Staff Pick

Sherman, an American who lived in Tokyo for several years, describes the city as “one vast timepiece,” but on the evidence of her captivating memoir, it’s more of a living diorama, exhibiting the various ways time has been kept—and told—throughout the metropolis’s long history. During the centuries Tokyo was Edo, its rulers marked time with the daily tolling of nine bells, and Sherman has organized her book around a search for these relics. As she visits the various temples, castles, and other sites—such as a notorious prison—where the bells were once struck, she builds a rich narrative of cultural history that encompasses Eastern and Western notions of power, wealth, art, and, in the moving sections about the 1945 firebombing, war. Her prose is spare and lyrical—a perfect setting for an exploration of mutability that ranges from the shoguns’ mythic origins to the apportioning of hours by the animals of the zodiac, from clocks meant to be “more than just a machine” to atomic lattice clocks “accurate to within a second of the birth of the universe.”

The Bells of Old Tokyo: Meditations on Time and a City Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781250206428
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Picador - December 1st, 2020

Staff Pick

Ash takes her title from an Elizabeth Bishop poem, and the literary—with references to Sebald, Didion, Barry Lopez, and others—is one angle she uses in her rich exploration of the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn. Others are history, natural history, interviews, folklore, and, most of all, reports of her own adventures at sea. Flouting superstitions about women on boats (not to mention braving severe sea sickness), Ash joins the crews of trawlers and day boats, not just observing the different techniques for hauling in pilchards and eels, for instance, but jumping into the frenzy of a fresh catch and learning to gut the fish herself. In calmer moments, Ash proves a lyrical and meditative writer. Her prose vividly conveys the ocean’s beauty and mystery as she probes both the economic and the deeper, more spiritual needs that drive people to sea and compel them to keep returning despite the heavy emotional and physical toll of this difficult life. 

Dark, Salt, Clear: The Life of a Fishing Town Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781635576153
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - December 1st, 2020

Staff Pick

 

Like a South African Faulkner, van Niekerk has written a stunning, densely layered narrative of race, class, and frustrated dreams.  Looking back from 1996, the paralyzed and mute Milla recalls her life on an Africaaner farm: she struggles to understand her bitter marriage, her son’s estrangement and, most of all, her complex relationship with Agaat. Over forty years ago Milla saved the black child from starvation and abuse and, but for the strictures of apartheid, would have continued to treat her as an adopted daughter instead of making her a servant. Now Milla’s sole caregiver, Agaat is capable and inscrutable, tender and petty. The two women know each other so intimately they communicate without speaking. They intuit each other’s needs and know how to inflict fresh pain, even as the wounds of the past continue to fester. Resentment, unspoken love, and withheld secrets make Milla’s last months as tense, dramatic, and rich as any in her life.

Agaat Cover Image
By Marlene Van Niekerk, Michiel Heyns (Translated by), Mary Gaitskill (Introduction by)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781951142209
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tin House Books - December 1st, 2020

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