|An Atlas of Impossible Longing
Beginning in 1907 with the founding of a factory in Songarh, a small provincial town where narrow attitudes prevail, the story is of three generations of an Indian family, brilliantly told, in which a sensitive and intelligent foundling boy orphan who is casteless and without religion and Bakul, the motherless granddaughter of the house, grow up together.
The boy, Mukunda, spends his time as a servant in the house or reading the books of Mrs Barnum, an Anglo-Englishwoman whose life was saved long ago by Bakul’s grandmother, by now demented by loneliness. Mrs Barnum gives Mukunda the run of her house, but as he and Bakul grow, they become aware that their intense closeness is becoming something else, and Bakul’s father is warned to separate them.
He banishes Mukunda to a school in Calcutta. The many strands of this intensely-fashioned narrative converge when Mukunda, by now a successful businessman, returns to Songarh years after he has been exiled from the only home he knew, to resolve the family’s destiny.
From his village in post-war France, Brodeck makes his solitary journeys into the mountains to collect data on the natural environment. Day by day he also reconstructs his own life, all but lost in the years he spent in a camp during the war.
No-one had expected to see him again. One day, a flamboyant stranger rides into the village, upsetting the fragile balance of everyday life. Soon he is named the Anderer, “the other”, and tensions rise until, one night, the newcomer is murdered. Brodeck is instructed to write an account of the events leading to his death, but his report delivers much more than the bare facts: it becomes the story of a community coming to terms with the legacy of enemy occupation.
In a powerful narrative of exceptional fascination, Brodeck’s Report explores the very limits of humanity.
|Beauty and the Inferno
Roberto Saviano is best known for his work on the Italian mafia, but Beauty and the Inferno, winner of the European Book Award 2010, also tackles universal themes with great insight and humanity, with urgency, and often with anger.
This important collection includes essays across a remarkably wide field of interests, celebrating personal heroes as diverse as Frank Miller and Lionel Messi. However as with the bestselling Gomorrah, his fearless and unflinching condemnation of the mafia takes centre stage. Implicit in Saviano’s tributes to writers, musicians, sportsmen and journalists is the message that there is an alternative to living in corruption and fear.
Beauty and the Inferno is a searing polemic that encompasses Saviano’s vision of life and of art, of the good to be found in humanity and the evil inherent in power. His commitment to truth resonates from every page.
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.
He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history.
But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
|Heaven and Hell
In a remote part of Iceland, a boy and his friend Barður join a boat to fish for cod. A winter storm surprises them out at sea and Barður, who has forgotten his waterproof as he was too absorbed in ‘Paradise Lost’, succumbs to the ferocious cold and dies. Appalled by the death and by the fishermen’s callous ability to set about gutting the fatal catch, the boy leaves the village, intending to return the book to its owner. .
The extreme hardship and danger of the journey is of little consequence to him – he has already resolved to join his friend in death. But once in the town he immerses himself in the stories and lives of its inhabitants, and decides that he cannot be with his friend just yet.
Set at the turn of the twentieth century, Heaven and Hell is a perfectly formed, vivid and timeless story, lyrical in style, and as intense a reading experience as the forces of the Icelandic landscape themselves. An outstandingly moving novel.