Gabriela Babnik’s novel Dry Season breaks the mould of what we usually expect from a writer from a small, Central European nation. With a global perspective, Babnik takes on the themes of racism, the role of women in modern society and the loneliness of the human condition. Dry Season is a record of an unusual love affair. Anna is a 62-year-old designer from Slovenia and Ismael is a 27-year-old from Burkina Faso who was brought up on the street, where he was often the victim of abuse. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry hamartan season, during which neither nature nor love is able to flourish. She soon realizes that the emptiness between them is not really caused by their skin colour and age difference, but predominantly by her belonging to the Western culture in which she has lost or abandoned all the preordained roles of daughter, wife and mother. Sex does not outstrip the loneliness and repressed secrets from the past surface into a world she sees as much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than her own. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magic realism.
The Bullet That Missed
It is an ordinary Thursday and things should finally be returning to normal.
Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club is concerned. A decade-old cold case leads them to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers.
Then, a new foe pays Elizabeth a visit. Her mission? Kill . . . or be killed.
As the cold case turns white hot, Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun), while Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim chase down clues with help from old friends and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?
J SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do.
Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog.
Mukesh Agarwal sits alone in the Black Eagle pub unaware that a riot is brewing or that Billy, his youngest son, is still out on his bike…. A mile away in the family home in Church Street, Anila, the youngest of the three Agarwal girls, is reading Smash Hits and listening to Radio One as she sprawls across the bottom bunk unaware of the tragic loss that is about to hit the family…. It is 1981, factories are closing, unemployment is high, the NF are marching and the neglected inner cities are ablaze as riots breakout across Thatcher’s fractured Britain. The Agarwals are facing their own personal nightmare but their pain is eased by family, friendships and a community that refuses to disappear. THE HANDSWORTH TIMES is abook about loss, friendship and working together because there is such a thing as society.
Born into a Roma family in 1960s’ Yugoslavia, Janek Hudorovec has grown up with a terrible secret. Given the opportunity to ‘make something of himself’, he abandons the familiar wild and tactile world of nature and enters the controlled, rational life of university and the city. Here Janek proves himself to be not a conscious rebel but a spontaneous one; under the influences of impulses he cannot control. While his teachers try to understand and categorize him, it is only his fellow student, Daria, who seems able to provide a rational insight into the causes of his behaviour and offer him true affection. Yet the battle that Janek must fight with his past leads him back to the gypsy village, and a terrible denouement. This tragic story of self-punishment explores the idea that man and nature, if they are to survive, together and separately, must forever remain in conflict. Flisar’s ability to describe Janek’s inner states through juxtaposition with the outer world create a mesmerizing claustrophobia, as the reader is pulled inexorably into the nightmarish world of a man in anguish. A Swarm of Dust is widely considered to be one of Flisar’s finest works of fiction, questioning the very notion of objective truth and subverting the norms of Judeo-Christian morality.
This is a book that lives in two parts – one set in the Ottoman empire of the 16th century, and the other in our own 21st century reality. Here we have the story of two friends, both taken as children from their homes and inducted into the Turkish Sultan’s private guard: Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the Serbian shepherd boy who rose to the position of Grand Vizier and Koca Mimar Sinan, the ‘Michelangelo of the East’. Between them they represent both destruction and creation, while at the same time providing us with a harrowing insight into the heart of religion and identity. Back in our own time, we hear the voice of the author, sharing with us his experiences in the modern world, and his musings on faith, identity and nation. This is a truly ambitious book that rewards the reader with insights into some of the great questions of our time.
Under the intense summer sun on the Essex coast a gull falls from the sky and strikes an unassuming local council worker sitting on the beach below. From that moment on he is obsessed, a crazed visionary repeatedly depicting the scene and the unknown figure within it who filled his view at the moment of impact. The mysterious beauty of his creations draw others to him, but can they lay hold of that which possesses him? And what of his anonymous muse? MAN WITH A SEAGULL ON HIS HEAD is an insightful exploration of art, love and creativity. We follow Ray Eccles and his unlikely muse, their lives becoming intertwined with others as they advance on their bizarre journey through the London art scene. We meet Grace Zoob, an insecure heiress in search of meaning, validation and love; Amanda Parsons, an ambitious girl from the suburbs who suspects there’s more to life than marriage and children but finds herself consumed by both; and Grace’s daughter, Mira, a beautiful, damaged young woman. Five very different lives, linked by a common thread, for all have experienced the true and extraordinary beauty of life, bursting through the veil of daily existence, only to disappear again before it can be fully grasped.