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The Return is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale. It is an exquisite meditation on how history and politics can bear down on an individual life. And yet Hisham Matar's memoir isn't just about the burden of the past, but the consolation of love, literature and art. It is the story of what it is to be human. Hisham Matar was nineteen when his father was kidnapped and taken to prison in Libya. He would never see him again. Twenty-two years later, the fall of Gaddafi meant he was finally able to return to his homeland. In this moving memoir, the author takes us on an illuminating journey, both physical and psychological; a journey to find his father and rediscover his country.
Winner of The Pulitzer Prize 2017.
Great Irish Lives
Discover the fascinating lives of the figures that have shaped Ireland from the early nineteenth century to the present day. Explore the rich history of the island's cultural, social and political landscape, with more than 100 obituaries carefully curated from The Times archive. The Irish have contributed richly to the world, most notably in literature, but also in the arts, law, politics, religion, scholarship, science, soldiering and sport. The list includes people who have made the greatest impact in their fields, others who have led particularly interesting or influential lives, and a selection of notable Irish figures in the history of The Times. Compiled and edited by Dubliner, Charles Lysaght, a lawyer, biographer and reviewer, he is a long-time writer of obituaries for The Times. In his introduction, he discusses the nature of Times obituaries and how they have reflected the sometimes troubled and controversial relationship of the newspaper with Ireland. This book features the major Irish figures of influence from the last 200 years including from Daniel O'Connell, Ian Paisley, William Butler Yeats, Maureen Potter, Maeve Binchy, Conor Cruise O'Brien and Mary Raftery.
Lion: A Long Way Home
One evening, five-year-old Saroo left his poor village home in India to watch his older brother work at the next town's train station. Lost and alone on an unfamiliar train, he found himself taken across the country and deposited in a strange city, unable to explain who he was or where he was from. He'd arrived in Calcutta and was taken in by a government agency. After failed attempts to find his family, Saroo was adopted by an Australian couple, the Brierleys, and taken to start a new life in Hobart. As an adult he never forgot his Indian roots and kept trying to work out where he came from. With the advent of Google Earth, his long inquiry began to bear fruit: as the technology improved, he was able to find what he thought was his home neighbourhood of Ganesh Talai - and go in search of his family. Even more astonishingly, he found them.
J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in post-war America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Hillbilly Elegy is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
The Princess Diarist
While working on the film set of Star Wars Carrie Fisher was filling her journal with plaintive love poems and unbridled musings, and now excerpts from these journals have made it into a book, which will sadly be her last. The Princess Diarist reveals what it was like behind the scenes, as well as her growing awareness of the insanity of celebrity. This is a wonderful addition to the literature on Star Wars, and a great book for fans of her previous memoirs Shockaholic and Wishful Drinking.
Shakespeare and Company Paris
This wonderful tome is an ode to a bookshop which has served as a meeting place and a home-away-from-home for readers and writers, from Jorge Luis Borges to Ray Bradbury, A.M. Homes to Dave Eggers, as well as for young authors and poets. Visitors are invited not only to read the books in the library and to share a pot of tea, but sometimes also to live in the shop itself - all for free. More than 30,000 people have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, fulfilling Whitman's vision of a 'socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore'.
Down the Dirt Roads
Country girl and bestselling novelist Rachael Treasure had worked hard to build a long-dreamed-of lifestyle on her own patch of dirt in Tasmania's rugged and beautiful wilderness. But through the breakdown of her marriage, Rachael lost her family farm and, in her words, lost her way in life. Discovering an all-new compass to live by, she took her two kids and her dogs and left the beaten path. Intensive farming, men on the land and women in the home - everywhere Rachael looked she saw ongoing harm to the soil and the foodchain. By going down the dirt roads and getting back to grassroots, she discovered another set of stories about country life in Australia, and a different way to live on the land.
The Boy Behind the Curtain
The extraordinarily powerful true stories that make up The Boy Behind the Curtain take us behind the scenes, revealing the accidents - both serendipitous and traumatic - that have influenced his view of life and fuelled his distinctive artistic vision. They show the unexpected links between car crashes and religious faith, between surfing and writing, and how going to the wrong movie at the age of eight opened him up to a life of the imagination. By turns impassioned, funny, joyous, astonishing, this is Winton's most personal book to date, an insight into the man who's held us enthralled for three decades and helped us reshape our view of ourselves. Behind it all, from risk-taking youth to surprise-averse middle age, has been the crazy punt of staking everything on becoming a writer.
Working Class Boy
Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny, Jimmy Barnes's childhood memoir is at once the story of migrant dreams fulfilled and dashed. After arriving in Australia in the summer of 1962, things went from bad to worse for the Swan family - Dot, Jim and their six kids. The scramble to manage in the tough northern suburbs of Adelaide in the 60s would take its toll on the Swans as dwindling money, too much alcohol and fraying tempers gave way to violence and despair. This is the story of a family's collapse, but also of a young boy's dream to escape the misery of the suburbs with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a rock'n'roll band and get out of town for good. Nothing will prepare you for the power of Jimmy's memoir.
The Story of Beatrix Potter
To this day, Beatrix Potter's tales delight children and grown-ups around the world. But few people realise how extraordinary her own story is. In The Story of Beatrix Potter, Sarah Gristwood follows the twists and turns of Beatrix Potter's life and its key turning points - including her tragically brief first engagement and happy second marriage late in life. She traces the creation of Beatrix's most famous characters - including the naughty Peter Rabbit, confused Jemima Puddleduck and cheeky Squirrel Nutkin - revealing how she drew on her unusual childhood pets and locations in her beloved Lake District. She explores too, the last 30 years of Potter's life, when she abandoned books to become a working farmer and a pioneering conservationist, whose work with the National Trust helped to save thousands of acres of the Lake District - a legacy that, like her books, continues to enrich our lives today.
Van Gogh's Ear
On a dark night in Provence in December 1888 Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear. It is an act that has come to define him. In Van Gogh's Ear Bernadette Murphy sets out to discover exactly what happened that night in Arles. Her investigation takes us from major museums to the dusty contents of forgotten archives, vividly reconstructing the world in which Van Gogh moved - the madams and prostitutes, cafe patrons and police inspectors, his beloved brother Theo, and his fellow artist and house-guest Paul Gauguin. With exclusive revelations and new research about the ear and about 'Rachel', Bernadette Murphy proposes a bold new hypothesis about what was occurring in Van Gogh's heart and mind as he made a mysterious delivery to her doorstep that fateful night.
In Other Words
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In Other Words is at heart a love story, of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterwards, full mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to uproot herself, her husband and two children, and move to Rome. Over the course of three years, Lahiri read, spoke and wrote - even in her journal - solely in Italian, slowly beginning to feel she could not only communicate in Italian, but fully express herself, even in fiction. In Other Words explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language. It is a book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Nabokov. A startling act of self-reflection and a powerful exploration of a surprising, life-changing passion. This eloquent book showcases a remarkable writer's gifts, it is her most intimate and exciting book to date.
A Cook's Life
When Stephanie Alexander, opened Stephanie's Restaurant in 1976, it quickly became part of Melbourne food folklore, permanently raising the bar for restaurant dining in Australia. As a restaurateur, Stephanie championed small, local suppliers and also grew her own fresh produce. A Cook's Life is Stephanie's personal account of her uncompromising commitment to good food, and how this quest for the best shaped her life and influenced the dining habits of a nation.
In 1943, hidden by the Resistance in a French convent, Moriz Scheyer began drafting an account of his wartime experiences: a tense, moving, at times almost miraculous story of flight and persecution in Austria and France. As arts editor of Vienna's principal newspaper before the German annexation of Austria, Scheyer had known the city's great artists, including Stefan Zweig and Gustav Mahler, and was himself an important literary journalist. In this book he brings his distinctive critical and emotional voice to bear on his own extraordinary experiences: Vienna at the Anschluss; Paris immediately pre-war and under Nazi occupation; the 'Exodus'; two periods of incarceration in French concentration camps; contact with the Resistance; a failed attempt at escape to Switzerland; and a dramatic rescue followed by clandestine life in a mental asylum run by Franciscan nuns. Completed in 1945, Scheyer's memoir is remarkable not just for the riveting events that it recounts, but as a near-unique survivor's perspective from that time.
Hitler: Vol.1 Ascent
Despite his status as the most despised political figure in history, there have only been four serious biographies of Hitler since the 1930s. Even more surprisingly, his biographers have been more interested in his rise to power and his methods of leadership than in Hitler the person: some have even declared that the Fuhrer had no private life. This fails to explain the spell that he cast not only on those close to him but on the German people as a whole. Drawing on a wealth of previously neglected or unavailable sources, this magisterial study provides the most rounded portrait of Hitler to date. Ullrich renders the Fuhrer not as a psychopath but as a master of seduction and guile - and it is perhaps the complexity of his character that explains his enigmatic grip on the German people more convincingly than the cliched image of the monster. This definitive biography will forever change the way we look at the man who took the world into the abyss.
A mother who invented her past, a father who was often absent, a son who wondered if this could really be his family. Richard Glover's favourite dinner party game is called 'Who's Got the Weirdest Parents?'. It's a game he always thinks he'll win. There was his mother, a deluded snob, who made up large swathes of her past and who ran away with Richard's English teacher, a Tolkien devotee, nudist and stuffed-toy collector. There was his father, a distant alcoholic, who ran through a gamut of wives, yachts and failed dreams. And there was Richard himself, a confused teenager, vulnerable to strange men, trying to find a family he could belong to. As he eventually accepted, the only way to make sense of the present was to go back to the past - but beware of what you might find there. Truth can leave wounds - even if they are only flesh wounds. Part poignant family memoir, part rollicking venture into a 1970s Australia, this is a book for anyone who's wondered if their family is the oddest one on the planet. The answer: 'No'. There is always something stranger out there.
It has been 50 years since Norman Mailer asserted, 'I think that William Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.' This assessment holds true today. No-one since then has taken such risks in their writing, developed such individual radical political ideas, or spanned such a wide range of media. Made a cult figure by the publication of NAKED LUNCH, Burroughs was a mentor to the 1960s youth culture. Based upon extensive research, this biography paints a new portrait of Burroughs, making him real to the reader and showing how he was perceived by his contemporaries in all his guises - from icily distant to voluble drunk. It shows how his writing was very much influenced by his life situation and by the people he met on his travels around America and Europe. He was, beneath it all, a man torn by emotions: his guilt at not visiting his doting mother; his despair at not responding to reconciliation attempts from his father; his distance from his brother; the huge void that separated him from his son; and above all his killing of his wife, Joan Vollmer.
H is for Hawk
As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for GBP800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.
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