Cultural gathering | Monocle

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Tall tales, short-stories

Frankfurt: notes on a book fair
Although sci-fi and fantasy have had their heyday, the Russian literati are fast becoming the unlikely contenders to revive the genre. For a six-figure sum, Simon & Schuster snapped up the rights to sci-fi trilogy Chronicles of Siala by Alexei Pehov, the Asimov of the new guard.

Frankfurt was also the battleground for Canadian, Australian and Kiwi pub-lishers vying to wrest control of international English-language publishing rights from the US/UK monopoly. The bookish battle will continue at the London Fair in April 2009.

Meanwhile, between the covers:


James Scudamore
Violently amusing Brazilian drama featuring sex with half-sisters, hawking luxury in shantytowns and a destiny out of control.

Thin Blue Smoke
Doug Worgul
Kansas City barbecues and blues are at the heart of this quirky tale of redemption, blood and liquor.

The Tall Man
Chloe Hooper
White police brutality in a Queensland Aboriginal community conveys the darkest chapter in Australia’s history with singing eloquence.

Short stories

Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro’s latest eagerly awaited short-story collection delves into the tormented souls of café musicians and faded stars orbiting the European and American continents.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
Wells Tower
A debut to reckon with, this collection by US writer and journalist Wells Tower mesmerises with its anger, wit and non-conformist characters, including plundering Vikings and failed inventors.

The Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
More beautiful prose from the Allende of Nigeria. Adichie wrote her debut Purple Hibiscus when she was 27 and won the Orange prize with her second novel, Half of A Yellow Sun.


A World Of Trouble
Patrick Tyler
A Middle East veteran for the New York Times and Washington Post, Tyler offers an engrossing close-up on the meddling of 10 US presidents from Eisenhower to Bush. Not a bad primer for President Obama.

To The Castle And Back
Václav Havel
Havel’s intimate, outspoken autobiography is a sly but statesmanly story about his 14 years as president of the post-Communist Czech Republic.


Viva South America!
Oliver Balch
An all-encompassing travelogue of the continent following in the footsteps of independence fighter Simón Bolívar. Politics and realism are found in hearts, homes, jails and dance-floors.

Street Without A Name
Kapka Kassabova
This is Bulgaria-behind-the-scenes as Kassabova returns to her childhood country visiting weird and wonderful tourist spots.

Sushi And Beyond
Michael Booth
Monocle contributor Booth journeys from Hokkaido to Okinawa, assembling recipes unknown to westerners. Besides meeting the greatest chefs of Japan, he and his family also dine with sumos and manage to trash a Zen garden.


Just warming up

Fida Hyvönen
Silence Is Wild
Resisting Sweden’s recent penchant for electro bounciness, Frida Hyvönen has recorded a record of classic songwriting that recalls Sandy Denny performing in a (not-so) happy clappy church hall with Cole Porter on piano.
Out in February

Jun Miyake
Stolen From Strangers
A Renaissance cat with so many strings to his bow, it looks like a harp: jazz trumpeter, jingle writer, film composer. The album is a blissful distillation of muses: bossa, chanson, Bulgarian folk, the kitchen sink.
Out now

The Alpha Band
Checkmate Savage
Well-tuned, addictive debut from a Scottish sextet that is sure to entice fans of the Beta Band’s hypnotic grooviness, Tunng’s folky electronica and Nick Cave’s hellcat erudition.
Out late January

Le Mash-Up
Poni Hoax
From the more shabby than chic quartier Goutte d’Or in Paris, this five piece are as mixed-up as their neighbourhood. Channelling New Wave, rock, disco, Italian and German electro, this is the fun side of edgy.
New album out mid-2009

Decent Work For Decent Pay
Wes Pentz is Diplo – the master remixer, clever collaborator and Dr Livingstone of musical discovery. Name-checked and high-fived from Philly to Roppongi by Santogold and DJ Verbal, his collected works as DJ, producer and maestro are a treat for the new year.
Out in January

Cover art e-compendium
Anyone with eyes to match their ears will be exasp-erated by the demise of cover art – where are the next Psygnosis and Peter Savile? Sydney-based Soap Creative are behind, an online community and archive dedicated to classic and contemporary record sleeves onto which budding designers can upload new work for unsigned bands.

Pop saviour
AKA Anita Blay, a young Londoner with more pop sensibility in one curl of her Afro than Madonna has touched in 10 years; more lyrical sensitivity than a book of poetry stained with the butter drips from crumpets. Urban, angry; poised to wear out dance-floors and test journalists’ thesauruses.


Finally: big spaces with broad imaginations


Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective
MoMA (1 Mar – 11 May)
Besides the Tate’s in 2006, certainly one of the most bombastic Kippenberger retrospectives ever staged, curated by Ann Goldstein.

Anri Sala: Purchase Not By Moonlight
MOCA North Miami (3 Dec – 1 Mar)
CAC Cincinnati (30 May – 6 Sep)
A two-part exhibition of Albanian artist Anri Sala, taking place at two of our favourite US art centres.


Tate Modern (12 June – 20 Sep)
A powerstation crowd-pleaser, pooling together stellar works by Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini and Umberto Boccioni.

Andreas Gursky: Works 80-08
Moderna Museet (21 Feb – 3 May)
Handpicked by Gursky himself, the 150 works span from the Leipzig-born artist’s student days up to works produced specifically for this show in Stockholm.

Maison Martin Margiela: 20 Haus der Kunst Munich (20 Mar – 1 June)
The avant-garde Belgian fashion designer is rumoured to be retiring soon, so this 20-year retrospective should provoke us all to encourage him to stay.


Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art
Mori Art Museum (22 Nov – 15 Mar)
So often lumped in as a footnote to the Chinese in Asian contemporary art shows, we are pleased to see a major study of current Indian art, featuring works by Bharti Kher and Gulammohammed Sheikh.

Jim Lambie: Unknown Pleasures
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (13 Dec – 29 Mar)
This Scottish artist turns the rigours of Op-Art on its head, throwing household objects, chairs and record players, into the geometrical, monochrome mix.


Popcorn poised

In production

James “Titanic” Cameron, is working on his most ambitious project to date. Sci-fi Avatar is being shot on a 3-D camera system specially developed by Cameron for the project.

Where the Wild Things Are
Adapted from the children’s book it should make for nostalgic viewing despite Spike Jonze directing Max And The Wildebeests.

German warhorses

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Legendary German helmsman Werner Herzog’s latest is a remake of the Harvey Keitel film now starring Nicolas Cage. Who will drive whom mad first?

The White Ribbon
Late 2009
Insiders are already tipping Michael Haneke’s story of a German village during the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire for a Palme d’Or.


January 2009
Gus van Sant, never shy from controversy, tells the story of Harvey Milk; America’s first openly gay elected official who was assassinated by one of his colleagues.

In the Loop
Spring 2009
The offspring of BBC satire The Thick of It, directed by Britain’s finest satirist Armando Iannucci. Ferocious spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker meets The Soprano’s formidable James Gandolfini as a US general.


The Damned United
Adapted from the wonderful biography, Michael Sheen’s character in this film is the flaneur of football managers, Brian Clough.


Ponyo on the Cliff
July 2009
Spirited Away’s Hayao Miyazaki revived Japanese animation for western audiences used to stereotyping the genre as cyber sex and violence. His latest offering is the story of a five-year-old boy and a mermaid called Ponyo who run away from home.

Film of the book

The Road
Late 2009
The No Country for Old Men author’s profound, apocalyptic tale of a father and son will be brought to life by John Hillcoat, director of the chilling western The Proposition.

Five foreign-language Oscar entries

Sometimes (and stupidly) seen as a token category at the Academy Awards, 2009’s offerings promise to avenge Persepolis’ puzzling omission in 2008.

01 Leonera
Pregnant convict Julia brings up her child in a high-security jail. Filmed with real inmates in a maximum security prison.
02 Snow
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Set in 1997, Aida Begic looks at postwar society from the point of view of two women who lost their husbands in the Balkan conflict.
03 Dream Weavers
Poetic documentary about China’s five years of preparation leading up to the memorable 2008 Olympic Games.
04 Tony Manero
Centred around a serial killer who is obsessed with John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever.
05 Captain Abu Raed
Amin Matalqa directs Jordan’s first ever Oscar entry, the heartwarming tale of a janitor who pretends to be a pilot to entertain children.

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