As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, Orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the centre of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East. An immersive, nocturnal, musical novel, full of generous erudition and bittersweet humour, Compass is a journey and a declaration of admiration, a quest for the otherness inside us all and a hand reaching out - like a bridge between West and East, yesterday and tomorrow. Winner of the 2015 Prix Goncourt, this is Mathias Enard's most ambitious novel since Zone.
Buy the Book
Wiola lives in a close-knit agricultural community. Wiola has a black cat called Blackie. Wiola's father was a deserter but now he is a taxidermist. Wiola's mother tells her that killing spiders brings on storms. Wiola must never enter the seamstress's 'secret' room. Wiola collects matchbox labels. Wiola is a good Catholic girl brought up with fables and nurtured on superstition. Wiola lives in a Poland that is both very recent and lost in time.
Swallowing Mercury is about the ordinary passing of years filled with extraordinary days. In vivid prose filled with texture, colour and sound, it describes the adult world encroaching on the child's. From childhood to adolescence, Wiola dances to the strange music of her own imagination.
A Horse Walks into a Bar
WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic - charming, erratic, repellent - exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.
A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn't know whether to laugh or cry - and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he's been summoned to this performance.
War and Turpentine
WINNER OF THE VONDEL PRIZE 2017
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in The Times, Sunday Times and The Economist, and one of the 10 Best Books of 2016 in the New York Times
Shortly before his death at the age of 90, Stefan Hertmans' grandfather Urbain gave his grandson a set of notebooks.
As Stefan began to read, he found himself drawn into a conversation across the centuries, as Urbain - so quiet and reserved in life - revealed his eloquence and his private passions on the page. Gradually, as he learned of his grandfather's heroics in the First World War, the loss of his great love, and his later years spent seeking solace in art and painting, a portrait emerged of the grandfather he had never fully known.
War and Turpentine is an exquisite, loving reconstruction of a man's interior life, at once deeply personal and yet so evocative of many of his generation, affected by the long shadow of war. In beautiful, glimmering prose, Hertmans shows us how our experiences shape us all, and how, even in a life of sorrow and heartache, dignity can be found.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017
Nobody can leave an island. An island is a cosmos in a nutshell, where the stars slumber in the grass beneath the snow. But occasionally someone tries . . .
Ingrid Barroy is born on an island that bears her name - a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams.
Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams - more children, a smaller island, a different life - and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her.
Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast.
But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.
Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
The Traitor's Niche
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the main square of Constantinople, a niche is carved into ancient stone. Here, the sultan displays the severed heads of his adversaries. People flock to see the latest head and gossip about the state of the empire: the province of Albania is demanding independence again, and the niche awaits a new trophy...
Tundj Hata, the imperial courier, is charged with transporting heads to the capital - a task he relishes and performs with fervour. But as he travels through obscure and impoverished territories, he makes money from illicit side-shows, offering villagers the spectacle of death. The head of the rebellious Albanian governor would fetch a very high price.
The Traitor's Niche is a surreal tale of rebellion and tyranny, in a land where armies carry scarecrows, state officials ban entire languages, and the act of forgetting is more complicated than remembering.
Fish Have No Feet
Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.
Keflavik: a town that may be the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished, and site of the U.S. military base, whose influence shaped Icelandic culture from the '50s to the dawning of the new millennium.
Ari - a writer and publisher - lands back in Keflavik from Copenhagen. His father is dying, and he is flooded by memories of his youth in the '70s and '80s, listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, raiding American supply lorries and discovering girls. And one girl he could never forget. Layered through Ari's story is that of his grandparents in a village on the eastern coast, a world away from modern Keflavik. For his grandfather Oddur, life at sea is a destiny; for Margret its elemental power brings only loneliness and fear.
Fish Have No Feet is a novel of profound beauty and wisdom by a major international writer. By the author of the acclaimed trilogy Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels and The Heart of Man
The Explosion Chronicles
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL 2017
With the Yi River on one side and the Balou Mountains on the other, the village of Explosion was founded a thousand years ago by refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era, the name takes on a new significance as the rural community grows explosively from a small village to a town to a city to a vast megalopolis.
Behind this rapid expansion are three rival clans linked together by a web of ambition, madness and greed. The four Kong brothers; Zhu Ying, the daughter of the former village chief; and Cheng Qing, who starts out as a secretary and goes on to become a powerful political and business figure in her own right, transform their hometown into a Babylon of modern times -- an unrivalled urban superpower built on lies, sex and thievery.
Brimming with absurdity, intelligence and wit, The Explosion Chronicles considers the high stakes of passion and power, the consequences of corruption and greed, the dynamics of love and hate, as well as the seemingly boundless excesses of capitalist culture.
'One of the masters of modern Chinese literature' Jung Chang
'One of China's most successful writers . . . [Yan Lianke] writes in the spirit of the dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich, who observed that "reality and satire are the same"' Evan Osnos, New Yorker
Buy the Book
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2017
It's 1970, and in the People's Republic of Congo a Marxist-Leninist revolution is ushering in a new age. But over at the orphanage on the outskirts of Pointe-Noire where young Moses has grown up, the revolution has only strengthened the reign of terror of Dieudonne Ngoulmoumako, the institution's corrupt director.
So Moses escapes to Pointe-Noire, where he finds a home with a larcenous band of Congolese Merry Men and among the Zairian prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter. But the authorities won't leave Moses in peace, and intervene to chase both the Merry Men and the Trois-Cents girls out of town. All this injustice pushes poor Moses over the edge. Could he really be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Or is he just losing his marbles?
Black Moses is a larger-than-life comic tale of a young man obsessed with helping the helpless in an unjust world. It is also a vital new extension of Mabanckou's extraordinary, interlinked body of work dedicated to his native Congo, and confirms his status as one of our great storytellers.
Buy the Book
Bricks and Mortar
Bricks and Mortar is the story of the sex trade in a big city in the former GDR, from just before 1989 to the present day, charting the development of the industry from absolute prohibition to full legality in the twenty years following the reunification of Germany. The focus is on the rise and fall of one man from football hooligan to large-scale landlord and service-provider for prostitutes to, ultimately, a man persecuted by those he once trusted. But we also hear other voices: many different women who work in prostitution, their clients, small-time gangsters, an ex-jockey searching for his drug-addict daughter, a businessman from the West, a girl forced into child prostitution, a detective, a pirate radio presenter...In his most ambitious book to date, Clemens Meyer pays homage to modernist, East German and contemporary writers like Alfred Doblin, Wolfgang Hilbig and David Peace but uses his own style and almost hallucinatory techniques.Time shifts and stretches, people die and come to life again, and Meyer takes his characters seriously and challenges his readers in this dizzying eye-opening novel that also finds inspiration in the films of Russ Meyer, Takashi Miike, Gaspar Noe and David Lynch.
Buy the Book