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Blank Gaze by Jose Luis Peixoto

The harsh lives of the inhabitants of an impoverished Portuguese village are played out in this dark tale. Multiple narrative voices lend a poetic, if sometimes claustrophobic, commonality to their experiences. Not always an easy read, but stick with it and you will be rewarded by a beautiful if unusual story of fate, love and death throughout the generations.

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Joseph's Box by Suhayl Saadi

Two bereaved people find a box floating in the River Clyde by the Erskine Bridge. It is opened when Alex plays his lute. And then the adventure begins, taking in Scotland, Sicily, the Himalayas and Lincolnshire. Think Homer's Odyssey, Joyce's Ulysses or Alice in Wonderland, the Box of Delights or the Mahabharata. Or rather forget the comparisons, and wallow in the beauty of the language, and the breathtaking virtuosity of the story. Oh, and Joseph who made the box is the father of a famous carpenter - which gives nothing away.

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Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne

Plot? What plot? Denny and his dodgy friends bum aimlessly round the seedier parts of Dublin in this episodic, shaggy-dog story. Boozy, druggy and spectacularly profane, it's also a funny, touching and sometimes poetic account of how Denny tries to cope with the sudden death of his much-loved 'ma'.

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Wow! It begins as a gently humorous commentary on class and society with loads of interesting philosophical ruminations - almost becomes a chick lit for the over 50s and then ...! Just keep reading until the Japanese tenant appears - after that you won't be able to put it down. And what an ending.

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Bone China by Roma Tearne

A lyrical and haunting tale of three generations fragmented by civil strife and the shock of migration. The genteel Grace De Silva faces upheaval as Ceylon is torn apart by independence and her children are compelled to seek a new life in austere England. Lost loves, secret sorrows and the search for cultural identity make up the sights and sounds of this novel. It is a feast for the senses playing on the reader's emotions like a beautiful concerto.

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