What We're Reading

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Neil

OK, Mr Field, by Katharine Kilalea (Faber, 2018)

This is a very odd, quite unsettling novel. Mr Field, the narrator, is a concert pianist whose career has been ended by an accident, and on a whim he spends his compensation money on a reproduction of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, in Cape Town. He moves there with his wife, who soon leaves, and he becomes lethargic and disoriented, and as the house decays around him, he becomes obsessed with its former occupants. He is an elusive character, as he descends into madness, but the reader is drawn along with him, all the time with increasing anxiety.

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Neil

Scrublands, by Chris Hammer (Allen & Unwin 2018)

I read this twisting turning Australian thriller pretty much in one sitting, which is the best way to keep track of the revelations! It's set in a small town in New South Wales. The local priests kills 5 local parishioners, so right from the beginning the reader knows what has happened, but not why. The journalist-with-a-past sent to the town to find out why finds a lot more than he bargained for. The plot twists and surprises come regularly, but all are convincing, plausible, and add massively to the tension. A superb thriller.

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Neil

Normal People, by Sally Rooney (Faber 2018)

This is Sally Rooney's second novel (Conversations With Friends was published in 2017), and has been long listed for the Man Booker Prize. Sally Rooney was born in 1991.

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Neil

Born of the Sun, by Joseph Diescho (Friendship Press 1988)

In preparation for our recent trip to Namibia, this formed part of my preparatory reading. It's widely seen as a contender for the 'Great Namibian Novel', and deservedly so. It's set in the lead up to Namibia's independence from South Africa in 1990, and follows the experiences of Muronga, a rather naive young, newly married man living a traditional village life in rural Namibia. His life changes radically when the village is visited by commissioners from South Africa requiring villagers to pay taxes.

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Neil

Hellholes of the World: A Love Story (Archetype, April 2018)

This is the first book Archetype have ever published in over 20 years, and it will probably be the last! It's by my brother, who died in 2015. He had prepared the manuscript of a travel memoir before he died, but hadn't managed to arrange publication. So here it is, forgive me if I'm biased!

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Neil

Ill Fares the Land, by Tony Judt (Penguin 2010)

Historian, writer, intellectual and philosopher Tony Judt has previously written a dozen or so award-winning books. He died in 2010, the year this book was published. It's a brilliantly written, elegant call to arms about our current politics and pursuit of material self-interest. He focuses mostly on America, where he lived later in his life. He sets out what has been lost since Reagan/Thatcher, and calls for a return to social democratic ideals. It's a remarkable, thought provoking book, which seems more urgent now than it did even when it was published a mere 8 years ago.