This collection also showcases two masterful stories: “The Blinding Order,” a parable about the uses of terror in the Ottoman Empire, and “The Great Wall,” a chilling duet between a Chinese official and a soldier in the invading army of the great conqueror, Tamerlane.
While the story is set in the early twentieth century, life on the high plateaus of Albania takes life back to the Dark Ages. The bloody shirt of the latest victim is hung up by the bereaved for all to see—until the avenger in turn kills his man with a rifle shot. For the young bride, the shock of this unending cycle of obligatory murder is devastating. The horror becomes personified when she catches a glimpse of Gjor as he wanders about the countryside, waiting for the truce of thirty days to end, and life with it. That momentary vision of the hapless murderer provokes in her a violent act of revulsion and contrition. Her life will be marked by it always.
And then, shortly before Shehu was to assume power, he was found dead. The Successor is simultaneously a mystery novel, a historical novel-based on actual events and buttressed by the author’s private conversations with the son of the real-life Mehmet Shehu, and a psychological novel. How do you live when nothing is sure?
Evacuating to the countryside, he expects to find an ideal world full of extraordinary things, but discovers instead an archaic backwater where a severed arm becomes a talisman and deflowered girls mysteriously vanish. Woven between the chapters of the boy’s story are tantalizing fragments of the city’s history. As the devastation mounts, the fragments lose coherence, and we perceive firsthand how the violence of war destroys more than just buildings and bridges.
In this eloquent and timely reflection on war, memory, and the destiny of two peoples, Ismail Kadare explores in fiction the legend and the consequences of that defeat. Elegy for Kosovo is a heartfelt yet clear-eyed lament for a land riven by hatreds as old as the Homeric epics and as young as the latest news broadcast.
"Kadare’s mellifluous fever dream is a portrait of madness: the madness of the Stalinist state and the madness of men and women in the clamp of the state’s machinations . . . At a time when parts of the world are indulging nostalgia for communism, Kadare’s novel confronts the infuriating impossibility of art in an autocratic, anti-individualist system." —The Washington Post
A Girl in Exile, first published in Albanian in 2009, is set among the bureaucratic machinery of Albania’s 1945–1991 dictatorship. While waiting to hear whether his newest play will be approved for production, playwright Rudian Stefa is called in for questioning by the Party Committee. A girl—Linda B.—has been found dead, with a signed copy of his latest book in her possession.
He soon learns that Linda’s family, considered suspect, was exiled to a small town far from the capital, and that she committed suicide. Under the influence of a paranoid regime, Rudian finds himself swept along on a surreal quest to discover what really happened to Linda B. Through layers of intrigue, her story gradually unfolds: how she loved Rudian from a distance, and the risks she was prepared to take so that she could get close to him. He becomes captivated by her story, and disturbed at how he might be culpable for her fate.
A Girl in Exile is a stunning, deeply affecting portrait of life and love under surveillance, infused with myth, wry humor, and the absurdity of a paranoid regime.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A chance visit with mega-millionaire rock star Lester Jones, his father's former band mate, provides Gabriel with the means to heal the rift within his family. Kureishi portrays Gabriel's naïve hope and artistic aspirations with the same insight and searing honesty that he brought to the Indian-Anglo experience in The Buddha of Suburbia and to infidelity in Intimacy. Gabriel's Gift is a humorous and tender meditation on failure, redemption, the nature of talent, the power of imagination -- and a generation that never wanted to grow up, seen through the eyes of their children.
A love affair is experienced in the blink of an eye as the Archduke Ferdinand watches his wife succumb to an assassin's bullet. An exiled writer, working in a sandwich shop in Chicago, adjusts to the absurdities of his life. Love letters from war torn Sarajevo navigate the art of getting from point A to point B without being shot. With a surefooted sense of detail and life-saving humor, Aleksandar Hemon examines the overwhelming events of history and the effect they have on individual lives. These heartrending stories bear the unmistakable mark of an important new international writer.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The print of a woman's shoe was found by his side in the snow where he lay dead.
This enigmatic memorial stone, high on the bank of a prehistoric Pennine track in Cheshire, is a mystery that lives on in the hill farms today.
John Turner was a packman. With his train of horses he carried salt and silk, travelling distances incomprehensible to his ancient community. In this visionary tale, John brings ideas as well as gifts, which have come, from market town to market town, from places as distant as the campfires of the Silk Road. John Turner's death in the eighteenth century leaves an emotional charge which, in the twenty-first century, Ian and Sal find affects their relationship, challenging the perceptions they have of themselves and of each other. Thursbitch is rooted in a verifiable place. It is an evocation of the lives and the language of all people who are called to the valley of Thursbitch.
Lily Bloom is an aging American transplanted to England who has lost her battle with cancer and lies wasting away at the Royal Ear Hospital. As her two daughters—lumpy Charlotte, who runs a hugely successful chain of stationery stores called Waste of Paper, and beautiful Natasha, a junkie—buzz around her and the nurses pump her full of morphine, Lily slides in and out of the present, taking us on a surreal, opinionated trip through the stages of a lifetime of lust and rage. A career girl in the 1940s, a sexed-up, tippling adulteress in the 1950s and ‘60s, a divorced PR flak in the 1970s and ‘80s, Lily presents us with a portrait of America and England over sixty years of riotous and unreal change.
And then it’s over: Lily catches a cab with the aboriginal wizard Phar Lap Jones, her guide to the shockingly banal world of the dead. It’s a world that is surreal but familiar, where she again works in PR and rediscovers how great smoking is, where her cohabitants include Rude Boy, the son who died at age nine and now swears a blue streak, and three eyeless, murmuring wraiths, the Fats—composed of the pounds, literally the whole selves, she lost and gained over her lifetime. As Lily settles into her nonexistence, the most difficult challenge for this staunchly difficult woman is how to understand that she’s dead, and how to leave the rest behind.
How the Dead Live is an unforgettable portrait of the human condition, the struggle with life and with death. It’s a novel that will disturb and provoke, the work, in the words of one British reviewer, “of a novelist writing at the height of his powers.”
"My general incompetence and laziness at work had been apparent for so long that I now think it was arrogant of Mr. Gupta to pick me as his money man. I am the type of person who does not make sure that a file includes all the pages it must have or that the pages are in the right order. I refuse to accept even properly placed blame, lying outright that somebody else misplaced the completed forms or spilled tea on them, even though I was the last one to sign them out, or had the soggy papers still on my desk."
As an inspector for the Physical Education Department in the Delhi school system, Ram Karan supports his widowed daughter and eight-year-old granddaughter by collecting bribes for a small-time Congress Party boss. On the eve of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, one reckless act bares the lifetime of violence and sexual shame behind Ram's dingy public career and involves him in a farcical, but terrifying, political campaign that could cost him his life.
An astonishing character study, a portrait of a family--and a country--tormented by the past, Akhil Sharma's An Obedient Father recalls Dostoyevsky's guilt-ridden anti-heroes in this fully formed debut novel.
Nonetheless convinced that he is still a human, Simon is confined to the emergency psychiatric ward of Charing Cross Hospital, where he becomes the patient of Dr. Zack Busner, clinical psychologist, medical doctor, anti-psychiatrist, and former television personality—an expert at the height of his reign as alpha male. As Busner attempts to convince him that “everyone who is fully sentient in this world are chimpanzees,” Simon struggles with the horrifying delusion that he is really a human trapped in a chimp’s body.
Written with the same brilliant satiric wit that has distinguised Self’s earlier fiction, Great Apes is a hilarious, often disturbing, and absolutely original take on man’s place in the evolutionary chain. In a strange and twisted tale that recalls Jonathan Swift and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Will Self’s comic genius is impossible to ignore.
Alan Hollinghurst's hypnotic and exquisitely written novel tells the story of Edward Manners, a disaffected 33-year-old who leaves England to earn his living as a language tutor in a Flemish city. Almost immediately he falls in love with one of his pupils, but can only console himself with other, illicit affairs. With this novel, Hollinghurst exposes us fearlessly to the consequences of unfulfillable, annihilating desire.
Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord is the second novel in a trilogy set in South America. It won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1992.
With brilliant and audacious strokes, E. L. Doctorow creates a breathtaking collage of memories, events, visions, and provocative thought, all centered on an idea of the modern reality of God. At the heart of this stylistically daring tour de force is a detective story about a cross that vanishes from a rundown Episcopal church in lower Manhattan only to reappear on the roof of an Upper West Side synagogue. Intrigued by the mystery—and by the maverick rector and the young rabbi investigating the strange act of desecration—is a well-known novelist, whose capacious brain is a virtual repository for the ideas and disasters of the age.
Daringly poised at the junction of the sacred and the profane, filled with the sights and sounds of New York, and encompassing a large cast of vividly drawn characters including theologians, scientists, Holocaust survivors, and war veterans, City of God is a monumental work of spiritual reflection, philosophy, and history by America’s preeminent novelist and chronicler of our time.
Praise for City of God
“A grander perspective on the universe . . . a novel that sets its sights on God.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Dazzling . . . The true miracle of City of God is the way its disparate parts fuse into a consistently enthralling and suspenseful whole.”—Time
“Blooms with humor, and a humanity that carries triumphant as intelligent a novel as one might hope to find these days.”—Los Angeles Times
“Radiates [with] panoramic ambition and spiritual incandescence.”—Chicago Tribune
“One of the greatest American novels of the past fifty years . . . Reading City of God restores one’s faith in literature.”—The Houston Chronicle
From the Hardcover edition.
As Maskell retraces his tortuous path from his recruitment at Cambridge to the airless upper regions of the establishment, we discover a figure of manifold doubleness: Irishman and Englishman; husband, father, and lover of men; betrayer and dupe. Beautifully written, filled with convincing fictional portraits of Maskell's co-conspirators, and vibrant with the mysteries of loyalty and identity, The Untouchable places John Banville in the select company of both Conrad and le Carre.
Winner of the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction
"Contemporary fiction gets no better than this... Banville's books teem with life and humor." - Patrick McGrath, The New York Times Book Review
"Victor Maskell is one of the great characters in recent fiction... The Untouchable is the best work of art in any medium on [its] subject." -Washington Post Book World
"As remarkable a literary voice as any to come out of Ireland; Joyce and Beckett notwithstanding." -San Francisco Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of Henry James, a man born into one of America’s first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers. With stunningly resonant prose, “The Master is unquestionably the work of a first-rate novelist: artful, moving, and very beautiful” (The New York Times Book Review). The emotional intensity of this portrait is riveting.
Eamon Redmond is a judge in Ireland’s high court, a completely legal creature who is just beginning to discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With effortless fluency, Colm Tóibín reconstructs the history of Eamon’s relationships—with his father, his first “girl,” his wife, and the children who barely know him—and he writes about Eamon’s affection for the Irish coast with such painterly skill that the land itself becomes a character. The result is a novel of stunning power, “seductive and absorbing” (USA Today).
In the fall of 1869 Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, lately a resident of Germany, is summoned back to St. Petersburg by the sudden death of his stepson, Pavel. Half crazed with grief, stricken by epileptic seizures, and erotically obsessed with his stepson's landlady, Dostoevsky is nevertheless intent on unraveling the enigma of Pavel's life. Was the boy a suicide or a murder victim? Did he love his stepfather or despise him? Was he a disciple of the revolutionary Nechaev, who even now is somewhere in St. Petersburg pursuing a dream of apocalyptic violence? As he follows his stepson's ghost—and becomes enmeshed in the same demonic conspiracies that claimed the boy—Dostoevsky emerges as a figure of unfathomable contradictions: naive and calculating, compassionate and cruel, pious and unspeakably perverse.
Mr. Bones is our witness. Although he walks on four legs and cannot speak, he can think, and out of his thoughts Auster has spun one of the richest, most compelling tales in recent American fiction. By turns comic, poignant, and tragic, Timbuktu is above all a love story. Written with a scintillating verbal energy, it takes us into the heart of a singularly pure and passionate character, an unforgettable dog who has much to teach us about our own humanity.
J. M. Coetzee, one of the greatest living writers in the English language, has crafted a deeply moving tale of love and mortality in his new book, Slow Man. When photographer Paul Rayment loses his leg in a bicycle accident, he is forced to reexamine how he has lived his life. Through Paul's story, Coetzee addresses questions that define us all: What does it mean to do good? What in our lives is ultimately meaningful? How do we define the place we call "home"? In his clear and uncompromising voice, Coetzee struggles with these issues and offers a story that will dazzle the reader on every page.
In The Heart of Redness -- shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize -- Zakes Mda sets a story of South African village life against a notorious episode from the country's past. The result is a novel of great scope and deep human feeling, of passion and reconciliation.
As the novel opens Camugu, who left for America during apartheid, has returned to Johannesburg. Disillusioned by the problems of the new democracy, he follows his "famous lust" to Qolorha on the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess named Nonqawuse commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that once they did so the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the occupying English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the Xhosa into Believers and Unbelievers, dividing brother from brother, wife from husband, with devastating consequences.
One hundred fifty years later, the two groups' decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future -- and into a bizarre love triangle as well.
The Heart of Redness is a seamless weave of history, myth, and realist fiction. It is, arguably, the first great novel of the new South Africa -- a triumph of imaginative and historical writing.
Set during the year preceding the Easter Uprising of 1916—Ireland’s brave but fractured revolt against British rule—At Swim, Two Boys is a tender, tragic love story and a brilliant depiction of people caught in the tide of history. Powerful and artful, and ten years in the writing, it is a masterwork from Jamie O’Neill.
Jim Mack is a naïve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son—revolutionary and blasphemous—of Mr. Mack’s old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves. All the while Mr. Mack, who has grand plans for a corner shop empire, remains unaware of the depth of the boys’ burgeoning friendship and of the changing landscape of a nation.
Alternately disturbing and hilarious, unbelievable and shatteringly convincing, Fear and Trembling will keep readers clutching tight to the pages of this taut little novel, caught up in the throes of fear, trembling, and, ultimately, delight.
Nariman must now turn to his younger daughter, Roxana, her husband, Yezad, and their two sons, who share a small, crowded home. Their decision will test not only their material resources but, in surprising ways, all their tolerance, compassion, integrity, and faith. Sweeping and intimate, tragic and mirthful, Family Matters is a work of enormous emotional power.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Juan knows little of the interior life of his father Ranz; but when Juan marries, he begins to consider the past anew, and begins to ponder what he doesn't really want to know. Secrecy--its possible convenience, its price, and even its civility--hovers throughout the novel. A Heart So White becomes a sort of anti-detective story of human nature. Intrigue; the sins of the father; the fraudulent and the genuine; marriage and strange repetitions of violence: Marías elegantly sends shafts of inquisitory light into shadows and onto the costs of ambivalence.
Eden-Olympia is more than just a multinational business park, it is a virtual city-state in itself, with the latest in services and facilities for the most elite high-tech industries. Isolated and secure, overlooking the luxurious French Riviera, the residents lack nothing. Yet one day Dr. Greenwood from Eden-Olympia's clinic goes on a suicidal shooting spree. Dr. Jane Sinclair is hired as his replacement, and she and her husband, Paul, are given Dr. Greenwood's house as a residence.
Unable to work while recovering from an accident, Paul spends his days taking a
close look at the house where Dr. Greenwood shot himself and three hostages. He discovers clues in the house lead him to question Eden-Olympia's official account of the killings. Drawn into investigating the activities of the park's leading citizens, while Jane is lured deeper into Eden-Olympia's inner workings, Paul uncovers the dangerous psychological vents that maintain Eden-Olympia's smoothly running surface. An experiment is underway at Eden-Olympia, an experiment in power and brutality. Soon Paul finds himself in race to save himself and his wife before they are crushed by forces that may be beyond anyone's control.
Installing himself within the household of the genteel grocer Percy Buckle, Maggs soon attracts the attention of a cross section of London society. Saucy Mercy Larkin wants him for a mate. The writer Tobias Oates wants to possess his soul through hypnosis. But Maggs is obsessed with a plan of his own. And as all the various schemes converge, Maggs rises into the center, a dark looming figure, at once frightening, mysterious, and compelling. Not since Caleb Carr's The Alienist have the shadowy city streets of the nineteenth century lit up with such mystery and romance.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Paul Auster, the New York Times-bestselling author of The New York Trilogy, presents a dazzling, picaresque novel set in the late 1920s – the era of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone. Walter Claireborne Rawley, renowned nationwide as "Walt the Wonder Boy," is a Saint Louis orphan rescued from the streets by a mysterious Hungarian Jew, Master Yehudi, who teaches Walt to walk on air. Master Yehudi brings Walt into a Kansas circus troupe consisting of Mother Sioux and Aesop, a young black genius. The vaudeville act takes them across a vast and vibrant country, through mythic Americana where they meet and fall prey to sinners, thieves, and villains, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob. Walt's rise to fame and fortune mirrors America's own coming of age, and his resilience, like that of the nation, is challenged over and over and over again.
Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in an airplane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then, watching television one night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost silent film by comedian Hector Mann. Zimmer's interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure, who vanished from sight in 1929 and has been presumed dead for sixty years.
When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmer's mailbox bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico-supposedly written by Hector's wife. "Hector has read your book and would like to meet you. Are you interested in paying us a visit?" Is the letter a hoax, or is Hector Mann still alive? Torn between doubt and belief, Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever.
This stunning novel plunges the reader into a universe in which the comic and the tragic, the real and the imagined, the violent and the tender dissolve into one another. With The Book of Illusions, one of America's most powerful and original writers has written his richest, most emotionally charged work yet.
Since the publication of his first novel Americana, Don DeLillo has lived in the skin of our times. He has found a voice for the forgotten souls who haunt the fringes of our culture and for its larger-than-life, real-life figures. His language is defiantly, radiantly American.
In The Body Artist his spare, seductive twelfth novel, he inhabits the muted world of Lauren Hartke, an artist whose work defies the limits of the body. Lauren is living on a lonely coast, in a rambling rented house, where she encounters a strange, ageless man, a man with uncanny knowledge of her own life. Together they begin a journey into the wilderness of time, love and human perception.
The Body Artist is a haunting, beautiful and profoundly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time.
Raimundo Silva is a middle-aged, celibate clerk, proofing manuscripts for a respectable publishing house. Fluent in Portuguese, he has been assigned to work on a standard history of the country, and the twelfth-century king who laid siege to Lisbon. In a moment of subversive daring, Raimundo decides to change just one single word of text—a capricious revision that completely undoes the past. When discovered, his insolent disregard for facts appalls his employers—save for his new editor, Maria Sara. She suggests that Rainmundo take his transgressions even further.
Through Rainmundo and Maria’s eyes, what transpires is an alternate view of history and a colorful reinvention of a debatable truth. It’s a serpentine journey through time where past and present converge, fact becomes myth, and fiction and reality blur—especially for Rainmundo and Maria themselves, who begin to find themselves erotically drawn to each other.
“Walter Mitty has nothing on Raimundo Silva . . . this hypnotic tale is a great comic romp through history, language and the imagination.” —Publishers Weekly
Translated by Giovanni Pontiero
Like Pushkin and Dostoevsky before him, Philip Roth takes on the subject of the writer’s double, which for Roth is inevitably bound up in Jewishness and identity. This is a bold, inventive and energetic departure from his past novels, a meta-novel, and, like all of his writing, full of ideas, wit, humor and startling observation.
From the Hardcover edition.
"With intelligence, candor, humor--and anger--White explores the most insidious aspects of oppression.... An impressive novel."--Washington Post book World
Described as a "fascinating psychological thriller" (The Baltimore Sun), this entrancing novel introduces Isserley, a female driver who picks up hitchhikers with big muscles. She, herself, is tiny--like a kid peering up over the steering wheel. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear. At once humane and horrifying, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory--our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion. A grotesque and comical allegory, a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok, Under the Skin has been internationally received as the arrival of an exciting talent, rich and assured.
The story quickly circles back to Helene's childhood with her sister Martha in rural Germany, which came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the First World War. Their father is sent to the eastern front, and their Jewish mother withdraws from the hostility of her surroundings into a state of mental confusion. As we follow Helene into adulthood, we watch riveted as the costs of survival and ill-fated love turn her into a woman capable of the unforgiveable.
Julia Franck's unforgettable English language debut throws new light on life in early-twentieth-century Germany, revealing the breathtaking scope of its citizens' denial—the "blindness of the heart" that survival often demanded.
In France, millions of men engaged in brutal trench warfare are all “ghosts in the making.” In England, psychologist William Rivers, with severe pangs of conscience, treats the mental casualties of the war to make them whole enough to fight again. One of these, Billy Prior, risen to the officer class from the working class, both courageous and sardonic, decides to return to France with his fellow officer, poet Wilfred Owen, to fight a war he no longer believes in. Meanwhile, Rivers, enfevered by influenza returns in memory to his experience studying a South Pacific tribe whose ethos amounted to a culture of death. Across the gulf between his society and theirs, Rivers begins to form connections that cast new light on his—and our—understanding of war.
Winner of the 1995 Booker Prize
Hailed by Thomas Pynchon as "graceful, dark, authentic, and funny," George Saunders gives us, in his inventive and beloved voice, this bestselling collection of stories set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.
When Julia Lambert, an art professor, settles into her idyllic Maine house for the summer, she plans to spend the time tending her fragile relationships with her father, a repressive neurosurgeon, and her gentle mother, who is descending into Alzheimer's. But a shattering revelation intrudes: Julia's son Jack has spiraled into heroin addiction.
In an attempt to save him, Julia marshals help from her looseknit clan: elderly parents; remarried ex-husband; removed sister; and combative eldest son. Ultimately, heroin courses through the characters' lives with an impersonal and devastating energy, sweeping the family into a world in which deceit, crime, and fear are part of daily life.
Roxana Robinson is the author of Sweetwater, which Booklist called a "hold-your-breath novel of loss and love." Billy Collins praised Robinson as "a master at moving from the art of description to the work of excavating the truths about ourselves."
In Cost, Robinson tackles addiction and explores its effects on the bonds of family, dazzling us with her hallmark subtlety and precision in evoking the emotional interiors of her characters. The result is a work in which the reader's sense of discovery and compassion for every character remains unflagging to the end, even as the reader, like the characters, is caught up in Cost's breathtaking pace.