For the poet and activist June Jordan, neither poetry nor activism could easily be disentangled from the other. Her storied career came to chronicle a living, breathing history of the struggles that defined the USA in the latter half of the twentieth century; and her poetry, accordingly, put its dazzling stylistic range to use in exploring issues of gender, race, immigration, representation and much else besides.Here, above all, are sinuous, lashing and passionate lines, virtuosic in their musicality and always bearing the stamp of Jordan’s irrepressible personality. Here are poems of suffusing light and profound anger: poems moved as much by political animus as by a deep love for the observation of human life in all its foibles, eccentricities, strengths, and weaknesses.
The last of Kavan’s books to be published in her lifetime, ‘Ice’ is a dreamy novel set in an imaginary world padded by ice and snow, run by a secret government, invaded by aggressors, and threatened with nuclear destruction.
Set in Berlin, this novel tells of the selling of an important Russian scientist to the West. But the unnamed hero soon discovers that behind the facade of a mock funeral lies a game of deadly manoeuvres and ruthless tactics.
After having been recruited by Harvey Newbegin, the narrator travels from the bone-freezing winter of Helsinki, Riga and Leningrad, to the stifling heat of Texas, and soon finds himself tangling with enemies on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Spare, taut and told with flashes of pitch-black humour, the short stories of Norwegian master Kjell Askildsen capture all the strangeness of modern existence. In this selection of tales, spanning the whole of his brilliant career, unnerving encounters occur, lonely individuals try to connect, families and relationships are fractured, and we are confronted by the fragility and absurdity of life.
Frantz Fanon’s seminal text was immediately acclaimed as a classic of black liberationalist writing. Fanon’s descriptions of the feelings of inadequacy and dependence experienced by people of colour in a white world, ‘the crippled colonial mentalities of the oppressed’, are as salient and as compelling as ever.
One of the most popular American writers of the twentieth century, O. Henry’s comic eye and unique, playful approach to the rough material of life’s realities are unmatched. These stories, which range from the cattle-lands of Texas to the bars of New York, highlight the joys of avoiding habit and convention, and demonstrate O. Henry’s mastery of speech and place.
The quarter century or so before the outbreak of the First World War saw an extraordinary boom in the popularity and quality of short stories in Britain. Fuelled by a large new magazine readership and vigorous competition to acquire new stories and develop the careers of some of our greatest writers, these years were ones where the normal rule-of-thumb (novels sell, short stories don’t) was inverted.This was the era of Sherlock Holmes, of Kipling’s most famous stories, of M. R. James, Katherine Mansfield and Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’.
Taken from his ‘Collection of Sand’, these essays are not great ideas in themselves but commentaries on great ideas and the physical remains they have left behind them: astonishing objects and human-made places which have encapsulated different senses of wonder and desire. The essays range from fire-temples to world-changing maps, from automata to ancient cities. And, not least, the great enigma that has sat at the heart of Rome for some 1,900 years: Trajan’s Column.
How can one live well in the world? What does it mean to be happy? In this selection, Aristotle probes the nature of happiness and virtue in a quest to divine an ethical value system. Exploring ideas of community, responsibility, courage, friendship, agency, reasoning, desire and pleasure, these are some of the most profound and lasting ancient writings on the self to have influenced Western thought.
The daily lives of ordinary people are replete with objects, common things used in commonplace settings. These objects are our constant companions in life. As such, writes Soetsu Yanagi, they should be made with care and built to last, treated with respect and even affection. They should be natural and simple, sturdy and safe – the aesthetic result of wholeheartedly fulfilling utilitarian needs. They should, in short, be things of beauty. In an age of feeble and ugly machine-made things, these essays call for us to deepen and transform our relationship with the objects that surround us. Inspired by the work of the simple, humble craftsmen Yanagi encountered during his lifelong travels through Japan and Korea, they are an earnest defence of modest, honest, handcrafted things – from traditional teacups to jars to cloth and paper.
‘His hand sought the adjacent flesh and sorrow paralleled desire in the immense complexity of love.’ These moving stories by one of the great masters of Southern gothic portray love, sorrow and our search for happiness and understanding.