Posts tagged ‘Hilary Mantel’

October 16, 2016

The Return – Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between, by Hisham Matar

by Team Riverside

Hardback, Penguin:Viking, £14.99, out nowhisham-matar-the-return

Hisham Matar’s father Jaballa Matar, an active opponent of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, was kidnapped in Cairo in 1990 and imprisoned in Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim jail.  After 1996, there was no word of what happened to him.  This beautifully written memoir concerns not only Matar’s memories of family life before his disappearance, but also the desperation of those left not knowing their loved one’s fate.  Read on Radio 4, the book has received remarkable reviews from (among others) Colm Tóibín and Hilary Mantel.

The book is particularly moving on the effect of the disappearance on everyday life.  Matar’s mother continued videoing football matches for her missing husband for years after he disappeared.  In their exile, Matar and his family do everything they can think of to find out what has happened to Jaballa.  At the same time, Matar develops as a novelist, publishing among other things the well-reviewed Anatomy of a Disappearance.   After Tony Blair’s rapprochement with Qaddafi in 2004, Matar, who was living in London, notes: “none of us felt safe.  Officials from the Libyan embassy attended the first reading I gave from my first novel.  A report was sent to Tripoli and I became a watched man.  It was deemed no longer safe for me to visit my family in Egypt, which caused a second exile” (p. 174).  While the book concerns Matar’s relationship with his father, his mother also stands out as a remarkable woman in her own right.

I learnt a lot about Libya’s history from this remarkable book, and its impacts on those who live through it.  While The Return gives some truly horrendous accounts of human rights violations, it is also a book about deep resilience and love.

Review by Bethan

July 2, 2015

Top 10 Fiction and Non-Fiction: July 2015

by Team Riverside

Ali Smith HOW TO BE BOTHGiulia Enders GUT

Readers are clearly in search of summer reads at the Riverside this month, and the big names – Smith, McEwan, Mitchell, Waters, Mantel – are moving fast. As always, non-fiction is where the more unexpected bestsellers crop up. Who’d have thought an illustrated exploration of the gut would be leading the pack? German microbiologist Giulia Enders explains how the gut is one of the most complex parts of our anatomy. It’s a sort of scientific toilet book that makes the case for digestive health. Nick Robinson’s election diary is also proving popular – the BBC man’s previous book was one of our political picks of 2013.

Top 10 Fiction

1 How to Be Both – Ali Smith
2 Us – David Nicholls
3 The Children Act – Ian McEwan
4 The Bees – Laline Paull
5 The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
6 The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
7 The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – Hilary Mantel
8 The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah
9 Emma – Alexander McCall Smith
10 The Sunrise – Victoria Hislop

Bubbling under: 10:04 – Ben Lerner

Top 10 Non-Fiction

1 Gut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Underrated Organ – Giulia Enders
2 Yes Please – Amy Poehler
3 How We Learn – Benedict Carey
4 Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble – Antony Beevor
5 Election Notebook – Nick Robinson
6 Etape: The Untold Stories of the Tour de France’s Defining Stages – Richard Moore
7 Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art – Julian Barnes
8 Please, Mister Postman – Alan Johnson
9 Black Sea: Coasts and Conquests – From Pericles to Putin – Neal Ascherson
10 Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories: From Lady Chatterley’s Lover to Howard Marks – Thomas Grant

Bubbling under: Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? – Mick Hume

December 15, 2013

Books of the Year 2013

by Andre

Books_of_2013We’ve expanded our trawl of the literary pages for the books of 2013 to come up with a definitive list of the 10 favourites (click on the image for a clearer view of the books – all available at the Riverside, of course). Here’s our top 10 poll of polls based on the books with the most nominations from critics and fellow authors in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, The Spectator, Financial Times, New York Times, Metro, The Independent, Daily Mail and Sunday Times.

1 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
“…a deliciously compellingly dazzling jewel about beauty, fate and life.” – Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard

2 Margaret Thatcher – The Authorised Biography: Volume 1 – Not For Turning
“…an exceptional political biography with dozens of incidental pleasures — it is full of Dickensian walk-on parts and deliciously redolent of its period.” – Philip Hensher, Spectator

3 Tenth of December by George Saunders
“The stories are clever and moving, and the title story is the best piece of fiction I’ve read this year.” – Roddy Doyle, Guardian

4 The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
“…an extraordinary story of literary accomplishment, passionate war-mongering and sexual incorrigibility.” – John Preston, Spectator

5 The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
“I read… The Luminaries three times in my capacity as Man Booker judge, and each time round it yielded new riches.” – Robert Macfarlane, Guardian

6 Love, Nina: Despatches From Family Life by Nina Stibbe
“…no book this year made me laugh more.” – John Lanchester, Guardian

7 Harvest by Jim Crace
“…easily the best-written novel of the year.” – Philip Hensher, Spectator

8 Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee
“…charts a life that travelled the full 360 degrees on the wheel of fortune.” – Helen Simpson, Guardian

9 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
“…her most challenging, complex and compelling novel yet.” – Ian Rankin, Guardian

10 Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin by Damian McBride
“Bankrupt of morals and bankrupt of style, it is a nonpareil of peevishness, and self-delusion shines from it like a Christmas star.” – Hilary Mantel, Guardian

Several of these titles were, in fact, level pegging but at the top The Goldfinch did just edge out Charles Moore’s richly rewarding – and surprisingly funny – account of Thatcher up until the 1982 Falklands victory. The P-Fitz biography did well to make the top 10 as it was only released in November. Stoner by John Williams got plenty of picks as a favourite of 2013, even though it first appeared in 1965. And bubbling under: The Circle by Dave Eggers, The Childhood of Jesus by J M Coetzee and All That Is by James Salter (“no question, the best novel I read this year,” said Richard Ford of the senior American author).

July 12, 2013

Summer Reading 2013 – £2 off!

by Andre

We can help with all your summer reading requirements – and we’ve got £2 off dozens of selected paperback titles in fiction and non-fiction including novels by Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and A.M. Homes. The £2 discount applies while stocks last – and we’ll be adding new titles to our Summer Reading so come and have a browse. Click on the book covers below to view a gallery of just some of the books on offer.

May 13, 2013

Hilary Mantel – prices chopped

by Andre

Get £2 off the Booker winner’s backlist

To mark the paperback of Bring Up The Bodies (£9.99), the sequel to Wolf Hall (both of them Booker Prize winners), we’re offering £2 off the author’s earlier books. So it’s a chance to explore her epic take on the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety, the haunting novel of life in Saudi Arabia, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, and the remarkable memoir Giving Up the Ghost while you wait for Mantel’s next Tudor novel, The Mirror and the Light.
Hilary Mantel GIVING UP THE GHOST (2013)Hilary Mantel THE GIANT, O'BRIEN (2013)Hilary Mantel BEYOND BLACK (2013)
Hilary Mantel BRING UP THE BODIES (2013)Hilary Mantel WOLF HALLHilary Mantel VACANT POSSESSION
Hilary Mantel EVERY DAY IS MOTHER'S DAY (2013)Hilary Mantel EIGHT MONTHS ON GHAZZAH STREET (2013)Hilary Mantel A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY (2013)
Hilary Mantel LEARNING TO TALK (SHORT STORIES)Hilary Mantel FLUDDHilary Mantel CHANGE OF CLIMATE

April 18, 2013

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013

by Andre

Hilary Mantel BRING UP THE BODIESKate Atkinson LIFE AFTER LIFE

A M Homes MAY WE BE FORGIVENBarbara Kingsolver FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR

Zadie Smith NWMaria Semple WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE

The shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced and we’ve got all this year’s contenders available at the Riverside – including new paperback editions of the novels by A. M. Homes and Barbara Kingsolver. It’s a strong shortlist – both Zadie Smith and Barbara Kingsolver are previous winners – so Hilary Mantel has a fight on her hands if she’s going to do the treble and add this prize to her Man Booker and Costa for Bring Up the Bodies.

If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of this particular prize in what’s become an increasingly crowded market for literary contests, that’s because you probably got used to calling it the Orange Prize for Fiction (the sponsor pulled out last year). We’ve also got previous winners in stock including last year’s The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht from 2011.

March 7, 2013

Richard III: biographies and classic crime

by Andre

David Baldwin RICHARD IIIJosephine Tey THE DAUGHTER OF TIME

The surprise reappearance of Richard III, dug up in a Leicester car park, is a timely opportunity to try and disinter the truth about a king portrayed as a Machiavellian villain by Shakespeare. “We have to concede the curved spine was not Tudor propaganda, but we need not believe the chronicler who claimed Richard was the product of a two-year pregnancy and was born with teeth,” as Hilary Mantel said in her (unfairly) infamous lecture on royal bodies. “The king stripped by the victors has been reclothed in his true identity.” If you want to learn more about the last king of the Plantagenet dynasty, there are a pair of updated historical biographies that feature the car park dig: David Baldwin’s Richard III and – not so snappily titled – The Last Days of Richard III and the Fate of His DNA: The Book that Inspired the Dig by John Ashdown-Hill.

Perhaps the most enjoyable piece of historical revisionism for Richard III, though, is Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, a unique and classic crime novel in which a bed-ridden Inspector Alan Grant decides to investigate the real facts behind the murderous ‘hunchback king’ after seeing a contemporary portrait of Richard. Could such a sensitive, noble face really belong to one of the most infamous villains of history? It’s a fascinating premise for an exquisite crime novel which, 62 years since publication, is more inventive and adroit in its plotting than almost any modern genre author can manage.