by Ben St. George
Chronicling Chatwin’s travels through the vast reaches of Patagonia, South America, on a quixotic quest involving the skin of a prehistoric ground sloth, In Patagonia is travel writing at its most fascinating. Best-places-to-eat fare this is not - indeed Chatwin goes so far off the beaten path, both literally and figuratively, that indeed In Patagonia becomes as much about musing on the nature of the human condition as it does about the place and its (incredibly fascinating) history.
An essential addition to the library of any serious style aficionado, Boyer’s endlessly quotable book breaks down the principles of menswear and timeless style with peerless insight and wry humour. Fun, fascinating and full of inspiration, this is the Last Word on menswear from the true master.
Le Carré, with a perspective he could never hope to achieve, Nguyen’s twisty, funny, dark meditation on duality is an enthralling read. The Sympathizer’s protagonist, a half-Vietnamese double agent living in the USA, is constantly torn between conflicting loyalties. Full of gripping paranoia and absurdist humour, current events have made The Sympathizer feel more vital and resonant than ever, especially scenes of refugees trying to board the last departing aircraft in the fall of Saigon.
“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller. Relax. Let the world around you fade.” So begins Calvino’s postmodern masterpiece, a novel that treats things such as plot and character like origami paper, constantly folding them into fascinating new contortions and chasing them across a myriad of texts-within-texts, from hard-boiled detective fiction to westerns and everything in between.. Essentially one long rug-pulling exercise, Traveller pushes the form of the novel to breaking point and in the process creates something fascinating, profound and constantly surprising. Just don’t ask me to summarise the plot.
An amazing first novel from Tshuma, House of Stone explores how narrative - both personal and political - is formed and reformed. Zamani, an orphan of Zimbabwe’s war for independence, lodges with another family, whose teenage son Bukhosi has mysteriously vanished. Using knowledge of the disappearance to prise open the yawning gaps in his own past, Zamani begins to piece together both his own history, his family’s and Zimbabwe’s. A gripping character study and a vivid portrayal of an under-represented conflict.