Settings across time: Our selection of newly acquired fiction

Image of Damien Hirst Sculpture at the Venice Biennale (via Pixabay) 

I’m a terrible cook, but if I could cook, I would see that as art as well, it’s how much creative energy you put into something.

Tracey Emin

As always when writing these posts, we are  on the look out for something a little bit different to talk about — and one of the books that caught our eye in this month’s recently acquired fiction was Tiepolo Blue. This debut novel from James Cahill is set partially in the British art world of the nineties, a time when British art was in the midst of revolutionary change.

Art and the art scene in Britain at the start of the eighties was staid affair until  a group of young artists from  Goldsmiths’ College, ably assisted by influential art collector, taste maker and investor Charles Saatchi, decided to shake things up. This group of art revolutionaries — subsequently called The Young British Artists — decided the time was ripe for change and unleashed a maelstrom of reinvention upon the art scene. They employed ‘shock tactics’ and became known for their use of disposable throwaway everyday objects, wild living, irreverence to the  establishment and both their entrepreneurial and oppositional approach to their art. They borrowed techniques and ideas from the Dadaists, the Surrealists and the sixties’ Pop Art movement, amongst many art movements, to power their ideas.

Their movement would launch the careers of some of the biggest artists of our time — artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, to name but a few. Although many have now entered the mainstream art world, becoming members of such institutions as the Royal Academy and winning major institutional art prizes such as the Tate Prize, the legacy of their revolutionary approach lingers on in the Art world internationally to this day. We hope you enjoy James Cahill’s debut novel and its setting!

Below are the links to Tiepolo Blue and our other selected titles this month:

Tiepolo blue / Cahill, James
“Cambridge, 1994. Professor Don Lamb is a revered art historian at the height of his powers, consumed by the book he is writing about the skies of the Venetian master Tiepolo. However, his academic brilliance belies a deep inexperience of life and love. When an explosive piece of contemporary art is installed on the lawn of his college, it sets in motion Don’s abrupt departure from Cambridge to take up a role at a south London museum. There he befriends Ben, a young artist who draws him into the anarchic 1990s British art scene and the nightlife of Soho. Over the course of one long, hot summer, Don glimpses a liberating new existence. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bitter orange tree : a novel / Alharthi, Jokha
” Zuhour, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhour left the Arabian Peninsula. As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhour’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips and dreams mingle with memories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bookseller’s notebooks / Barjas, Jalāl
“Winner of the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. After losing his job and house, a bookseller and voracious reader decides to live with the homeless people in his city and assuming identities of the heroes of the novels he has read.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bournville : a novel in seven occasions / Coe, Jonathan
“In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it’s the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades. Mary will go on to live through the Coronation and the World Cup final, royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She’ll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave. As we travel through seventy-five years of social change.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The chosen / Lowry, Elizabeth
” One Wednesday morning in November 1912 the ageing Thomas Hardy, entombed by paper and books and increasingly estranged from his wife Emma, finds her dying in her bedroom. Between his speaking to her and taking her in his arms, she has gone. The day before, he and Emma had exchanged bitter words – leading Hardy to wonder whether all husbands and wives end up as enemies to each other. His family and Florence Dugdale, the much younger woman with whom he has been in a relationship, assume that he will be happy and relieved to be set free. But he is left shattered by the loss. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ghost Lover : stories / Taddeo, Lisa
“Behind anonymous screens, an army of cool and beautiful girls manage the dating service Ghost Lover, a forwarding system for text messages that promises to spare you the anguish of trying to stay composed while communicating with your crush. At a star-studded political fundraiser in a Los Angeles mansion, a trio of women compete to win the heart of the slick guest of honor. On a quest to lose her virginity, a daughter tracks down her deceased mother’s old flame, the rugged, comically named Jon Deere. In these twelve riveting stories, two of which have been awarded the Pushcart Prize, Lisa Taddeo brings to life the fever of obsession, the blindness of love, and the mania of grief.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Green Man of Eshwood Hall : a tale of Northalbion / Kerr, Jacob
“Eshwood Hall is a great English house surrounded by sprawling woods. In 1960, Izzy is thirteen, lives in the servants quarters and doesn’t go to school. Neglected by her parents, she spends her moments of freedom exploring the forest and the village beyond. The more she comes to understand the history of the place and her own situation, the stranger are the things she hears and sees. The most tantalising of these is the Green Man who inhabits the woods, and seems to know all about her, even those desires she has buried deep inside.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Roses, in the mouth of a lion / Rehman, Bushra
“Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. But when a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s idyllic childhood is shattered forever. In middle school, Razia befriends a new girl, Taslima, and they begin to chafe at the restrictions imposed on them in their tight-knit Pakistani Muslim community. Together, they embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous American music, wearing mini skirts, and cutting school to explore the city…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

‘Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents’: our podcast channel

We have very exciting news! Wellington City Libraries has launched its own podcast channel called

Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents 

In the very first episode of our new monthly series called Books from the Vault, we explore some of the treasures in our various collections. Our intrepid Library Specialists have dug deep into the vaults of our storage facility, Te Pātaka, and brought out a catalogue item that’s meaningful to them and then discussed it with our Fiction Specialist, Neil Johnstone.

In episode one, our Māori Specialist Ann Reweti discusses Rachael Selby’s Still Being Punished and the ongoing trauma of Māori speaking their own language. Children’s Specialist Joseph Robinson looks at the romanticised paintings of Peter McIntyre’s collection and how these works reflect a particular view of Aotearoa at the time of their creation.  Finally, Music Specialist Reece Davies has yet to prove he can read, and instead pulls an antique CD from the stacks, to elaborate on the influence and atmosphere of the post-metal band Isis‘s watery magnum opus, ‘Oceanic’.

Intrigued? You can listen to the full episode one here – or for a wee taster, press play on the embedded player below.

To subscribe, you can find all our podcasts on your favourite podcast player, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Here are the titles mentioned from our collections, to reserve and borrow:

Still being punished / Selby, Rachael
“The stories collected here are told by Māori men and women who were physically disciplined at school for speaking the Māori language. A hugely important book about the ongoing trauma of Māori for speaking in their own language” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Kakahi New Zealand / McIntyre, Peter
“Peter McIntyre’s romanticised paintings of Aotearoa reflect a particular artistic vision and view of Aotearoa  that reflects particular aspects of the time of their creation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Oceanic / Isis
“Post-metal band Isis’s watery magnum opus, ‘Oceanic’ met with a muted response on its release but went on to influence a whole generation of bands .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Love and Other Rituals : Our interview with author Monica Macansantos

Monica Macansantos’s debut short story collection Love & Other Rituals has already received glowing acclaim and marked her as an author to keep a close eye on. The stories in the collection revolve around Filipinos at home and in the wider diaspora. There are stories set in New Zealand, America, and the Philippines itself.

It’s the delicately relayed emotional journeys her characters undertake that really sets the stories apart. There is longing and beauty, hope and duty, all woven into the stories which are ultimately explorations about what it means to be human. Expect to be surprised and drawn into each tale.

Monica was a James A. Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned an MFA in Writing, and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Her work has appeared many publications such as in The Hopkins Review and the Pantograph Punch to name but a few,  and she has been named Notable in the Best American Essays in both 2016 and 2022.

So, when we got the opportunity to interview the Monica about her work, we jumped at it!

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Monica Macansantos for taking the time to answer our questions about Love & Other Rituals and her writing practice, and for providing such an illuminating insight into her world and work.

You can watch this fascinating and insightful interview below or by visiting our YouTube channel by clicking here.

Love and other rituals / Macansantos, Monica
“A man imprisoned by taboo learns the price of love. A child visits the grave of a cousin she’s never met; another absorbs the fallout of her parents’ divorce. Friendships rupture beyond repair, and family members collide when it comes to caring for their ageing father. These vivid stories of yearning, loneliness and resilience navigate the naivety of childhood, the complications of young adulthood and the politics of marriage. Monica Macansantos is a powerful new voice bringing us the raw and darkly beautiful perspectives of characters lost both in and out of their homeland, the Philippines.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bridget Williams Books: The Treaty of Waitangi Collection

A selection of book covers from the Bridget Williams Books Treaty of Waitangi Collection

Log in to Bridget Williams Books Treaty of Waitangi resources with your library card

Did you know that your library card gives you access to numerous collections from the award-winning New Zealand publisher Bridget Williams Books? Today we’d like to draw your attention to their outstanding home for online resources regarding the Treaty of Waitangi.

Bridget Williams Books’ Treaty of Waitangi Collection is broken up into different subtopics to assist your learning journey. You might like to start with one of their foundation texts, such as What Happened at Waitangi? by Claudia Orange. Following on from there, you could dive into BWB’s history resources to gain a deeper understanding of the historical context in which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. One useful text for this might be Redemption Songs by Judith Binney. After that, BWB has also provided a commentary selection, which includes publications such as New Myths and Old Politics: The Waitangi Tribunal and the Challenge of Tradition by Sir Tipene O’Regan. 

To access this Bridget Williams Books collection, simply head over to our eLibrary resources and scroll down to find Bridget Williams Books. Follow that link to access the collection. You will need your library card number and your pin to login. Happy reading!

Creative inspirations to kick off the New Year: New hobbies and craft books

As we usher in the New Year, seize that fresh opportunity and reclaim the promise of a more creative life. Get excited for your first easy weekend makes as we round up this month’s crafts and hobbies books! We think you’ll find a project below to uplift your spirits and enhance the comfort of your home — whether you choose to practice mindfulness through the ancient art of Japanese calligraphy, or prefer to read about cherished travel stories captured in intricate crochet patterns. Also included, some more general inspiration. Have a browse!

Shodo : the practice of mindfulness through the ancient art of Japanese calligraphy / Takeda, Rie
“The ancient Japanese art of calligraphy is more than just a decorative skill; it is a revolutionary approach to mindfulness. This book is a beautiful introduction to Shodo, which shows how the movement of a brush channels energy through the body and mind, uniting both in harmony. What results on the paper is a true depiction of the present moment, a movement towards a more peaceful mindfulness. Shodo expert and professional calligrapher Rie Takeda shares the history, philosophy and craft of Shodo. Decorated throughout with her stunning art, Takeda begins with the basic brushstrokes, and builds up to drawing complete kanji, beautifully nuanced in both appearance and meaning. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Crochet journey : a global crochet adventure from the guy with the hook / Roseboom, Mark
“Crochet Journey: Crocheting and travelling… these two passions have been brought together by talented designer Mark Roseboom — aka The Guy with the Hook — in this exquisite crochet book. Mark has traveled extensively in the last ten years. He has seen and learned from the different cultures, religions and ways of life. Travelling made him the person he is today. And it’s the same with crochet. Each design in the book is inspired by a cherished memory and takes you on an adventure through the wonderful world of crochet. The patterns feature full written instructions in US crochet terms, charts, and Mark’s tips for success. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The complete beginner’s guide to embroidery : everything you need to start creating today
“In Beginner’s Guide to Embroidery, you can experience this for yourself. Regardless of if you’re a needlework novice or a seasoned sewer, we’ve laid out all the tools and techniques you need to get started.” (Catalogue)

P.S.– we made this : super fun crafts that grow smarter + happier kids / Domesek, Erica
“A concise set of easy-to-construct crafts for parents to create with their children. Working with childhood play and learning professional Laura Felt, Domesek includes crafts that are marked with codes to show the cognitive, physical, or social-emotional skills the activities emphasize. Most of the projects involve materials easily found around the house [and] incorporate ideas for expanded elements of play and participant improvisation”–Library Journal.” (Catalogue)

Dress code : unlocking fashion from the new look to millennial pink / Hyland, Véronique
“Everything–from societal changes to the progress (or lack thereof) of women’s rights to the hidden motivations behind what we choose to wear to align ourselves with a particular social group–can be tracked through clothing. Veronique Hyland examines thought-provoking questions such as: Why has the “French girl” persisted as our most undying archetype? What does “dressing for yourself” really mean for a woman? How should a female politician dress? Will gender-differentiated fashion go forever out of style? How has social media affected and warped our sense of self-presentation, and how are we styling ourselves expressly for it?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Karl Lagerfeld unseen : the Chanel years / Fairer, Robert
“”Casting a new light on one of the best-loved chapters in fashion history, ‘Karl Lagerfeld Unseen: The Chanel Years’ illuminates key Chanel collections and creations from behind the scenes. From discreet client fittings in rue Cambon’s immaculate black-and-beige salons to previously unseen backstage moments that show models, hairdressers, stylists, make-up artists and Karl Lagerfeld himself at work, Robert Fairer’s stunning and high-energy photographs capture the elegance, glamour and spirit that defined Karl Lagerfeld’s shows for Chanel.”–Publisher’s website.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Magic worlds for grown ups: Exploring magic fiction

How many of you read a certain wizarding world series in your youth, and have always longed to capture that feeling of being immersed in a world of magic again?  Never fear, there are plenty of amazing books and series available in adult fiction that weave magical worlds around the reader.  We have selected a handful of titles for you to try…

A deadly education : a novel / Novik, Naomi
“Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered: There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate . . . or die. The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The house in the Cerulean Sea / Klune, TJ
“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place–and realizing that family is yours.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Plain bad heroines / Danforth, Emily M
“In 1902, at an all girl’s boarding school in Rhode Island, students Flo and Clara are madly in love with each other, as well as completely obsessed with The Story of Mary MacLane, the scandalous debut memoir by 19 year old MacLane. A copy of this book is found splayed in the woods near the two girls’ dead bodies after a horrific yellow jacket attack. Within five years The Brookhants School for Girls is closed. Its buildings left empty. But not before three more people died on the property, each in a troubling way…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Magic for liars / Gailey, Sarah
“Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life: her almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, an empty apartment in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area, and a slight drinking problem. She doesn’t in any way wish she was like her estranged twin sister, magically gifted professor Tabitha. But when she’s hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, Ivy begins to call into question everything she has ever believed.” (Catalogue)

Ninth house / Bardugo, Leigh
“Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The starless sea / Morgenstern, Erin
“Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Senlin ascends / Bancroft, Josiah
“The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A secret history of witches / Morgan, Louisa
“From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures. After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to dies with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.” (Catalogue)

Borderline / Baker, Mishell
“Millie is a bit of a mess: she’s cynical, disabled, and self-destructive. And she has borderline personality disorder. So she’s a little confused as to why she’s been recruited for a top-secret agency that oversees deals between Hollywood icons and fairy muses. But when her first routine mission takes an unexpected and dangerous turn, Millie finds herself hip-deep in some of the scariest situations Fairyland has on offer – and she may not make it out in one piece…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The final empire / Sanderson, Brandon
“A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields. But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy – the magic that lies in all metals.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Monstress. Volume one, Awakening / Liu, Marjorie M
“Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, Monstress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivor of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind… and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken…” (Catalogue)