In the small hours of January 1st, a man begins to write, having watched Le Grand Concert de la Nuit, a film in which a former lover – Imogen – plays a major role. For the next twelve months, he writes something every day. What he writes is The Great Concert of the Night.
His journal is a ritual of commemoration and an investigation of the character of Imogen and her relationships – with the writer; with her family; with other lovers; and with a young homeless man named William, who becomes a lodger in the writer’s house.
Imogen is an elusive subject, and The Great Concert of the Night is an intricate text, mixing scenes from the writer’s memory and the present day, and scenes from Imogen’s films, with observations on a range of subjects, from the visions of female saints to the history of medicine and the festivals of ancient Rome. But one subject comes to occupy him above all: what happens when a person becomes a character on the page.
“This is a subtle, erudite novel – a novel as French cinema, both in form and content. At times it reminded me of James Salter, and yet at the same time it is very British indeed. Jonathan Buckley is one of the UK’s most cultured and original novelists writing today.” Neil Griffiths, Republic of Consciousness
“A quietly brilliant writer, almost eccentric in his craftsmanship.” The Sunday Times
A new edition marking the 80th Anniversary of the Kindertransport.
Nine months after the Nazi occupation of Austria, 600 Jewish children assembled at Vienna station to board the first of the kindertransports bound for Britain. Among them was ten year old Lore Segal.
For the next seven years, she lived as a refugee in other people’s houses, moving from the Orthodox Levines in Liverpool, to the staunchly working class Hoopers, to the genteel Miss Douglas and her sister in Guildford. Few understood the terrors she had fled, or the crushing responsibility of trying to help her parents gain a visa. Amazingly she succeeds and two years later her parents arrive; their visa allows them to work as domestic servants – a humiliation for which they must be grateful.
In Other People’s Houses Segal evokes with deep compassion, clarity and calm the experience of a child uprooted from a loving home to become stranded among strangers.
First published in serial form in The New Yorker in the early 1950s, and as an autobiographical novel in 1958. This is a new edition with an afterword – philosophically astute and beautifully written – by Lore Segal in 2018.
Lore Segal is interviewed in the 2000 Academy award-winning documentary documentary Into the Arms of Strangers, Written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris, produced by Deborah Oppenheimer, narrated by Judi Dench
For nine months prior to World War II, in an act of mercy unequalled anywhere else before the war, Britain conducted an extraordinary rescue mission, opening its doors to over 10,000 Jewish and other children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. These children, or Kinder (sing. Kind), as they came to be known, were taken into foster homes and hostels in Britain, expecting eventually to be reunited with their parents. The majority of them never saw their families again.
Tove Jansson’s last original collection of short stories
The rich seam that is Jansson’s adult prose continues with this penultimate collection of short stories (the last containing all new stories), written in her seventies at the height of her Moomin fame. It has been translated into English for the first time. In these light-footed, beautifully crafted yet disquieting stories, Jansson tells of discomfiting encounters, unlooked for connections and moments of isolation that span generations and decades. Whether writing from the perspective of a bewildered young artist, a resilient child or an irascible elderly correspondent, Letters From Klara proves yet again her mastery of this literary form.
Thomas Teal has won the Rochester Best Translated Book Award and the Bernard Shaw Prize for Translation (twice) for his translations of Tove Jannson’s fiction.
In this second Encircling book, set on the backwater island of Otterøya, Tiller continues the singular premise of his prizewinning trilogy. David, the enigmatic and absent central character, has lost his memory. At the behest of his psychiatrist, three friends send in letters about the childhood they shared. We hear from Ole, a hardworking, naive, farmer struggling on the brink of marital breakdown; from Tom Roger, a musclebound outsider fearful of spiraling into domestic violence; and from Paula, a midwife retired to an old people’s home, where she guards explosive secrets of her own and David’s past.
Using a carefully scored polyphony of voices, and unflinching domestic focus, Tiller shows how deeply identity is influenced by our friendships. The Encirclingtrilogy presents an epic saga of Norwegian life that is both starkly honest and unnervingly true.
‘A scabrous satire of the contemporary art world and its love affair with neuroscience. Hilariously funny.’ Simon Critchley
‘I bloody loved it!’ Gary Hume
In this mordantly dark satire, Simon Bill brings together two very disparate worlds; the endlessly fascinating and strangely implausible world of neuroscientific research and the equally strange, drug-fuelled and novelty-obsessed London contemporary art scene. Providing the link is Bill’s drunken anti-hero, an abstract artist down on his luck who lands a residency at a shiny new neurological research institute. Between an endless round of private views (attended to siphon the free booze and ingratiate himself with dealers) Bill’s hapless artist sets out to revive his stalled career, and love life, with a neuro-inspired art show. His new job might also help him cope with his own neurological deficits – a lousy sense of direction and alcoholic blackouts.
Artist in Residence will have you laughing out loud at the spotlight grabbing antics of aspiring artists and curators while fascinating you with insights into the workings of the human brain.
It is the summer of 1947. A novice Lutheran priest, his wife and baby daughter arrive at a windswept island off the coast of Finland, where they are welcomed by its frugal, self-sufficient community of fisher folk turned reluctant farmers. In this deeply atmospheric and quietly epic tale, Lundberg uses a wealth of everyday detail to draw us irresistibly into a life and mindset far removed from our own – stoic and devout yet touched with humour and a propensity for song. With each season, the young family’s love of the island and its disparate and scattered inhabitants deepens, and when the winter brings ice, new and precarious links appear. Told in spare, simple prose that mirrors the islanders’ unadorned style, this is a story as immersive as it is heartrending.
In this small but perfectly formed collection of supernatural short stories, Sophie Hannah takes the comforting scenes of everyday life and imbues them with a frisson of fear, then a gust of terror. Why is a young woman so unnerved by the presence of a visitors book in her boyfriend’s inner-city home? And whose spidery handwriting is it that fills the pages? Who is the strangely courteous boy still lingering at a child’s tenth birthday party when all the parents have gathered their children and left? And why does the presence of a perfectly ordinary woman in a post office queue leave another customer pallid and quaking with fear?
David has lost his memory. A newspaper advert appears asking friends and relatives to share their memories of him. Three respond: his two closest teenage friends, and his stepfather, now estranged, from his backwater hometown of Namsos. Their reminiscences of teenage nihilism and rebellion, the eroticism and uncertainties of first love, and intense experiments in art and music, are framed by present day scenes of lives run aground on thwarted ambition and intimacy.
Told in letters, interleaved with internal monologues and commentaries, Encircling provides a dark, searingly honest portrait of life at the edges of provincial Norway. Yet for all its apparent bleakness, Tiller’s remarkable opening novel of the Encircling Trilogy pulses with humanity and truth. As each narrative colours and reshapes the last, the enigma that is David continues to intrigue us.
336pp B Format deluxe Pbk with flaps: £8.99: Pub June 3rd 2014
From the bestselling author of Driving Over Lemons
‘You just can’t fail to like him and the world he spreads out for you…Mr Stewart is that rare thing, the real McCoy.’The Guardian
It’s two decades since Chris Stewart moved to his farm on the wrong side of a river in the mountains of southern Spain and his daughter Chlöe is preparing to fly the nest for university. In this latest, typically hilarious dispatch from El Valero we find Chris, now a local literary celebrity, using his fame to help his old sheep-shearing partner find work on a raucous road trip; cooking a TV lunch for visiting British chef, Rick Stein; discovering the pitfalls of Spanish public speaking; and recalling his own first foray into the adult world of work.
Yet it’s at El Valero, his beloved sheep farm, that Chris remains in his element as he, his wife Ana and their assorted dogs, cats and sheep weather a near calamitous flood and emerge as newly certified organic farmers. His cash crop? The lemons and oranges he once so blithely drove over, of course.
Nat Jansz of Sort Of Books says: Unlike the rest of us, Chris Stewart’s irrepressible wit, inclusive spirit, even his wild optimism seem to strengthen as he gets older. His latest crop of anecdotes had us laughing out loud and wishing we were at El Valero picking oranges. Last Days of the Bus Club’s an unqualified hoot.’
Chris Stewart says: ‘I know it’s taken a long time, but these books are natural hand-reared products. You have to let the things happen to you, masticate and digest them. This has to be done properly in order to get them into regurgitatable form; and then the regurgitation – well, as the Spanish would have it – ‘No es moco de pavo’, or it’s not turkey-snot (or, more delicately, no picnic). In this case, our daughter, Chloé, leaving home for the greater world outside the Alpujarra proved the rite of passage that got me thinking. Now there’s just the two of us, Ana and me, making a go of the farm at last and taking stock of all the stories. Here are some of them; I hope you enjoy them.’
240pp Original paperback : £8.99: Pub date 4th June 2014
Aunt Gerda – the good listener – fears the encroaching forgetfulness of old age. Her solution is to create an artwork that will record and, inevitably, betray the secrets long confided in her. So begins Jansson’s short story debut, a tour de force of scalpel-sharp narration that takes us from a disquieting homage to the artist Edward Gorey, to perfect evocations of childhood innocence and recklessness, to a city ravaged by storms, or the slow halting thaw of spring. These stories are gifts of originality and depth.
The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prolific output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of classic and acclaimed novels and short stories. The Listener, translated here for the first time into English, was Jansson’s debut short story collection, written in 1970.
160pp B Format deluxe Pbk with flaps: £8.99: Pub June 10th 2014