In a momentous publication, Seamus Heaney’s translation of Book VI of the Aeneid, Virgil’s epic poem composed sometime between 29 and 19 BC, follows the hero, Aeneas, on his descent into the underworld.
In Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O’Driscoll, Heaney acknowledged the importance of the poem to his writing, noting that ‘there’s one Virgilian journey that has indeed been a constant presence, and that is Aeneas’s venture into the underworld.
‘The motifs in Book VI have been in my head for years – the golden bough, Charon’s barge, the quest to meet the shade of the father.’ In this new translation, Heaney employs the same deft handling of the original combined with the immediacy of language and flawless poetic voice as was on show in his translation of Beowulf, a reimagining which, in the words of Bernard O’Donoghue, brought the ancient poem back to life in ‘a miraculous mix of the poem’s original spirit and Heaney’s voice’.
Look We Have Coming to Dover! is the most acclaimed debut collection of poetry published in recent years, as well as one of the most relevant and accessible. Nagra, whose own parents came to England from the Punjab in the 1950s, draws on both English and Indian-English traditions to tell stories of alienation, assimilation, aspiration and love, from a stowaway’s first footprint on Dover Beach to the disenchantment of subsequent generations.
A superb novel for older readers about forbidden love, from the bestselling, award-winning Jacqueline Wilson.
Fourteen-year-old Prue and her sister Grace have been educated at home by their controlling, super-strict father all their lives. Forced to wear Mum’s odd hand-made garments and forbidden from reading teenage magazines, they know they’re very different to ‘normal’ girls — but when Dad has a stroke and ends up in hospital, unable to move or speak, Prue suddenly discovers what it’s like to have a little freedom.
Sent to a real school for the first time, Prue struggles to fit in. The only person she can talk to is her kindly, young — and handsome — art teacher, Rax. They quickly bond, and Prue feels more and more drawn to him. As her feelings grow stronger, she begins to realise that he might feel the same way about her. But nothing could ever happen between them — could it?
‘I am alone in the dark, turning the world around in my head as I struggle through another bout of insomnia, another white night in the great American wilderness.‘
Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter’s house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would rather forget – his wife’s recent death and the horrific murder, in Iraq, of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus. Brill, a retired book critic, imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the Twin Towers did not fall on 9/11, and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill’s story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts another hidden story, this time of his own marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus’s death.
Passionate and shocking, political and personal: Man in the Dark is a novel that reflects the consequences of 9/11, that forces us to confront the blackness of night even as it celebrates the existence of ordinary joys in a world capable of the most grotesque violence.
Richard Hammond is one of our most in-demand and best-loved television presenters. On September 20, 2006, he suffered a serious brain injury following a high-speed car crash, and the nation held its breath. On the Edge is his compelling account of life before and after the accident and an honest description of his year of recovery, full of drama and incident. It is also, perhaps, his explanation of why, as a married man and father of two young daughters, he was prepared to risk all by strapping himself to the front of a jet engine with the power of eleven Formula One cars.
This is one of the most accessible of Nietzsche’s works. It was published in 1887, a year after Beyond Good and Evil, and he intended it to be a continuation of the investigation into the theme of morality. In the first work, Nietzsche attacked the notion of morality as nothing more than institutionalised weakness, and he criticised past philosophers for their unquestioning acceptance of moral precepts. In On the Genealogy of Morals, subtitled ‘A Polemic’, Nietzsche furthers his pursuit of a clarity that is less tainted by imposed prejudices. He looks at the way attitudes towards ‘morality’ evolved and the way congenital ideas of morality were heavily coloured by the Judaic and Christian traditions.
Jamal is a successful psychoanalyst haunted by his first love and a brutal act of violence from which he can never escape. Looking back to their coming of age in the 1970s, he and his friends face an encroaching middle age with the traumas of their youth still unresolved in this colourful and warm novel of London life.
In 1974 the brilliant and controversial Brian Clough made perhaps his most eccentric decision: he accepted the Leeds United Manager’s job. As successor to Don Revie, his bitter adversary, he was to last only fourty-four days. In one of the most acclaimed novels of this or any other year, David Peace takes un into the mind and thoughts of Ol’ Big ‘Ead himself, and brings vividly to life one of post-war Britain’s most complex and fascinating characters.