The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins. Scholastic Children’s Books, 2012 (first published in 2008).
In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games, where there is only one rule: kill or be killed. When Katniss Everdeen, aged 16, steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before – for her, survival is second nature.
The Hunger Games are a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of the Panem are chosen at random to compete. The totalitarian nation of Panem is divided into the twelve districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games.
Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch.
The story is the first part of a trilogy and was made into a blockbuster film directed by Gary Ross and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and others.
Oxford Learner’s Pocket Dictionary of Business English. Oxford University Press, 2006.
This pocket edition of the Oxford Business English Dictionary brings 20,000 business words and phrases, British and American, from different areas – from accounting to human resources – with over 11,000 examples, and including grammar and spelling.
It also offers help with which words go together in the jargon of tradesmen and entrepreneurs.
The Sketch-Book. Washington Irving. Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford University Press, reissued 2009.
This book, whose full title is The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1820-21), looks simultaneously towards audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, as Irving explores the uneasy relationship of an American writer to English literary traditions.
He sketches a series of encounters with the cultural shrines of the parent nation, and in two brilliant experiments with tales transplanted from Europe creates the first classic American short stories, “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. The result was not only a hugely successful travel book; it exerted a strong formative influence on American writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe to Henry James, and is worth rediscovering today.
This edition includes an introduction by Susan Manning, a bibliography, a chronology, an appendix and explanatory notes by both Irving and Manning.
Bring Up the Bodies. Hilary Mantel. Fourth Estate, 2012.
The 2012 winner of the Man Booker Prize, Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel continues the story of Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith who by 1535 is Chief Minister to Henry VIII. His fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake the king has broken with Rome and created his own church.
But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as he falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour.
As Cromwell eases a way through the sexual politics of the court he must negotiate a “truth” that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.
In this sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. Bring Up the Bodies is an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world.
Hilary Mantel has written twelve books, among which Beyond Black was shortlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize and Wolf Hall won the 2009 Man Booker Prize.
This column is a selection by The Slovak Spectator of English-language books recently released in Slovakia; it does not represent an endorsement of any of the books selected. The column is prepared in cooperation with the Oxford Bookshop Bratislava, Laurinská 9.