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My to-read list 2017

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Self-explanatory but I will try to review as I go along

Black Snow

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY TERRY GILLIAM When Maxudov's bid to take his own life fails, he dramatises the novel whose failure provoked the suicide attempt. To the resentment of literary Moscow, his play is accepted by the legendary Independent Theatre and Maxudov plunges into a vortex of inflated egos. With each rehearsal more sparks fly and the chances of the play being ready to perform recede. Black Snow is the ultimate back-stage novel and a brilliant satire by the author of The Master and Margarita on his ten-year love-hate relationship with Stanislavsky, Method-acting and the Moscow Arts Theatre.

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Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile

Sylish, shimmering and amoral, Sagan's tale of adolescence and betrayal on the French Riviera was her masterpiece, published when she was just eighteen. However, this frank and explicit novella was considered too daring for 1950s Britain, and sexual scenes were removed for the English publication. Now this fresh and accurate new translation presents the uncensored text in full for the first time.Bonjour Tristesse tells the story of Cecile, who leads a carefree life with her widowed father and his young mistresses until, one hot summer on the Riviera, he decides to remarry - with devastating consequences. In A Certain Smile, which is also included in this volume, Dominique, a young woman bored with her lover, begins an encounter with an older man that unfolds in unexpected and troubling ways.Both novellas have been freshly translated by Heather Lloyd and include an introduction by Rachel Cusk. Heather Lloyd has also written a new afterword for this edition. Francoise Sagan was born in France in 1935. Bonjour tristesse (1954), published when she was just 19, became a succes de scandale and even earned its author a papal denunciation. Sagan went on to write many other novels, plays and screenplays, and died in 2004.Heather Lloyd was previously Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Glasgow, and has published work on both Bonjour tristesse and Francoise Sagan.Rachel Cusk is the author of Saving Agnes (1993), which won the Whitbread First Novel Award; A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother (2001); and Arlington Park (2006), shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her most recent book is Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation (2012).'Funny, thoroughly immoral and thoroughly French' The Times

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Days Without End

"A beautiful, savage, tender, searing work of art. Sentence after perfect sentence it grips and does not let go." (Donal Ryan). "A violent, superbly lyrical western offering a sweeping vision of America in the making [and] the most fascinating line-by-line first person narration I've come across in years." (Kazuo Ishiguro). "I am thinking of the days without end of my life..." After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Having fled terrible hardships they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive. Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry's latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America's past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.

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Second-hand Time

Second-hand Time is the latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for inventing 'a new kind of literary genre'. Here she brings together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble. Fashioning a singular, polyphonic literary form by combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, Alexievich creates a magnificent requiem to a civilization in ruins, a brilliant, poignant and unique portrait of post-Soviet society out of the stories of ordinary women and men.

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Hangover square

Schizophrénie : clivage des fonctions mentales lié à un dédoublement de la personnalité. Earl's Court, quartier populaire de Londres. George vit sous la coupe de la bande de pochards avec laquelle il traîne : Peter, un petit malfrat brutal, et surtout Netta, beauté sombre et égoïste, actrice ratée dont George est éperdument amoureux. C'est d'ailleurs sa seule lumière dans cet univers lugubre, mais Netta le méprise et profite de ses sentiments pour le brimer et lui soutirer de l'argent. Pourtant, ce grand gaillard triste et lent, capable de gentillesse et même de générosité, n'a pas toujours été une épave. Lorsqu'un vieil ami ressurgit dans sa vie, prêt à l'aider, George veut réagir ; lutter contre son alcoolisme et s'éloigner de Netta - mais cet ami a des relations mondaines et, pour cette raison, il intéresse beaucoup la jeune femme... Publié en 1941, Hangover Square fut considéré à l'époque comme une magnifique analyse de la schizophrénie. "Hamilton, qui connaît bien ce qui relève de l'horreur et du sordide, frappe très précisément là où il faut." (Times Literary Supplement)

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The Noise of Time

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return. So begins Julian Barnes' first novel since his Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending. A story about the collision of Art and Power, about human compromise, human cowardice and human courage, it is the work of a true master.

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The Lonely City

What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives - from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, from Henry Darger's hoarding to the depredations of the AIDS crisis - Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It's a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.

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Conversation in the Cathedral

Conversation in the Cathedral takes place in 1950s Peru during the dictatorship of General Ordia. Suspicion, paranoia and blackmail have become part of life. The conversation flows between two individuals, Santiago and Ambrosia, who talk of their tormented lives and of the degradation and frustration that has taken over their town. In this groundbreaking novel, Mario Vargas Llosa explores the mental and moral mechanisms that govern power and the people behind it. It is about identity, the role of a citizen and how a lack of personal freedom can forever scar a nation and its people.

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War and Peace

A thirty-five strong cast including Leo McKern as Kutuzov, Simon Russell Beale as Pierre Bezuhov, Emily Mortimer as Natasha Rostov and Gerard Murphy as Andrei Bolkonsky, bring all the passion and turbulence of Tolstoy's epic masterpiece to the airwaves in this unique BBC Radio 4 dramatisation. 'Nine hours of blood-and-thunder period drama on a single disc has to be the best bargain around' - "The Guardian". 'Excellent special effects and a haunting theme tune make it compulsive listening' - "Independent".

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Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature. Set in 1820s imperial Russia, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three men - Onegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himself - and the fates and affections of three women - Tatyana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse. Engaging, full of suspense, and varied in tone, it also portrays a large cast of other characters and offers the reader many literary, philosophical, and autobiographical digressions, often in a highly satirical vein. Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's own favourite work, and it shows him attempting to transform himself from a romantic poet into a realistic novelist. This new translation seeks to retain both the literal sense and the poetic music of the original, and capture the poem's spontaneity and wit. The introduction examines several ways of reading the novel, and text is richly annotated. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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