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A blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do - before we do. Self-anointed guru of the Digital Age, Guy Matthias, has become one of the world's most powerful and influential figures. Untaxed and ungoverned, his company 'Beetle' essentially operates beyond the control of Governments or the law. But trouble is never far away, and for Guy a perfect storm is brewing: his wife wants to leave him; malfunctioning Beetle software has led to some unfortunate deaths which are proving hard to cover up and a mystery hacker, Gogol, is on his trail. With the clock ticking- Guy, his aide Douglas Varley, conflicted national security agent Eloise Jayne, depressed journalist David Strachey, and Gogol, whoever that may be - the question is becoming ever more pressing, how do you live in reality when nobody knows anything, and all knowledge, all certainty, is partly or entirely fake?
'Fun and erudite' Sunday Times 'Snort-inducingly funny' Daily Mail 'One of the cleverest books you'll read this year' Telegraph A darkly ironic novel of ideas, a dystopia, and an absurdist thriller, from the award-winning novelist Self-anointed guru of the Digital Age, Guy Matthias, CEO of Beetle, has become one of the world's most powerful and influential figures. Untaxed and ungoverned, his trans-Atlantic company essentially operates beyond the control of Governments or the law. But trouble is never far away, and for Guy a perfect storm is brewing: his wife wants to leave him, fed up with his serial infidelities; malfunctioning Beetle software has led to some unfortunate deaths which are proving hard to cover up; his longed for deal with China is proving troublingly elusive and, among other things, the mystery hacker, Gogol, is on his trail. With the clock ticking- Guy, his aide Douglas Varley, Britain's flailing female PM, conflicted national security agent Eloise Jayne, depressed journalist David Strachey, and Gogol, whoever that may be - the question is becoming ever more pressing, how do you live in reality when nobody knows anything, and all knowledge, all certainty, is partly, or entirely fake?
'Smart, strange, coping with death through Light' Margaret Atwood 'Extraordinary, wise, funny, adventurous' A. L. Kennedy 'So utterly startling and inventive, it's almost an act of resistance' Miriam Toews 'I couldn't put it down. A cult following seems certain' Literary Review 'Refreshing as well as disconcerting to read a novel that sets aside convention so resolutely' Guardian 'Opts to push the boundaries of what the novel is' Telegraph 'A comic metaphysical thriller' Scotland on Sunday In this darkly ironic novel - a quest for truth, a satire, an elegy - Joanna Kavenna displays fearless originality and wit in confronting the strangeness of reality and how we contend with the death of those we love. Beautiful, ethereal drawings by Oly Ralfe illustrate this haunting journey through time, space and human understanding.
Reality versus fiction is at the heart of the current literary debate. We live in a world of docu-drama, the 'real life' story. Works of art, novels, films, are frequently bolstered by reference to the autobiography of the creator, or to underlying 'fact.' Where does that leave the imagination? And who gets to define the parameters of 'reality' and 'fiction' anyway? Five writers debate the limits of materialism and realism, in art and literature - and offer a passionate defence of the alchemical imagination in a fact-based world.
Vienna1865: Dr Ignaz Semmelweis has been hounded into a lunatic asylum, ridiculed for his claim that doctors' unwashed hands are the root cause of childbed fever. The deaths of thousands of mothers are on his conscience and his dreams are filled with blood. 2153: humans are birthed and raised in breeding centres, nurtured by strangers and deprived of familial love. Miraculously, a woman conceives, and Prisoner 730004 stands trial for concealing it. London in 2009: Michael Stone's novel about Semmelweis has been published, after years of rejection. But while Michael absorbs his disconcerting success, his estranged mother is dying and asks to see him again. As Michael vacillates, Brigid Hayes, exhausted and uncertain whether she can endure the trials ahead, begins the labour of her second child. A beautifully constructed and immensely powerful work about motherhood that is also a story of rebellion, isolation and the damage done by rigid ideologies.
Rosa Lane is a fashionable journalist in her thirties, already the picture of London achievement. Her handsome boyfriend is something in politics and her other friends are confident, prosperous and ambitious. But one afternoon, staring at her computer screen at work, she fails to see the point, walks out of her job - and begins her long fall from modern grace.
Joanna Kavenna went north in search of the Atlantis of the Arctic, the mythical land of Thule. Seen once by an Ancient Greek explorer and never found again, mysterious Thule came to represent the vast and empty spaces of the north. Fascinated for many years by Arctic places, Kavenna decided to travel through the lands that have been called Thule, from Shetland to Iceland, Norway, Estonia, and Greenland. On her journey, she found traces of earlier writers and travellers, all compelled by the idea of a land called Thule: Richard Francis Burton, William Morris, Anthony Trollope, as well as the Norwegian Polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen. She met wilderness-lovers; poets writing epics about ice; Inuit musicians and Polar scientists trying to understand the silent snows. But she came to discover that a darkness also inhabits Thule: the Thule Society, obsessed with the purity of the Nordic peoples; the 'war children' - the surviving progeny of Nazi attempts to foster an Aryan race; as well as ice-bound relics of the Cold War. Finally she arrived in Svalbard, a beautiful Arctic archipelago, at the edge of the frozen ocean. Blending travelogue, reportage, memoir, and literary essay, Joanna Kavenna explores the changing life of the far North in the 20th Century. The Ice Museum is a mesmerising story of idealism and ambition, wars and destruction, survival and memories, set against the haunting backdrop of the northern landscape.