Autumn

Autumn

Ali Smith

First Sentence:     It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

Back of the book:  

A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both

Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever . . .

Quotes from the book:

“Here’s an old story so new that it’s still in the middle of happening, writing itself right now with no knowledge of where or how it’ll end.”

That’s what story is.

(Silence.)

It’s the never-ending leaf-fall.

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A Good Country

AGC

Laleh Khadivi

First Sentence:     They told him it was the best, there was nothing better.

Back of the book:

Laguna Beach, California, 2010. Alireza Courdee, a fourteen-year-old, straight-A student, takes his first hit of pot. In that moment, he is transformed from the high-achieving son of Iranian immigrants into a happy-go-lucky stoner. He loses his virginity, starts surfing, cuts classes and lies to his father. For the first time, Reza – now Rez – feels like an all-American teen.

Then a terror incident shocks the nation. As fears escalate, his newfound friends withdraw and Rez becomes increasingly isolated, an object of suspicion because of his name and skin colour. Now he can only relate to Arash, a fellow Muslim student, and beautiful Fatima, who starts wearing a hijab and going to the local mosque. Little by little, Reza is drawn into a troubling new world.

Delicately capturing a young man’s alienation and search for identity, A Good Country is an unforgettable modern coming-of-age story. It is also a powerful portrait of the ways in which international events reverberate across the globe, damaging distant lives. Insightful, nuanced and emotionally forceful, it is an important book for our times.

Quotes from the book:

And then it was out of his mouth and he couldn’t take it back. The words smashed around the car like a trapped bird and Fatima drove even faster. She stared at the road and kept both hands on the wheel and Rez wished she would at least turn to him and see that he was sorry.

“They flew through the night, two or three hundred people in rows, each a universe of histories and desires and fears and futures.”

He considered himself, and the way he moved in reaction, like a pinball , from one thing to the next, as he was told, as was expected, as made the least friction, and he knew this was the lazy behaviour of a scared boy.

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Feeding The Ghosts

Feeding the ghosts

Fred D’Aguiar

FROM THE ARCHIVES

First Sentence:     The sea is slavery.

Back of the book:

Inspired by a true story, this suspenseful and deeply moving novel chronicles an incident of courage and rebellion that took place aboard a disease-riddled slave ship returning from Africa. It was called Zong, and when disease threatens to infect all aboard, the ship’s captain orders his crew to seize the sick men, women, and children and throw them into the sea. But one female slave, Mintah, survives drowning and secretly climbs back onto the ship. From her hiding place, she attempts to rouse the remaining captives to rebel against the killings, becoming a dangerous force on the ship — a force which is reckoned with in a shocking court case. Powerful and poetic, Feeding the Ghosts is an unforgettable testimony to the struggle against oblivion and a reminder about history overlooked and truth distorted.

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A Natural

a-natural

Ross Raisin

First Sentence:     A few drivers had slowed to look up at the side of the coach as it circled the roundabout.

Back of the book:

Tom has always known exactly the person he is going to be. A successful footballer. A man others look up to. Now, though, the bright future he imagined for himself is threatened.

The Premier League academy of his boyhood has let him go. At nineteen, Tom finds himself playing for a tiny club in a town he has never heard of. But as he navigates his isolation and his desperate need for recognition, a sudden and thrilling encounter offers him the promise of an escape, and Tom is forced to question whether he can reconcile his suppressed desires with his dreams of success.

Leah, the captain’s wife, has almost forgotten the dreams she once held, for her career, her marriage. Moving again, as her husband is transferred from club to club, she is lost, disillusioned with where life has taken her.

A Natural delves into the heart of a professional football club: the pressure, the loneliness, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle, on and off the pitch, with conforming to the person that everybody else expects you to be.

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The Bell Jar

TBJ

Sylvia Plath

FROM THE ARCHIVES

First Sentence:     It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York

Back of the book:

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into serious depression as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take her aspirations seriously.

Quotes from the book:

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

“Because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

But when it came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defenseless that I couldn’t do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get.

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