flowerbutton wants only to be left to her studies. But when she finds a classmate with her throat slashed, she’s quick to investigate. Determined to unravel the case and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
“In January 1927 Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secret” (Catalogue)

The mystery of three quarters : the new Hercule Poirot mystery / Hannah, Sophie
“The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket-returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London. Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.” (Catalogue)

An act of villainy / Weaver, Ashley
“A gem filled with style, banter, and twists that traditional mystery fans will positively relish. With husband Milo, Amory Ames glides through 1930s London to the dress rehearsal of a new play directed by friend Gerard Holloway. Unfortunately, Gerard has cast his mistress, Flora Bell, in the lead (Amory is friends with his wife), and he wants her to figure out who’s sending threatening letters to Flora. Curtains up for another charmer from Louisiana librarian Weaver.” (Catalogue)

Four funerals and maybe a wedding / Bowen, Rhys
“Star amateur sleuth of the 1930s-set Royal Spyness Mystery series, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is getting ready to walk down the aisle and is offered her godfather’s fully staffed country estate as a home. But the staff don’t seem very trustworthy, and the gas leak in her bedroom doesn’t seem like an accident.” (Catalogue)

 

Advance recommendations for great new fiction titles

Rosewater book cover

There are lots of new titles coming in from talented authors in the next few months. That means getting in quick if you want you be reading them soon!

Our advance recommendations for up and coming titles include crime writing and thrillers; titles where political and social values are explored and Science Fiction and fantasy works were the possibilities of the mind and potential realities are explored.

Excitement has been building for the new Haruki Murakami book titled Killing Commendatore which  is due to published 9 October 2018. The new novel, written in homage to the The Great Gatsby, has already been censored in Hong Kong. Opaque wrappers are required wherever the book is for sale or loan, libraries there will only allow borrowing to patrons over 18 years of age.

Already on our library shelves  is the new Kate Atkinson novel, Transcription, along with Belinda Bauer’s Snap. Yet to be published, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver brings together two timelines  in the same location and  focuses on families facing challenges due to changing cultures. Kingsolver’s deft handling of family dynamics and the impacts of change bring this tale to life. Mohammed Hanif delivers two sides to modern conflict with Red Birds. Three times Hugo winner Science Fiction writer N K Jemisin has a new short story collection called How long ’til black future month? which delivers a kaleidoscopic view of her imagination.  Tade Thompson’s  Rosewater, is named after a town, grown up around an alien entity embedded in Nigerian soil. Once a year the biodome surrounding the incomer opens…

See below, for these and more titles, coming soon to a library near you!

Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

Love is Blind [paperback] / 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. At once an intimate portrait of one man’s life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the 20th century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain’s best loved storytellers.” (Catalogue)

 

Killing Commendatore / Murakami, Haruki/ Gabriel, Philip (TRN)/ Goossen, Ted (TRN)
“The much-anticipated new novel from the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Killing Commendatore is an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art–as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby–and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.” (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)

 

Red Birds [paperback] / Hanif, Mohammed
“Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.
An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb.  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)

Unsheltered / Kingsolver, Barbara
“Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred–whether family or friends–and in the strength of the human spirit.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. “Jack’s in charge,” she’d said. “I won’t be long”. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.” (Catalogue)

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, 1) [paperback] / Thompson, Tade
“Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, coming to a realization about a horrifying future.” (Catalogue)

How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories [paperback] / Jemisin, N K
“In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises.” (Catalogue)

Lethal White / Galbraith, Robert
“When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story.  Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside. ” (Catalogue)

In a House of Lies / Rankin, Ian
“A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods.  Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case.  Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.” (Catalogue)

A glorious celebration!

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage 125th anniversary with Wellington fiction authors

Wellington’s female voice. Those who identify as women in Wellington are well represented in our fiction collection. Why celebrate them separately? The ability to effect change begins with expression but channeling that into results means action through legislation in consideration of those views.  The political arena represents it’s voters and the right to vote for women over 21 began in a colonial corner of the world at the tail end of the 1800’s Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are some great tools to understand the lengths people went to in their efforts to secure the vote. The New Zealand history website has a database of those who signed the suffrage petition, you can fine this down to the street you live in to see who lived on your doorstep and agitated for the right to vote.  So looking at early New Zealand authors, Kathleen M. Beauchamp, Katherine Mansfield’s given name was too young to sign. But, search under the Beauchamp family name and Wellington has a single entry. Remember when Katherine Mansfield’s first published story was rediscovered in Wellington Central library?

Current women Wellington authors have a great range of talents, varieties of styles and audience.  These are tales of personal freedom, integrity, flawed individuals, empathy and self discovery from first time authors, poets, artists and experienced writers. Some are highlighted below:

The new animals / Adam, Pip
“Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember — for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millennials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (Catalogue)

Baby / Jochems, Annaleese
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there’s an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship” — Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, dabbled in Alistair Crowley’s druggy occult gatherings and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (Catalogue)

The year of falling / Freegard, Janis
“Janis Freegard’s novel is a beguiling urban tale that moves from the hills of Brooklyn, Wellington, to the streets of Iceland via Takaka. Packed with characters who hold the reader to the page, The Year of Falling has the strut and gleam of a fairy tale while not being afraid of the stuff of flesh and blood that makes people act the way they do. A novel to fall into…but beware, you might find it hard to climb out again.” (Catalogue)

 

The chimes / Smaill, Anna
“After the end of a brutal civil war, London is divided, with slums standing next to a walled city of elites. In this alternate London, the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is considered “blasphemy.” But Simon has a unique gift–the gift of retaining memories–that will lead him to discover a great injustice and take him far beyond the meager life as a member of Lucien’s gang. Before long he will be engaged in an epic struggle for justice, love, and freedom.” (Catalogue)

The shark party / Colson, Janet
“For Carla, February means the pressure of another birthday party for Nathan and his wealthy New York art world friends. She buys him a book about Kurt Schwitters, an artist he is thinking of collecting, but a chance encounter with a man in the bookstore changes everything. Patrick, an environmental filmmaker, challenges her relationship and her artistic ambition. In the wake of their fierce attraction, the unscrupulous world that has seduced Carla begins to unravel and the harder she tries to break free the tighter Nathan’s grip becomes. Art and illusion, possession and freedom are the heady components of Janet Colson’s psychological drama, The Shark Party.” (Catalogue)

The writers’ festival / Johnson, Stephanie
“Wit, compassion and insight combine in this entertaining novel that explores the politics and human comedy behind writers’ festivals and the publishing industry. Writers’ festivals can be hotbeds of literary and romantic intrigue, and the Oceania is up there with the best of them. Rookie director Rae McKay, recently returned from New York, fears she has bitten off more than she can chew. ” (Catalogue)

 

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“A superbly written novel offering an intriguing interpretation of one of the world’s greatest aviators, the glamorous and mysterious Jean Batten. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave. Fiona Kidman’s enthralling novel delves into the life of this enigmatic woman, exploring mysteries and crafting a fascinating exploration of early flying, of mothers and daughters, and of fame and secrecy.” (Catalogue)

Who’s reading what? Our most popular Fiction

The avid readers of Wellington have been spending these long winter nights, chilly commutes, and chance sunny spells devouring the latest offerings of the fiction world.  What have been the most favourite titles this past season? Interest in Pip Adam’s new award winning title means The New Animals is in a favoured position amongst readers. Adam has received high praise for writing technique and her faceted nuanced characters that live beyond accepted palatable current Auckland stereotypes.

There is a decent helping of gritty mystery writing from the likes of Jo Nesbø and Donna Leon. Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth is one in the Hogarth Shakespeare series preceded by Edward St. Aubyn’s treatment of King Lear in Dunbar. North American President turned author Bill Clinton writing with James Patterson has also captured the capital’s attention, as have writing luminaries Ali Smith and Michael Ondaatje.  Below are the top 10 titles by issues in August.

1. Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo
“When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess. He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.But a man like him won’t get to the top. Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his. Unless he kills for it.” (Catalogue)

2. The woman in the window / Finn, A. J
“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?” (Catalogue)

3. The temptation of forgiveness / Leon, Donna
“As the twenty-seventh novel unfolds in Donna Leon’s exquisite chronicle of Venetian life in all its blissful and sordid aspects, Brunetti pursues several false and contradictory leads while growing ever more impressed by the intuition of his fellow Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, and by the endless resourcefulness and craftiness of Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary and gate-keeper. Exasperated by the petty bureaucracy that constantly bedevils him and threatens to expose Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics.” (Catalogue

4. The new animals / Adam, Pip
Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember — for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millenials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (Catalogue)

5. The punishment she deserves / George, Elizabeth
“No. 1 New York Times best-selling George returns with the next mystery featuring DI Thomas Lynley and his partner DS Barbara Havers, who’s in the lead here. Approached by a Member of Parliament with a request to investigate the supposed suicide of a constituent’s son, New Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner sees an opportunity to stick Havers with an impossible case and thence get rid of her. (He’s not a fan.) George’s last title was in 2015, so folks will be clamoring. Award-winning author Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series.” (Catalogue)

6. Dear Mrs. Bird : a novel / Pearce, A. J.
“London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.” (Catalogue)

7. The President is missing / Clinton, Bill
“The President is Missing. The world is in shock. But the reason he”s missing is much worse than anyone can imagine. With details only a President could know, and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver.” (Catalogue)

8. An unsuitable match / Trollope, Joanna
“Rose Woodrowe is getting married to Tyler Masson – a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her. The only problem? This isn’t the first time for either of them, and their five grown-up children have strong opinions on the matter… Who to listen to? Who to please? Rose and Tyler are determined to get it right this time, but in trying to make everyone happy, can they ever be happy themselves?” (Catalogue

9. Winter / Smith, Ali
“Following Autumn, the first of four novels named for the seasons and drawing on their moods, Smith takes an icy look at the era of Brexit and fake news, examining themes of history and memory and celebrating our will to survive. Winter. It makes things visible. Ali Smith’s shapeshifting Winter casts a warm, wise, merry and uncompromising eye over a post-truth era in a story rooted in history and memory and with a taproot deep in the evergreens, art and love.” (Catalogue)

10. Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined to protect, and educate… But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)

New contemporary fiction additions

Asymmetry book cover

The new additions to Wellington City Libraries general fiction collection has a breadth and depth spanning genres, authors and due to some classic reprints, time as well.  New writers have hit the ground running with popular titles such as Bearskin from James McLaughlin and the lauded Asymmetry from Lisa Halliday. The confident voice of Caitlin Moran explores youthful exuberance and gender justice in a very 90’s How To Be Famous.

Translated tales feature Finnish author Philip Teir, Sjón from Iceland with the new title CoDex 1962, and The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories showcases a variety of authors including work from Banana Yoshimoto and Yuko Tsushima. Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara/Wellington author Isa Pearl Ritchie’s family novel brings contemporary issues and familiar locations to life. Thrillers, human drama in the inter-war period and a quirky look at humans beholden to a hibernation pattern round out the selection from this month.

Bearskin / McLaughlin, James A
Bearskin is visceral, raw, and compelling-filled with sights, smells, and sounds truly observed. James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel–one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.
Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk. More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice’s obsession with catching the poachers escalates.” (Catalogue)

Asymmetry / Halliday, Lisa
“Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is an urgent, important, and truly original work that will captivate any reader while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself. A debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art.”(Catalogue)

All the lives we never lived / Roy, Anuradha
“In my childhood, I was known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman.”  What took Myshkin’s mother from India to Dutch-held Bali in the 1930s, ripping a knife through his comfortingly familiar environment? Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, Myshkin comes to understand the connections between anguish at home and a war-torn universe overtaken by patriotism. Anuradha Roy’s enthralling novel is a powerful parable for our times, telling the story of men and women trapped in a dangerous era uncannily similar to the present. Impassioned, elegiac, and gripping, it brims with the same genius that has brought Roy’s earlier fiction international renown.” (Catalogue)

How to be famous / Moran, Caitlin
“I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly. My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs Hell™️ – as rockstars do. And my new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name.” (Catalogue)

The summer house / Teir, Philip
“The light greenery of the early summer is trembling around Erik and Julia as they shove their children into the car and start the drive towards the house by the sea on the west coast of Finland where they will spend the summer. The arrival of Julia’s childhood friend Marika – along with her charismatic husband Chris, the leader of a group of environmental activists that have given up hope for planet Earth… deepens the hairline cracks that had so far remained invisible. Around these people, over the course of one summer, Philip Teir weaves a finely-tuned story about life choices and lies, about childhood and adulthood. How do we live if we know that the world is about to end?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

CoDex 1962 / Sjón
“Taking refuge in a small-town as a Jewish fugitive in WWII, Leo discovers a young woman who nurses him back to health. Together they shape a piece of clay into a baby. Leo escapes to Iceland with the clay boy in a hatbox only to become embroiled in a murder mystery. It is not until 1962 that Jósef can be born. In modern-day ReykjavÍk, a middle-aged Jósef attracts the interest of a geneticist. Now what lies behind Josef’s tale emerges.” (Catalogue)

The Penguin book of Japanese short stories
This fantastically varied and exciting collection celebrates the art of the Japanese short story, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the remarkable practitioners writing today. Authors like Tanizaki, Akutagawa, Murakami, Mishima, Kawabata, and Yoshimoto, as well as many surprising new finds. From Yuko Tsushima’s ‘Flames’ to Banana Yoshimoto’s ‘Bee Honey.’ Edited by acclaimed translator Jay Rubin, who has himself freshly translated some of the stories, and with an introduction by Haruki Murakami, this book is a revelation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fishing for Māui / Ritchie, Isa Pearl
“A novel about food, whanau, and mental illness. Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy and her blog she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making. Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect with his Maori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but shes the only one who can tell somethings not right. Crisis has the power to bring this family together, but will it be too late?” (Catalogue)

Early riser / Fforde, Jasper
“Imagine a world where all humans must hibernate through a brutally cold winter, their bodies dangerously close to death as they enter an ultra-low metabolic state of utterly dreamless sleep. All humans, that is, apart from the Winter Consuls, a group of officers who diligently watch over the vulnerable sleeping citizens. Charlie Worthing is a novice, chosen by a highflying hero Winter Consul to accompany him to the Douzey, a remote sector in the middle of Wales, to investigate a dream which is somehow spreading amongst those in the hibernational state, causing paranoia, hallucination and a psychotic episode that can end in murder. Worthing has been trained to deal with Tricksy Nightwalkers whose consciousness has been eroded by hibernation, leaving only one or two skills and an incredible hunger; he’s been trained to stay alive through the bleakest and loneliest of winters – but he is in no way prepared for what awaits him in Sector Twelve. There are no heroes in Winter, Worthing has been told. And he’s about to find out why…” (Catalogue)

Pieces of her / Slaughter, Karin
“The electrifying new thriller from international bestseller Karin Slaughter explores the deadly secrets kept between a mother and daughter. What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all? Andrea Cooper’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. It turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.” (Catalogue)

So much life left over / De Bernières, Louis
“From the acclaimed author of Corelli’s Mandolin: a powerfully evocative and emotional novel, set in the years between the two World Wars, about a closely-knit group of British men and women struggling to cope with the world–and the selves–left to them in the wake of World War I. They were inseparable childhood friends. Some were lost to the war. The others’ lives were unimaginably upended, and now, postwar, they’ve scattered: to Ceylon and India, France and Germany (and, inevitably, back to Britain)–each of them trying to answer the question that fuels this sweeping novel: “If you have been embroiled in a war… what were you supposed to do with so much life unexpectedly left over?” (Catalogue)

The Mars room : a novel / Kushner, Rachel
“It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.” (Catalogue)