Thursday, September 23, 2010

Following the Booker: Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey

When my countrymen imagined America, they thought of savages and bears and presidents who would not wear wigs.  Who among them could have conjured Miss Godefroy in all her beauty of form and elegance of mind, her wit, her delicacy, her slender ankles amid those mad red leaves?

An exploration of the great adventure of American democracy, it thrillingly brings to life two characters who, born on different sides of history, come together to share an extraordinary relationship. Olivier is a French aristocrat, sent to the New World ostensibly to study its prisons, but in reality to save his neck in a future revolution.  Parrot is the son of an itinerant English printer, sent to spy and protect him.  With the narrative shifting between the perspectives of master and servant, we see the adventure of American democracy, in theory and in practice, told with Carey’s dazzling wit and inventiveness.

Author Biography
Peter Carey was born in Australia in May 1943 and is the author of six novels. He won the Booker Prize in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda (which has since been made into a film starring Ralph Fiennes) and was shortlisted in 1985 with Illywhacker. His other novels include The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith and Jack Maggs (winner of the 1998 Commonwealth Writers Prize). He has also written a collection of short stories, The Fat Man in History, and a book for children, The Big Bazoohley. Peter Carey won The Man Booker Prize for the second time in 2001 with True History of the Kelly Gang and was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 and 2009.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)

"...his recent run of books has been astonishing. Now Parrot and Olivier in America, a comic adventure that functions with equal brilliance as a novel of ideas, can be added to a hit parade of extraordinary sharpness and vigour... Carey has access to both high-flown and vernacular language, and the new novel routinely achieves a kind of battered Shakespearean splendour." - Leo Robson, The New Statesman

"While enjoying Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America, I found myself wondering from time to time what it was about. I finished it with unabated enjoyment, still wondering… Are there hidden significances? I don't know. It's a dazzling, entertaining novel. Should one ask for more?" - Ursula K Le Guin, The Guardian

Read an extract from the book on the New York Times website.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Following the Booker: Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack is five.
He lives in a single room with his Ma.
The room is locked.
Neither Jack nor Ma have a key.

The novel opens as Jack turns five. Jack has never been outside of Room, as he calls it, and although he and Ma have access to a TV, Jack believes that everything he sees on the screen is make-believe: as far as he’s concerned, Room is the entire world. He’s happy enough with his lot, however, because he doesn’t know any different; Ma keeps him entertained, and he has her undivided attention. Their days have a structure, with time to sleep, a time to eat, to play, to watch TV - even a time for lessons. (And at night, which is when ‘Old Nick’ sometimes visits, Ma keeps Jack hidden away.)

But now Jack is five, and Ma tries to explain to him that - contrary to everything she’s told him previously - there is a world beyond Room. Jack finds the concept impossible to grasp, but when Old Nick cuts the power supply to Room, Ma realizes their situation is even more precarious than she had previously thought. She decides they have to act, and comes up with a plan.

Author Biography
Born in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish writer who lives in Canada. Her fiction includes the bestselling Slammerkin.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)

"...startlingly original and moving... the second half of this novel is a superb treatment of the after-effects of release. The unbearable tension of the first half of the novel requires this shift, and Donoghue judges it perfectly, taking her readers to the brink but never stepping over into sensationalism or horror." - Lesley McDowell, The Scotsman

"What saves this beautifully nuanced book from being in any way a voyeuristic reaction to true crime is less the descriptions of captivity than the inevitably changing nature of the child/parent relationship, which Donoghue explores here so minutely, recognisably and exultantly." - Catherine Taylor, The Sunday Telegraph

Read the New York Times review by Janet Maslin here.

Read an extract from the book on the Guardian's website here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Following the Booker: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

There is a moment when any real journey begins. Sometimes it happens as you leave your house, sometimes it’s a long way from home…

A young man makes three journeys that take him through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way - including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge - he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian. Yet, despite the man’s best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his life.

A novel of longing and thwarted desire, rage and compassion, In a Strange Room is the hauntingly beautiful evocation of one man’s search for love and for a place to call home.

Author Biography
Damon Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He wrote his first novel, A Sinless Season, when he was seventeen. His other books include Small Circle of Beings, The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs, The Quarry, The Good Doctor and The Impostor. The Good Doctor, published in 2003, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Dublin/IMPAC Award and was published in eighteen countries. Damon Galgut lives in Cape Town.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)

"I doubt if any book in 2010 will contain more memorable evocations of place than In a Strange Room... Humour is not Galgut's strong point, not even black humour, and there is a kind of nihilism to the book's philosophy ... Oddly enough, though, In A Strange Room has left me with a soothing sense of serenity. It is a very beautiful book for one thing, strikingly conceived and hauntingly written, a writer's novel par excellence without a clumsy word in it. But perhaps even more important, constantly through the sadnesses and the pathos, the disappointments and the disillusionments, kindness shines." - Jan Morris, The Guardian

"Superb… Galgut is hardly an unknown quantity … But with this new book he has struck out in a new direction and taken his writing to a whole other level. It is a quite astonishing work." - William Skidelsky, The Observer

"The ordered prose, brimming with tension, is written in a mixture of the third and first persons, even within paragraphs. This is not confusing and, in fact, casts a beguiling spell. The narrator is both involved and distant… Galgut has produced an excellent piece of work that is as inviting as it is troubling." - Paul Womack, The Daily Telegraph

Read an extract from the book on the Guardian's website here.

Booker shortlist announced

The Booker shortlist was announced last night! See the lucky titles listed below.
Notably overlooked: Christos Tsiolkas's divisive The Slap as well as David Mitchell's much-tipped fifth novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

We will begin tomorrow with South African writer Damon Galgut's tale of a young man travelling through Greece, India and Africa, In a Strange Room.

The Prize will be announced on the 12th of October, so until then!

Emma Donoghue Room
Damon Galgut In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question 
Andrea Levy The Long Song 
Tom McCarthy

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pulp loves Trees

Happy Spring day!

September is Tree month: if you look out the window you’ll see how happy they are, showing off their new leaves and blossoms. We love trees for so many reasons, but mostly because they make good books.

You are already on the Green Team by supporting Pulp Books (and therefore Food & Trees for Africa),
but this month we’d like to repeat what we did last year and match any tree sponsored by a customer.

IOW, you buy a tree, we’ll buy another tree, and then the world has two extra trees instead of none.

FTFA National Tree Distribution Programme
R90 per tree
(Available to order through the Pulp Books website -
FTFA will send a personalised certificate by mail.)
This Arbor Month, September 2010, Food & Trees for Africa celebrates 20 years of greening South Africa, with over 3.4 million trees distributed to disadvantaged communities across the country.  Through the simple message of planting and conserving trees to care for the planet and the people and address climate change, the social enterprise has contributed to the growth in green interest from government, companies, schools and communities.

Buy directly from Food and Trees or buy through our website.

(use voucher code 1D1DAC26 at checkout to negate the delivery charge)

Go Green Team! ( :