The nicest things come in small packages – new short stories

While there is still a month or so wait for the 2019 Pikihua Awards, the final results of the 2018/19 takahē short story competition are out! Take a look at the new lineup of talent. Our library collection has short stories from individual authors and anthologies of new and experienced writers.

William Trevor’s final work, multi-award-winning master of the form, published on what would have been his 90th birthday, Last Stories is a collection of ten stories, six previously unpublished. Trevor navigates the rough seas of human relations with a new angle, fresh language, deep sympathy, and uncanny insight.  Also hailing from Ireland, Being Various collects the works of Irish writers, revealing the talents of the previously unpublished and the more recognisable.  Two-thirds female, one-third Northern. Two-thirds born in Ireland, two-thirds currently resident, this collection captures the numerous realities of contemporary Ireland.

The origin of detective fiction, Chinese science fiction, Gulag reportage, Italian dreamworld and debut writing from the ash line of Australian bushfires; this selection of short stories is a great place to start exploring the variety on offer in this form. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverLast stories / William Trevor. (print) (eBook)
“In this final collection of ten perceptive and profound stories, William Trevor probes into the depths of the human spirit. Here we encounter a tutor and his pupil, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they meet again years later; a young girl who discovers the mother she believed dead is alive and well; and a piano-teacher who accepts her pupil’s theft in exchange for his beautiful music. These gorgeous stories – the last that Trevor wrote before his death – affirm his place as one of the world’s greatest storytellers.” (Syndetics summary)

Kolyma stories. Volume one / Shalamov, Varlam
Kolyma Stories is a masterpiece of twentieth-century literature, composed of short fictional tales based on Russian writer Varlam Shalamov’s fifteen years in the Gulag.  These collected stories form the biography of a rare survivor, a historical record of the Gulag, and, because the stories have more than documentary value, a literary work of creative power and conviction. This new complete translation of Kolyma Stories will fill a significant gap in the English-language library of Russian literature.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The rivals of Sherlock Holmes : the greatest detective stories: 1837-1914
“Davis makes a welcome addition to early English detective fiction anthologies. Unlike scholars who date the birth of the genre to Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Davis starts with an earlier short story, “The Secret Cell” by Poe’s nemesis, William Evans Burton. That tale remains enjoyable today, with its dramatic account of the search for a missing 17-year-old servant, who stood to inherit a fortune from her employer.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLucky girls : stories / Nell Freudenberger.
“In the title story, a young woman who has been involved in a five-year affair with a married Indian man feels bound to both her memories and her adopted country after his death. The protagonist of Outside the Eastern Gate returns to her childhood home in Delhi, to find a house still inhabited by the impulsive, desperate spirit of her mother. Highly anticipated in the literary community and beyond, Lucky Girls marks the debut of a very special talent that places her among today’s most gifted young writers.” (Syndetics summary)

A constant hum / Bishop, Alice (print) (eBook)
“A young and exciting new literary voice, emerging from one of Australia’s worst natural disasters. Before the bushfires–before the front of flames comes roaring over the hills–the ridges are thick with gums. After the fires, the birds have gone. And the lost people: on the TV news in borrowed clothes, or remembered in flyers on a cafe wall. A Constant Hum grapples with the aftermath of disaster with an eye for telling detail. Some of these stories cut to the bone; others are empathetic stories of survival, even hope.” (Catalogue)

The best of R.A. Lafferty / Lafferty, R. A.
“Acclaimed as one of the most original voices in modern literature, Raphael Aloysius Lafferty has been awarded and nominated for a multitude of accolades over the span of his career, including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. This collection contains 22 unique tall tales, including Hugo Award and Nebula award winning entries. Stories introduced by other modern masters of SF who acknowledge R.A. Lafferty as a major influence and force in the field.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Being various : new Irish short stories (print) (eBook)
“Edited by prize-winning author and playwright Lucy Caldwell, Being Various brings together original stories from Ireland’s current golden age of writing with some exciting new voices, never before published. Following her own brilliant short story collection Multitudes, Lucy Caldwell guest edits the sixth volume of Faber’s long running series of new Irish short stories, continuing the great work started by the late David Marcus and subsequent guest editors Kevin Barry, Deirdre Madden and Joseph O’Connor.” (Catalogue)

Broken stars : contemporary Chinese science fiction in translation
“In Hugo award-winner Liu Cixin’s ‘Moonlight’, a man is contacted by three future versions of himself, each trying to save their world from destruction. Hao Jingfang’s ‘The New Year Train’ sees 1,500 passengers go missing on a train that vanishes into space. In addition, three essays explore the history and rise of Chinese SFF publishing, contemporary Chinese fandom, and how the growing interest in Chinese SFF has impacted writers who had long laboured in obscurity.” (Catalogue)

We love Anderson Cooper : short stories / Maizes, R. L.
“In We Love Anderson Cooper, characters are treated as outsiders because of their sexual orientation, racial or religious identity, or simply because they look different. A young man courts the publicity that comes from outing himself at his bar mitzvah. When a painter is shunned because of his appearance, he learns to ink tattoos that come to life. A paranoid Jewish actuary suspects his cat of cheating on him with his Protestant girlfriend. In this debut collection, humor complements pathos.” (Catalogue)

Elsewhere, home / Aboulela, Leila
“Aboulela again plumbs the immigrant and particularly West-Middle East experience, as characters painfully recall the old and adapt to the new. Shuttling between the dusty, sun-baked streets of Khartoum and the university halls and cramped apartments of Aberdeen and London, Elsewhere, Home explores, with subtlety and restraint, the profound feelings of yearning, loss, and alienation that come with leaving one’s homeland in pursuit of a different life.” (Catalogue)

Fiction to film: #NZIFF 2018

Disobedience book cover

The New Zealand International Film Festival 2018 is nearly here! Tickets are booked, cinemas mapped out and movies selected and re-selected! The festival has such a range of fantastic movies that you wonder where all the ideas come from! Some can be found between the covers of some popular, and some more obscure literary works.  If you really enjoy something at the festival and want to read the inspiration source, some of them can be found here in our libraries.


Disobedience, directed by Sebastián Lelio, based on:
Disobedience / Alderman, Naomi
Disobedience is a novel that illuminates a culture that has existed in Britain for centuries, yet remains almost entirely hidden. Naomi Alderman offers a contemporary take on the search for love, faith and understanding in a world filled with conflicting moral and sexual ideals.” (Catalogue)

Border, directed by Ali Abbasi, based on:
Let the old dreams die / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
This short story collection includes Burning adapted and expanded by Iranian-born Swedish filmmaker Ali Abbasi.
“A classic short story collection from the writer called Sweden’s Stephen King that continues the breathtaking story begun in the internationally acclaimed classic Let the Right One In, also in “Final Processing,” Lindqvist reveals the next chapter in the lives of the characters he created in Handling the Undead.” (Catalogue)

Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, directed by Joe Berlinger, based on:
In cold blood / Capote, Truman
“Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood, created a sensation when it was first published, serially, in The New Yorker in 1965. The intensively researched, atmospheric narrative of the lives of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and of the two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, who brutally killed them on the night of November 15, 1959, is the seminal work of the “new journalism.” Capote’s account is so detailed that the reader comes to feel almost like a participant in the events.” (Catalogue)

Piercing, directed by Nicolas Pesce, based on:
Piercing / Murakami, Ryū
“The follow up to In the Miso Soup, Piercing confirms Ryu Murakami as the master of the psycho-thriller.” (Catalogue)

Wildlife, directed by Paul Dano, based on:
Wildlife / Ford, Richard
“Ford’s fourth novel is set in the same Western landscape that so distinguished his acclaimed collection Rock Springs, and with it he extends his reputation as one of the most compelling and eloquent storytellers of his generation, providing us with both the pleasures of narrative and the sad wisdom of art. Wildlife is the story of coming out into the world as it resolutely is, never the world we hope it is.” (Catalogue)

Juliet, Naked, directed by Jesse Peretz, based on:
Juliet, naked / Hornby, Nick
“This novel is about the nature of creativity and obsession, and how two lonely people can gradually find each other.” (Catalogue)

Burning, directed by Lee Chang-dong, based on:
The Elephant vanishes / Murakami, Haruki
This collection includes Barn Burning which has been translated into the film Burning by Korean director Lee Chang-dong.
“By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami’s ability to cross the border between separate realities — and to come back bearing treasure.” (Catalogue)

No Shame, directed by Brendan Donovan, based on:
The lazy boys : a novel / Shuker, R. Carl
The film No Shame by directed by Brendan Donovan is one of the New Zealand’s Best short film finalists of 2018.
“Like a punch in the stomach or a sustained cry, Carl Shuker’s risky and harrowing first person narrative is as visceral as Fight Club and as brutal as A Clockwork Orange. On the surface Richey’s actions are unforgivable, but his unformed and distorted world is immediate and recognizable to a generation brought up in a society indifferent to its own nihilism.” (Catalogue)

Lean on Pete, directed by Andrew Haigh, based on:
Lean on Pete : a novel / Vlautin, Willy
“Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home; food on the table; a high school he can attend for more than part of a year; and some structure to his life. But as the son of a single father working at warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, he’s been pretty much on his own for some time. Lean on Pete opens as he and his father arrive in Portland, Oregon and Charley takes a stables job, illegally, at the local race track. It’s there that Charley meets Pete, an old horse who becomes his companion as he’s forced to try to make his own way in the world. A portrait of a journey, Lean on Pete is also the unforgettable story of a friendship and of hope in dark times.” (Adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Breath, directed by Simon Baker, based on:
Breath / Winton, Tim
“Bruce Pike, or ‘Pikelet’, has lived all his short life in a tiny sawmilling town from where the thundering sea can be heard at night. He longs to be down there on the beach, amidst the pounding waves, but for some reason his parents forbid him. It’s only when he befriends Loonie, the local wild boy, that he finally defies them. Intoxicated by the treacherous power of the sea and by their own youthful endurance, the two boys spurn all limits and rules, and fall into the company of adult mentors whose own addictions to risk take them to places they could never have imagined.” (Catalogue)

We also have to mention a documentary we’re very excited about seeing: Ex Libris: The New York Public Library. “Standing in for libraries everywhere, the magnificent New York Public Library is explored and extolled in the great Frederick Wiseman’s latest ode to the importance of essential institutions in politically tumultuous times.” We can’t wait! In the meantime, you might enjoy this book, featuring NYPL in its pages:

The public library : a photographic essay / Dawson, Robert
“Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson’s photographs from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California’s one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson’s revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America’s most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution.” (Catalogue)

Short stories at Central are on the move

Bibliomysteries book cover

Short stories at Wellington Central Library are being integrated into the general fiction collection. Authors’ short stories collections have always been a part of the browsing experience amidst the author’s other books on the fiction shelves; the anthologies and compilations are found by their title.

Here are some interesting fiction short story compilations, new and not so new, spanning a variety of subjects, themes, collections, countries and continents.  Closer to home, this year’s Matariki theme Te Ahi Ka – The Home Fires, relates to the title of our first anthology Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning. Great for the long winter evenings, these compilations will give readers something new to explore.

Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members Aotearoa/New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s international crime writing festival. This year New Zealand writers Fiona Sussman and Paul Cleave distinguished in the Ngaio Marsh awards are taking part.

Cli-fi : Canadian tales of climate change
“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. 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 Catalogue)

Best British short stories
Best British Short Stories invites you to judge a book by its cover – or more accurately, by its title. This new series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere.” (Catalogue)

Australian short stories. No 66.
“After 65 issues of Australian Short Stories from 1982-2000 we are back with a sparkling new collection of stories. In this collection we feature Gillian Mears’ last story. We published Gillian’s first story when she was 23 and followed up with examples of her work for 16 years. There are also new stories by old favourites, Kim Scott, Carmel Bird and Barry Dickins plus a series of stories from writers in the early stages of their careers. Open at the first page and savour Australia.” (Catalogue)

Robots vs fairies
“It’s the ultimate death match between the mechanical and the magical! When the lasers cease firing and the fairy dust settles, who will triumph in these epic battles between the artificial and the supernatural? Choose a side…” (Catalogue)

Bibliomysteries : crime in the world of books and bookstores
“An anthology of specially commissioned stories set in literary venues includes contributions by such writers as Loren D. Estleman, Anne Perry, and Laura Lippman.” (Catalogue)

PEN America best debut short stories. 2017
Poets, Essayists and Novelists America promote literature and freedom of expression.  This collection features twelve authors from publications around the Unites States of America.  An interesting mix, with selection discussed by the editors behind their handpicked choices.

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)

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)

The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

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When the moon is low / Nadia Hashimi.
An amazing book that tells of the harrowing and dangerous journeys refugees face in their search for safety. This is a brilliantly written novel about one brave Afghan woman’s odyssey.

The night sister : a novel / Jennifer McMahon.
Set in Vermont, this is atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets. A true page turner.

Straits of hell / Taylor Anderson.
The latest in the alternate history Destroyermen series. It continues as a game-changing conspiracy throws the hope of honor, trust, and survival into chaos. Pure escapism.

Your father sends his love / Stuart Evers.
A book of powerful emotion: of vulnerability, duty, betrayal, loss, anger, fear and joy, of parental love and parental mistakes.

March of the crabs. Volume 1, The crabby condition / written and illustrated by Arthur de Pins ; translation by Edward Gauvin.
The diversity of graphic novel themes never ceases to amaze. This one is just fabulous, with more volumes to look forward to.

George Saunders, winner of the newest Literary Prize

Syndetics book coverThe American writer George Saunders has become the first winner of the newest literary prize, the £40,000 British Folio Prize with his collection of short stories titled The Tenth of December.
The Folio Prize was founded by the managing director of literary agents, Aitken Alexander Associates, and is to reward literary achievement regardless of form, genre or the writer’s country of origin.
The final shortlist comprised of novels by Rachel Kushner (USA), The Flamethrowers, Kent Haruf (USA), Benediction, Eimear McBride (UK), A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, and Sergio de la Pava, (USA), A Naked Singularity.
Anne Carson (USA) also made the shortlist for her volume of poetry, titled Red Doc.

Tim Winton’s The Turning: A must see film adaptation

Syndetics book cover
Now showing in Wellington for a limited time is the new film, The Turning based on the collection of short stories by award winning Australian writer and environmentalist Tim Winton. Centered on issues described by the main character Gail and set in a small Australian seaside community, with a wonderful array of diverse characters that populate these stories, so typical of Tim Winton’s work, this film used 17 different directors for each overlapping and linking story.
His first novel, An Open Swimmer won the Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981.
Tim Winton has won the Australian Miles Franklin Award four times, for Shallows in 1984, Cloudstreet in 1992, Dirt Music in 2002 and Breath in 2009.

Alice Munro is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

Syndetics book cover
Canadian Short Story Writer Alice Munro has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Chosen from a group of ten international writers, that included Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Pynchon and Peter Nadas, she joins only twelve other women to have been awarded this very prestigious prize. In 2009 Alice Munro won the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize for her body of work, which was judged “practically perfect”. Her last collection of stories titled Dear Life, included four biographical short stories and was published in 2012. Her first collection of stories, titled Lives of Girls and Women was published in 1971. Now aged 82 she has recently announced her retirement from writing.

Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award

Edna O’Brien was recently announced winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for 2011 with her new collection of short stories, titled Saints and Sinners. Chosen from six shortlisted collections that included works by Colm Toibin and previous winner Yiyun Li, Irish author Edna O’Brien receives €35, 000. Her first novel The Country Girls was published in 1960 and she has since published 20 other works of fiction, drama and biography. Previous winners include Jhumpa Lahiri, Miranda July and Haruki Murakami.

Shorter stories make better films?

An average film is about 2 hours long; the average novel is at least 50,000 words. Film adaptations of novels are plentiful, with some good, some bad, and some ugly, and nearly all having someone leaving the theatre suggesting “the book was better”. Is this because films struggle to do justice to so many words, and if so, is a shorter story therefore a better bet? Here are ten films, and the novellas and short stories they are based on, including some classics (both literary and celluloid). 

  1. Angels and Insects (1995) – ‘Morpho Eugenia’ by A S Byatt, in Angels and Insects (1992). A young naturalist marries into an aristocratic family in England in the 1800s.
  2. Apocalypse Now (1979) – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1902). The horror! Amazingly, a novella just over 100 pages long still manages to contain a story within a story.
  3. Away from Her (2006) – ‘The Bear Went Over the Mountain’ by Alice Munro, in Carried away: a selection of stories. Julie Christie was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 for her portrayal of Fiona Anderson.
  4. The Birds (1963) – ‘The Birds’ by Daphne du Maurier, in The Birds and Other Stories. Classic Hitchcock!
  5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (1958). Capote created Holly Golightly, but Audrey Hepburn cemented her place in pop culture.
  6. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – ‘ Brokeback Mountain’ by Annie Proulx in Close range: Wyoming stories (1999). More than just gay cowboys. Ang Lee won the Oscar for Best Director in 2006.
  7. The Dead (1987) – ‘The Dead’ by James Joyce, in Dubliners (1914). A Christmas dinner in turn of the (20th) century Ireland, starring Anjelica Huston.
  8. The Killers (1946, 1964) – ‘The Killers’ by Ernest Hemingway, in The Collected Stories. The DVD contains both the 1964 version starring Lee Marvin and the 1946 version with Burt Lancaster.
  9. Minority Report (2003) – ‘Minority Report’ by Philip K Dick, in Minority report. The three “precogs”, Arthur, Dashiell and Agatha, are named for legendary mystery writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett.
  10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’ by Stephen King, in Different Seasons. I prefer the story title: Rita Hayworth is indeed the key.