Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, taken from her beloved Bloomsbury and watched by her husband Leonard, Virginia Woolf struggles to tame her rebellious mind and make a start on her new novel.
In the brooding heat of 1940s Los Angeles, a young wife and mother yearns to escape the claustrophobia of suburban domesticity and read her precious copy of ‘Mrs Dalloway’.
And in New York in the 1990s, Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich Village apartment and goes shopping for flowers for the party she is giving in honour of her life-long friend Richard, an award-winning poet whose mind and body are being ravaged by AIDS.
Michael Cunningham’s exquisite and deeply moving novel is a meditation on artistic behaviour, failure, love and madness. Moving effortlessly across the decades and between England and America, Cunningham’s elegant, haunting prose explores the pain and trauma of creativity and the immutable relationship between writer and reader.
Julia Garnet is a teacher. Just retired, she is left a legacy which she uses by leaving her orderly life and going to live – in winter – in an apartment in Venice. Its beauty, its secret corners and treasures, and its people overwhelm a lifetime of reserve and caution. Above all, she’s touched by the all-prevalent spirit of the Angel, Raphael.
The ancient tale of Tobias, who travels to Media unaware he is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael, unfolds alongside Julia Garnet’s contemporary journey.
The two stories interweave with parents and landladies, restorers and priests, American tourists and ancient travellers abounding.
The result is an enormously satisfying journey of the spirit – and Julia Garnet is a character to treasure.
Saigon, 1930s: a poor young French girl meets the elegant son of a wealthy Chinese family. Soon they are lovers, locked into a private world of passion and intensity that defies all the conventions of their society.
A sensational international bestseller, ‘The Lover’ is disturbing, erotic, masterly. Here is an unforgettable portrayal of the incandescent relationship between the lovers, and of the hate that slowly tears the girl’s family apart.
Welcome to Interzone…
Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Check yourself into the hospital where Dr Benway works – but don’t expect adrenalin if you need it (the night porter shot it up for kicks). Meet Dr ‘Fingers’ Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid, and his greatest creation, ‘The Complete American De-anxietized Man’, a marvel of invasive psychiatry who has been reduced to nothing but a spinal cord.
Told by an Ivy League-educated narcotics addict, ‘Naked Lunch’ juxtaposes two journeys: the narrator’s physical progress from America to North Africa, via Mexico, and a terrifying descent into his own altered consciousness. In this ‘Interzone’, loosely based on Burroughs’ temporary home of Tangier, sex, drugs and murder are the most basic of commodities, and the basest desires have become completely banal.
Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating and mordantly funny, ‘Naked Lunch’ takes us on an exhilarating ride through the darkest recesses of the human psyche – a ride which stunned the literary world when first published in the repressed 1950s, and is still guaranteed to épater more than a few bourgeois.
Over forty years since first publication, Burroughs scholar Barry Miles and Burroughs’ longtime editor James Grauerholz have compiled this definitive restored text, correcting numerous errors that have accumulated over the years, and incorporating all of Burroughs’ notes and accompanying essays. Most exciting of all, this edition includes an appendix of newly discovered, never before seen material – including alternate drafts from the original manuscript and letters from Burroughs’ private correspondence.
Based on J. G. Ballard’s own childhood, this is the extraordinary account of a boy’s life in Japanese-occupied wartime Shanghai – a mesmerising, hypnotically compelling novel of war, of starvation and survival, of internment camps and death marches. It blends searing honesty with an almost hallucinatory vision of a world thrown utterly out of joint.
Rooted as it is in the author’s own disturbing experience of war in our time, it is one of a handful of novels by which the twentieth century will be not only remembered but judged.
The Mulvaneys are seemingly blessed by everything that makes life sweet. They live together in the picture-perfect High Point Farm, just outside the community of Mt Ephraim, New York, where they are respected and liked by everybody.
Yet something happens on Valentine’s Day 1976. An incident involving Marianne Mulvaney, the pretty sixteen-year-old daughter, is hushed up in the town and never discussed within the family. The impact of this event reverberates throughout the lives of the characters.
As told by Judd, years later, in an attempt to make sense of his own past reveals the unspoken truths of that night that rends the fabric of the family life with tragic consequences. In ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’, Joyce Carol Oates, the highly acclaimed author of ‘Blonde’, masterfully weaves an unforgettable story of the rise, fall and ultimate redemption of an American family.
The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her repressive and fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, and more prayer.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart during a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to live with their aunt. In this house, full of energy and laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family.
Centring on the promise of freedom and the pain and exhilaration of adolescence, ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is the extraordinary debut of a remarkable new talent.
Alison Hart is a medium by trade: dead people talk to her, and she talks back. With her flat-eyed, flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, she tours the dormitory towns of London’s orbital road, passing on messages from dead ancestors: ‘Granny says she likes your new kitchen units.’
Alison’s ability to communicate with spirits is a torment rather than a gift. Behind her plump, smiling and bland public persona is a desperate woman. She knows that the next life holds terrors that she must conceal from her clients. Her days and nights are haunted by the men she knew in her childhood, the thugs and petty criminals who preyed upon her hopeless, addled mother, Emmie. They infiltrate her house, her body and her soul; the more she tries to be rid of them, the stronger and nastier they become.
This tenth novel by Hilary Mantel is a witty and deeply sinister story of dark secrets and forces, set in an England that jumps at its own shadow, a country whose banal self-absorption is shot through by fear of the engulfing dark.