‘Man Hating Psycho’ is the caustic new collection of stories from visionary writer Iphgenia Baal. Interrogating the disconnect between our public identities and real-life selves, Baal exposes the inherent duplicity of online communication. With black and disquieting humour, thirteen playful texts disparage the highly-profitable superstitions that are the scaffolding of our current social order.
Judith Schalansky is a wholly original writer whose books articulate perfectly what she wishes to say. Each of the pieces, following the conventions of a different genre, considers something that is irretrievably lost to the world, including the paradisal pacific island of Tuanaki, the Caspian Tiger, the Villa Sacchetti in Rome, Sappho’s love poems, Greta Garbo’s fading beauty, a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, and the former East Germany’s Palace of the Republic. As a child of the former East Germany, it’s not surprising that the dominant emotion in Schalansky’s work should be ‘loss’ and its aftermath, but what is extraordinary is the thoroughly engaging mixture of intellectual curiosity, down-to-earth grasp of life’s pitiless vitality, ironic humour, stylistic elegance and intensity of feeling.
Obsessed by her encounters with the mysterious green women, and haunted by the Garonne River, a nameless narrator seeks them out in La Roele, Paris, Marseille, and Ouagadougou. Each encounter reveals different aspects of the women; real or imagined, dead or alive, seductive or suicidal, driving the narrator deeper into her obsession, in this unsettling exploration of identity, memory and paranoia.
Shaun wakes up in hospital after a fight in a local nightclub and discovers his girlfriend has been assaulted. Ade and Colbeck were there that night – the climax to weeks of escalating violence, their two-man vigilante mission to kick back against a broken generation. A misguided plan to combat the lairies that blight broken Britain’s bars, pubs and streets. What really happened that night? And how did it come to this?
Willard, his mother and his girlfriend Nyla have spent their entire lives in an endless journey where daily survival is dictated by the ultimate imperative: obey the rules, or you will lose your place in the line. Everything changes the day Willard s mother dies and he finds an incomprehensible book hidden among her few belongings.
On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home? Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.
A space-obsessed child conjures up a vortex in his mother’s airing cupboard. A musician finds her friendship with a flock of birds opens up unexpected possibilities. A rat catcher, summoned to a decaying royal palace, is plunged into a battle for the throne of a ruined kingdom. Two newlyweds find themselves inhibited by the arrival in their lives of an outsized and watchful stuffed bear. Whether snared in traps artfully laid for them, or those of their own making, the characters in Naomi Ishiguro’s delightfully speculative debut collection yearn for freedom and flight, and find their worlds transformed beyond their wildest imaginings.
Teffi’s genius with the short form made her a literary star in pre-revolutionary Russia, beloved by Tsar Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin alike. These stories, taken from the whole of her career, show the full range of her gifts.
Hadil Tamim was born in Al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp south of Damascus, Syria. Trained in ceramic and Islamic decorative art, for the last two decades she has been living in Reading, where she has turned to her art to create a bridge between two homes and two cultures. With excerpts from her sketchbook and practical sections on the techniques she uses, this book shows a beautifully harmonious meeting of two cultures.
March 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch. A fisherman sings to himself, waiting for a catch – but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. A beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by the fisherman and and his song. But her fascination is her undoing. She hears his boat’s engine again, follows it, and finds herself at the mercy of American tourists. After a fearsome battle, she is pulled out of the sea and strung up on the dock as a trophy. The fisherman rescues her, and gently wins her trust – as she starts to transform into a woman. The novel’s characters are an unlikely mix: a mermaid, a fisherman, a deaf boy, a Caribbean artist and sweetman and a benevolent white landowner.
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labour pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads. ‘Nomadland’ tells a revelatory tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy – one which foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, it celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of people who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive, but have not given up hope.
Boasting a veritable menagerie of characters, including dancing instructors, pies, and talking parrots, and written in the Franco-Italian story-telling tradition, ‘The Three Fat Men’, unquestionably the greatest Soviet children’s parable, is considered the absolute endorsement of the Communist regime.
Wilde’s short fiction includes such masterpieces as ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime’ and ‘The Canterville Ghost’, as well as the daring narrative experiments of ‘The Portrait of Mr. W. H.’ and ‘Poems in Prose’. This edition shows how they continue to the enthral and challenge the reader.
The stories in David Constantine’s fifth collection all orbit around a moment of personal crisis, a pressure point where the weight of the past or the present becomes unbearable. These crises may be brought on by a bereavement, a personal failure or trauma, or a crisis of identity. But in all cases, what’s at stake is a life worth living.