Piranesi: Susanna Clarke

“When the Moon rose in the Third Northern Hall I went to the Ninth Vestibule to witness the joining of the three Tides. This is something that happens once every eight years.” This is how the book begins. The narrator lives in a vast labyrinth of halls filled with statues. There is an ocean in …

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Small Memories—A Memoir: José Saramago

Translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa José Saramago was born in 1922 in Azinhaga, a village in Portugal. The village has a charter that dates back to the thirteenth century, “but nothing remains of that glorious ancient history except the river that passes right by it”. The name comes from the Arabic “as-zinaik” meaning …

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Disobedience: Naomi Alderman

In London, a beloved Rabbi addresses his congregation in spite of his failing health. The Rav’s voice has lost some of its resonance but the people do not want to believe that he is dying, “he from whom the light of Torah seemed to shine so brightly that they felt themselves illuminated by his presence”. …

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The Moor’s Account: Laila Lalani

History is written by the victors, as the saying goes. What we know of the conquest—or the invasion—of the Americas tends to come from those who conquered the land. This book gives another perspective—the narrator, Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, is among the Spanish conquistadores, but not one of them. He is different, both …

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Autumn Journal: Louis MacNeice

Louis MacNeice wrote this “journal”—a poem split into 24 parts—from August 1938 to the beginning of 1939. It was a time of uncertainty, with the Second World War looming. This is a poem of endings: the ending of a love affair, of summer, of the year, of the comforts and joys of peacetime, and of …

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