The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn. Agoraphobia has imprisoned child psychologist Anna Fox in her home in the more gentrified part of Harlem. Sustained by bulk-bought alcohol and a cornucopia of heavy-duty drugs she spends her time watching a cache of classic movies (think Hitchcock) and her…
In The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon transports the reader back in time with a visceral sense of moment. It’s 1976 and England is sweltering in what was to become an infamous heat wave, with standpipes in the streets and tempers boiling over. But the hottest topic on The Avenue is not the soaring temperatures but the sudden disappearance of Mrs Creasy.
Will she, as her husband tells everyone, just return or has she met an untimely end? After all, she was a friend to many in the neighbourhood; a keeper of secrets. But that’s not the only drama being played out. What is the secret that binds together a group of residents? What happened to the missing infant all those years ago? Was a recent fire a question of arson? And why is Walter Bishop an outcast?
Vallerosa, for the country is called Vallerosa although it is likely you have never heard of it, is a tiny landlocked nation, peering slightly nervously out towards unnamed neighbour and the world beyond. everything and everyone has his proper place in society just as it has been for generations. Led by a lonely, depressed and possibly dyslexic President, the ruling council has been persuaded by an opportunist American advisor to turn the whole country over to the production of its tea crop. The reality that this strategy doesn’t leave any land left for food crops, or that they haven’t actually got any export orders or that there is only one goods train that calls only periodically, is slowly beginning to sink in. But what to do?
So when the President gets a letter announcing an official visit to Vallerosa by the Duke of Edinburgh he recognises it as an occasion that will put his country on the map and quieten any discontent (if there is any, and he’s sure there is). Only the Duke isn’t a he, it’s a she, and she isn’t really royalty. But like a beautiful cool breeze on a hot summer day
Flora 717 knows her place. As a sanitation worker bee she is bottom of the heap inside her rigidly hierarchical world. But she is both happy and proud to be playing her allotted part in the smooth running of a society in which “Accept, Obey, Serve” provide both voluntary guidelines and the brutally enforced law. Inside the hive individual thoughts are dangerous. Obedience is absolute and self-sacrifice for the common good, the norm. Each member knows their place and finds reassurance within its parameters, however harsh.
The Bees, Laline Paull’s debut novel, was described by Publishers Weekly
Australian literary heavyweights Joan London, Liane Moriarty, Peter Carey and Helen Garner are all included in the shortlists for the 2015 Australian Book Industry Association awards announced today. There are 11 categories this year including two new ones specifically targeting small publishers.
The full list is:
It is exciting when, based really on nothing more than vaguely remembered praise and the cover blurb, you pick up a book by a new author and find yourself immediately hooked. The Best Place on Earth is a collection of short stories by Ayelet Tsabari an Israeli of Yemeni descent, who now lives in Canada. She paints a confronting, intimate portrait of modern-day Israel, its contradictions and complexities, all against the backdrop of ever-present militarism and violence.
In Eilat, two teenage friends hitchhike to Sinai for their last summer before army service and just weeks before the negotiated military withdrawal. But what was supposed to be a carefree break ends up challenging one girl’s most intimate sense of who she really is.
In Brit Maleh, Tsabaru explores the changing attitudes of young Israelis towards religion
Collections of short stories can be tricky to appreciate properly. Even those that have a central “theme” can benefit from a piecemeal approach to preserve and savor the individual identity and texture of each tale. With some authors, I ration myself to story a day. Easier said than done with…