New Books June 2023

Just because we’re into the Long Vacation doesn’t mean the new books have stopped pouring in here at the library! We’ve had a wide range of new arrivals this month, including fiction from around the world, studies foregrounding culture, gender and race, and a selection of poetry.

Keep reading to find out more about a few titles which caught our eye, or visit our LibraryThing page to browse all the new arrivals. Vacation loans are now in full swing, meaning any books borrowed don’t have to be returned until October, so if you’d like to pick up any of these intriguing titles you might want to act fast!

Cover image for 'Season of Crimson Blossoms' by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. The cover has a blue background, with an abstract image of a woman in profile wearing a red hijab with black circles in place of her face.Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Season of Crimson Blossoms (2017) 

In this debut novel, Ibrahim tells the story of an illicit affair between a 55-year-old widow, Binta, and 26-year-old ‘Reza’, a street gang leader. Set in the conservative, predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, the novel explores both Binta and Reza’s relationship and the world around them. With a backdrop of political violence and domestic squabbles, Ibrahim takes his time to tell the story of Binta and Reza. This slow, unhurried pacing, combined with a ‘gorgeous tapestry of language’, creates a rich narrative exploring ‘love, heartbreak, hope, desire, the human condition and our collective humanity’. 


Cover image for 'Culture' by Martin Puchner. The cover has a yellow background with floral motifs on it. There is a red diamond shape in the middle, split into four smaller diamonds: at the top, a line-drawing of a bust of Nefertiti; on the left and right, geometric patterns; and at the bottom, a Chinese drawing of a person.Martin Puchner, Culture: A New World History (2023) 

In a political landscape bounded by extremes, Puchner makes the case for the necessity – and long-standing fact – of cross-cultural exchange. In 15 ‘lively case studies’, he traces the movement, interpretation and re-interpretation of objects and ideas across time and space, encompassing Egypt, Jerusalem, Ethiopia, the Ottoman Empire, Tokyo, Berlin and more. With his assertion that ‘everyone is influenced by someone’, Puchner makes a powerful case for the fact that cultural transfer is to be found ‘at the heart of the story of human expression’. 

Also by Puchner at the EFL: Stage fright: modernism, anti-theaticality, and drama (2002); Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, manifestos and the avant-gardes (2006); The Written World: How Literature Shaped History (2018).  

Cover image for 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy. The cover has a grey background, with a red flame shape in the centre. In the flame shape are blacked-out silhouettes of a man and a boy walking.Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2022). 

The Road is McCarthy’s tenth novel and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2007. It is a bleak story of a father and son’s fight to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. We’re never told what disaster has happened but, ‘faced with such loss’, it’s almost irrelevant. It’s a story not only of survival, but of what makes that survival meaningful; the father repeatedly reassures his son that they are ‘the good guys’. The prose is almost as sparse as the landscape they travel through, with ‘an economy of words, even an economy of thought, that parallels [the story]’. But despite the horror, a certain beauty remains: ‘In creating an exquisite nightmare, it does not add to the cruelty and ugliness of our times; it warns us now how much we have to lose.’ 

McCarthy died earlier this month at the age of 89. 

Also available as an e-book (2009 edition).  

There are many works by McCarthy available at the EFL. You can browse them on SOLO. 

Cover image for 'The Great White Bard' by Farah Karim-Cooper. The cover is an image of a painting of a Black person, with the title in large white letters on top. Farah Karim-Cooper, The Great White Bard: Shakespeare, Race and the Future (2023) 

Karim-Cooper is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at King’s College London, and Co-Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe. That background in education is reflected in the book’s aim ‘to restore the swan of Avon as a playwright for all’. She is careful to understand Shakespeare within his Tudor context while emphasising that this was not an all-white England, and argues that Shakespeare’s work remains relevant to modern readers and audiences. The challenge is to consider ‘how students … or actors of colour … can get to grips with the excessively valued and quite sublime poetry that just happens to, at times, diminish their own bodies’. 

Also by Karim-Cooper at the EFL: The Hand on the Shakespearean Stage: Gesture, Touch and the Spectacle of Dismemberment (2016). She has also edited a number of volumes about Shakespeare, which you can find on SOLO. 

Cover image for 'Bread and Circus' by Airea D. Matthews. The cover has a light blue background, with a composite silhouette of a person's face in profile, made up of images includes photos of body parts, a circus tent, and the suits (club, space, heart, diamond) of a desk of cards.Airea D. Matthews, Bread and Circus (2023) 

Bread and Circus is ‘a hybrid and palimpsestic memoir-in-verse‘, ‘a bold poetic reckoning with the realities of class and race and their intergenerational effects’. As an economics student, Matthews became ‘fascinated and disturbed’ by the ideas of Adam Smith, and here she issues a ‘direct challenge’ to his theories. She demonstrates how Smith’s emphasis on self-interest as the driver of capitalism falls apart when the individual becomes a commodity. From the perspective of the different roles she has performed through her life, Matthews ‘asks what it is to have survived, indeed to have flourished’ amidst this capitalist failure – ‘and at what cost’. 

Cover image for 'The Trouble with White Women' by Kyla Schuller. The cover has a yellow background with a pink-toned image of a woman on the left hand side. The title is in large black letters across the cover.Kyla Schuller, The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism (2021) 

In this work, Schuller aims to ‘demonstrate the case for the end of white feminism, and its replacement by intersectional feminism’. To that end, the book is structured around comparisons between the writing of white feminists and intersectional feminists. Schuller makes clear that she sees ‘white feminism’ as a political position rather than an identity, one which upholds both the patriarchy and white supremacy. This is an incredibly rich account, full of ‘complexity, contradiction and nuance’ which succeeds in its aim to bring to the fore intersectional feminists whose work and ideas are not as celebrated as they could be. 

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