Claire Wilcox has worked as a curator in fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum for most of her working life. Down cool, dark corridors and in quiet store rooms, she and her colleagues care for, catalogue and conserve clothes centuries old, the inscrutable remnants of lives long lost to history; the commonplace or remarkable things that survive the bodies they once encircled or adorned. In ‘Patch Work’, Wilcox deftly stitches together her dedicated study of fashion with the story of her own life lived in and through clothes. From her mother’s black wedding suit to the swirling patterns of her own silk kimono, her memoir unfolds in luminous prose the spellbinding power of the things we wear.
Fizzing with energy and wit, Mira Sethi’s funny and moving stories of people at sea in a society negotiating its way between East and West gives us a portrait of contemporary Pakistan as we’ve never seen it before.
A woman and man, parted a quarter of a century, reunite in a bar in New Orleans as the St Patrick’s Day parade goes by. A divorced suburban dad helps his daughter pick out a card for her friend who’s moving away. A group of friends in late middle age, all once promising, reunite for dinner when one of their number loses her husband, but the gathering splinters when bitter revelations about their shared past emerge. Two teenage boys sit in a drive-in, the air thick with the scent of gin and popcorn and longing. A visionary collection of luminous landscapes, of great moments in small lives, of the people we carry with us long after they are gone, ‘Sorry for Your Trouble’ takes disappointment, ageing, grief, love and marriage and silhouettes them against the heady backdrop of Irish America in the past and present.
1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen. Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.
Food and travel writer Yasmin Khan travels through Greece, Turkey and Cyprus sharing vibrant recipes and powerful stories from a region that has long-stood as a meeting point between Europe and the Middle East, bringing cultures and cuisines together through trade, commerce and migration. With thickets of dill and bunches of oregano, zesty citrus and sour pomegranates, sweet dates and soothing tahini, the dishes in this book focus on healthy, seasonal, vegetable-focussed meals that are fully accessible for the home cook.
My psychosis, for all its destruction and wrath, was a love story. When Catherine left London for the US with her husband James, to introduce her family to their newborn son Cato, she could not have envisaged how that trip would end. Catherine would find herself in an involuntary psych ward in New Jersey, separated from her husband and child, unable to understand who she was, and how she had got there. It’s difficult to know where the story of psychosis begins. Was it the moment I met my son? Or was it decided in the before, something rooted deeper in my fate, generations ago? In an attempt to hold on to her sense of self, Catherine had to reconstruct her life, from her early childhood, to a harrowing previous relationship, and her eventual marriage to James. The result is a powerful exploration of psychosis and motherhood, at once intensely personal, yet holding within it a universal experience.
In her stunning debut, Souvankham Thammavongsa captures the day-to-day lives of immigrants and refugees in a nameless city, illuminating hopes, disappointments, love affairs, and above all, the pursuit of a place to belong.
Rami Elhanan’s license plate is yellow. Bassam Aramin’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam, down the same streets, takes an hour and a half. Both men are fathers of daughters. Both daughters were there, before they were gone. Rami and Bassam’s lives are completely symmetrical. Rami and Bassam’s lives are completely asymmetrical.
Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world. Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution. When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour. With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
George Saunders guides the reader through seven classic Russian short stories he’s been teaching for twenty years as a professor in the prestigious Syracuse University graduate MFA creative writing program. Paired with stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, these essays are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times. Saunders approaches each of these stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. For the process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is as much a craft as it is a quality of openness and a willingness to see the world through new eyes.
A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the following traits: it is close to her home, and it requires no reading, no writing – and ideally, very little thinking. She is sent to a nondescript office building where she is tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. But observing someone for hours on end can be so inconvenient and tiresome. How will she stay awake? When can she take delivery of her favourite brand of tea? And, perhaps more importantly – how did she find herself in this situation in the first place? As she moves from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful.
When I first arrived in the desert, I desperately wanted to be the first female explorer to cross the Sahara. The thought of it used to keep me up all night. Sanmao: author, adventurer, pioneer. Born in China in 1943, she moved from Chongqing to Taiwan, Spain to Germany, the Canary Islands to Central America, and, for several years in the 1970s, to the Sahara. ‘Stories of the Sahara’ invites us into Sanmao’s extraordinary life in the desert: her experiences of love and loss, freedom and peril, all told with a voice as spirited as it is timeless. At a period when China was beginning to look beyond its borders, Sanmao fired the imagination of millions and inspired a new generation.
Beyond Indonesia’s lush rainforests, tropical seas and abundant rice fields lies a country not often seen by visitors. It is one of bustling local markets, lively street food stalls, colourful shops and houses and generous community spirit. From these islands comes one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, weaving flavours of lemongrass, chilli, tamarind and coconut into dishes that are fragrant, colourful and bold. In this book, Australian-born chef Lara Lee takes us on a journey to trace her family’s Indonesian roots, and in the kitchens of her grandmother, extended family and welcoming strangers alike, she discovers the secrets to real Indonesian cookery. Now she shares more than 80 authentic, mouth-watering recipes that have been passed down through the generations, so you can recreate dishes such as nasi goreng, beef rendang, chilli prawn satay and pandan cake.
One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. 16 and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea. Staying with Dulcie, Robert’s life opens into one of rich food, sea-swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.