Homer’s Iliad is often considered a poem of blunt truthfulness, his characters’ motivation pleasingly simple. A closer look, however, reveals a complex interplay of characters who engage in an awful lot of lies. Beginning with Achilles, who hatches a secret plot to destroy his own people, Mark Buchan traces motifs of deception and betrayal throughout the poem. Homer’s heroes offer bluster, their passion linked to and explained by their lack of authenticity. Buchan reads Homer’s characters between the lies, showing how the plot is structured individual denial and what cannot be said.
From Axolotl to Zebrafish, meet a world of barely imagined beings: real creatures that are often stranger and more astonishing than anything dreamt in the pages of a medieval bestiary. Ranging from the depths of the ocean to the most arid corners of the earth, Caspar Henderson captures the beauty and bizarreness of the many living forms we thought we knew and some we could never have contemplated, and invites us to better imagine the world around us.
Stoning the Devil is a novel set in the United Arab Emirates, a country of paradoxes, of seediness and glamour, of desert grandeur and Disneyland vulgarity, where public executions and other barbaric customs are winked at by the western expats who run the economy.
Colin, a professor of literature, is not the 'typical' expat, ignorant and interested only in pleasure and his stock portfolio, but a speaker of Arabic and an admirer of Arab culture - or is he? To his Arab wife, he is an Orientalist who exoticizes and patronises the locals, unaware of his latent racism.
Modern London. The photographer is a man ruled by two obsessions. First, to take photographs that speak for him. Second, to make the subjects of those pictures speak to him alone. He is not interested in them as people - their banal tales of joy and suffering. His experiments are to uncover the secrets that they don't know they are keeping.
Rewind to Peru in 1851. An explorer is battling to survive in a claustrophobic and unknown world. In flight from modernity he seeks older truths, which he finds in the customs of the Caposcripti.
Dr Emma Mawdsley (St John's 1989), University Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and Fellow of Newnham College
From Recipients to Donors examines the emergence, or re-emergence, of a large number of nations as partners and donors in international development, from global powers such as Brazil, China and India, to Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, to former socialist states such as Poland and Russia. The impact of these countries in international development has grown sharply, and as a result they have become a subject of intense interest and analysis.
Children have a knack of asking great questions: Why is the sea salty? How far away is space? Why did dinosaurs go extinct and not other animals? What is global warming? But how are we supposed to answer their questions when most of us have only a sketchy grasp of the detail?
Utilizing narratives of seven different people - soldier, rebel, student, trader, evangelist, father, and politician - I Did it To Save My Life provides fresh insight into how ordinary Sierra Leoneans survived the war that devastated their country for a decade. Individuals in the town of Makeni narrate survival through the rubric of love, and by telling their stories and bringing memory into the present, create for themselves a powerful basis on which to reaffirm the rightness of their choices and orient themselves to a livable everyday.
A naive but intrepid young man, fresh from university in the 1960s, takes a well-paid banking job in Brazil for which he is ill-suited, at a time when the country hardly figures on the world stage. Inspired by Brazil's rich African heritage and the remarkable powers of voodoo priests to heal the sick, he gives up banking and returns to live as a research student in remote communities, examining how serious illnesses are cured by herbs, flogging and fumigation.
When Anna, Lizzie Thorne's charismatic sister, is killed in a tragic fall from the roof of her school, her family is plunged into shock and despair. One year on and grief still has a suffocating hold on them. Her mother, Kate, consumed by loss and desperate to find someone to blame for Anna's death, retreats from her family, locking herself away to paint Anna's portrait for hours on end. Jon, her father, is doing his best to care for his loved ones but the pressure of trying to stop his marriage collapsing is pushing him to breaking point.