Catch up on the latest fiction from New Zealand writers

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection of new material. There are several historical novels that bring into focus New Zealand’s political, cultural and social development over the last century. As well as a fabulous new Ngaio Marsh murder mystery completed by award winning author Stella Duffy and a new work from award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw called Mazarine.

Syndetics book coverMoney in the morgue / Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy.
“Roderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy. It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks. Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer. When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix murders? : the strange case of the Welly alley strangler / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“When Faith and her husband accidentally get involved in the weird life of Ponytail O’Gorman – a beguiling old fraudster – they have no idea how much he will disrupt their peaceful life in suburban Kilbirnie. But he convinces them to help him in his strange quest to find both his friend from prison, Simple Simon, and his own missing cell phone which is being sought by a bunch of desperate crooks as well as by the head of Wellington CIB. Determined to help the strangely charming little con-man – and so discover the truth about the notorious Welly Alley Strangler – they get carried along to a secretive location in beautiful Martinborough. In the process Faith confronts a collection of odd characters, who unknown to her were part of her husband’s life as a prison guard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A thin slice of heaven / Paul Wah.
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.”
(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMazarine / Charlotte Grimshaw.
“From award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw, this is a beautifully evocative, sensual portrayal of a woman’s search for freedom and love. When her daughter vanishes during a heatwave in Europe, writer Frances Sinclair embarks on a hunt that takes her across continents and into her own past. What clues can Frances find in her own history, and who is the mysterious Mazarine? Following the narrative thread left by her daughter, she travels through cities touched by terrorism and surveillance, where the concept of relatedness is subtly changed, and a startling new fiction seems to be constructing itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man who would not see / Rajorshi Chakraborti.
“When family suddenly becomes your greatest challenge, mystery, rediscovery . As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Crystal ReignCrystal reign / Kelly Lyndon.
“Former Navy Lieutenant Commander and MMA instructor David Johnson has it all: an amazing wife, three beautiful kids and a great job. He’s the man who can handle anything, and anyone – until his wife Chrissie is introduced to methamphetamine at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Slowly but surely, everything David has worked for and believed in is dramatically eroded as Chrissie’s addiction takes hold. Then Chrissie disappears without a trace. In his effort to find her, David gets drawn into the dark world of meth. As the months pass, he becomes more and more afraid that she has been killed, and that the police will suspect him for her murder. The story of one man’s fight to save his family from the drug that is engulfing and destroying New Zealand society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Eye of the SongbirdEye of the songbird / Michael Munro.
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world¿s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land Antarctica. She ¿s the target, Songbird, the woman he’s been told to bring down and here she is swinging helpless in a crevasse in Antarctica. What should Kirk Barnby, New Zealand secret service agent, do? Cut the rope? In this taut and exciting clash between environmental activism and nation-state determination, which ranges from Antarctica, Hong Kong, London, Istanbul and Wellington, two very determined people have to make a choice – political or personal?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA tale of love / Linda Lê ; translated from the French by Sian Robyns.
“Ylane and Ivan meet for the first time in the library of a psychiatric hospital, falling instantly and deeply in love. In the shelter of the clinic they find happiness, but release into the outside world is frightening and love becomes a struggle as reality intrudes. And yet this reality strangely has more in common with a fairy tale with its monsters and lost children and one true love. And like a fairy tale, there is always the sense of the narrator watching and writing it all down. This is a novel as much about the power of reading and writing to transform as it is about the transformation of love. Both give the young lovers the opportunity to recover and recreate themselves, but Ylane and Ivan discover that just as there are always two sides to a page, so there is no single answer to the questions that besiege them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoundary / by Paul W. Feenstra.
“July 1839, without the knowledge of the English Government, the ship Tory, stealthily departed Plymouth, determined to reach New Zealand with the utmost speed. The objective, to purchase millions of acres of lands at the lowest possible price and then build the perfect society. The New Zealand Company called the first settlement Britannia, a civilization without the shortcomings and failings of a troubled English culture. On board the Tory, a young Scottish couple indentured to the New Zealand Company are excited at the prospect of beginning a new life, Britannia is the Utopia they’ve been promised. This is the story of adversity, the struggle to survive in the hardships of a new colony, and their fight to preserve morality and integrity in the face of greed, deception and injustice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning / edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, Aaron Compton.
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift aimless, and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, at the same time sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secret keepers. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths, and beautiful possibilities…Te Korero Ahi Ka, a term which means to speak of the home fires burning, is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from both established and emerging members of the SpecFicNZ organisation of writers, poets, artists, and creatives. It is a statement about how New Zealand creators of speculative fiction and art shine their light on our literary landscape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Historical fiction features in this month’s fiction picks from other genres

The ‘other genres’ category this month features historical fiction. This latest selection includes a new novel by the popular, prolific Bernard Cornwell. Highly recommend is the much praised debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar, titled The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

Syndetics book coverCarnegie’s Maid : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets, but the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does has is an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future and her family’s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girls in the picture / Melanie Benjamin.
“It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the new industry of the silent moving pictures is enthralling theatergoers everywhere. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender and their astronomical success could come at a price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarriors of the storm / Bernard Cornwell.
“King Alfred’s son Edward and formidable daughter, Ãthelflaed, rule Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdom’s greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are rising up against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both Edward and Ãthelflaed are reluctant to move out of the safety of their fortifications. But with Uhtred’s own daughter married to Ivarson’s brother, who can be trusted?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreyfriars House / Emma Fraser.
“Once a home full of love, all that remains in Greyfriars House are secrets and lies. On a remote Scottish island sits Greyfriars House, a house haunted by unspoken words and family mysteries. But once it was a happy and comforting place and in the summer of 1939, family and friends gather to forget their fears about the impending war.”

Syndetics book coverThe mermaid and Mrs Hancock : a history in three volumes / written by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
“This voyage is special. It will change everything. One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great alone / Kristin Hannah.
“Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture, soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sealwoman’s gift / Sally Magnusson.
“Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. This story is told through the voice of the pastor’s wife Asta” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unlikely agent / Jane Menczer.
“London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John’s Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret’s meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat. When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to ‘open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!’ After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as The Scorpions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPale horse riding / Chris Petit.
“By 1943 Auschwitz is the biggest black market in Europe. The garrison has grown epically corrupt on the back of the transportations and goods confiscated, and this is considered even more of a secret than the one surrounding the mass extermination. Everything is done to resist penetration until August Schlegel and SS officer Morgen, after solving the case of the butchers of Berlin, are sent in disguised as post office officials to investigate an instance of stolen gold being sent through the mail. Their chances of getting out of Auschwitz alive are almost nil, unless Schlegel and Morgen accept that the nature of the beast they are fighting means they too must become as corrupt as the corruption they are desperate to expose. Even if they survive, will it be at the cost of losing their souls?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shape of water / Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus.
“It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito, mute her whole life, orphaned as a child, is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day. Then, one fateful night, she sees something she was never meant to see, the Center’s most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. The creature is terrifying but also magnificent, capable of language and of understanding emotions and Elisa can’t keep away. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Soon, affection turns into love, and the creature becomes Elisa’s sole reason to live. But outside forces are pressing in. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it. Elisa has no choice but to risk everything to save her beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Thrillers feature in this month’s novels from other genres

Featuring this month in our ‘other genre’ category we have selected fiction from the thriller genre. These are guaranteed reading for ardent fans of tension and suspense, and at times not for the faint hearted. Highly recommend is The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.

Syndetics book coverEighteen below / Stefan Ahnhem ; translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
“On a hot summer’s day the police chase a speeding car through the streets of Helsingborg. When they reach the quay, the driver keeps going, straight into the cold, dark water. The body recovered from the wreck is Peter Brise, a wealthy tech entrepreneur. Fabian Risk and his team are confident this is a suicide. Young, rich, successful, Brise just didn’t know how to ask for help. But then the autopsy reveals something unexpected. Brise was already dead when his car crashed. He’d been brutally murdered two months ago. His body was frozen in perfect condition, at eighteen degrees below zero.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRobicheaux : a novel / James Lee Burke.
“Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. From the acts he committed in Vietnam, to his battles with alcoholism, to the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts pepper his reality. Robicheaux’s only beacon remains serving as a detective in New Iberia, Louisiana With the sudden death of T.J. Dartez, the New Iberian local responsible for Molly’s death, Robicheaux’s colleague, Spade Labiche, thinks Robicheaux had something to do with it. Robicheaux’s determined to clear his name. He’s not alone; his daughter, Alafair, along with his old friend, Clete Purcel is right by Robicheaux’s side as he searches for the killer, where a shocking discovery awaits.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI know my name / C.J. Cooke.
“A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there. Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloise Shelley is officially missing. Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie, does a husband ever truly know his wife or a wife her husband?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe woman in the window / A.J. Finn.
“Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son, the perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArarat / Christopher Golden.
“When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mount Ararat in Turkey, a daring, newly-engaged couple are determined to be the first ones inside and what they discover will change everything. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. Inside the coffin they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver, not the holy man they expected, but a hideous creature with horns. Shock and fear turn to horror when a massive blizzard arrives; they are all trapped thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain. All they can do is pray for safety. But something wicked is listening to their prayers and it wants to answer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIf I die before I wake / Emily Koch.
“Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDistrict VIII / Adam LeBor.
“Life’s tough for a Gypsy cop in Budapest. The cops don’t trust you because you’re a Gypsy. Your fellow Gypsies, even your own family, shun you because you’re a cop. The dead, however, don’t care. So when Balthazar Kovacs, a detective in the city’s murder squad, gets a mysterious message on his phone from a blocked number he grabs his police ID and goes to work. Danube Blues reveals an underworld that Budapest visitors never get to see: the gritty back-alleys of District VIII; the endemic corruption that reaches deep into the government as officials and their business allies plunder state coffers at will; a rule of law bent to serve the interests of the rich, well-connected and powerful; the rising power of international organized crime gangs who use the Hungarian capital as a springboard for their European operations; and the ghosts of Communism and Nazism that still haunt Hungary.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverThe house / Simon Lelic.
“Lndoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake, because someone has just been murdered, right outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverThe boy made of snow / Chloë Mayer.
“In a sleepy English village in 1944, Annabel and her son Daniel live in the shadow of war. With her husband away, an increasingly isolated Annabel begins to lose her grip on reality. When mother and son befriend Hans, a German PoW consigned to a nearby farm, their lives are suddenly filled with thrilling secrets. To Annabel, Hans is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel’s birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the magical world of fairy tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise. But Hans has plans of his own and will soon set them into motion with devastating consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoison / Galt Niederhoffer.
“Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass’s two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland, a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly, first with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace. With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New fiction featuring New Zealand writers

New Zealand writers are the feature of this month’s ‘other genre’ category. Included are the most recent novels from Catherine Chidgey and Catherine Robertson. Also after many years there is a collection of short stories from Laura Solomon that proves to be well worth the wait.

Syndetics book coverThe beat of the pendulum : a found novel / Catherine Chidgey.
The Beat of the Pendulum is the result of one year in which Chidgey drew upon the language she encountered on a daily basis, such as news stories, radio broadcasts, emails, social media, street signs, TV, and many conversations. As Chidgey filters and shapes the linguistic chaos of her recordings, a set of characters emerge, her family, including her young daughter, and her husband, mother and sister, her friends, and an extended family formed through surrogacy and donation. This is an exploration of human memory, how we acquire it, and how we lose it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe benefactor / Sebastian Hampson.
“Magazine editor Henry Calder’s ordered life has unraveled. He’s just been ousted from the glamorous job that gave his life meaning, and he lost his wife, Martha, less than a year ago. Then he meets Maggie, a rebellious young artist working as a bartender. When Maggie is evicted, Henry offers her a place to stay. But there is something about the young woman and her work that disturbs him, and before long Henry is facing a crisis neither of them could ever have foreseen.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeneath pale water / Thalia Henry.
“Set amidst the physical and psychological landscapes of New Zealand’s southern hills and grasslands, Beneath Pale Water is a social realist and expressionistic novel that follows a triangle of three damaged individuals, a sculptor, a vagrant and a model, who have grown calcified shells against the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll our secrets / Jennifer Lane.
“A girl called Gracie. A small town called Coongahoola with the dark Bagooli River running through it. The Bleeders, hundreds of ‘Believers’ who set up on the banks of the river, who start to buy up the town and win souls. The River Children, born in the aftermath of the infamous River Picnic. They begin to go missing, one after another. Gracie Barrett is the naively savvy spokesperson for her chaotic family (promiscuous dad, angry mum, twins Lucky and Grub, Elijah the River Child and fervent, prayerful Grandma Bett), for the kids who are taken, for the lurking fear that locks down the town and puts everyone under suspicion. Gracie is funny and kind, bullied and anguished, and her life spirals out of control when she discovers she knows what no one else does: who is responsible for the missing children.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNavigator : a novel / Anne Moir.
Navigator is the story of Southlander Joe Hassen’s childhood and his service as a navigator in Bomber Command in World War 2. He returns to Dunedin but cannot settle till he solves a mystery about his past. Finally, down a remote back road on the Southland coast, Joe finds an answer that completes the puzzle.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGabriel’s Bay / Catherine Robertson.
“Kerry Macfarlane has run away from his wedding-that-wasn’t. He lands in coastal Gabriel’s Bay, which bills itself as ‘a well-appointed small town’ on its website (last updated two decades ago). Here Kerry hopes to prove he’s not a complete failure. Or, at least, give his most convincing impression. But Gabriel’s Bay has its own problems, low employment, no tourists, and a daunting hill road between it and civilisation. And Kerry must also run the gauntlet of its inhabitants, Sidney, single mother deserted by a feckless ex; Mac, the straight-shooting doctor’s receptionist; a team of nine-year-olds; a giant restaurateur; and the local progressive association, who’ll debate apostrophe placement until the crack of doom. Can Kerry win their respect, and perhaps even love? Will his brilliant plan to transform the town’s fortunes earn him a lasting welcome in Gabriel’s Bay?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTaking Wainui / Laura Solomon.
“Thirteen stories in this collection show the skill of this gifted playwright, novelist and poet. With much humour, and flight s of fantasy, the stories are imaginative and thought provoking. The main story in the collection Taking Wainui concerns a boy who is the son of a Black Mamba gang leader. It is assumed that he will follow in his father’s footsteps and become a gang member too. However, he meets a lady who works stopping young people getting into gangs. He is given an initiation project of stealing from this lady’s house. She stops him in his tracks and talks him into not stealing from her, but going home to face his father instead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Nothing bad happens here / Nikki Crutchley.
“The body of missing tourist Bethany Haliwell is found in the small Coromandel town of Castle Bay, where nothing bad ever happens. News crews and journalists from all over the country descend on the small seaside town as old secrets are dragged up and gossip is taken as gospel. Among them is Miller Hatcher, a journalist battling her own demons, who arrives intent on gaining a promotion by covering the grisly murder. Following an anonymous tip, Miller begins to unravel the mystery of the small town. And when another woman goes missing, Miller finds herself getting closer to the truth. But at what cost?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

These short stories are perfect for summer holidays

This month, short stories are the feature of our ‘Other Genres’ category of fiction recent picks. There are collections from many much acclaimed writers including William Boyd, Helen Garner, P.D. James and our own Paula Morris. There are several debut short story collections also, one notably from Emily Fridlund whose first novel History of Wolves was shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Syndetics book coverTell tale / Jeffrey Archer.
“Fourteen gripping and rewarding short stories from the master of short story writing. Find out what happens to the hapless young detective from Naples who travels to an Italian hillside town to solve a murder and the pretentious schoolboy whose discovery of the origins of his father’s wealth changes his life forever. Follow the stories of the woman who dares to challenge the men at her Ivy League university during the 1930s, and another young woman who thumbs a lift and has an encounter of a lifetime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dreams of Bethany Mellmoth / William Boyd.
“A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs, seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. Couple charts the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery. Original, funny, surprising and moving stories from a much acclaimed writer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe relive box and other stories / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
“Known as one of our greatest American novelists, Boyle’s sharp wit and rich imagination combine with a penetrating social consciousness to produce raucous, poignant, and expansive short stories defined by an inimitable voice. The twelve stories in this collection speak to the humor, the pathos, and the struggle that is part of being human while relishing the whimsy of wordplay and the power of a story well told.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCatapult : stories / Emily Fridlund.
“Following Emily Fridlund’s acclaimed debut novel History of Wolves . The characters in these stories are sometimes calculating, at other times bewildered, they orbit around each other, enacting a deeply human tragicomedy of wit, misunderstanding, and loss. With dexterous, atmospheric, and darkly comic prose, Fridlund conjures worlds where longing is open-ended, intentions misfire, and the line between comfort and cruelty is often difficult to discern. This is a gripping collection, unsettling as much in its familiarity as in its near-gothic strangeness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStories : the collected short fiction / Helen Garner.
“This collection of short fiction celebrates the seventy-fifth birthday of one of Australia’s most loved authors. These stories delve into the complexities of love and longing, of the pain, darkness and joy of life, are all told with her characteristic sharpness of observation, honesty and humour. Each one a perfect piece, together they showcase Garner’s mastery of the form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncommon type : some stories / Tom Hanks ; photographs by Kevin Twomey.
“A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. In this first collection the stories are surprising, intelligent, and heartwarming.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSleep no more : six murderous tales / P. D. James ; foreword by Peter Kemp.
“From this brilliant crime writer, who is acknowledged as a past master of the short story, who weaves together motifs of crime-writing with deep psychological insight to create gripping, suspenseful tales. As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThat was a shiver : and other stories / James Kelman.
“A trucker passes through a town he used to know and a local tries to sell him his sister; a couple put their children to bed and hear a loud scratching at the wall; a Principal and his associate examine the dead body before them; a man looks into a mirror and reflects on becoming more like his father. Sparky, touching and brilliantly daring, these stories uncover human feeling in the ordinary and the everyday.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHer body and other parties : stories / Carmen Maria Machado.
“ In these stories the writer blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulist. There is a bending of bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalse river : stories, essays, secret histories / Paula Morris.
“Fictional characters muse upon the truth behind real people, non-fiction pieces contain short interludes of fiction, fiction is written to read like an essay, made-up elements slip into true accounts. These pieces range the world, from America, to Antwerp to Aoteoroa, and talk about writers and writing, famous figures, family members, witch-burning in Denmark, cyclones and numerous pertinent and stimulating topics.”(Adapted from Syndeitics summary)

NZ writers feature in our latest ‘other genre’ fiction picks

This is the fourth ‘other genres’ selection featuring New Zealand writers this year. There has been an amazing number of novels from new and well known writers published this year. Included in this month’s selection are two veterans of New Zealand writing Patrick Evans and C. K. Stead, and two debut novelists, Michalia Arathimos and Jonothan Cullinane.

Syndetics book coverAukati / Michalia Arathimos.
“Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understand the different worlds they inhabit. But when a protest march becomes violent a boundary is crossed, and they need to decide where they stand and fast. It’s clear the police have been tipped off, and the activists gathered at the marae suspect they’re being watched or, worse, there is an informant in the group. Can Alexia and Isaiah be trusted and can they trust themselves?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the white Gate / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“In a park in an antipodean city in the 1930s a teenaged boy starts work as an apprentice nurseryman. It’s an idyllic world, patient and unhurried, with a pace as predictable as the seasons; this is a miniature version of the pre-war colonial empire lying just beyond the park gates. But as secure as the park may seem it can’t protect anyone, least of all Tommy, from the changing world outside. There’s a war coming, an unwanted baby and heartbreaking changes at home. Through all this the park is a constant, a companion, a teacher, a home and a friend. With it he grows, learning wisdom and patience, as the park brings him friendship, love, knowledge and family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe direction of our fear / David Briggs.
“On a morning commuter train in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, the lives of three people briefly intersect. Sally is a 17-year-old, tentatively stepping into womanhood. Brendan is a middle-aged widower, living in the shadow of his wife’s death. Tamas is a Hungarian immigrant, missing his wife and child as he struggles to begin a new life far from home. Meanwhile, in a nondescript building near Dunedin’s Otago University, Farida translates messages for the security services and catches glimpses of a plot that could threaten them all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed herring / Jonothan Cullinane.
“In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O’Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment – and which will threaten their own lives in the process.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSoldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSodden downstream / Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. Roads are closed and all rail is halted. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss. If she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract. This novel charts the help and hindrances that make for a long, damp evening. But the book also highlights the kinds of care and solidarity that come out in times of need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBaby / Annaleese Jochems
“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 is 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.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe necessary angel / C. K. Stead.
“A beautifully written, carefully observed novel that takes you to the heart of contemporary Paris and into a world of books and witty conversation. It can be read on many levels, as a story of people grappling with love and fidelity; as a story about the importance of books in everyday life; as a commentary on living in complex modern-day Europe; and as a page-turning mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOperation Iran / Brian Wilson.
“The CIA have a double agent leaking secrets to the Chinese. In an attempt to identify the double agent, Adam Brown, a senior CIA operative disappears leading to speculation and confusion, which is added to when Frank, a world renowned physicist becomes involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read around the globe: New translated fiction

Translated novels feature in this month’s selection of ‘Other Genres’ fiction. With some wonderful novels, translated from Swedish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, French, Turkish and Hungarian, many hours of reading pleasure are guaranteed.

Syndetics book coverNevada days / Bernardo Atxaga ; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.
“A fictionalised account of the author’s nine months’ stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. He is accompanied by his wife, Angela, who is also doing research there, and by their two daughters. During their first few weeks, the family encounter a strange mapache (racoon), which is always staring at them from the garden, a flight of helicopters immediately overhead, a black widow spider, a warning about bears, a party of prisoners in the desert, a lake that is somehow far too calm and too blue, and, not long into their stay, the kidnap and murder of a young girl living in the house right next door.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenance / Kanae Minato ; translated by Philip Gabriel.
“The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma. When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emili by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emili is found murdered hours later. Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emili’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWaiting for Monsieur Bellivier / Britta Röstlund ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
“Are you waiting for Monsieur Belliver, madame? Helena Folasadu should of course say no. She doesn’t know the man talking to her, she doesn’t know Monsieur Bellivier, and she certainly isn’t waiting for him. But, bored of life, and sparked by a whim, she says yes. The go-between leads her to a deserted floor in an office building and offers her a large sum of money to sit at a computer and forward emails to Monsieur Bellivier. The emails turn out to be in code, and the bouquets Helena is handed every evening entangle her in an even greater mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe history of bees / Maja Lunde.
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame. United States, 2007, George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China 2098, Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him. Three very different narratives lead into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSundays in August / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Damion Searls.
“Stolen jewels, black markets, hired guns, crossed lovers, unregistered addresses, people gone missing, shadowy figures disappearing in crowds, newspaper stories uncomfortably close and getting closer, this ominous novel is Set in Nice. A young couple in hiding keeps close watch over a notorious diamond necklace known as the Southern Cross, with its provenance murky, only they know it’s whereabouts, who find themselves trapped by its potential value, and its ultimate cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
“On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before. In the nearby town, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red Haired woman, an irresistibly alluring member of a travelling theatre company, catches his eye and seems as fascinated by him as he is by her. The young man’s wildest dream will be realized, but, when in his distraction, a horrible accident befalls the well-digger; the boy will flee, returning to Istanbul. Only years later will he discover whether he was in fact responsible for his master’s death and who the redheaded enchantress was.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe children / Carolina Sanín ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.
“One day, as she enters her local supermarket, Laura Romero has a startling encounter with a beggar, who seems to offer her a child. A short while later, in the middle of the night, she discovers a mysterious young boy on the pavement outside her apartment building: Fidel, who is six years old, a child with seemingly no origins or meaning. With few clues to guide her as she tries to attach significance to his presence, Laura find herself swept into a bureaucratic maelstrom of fantastical proportions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKatalin Street / Magda Szabó ; translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix.
“In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe postman’s fiancée / Denis Thériault ; translated by John Cullen.
“Tania moves from Bavaria to Montreal to fine-tune her French and fall in love. Finding work as a waitress at a low-key restaurant in a working-class area of the city, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who writes haiku and who is passionate about calligraphy. The two become friends. One stormy day their lives take a dramatic turn, and as their destinies become increasingly entwined the two are led into a world where nothing is as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

From Kilbirnie to Kapiti and beyond: New NZ fiction

New Zealand writers are the feature of this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. There is much variation of genre in this selection, with mysteries, psychological thrillers, science fiction, historical, and contemporary life all represented. Included is Witi Ihimaera’s amazing new work titled, Sleeps standing: a story of the Battle of Orakau.

Syndetics book coverSix murders? : the strange case of the Welly alley strangler / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“When Faith and her husband accidentally get involved in the weird life of Ponytail O’Gorman, a beguiling old fraudster, they have no idea how much he will disrupt their peaceful life in suburban Kilbirnie. But he convinces them to help him in his strange quest to find both his friend from prison, Simple Simon, and his own missing cell phone which is being sought by a bunch of desperate crooks as well as by the head of Wellington CIB. Determined to help the strangely charming little con-man and so discover the truth about the notorious Welly Alley Strangler.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sound of her voice : one cop’s descent into darkness / Nathan Blackwell.
“To Detective Matt Buchanan, the world is a pretty sick place. He has probably been in the job too long, for one thing. And then there’s 14-year-old Samantha Coates, and the other unsolved murder cases. Those innocent girls he just can’t get out of his head. When Buchanan pursues some fresh leads, it soon becomes clear he’s on the trail of something big. As he pieces the horrific crimes together, Buchanan finds the very foundations of everything he once believed in start to crumble.” (Adapted from Syndeics summary)

Syndetics book coverA killer harvest / Paul Cleave.
“Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It has taken loved ones from him, it has robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason why his father is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: an operation that will allow him to see the world through his father’s eyes. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what these eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. What exactly was his dad up to in his role as a police officer? There are consequences to the secret life his father was living, and these consequences come in the form of a man hell bent on killing, consequences that bring this man closer and closer to Joshua.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecline & fall on Savage Street / Fiona Farrell.
“A fascinating novel about a house with a fanciful little turret, built by a river. Unfolding within its rooms are lives of event and emotional upheaval. A lot happens. And the tumultuous events of the twentieth century also leave their mark, from war to economic collapse, the deaths of presidents and princesses to new waves of music, art, architecture and political ideas. Meanwhile, a few metres away in the river, another creature follows a different, slower rhythm. And beneath them all, the planet moves to its own immense geological time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStraight and level : a Claire Hardcastle mystery / Penelope Haines.
“The sequel to Death on D’Urville sees Claire Hardcastle involved in another adventure. Her partner, Jack, has been sent on secondment to the Solomon’s and Claire plans to use the time he’s away to settle down to her studies. If only life were that simple! The night Claire meets newly arrived property developer Jim Mason is also the night she has a chance conversation with investigative journalist Andrew Camborne, who’s been researching reports of crime and corruption on the Kapiti Coast. A short time later, Claire is witness to an altercation between the two men. The next morning, Andrew’s dead body is found on a Paraparaumu Street. Is the cause of death accident, or homicide?” (Adapted from Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverCatching the last tram / Susan Holt.
“After moving house, lonely librarian Beth meets Isaac, a handsome man with timeless manners on her way to work. Sharing the same antiquated tram day after day, the pair becomes close and Beth suspects she is falling in love. But Isaac has a secret that threatens their budding romance. Something dark and as magical as the tram that picks her up every morning and evening. Why does he suddenly push her away? Does he really not care for her? How could she have got the signals so wrong? Then Isaac and the tram go missing and Beth begins to discover the truth. But it might be too late.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSleeps standing : a story of the Battle of Orākau / Witi Ihimaera ; with Hēmi Kelly.
“Both fiction and fact, this fascinating book is a kaleidoscopic exploration of the Battle of Orakau. During three days in 1864, 300 Maori men, women and children fought an Imperial army and captured the imagination of the world. The battle marked the end of the Land Wars in the Waikato and resulted in vast tracts of land being confiscated for European settlement. Instead of following the usual standpoint of the victors, this book takes a Maori perspective, which views the battle through the eyes of a 16-year-old boy named Moetu. Alongside the novella are non-fiction narratives from Maori eyewitnesses, together with images and a Maori translation by Hemi Kelly, further giving voice to and illuminating the people who tried to protect their culture and land.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFletcher of the Bounty : a novel / Graeme Lay.
“On 28 April 1789 Fletcher and his followers take control of HMAV Bounty and set commander William Bligh adrift in the ship’s launch. What follows is a story brimming with conflict as Fletcher, his fellow-mutineers and their Tahitian women seek sanctuary from the wrath of the Royal Navy, then attempt to build a new society on remote Pitcairn Island. But their attempts are doomed, as envy, lust and racism destroy the Utopia that Fletcher and Isabella dreamed of. This is historical fiction at its finest.” (adapted from Mightyape.co.nz)

Syndetics book coverTess / Kirsten McDougall.
“In the silence she could hear the oncoming hum, like a large flock approaching. She didn’t want to hear his story; she’d had enough of them. Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Short Stories in August

This month we have selected new short story collections as the feature for our ‘Other Genres’ category. Included are three anthologies, one from Canada, with fictional stories about climate change, another a collection of stories from Icelandic writers and lastly an interesting concept of very short stories written on Twitter. This selection also includes the latest horror stories from the prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates.

Syndetics book coverAustralia Day / Melanie Cheng.
Australia Day is a collection of stories by debut author Melanie Cheng. The people she writes about are young, old, rich, poor, married, widowed, Chinese, Lebanese, Christian, and Muslim. What they have in common, no matter where they come from, is the desire we all share to feel that we belong. The stories explore universal themes of love, loss, family and identity, while at the same time asking crucial questions about the possibility of human connection in a globalized world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCli-fi : Canadian tales of climate change / edited by Bruce Meyer ; afterword by Dan Bloom.
“With the world facing the greatest global crisis of all time, climate change, personal and political indifference has wrought a series of unfolding complications that are altering our planet, and threatening our very existence. Reacting to the warnings sounded by scientists and thinkers these stories of Climate Fiction (Cli-fi) feature perspectives by culturally diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works, and transcend traditional doomsday stories by inspiring us to overcome the bleak forecasted results of our current indifference.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverThe redemption of Galen Pike / Carys Davies.
“From remote Australian settlements to the snows of Siberia, from Colorado to Cumbria, restless teenagers, middle-aged civil servants, and Quaker spinsters traverse expanses of solitude to reveal the secrets of the human heart. Stories that remind us how little we know of the lives of others.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLetters from Klara and other short stories / Tove Jansson ; translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal.
“The rich seam that is Jansson’s adult prose continues with this penultimate collection of short stories, written in her seventies at the height of her Moomin fame and translated into English for the first time. In these light-footed, beautifully crafted yet disquieting stories, Jansson tells of discomfiting encounters, unlooked for connections and moments of isolation that span generations and decades.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDis mem ber : and other stories of mystery and suspense / Joyce Carol Oates.
“Joyce Carol Oates is renowned for her rare ability to “illuminate the mind’s most disturbing corners”. That genius is on full display in her new collection of seven feverishly unsettling works, that includes “The Crawl Space,” winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction and a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOut of the blue : new short fiction from Iceland / Helen Mitsios, editor ; foreword by Sjón.
“This extraordinary collection, the first anthology of Icelandic short fiction published in English translation, features work by twenty of Iceland’s most popular and celebrated living authors. Included is a story titled, Self Portrait by Auaur Jonsdottir granddaughter of Halldor Laxness, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature. This collection is an excursion to an island where almost two million travelers descend yearly on a population of 345 thousand natives. This promises to be a seminal collection that will define Icelandic literature in translation for decades to come.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTales on tweet : illustrated short fiction / edited & curated by Manoj Pandey.
“Manoj Pandey tweeted out several stories. Then others began tweeting tales right back at him: Margaret Atwood and Kabir Bedi with death tales, Salman Rushdie and Jeet Thayil with their dark humour, Teju Cole meditating on loneliness, Prajwal Parajuly on literature, Shashi Tharoor on India. It was a literary moment of sorts: spontaneous, changeable, tangential and then, just like Twitter itself, surprisingly poignant in bursts and flashes. But it was when these stories came together with Yuko Shimizu’s phantasmagorical images that Tales on Tweet stepped off the scrollable vortex of a webpage and into the tactile intimacy of the reading experience.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWait till you see me dance : stories / Deb Olin Unferth.
“For more than ten years, Deb Olin Unferth has been publishing startlingly askew, wickedly comic, cutting-edge fiction in magazines such as Granta, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s and The Paris Review. Her stories are revered by some of the best American writers of our day, but until now there has been no stand-alone collection of her short fiction. This unforgettable collection consists of several extraordinary longer stories as well as a selection of intoxicating very short stories.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe refrigerator monologues / Catherynne M. Valente ; with illustrations by Annie Wu. 
“A series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSour heart : stories / Jenny Zhang.
“A debut story collection that conjures the experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City, frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat, dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck, these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genre’ fiction for July featuring NZ writers

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. This selection highlights the diversity of subject and genres in New Zealand fiction, from historical to science fiction, romance to biographical, horror to contemporary New Zealand life. Highly recommended, both historical, are Heloise by Mandy Hager, her first adult novel and Through the Lonesome Dark by much acclaimed writer Paddy Richardson.

Syndetics book coverThe Nam legacy : a novel / Carole Brungar.
The Nam Legacy is an epic love story set during the ’60s and ’70s. When the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane drove parents crazy, teenagers found sexual freedom and peace slogans covered placards. When Vietnam abducted the nation’s young men and sent them to fight in New Zealand’s most controversial campaign. After 18 months in Vietnam, New Zealand soldier Jack Coles thought killing others to stay alive would be the hardest thing he would ever have to live with. He was wrong. Although the nightmare of what he saw and did still haunts him constantly, what tortures him the most is what he has left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last McAdam / Holly Ford.
“This romantic, irresistibly entertaining novel tells the story of Tess Drummond, who’s been sent to turn around the fortunes of a remote sheep and cattle station her employer has taken over. What Tess hasn’t counted on is coming up against the station’s handsome and charismatic head stockman, Nate McAdam, whose family owned the property for generations.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeloise / Mandy Hager.
“What happens when the 12th century’s most famous French lovers are caught in the crossfire of factions, religious reform and zealotry? Heloise has an exceptional mind. In her determination to pursue learning rather than marriage or life as a cloistered nun, her path inevitably crosses with Peter Abelard, the celebrity philosopher, theologian and master at Paris’ famed Cathedral School. When two such brilliant minds meet and engage, sparks are likely to fly. But theirs is an impossible love. At a time when the Gregorian Reforms are starting to bite and celibacy among the clergy and church officials is being rigorously imposed, these two embark on an affair that will see their lives forever changed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmpress of the fall / David Hair.
“Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power, but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war. The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood sons : a novel of the Great War / Greg Hall
“In early 1914 Frank Wilson and his two close friends, Tom Davis and Robert Sutherland, are growing up in Oamaru in the South Island of New Zealand. The coming war in Europe arouses the hopes and dreams of a generation of young men. The pressure becomes irresistible and one by one the boys become soldiers. Frank delays his decision but in 1916 a strange encounter shocks him into enlisting. After a rapid coming-of-age in the training camps of the North Island the novel moves to France. A reunion, the insanity of a love affair in the midst of a terrible war and a brutal event set Frank on course for the best and worst days of his young life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInto the mist / Lee Murray.
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tahoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place in winter. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them. They backtrack toward civilization, stalked by a prehistoric creature intent on picking them off one by one. With their weapons ineffective, the babysitting job has become a race for survival.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe suicide club / Sarah Quigley.
“When Bright is suddenly catapulted to fame, he can’t cope with the pressure. He decides to end it all by jumping from the 20th floor of a high-rise on his twentieth birthday. He’s saved by the quirky, eccentric Gibby, and soon the two boys find themselves in a love triangle, vying for the attention of the beautiful, brilliant, unreachable Lace, and also trying to protect her from harm. The three misfits, close to genius, close to the brink, travel from England to a beautiful old spa town in Bavaria. Here, in an experimental institution under the colourful Dr Geoffrey, the pressure mounts. Soon it’s no longer clear who’s in the greatest danger and who needs saving the most.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThrough the lonesome dark / Paddy Richardson.
“Blackball, West Coast, pre-World War I. For three youngsters; Pansy, Clem and Otto, life had an idyllic surface with a far from idyllic underside in this mining town. As a World War approaches, the harsh realities become apparent, just because you are smart and motivated there is no certainty that you can advance yourself in this world, especially if you are a girl. With a light hand on a dark time in history, Paddy Richardson navigates the territory between.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe insides of banana skins / Jane Seaford.
“Sukey, seventeen, lost and uncertain, shares a crowded, shabby flat with Kitty, who becomes a stripper, with Malc, a drug dealer, and Jaz, a drama student with sexual identity issues. Bridie, who lives downstairs, sells sex to support her two kids This is Sukey’s story, told from her point of view, about a young girl in a strange world and how she gradually learns to live in it.” (Adapted from Book cover)

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?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSouthern gold : survival and desire in a raw new land / Jude Thomas.
“Set in Dunedin and Central Otago during the gold rush period, from 1858 to1876. The story revolves around an illegitimate baby who is found on the road and brought up in the notorious community of Maclaggan Street. She grows into a singular girl, and into a young woman to be reckoned with. This is the story of courage and love against the odds.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)