Glasgow novels

I love summer in Glasgow, it’s my favourite day of the year.

Fuad Alakbarov

It may not be Scotland’s capital city, but Glasgow is easily Scotland’s most populous — it was once one of the industrial powerhouses of Victorian Britain. The decline of these industries sadly led to many deep seated social issues that exist to this day, but nowadays Glasgow is known for its vibrant world-class art scene, its rich, comic outlook on life, some remarkable architecture and buildings — and of course deep fried mars bars and legions of novels written about or featuring life in the city.

In many of these books, the character and atmosphere of the city itself often lurks like an extra character. This year’s Booker Prize shortlist features one such novel — Shuggie Bain. Set in a run-down Glasgow housing estate in the 1980s, it revolves around a lonely outsider boy and his struggle to fit in, to be accepted, and to survive.

While many novels about Glasgow focus on the darker side of the city, others show the myriad of different aspects of the city and its inhabitants. Below you’ll find a selection of novels that feature Glasgow at their core and show the many faceted nature of this marvellous city. Enjoy.


Shuggie Bain [paperback] / Stuart, Douglas
“It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain  dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright. But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A small weeping / Gray, Alex
“The body of a prostitute is found at Glasgow’s Queen Street station, her hands, pointing towards her feet, placed as if in prayer, a small flower pressed between the palms. Psychologist Solomon Brightman is called to assist DCI Lorimer in the murder hunt. But before any conclusions can be drawn, the body of a nurse is discovered at The Grange, a private clinic. Aside from the careful arrangement of the corpses, there is no obvious connection between the victims. Then a third body turns up, and it seems increasingly clear that they have a serial killer on their hands.” (Catalogue)

The special dead / Anderson, Lin
” When Mark is invited back to Leila’s flat and ordered to strip, he expects the experience of his life. Waking later to find Leila gone, he opens the wrong door and finds he’s entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with. Rhona Macleod’s investigation reveals the red silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artifact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine men, but who are they? ” (Catalogue)

The cutting room / Welsh, Louise
“An auctioneer by profession, Rilke is an acknowledged expert in antiques. When he comes upon a hidden collection of violent, and highly disturbing, erotic photographs, Rilke feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness.” (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook

Buddha Da / Donovan, Anne
“Painter and decorator Jimmy McKenna develops  an keen interest in Buddhism after a chance meeting in a Glasgow sandwich bar with a Buddhist monk, but how will Jimmy’s family react to his new found faith and how will this new approach to life change Jimmy?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine / Honeyman, Gail
” Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Espedair Street / Banks, Iain
“Daniel Weir used to be a famous – not to say infamous – rock star. At thirty-one he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He’s made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he’ll regret for ever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold on to them both, though not to much else. His friends all seem to be dead, fed up with him or just disgusted – and who can blame them? And now Daniel Weir is all alone. As he contemplates his life, Daniel realises he has only two problems: the past and the future. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The sacred art of stealing / Brookmyre, Christopher
” Angelique had enough to be fed up about before the embarrassment of being a cop taken hostage by the most bizarrely unorthodox crooks ever to set foot in Glasgow. Disillusioned, disaffected and chronically single, she’s starting to take stock of the sacrifices she’s made for a job that’s given her back nothing but grief. So when her erstwhile captor has the chutzpah to phone her at work and ask her out on a date, Angelique finds herself in no great hurry to turn him in. She knows now that the cops will never love her back, but maybe one of the robbers will.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Zealand’s new publishing sensation, Rose Carlyle

I feel like everybody else is an author, and I’m just an ordinary person who wrote a book. And my book’s kind of about that impostor syndrome, of feeling like you’re not really the real thing.

Rose Carlyle, 2020.

Debut New Zealand author Rose Carlyle is living every budding writer’s dream — her first novel, The girl in the mirror, has had book publishers competing and major Hollywood studios vying to snap up the film rights. A lawyer who lives in Auckland with her three children, she wrote her debut novel early in the morning before work and family life.

Several commentators have already said she looks set to be the next big thing in New Zealand publishing. Be one of the first to read what the fuss is about by reserving a copy!

The girl in the mirror / Carlyle, Rose
“Identical twins only look the same … Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam. Called to Thailand to help sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The 1945 Retro Hugo awarded to Science Fiction legend Leigh Douglass Brackett

No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
― Leigh Brackett, The Empire strikes back. 

The 2020 Hugo’s have just been announced and one of the strands awarded is the retrospective Hugo given to writers writing exceptional Science Fiction before the Hugo’s started. The winner of this year’s retrospective Hugo is one of the most remarkable and versatile writers from that time and a legend in both science fiction and film noir circles. Leigh Douglass Brackett was born in 1915, she published her first science fiction story in her mid 20’s and contributed to the to Pogo’s STF-ETTE, probably the first ever all-female science fiction fanzine.

Proving her versatility and talent her first novel was not a science fiction work but was instead a hard boiled mystery called No good from a corpse. Which led to Leigh being approached by Hollywood director Howard Hawks to help write the script for 1946’s The Big sleep, staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, the film is now commonly regarded as one of the finest Hollywood film noir movies. Leigh went on to work on a whole host of films such as Rio Bravo and famously The Empire strikes back writing some of Yoda’s most memorable lines. But her interest in science fiction remained constant throughout her career writing many science fiction novels and short stories earning Leigh the affectionate title “Queen of Space Opera”. Her most celebrated science fiction novel was her 1955 book The long tomorrow set after a nuclear war, and portraying a world where scientific knowledge is restricted and feared. The book was nominated for a Hugo the following year 1956.


The long tomorrow / Brackett, Leigh
“Two generations after the nuclear holocaust, rumours persisted about a secret desert hideaway where scientists worked with dangerous machines and where men plotted to revive the cities. Almost a continent away, Len Coulter heard whisperings that fired his imagination. Then one day he found a strange wooden box.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The big sleep ; Farewell, my lovely ; The high window / Chandler, Raymond
” The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralyzed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail, and murder. In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women. In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself deep in the tangled affairs of a dead coin collector.”(Adapted from Catalogue). For the availability of The Howard Hawk’s version of Big sleep film click here. 

William Shakespeare’s The Empire striketh back : Star Wars part the fifth / Doescher, Ian
“Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Illustrated with beautiful black-and-white Elizabethan-style artwork, these two plays offer essential reading for all ages.” (Catalogue) For the availability of the Empire strikes back film click here. 

    The Booker Dozen is Announced!

    It is an unusually high proportion, and especially surprising to the judges themselves…

    The above quote is from Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, and relates to the number of debut novelists whose work has been included in this year’s Booker longlist. The eight debutantes include Kiley Reid with Such a Fun Age (included in Wellington City Libraries’ #StayAtHome Fest) as well as C Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills is Gold.

    Despite this, the majority of the Booker publicity has focused on two-time winner Hilary Mantel and the third book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. The Guardian called the work a “masterpiece” and a “shoo-in” for the Booker, while Mantel herself has said that if she fails to win “it will be cast in terms of a disaster”. So who will make it through to the next round? The shortlist will be announced on 15 September!

    The new wilderness / Cook, Diane
    “Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away. The smog and pollution of the overdeveloped, overpopulated metropolis they call home is ravaging her lungs. Bea knows she cannot stay in the City, but there is only one alternative: The Wilderness State. Mankind has never been allowed to venture into this vast expanse of untamed land. Until now.” (Publisher)

    This mournable body : a novel / Dangarembga, Tsitsi
    “Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a youth hostel in downtown Harare. She moves to a widow’s boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Who They Was / Krauze, Gabriel
    Who They Was is an electrifying autobiographical British novel: a debut that truly breaks new ground and shines a light on lives that run on parallel, but wildly different tracks.” (Catalogue)

    The mirror & the light / Mantel, Hilary
    “England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Apeirogon : a novel / McCann, Colum
    “Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami’s license plate is yellow. Bassam’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half. Both men have lost their daughters. Rami’s thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. The men become the best of friends.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The shadow king / Mengiste, Maaza
    “With Mussolini preparing to invade Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie heads into exile, and orphaned servant Hirut helps disguise a peasant as the emperor to bring people hope. Soon Hirut becomes his guard, as Mengiste shows us the brutal reality of ordinary people fighting a better-armed foe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Such a fun age / Reid, Kiley
    “Alix is a woman who gets what she wants. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler in their local supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping. Alix resolves to make things right, but both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about each other.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Real life / Taylor, Brandon
    “Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends, but a series of confrontations conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Redhead by the side of the road / Tyler, Anne
    “Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. But then the order of things starts to tilt. When a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with a surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Shuggie Bain / Stuart, Douglas
    “It is 1981. Glasgow is dying. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things. But when she’s abandoned by her philandering husband, she finds herself trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, her three children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Love and other thought experiments / Ward, Sophie
    Rachel and Eliza are hoping to have a baby. The couple spend many happy evenings together planning for the future. One night Rachel wakes up screaming and tells Eliza that an ant has crawled into her eye. She knows it sounds mad – but she also knows it’s true. Eliza won’t take Rachel’s fear seriously and they have a bitter fight. Suddenly their entire relationship is called into question. Told in ten interconnecting but self-contained chapters, Love and Other Thought Experiments is a story of love lost and found across the universe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    How Much Of These Hills Is Gold / Zhang, C Pam
    “Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Mistry Law and More: New Mystery Fiction

    This month’s new mystery titles include the latest novel from author Sujata Massey, best known for her Agatha Award-winning Rei Shimura series. Massey’s most recent work is A Murder at Malabar Hill, described by The Spinoff as “a sumptuous crime story starring a rule-breaking badass in a sari”.

    We’ve also got great new work from Berlin and London-based writer Jessica Moor. Moor’s debut novel The Keeper centres on a women’s refuge, and is based on Moor’s own experiences. For more on her time writing The Keeper, have a read of this interview at Crimespree Magazine.

    A murder at Malabar Hill / Massey, Sujata
    “1920s Bombay: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Temple House vanishing / Donohue, Rachel
    “In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school, the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere, two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, who encourages their flirtation. Then, he and Louisa vanish. Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The guest list / Foley, Lucy
    “On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. One guest won’t leave this wedding alive…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The keeper / Moor, Jessica
    “When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police are ready to write it off as a standard-issue suicide. But the residents of the domestic violence shelter where Katie worked disagree. These women have spent weeks or even years waiting for the men they’re running from to catch up with them. They know immediately: this was murder. Still, Detective Dan Whitworth expects an open-and-shut case–until they discover evidence that suggests Katie wasn’t who she appeared.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The recovery of Rose Gold / Wrobel, Stephanie
    “For the first 18 years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold. Turns out her mom, Patty, was just a really good liar. After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    We begin at the end / Whitaker, Chris
    “30 years ago, Vincent King became a killer. Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star’s 13-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The lizard / Bruce-Lockhart, Dugald
    “Obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Alistair Haston heads off to Greece, where she is on holiday, to try and rekindle their relationship. On the ferry from Athens he is offered a lucrative job, recruiting tourists to pose for and, he later discovers, to sleep with, Heinrich a wealthy and charismatic, German artist. Swept away on a tide of wild parties, wild sex, fine food and drugs Haston sheds his reserve and throws himself headlong into the pursuit of pleasure. Until, a body is found and the finger of blame points to Haston.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Little disasters / Vaughan, Sarah
    When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call. Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets. As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The clutter corpse / Brett, Simon
    “Ellen Curtis runs her own business as a declutterer, helping people who are running out of space. When Ellen stumbles across the body of a woman in an over-cluttered flat, suspicion immediately falls on the deceased homeowner’s son, who has recently absconded from prison. No doubt Nate Ogden is guilty of many things – but is he really the killer?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The City We Became: New Sci-Fi and Fantasy

    What do you do when your past three books have all won the Hugo Award for Best Novel? In N.K. Jemisin’s case, you write The City We Became–a speculative fiction love letter to New York. Jemisin’s ninth novel has been described as “a celebration and an expression of hope and belief that a city and its people can and will stand up to darkness, will stand up to fear, and will, when called to, stand up for each other.” Perfect reading right now! (For more, check out this review in Vox.)

    The city we became / Jemisin, N. K
    “Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six. But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Ghost species / Bradley, James
    “When scientist Kate Larkin joins a secretive project to re-engineer the climate by resurrecting extinct species she becomes enmeshed in another, even more clandestine program to recreate our long-lost relatives, the Neanderthals. But when the first of the children, a girl called Eve, is born, Kate cannot bear the thought her growing up in a laboratory, and so elects to abduct her, and raise her alone.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    To be taught if fortunate / Chambers, Becky
    “Adriane is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds, and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind, and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Across the void / Vaughn, S. K.
    “It’s Christmas Day, 2067. Silent Night drifts across the ruins of a wrecked spaceship, listing helplessly in the black. A sole woman, May, stirs within–the last person left alive. There is only one person who can help her–her ex-husband Stephen, a NASA scientist. As May fights for life, Stephen finds his own life is under threat, putting both of them at risk. In this gasp-inducing thriller, their relationship is the difference between life and death.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The ice house / Clare, Tim
    “War doesn’t end. It sleeps. Delphine Venner is an old woman now. She is old, but she remembers everything. She remembers what it is to be a child of war, she remembers fighting for her life and she remembers what the terrifying creatures from another world took from her all those years ago. She remembers the gateway, and those she lost. And in that other world, beast-filled and brutal, someone waits for her.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Sisters Grimm / Praag, Menna van
    “This is the story of four sisters Grimm – daughters born to different mothers on the same day, each born out of bright-white wishing and black-edged desire. They found each other at eight years-old, were separated at thirteen and now, at nearly eighteen, it is imperative that they find each other once again. In thirty-three days they will meet their father in Everwhere. Only then will they discover who they truly are, and what they can truly do.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Firewalkers / Tchaikovsky, Adrian
    “The Earth is burning. Nothing can survive at the Anchor; not without water and power. But the ultra-rich, waiting for their ride off the dying Earth? They can buy water. And thanks to their investment, the sun can provide power. But someone has to repair the solar panels when they fail, down in the deserts below. Kids like Mao, and Lupe, and Hotep; kids with brains and guts but no hope.” (Catalogue)

    Seaward Stories: New Fiction

    The ocean looms large in this month’s new general fiction selection. Lemuel Gulliver seemingly lost at sea in Gulliver’s Wife; Captain Cook’s Endevour wrecked on a coral reef in On a Barbarous Coast; wisdom from octopuses in The Octopus and I; a deadly sea crossing in We are Made of Earth.

    Also this month: the French literary sensation All About Sarah by Pauline Delabroy-Allard and Love by Roddy Doyle. Love has been compared to James Joyce’s Dubliners, and has received great reviews from the New York Times, Boston Globe and more. Enjoy!

    Gulliver’s Wife / Chater, Lauren
    “London, 1702. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down. In a climate of suspicion, Mary is caught in a crossfire of superstition and fear driven by her husband’s outlandish claims of the wonders he has seen, and it is up to her to navigate a passage to safety for herself, her daughter and the vulnerable women in her care.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    On a Barbarous Coast / Cormick, Craig and Ludwick, Harold
    “On a night of raging winds and rain, Captain Cook’s Endeavour lies splintered on a coral reef off the coast of far north Australia. A disparate band of survivors huddle on the shore. Watching these mysterious white beings, the Guugu Yimidhirr people cannot decide if they are ancestor spirits to be welcomed–or hostile spirits to be speared. One headstrong young boy, Garrgiil, determines to find out what exactly they are. On a Barbarous Coast is the story of a past and future that might have been.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    All About Sarah / Delabroy-Allard, Pauline
    “A thirty-something teacher drifts through her life in Paris, lonely in spite of a new boyfriend. And then one night at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party, Sarah enters the scene like a tornado–a talented young violinist, she is loud, vivacious, appealingly unkempt. Thus begins an intense relationship, tender and violent, that will upend both women’s lives. Delabroy-Allard perfectly captures the pull of a desire so strong that it blinds us to everything else.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Love / Doyle, Roddy
    “One summer’s evening, two men meet up in a Dublin restaurant. Old friends, now married and with grown-up children, their lives have taken seemingly similar paths. But Joe has a secret he has to tell Davy, and Davy, a grief he wants to keep from Joe. Both are not the men they used to be. Neither Davy nor Joe know what the night has in store, but as two pints turns to three, then five, and the men set out to revisit the haunts of their youth, the ghosts of Dublin entwine around them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Rest and be thankful / Glass, Emma
    “Laura is a nurse in a pediatric unit. On long, quiet shifts, she and her colleagues care for sick babies, handling their exquisitely fragile bodies, calibrating the machines that keep them alive. Laura may be burnt out. Her hands have been raw from washing as long as she can remember. When she sleeps, she dreams of water; when she wakes, she finds herself lying next to a man who doesn’t love her any more. And there is a strange figure dancing in the corner of her vision, always just beyond her reach.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Eighth Life (for Brilka) / Haratischwili, Nino
    “On the edge of the Russian empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the center of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Octopus and I / Hortle, Erin
    “Lucy and Jem live on the Tasman Peninsula, where Lucy is recovering from surgery. As she tries to navigate her new body, she develops a deep fascination with the local octopuses, and in doing so finds herself drawn towards the friendship of an old woman and her son. As the story unfolds, the octopuses come to shape Lucy’s body and her sense of self in ways even she can’t quite understand. The Octopus and I is a stunning debut novel that explores the wild, beating heart at the intersection of human and animal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Little Gods: a Novel / Jin, Meng
    “Liya, who grew up in America, takes her mother Su Lan’s ashes to China. In a territory inhabited by the ghosts of the living and the dead, Liya’s memories are joined by those of two others: Zhu Wen, the woman last to know Liya’s mother before she left China, and Yongzong, the father Liya has never known. In this way a portrait of Su Lan emerges: an ambitious scientist, an ambivalent mother, and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacement.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    We are Made of Earth / Karnezis, Panos
    “When an overcrowded dinghy capsizes at sea, a doctor is among those refugees thrown overboard. The doctor and a boy he has saved eventually reach a tiny Greek island where they are offered shelter by the owner of a travelling circus. Debt-ridden, the circus owner knows that his most valuable asset is an Asian elephant, lovingly tended by the owner’s wife even as she mourns their 10-year old daughter. The doctor is drawn to his host’s wife, all the while keeping his young companion at arm’s length.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Central Library fiction available to reserve

    “We are excited to announce our Wellington City Libraries customers can begin reserving fiction books online from the Central Library collection through our new Collection and Distribution Centre (CDC),” says Laurinda Thomas, Libraries and Community Spaces Manager.

    “Once items are reserved through the catalogue they will be delivered to the library branch the customer has chosen. This should take between one to three working days. Our teams will continue to help people find items and place reserves for them where they need it.”

    “People can reserve titles from the fiction collection for adult readers at catalogue.wcl.govt.nz. We will add the young adults and children’s fiction over the coming weeks, followed by the non-fiction titles. After that, we’ll work through the reference collections and how we can make these accessible. We’ll keep customers updated as more parts of the collection become available.”

    “It’s been mammoth job to find a space with the right climatic conditions and strength to house the more than 350,000 items which remained at the Central Library after taking out the 60,000 items that are available at our three interim CBD libraries. While we opened two of the interim branches last year – Arapaki Manners Library and He Matapihi Library – our plans to open the third library and the CDC in May were delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown. So we are excited the collection is now accessible, and we are opening Te Awe Library at 9:30am, Tuesday 14 July. We’d very much like to thank our customers for their patience and support over the past fifteen months.”

    How library customers can reserve items:

    In the New Catalogue (catalogue.wcl.govt.nz), look for items held at the “Off-site Storage” location, and select Place Reserve as you do for other items:

    The Collection and Distribution Centre in Johnsonville and the library teams based there, manage the distribution of the thousands of new and current library items which are borrowed from, or returned to our 14 library branches every day. The Centre is closed to the public.

    Black Lives Matter: Fiction & Film Resources

    Omaha, Nebraska, 1915. A young postal worker named George Johnson quits his job to found the Lincoln Motion Picture Company with his brother Noble. Just over a year later the brothers have moved to L.A., where they go on to make six films before winding down in 1923. Today, the Lincoln Motion Picture Company is recognised as not only America’s first all-black movie production unit, but the first to “showcase African-American talent in the full sphere of cinema.

    Two years after the closure of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, another series of stories exploring the black experience in America is being assembled, this time in print. They emerge not from the Midwest but New York, in the pages of The New Negro: An Interpretation, under the editorship of Howard University professor Alain Locke. The New Negro will go on to become the key text of the Harlem Renaissance.

    Film and fiction have been two particularly powerful mediums for exploring the black experience in America since the work of the Johnson brothers over one hundred years ago. Below you’ll find a selection of contemporary films and novels that continue this exploration, including the award-winning works of Spike Lee, the genre-expanding novels of N.K. Jemisin and the experimental movie-making of Cheryl Dunye. For equally powerful non-fiction examples, visit our Black Lives Matter: Non-Fiction Resources blog.


    FICTION

    Sing, unburied, sing : a novel / Ward, Jesmyn
    “Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Nickel boys : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
    “Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. But one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But fellow inmate Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Such a fun age / Reid, Kiley
    “Alix is a woman who gets what she wants. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler in their local supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping. Alix resolves to make things right, but both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about each other.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The fifth season / Jemisin, N. K
    “This is the way the world ends…for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Red at the bone / Woodson, Jacqueline
    Red at the Bone opens with Melody celebrating her 16th birthday at her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Melody’s mother never did get her own 16th birthday party, and therein lies a tale of two families separated by class, ambition, gentrification, sexual desire, and unexpected parenthood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

     


    FILMS

    The Watermelon Woman
    Year: 1996
    Director: Cheryl Dunye

    Watch the full film here.

    “Cheryl Dunye plays a version of herself in this witty, nimble landmark of New Queer Cinema. A video store clerk and fledgling filmmaker, Cheryl becomes obsessed with the “most beautiful mammy,” a character she sees in a 1930s movie. Determined to find out who the actress she knows only as the “Watermelon Woman” was and make her the subject of a documentary, she starts researching and is bowled over to discover that not only was Fae Richards (Lisa Marie Bronson) a fellow Philadelphian but also a lesbian.” (Kanopy)

    Fig
    Year: 2010
    Director: Ryan Coogler

    Watch the full film here.

    “Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther), Fig is a this sympathetic look at the life of a working class mother, a prostitute named Candice wants nothing more than to provide a good life for her daughter Kyla. One night that she is unable to find a babysitter for Kyla, Candice takes her to the corner where she picks up johns and leaves her in the car. When Candice is with a john, Kyla is found alone by the police and is taken into emergency foster care. When she finds out, Candice does everything in her power to convince the social worker in charge of Kyla’s case that she really does love her daughter very much.” (Kanopy)

    Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
    Year: 2014
    Director: Spike Lee

    Watch the full film here.

    “Spike Lee’s stylized thriller Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is a new kind of love story. Dr. Hess Green becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient African artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He, however, is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he enters into a dangerous romance with Ganja Hightower that questions the very nature of love, addiction, sex, and status in our seemingly sophisticated society.” (Kanopy)

    Hugo Awards: Best Novel Shortlist

    Like many major cultural events across the globe, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (aka CoNZealand) has decided to go virtual. The convention was due to be held in Wellington, but this change hasn’t dampened the excitement and buzz around it–or its associated awards, the Hugos. To get you ready for this science fiction bonanza we are doing a series of blogs looking at shortlists from some of the various Hugo Award categories.

    For this particular blog we are going to look at the shortlist for this year’s Best Novel category, which excitingly includes New Zealand writer Tamsyn Muir. Enjoy!

    Best Novel Award Shortlist:

    The city in the middle of the night / Anders, Charlie
    “January is a dying planet–divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. And living inside the cities, one flush with anarchy and the other buckling under the stricture of the ruling body, is increasingly just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    Gideon the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn
    “Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cutthroat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    The light brigade / Hurley, Kameron
    The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief–no matter what actually happens during combat.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    A memory called empire / Martine, Arkady
    “Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire’s interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn’t accidental – and she might be next. Now Mahit must navigate the capital’s enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    Middlegame / McGuire, Seanan
    “Meet Roger. Skilled with words, he instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    The ten thousand doors of January / Harrow, Alix E
    “In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book. In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Discover More:

    New to the Hugos–or indeed the wondrous delights of science fiction? Never fear, we have the perfect introduction for you on our free film streaming service, Kanopy. How Great Science Fiction Works is a 24 episode series by twice Hugo-nominated Dr Gary K. Wolfe. This exhaustive overview is both rigorous and deeply informative and covers every aspect of science fiction, from cyberpunk to Mary Shelley and all points in between. And as an added bonus it doesn’t count as one of your monthly borrows!