Friday, 16 May 2008


Today's Bookworm's Choice is a feast of fiction, and brings you a selection of the very best new titles, both local and international. But before that, there's a book every book lover should have ...

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Peter Boxall (Ed.)

They're called the classics for good reason. Whether they're works of wacky imagination, of piercing insight into social and cultural traditions, or simply fantastically absorbing stories, all of the books featured in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die have grown out of the desire to communicate a story, a message or a lesson.
From much-loved tales to off-beat cult fiction and the timeless classics of the nineteenth century, discover the influences on the authors, plots and characters of the books that really should make up part, if not all, of your library.
Battle orks with Frodo and Aragorn in Middle Earth , go on the road with Kerouac in search of freedom, get involved with questions of gender and androgyny with Orlando, immerse yourself in the full and expansive portrait of India created by Seth in A Suitable Boy, and enter the world of Christoper Boone in his touching and amusing quest to find the killer of his neighbour's pet dog.
All of these books, and many more are reviewed with fresh perspectives in terms of plot, the ideas that they bring out and why they deserve, above others, to be recommended and read.
The bookworm thinks: On my reading list? What a question ...?!
For more about this book, or to buy a copy, click here:
Get your book fix
The Imposter
Damon Galgut

Adam Napier is retrenched from his not-very-interesting job and, finding his prospects bleak on all fronts, accepts an offer from his successful property developer brother to move to a small cottage in a nondescript Karoo town, where he intends to return to writing poetry, something he did with modest success as young man.
One day, while buying garden implements in the town’s hardware store, Adam is surprised to be recognised and accosted with extravagant delight by Canning, an old school friend whom, it seems, has harboured a strong and devoted sense of connection to Adam ever since their school days.
And so begins a pattern for Adam - of spending weekends at what is a lush, green, exotic oasis in the middle of a desert, with a couple who are clearly mismatched and uneasy with each other – Baby, spoilt, bored and seemingly indifferent to everything, her husband included, and Canning, as eager to impress Adam as he is to please him, and to show off his spoils and his connections with people in high places whose credentials appear dubious.
The bookworm thinks: If it were to depend on the blurb, I'm not sure I'd read this book - it all sounds so convoluted - but Damon Galgut is one of our best South African writers, so he wins out. And anyway, I have a yen to read about someone who sets out to return to the poetry of his youth. After all, that takes courage ...
For more about this book, or to buy a copy, browse the book section at
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The Painter of Shanghai
Jennifer Cody Epstein
In 1913, an orphan girl boards a steamship bound for Wuhu in South East China. Left in the hands of her soft-hearted but opium-addicted uncle she is delivered to The Hall of Eternal Splendour which, with its painted faces and troubling cries in the night, seems destined to break her spirit. And yet the girl survives and one day hope appears in the unlikely form of a customs inspector, a modest man resistant to the charms of the corrupt world that surrounds him but not to the innocent girl who stands before him.
From the crowded rooms of a small-town brothel, heavy with the smoke of opium pipes and the breath of drunken merchants, to the Bohemian hedonism of Paris and the 1930s studios of Shanghai, Jennifer Epstein's first novel, based on a true story, is an exquisite evocation of a fascinating time and place, with a breathtaking heroine at its heart.
The bookworm thinks: A tale of mystery that features a place called The Hall of Eternal Splendour and a modest man resistant to the charms of the corrupt world? Definitely one I want to read!
For more about this book, or to buy a copy, click here:
This way to the Hall of Eternal Splendour
The Sound of Butterflies
Rachael King
It is 1903 when Thomas Edgar says goodbye to his young wife Sophie and embarks on a journey to the Amazon, where he dreams of finding a mythical butterfly that will make both his name and his fortune. His dreams change, however, soon after his arrival in Brazil ...
Months later, Thomas arrives home, thin, sick and, worst of all, unable or unwilling to speak. Frustrated by his silence, Sophie takes increasingly drastic measures to uncover the truth about what happened to her husband while he was away. But as she sorts through Thomas' diaries and boxes of exquisite butterflies, it becomes clear that the truth may not be easy to bear.
The Sound of Butterflies fuses Edwardian gentility with obsession, murder and a glimpse of the giddy excess of the Brazilian rubber boom. Told in prose as opulent as one of Thomas' specimens, it's a convincing debut.
The bookworm thinks: So many books, so little time ...
For more about this book, or to buy a copy, click here:
Float like a butterfly ...
The Garden of Bad Dreams
Christopher Hope
The Garden of Bad Dreams is a seductive collection of short stories from Christopher Hope, a conjurer of strange places and displaced people.
From the story of the entertainer who is compelled to collect small people, to the monk who pushes away a mountain from his monastery, we are confronted with characters who could have been plucked from a fairy tale and yet are very much part of our own world.
Transporting us from the Malaysian highlands to an ex-servicemen's estate in Badminton, from a zoo in the midst of a civil war to a forested hillside in central Serbia, The Garden of Bad Dreams is a constantly surprising, highly addictive mixture of the absurd and the darkly familiar. It is a masterful collection.
The bookworm thinks: This is a new book from the self-proclaimed "wandering South African" whose first novel A Separate Development was immediately banned on publication in 1980. It sounds thoughtful, quirky and sometimes downright bizarre. Just up my alley ...
For more about this book, or to buy a copy, click here:
Come into Hope's garden
Note: Book summaries based on those supplied by the publishers.

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