The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories

Jane Gardam, who turned 80 in July, might be the most venerable overnight sensation in literary America today. While she's often a contender for the biggest book prizes in her native England, her oeuvre (nearly 30 volumes to date) has only recently begun to hop the pond. In 2006, Europa published a handsome edition of her spectacular 12th novel, Old Filth, followed in 2007 by a reprint of her Whitbread Prize–winning 1991 novel, Queen of the Tambourine. For readers unfamiliar with Gardam and for those who long for more, Europa's release of her latest story collection will be a pleasure. Some of the volume's 14 stories are nearly as spacious as novels, while others are bright snapshots. But all showcase the keen intelligence that presides over these inventions. Several tales examine the tragicomic dislocations of old age, including the title story, which reintroduces Sir Edward Feathers, the octogenarian hero of Old Filth, and "Babette," whose title character is "a creature of tatters and wisps, in a long coat and a none-too-clean balaclava helmet." In "Pangbourne," a rich old woman falls convincingly in love with a gorilla, while "The Latter Days of Mr. Jones" tells of a dreamy old aristocrat, more at home with ghosts than with the living, who's accused, absurdly, of rape. Ghosts waft through other stories here, and the macabre turns sci-fi in "The Flight Path," an eerie glimpse of the London Blitz. But my favorite, "The Hair of the Dog," is more earthbound: after years away, a grandmother returns to a now-unfamiliar London, swarming and frantic. Suddenly, a lull drops over the city, and tears come with "the beauty of the silence, its promise." Gardam's literature lives in that deep breath, in the silences among the clamor of everyday life, where everything -- past, present, and future -- is taking place.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.