After a fortnight of trying – and so far failing – to come to terms with the sense that the known world has suffered an economic and political earthquake that has left us all in a very different position, we hope that our summer list may bring our customers some relief, even consolation. (Click here to view).
With this in mind, a title that slipped the net of our list is the exquisitely named Divine Pleasures, a book on Indian Rajput court paintings now in the Kronos collection and published by the Metropolitan Museum (£35). The cover, as you can see, is a beautiful and tranquil image of Rama lying on a grassy bank; a young man in a gauzy shirt and the leafy skirt of a forest-dweller is removing a thorn from his foot, while Sita fans his temples and tenderly strokes his neck. This painting, like the others in the collection, was created to arouse rasa, the emotional flavour or essence of an aesthetic experience, to be relished by a sensitive spectator.
Which, at the risk of being sent straight to Pseud’s Corner, is what we try to do at Sandoe’s.
Highlights from the list, some of which you will find in our Window Box section, are Hisham Matar’s The Return, which is a remarkable and extremely powerful memoir about his father, Tom Bullough’s wonderful novel Addlands and Lydie Salvayre’s Goncourt prize-winning semi-biographical novel Cry, Mother Spain. Also recommended are Francis Spufford’s jubilantly imaginative Golden Hill and Viet Than Nguyen’s The Sympathizer’. There’s a rash of good new thrillers too – Bussi, Vargas, Rimington, Gardner, Lemaitre…
Publishers are often a little relaxed about summer publications and occasionally we have to scour their schedules to find enough interesting material for our July and August list. Not this time, however: there are really good books coming out in every field. Daniel Beer’s book on the history of Siberian exile under the Tsars, for which he has borrowed Dostoevsky’s title The House of the Dead, is a fascinating book about a subject that hitherto has mostly been left to the imagination. The reality makes for extraordinarily shocking reading. William Sitwell’s Eggs or Anarchy, about Lord Woolton’s astounding efforts to keep Britain fed during WW2, is…. eggcelent, of course.
And as for the arts, there are some real delights – some good books, at last, on Christopher Wood and Roland Penrose, a revised edition of Michael Bird’s The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Space and Time, and two books on Francis Bacon in addition to the 5 volume catalogue raisonné just published by the FB Estate (and a cool £1000).
And, to finish, another book that isn’t in our list, and in memoriam for a great film director: Abbas Kiarostami. His Doors and Memories, published recently in Iran (£43.95), presents a sequence of photographs exhibited at the Aga Khan Museum: weather-beaten, bolted, padlocked doors, yet all with strange and beautiful patinas, through which we can never pass other than by our imagination. They are like us.