Friday, 30 May 2008

Murkami items at auction

I don't often see Haruki Murakami items at auction, but there are several interesting lots in the Bloomsbury Book Auctions sale on 11th June . Details are given below - I will provide an update on prices realised. The estimates are interesting, and the sale should provide a test of interest in Murakami in the UK collectors' market.

358. Murakami (Haruki) Pinball,1973, translated by Alfred Birnbaum, first and only English language edition , original patterned wrappers, dust-jacket, very slight rubbing to edges, otherwise very good, small 8vo, Tokyo, Kodansha English Library, 1985; and a reprint of the first book in the series, Hear the Wind Sing (2)
est. £400 – £600

359. Murakami (Haruki) A Wild Sheep Chase, first English language edition , original cloth-backed boards, dust-jacket, a fine copy, 8vo, Tokyo & New York, 1989.
est. £120 – £180

360. Murakami (Haruki) Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Tokyo & New York, 1991; South of the Border, West of the Sun, New York, 1998; Underground..., 2000; Kafka on the Shore, 2005; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, 2006, first English language editions , original cloth-backed boards or boards, dust-jackets, fine copies ; and 6 others, including 5 of the Japanese first editions, 8vo (11)
est. £300 – £400
The Japanese titles present include Underground, The Sputnik Sweetheart and Afterdark .

361. Murakami (Haruki) Tony Takitani, first English language edition , limited edition numbered by hand, publisher’s blind-stamp on title, original plain wrappers, dust-jacket, a fine copy, small 8vo, Los Angeles, Cloverleaf Press, 2006.
est. £50 – £75

Auction results now available - results below include 20% premium.
Lot 358 £432
Lot 359 £90
Lot 360 £288
Lot 361 £36

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Book of the week and Bibliography - Adam Foulds, The Broken Word

The Broken Word is an extended poem, or verse-fiction, set against the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s. It follows the success of Adam Foulds' first novel, The Truth About These Strange Times (2007), for which he picked up the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Adam Foulds is thirty-two years old and lives in South London. He read English at St. Catherine's, Oxford, has a Creative Writing MA from the Unversity of East Anglia and received the Harper-Wood fellowship from St. John's College, Cambridge. His poetry has appeared in magazines such as Arete, Stand and Quadrant. Reviews have been very strong both for the poem and the novel, and he looks like a writer with a very bright future.


The Truth about These Strange Times (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007)
The Broken Word (Cape, 2008)
The Quickening Maze (Cape, 2009)

Saturday, 17 May 2008

In honour of Dr Who

A youth goes down into one of the myriad bottomless wells sunk into the surface of Mars. These wells seem to date from tens of thousands of years ago, but the strange thing is every last one was carefully dug to avoid hitting any water veins. No one had any idea why they were dug. And, in fact, the Martians left nothing behind but these wells. Not writing nor dwellings nor pottery, not steel nor graves nor rockets nor streets nor vending machines, not even shells. Only wells. All of which left the earthlings somewhat baffled. Could this indeed be called a civilisation? Although they had to admit the wells were fashioned with consummate skill - not one block was out of place after tens of thousands of years.

Of course, many explorers went down the wells. The shafts were so deep and the side tunnels so long that those who tethered themselves by ropes all had to turn back. Of those who went down without ropes, not one ever returned.

One day, a young space vagabond took the plunge. He was tired of the vastness of space and wanted only to die were no one would ever find him. Yet the further down he went the more light-hearted he began to feel. A wondrous energy gently enveloped his body. Over half a mile down the shaft, he headed off into a side-tunnel and followed its snaking course aimlessly. He lost all track of how long he had walked. His watch had stopped along the way. Perhaps it’d been two hours, perhaps two days. He experienced neither hunger nor fatigue, only that mysterious energy that had engulfed him at first.

Then, at one point, he suddenly felt a ray of sunlight. The tunnel had led into another well shaft. He managed to crawl up the shaft and back out to the surface of the planet. Sitting on the edge of the well, he gazed across the vast, unobstructed expanse of the Martian desert, then up at the sun. Something was different. The scent of the breeze, the sun…. The sun was still high in the sky, yet it shone orange, a giant lump the colour of the setting sun.

"In another at 250,000 years the sun will explode," the breeze whispered to him. "Click….. Off. 250,000 years. Hardly much time now, is it?"

"Oh, don't mind me," the voice continued. "Just the wind. Call me a Martian if you like. Not a bad ring to it, that. Granted, words are less than nothing to me."

"But, you're speaking."

"Me? You're the one speaking. I'm only slipping hints into your mind."

"And the sun? What's happened to the sun?"

"Gotten old. It's dying. Not a thing you or I can do.”

“But why so suddenly….?”

"Not sudden at all. It took you a good 15 billion years to make your way through the wells. Your kind has a saying, I believe: Time flies like an arrow. The well passages you came through where dug to curve occur along the warp of time. You see, we are wanderers through time - from the birth of the universe to its death. The winds we are."

"One question, then, if I might."

"My pleasure."

"Have you learned anything?"

The air stirred briefly, a laugh in the breeze. And once again eternal stillness fell over the Martian landscape. The youth took the pistol out of his pocket, pointed the muzzle and his temple, and pulled the trigger.

- The Wells of Mars, by Derek Heartfield (as told in Hear the Wind Sing, Haruki Murakami)

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Best of the Booker

As part of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations, there is an opportunity to vote for the "Best of the Booker" at Six winners have been shortlisted by a panel chaired by Victoria Glendinning. The six shortlisted novels are given below (in alphabetical order) - interestingly, none from this decade. My favourite from these would be Midnight's Children, which is also the bookies' favourite. All of the Booker Prize winners remian in print, with the exception of the first winner (Something to answer for, PH Newby).

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road (1995, Viking)

Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda (1988, Faber & Faber)

JM Coetzee's Disgrace (1999, Secker & Warburg)

JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur (1973, Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist (1974, Cape)

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981, Cape)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Book of the week - Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger

The White Tiger is a first novel by Aravind Adiga, who was born in India in 1974 and raised partly in Australia. He attended Columbia and Oxford universities, and worked as a journalist for, among others, Time magazine. He lives in Mumbai, India. "Balram Halwai is the White Tiger - the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor for him to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi. The White Tiger is as compelling for its subject matter as for the voice of its narrator - amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing." Reviews have been generally positive, some very positive, and first novels set in India have done well in the Booker Prize in several previous years. Signed copies can still be found at cover price if you look around.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Book of the week and Bibliography - Ruth Downie, Ruso and the Demented Doctor

Bank holiday weekend, so I am one day late with my book of the week - apologies to all of my avid readers! An appropriate title this week in the circumstances, Ruso snd the Demented Doctor is the second novel in the Medicus series by Ruth Downie, following 2006's Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, both from Michael Joseph. Gaius Petreius Ruso is a military Doctor attached to Legion XX in northern Britannia. The locals have a new hero who likes to strap antlers to his head and scare the Romans silly, while Ruso’s slave girl, Tilla, is stubbornly refusing to identify the culprit in a police line-up. But when Ruso is waylaid at the Fort of Coria, where a fellow doctor has confessed to a grisly murder, it’s a case of out of the cauldron and into the fire. With Tilla thrust outside the fort (and into the arms of a former lover), Ruso is landed not only with Doctor Thessalus’s patients but also the tricky task of getting him to retract the confession.

I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, though my signed and lined copy (securely protected in bubblewrap) will accompany me to the US this week, where it is available under another title. However, I am sure that I will enjoy it if it is anything like its predecessor - highly recommended. Ruth also keeps a blog for those who are interested.


Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, Michael Joseph, 2006
Ruso and the Demented Doctor, Michael Joseph, 2008
Persona non grata, (US only, 2009)
Ruso and the Root of all Evils (Penguinm 2010, paperback only)