Recent paperbacks

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The Independent Culture
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies by Bartolome de Las Casas, tr. Nigel Griffin, Penguin pounds 5.99. Written in 1542, when it still seemed possible to reverse the western invasion of the New World, this outraged polemic was inspired by the sight of barbaric Spanish soldiers crashing into South America.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Virago pounds 5.99. A highly lyrical novel, first published in 1937, that speaks eloquently of the struggles and joys of a young black woman in southern America, and includes a fantastic character called 'Teacake'. Published alongside two of the author's other novels, Dust Tracks on a Road and Jonah's Gourd. Buy them all, and take the phone off the hook.

The Gothic Tales of the Marquis de Sade, tr. Margaret Crosland, Picador pounds 5.99. Nothing very Gothic about them, but here is the master of inhuman sex in a more readable mood, with some comic tales and suspense-filled novellas. Just as naughty, but rather nicer than his better-known works.

The Words To Say It by Marie Cardinal, tr. Pat Goodheart, The Women's Press pounds 7.99. This 'autobiographical novel' is an in-depth psychological study and a classic of French literature. It tracks a journey from madness to strength, and concludes: 'If I had not gone insane, I would never have emerged'.

Collected Poems by Les Murray, Minerva, pounds 6.99. A spacious, rich and unmissable collection of work by Australia's biggest poet. It includes a wealth of subjects and a huge variety of tones. To all of them Murray brings his unique, full-throttle vitality.

The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin, Phoenix, pounds 3.99. A famous, acute and playful piece of literary criticism: Berlin reflects on the difference between foxes (who know many things) and hedgehogs (who know one big thing). Tolstoy, the subject, is cast as the fox who would be hedgehog.

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