Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." First published in 1946<
Tusker and Lily Smalley stayed on in India. Given the chance to return 'home' when Tusker, once a Colonel in the British Army, retired, they chose instead to remain in the small hill town of Pangkot, with its eccentric inhabitants and archaic rituals left over from the days of the Empire. Only the tyranny of their landlady, the imposing Mrs Bhoolabhoy, threatens to upset the quiet rhythm of their days. Both funny and deeply moving, Staying On is a unique, engrossing portrait of the end of an empire and of a forty-year love affair.
In the early 1980s Hanif Kureishi emerged as one of the most compelling new voices in film and fiction. His movies My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and his novel The Buddha of Suburbia captivated audiences and inspired other artists. In Something to Tell You, he travels back to those days of hedonism, activism and glorious creativity. And he explores the lives of that generation now, in a very different London.
Marked by Irvine Welsh’s scabrous humor and raw Scottish vernacular, Skagboys transports us to 1980s Edinburgh, where the Trainspotting crew is just getting started. Mark Renton has it all: the first in his family to attend university, he has a pretty girlfriend and a great social life. But when economic uncertainties and family problems intervene, Rent succumbs to the defeatism—not to mention the drug use—that has taken hold in Edinburgh’s tougher quarters. His friends are responding according to personality. Laid off, Spud Murphy is paralyzed in the face of long-term unemployment. Sick Boy, supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, is scamming and hustling for money and drugs. And meanwhile, psycho Franco Begbie is scaring the hell out of everyone. Darkly humorous, Skagboys gives a gritty and gripping portrait of a time, not unlike ours, when money was scarce, unemployment was high, and drugs seemed the answer.
Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Amitav Ghosh's radiant second novel follows two families—one English, one Bengali—as their lives intertwine in tragic and comic ways. The narrator, Indian born and English educated, traces events back and forth in time, from the outbreak of World War II to the late twentieth century, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives.
Set in 17th century London, Sexing the Cherry is about the journeys taken by the boisterous Dog-Woman and her son Jordan: journeys across seas to find bananas and pineapples; journeys through time that weave snatches of the present with tales of Charles 1 and Oliver Cromwell; journeys in search of the self. As mothers go, the Dog-Woman takes some beating. She's a giant, wrapped in a skirt that could "serve as a sail for some wartorn ship" and strong enough to fling an elephant into the air. She's hideous too, with smallpox scars on her face where fleas live, a flat nose and black, broken teeth. To top it all, she's a "fantasist, a liar and a murderer". But her son, Jordan, is proud of her--who else has a mother who can hold a dozen oranges in her mouth at once?
Like the best of Winterson's writing, such as Oranges are not the Only Fruit and The Passion, the novel is engaging, ambitious and contrary. Alongside a hearty historical realism, young girls swoon in locked towers that don't exist, islands slip sideways in time and mysterious diseases wipe out towns and cities. Even though Sexing the Cherry is short, it is impossible to read it in a straight line--fairy tales and dreams run in and out of the text and it's hard to resist chasing them. There is an exceptional playfulness at work too--an unravelling of the most solid of historical facts and fantastically unconventional fairy tales in which princesses smash the skulls of their princes with silver candlesticks or become worn and grey "like old sweaters". --Jane Honey
H.G. Wells is best remembered as a central figure in the development of the science fiction genre and as the creator of such works as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The War of the Worlds. However, much of his literary output was more conventional in nature, and he published a number of novels dealing with interpersonal relationships and social themes. Many critics regard The Secret Places of the Heart as a heavily autobiographical account of one of Wells' failed love affairs.
The Remains of the Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving “a great gentleman.” But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness” and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he served.
A tragic, spiritual portrait of a perfect English butler and his reaction to his fading insular world in post-war England. A wonderful, wonderful book.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . . Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . . Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.
The epic length of this first novel--nearly 800 densely typeset pages--should not put off readers, for its immediacy is equal to its heft. Palliser, an English professor in Scotland, where this strange yet magnetic work was first published, has modeled his extravagantly plotted narrative on 19th-century forms--Dickens's Bleak House is its most obvious antecedent--but its graceful writing and unerring sense of timing revivifies a kind of novel once avidly read and surely now to be again in demand. The protagonist, a young man naive enough to be blind to all clues about his own hidden history (and to the fact that his very existence is troubling to all manner of evildoers) narrates a story of uncommon beauty which not only brings readers face-to-face with dozens of piquantly drawn characters at all levels of 19th-century English society but re-creates with precision the tempestuous weather and gnarly landscape that has been a motif of the English novel since Wuthering Heights . The suspension of disbelief happens easily, as the reader is led through twisted family trees and plot lines. The quincunx of the title is a heraldic figure of five parts that appears at crucial points within the text (the number five recurs throughout the novel, which itself is divided into five parts, one for each of the family galaxies whose orbits the narrator is pulled into). Quintuple the length of the ordinary novel, this extraordinary tour de force also has five times the ordinary allotment of adventure, action and aplomb.