'A woman finds her everyday life engulfed by vivid fantasies, a businessman explores new ways to deal with his rage, a young woman is stuck on a boat with a bunch of delinquents, a diary is discovered, a commune goes wrong ...
'In this captivating collection of short fiction, award-winning novelist Amanda Lohrey explores the dilemmas of modern life. Her characters find themselves caught between body and spirit, memory and desire, ambition and mortality - and they must transform themselves or be trapped.' (From the publisher's website.)
'A young English biographer is working on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. He plans to focus on the years from 1972 - 1977 when Coetzee, in his thirties, is sharing a run-down cottage in the suburbs of Cape Town with his widowed father. This, the biographer senses, is the period when he was finding his feet as a writer. Never having met Coetzee, he embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to him: a married woman with whom he had an affair, his favourite cousin Margot, a Brazilian dancer whose daughter had English lessons with him, former friends and colleagues. From their testimony emerges a portrait of the young Coetzee as an awkward, bookish individual with little talent for opening himself to others. Within the family he is regarded as an outsider, someone who tried to flee the tribe and has now returned, chastened. His insistence on doing manual work, his long hair and beard, rumours that he writes poetry evoke nothing but suspicion in the South Africa of the time.
Sometimes heartbreaking, often very funny, Summertime shows us a great writer as he limbers up for his task. It completes the majestic trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with Boyhood and Youth.' (Provided by the publisher.)
'It is 1839. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on an island at the centre of the world, the most famous novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense passion.
Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then governor of Van Diemen's Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, the Franklins throw the child onto the streets and into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. A few years later Mathinna is found dead in a puddle. She is nineteen years old. By then Sir John too is dead, lost in the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North West Passage. A decade later evidence emerges that in its final agony, Franklin's expedition resorted to the level and practice of savages: cannibalism. Lady Jane enlists Dickens's aid to put an end to such scandalous suggestions.
Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklin's fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally no longer able to control his own wanting and the consequences it brings.
Based on historic events, Wanting is a novel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting.' (Provided by publisher.)
The Turning comprises seventeen overlapping stories of second thoughts and mid-life regret set in the brooding small-town world of coastal Western Australia. Here are turnings of all kinds - changes of heart, nasty surprises, slow awakenings, sudden detours - where people struggle against the terrible weight of the past and challenge the lives they've made for themselves.
These elegiac stories examine the darkness and frailty of ordinary people and celebrate the moments when the light shines through.
In Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons, the eponymous protagonist is a retired author of international literary acclaim, who now spends her time giving guest lectures and interviews at scholarly events around the world. Old age has loosened, rather than reified, her ethical and literary convictions, and swelled her emotional reserves; rather than provide the staid academic wisdom expected of her, Costello offers provocative, unsettling opinions on issues such as animal rights, literary censorship, and the nature of belief - opinions she may or may not believe in herself. Profoundly aware of itself, Coetzee's novel is about human morality and mortality, but above all, about literature itself and the ethical responsibilities of writers and readers.
'Lowell tries not to think about the past, about the hijacking that killed his mother. Samantha, on the other hand, cannot let go. As a child she survived the hijacking of Air France 64, and as an adult she obsessively digs for answers, seeking a man called Salamander whom she believes holds key information.
'It is the death of Lowell's father, and his legacy of a blue sports bag crammed with documents and videotapes, that finally brings Lowell and Samantha together and unravels the interconnections between victims and perpetrators, saved and damned.
'But in this murky world of endless aliases and surveillance, who can be trusted? When does the quest for truth become a dangerous obsession? And what difference can the truth make?
'Janette Turner Hospital has crafted a taut and confronting novel that propels us into the chaos of terror and the cruelty - and unexpected hope - of survival. ' (Publication summary)
'A rich, lyrical novel forged out of the fiery heart of Sicily, The Volcano tells the tumultuous story of Emilio Aquila, a boy whose very thoughts make him an outcast from his own village.
'Fleeing into the labyrinthine caves high on the slopes of Sicily's Mount Etna, and surrounded by the echoes of his island's mythical past, Emilio's withdrawal from the world leads him toward a life of introspection and self-examination. Yet these higher ideals are interrupted by the arrival of the villainous Rocco Fuentes and by Emilio's tormented passion for a girl beyond his reach.
'Emilio's determination to live on his own terms turns him into what he most despises - a criminal and kidnapper - and compels him to seek a new start half a world away. But will he be able to escape the shadows of the past? And will Australia ever be more to him than a place of suffering and regret?'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
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