Cloudstreet

“From award-winning author Tim Winton comes an epic novel that regularly tops the list of best-loved novels in Australia.

After two separate catastrophes, two very different families leave the country for the bright lights of Perth. The Lambs are industrious, united, and—until God seems to turn His back on their boy Fish—religious. The Pickleses are gamblers, boozers, fractious, and unlikely landlords.

Change, hardship, and the war force them to swallow their dignity and share a great, breathing, shuddering house called Cloudstreet. Over the next twenty years, they struggle and strive, laugh and curse, come apart and pull together under the same roof, and try as they can to make their lives.

Winner of the Miles Franklin Award and recognized as one of the greatest works of Australian literature, Cloudstreet is Tim Winton's sprawling, comic epic about luck and love, fortitude and forgiveness, and the magic of the everyday.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Karen Roberts for the suggestion.)

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Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

"Childhood stories of family, country and belonging

What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart – sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect.

This groundbreaking collection will enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.

Contributors include: Tony Birch, Deborah Cheetham, Adam Goodes, Terri Janke, Patrick Johnson, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Jack Latimore, Celeste Liddle, Amy McQuire, Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Miranda Tapsell, Jared Thomas, Aileen Walsh, Alexis West, Tara June Winch, and many, many more.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Julie Jacobs for the suggestion.)

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Last Woman Hanged

“Two husbands, four trials and one bloody execution: Winner of the 2015 Davitt Award for Best Crime Book (Non-fiction)— the terrible true story of Louisa Collins.

In January 1889, Louisa Collins, a 41-year-old mother of ten children, became the first woman hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. Both of Louisa's husbands had died suddenly and the Crown, convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic, put her on trial an extraordinary four times in order to get a conviction, to the horror of many in the legal community. Louisa protested her innocence until the end.

Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial. Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter, May, who was just 10-years-old when asked to take the stand. Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law—except when it came to the gallows. They could not vote or stand for parliament—or sit on juries. Against this background, a small group of women rose up to try to save Louisa's life, arguing that a legal system comprised only of men—male judges, all-male jury, male prosecutor, governor and Premier—could not with any integrity hang a woman. The tenacity of these women would not save Louisa but it would ultimately carry women from their homes all the way to Parliament House.“

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Lexicon

Awarded Book of the Year among other accolades from 16 major media sites including Time, Goodreads, Vogue, & NPR

“A novel of international intrigue and weaponized linguistics,” it's about “as close you can get to the perfect cerebral thriller: searingly smart, ridiculously funny, and fast as hell.”

“Stick and stones break bones. Words kill.

They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words. They'll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember. Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.

There's a word, they say. A word that kills. And they want it back . . . “

Beloved by a variety of authors the likes of Hugh Howey, NY Times bestselling author of Wool who titled itA masterpiece!”, Kirkus notes this is “an up-all-night thriller for geeks who want to see their wizards all grown up in the real world and armed to the teeth in a bloody story.”

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Musketeer Space

“Written by a double Hugo award-winning author, Musketeer Space is a gender-flipped, space opera retelling of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Three Musketeers.” It’s “smart, funny, fast-paced and absorbing ” with outstanding 4.5 star & above reviews on all platforms including Goodreads & Amazon.

“‘I haven't got a blade. I haven't got a ship. I washed out of the Musketeers. If this is your idea of honour, put down the swords and I'll take you on with my bare hands.’

When Dana D'Artagnan left home for a life of adventure, she never expected to form a friendship with Paris Satellite's most infamous sword-fighting scoundrels: the Musketeers known as Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

Dana and her friends are swept up in a political conspiracy involving royal scandals, disguised spaceships, a handsome tailor who keeps getting himself kidnapped, and a seductive spy with too many secrets.

With the Solar System on the brink of war, Dana finally has a chance to prove herself. But is it worth becoming a Musketeer if she has to sacrifice her friends?

Swords! Kissing! Friendship! Spies! Spaceships! All for one and one for all.”

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The Slap

“The basis for the NBC event series directed by Lisa Cholodenko and starring Uma Thurman, Peter Sarsgaard, and Zachary Quinto.

In this powerful and riveting novel reminiscent of Liane Moriarty's Truly, Madly, Guilty, literary phenomenon Christos Tsiolkas unflinchingly exposes the inner workings of domestic life, friendship, and parenthood in the twenty-first century, and reminds us of the passions and malice that family loyalty can provoke. When a man slaps another couple’s child at a neighborhood barbecue, the event sends unforeseeable shock waves through the lives of all who are witness to it. Told from the points of view of eight people who were present, The Slap shows how a single action can change the way people think about how they live, what they want, and what they believe forever.”

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Wife of the Gods

"Mystery fans have an important new voice to savor." - Los Angeles Times

"Move over Alexander McCall Smith, Ghana has joined Botswana on the map of mystery." - Kirkus 

"Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he's been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana's capital city to lead a murder investigation. In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu's indigenous language, so he's the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider's interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind 25 years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother's inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student's death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that hit much too close to home."

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Changes

"Esi decides to divorce after enduring yet another morning's marital rape. Though her friends and family remain baffled by her decision (after all, he doesn't beat her!), Esi holds fast. When she falls in love with a married man—wealthy, and able to arrange a polygamous marriage—the modern woman finds herself trapped in a new set of problems. Witty and compelling, Aidoo's novel, 'inaugurates a new realist style in African literature.'

A love story in a world where the working lives of women have changed, but cultural assumptions have not."

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My First Coup d'Etat

"My First Coup d'Etat charts the coming of age of John Dramani Mahama (the former President of Ghana) during the dismal post-independence 'lost decades' of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of that first coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father was suddenly missing. 'It is sometimes incorrectly referred to in texts as a bloodless coup, yet it was anything but,' Mahama writes. 'They tried, as best they could, with smiles and toffee, to shield me from their rising anxiety but I could feel it bouncing off the quick sideways glances they shot one another and taking flight like some dark, winged creature.' John's father, a Minister of State, was in prison for more than a year. My First Coup d'Etat offers a look at the country that has long been considered Africa's success story—from its founding as the first sub-Saharan nation to gain independence, to its current status as the only nation on the continent to have, thus far, met the majority of targets on hunger, poverty, and education set by the U.N. But these stories work on many levels—as fables, as history, as cultural and political analysis, and of course as the memoir of a young man who, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, was destined to become a leader in his own land. These are stories that rise above their specific settings and transport the reader—much like the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nadine Gordimer—into a world all their own, one which straddles a time lost and explores the universal human emotions of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else."

(A special thank you to book club member, Judy Tanguay for the suggestion.)

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Not Without Flowers

In this contemporary work of women's fiction tinged with surrealism, Not Without Flowers provides insight into aspects of Ghanaian culture many readers may be unfamiliar with—polygamy along with the poor treatment of mental health & HIV.

"Amma Darko tells the story of women in Africa: here it is—misery, pain, agony, dilemmas, and frustrations. She floats the reader on a world of inverted reality, which yet becomes the norm. With creative imagination, confronting the social realities, she seeks out the world of peace and tranquility. But not without verisimilitude. The extremes of moral turpitude beget horrid outcomes, leaving suspense rather than resolution. 

Amma Darko is one of the most significant contemporary Ghanaian literary writers."

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Ordained by the Oracle

Despite the rapid proliferation of Christianity in Ghana, indigenous religious beliefs & practices continue to exercise a profound influence on many  Ghanaians. Among the most widespread of these are a commitment to the reality of ancestral spirits, the necessity of appeasing them through the pouring of libations, & the unique traditional customs which must be performed during 40 days & nights of funeral rituals. 

In this internationally acclaimed novel, Ghanaian journalist Asare Konadu draws on rural life in Ghana to "vividly depict the conflicting strains of emotion and social behaviour of a prosperous trader named Boateng" who must participate in the traditional practices of Akan culture when his wife suddenly dies.

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The Promise of Hope

Slain in a terrorist attack in Kenya, Awoonor did not live to see this final volume of his published, but his spirit endures through his verse which combines the poetic traditions of his native Ewe people of Ghana & contemporary symbolism to depict Africa during decolonization.

"Kofi Awoonor, one of Ghana’s most accomplished poets, had for almost half a century committed himself to teaching, political engagement, and the literary arts. The one constant that guided and shaped his many occupations and roles in life was poetry. The Promise of Hope is a beautifully edited collection of some of Awoonor’s most arresting work spanning almost fifty years. 

Selected and edited by Awoonor’s friend and colleague Kofi Anyidoho, himself a prominent poet and academic in Ghana, The Promise of Hope contains much of Awoonor’s most recent unpublished poetry, along with many of his anthologized and classic poems."

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Butterflies in November

Long-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014

"In Butterflies in November, internationally best-selling author Auur Ava lafsdttir crafts a 'funny, moving, and occasionally bizarre exploration of life's upheavals and reversals' (Financial Times).

After a day of being dumped - twice - and accidentally killing a goose, a young woman yearns for a tropical vacation far away from the chaos of her life. Instead, her plans are thrown off course by her best friend's four-year-old deaf-mute son, thrust into her reluctant care. But when the boy chooses the winning numbers for a lottery ticket, the two of them set off on a road trip across Iceland with a glove compartment stuffed full of their jackpot earnings. Along the way, they encounter black sand beaches, cucumber farms, lava fields, flocks of sheep, an Estonian choir, a falconer, a hitchhiker, and both of her exes desperate for another chance. As she and the boy grow closer, what began as a spontaneous adventure unexpectedly and profoundly changes the way she views her past and charts her future.

Butterflies in November is a blackly comic, charming, and uplifting tale of friends and lovers, motherhood, and self-discovery."

(A special thank you to book club member, Karen Vingan for the suggestion.)

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The Blue Fox

Winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize

"Set against the stark backdrop of the Icelandic winter, an elusive, enigmatic fox leads a hunter on a transformative quest. At the edge of the hunter's territory, a naturalist struggles to build a life for his charge, a young woman with Down Syndrome whom he had rescued from a shipwreck years before. By the end of Sjón's slender, spellbinding fable of a novel, none of their lives will be the same. The Blue Fox is part mystery, part fairy tale, and the perfect introduction to a mind-bending, world-class literary talent."

(A special thank you to book club member, Ivor Watkins for the suggestion.)

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Gnarr

"In the epicenter of the world financial crisis, a comedian launched a joke campaign that didn’t seem so funny to the country’s leading politicians . . .

It all started when Jón Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country’s political system. The financial collapse in Iceland had, after all, precipitated the world-wide meltdown, and fomented widespread protest over the country’s leadership.

Entering the race for mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, Gnarr promised to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into downtown parks, free towels at public swimming pools, a 'drug-free Parliament by 2020' . . . and he swore he’d break all his campaign promises.

But then something strange started happening: his campaign began to succeed. And in the party’s electoral debut, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner. Gnarr promptly proposed a coalition government, although he ruled out partners who had not seen all five seasons of The Wire.

And just like that, a man whose previous foreign-relations experience consisted of a radio show (in which he regularly crank-called the White House and police stations in the Bronx to see if they had found his lost wallet) was soon meeting international leaders and being taken seriously as the mayor of a European capital.

Here, Gnarr recounts how it all happened and, with admirable candor, describes his vision of a more enlightened politics for the future. The point, he writes, is not to be afraid to get involved—or to take on the system."

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I Remember You

Winner of the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award

"International superstar Yrsa Sigurdardottir has captivated the attention of readers around the world with her mystery series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir. Now, Yrsa will stun readers once again with this out-of-this-world ghost story that will leave you shivering. In an isolated village in the Icelandic Westfjords, three friends set to work renovating a rundown house. But soon, they realize they are not as alone as they thought. Something wants them to leave, and it's making its presence felt. Meanwhile, in a town across the fjord, a young doctor investigating the suicide of an elderly woman discovers that she was obsessed with his vanished son. When the two stories collide, the terrifying truth is uncovered. In the vein of John Ajvide Lindqvist, this horrifying thriller, partly based on a true story, is the scariest novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who has taken the international crime fiction world by storm."

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Jar City

Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel

"When a lonely old man is found dead in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Inspector Erlendur discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime, a rape. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man.

An international sensation, the Inspector Erlendur series has sold more than two million copies worldwide."

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Stone Tree

Winner of the 2011 Nordic Council Literature Prize

"Gyrðir Elíasson’s stories take us out of ourselves. Situated on the lonely western shores of Iceland, or out in the vast mountain ranges or barren lava fields, each is a study in self-exile. We follow a Boston ornithologist, speeding through the landscape chasing Arctic Terns; a boy relocating to the town of Siglufjördur to compete in a chess tournament; a husband packing his wife off to visit her aunt. In almost every story, we find people taking leave of their normal lives to take their dreams more seriously.

But even in the most desolate surroundings, Elíasson’s characters find strange company; ghostly presences in the early hours, enviable neighbours, fellow writers turning up at the same retreat, with the same ambitions. Like the wide canopy of stars under which they’re told, these stories plot a constellation of single, glittering images: a child defacing a new piano with a chisel in the middle of the night; a freezer packed with carefully wrapped dead birds, candles floating in a pond at night… Elíasson’s images are always unresolved, but are also somehow complete; like the dreams he shares with us, that lead us, through their own solitude, into other people’s. As Elíasson writes, ‘all dreams are joined at the edges, like the squares in a patchwork quilt.’"

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Like Water for Chocolate

"Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico blends poignant romance and bittersweet wit. 

This classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef, using cooking to express herself and sharing recipes with readers along the way."

(A special thank you to book club member, Aisha Esbhani for the suggestion.)

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The Body Where I Was Born

The first novel to appear in English by one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed writers of new Mexican fiction. A Bogotá 39 author & Granta "Best Untranslated Writer," Nettel has received numerous awards.
 
"From a psychoanalyst's couch, the narrator looks back on her bizarre childhood—in which she was born with an abnormality in her eye into a family intent on fixing it. In a world without the time and space for innocence, the narrator intimately recalls her younger self—a fierce and discerning girl open to life’s pleasures and keen to its ruthless cycle of tragedy.

With raw language and a brilliant sense of humor, both delicate and unafraid, Nettel strings together hard-won, unwieldy memories—taking us from Mexico City to Aix-en-Provence, France, then back home again—to create a portrait of the artist as a young girl. In these pages, Nettel’s art of storytelling transforms experience into inspiration and a new startling perception of reality."

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