100 Best Books of 2018

The Lis­tener's an­nual selec­tion of the top reads of the year. by Rus­sell Bail­lie and con­trib­u­tors

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS -


ALL THIS BY CHANCE by Vin­cent O’Sul­li­van

(Vic­to­ria Univer­sity Press)

A tour de force by poet-nov­el­ist O’Sul­li­van, cen­tring on Auck­land phar­ma­cist Stephen Ross and his wife Eva, a Pol­ish Jew sent to Eng­land to es­cape Hitler. Sweep­ing through six gen­er­a­tions and across con­ti­nents, it’s stylis­ti­cally com­pelling with a sus­tained emo­tional im­pact.

AN AMER­I­CAN MAR­RIAGE by Ta­yari Jones (Vin­tage)

White-hot fic­tion about love, racism and in­jus­tice in At­lanta. Jones’ fourth novel is a mar­vel of re­straint – when she oc­ca­sion­ally un­leashes, you re­ally feel it.

BRIDGE OF CLAY by Markus Zusak (Pi­cador)

The Book Thief au­thor teases apart the story of a hard­scrab­ble fam­ily in sub­ur­ban Syd­ney to en­com­pass war, death, love, death, horse rac­ing and more death in a sweep­ing, com­pelling fam­ily saga.

CEN­SUS by Jesse Ball (Text)

In his novel about a wid­owed fa­ther who, af­ter dis­cov­er­ing he is dy­ing, sets out on a fi­nal jour­ney with his adult son, the young

New York au­thor de­liv­ers a lu­mi­nous, fic­tional trib­ute to his own late brother, who had Down syn­drome.

CIRCE by Made­line Miller (Blooms­bury)

The sec­ond novel by mythol­ogy spe­cial­ist Miller twists Greek tragedy The Odyssey into a spell­bind­ing and mod­ernised fe­male per­spec­tive on gods, he­roes and the pa­tri­archy with skil­ful lyri­cal wordplay.

CON­SENT by Leo Bene­dic­tus (Faber & Faber)

The seem­ingly chummy stalk­ernar­ra­tor of Bene­dic­tus’ sec­ond book takes you along for the creepy ride as he un­der­takes com­pli­cated, me­thod­i­cal sur­veil­lance cam­paigns against un­sus­pect­ing women. A queasily com­pelling novel that de­mands shud­der­ing ad­mi­ra­tion.

CRUDO by Olivia Laing (Pi­cador)

A blaz­ingly raw and sharp work, Laing’s first novel at­tempts to cap­ture the at­mos­phere of anx­i­ety, con­fu­sion and shock felt in the UK at the time of the Brexit vote and its af­ter­math.


(Text) From the Pol­ish In­ter­na­tional

Man Booker

Prize win­ner, this sub­ver­sive, shapeshift­ing nar­ra­tive of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism and re­venge has a hero­ine who’s both dippy and deadly.

FISH­ING FOR MĀUI by Isa Pearl Ritchie (Te Rā Aroha Press)

A novel that weaves to­gether strands of fam­ily, food and men­tal ill­ness with com­pas­sion, skill and an ex­cel­lent in­stinct for sto­ry­telling.

FRANKEN­STEIN IN BAGH­DAD by Ahmed Saadawi (Oneworld)

De­liv­ered in the bi­cen­ten­nial year of the orig­i­nal, this sur­real, satir­i­cal spin on Mary Shel­ley’s Franken­stein is set in wartime Bagh­dad fea­tur­ing a mourn­ing mother, a shady sec­ond-hand goods dealer, a ho­tel owner and var­i­ous body parts.

HOUSE OF STONE by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (At­lantic)

Zim­bab­wean writer Tshuma ex­plores her coun­try’s trau­matic his­tory via a root­less young man, Za­mani, who at­taches him­self to a trou­bled older cou­ple whose teenage son has dis­ap­peared. A vast ta­pes­try of vi­o­lence and cor­rup­tion, po­etry and hope.

LESS by An­drew Sean Greer (Ha­chette)

This year’s Pulitzer Prize win­ner, a Thurber-es­que ro­man­tic com­edy that’s funny, poignant and ut­terly de­light­ful.

LOVE IS BLIND by Wil­liam Boyd (Vik­ing)

Boyd’s 15th novel, about a Scot­tish piano tuner go­ing on the run around late-19th-cen­tury Europe with a Rus­sian opera singer, of­fers an en­joy­ably cere­bral melo­drama, com­plete with al­lu­sions

to Chekhov.

MAZARINE by Char­lotte Grimshaw (Vin­tage)

Grimshaw’s ab­sorb­ing ninth work of fic­tion spans the globe with a mul­ti­lay­ered, char­ac­ter-driven mys­tery about an Auck­land mother and writer try­ing to find her elu­sive daugh­ter on a Euro­pean OE.

MILK­MAN by Anna Burns (Faber & Faber)

“Orig­i­nal” might be an overused word, but it’s ex­actly right for this year’s as­ton­ish­ing Man Booker Prize win­ner, with its story of­fer­ing a chal­leng­ing, pow­er­ful and star­tling take on the Irish Trou­bles.

MY YEAR OF REST AND RE­LAX­ATION by Ottessa Mosh­fegh (Jonathan Cape)

Mosh­fegh’s un­named nar­ra­tor, a young, pretty Man­hat­tan­ite, ap­pears to have it all, un­til she quits her art-gallery job to spend a year in a nar­cot­i­cally in­duced slum­ber, care of her bonkers psy­chi­a­trist. One of the most mor­dantly funny nov­els of 2018.

NOR­MAL PEO­PLE by Sally Rooney (Allen & Un­win)

A star­tlingly elo­quent study of the murky in­tri­ca­cies of emo­tional and sex­ual re­la­tion­ships, chart­ing the on-off cou­ple­dom of Mar­i­anne and Con­nell, Gal­way teenagers off to univer­sity in Dublin. Rooney’s im­mer­sive novel crack­les with en­ergy and feel­ing.

NINE PER­FECT STRANGERS by Liane Mo­ri­arty (Macmil­lan)

From the au­thor of Big Lit­tle Lies, a de­cep­tively clever light-and-dark read about a heal­ing re­treat gone wrong. Per­fect hol­i­day ma­te­rial.

OLIVER LOV­ING by Ste­fan Mer­rill Block (At­lantic)

Can a thriller be melan­choly? This one some­how is: when Oliver is ter­ri­bly in­jured in a school shoot­ing, he and his fam­ily spend years in sta­sis. The end­ing is a breath­tak­ing rush.

PRESER­VA­TION by Jock Serong (Text)

Ver­sa­tile Aussie scribe Serong turns to his­tor­i­cal fic­tion to bril­liantly evoke the fear, vi­o­lence and racial mis­un­der­stand­ings of early colo­nial Aus­tralia in a rivet­ing novel based on a true story.

RED BIRDS by Mo­hammed Hanif (Blooms­bury)

A downed US fighter pi­lot finds him­self liv­ing in the desert en­camp­ment he was try­ing to bomb in Hanif’s dead­pan com­edy about the crazi­ness of war.

ROTOROA by Amy Head (VUP)

Al­co­holism in 1950s New Zealand of­ten led to a spell in the Sal­va­tion Army dry­ing-out fa­cil­ity on Rotoroa Is­land, even­tual home to young drunk Jim Brooks, who has hit rock bot­tom, and Sal­lies of­fi­cer Lorna Vardy, who bri­dles at the nar­row life she’s been locked into. Tears may fall.

SEV­ER­ANCE by Ling Ma (Text)

Read this if the con­sumerism of Christ­mas is

gross­ing you out: it’s a wickedly funny, zeit­geisty post-apoc­a­lyp­tic story about how hu­man­ity’s drive to buy stuff proves our un­do­ing.

THE END by Karl Ove Knaus­gård (Harvill Secker)

The sixth and fi­nal in­stal­ment of this epic se­ries of au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal nov­els, in which, while grind­ing though aeons of house­work and child­care, Knaus­gård ag­o­nises over his writ­ing and all the trou­ble it’s caused him, and man­ages to an­a­lyse, in bril­liant de­tail, works rang­ing from Joyce’s Ulysses to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

THE FRIENDLY ONES by Philip Hen­sher (4th Es­tate)

English writer Hen­sher’s in­tri­cately struc­tured novel fo­cuses on two neigh­bour­ing fam­i­lies – one Bangladeshi, one An­glo-Saxon

– liv­ing in Thatcher­era Sh­effield. Mar­vel­lous char­ac­ters, deep cul­tural em­pa­thy and a keen eye for the ridicu­lous.

THE ICE SHELF by Anne Kennedy (VUP)

The Ice Shelf uses a bro­ken re­la­tion­ship, a home­less fridge and a planned trip to Antarc­tica – all in one chaotic Welling­ton night – to plot an orig­i­nal, satir­i­cal, af­fec­tion­ate tale of love and lit­er­a­ture.

THE IMAG­I­NARY LIVES OF JAMES PŌNEKE by Tina Mak­ereti (Vin­tage)

Mak­ereti’s sec­ond novel, a story about a young Māori be­com­ing a liv­ing ex­hibit in a Vic­to­rian Lon­don mu­seum pre­sented as a let­ter to his de­scen­dants, is an imag­i­na­tively com­pelling tale of colo­nial and cul­tural con­flict.

THE MARS ROOM by Rachel Kush­ner (Jonathan Cape)

The tale of 29-yearold Romy as she be­gins two con­sec­u­tive life sen­tences in a Cal­i­for­nia women’s prison for killing her stalker be­comes a study in vi­o­lence, class and power dy­nam­ics, all of which Kush­ner de­liv­ers with strik­ing re­al­ism.

THE NEW SHIPS by Kate Duig­nan (VUP)

Welling­ton lawyer Peter Col­lie, a highly con­flicted char­ac­ter, strug­gles with the death of his wife in a jit­tery post-9/11 world, ques­tion­ing his past as a range of is­sues forces him to re­think the fu­ture; witty and risky.

THE ONLY STORY by Ju­lian Barnes (Jonathan Cape)

The one-time Booker win­ner’s el­e­gantly told 13th novel turns a sub­ur­ban 1960s ten­nis club fling into a dev­as­tat­ing story of re­gret.

THE PISCES by Melissa Broder (Blooms­bury)

A dis­com­fit­ing, re­fresh­ingly base mod­ern fairy tale about a lonely young woman who hooks up with a mer­man. Lash­ings of fem­i­nism, swear­ing and phi­los­o­phy.

THE SHEP­HERD’S HUT by Tim Win­ton (Hamish Hamil­ton)

In trou­bled teenager Jaxie Clack­ton, the vet­eran Aussie nov­el­ist cre­ated one of his most com­pelling and alarm­ing char­ac­ters, while the young­ster’s out­back sur­vival story be­came both re­li­gious parable and a tense thriller.

THE WA­TER CURE by So­phie Mack­in­tosh (Hamish Hamil­ton)

Three sis­ters are raised con­fined to an is­land, ter­ri­fied of men. Mack­in­tosh’s de­but is an eerie fa­ble that lingers in the mind and was de­servedly long-listed for the Booker.

THIS MOR­TAL BOY by Fiona Kid­man (Vin­tage)

A haunt­ing novel full of hu­man­ity from a doyenne of Kiwi lit who goes be­yond the 1950s head­lines of the “juke­box killer” to ex­plore the life and death of Al­bert “Paddy” Black, one of the last peo­ple in New Zealand sen­tenced to hang.

TRAN­SCRIP­TION by Kate Atkin­son (Dou­ble­day)

Atkin­son’s gift for sar­casm sparkles in her World War II es­pi­onage novel fea­tur­ing a young MI5 op­er­a­tive in­fil­trat­ing a group of Bri­tish Nazi sym­pa­this­ers. It’s suf­fused with a creep­ing men­ace as well as laugh­able mo­ments.

UNSHELTERED by Bar­bara King­solver (Faber & Faber)

King­solver in­ter­weaves the lives of two fam­i­lies liv­ing in the same New Jersey house 150 years apart for an evoca­tive, en­gross­ing novel in which the trou­bles suf­fered by past oc­cu­pants have echoes in con­tem­po­rary Amer­ica.

WARLIGHT by Michael On­daatje

(Jonathan Cape) The English Pa­tient au­thor takes us on an­other in­trigu­ing foren­sic search for truth, this time in the back­streets of post-war Lon­don to re­veal the story of a miss­ing mother’s war ser­vice.

WASH­ING­TON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Ser­pent’s Tail)

Short­listed for this year’s Booker, Cana­di­anGhana­ian writer Edugyan’s mag­i­cal epic about a 19th­cen­tury Car­ib­bean slave strays into Jules Verne ter­ri­tory when young Wash­ing­ton be­comes an ap­pren­tice to a sci­en­tist with a fly­ing ma­chine.

WHAT WE OWE by Gol­naz Hashemzadeh Bonde (Lit­tle, Brown)

Fad­ing in a Swedish hos­pi­tal 30 years af­ter flee­ing Iran, Nahid rages against life and death in this un­spar­ing yet cleav­ingly ten­der novel.


EV­ERY­THING IS LIES by He­len Cal­laghan

(Pen­guin Ran­dom House) A fic­tional mem­oir within a fic­tional mem­oir that re­veals, sat­is­fy­ingly, the se­crets within a fam­ily – at the cen­tre of which is a creepy cult fol­low­ing a washed-up pop star.

LUL­LABY by Leïla Sli­mani (Faber & Faber)

Sli­mani’s per­fect slen­der and chill­ing book is a moral­ity tale: a baby dies on the first page, killed by Louise, the per­fect nanny for the per­fectly aw­ful young pro­fes­sional cou­ple who hired her – and showed per­fect and dan­ger­ous in­dif­fer­ence to her as a hu­man be­ing. THE WOMAN IN THE WIN­DOW by A J Finn (Harper­Collins) A slick, smart and claus­tro­pho­bic de­but novel – which makes many nods to the au­thor’s ob­ses­sion with film – about a woman with ago­ra­pho­bia who be­lieves she has seen a mur­der through her win­dow.

THE FRENCH GIRL by Lexie El­liott (Corvus)

Ten years af­ter a group of English univer­sity stu­dents go on hol­i­day to France, the body of a lo­cal girl who dis­ap­peared is found, mak­ing all of them sus­pects. A per­cep­tive and com­pelling take on how the friend­ships of youth echo long af­ter.

GREEN SUN by Kent An­der­son (Mul­hol­land)

Told in a mes­meris­ing and bru­tal se­ries of vi­gnettes, this rivet­ing third book in a tril­ogy born 30 years ago puts po­et­turned-Green Beret-turned-street cop Han­son, a “so­cial worker with a gun”, in 1980s Oak­land.

I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNa­mara (Faber & Faber)

Out­stand­ing reportage pow­ered by prose that sings, this posthu­mously pub­lished true­crime tale is as much about its au­thor’s ob­ses­sive search for the Golden State Killer as the per­pe­tra­tor him­self.

(Head­line) The bril­liant coda to a tremen­dous se­ries sees psy­chol­o­gist Paula Maguire back in North­ern Ire­land when two bod­ies are un­earthed on a farm, per­haps tied to her mother’s Trou­bles-era dis­ap­pear­ance.

THE LOST MAN by Jane Harper (Pan Macmil­lan)

The queen of out­back noir serves up a tale of quiet in­ten­sity cen­tred on a Queens­land farm­ing dy­nasty torn fur­ther asun­der when a brother dies in be­wil­der­ing cir­cum­stances.

MONEY IN THE MORGUE by Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy

(Harper­Collins) An ex­tra­or­di­nary lit­er­ary tag-team com­pleted 75 years af­ter it be­gan; a dar­ing theft at a ru­ral hos­pi­tal in Can­ter­bury threat­ens to de­rail In­spec­tor Al­leyn’s wartime

un­der­cover work.

THE QUAKER by Liam McIl­van­ney (Harper­Collins)

An ab­sorb­ing, at­mo­spheric read that uses a fic­tion­alised ver­sion of the real-life “Bi­ble John” killings in late-1960s Glas­gow as a launch-pad for a tex­tured, nu­anced crime novel with a vivid sense of time and place.

SCRUBLANDS by Chris Ham­mer (Allen & Un­win)

A sweat-in­duc­ingly au­then­tic de­but about a re­cov­er­ing journo in a drought-stricken NSW small town that meshes lit­er­ary stylings, so­ci­o­log­i­cal in­sights and multi­lay­ered mys­tery into an epic tale.

THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVE­LYN HARD­CAS­TLE by Stu­art Tur­ton (Blooms­bury)

A highly orig­i­nal coun­try-house mur­der mys­tery – Cluedo meets Quan­tum Leap – that is exquisitely writ­ten, in­tri­cately plot­ted and man­ages to not only de­liver on but outdo its bril­liant premise.

THIR­TEEN by Steve Ca­vanagh (Orion)

A propul­sive le­gal thriller with a com­pul­sive hook – a se­rial killer fi­na­gles him­self onto the jury for a celebrity trial – that de­liv­ers char­ac­ter oomph and plenty of ac­tion and in­trigue in and out of the court­room.

POL­I­TICS FEAR by Bob Wood­ward (Si­mon & Schus­ter)

Michael Wolff’s flawed Fire and Fury in Jan­uary was an early con­tender for West Wing book of the year, but then along came Water­gate re­porter Wood­ward’s Fear with its cred­i­ble de­scrip­tion of a dys­func­tional White House and alarm­ing por­trayal of the man sup­pos­edly in charge.

THE FIFTH RISK by Michael Lewis (Allen Lane)

The writer of Money­ball and The Big Short fright­en­ingly dis­sects how the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion has failed to get to grips with run­ning the US de­part­ments of en­ergy, agri­cul­ture and com­merce on ac­count of its anti-govern­ment lean­ings and sci­en­tific ig­no­rance.

THE ROAD TO UN­FREE­DOM by Ti­mothy Sny­der (Bod­ley Head)

The Yale his­tory pro­fes­sor and au­thor of On Tyranny: Twenty Les­sons From the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury de­liv­ers a com­pelling ex­am­i­na­tion of how Vladimir Putin’s grip on power in Rus­sia has in­flu­enced pol­i­tics in Europe and in the US.

MOD­ERN LIFE 21 LES­SONS FOR THE 21st CEN­TURY by Yu­val Noah Harari (Jonathan Cape)

The cel­e­brated his­to­rian and au­thor of the best­selling Sapi­ens and Homo Deus pon­ders the state of hu­man­ity in a grab-bag of es­says of big ideas, eth­i­cal ques­tions and oc­ca­sion­ally con­found­ing ob­ser­va­tions.

BOYS WILL BE BOYS by Cle­men­tine Ford (Allen & Un­win)

An­other blaz­ing man­i­festo from the au­thor of Fight Like a Girl, this time anatomis­ing the heavy price of toxic mas­culin­ity for all of us.


In a fol­low-up to his 2011 best-seller The Bet­ter An­gels of our Na­ture, Pinker un­leashes yet more data-backed rea­sons to be cheer­ful about mod­ern life as well as elo­quent ar­gu­ments in de­fence of that four-part sub­ti­tle, while tak­ing into ac­count the in­flu­ence of a cer­tain leader of the free world.


The myth-bust­ing au­thor of Nickel and Dimed and Smile or Die takes on the well­ness in­dus­try. THE COD­DLING OF THE AMER­I­CAN MIND: HOW GOOD IN­TEN­TIONS AND BAD IDEAS ARE SET­TING UP A GEN­ER­A­TION FOR FAIL­URE by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

(Allen Lane) A book that started life as a 2015 ar­ti­cle in the At­lantic ar­gues that the rise of “safe­ty­ism” cul­ture at US col­leges is help­ing cre­ate a gen­er­a­tion seem­ingly al­ler­gic to deal­ing with ideas that make them un­com­fort­able.

THE IN­CUR­ABLE RO­MAN­TIC by Frank Tal­lis (Lit­tle Brown)

English clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Tal­lis, who also writes crime and hor­ror nov­els, of­fers an in­trigu­ing study in what he sees as a fine line be­tween ro­man­tic love and men­tal ill­ness with 12 fas­ci­nat­ing and oc­ca­sion­ally dis­turb­ing case stud­ies of “love-sick” pa­tients.

HIS­TORY by Ed Hu­sain (Blooms­bury) Is­lam and ex­trem­ism: that’s a con­nec­tion Ed Hu­sain, once an Is­lamist rad­i­cal him­self, seeks to dis­rupt but never shirk in this schol­arly, fas­ci­nat­ing anal­y­sis of a rich, mil­len­nium-long re­li­gious and cul­tural tra­di­tion.

WHY BUD­DHISM IS TRUE by Robert Wright (Si­mon & Schus­ter)

Jour­nal­ist and so­ci­ol­o­gist Wright de­scribes the ben­e­fits of med­i­ta­tion and makes the case for his be­lief that Bud­dhism is “true”, ar­gu­ing that if you ig­nore su­per­nat­u­ral as­pects such as rein­car­na­tion, Bud­dhism is founded on a shrewd as­sess­ment of hu­man im­pulses.

HIS­TORY ARN­HEM: THE BAT­TLE FOR THE BRIDGES 1944 by Antony Beevor (Vik­ing)

Long re­garded a gal­lant fail­ure, Op­er­a­tion Mar­ket Gar­den, the 1944 bat­tle fought and lost by Al­lied air­borne troops that pro­longed Nazi ter­ror on Dutch civil­ians, was a disas­ter in both its plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion, writes the pop­u­lar mil­i­tary his­to­rian in this in­sight­ful ac­count. DICTATORLAND: THE MEN WHO STOLE AFRICA by Paul Kenyon (Harper­Collins) This ex­am­i­na­tion of mod­ern African tyranny, fo­cus­ing on post-in­de­pen­dence dic­ta­tors, is a fas­ci­nat­ing cat­a­logue of hor­ror and sheer looni­ness.


HMS En­deav­our, ar­gues Moore in his am­bi­tious nau­ti­cal bi­og­ra­phy, wasn’t just a sturdy con­verted col­lier that got Cap­tain James Cook to New Zealand, but a ve­hi­cle car­ry­ing the Age of En­light­en­ment to the far reaches of the planet. THE GHOST: THE SE­CRET LIFE OF SPY­MAS­TER JAMES JE­SUS AN­GLE­TON by Jef­fer­son Mor­ley (Pen­guin) Mor­ley’s grip­ping bi­og­ra­phy por­trays the Machi­avel­lian af­fairs of James Je­sus An­gle­ton, who led the CIA dur­ing the Viet­nam War, the Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tions and the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis.


Macin­tyre’s ac­count of 1980s KGB dou­ble agent Oleg Gordievsky is a true story that thrills like the best Flem­ing or le Carré fic­tion, but comes with the grit of good in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism.

VIET­NAM: AN EPIC TRAGEDY 1945-1975 by Max Hast­ings (Wil­liam Collins)

The ven­er­ated Bri­tish jour­nal­ist’s lat­est mil­i­tary his­tory is an en­gross­ing panoramic study that draws on his own re­port­ing ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing the war and mixes per­sonal sto­ries of par­tic­i­pants on both sides.

WITH THEM THROUGH HELL by Anna Rogers (Massey Univer­sity Press)

This deeply re­searched and fas­ci­nat­ingly de­tailed ac­count about the New Zealand med­i­cal staff who dealt with our 41,000 World War I wounded (and about the vets car­ing for horses) makes for an af­fect­ing his­tory les­son. A per­fect last post to the pa­rade of lo­cal war cen­ten­nial books.


The late, great Bri­tish states­man gets yet an­other bi­og­ra­phy but his­to­rian Roberts’ 1000-plus largely ad­mir­ing pages de­liv­ers one of the most com­plete pic­tures of the man yet. DEAR OLIVER: UN­COV­ER­ING A PĀKEHĀ HIS­TORY by Peter Wells

(Massey Univer­sity Press) Old let­ters form the build­ing blocks in Wells’ clear-eyed ex­plo­ration of his Hawke’s Bay fam­ily’s gen­er­a­tional sto­ries, cir­cling around his re­la­tion­ship with his mother, who died last year at the age of 100, and his fa­ther, who re­jected Wells and his brother be­cause they were gay. A pow­er­ful blend of so­cial and per­sonal his­to­ries.

ED­U­CATED by Tara Westover (Hutchin­son)

Westover’s ex­tra­or­di­nary mem­oir cal­cu­lates with un­flinch­ing power the cost of es­cape from her fun­da­men­tal­ist Mor­mon Idaho child­hood and the value of a good ed­u­ca­tion.

GANDHI: THE YEARS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, 1914-1948 by Ra­machan­dra Guha (Allen Lane)

The sec­ond of Guha’s two-vol­ume bi­og­ra­phy of­fers an au­thor­i­ta­tive, sym­pa­thetic but even-handed ac­count of the In­dian leader’s years af­ter his re­turn from South Africa to a po­lit­i­cal life that, says the writer, of­ten re­sem­bled a se­ries of long-run­ning ar­gu­ments.

HUD­SON AND HALLS: THE FOOD OF LOVE by Joanne Dray­ton (Otago Univer­sity Press)

A cel­e­bra­tion and in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the lives of Peter Hud­son and David Halls, the funny, flam­boy­ant pair who be­came pi­o­neer­ing tele­vi­sion chefs in the late 1970s and whose show brought gay cou­ple­dom into the lounges of New Zealand.


The Bri­tish satirist’s art­ful ex­per­i­ment in bi­og­ra­phy pro­duces a por­trait of a princess – famed beauty, pocket tyrant, largely use­less – that is gos­sipy, hi­lar­i­ous and ul­ti­mately quite mov­ing.

MEM­ORY PIECES by Mau­rice Gee (VUP)

If this is his last book, what a way to go: as gen­er­ous as it is un­spar­ing in his ac­count of his par­ents’ lives; un­spar­ing in his ac­count of his own child­hood and youth; drily funny about his wife’s fam­ily his­tory; and, as ever, lyri­cal about creeks.


The com­pelling story of rich-lis­ter Heat­ley’s seem­ingly charmed busi­ness life, from school­boy prop­erty developer and mini-golf mag­nate to found­ing fa­ther of Sky tele­vi­sion.

OS­CAR: A LIFE by Matthew Sturgis (Head of Zeus)

The first ma­jor bi­og­ra­phy of Os­car Wilde since Richard Ell­man’s in 1987 de­liv­ers 900 mag­is­te­rial, leisurely pages that take us through the 46 years from his Dublin baby cra­dle to his Paris deathbed via lit­er­ary celebrity-dom and im­pris­on­ment.

ROOM TO DREAM by David Lynch and Kris­tine McKenna (Text)

The Amer­i­can di­rec­tor, whose name be­came a by­word for screen sur­re­al­ism, at­tempts to ex­plain him­self in a lengthy and en­ter­tain­ing mem­oir that al­ter­nates be­tween dis­cur­sive au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and his co-writer’s fact­based his­tory.

ROSIE: SCENES FROM A VAN­ISHED LIFE by Rose Tre­main (Chatto & Win­dus)

English nov­el­ist Tre­main’s mem­oir is a vivid, pre­cise evo­ca­tion of her priv­i­leged post­war girl­hood be­ing raised by an un­car­ing and cruel mother but a warm and af­fec­tion­ate nanny.


From left, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Anna Burns.

THE KILLING HOUSE by ClaireMcGowan Left, Tina Mak­ereti, KarlOve Knaus­gård.

From right, Yu­val Noah Harari, Michael Lewis.THE HOUSE OF IS­LAM: A GLOBAL

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