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)

Translated works of fiction new to Wellington City Libraries

Convenience Store Woman book cover

Voices from other cultures give us new windows to view the world through.  This month features a variety of contemporary fiction and a revealing translation from WWII. Anna Seghers’ The Seventh Cross written in 1942 tells the tale of concentration camp escapees and their encounters with citizens of the time.  Recently translated, this novel lends immediacy to the issues faced by those living in a totalitarian regime. Other tiles feature weird twists of imagination and how to live with, or in spite of the expectations of everyday society. Some great reads to edify and entertain through the winter evenings.

I always find you / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
“In September 1985, nineteen-year-old John Lindqvist moved into a dilapidated old building in Stockholm, planning to make his living as a magician. Something strange was going on in the locked shower room in the building’s basement–and the price of entry was just a little blood. I Always Find You is a horror story–as bizarre and macabre as any of Lindqvist’s earlier novels–but it’s also a melancholy meditation on being young and lonely, on making friends and growing up. It’s about magic, and the intensity of human connection–and the evil we carry inside.” (Catalogue)

Acts of infidelity / Andersson, Lena
“When Ester Nilsson meets the actor Olof Sten, she falls madly in love. Olof makes no secret of being married, but he and Ester nevertheless start to meet regularly and begin to conduct a strange dance of courtship. Ester, on the other hand, is convinced that things might change. To read Acts of Infidelity is to dive inside the mind of a brilliant, infuriating friend – Ester’s and Olof’s entanglements and arguments are the stuff of relationship nightmares. Cutting, often cruel, and written with razor-sharp humour, Acts of Infidelity is clever, painful, maddening, but most of all perfectly, precisely true.” (Catalogue)

Your second life begins when you realize you only have one / Giordano, Raphaëlle
“Nonfiction author Giordano makes her fiction debut with a go-find-yourself title that was a blockbuster best seller in her native France, with rights sold to 31 territories. In her late thirties and content with husband, job, and motherhood, Paris native Camille still nevertheless feels she’s missed her chance at happiness. Here’s how she finds it. A charming, feel-good, and universal story of one woman’s journey from boredom and dissatisfaction to happiness and fulfilment.” (Catalogue)

Convenience store woman / Murata, Sayaka
“Keiko isn’t normal. At school and university people find her odd, and her family worries she will never fit in. To make them happy, she takes a job at a convenience store. But in Keiko’s circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend her time stacking shelves and ordering green tea. As the pressure to find a new job – or worse, a husband – increases, Keiko is forced to take desperate action…” (Catalogue)

Woman at sea / Poulain, Catherine
“Lili is a runaway. She’s left behind a humdrum existence in France to go in search of freedom, of adventure, of life. Her search takes her to the island of Kodiak, Alaska, home to a rag-tag community of fishermen, army vets and drifters who man the island’s boats and trawlers. Despite her tiny frame, faltering English and total lack of experience, when the fishing season begins Lili lands a job on board the Rebel – one of the toughest gigs in town. Lili is tough and determined … she has nothing to lose after all, and at sea she finally finds the intensity of life she’s been looking for.” (Catalogue)

The seventh cross / Seghers, Anna
“A revelatory World War II novel about a German prisoner of war fleeing for the border and encountering a variety of Germans, good and bad and indifferent, along his way. Seven political prisoners escape from a Nazi prison camp; in response, the camp commandant has seven trees harshly pruned to resemble seven crosses: they will serve as posts to torture each recaptured prisoner, and capture, of course, is certain. Anna Seghers’s novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism. Margot Bettauer Dembo’s expert new translation makes the complete text of this great political novel available in English for the first time.” (Catalogue)

The occasional virgin / al-Shaykh, Hanan
“From a major novelist of the Arab world comes a bold, witty and highly contemporary novel about two women looking for love, set in Italy, Lebanon and London. Painting a refreshingly truthful picture of modern womanhood, The Occasional Virgin perceptively explores sexuality, Islam and cultural identity and the difficulty of finding a man who’ll call when he says he will. Frank, funny and fearless, it is the colourful, wickedly entertaining story of two unforgettable characters, and the bizarre lengths we’ll go to for love.” (Catalogue)

The last Weynfeldt / Suter, Martin
“Adrian Weynfeldt is an art expert in an international auction house, a bachelor in his mid-fifties living in a grand Zurich apartment filled with costly paintings and antiques. Always correct and well-mannered, he’s given up on love until one night — entirely out of character for him — Weynfeldt decides to take home a ravishing but unaccountable young woman. The next morning, he finds her outside on his balcony threatening to jump. Weynfeldt talks her down… As their two lives become entangled, Weynfeldt gets embroiled in an art forgery scheme that threatens to destroy everything he and his prominent family have stood for. This refined page-turner moves behind elegant bourgeois facades into darker recesses of the heart.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Our selection of the best new contemporary fiction

We are very proud to present our latest selection from our new fiction arrivals. In this month’s picks we have something to suit a wide variety of tastes from a new work by Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis de Bernieres to a new novel by Kate Mosse, and a fantastic new work by Patchwork Planet author Anne Tyler titled Clock Dance. We hope you find something in our top picks for this month that you will truly enjoy.

Syndetics book coverWhirlaway : the great American loony bin, horseplaying & record-collecting novel / Poe Ballantine.
“On the run, he holes up in a sheltered barrio on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean owned by his wealthy but unsympathetic father. Here he meets Sweets, the telepathic dog, laments the loss of Sofia, his madhouse lover, and plays the horses at the Del Mar Racetrack. Eventually he meets up with an old friend, Shelly Hubbard, a fellow horseplayer, record collector/dealer, and hardcore loner, who tells him about his brother, Donny, dead at the age of eighteen from a tragic dive off a thirty-foot La Jolla sea cliff known as the Clam.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoy swallows universe / Trent Dalton.
“Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSo much life left over / Louis de Bernieres.
“Rosie and Daniel have moved to Ceylon with their little daughter to start a new life at the dawn of the 1920s, attempting to put the trauma of the First World War behind them, and to rekindle a marriage that gets colder every day. However, even in the lush plantation hills it is hard for them to escape the ties of home and the yearning for fulfilment that threatens their marriage. Back in England, Rosie’s three sisters are dealing with different challenges in their searches for family, purpose and happiness. These are precarious times, and they find themselves using unconventional means to achieve their desires. Around them the world is changing, and when Daniel finds himself in Germany he witnesses events taking a dark and forbidding turn.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVarina : a novel / Charles Frazier.
“In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War.
Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history–culpable regardless of her intentions. The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMotherhood / Sheila Heti.
“In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation. In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe very marrow of our bones / Christine Higdon.
“On a miserable November day in 1967, two women disappear from a working-class town on the Fraser River. The community is thrown into panic, with talk of drifters and murderous husbands. But no one can find a trace of Bette Parsons or Alice McFee. Even the egg seller, Doris Tenpenny, a woman to whom everyone tells their secrets, hears nothing. Ten-year-old Lulu Parsons discovers something, though: a milk-stained note her mother, Bette, left for her father on the kitchen table. Wally, it says, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life. Lulu tells no one, and months later she buries the note in the woods. At the age of ten, she starts running — and forgetting — lurching through her unraveled life, using the safety of solitude and detachment until, at fifty, she learns that she is not the only one who carries a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be famous / Caitlin Moran.
“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.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe burning chambers / Kate Mosse.
“Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE. But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClock dance / Anne Tyler.
“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUpstate / James Wood.
“In the years since his daughter Vanessa moved to America to become a professor of philosophy, Alan Querry has never been to visit. He has been too busy at home in northern England, holding together his business as a successful property developer. His younger daughter, Helen–a music executive in London–hasn’t gone, either, and the two sisters, close but competitive, have never quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce and the early death of their mother. But when Vanessa’s new boyfriend sends word that she has fallen into a severe depression and that he’s worried for her safety, Alan and Helen fly to New York and take the train to Saratoga Springs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand

This Mortal Boy book cover

New to the world, or new to Wellington City Libraries, these titles from local authors showcase a range of talents, beginning with Fiona Kidman’s new book about the ‘jukebox killer’ in Auckland in 1955. These tales explore New Zealand influences through eras and locations influencing lives we can recognise and feel kinship with.

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders?” (Catalogue)

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.” (Catalogue)

Death actually : Death. Love. And in between. / Fenwicke, Rosy
“Maggie never wanted to go into the family business, but when her parents die suddenly and her husband has abandoned her and their two children, what choice does she have? So she becomes a funeral director.” (Catalogue)
Set in Queenstown this book encompasses family trials and trivialities with good humour and great characters.

The new ships / Duignan, Kate
“Peter Collie is adrift in the wake of his wife’s death. His attempts to understand the turn his life has taken lead him back to the past, to dismaying events on an Amsterdam houseboat in the seventies, returning to New Zealand and meeting Moira, an amateur painter who carried secrets of her own, and to a trip to Europe years later with his family. An unexpected revelation forces Peter to navigate anew his roles as a husband, father and son. Set in Wellington after the fall of the Twin Towers, and traversing London, Europe and the Indian subcontinent, The New Ships is a mesmerising book of blood-ties that stretch across borders. A novel of acute moral choices, it is a rich and compelling meditation on what it means to act, or to fail to act.” (Catalogue)

Designer days : a story set in Thorndon, Wellington, 2009 / Mercer, R. D.
“‘Down into the dark cave’ Laura says to her baby, pushing the buggy into the underpass. Cave paintings? Yes, indeed, but among them some writing she does not expect to find. Laura and Eddie both resist being constrained by the timetables of office or school. They want the freedom to design their own days. Laura, an IT specialist, craves domesticity. Eddie resents being moved to High School in Wellington. Laura’s husband, Matt, begins to behave curiously.” (Catalogue)

The man who writes the dreams / Barrett, Pera
“A story about following dreams. People have stopped turning their dreams into done-things. Luckily for us, the man who writes the dreams is here to make things right.” (Catalogue)

Equinoctial gales : a story set in Wellington, 1939 / Mercer, R. D.
“There were those who liked to refer to the shopping area of Kelburn as ‘the village’. It gave it status. Did they have in mind some impossible idyll of an English village of established families, in which people knew their place and weather was predictable? The reality of Kelburn in 1930s New Zealand could not have been more different.  A chance event, a “sudden death”, connects the characters in one way or another… But no-one living in Wellington can ignore the weather. They are all affected by its fickleness, its days of violence and its days of blessed calm.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Alternative medicine / Solomon, Laura
“The stories in Alternative Medicine can be broadly defined as black comedy with a twist of surrealism… In ‘The Killing Jar’ a boy’s spider spies on his adulterous father and reports back to its owner. In ‘The New Heart’ a man experiences somebody else’s memories after receiving a heart transplant. The story ‘Mandy’ features a strangely obsessed protagonist. Everyday sadness at a refugee going blind is sketched out in ‘Blindness’. Childhood relationships are depicted in the short story ‘Pets’ and in ‘Piano Lessons/War Stories’ the narrator reflects upon her grandfather’s time fighting in World War 2.  The stories show human life in various forms and endeavours.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hilary and David / Solomon, Laura
“In Hilary and David, David, a lonely elderly struggling novelist, contacts Hilary, with whom he has a friend in common, via Facebook, and an unlikely friendship develops via a series of messages. The two begin to share details of their past and current lives. Hilary is a solo mother with two children. One of the children has Down’s Syndrome and the other has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Both are struggling… Through a series of messages, Hilary and David share their thoughts on life, the universe, men, women and everything else in between and provide companionship and advice for one another.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Contemporary fiction

Stories We Tell Ourselves book cover

We’ve had some fantastic new additions to the fiction collection, certain to entertain and intrigue through these long winter evenings. These titles bring diverse voices from an ex-president to a documentary maker turned author. A reprint of Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop shows the insight this British writer has for social politics, recently adapted into film. New action and suspense have real life experiences from Bill Clinton and outdoor adventurer Bear Grylls, and retellings from WWII yield mystery and humour with Warlight by Michael Ondaatje and Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce.

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.  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)

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)

Stories we tell ourselves / Françoise, Sarah
“Frank and Joan’s marriage is at breaking point. Having spent three decades failing to understand each other in their unfinished house in the French alps, Joan’s frustrations with her inattentive husband have reached breaking point. Frank, retreating ever further into his obscure hobbies, is distracted by an epistolary affair with his long-lost German girlfriend. Things are getting tense. But it’s Christmas, and the couple are preparing to welcome home their three far-flung children.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Census / Ball, Jesse
“A widower with only a short time to live worries about the son he loves deeply, who has Down syndrome, and hopes he can give them more time together by signing up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau. The road trip that results leaves him with as many questions as answers.” (Catalogue)

Night-gaunts : and other tales of suspense / Oates, Joyce Carol
A collection of eerie tales from this prolific American author feature “an unusual game of Russian roulette involving a pair of Wedgewood teacups, a strong Bengal brew, and a lethal concoction of medicine. A Sunday school teacher’s corpse. A young outsider, Horace Phineas Love, Jr., is haunted by apparitions at the very edge of the spectrum of visibility after the death of his tortured father in Night-Gaunts, a fantastic ode to H.P. Lovecraft.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bookshop / Fitzgerald, Penelope
“In a small East Anglian town, Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. Hardborough becomes a battleground. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.” (Catalogue)

In our mad and furious city / Gunaratne, Guy
“For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it.” (Catalogue)

They know not what they do / Valtonen, Jussi
“Joe Chayefski has got what he always wanted: a reputation as one of America’s top neuroscientists, a beautiful wife and two perfect daughters. But his carefully created idyll is threatened when his lab is targeted by animal rights activists. The attack is followed by a phone call from Joe’s ex-wife in Finland. Two decades have passed since he abandoned Alina and their young son, Samuel, returning to America to advance his career. Joe struggles to protect his new family from the increasing threat of violence – he is forced to reconsider his priorities and take drastic action to save those he loves.” (Catalogue)

The world goes on / Krasznahorkai, László
“A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveller, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child labourer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils.  In The World Goes On, a narrator first speaks directly, then tells twenty-one unforgettable stories, and then bids farewell.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Obscura / Hart, Joe
“In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis–memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunt / Grylls, Bear
“1945, and the Nazis’ grand plans are in disarray. Defeat is imminent, so in a last attempt to protect their legacy, the high command hides their store of uranium deep underground, ready for them to fight another day. 2018, and ex-SAS soldier Will Jaeger stumbles upon this horrible truth. But the uranium is missing and, when he learns his wife Ruth has also been kidnapped, he’s certain the enemy is on the move once more…  But the enemy is always one step ahead, pushing Jaeger to the limit of his endurance. The danger is real, and the people who hold Ruth have a score to settle. It’s a race against time. And the clock is ticking.” (Catalogue)