Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami's novel is at once a classic quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is a bewitching and wildly inventive novel from a master stylist.
Ready Player One
It's the year 2044, and the world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
The Art of Racing in the Rain
A heart-warming and inspirational tale in which Enzo, a loyal family dog, tells the story of his human family, how they nearly fell apart, and what he did to bring them back together. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: he thinks and feels in nearly human ways. He has educated himself by watching extensive television, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo realizes that racing is a metaphor: that by applying the techniques a driver would apply on the race track, one can successfully navigate the ordeals and travails one encounters in life. Enzo relates the story of his human family, sharing their tragedies and triumphs. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations as a dog, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a testament to a man's life, given by his dog. But it is also a testament to the dog, himself. Though Enzo cannot speak, he understands everything that happens around him as he bears witness to his master's problems.
His enforced muteness only refines his listening ability, and allows him to understand many of life's nuances that are lost on most humans. With humour, sharp observation, and a courageous heart, Enzo guides the reader to the bittersweet yet ultimately satisfying conclusion: there are no limitations to what we can achieve, if we truly know where we want to be.
Lil Binewski, born a Boston aristocrat, was in her time the most stylish of geeks. That is to say she made her living by biting the heads off live chickens in front of a carnival audience. This she gave up for doting motherhood, because she and her fairground-owning husband had a money spinning idea. Throughout each pregnancy Lil gobbles pesticides, experiments with drugs and douses herself with radiation to ensure that she prodcues infants grotesque enough to keep the turnstiles clicking. She does. Arturo the Aqua Boy is a limbless megalomaniac, Electra and Iphigenia are musically gifted Siamese twins with a penchant for prostitution and Fortunato is possessed of stange telekinetic powers. Their story- by turns shocking, tender, touching and cruel- is narrated by their sister Olympia. She is a bald, hunchbacked, albino dwarf.
Life After Life
What if you had the chance to live your life again and again until you finally got it right? During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. What if the same baby were born and lived to tell the tale? What if there were second chances? And third chances? What if there were an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
The Bell Jar
This novel is not political nor historical in any narrow sense, but in looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness, it forces us to consider the great question posed by all truly realistic fiction: What is reality and how can it be confronted?
Nominated for the Folio Prize
Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. Stampedes follow her arrival in town. But as she approaches middle age, the attention turns to scrutiny. Her adoring husband Sir Kenelm Digby - philosopher, alchemist and time-traveller - wishes she would age naturally, but Venetia discovers a potent and addictive elixir of youth, Viper Wine. Set on the eve of the English Civil War, and based on a true story, this brilliant novel asks a very contemporary question: what is the cost of beauty?
'Intoxicating' Independent on Sunday
'Wickedly funny' The Times
Patrick Suskind's Perfume is a classic novel of death and sensuality in Paris, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.
'In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent . . .'
'An astonishing tour de force both in concept and execution' Guardian
'A fantastic tale of murder and twisted eroticism controlled by a disgusted loathing of humanity ... Clever, stylish, absorbing and well worth reading' Literary Review
'A meditation on the nature of death, desire and decay ... a remarkable debut' Peter Ackroyd, The New York Times Book Review
'Unlike anything else one has read. A phenomenon ... Everyone seems to want to get a whiff of this strange perfume, which will remain unique in contemporary literature' Figaro
'An ingenious and totally absorbing fantasy' Daily Telegraph
'Witty, stylish and ferociously absorbing' Observer
A Clockwork Orange
“When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him, the novel asks, "At what cost?".
The Hotel New Hampshire
'The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels'. The protagonists of the novel are the members of the Berry Family, who we follow on their adventures in different hotels, from New England to Vienna, during the Nazi era.