This is the concluding part of the Quartet Books Christmas List, for your perusal and support.
Without further ado, those who respond to our appeal might not be rewarded terrestrially but are bound to negotiate an easier passage to heaven.
(And for more titles, please visit quartetbooks.co.uk)
DUET FOR FREEDOM
Dina Abdel Hamid, £14.95
Duet for Freedom tells, for the first time, the inside, extraordinary story of how Princess Dina, a member of the Hashemite family, helped negotiate the release of thousands of prisoners, including her husband, in exchange for six captured Israeli soldiers after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. A tale of desperation, tragedy and heroism, it also forms a unique story of a determined love, able to overcome every obstacle and barrier.
Grey Gowrie, £25
With over 150 illustrations, many in colour, this selection of Hill’s work with an insightful text by Lord Gowrie is a stunning celebration of an artist perhaps best known for his beautiful portraits, though it is the intention of this book to suggest that Derek Hill’s real importance lies in his stunning landscapes of his beloved Donegal.
David Smith, £18.50
For 30 years David Smith reported from across our world. He was there in the final days of the last of Europe’s communist dictators. He was there when two Popes died in the space of just 33 days. He was there as the sun finally set on the British Empire in Africa. He saw war in the Middle East, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in Moscow. In Washington, he came to know every president from Bush Sr. to Barack Obama, and witnessed everything in between – the wars, the impeachment, the rise of the American Superpower, and the crash that followed. Then he decided to seek a new challenge, and write another chapter in a remarkable life. He embarked on the eternal quest of making a great wine. This demi-memoir from one of Britain’s most experienced foreign correspondents is a book about hope, risk, love, taking chances and seeking new frontiers.
MEN WHO DREAM CAN DO…
George Zakhem, £20
Born in a small village in the mountains of Lebanon, raised through an austere and parochial childhood, George Zakhem always nurtured dreams of one day making his mark in the wider world. Ultimately he achieved the success he sought as an international entrepreneur, pursuing his path and branching out in a multitude of directions through a combination of hard work and a steely determination to keep his feet firmly on the ground whatever financial and political storms raged about him. As a junior employee in C.A.T. (Contracting & Trading Company), his early encounter with the legendary Emile Bustani – a presidential hopeful in Lebanon, whose career was cut tragically short in an air crash – provided him with his initial inspiration. He came to see Bustani, famous in the Middle East for his non-sectarian business principles, as a role model and mentor and a pointer towards both boldness and ingenuity. His own business life then saw him traverse many a continent, searching for opportunities with a sharp, discerning eye. Inevitably Zakhem’s business career had its ups and downs, but his pioneering spirit and rare qualities of fortitude enabled him to defy moments of crisis, and time and again saved him to live another day. His generosity of spirit led on naturally to his charitable work, so this too became an integral part of his life. In recounting his life story, George Zakhem interweaves an intriguing narrative with many vignettes and anecdotes on personalities and events that are entertaining as well as enlightening. His book combines the optimism of hope with his Christian faith.
Trader Faulkner, £20
Ronald Faulkner was born and raised for the first quarter of his life in Australia. Through a series of chance encounters, he found himself embarking on a career in the theatre. Under the guidance of his friend and mentor Peter Finch, the young Faulkner – who’d by that time garnered the nickname ‘Trader’ – set sail for England, arriving in spring 1950. His career in the theatre soon took off, bringing him into contact with some of the finest actors, directors and playwrights of his time. He also discovered Flamenco, a dance he was to master, earning the friendship and respect of Antonio Gades and Antonio el Bailarin along the way. This is his story, a fascinating tale of comedy, elation, sadness, and tremendous challenge. It is also an inspiring documentary tribute to an age now fast slipping away.
Jazz Summers, £15
Enter the world of Jazz Summers, the music industry’s most notorious manager. Be transported from the monsoon drains of sixties Boogie Street to the smoke-filled folk clubs of seventies New York. Be a soldier. Form a band. Smoke dope in Malacca. Go to meetings in the coke-sprinkled boardrooms of eighties Los Angeles. Manage Wham! Drink wine. Wear baggy suits. Eat at uptight banquets in pre-Tiananmen Beijing. Hear Punk’s first screech. Drink heavily. Wear make-up. Go back to the year of Acid House and manage Yazz. Marry Yazz. Meet Roy Orbison. Outstare Puff Daddy. Lobby The Stones for ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. Manage Snow Patrol, The Verve, La Roux. X-ray an Egyptian princess. Live. Witness Jazz Summers reflect with shocking and inspirational candour on his search for music and balance. Big Life is a hysterical and heart-breaking account of one man’s struggle with the Universe, his riotous dance to the music of time…
Claus Hant, £25
This is the story of the young Adolf Hitler, an insignificant young man from provincial Austria who suddenly emerged as a momentous historical figure and ultimately the very personification of evil. How did that happen? To answer this question, the narrative takes the reader into the mind of the man before the monster. 150 pages of intriguing appendices substantiate the work’s provenance. It tells the story of the seventeen-year-old school drop-out and starving artist; the vagrant who spends years on the streets and in the shelters of Vienna; the Lance Corporal who is fatefully changed by the First World War. In the aftermath of that Great War, amongst the ashes of a demoralised and bankrupt Germany, the narrative follows the bizarre series of events that culminate in this lonely and eccentric young man becoming ‘The Führer’ of the Third Reich.
THE SILENCE OF DARK WATER
Jonathan Wittenberg, £12.95
The problems, responsibilities and, ultimately, the meaning of our lives have long been concerns of philosophers, poets, artists – indeed all thinkers, whether their religion informs their opinion or their disbelief challenges conventional wisdom. Jonathan Wittenberg writes from the Front Line. A busy local rabbi in North London, he shares the human dilemmas, tragedies, and joys which fill the passing days we all share until the inevitable end of our human existence. Those readers who know his work will already appreciate Rabbi Wittenberg’s gift of communicating at all levels and know of his wide and compassionate knowledge. New readers will have that joy in store.
WALKING WITH THE LIGHT
Jonathan Wittenberg, £20
In 2010, with his dog Mitzpah by his side, Rabbi Wittenberg walked from his grandfather’s Frankfurt synagogue to his own, in Finchley, carrying the Ner Tamid – its Eternal Light – to co-shine forever in the newly built synagogue in North London. A film crew covered most of the trip and even Mitzpah wrote a blog, describing his experiences on the epic journey. Colleagues and friends accompanied them for some of the route and their discussions also contributed insights into the spiritual, social and political concerns that occupied the Rabbi’s thoughts as he continued to meet many people along the way.
Sophia Waugh, £20
With modern cookery books always at the top of the bestseller lists, Sophia Waugh looks at the differences – and the similarities – between cooking then and now. Cooking People focuses on five female writers who have revolutionised home cooking. From Hannah Woolley who was, in the seventeenth century, the first woman to make a living from cookery writing, to the much-loved Isabella Beeton and Elizabeth David, Waugh investigates the what, how and why of English eating. As both a history of food writing and book of recipes for the kitchens of today, Cooking People is a fascinating overview of the way the English have eaten over the last few centuries. Looking not at the grand dishes of the courts, but at the domestic cookery at the heart of our culture, Sophia Waugh traces the food writers who have changed the way we eat.
BACKING INTO LIGHT (I: MY FATHER’S SON)
Colin Spencer, £25
Though this is his first volume of autobiography, since his first novel in 1959, Colin Spencer has written eight more and published many short stories both here and in America. His masterly Generation series, describing the anarchic lives of a group of young people growing up in the late 1950s, remain one of the great novel sequences of the twentieth century. Best remembered now perhaps as a food writer, his column was published for fourteen years in the Guardian and his epic British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History was reissued in 2011.
GROWING UP IN RESTAURANTS
James Pembroke, £17.50
James Pembroke believes our attitudes to eating in public reveal more about the development and nature of our society than how and what we consume in the privacy of our homes. Restaurants mirror our history and our economic ups and downs. The French aristocracy never ate in public and lost their heads; ours did, and kept theirs. By combining a personal memoir of an eccentric upbringing with a history of eating out from the Romans to the present day, James Pembroke has written a hugely entertaining yet informative book which belongs as much in the kitchen as alongside more pious tomes in the library.
VIVIAN AND I
Colin Bacon, £12
This is the remarkable biography of the legendary Vivian Mackerrell, on whom the character ‘Withnail’ in Bruce Robinson’s iconic film was largely based. The book encompasses the half-century from the end of the Second World War until the height of the Ecstasy Era. As ‘sons of Nottingham’ and fellow ‘Baby Boomers’, Vivian’s story is intertwined with incidents from Colin Bacon’s own life, along with a wealth of colourful eccentrics and luminaries including Bruce Robinson and Sir Paul Smith. This funny, affectionate memoir is essential reading for Withnail’s cult following, and a vivid social document of a now forgotten time.
Brian Sewell, £25
Listed in the Sunday Times ‘Books of the Year’ and Daily Mail ‘Biographies for Christmas 2011’, Outsider is the life of a child, boy, adolescent, student and young man in London between the Great Depression of the 30s and the sudden prosperity and social changes of the 60s, affected by the moral attitudes of the day, by the Blitz, post-war austerity and the new freedoms of the later 50s that were resisted with such obstinacy by the old regime. It is about education in the almost forgotten sense of the pursuit of learning for its own sake. It is about the imposed experiences of school and National Service and the chosen experience of being a student at the Courtauld Institute under Johannes Wilde and Anthony Blunt. It is about sex, pre-pubertal, in adolescence and in early adulthood, and the price to be paid for it. It is about art and the art market in the turbulent years of its change from the pursuit of well-connected gentleman to the professional occupation of experts.
Brian Sewell, £25
The first volume of Brian Sewell’s scandalous and haunting memoir was met by riotous applause in the press… ‘Outsider is a delicious read…I want more – much more,’ wrote Rachel Cooke in the Guardian. ‘This book records an extraordinary life and will, I hope, soon be continued,’ added Lynn Barber in the Sunday Times. Outsider II will certainly not disappoint. With the first instalment ending tantalisingly in 1967 – after exploring Sewell’s childhood, adolescence and early adulthood – this next chapter charts his path to becoming, as the Spectator noted, ‘Surely the funniest art critic of our time.’
Brian Sewell , £12.50
Sleeping with Dogs is the record of one man’s passionate affection for the dog, rooted in his early childhood and lasting undiminished into his dotage. These were for the most part dogs discarded and left to fate – tied to the railings of Kensington Gardens, found with a broken leg in the wilds of Turkey, adopted from an animal rescue home, passed on by the vet – but there was also a whippet of noble pedigree and three generations of a family of crossbreeds in which the whippet strain was strong. They were not pets, but indulged friends and companions, with all of whom he shared his bed, and who richly rewarded him with loyalty and affection. This is not a sentimental or determinedly anthropomorphic book – the dogs remain steadfastly dogs. It is observant and records the canine society of dog and dog as much as the relationship of man and dog. It is, at the same time, a deeply touching account of the lives and very different characters of seventeen dogs over eighty years or so, ranging from Jack Russell to Alsatian through half-boxer, half-pointer and half-Karabaş, to purest indecipherable mongrel.
Allan Massie, £10
A taut and psychological thriller set between the corridors of Vichy power and the backstreets of Bordeaux, this is the first of a trilogy of crime novels that follow the charismatic detective Lannes through the events of World War II – and a crime novel that delves into the profound effects on the French national psyche of German occupation. In the spring of 1940, the mutilated body of a homosexual is discovered in a street near the Bordeaux railway station. It looks like a straight-forward sex crime, but when Superintendent Lannes is warned off the investigation, his suspicion that there is a political motive for the murder seems justified. In defiance of authority, he continues to work on the case. And then another body is found…
DARK SUMMER IN BORDEAUX
Allan Massie, £12
With his son’s safe return, Superintendent Lannes and his wife can, at last, have some joy amid the grim reality of Vichy France. Not that the unexplained murders seem to have stopped. Allan Massie’s second volume in his trilogy continues the story of dogged detection in a world seemingly gone mad. His first volume, Death in Bordeaux, was reprinted three times and garlanded with praise by reviewers
Maryam Sachs, £12
A passenger climbs in a taxi outside Charles de Gaulle airport, eager to get home for her son’s twenty-first birthday dinner. She’s taken this route so many times she could describe it with her eyes shut – the trucking company buildings that border the three lane highway, the ‘Paris-Centre’ sign that hangs from the flyover, the unmistakable smell of Parisian pollution as the three lane highway crawls closer to town. The passenger idly watches Paris speed by and listens to her taxi driver’s tales of love and border crossings. As he speaks, her own memories begin to surface: of her childhood in Berlin, her escape, and a love affair she buried long ago. And, as these unlikely friends weave through traffic and backstreets, sharing stories, a drive through Paris becomes a journey back in time.
WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE
Maryam Sachs, £10
An Iranian exile in Paris, Roxane works in a bookshop and is married to the man she fell in love with when she was twelve-years old. Although her husband is often away on business and she longs for the smells and tastes of her home in Tehran, Roxane is never lonely. She lives in the company of books and her own vivid imagination. One evening at a local restaurant, she catches sight of a young man with blue eyes. Immediately, everything else in her life falls away. Normally timid and withdrawn, Roxane finds herself brazenly following him through the streets of Paris. While he lights a cigarette on a street corner and she gathers courage to speak with him, something happens that will change both their lives forever…
Vanessa Hannam, £12
In the newly formed court of William of Orange and Queen Mary – after James II has fled England with diamond buckles sewn into his waistcoat – the beautiful and independently minded Lady Flora arrives at court. Having grown up against the backcloth of The Glorious Revolution, in the seclusion of the countryside surrounded by a world-renowned garden on which her family’s considerable fortune was made, romantic love is not the first thing on her mind. But her world is turned upside down when she meets the roguish and devilishly charming Lord Edwin Grantley who is on the lookout for a wife. Is Flora the life raft that will stop Edwin from drowning, or will he drag her down with him? Flora’s Glory, Vanessa Hannam’s captivating fifth novel, is a tale of love, extraordinary bravery and deadly political intrigue set in the courts and gardens of seventeenth-century England.
James Palumbo, £10
There has been much talk of late about how the continuing financial turmoil will find expression in the arts. Will the literature of this depression match the quality of that created in the 1930s? Quartet Books were intending to publish James Palumbo’s startling first novel later in the year, but our belief in its relevance to these troubled times convinces us this Swiftian fable of excess should be published as soon as possible. Impossible to précis its narrative, Palumbo’s story weaves and curves its way around the adventures of Tomas, a young man on the make in a world of wealth, privilege and corruption. Like Candide and Gulliver before him, Tomas’s adventures will startle the reader’s imagination, yet linger in her mind. What seems grotesque, even impossible, has already happened …
Gavin James Bower, £10
For six hectic months, season to season in the High Fashion calendar, twenty-something male model Alex hurtles between London, Paris and Milan, absorbed in the ruthless world of the catwalk. His long-term girlfriend, Nathalie, is desperate to rekindle their love; his oldest friend, Hugo, though regarding Alex’s so-called career as frivolous, continues to urge fidelity; while his father, reduced to a voice on an answer machine, nevertheless persists in seeking his estranged son’s approval. As his stock as a model soars, Alex is increasingly drawn into a world of predatory sex, drug-induced infatuation and a growing bewilderment with the alluring, seductive shallowness of all he sees around him. The centre cannot hold …
Nikesh Shukla, £10
Coconut Unlimited follows the adventures of three hapless, hip-hop obsessed Asian boys in an all-white private school.
It’s Harrow in the 1990s, and Amit, Anand and Nishant are stuck. Their peers think they’re a bunch of try-hard darkies, acting street and pretending to be cool, while their community thinks they’re rich toffs, a long way from the ‘real’ Asians in Southall. So, to keep it real, they form legendary hip-hop band ‘Coconut Unlimited’. Pity they can’t rap.
From struggling to find records in the suburbs and rehearsing on rubbish equipment, to evading the clutches of disapproving parents and real life drug-dealing gangsters, Coconut Unlimited documents every teenage boy’s dream and the motivations behind it: being in a band to look pretty cool – oh, and to get girls…
THE OLD LADIES OF NAZARETH
Naim Attallah, £8
The Old Ladies of Nazareth tells the story of two sisters’ rural existence. Nearly complete opposites in character, ‘where Wardeh saw the world in a benign light, Jamileh viewed it with a degree of cynicism and trusted no one.’ Their lives were lived carefully in tune with their surroundings, adapting to the rhythms of nature to eke out a living. It is the arrival of Wardeh’s grandson into their simple lives that has the greatest impact both on the sisters and the boy. With them, the boy learns the invaluable lessons that build his character and shape his life.