Who was Changed and Who Was Dead, Barbara Comyns ( pb, Jan 2021)
This is the story of the Willoweed family and the English village in which they live. It begins mid-flood, ducks swimming in the drawing-room windows, “quacking their approval” as they sail around the room. “What about my rose beds?” demands Grandmother Willoweed. Her son shouts down her ear-trumpet that the garden is submerged, dead animals everywhere, she will be lucky to get a bunch. Then the miller drowns himself . . . then the butcher slits his throat . . . and a series of gruesome deaths plagues the villagers. The newspaper asks, “Who will be smitten by this fatal madness next?” Through it all, Comyns’ unique voice weaves a narrative as wonderful as it is horrible, as beautiful as it is cruel.
Originally published in England in 1954, this “overlooked small masterpiece” is a twisted, tragicomic gem.
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A TOP TEN NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ** AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK ** ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A breath-taking debut novel that chronicles the journey of generations of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade to our own tumultuous era The great scholar, W.E.B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called 'Double Consciousness,' a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois's words all too well.
From an early age, Ailey fights a battle to feel like she belongs, made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women - her mother, her sister and a maternal line reaching back two centuries - that urge her to succeed in their stead. Ailey decides to embark on a journey through her family's past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors - Indigenous, Black, and white - in the deep South. In doing so she must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story - and the song - of America itself.
Sweeping, compulsive and deeply moving, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers is set to be one of the most talked about books of the year. LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION * SHORTLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE * LONGLISTED FOR THE ASPEN LITERARY PRIZE
. It's rare that you get the opportunity to review a masterpiece, but To Paradise, definitively, is one.' - Observer'
From Hanya Yanagihara, author of the modern classic A Little Life, To Paradise is a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia. In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems).
The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist's damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him - and solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances.
These three sections are joined in a symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can't exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love.
Shame. Need. Loneliness.
To Paradise is a fin-de-siecle novel of marvellous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara's understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love - partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens - and the pain that ensues when we cannot.
'His best novel yet ... A Middlemarch-like triumph' Telegraph '
It is a testament to Franzen's authorial habits of empathy, his curiosity about the lives of others, his efforts in a land of cliche to add twists to easy assumptions, that you are likely to find yourself caring about how things turn out for each of the Hildebrandts equally' Observer
It's December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless - unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it.
Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who's been selling drugs to seventh-graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.
Jonathan Franzen's novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and their keen-eyed take on the complexities of contemporary America. Now, for the first time, in Crossroads, Franzen explores the history of a generation. With characteristic humour and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that feels no less immediate.
'A fine and profoundly intelligent novel, written by an author who balances big ideas with human emotion. Wistful, yearning and wise' ELIZABETH DAY
1914: Aspiring journalist Anton arrives in Vienna where he meets Delphine, a woman of experience and deep secrets. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton comes to life.
Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with her mother in a small town has been cosseted and cold. After a few years of schooling, she encounters a young lawyer who spirits her away to Vienna.
However, what she imagines to be love soon crumbles, and she leaves the city behind to take a post at the snow-capped sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick. 1933: Having lost many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton is sent to write about the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place, on the banks of a silvery lake where the roots of human suffering are laid bare, two people will see each other as if for the first time.
Sweeping across Europe as it recovers from one war and awaits the coming of another, SNOW COUNTRY is a landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope.