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Some recent titles that may have escaped your notice .....

HAPPINESS
Aminatta Forna $33
A breathtaking novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Hired Man and The Memory of Love. On Waterloo Bridge in London two strangers collide: Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together. Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his ‘niece’ Ama, who hasn’t called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown – and now her young son Tano is missing. When, by chance, Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilising into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London’s myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds. In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a teeming metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.

THE SECRETS BETWEEN US
Thrity Umrigar $35
Bhima, the unforgettable main character of Thrity Umrigar’s beloved international bestseller The Space Between Us (2006), returns in this poignant and compelling novel, in which the former servant struggles against the circumstances of class and misfortune to forge a new path for herself and her granddaughter in modern India. Poor and illiterate, Bhima had faithfully worked for the Dubash family, an upper-middle-class Parsi household, for more than 20 years. Yet after courageously speaking the truth about a heinous crime perpetrated against her own family, the devoted servant was cruelly fired. A woman who has endured despair and loss with stoicism, Bhima must now find some other way to support herself and her granddaughter Maya. Bhima’s fortunes take an unexpected turn when her path intersects with Parvati, a bitter, taciturn older woman. The two acquaintances soon form a tentative business partnership, selling fruit and vegetables at the local market. As they work together, these two women seemingly bound by fate grow closer, each confessing the truth about their lives and the wounds that haunt them. Discovering her first true friend, Bhima pieces together a new life, and the two women learn to stand on their own. A dazzling story of gender, strength, friendship and second chances, The Secrets Between Us is a powerful and perceptive novel that brilliantly evokes the complexities of life in modern India and the harsh realities faced by women born without privilege as they struggle to survive.

WARLIGHT
Michael Ondaatje $35
In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – this is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named ‘The Moth’. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends – men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways), Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel from the Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient.

EXACTLY: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World
Simon Winchester $40
We live our present lives dependent on precision. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where Simon Winchester introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John ‘Iron-Mad’ Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early 20th century, with Britain’s Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori’s Seiko and Leica lenses, to today’s cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society? From start to finish an enthralling book.