What the books are about

I Love Dollars

An immediate sensation upon publication in China, I Love Dollars is a hilarious send-up of China’s love affair with capitalism by one of its most gifted new writers. In the title story, a young man, acutely aware of his filial duty, sets out to secure a prostitute for his father, only to haggle his old man out of a good time. Here, gleefully exposed, are the inanities of everyday life in contemporary China. As penetrating as Kafka, as outrageously funny as Larry David, and with a slangy swagger all Zhu Wen’s own, I Love Dollars is priceless.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

What shall we have for dinner? Such a simple question has grown to have a very complicated answer. We can eat almost anything nature has to offer, but deciding what we should eat stirs anxiety. Should we choose the organic apple or the conventional? If organic, local or imported? Wild fish or farmed? Low-carb or low-cal? As the American culture of fast food and unlimited choice invades the world, Pollan follows his next meal from land to table, tracing the origin of everything consumed and the implications for ourselves and our planet. His astonishing findings will shock all who care about what they put on their plate.

My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead

A wide-ranging and eclectic collection of short stories on the theme of love in its various forms: romantic, erotic, impossible, undying and exhausted. No other aspect of the human experience regularly inspires such an outpouring of poetry, prose and philosophy as love. From passionate declarations to clinical analysis, writers of every age have been fascinated, tormented and inspired by love. This beautifully produced collection of short stories will combine the best of contemporary and classic fiction on the theme of love,

from Catullus to Alice Munro. Edited and introduced by the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Middlesex, this wonderfully heterodox look at love will include, amongst others, A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, The Lady with the Lapdog by Anton Chekhov and The Dead by James Joyce, as well as stories by Lorrie Moore, Milan Kundera and Guy de Maupassant, and historical selections ranging from the letters of Heloise and Abelard to examples of courtly love.

The Painter of Shanghai

In 1913, an orphan girl boards a steamship bound for Wuhu in South East China. Left in the hands of her soft-hearted but opium-addicted uncle she is delivered to The Hall of Eternal Splendour which, with its painted faces and troubling cries in the night, seems destined to break her spirit. And yet the girl survives and one day hope appears in the unlikely form of a customs inspector, a modest man resistant to the charms of the corrupt world that surrounds him but not to the innocent girl who stands before him. From the crowded rooms of

a small-town brothel, heavy with the smoke of opium pipes and the breath of drunken merchants, to the Bohemian hedonism of Paris and the 1930s studios of Shanghai, Jennifer Epstein’s first novel, based on a true story, is an exquisite evocation of a fascinating time and place, with a breathtaking heroine at its heart.

Persian Girls: A Memoir

This lyrical and disturbing memoir by the author of four novels (Foreigner et cetera) tells the story of an Iranian girl growing up in a culture where, despite the Westernising reforms of the Shah, women had little power or autonomy. As an infant in 1946, Rachlin was given to her mother’s favourite sister, a widow who had been unable to conceive, and was lovingly raised among supportive widows who took refuge in religion from their frustrations as women in an oppressive society. But at the age of nine, Rachlin’s father, whom

she barely knew, met her at school without warning and brought her to Ahvaz to live with her birth family. Miserable in the new household, young Nahid was befriended by her American movie-obsessed sister Pari. Both sisters developed artistic ambitions, but only Nahid managed to escape the typical female fate, convincing her father to send her to college in the United States. Less lucky is Pari, whose life of arranged marriage, divorce from an abusive husband and estrangement from her son ends in depression and early death. Exuding the melancholy of an outsider, this memoir gives American readers rare insight into Iranians’ ambivalence toward the United States, the desire for American freedom clashing with resentment

of American hegemony.