Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sweet Passion

SHANTINI SUNTHARAJAH traces CHARMAINE AUGUSTIN’s journey from broadcasting and boardrooms to gourmet food and confectionery

Photos by AHMAD ZURIN NOH for Quill
Coordinated by ERIC FORBES

IF YOU WERE A CHILD of the Eighties growing up in Malaysia, chances are good that you will remember Charmaine Augustin. Back in the pre-American Idol days when TV3 was a brand-new television station, there was Juara Lagu and Muzik-Muzik. As co-host of the channel’s wildly popular singing competition and music show, Augustin’s visage graced millions of small screens across the country and around the region.

You might remember Augustin for her remarkable ability to connect and engage with live audiences and viewers, or how she seemed to effortlessly radiate glitz and glamour on the screen. Delve a little deeper, and it becomes abundantly clear that she is a deep thinker—a characteristic that she is well aware of.

Kuala Lumpur-born Augustin describes herself as passionate and intense, sensitive and very private. She also calls herself a “quiet observer,” a trait that was born of necessity when she was a child. Her late father, Dato Capt. Patrick Augustin, was in the Army and Special Branch, so her formative years were marked by travel and plenty of it. “On the move” is the phrase that best describes her childhood, she explains.

All that movement and change brought with it both the good and the bad. “My nomadic childhood created insecurities. It also built reserve and innate self-belief,” she explains, candidly. “I was an outsider, an avid observer of life, an adventurer. Incessant daydreaming was my insulation from the uncertainties of growing up. It was fertile ground for unbridled imagination.”

While a nomadic lifestyle created an unusually high level of unpredictability in her childhood years, Augustin also fondly remembers the good times. The middle child among three siblings and the only girl, Augustin recalls growing up in gorgeous Lutyens-style bungalows with gleaming arches and wide wooden verandahs, surrounded by lush spacious gardens. “There were gazebos, giant rubber and banyan trees with branches reaching to the sky. Sometimes we lived in forests in newly cleared jungles turned into housing residences. Other times it was by the sea.”

She also vividly remembers long bicycle rides with her younger brother, down winding paths that led to the beach when the family lived in Penang and Butterworth. “The breeze, salty from the sea, whiffed across our nostrils. We picked up starfish and endlessly tickled their legs. It was a favourite pastime.”

Seaside bicycle rides and playing with starfish are undeniably idyllic ways to while away the hours, but these days, Augustin has time to indulge in these pursuits only in her memories.

Today, Augustin, who speaks and writes French fluently, is a busy businesswoman who co-runs Passion Doux (which means “sweet passion” in French) with her best friend Lee Yulie. Passion Doux is a wholesale provider of premium gourmet foods. “We import and distribute gourmet and specialty fine foods with a penchant for confectionery. We also work with individuals with rare and specialty products. These include handmade award-winning nougats, pickles and jams, cookies, coconut candies, pate des fruits and calamansi honey nectar juice, among others.”

Passion Doux clients are highly discerning and demand the finest, but judging from the company’s growth, the two co-owners are more than able to deliver. “Our clients include five-star hotels, upscale grocery outlets, private premium gift retailers and blue-chip corporations. My roles and focus include product identification and development, packaging, sales, marketing and branding, client relationship, import and logistics,” explains Augustin.

So how did a renowned TV personality end up in the wholesale food industry? As it turns out, much like her childhood, Augustin’s career path is nothing if not unusual and her choices reflect the deep courage of a woman who isn’t afraid to follow her heart.

For those who remember her polished professionalism during her days at TV3, it would be hard to believe that the young broadcast announcer had no media experience or training at the time. Despite this “drawback” she enjoyed a meteoric rise up the ranks and while many others in her place would have played it safe, she dropped everything to go to college.

“My time in TV3 inspired me to go pursue a degree in Broadcast and Film. I left for Boston in 1991 and returned in 1994.” The Malaysian media landscape had changed dramatically in those three years and there were many more opportunities for Augustin to dive into. “Upon my return I joined MetroVision Channel 8, known as 8TV today, as Program Manager, followed by a stint as the Asian Managing Director with Articulate Asia, a Dutch telecommunications and content company.” Time at the telecommunications company proved to be a turning point in her career. “While in Articulate I realised that the future was in the direction of convergence of content, multimedia and technology.”

The next few years were a whirlwind of upward mobility and career changes, which included time working as a Marketing Manager at the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) when she became part of the pioneering effort that created the Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). Next she was headhunted to join Ericsson Malaysia as General Manager of Mobile Internet and Systems Integration and became the first Malaysian woman and the youngest person to take over the role.

Then it was on to Malaysia Biotechnology Corporation as Branding and Marketing Vice-President. Augustin’s corporate career culminated in 2008 when she was appointed General Manager for DDBPR, the public relations arm of Naga DDB, Malaysia’s largest marketing and communications advertising company. Like her decision to drop everything during the height of her success at TV3, Augustin made a decision to turn away from the corporate fast track to focus on her secret love—food. “Food has always fascinated me. It is one of the greatest pleasures of the senses and a playground for creativity and visual art.”

As with all her career moves, she combined heart with smarts and looked at ways to turn her love into a viable, lucrative business. This focus and direction inspired her to combine food with trading and thus Passion Doux was born. “I have always loved the idea of trading. Even in the companies I used to work for, wherever there was an opportunity, I would create business-inspired events,” she reveals.

These days, Augustin’s daily routine overflows with “work, work, and more work” plus time stolen here and there for leisure pursuits like reading and jazz piano classes but the popular media personality turned entrepreneur will have it no other way.

Other than serving an ever-expanding clientele, Augustin, along with Lee, works with less fortunate individuals and families who possess the fire and spirit of an entrepreneur but not the financial means to support their dreams. “We develop recipes, formulas and ideas with them and brand and market their products. This gives them sustainable income, new-found confidence and knowledge that they have special skills and are able to contribute to society and to their families.”

Passion Doux also serves as a channel for the two women to bring alive the food tradition and memories of their beloved mothers and grandmothers. “We resurrect long-forgotten or rarely produced traditional favourite delicacies like handmade coconut candies the way Granny used to make them.” Augustin says this brings back the past in a beautiful way while reviving disappearing tastes and senses. “We take quiet pleasure in seeing the look of happiness on the faces of clients who come across a long-forgotten aroma or a taste from their childhood.”

Reproduced from the July-September 2014 issue of Quill magazine

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Verve & Versatility

Trainer, coach, cat lover, baker and author ANNA TAN shows SHANTINI SUNTHARAJAH that self-improvement isn’t too much of a stretch

CATHOLIC SCHOOL, with all its rules and regulations and the nuns who enforce them, might not sound like a great way to spend most of your growing-up years. Anna Tan, however, has nothing but warm memories to share and credits those schooldays for inspiring her reading habit.

“My reading habit was inculcated by the nuns in the Catholic school I attended, called St Teresa, in her hometown, Kuching, Sarawak. The head nun—Mother Monica—started a library and stocked it with many Enid Blyton books as well as magazines from the Vatican City,” she explains. “So I read whatever Mother Monica brought to the library. My brother and I would compete to see who finished a book first!”

Mother Monica must have done a fine job because the consultant trainer, human resource practitioner and change leader is now a full-fledged author. Stretched: Unleash Your Team’s Potential by Coaching the “Rubber Band” Way! captures Tan’s proven coaching ideas and techniques and aims to guide readers to extraordinary growth and breakthroughs.

Tan says that the advice in her book, which is geared towards leaders, employers and managers who are keen to create passionate, productive, action-oriented teams, is based on long experience in the trenches. “In a career spanning over fifteen years, I worked in various multinational companies as a senior corporate leader helming the human capital and talent functions.” Her work exposed her to a vast range of people and corporate cultures. “I had the opportunity to interact and socialise with people at all levels, experiencing both Western and Asian leadership and cultures.”

Tan confides that she has always wanted to write a book and didn’t hesitate to grab the chance to do so when she took a six-month break from corporate work at the end of 2010. Any other hard-working denizen of the corporate world might have used the time to kick back and relax but she is nothing if not focused. “It was six months of ideas, writing fluidly, freestyle.”

Even after going back to work, Tan did not waver from her writing routine and completed the book at an admirably quick pace. “I went back to corporate HR and it was another six months of fine-tuning the typescript. Getting feedback from corporate folks, HR practitioners, college students and incorporating their input, editing by my publisher and publishing took another four months.”

Tan’s speed is also attributed, in no small part, to the fact that she is able to write “wherever I have my Mac” as well as to the way she thinks. Part of the writing process, such as creating the chapters—something that makes many other writers falter—turned out to be a breeze. “I am lucky that I think in ‘categories’ or have my ideas in buckets. Hence, dividing the chapters was quite easy.” However, she is also quick to admit that creating Stretched from scratch did have its challenges. The biggest among these was “simplifying the concepts without sacrificing the essence of the book,” she says, referring to the complex concepts related to coaching teams to do their best at work.

Tan admits that she loves her work but takes care to spend as much quality time as possible with her loved ones on weekends. In her case, her loved ones happen to include three felines. A huge cat lover, she describes her furry family members with some detail. “They each have very different personalities. Girlie, the eldest at twelve years, is the most introverted. Furrygamo is three and is your typical “scatty” cat. Cotton is two years old and is the most extroverted and social one.”

Weekends are also a time for pastimes most people would consider typical—save one. “During the weekends, we do normal things like house chores, cook [her husband Allen Yap does the cooking], catch up on reading, watch TV, entertain friends and trim the cat’s nails.” Tan confides that the last is more than a one-weekend job. “The cats hate having their nails trimmed so it has to be stretched over a number of weeks,” she laughs.

Another thing that she enjoys during her downtime is baking. As a coach who trains leaders and managers to find opportunities to bring out the best in themselves and their people, it appears that she walks her talk. Others would never view domestic work as anything more than what it is but she has managed to find a way to turn time in the kitchen into something of a self-improvement exercise. “I love to bake and I teach others to bake. I have learnt to master the challenging French macarons! Baking has taught me to be precise and to persevere.”

Tan hopes that her book will help shine a light on new and better ways to work and shift her readers’ perspectives. “The coaching way—as opposed to the autocratic where you just tell and issue instructions—is one that resonates with younger generations like the millennials. It is high time leaders replace some of their ‘die-hard’ ways to a coaching style that engages the hearts and minds of their team members—yes, be like the rubber band, stretch, be flexible and adapt.”

Coach, trainer and author Anna Tan shares three life-improvement tips that will help people create great teams at work (and maybe in their personal lives, too!):
• Talk less, listen more. 
• Give permission for others to be brave, and challenge the status quo. By doing that, you renew their hope of the possibilities of what they can be and more. 
• Don’t tell people what to do. Facilitate the conversation to enable them to come up with their own solutions. People are spurred to take action based on the solutions they come up with.

Reproduced from the July-September 2014 issue of Quill magazine

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Other Side of Kuala Lumpur

EWE PAIK LEONG talks about the kind of research he undertook while working on his novel, A China Doll in KL

THE STORY is set in the seamier side of Kuala Lumpur, where China dolls solicit clients in an infamous food court called New Peng Hwa. Meisu, the protagonist, comes to KL from Guilin (China) to seek her fortune as a hooker. She falls in love with her client Alvin Au, an alcoholic artist, who has a studio in Central Market. Against the backdrop of their tumultuous romance lurks a serial killer with a troubled past. He has murdered three China dolls and is targeting Meisu as his fourth victim. Meanwhile, Inspector Daniel Chu and his sidekick, Sergeant June Qwong, are assigned to nail the serial killer. The story reaches its climax when Inspector Chu races against time to save Meisu from the killer.

This novel was partly inspired by an accidental visit to New Peng Hwa in Pudu district in KL. One evening, I stepped inside the food court solely for a quick dinner. Dozens of girls and not-so-young women, carrying packets of watermelon seeds, were milling around. One by one, they approached my table and asked in Mandarin, “You want to buy watermelon seeds?” Only then did I realise that they were China dolls. When I said “no”, their next question would often be “Do you want to buy me?” Other girls used innuendos like “Do you want to be happy?” I was shocked by their audacity. The other half of the inspiration came from two novels which I’d read several years back: The World of Suzie Wong (1957), by Richard Mason, and A Woman of Bangkok (1956), by Jack Reynolds. “Why not a Malaysian version of those two books?” I asked myself as I recalled the novels while watching a few China dolls gyrating with their clients to loud music from the band on the stage.

Subsequently, I made more visits to the food court, inviting China dolls for drinks or dinner so that I could interview them. Several were friendly and chatty; others refused my offer. I also mingled around with customers and prospective johns to dig as much information as possible. A few plied me with stories of local men falling in love with the China dolls. Such romances mostly ended in financial ruin for the men except for a few rare cases of happy marriages.

Meisu, the novel’s protagonist, is a composite character of three real China dolls. They spoke to me about their aspirations, motivations and backgrounds. At the back of every China doll’s mind is the hope of snaring a boyfriend so that she can razor him financially or hook a husband and settle down in this country to escape poverty. A big-time john once gave me a tip on how to spot a China doll from a poor village. “Ask her to remove her shoes and feel the soles of her feet,” he said. “They’re often as hard as leather.” He pointed out that in the poor villages of China, almost all children are barefooted.

Meisu’s love interest is Alvin, an alcoholic artist who’s struggling to come to terms with his addiction. As the novel is written in close multiple third-person POV, there are many scenes where Alvin is the POV character. Therefore, I needed to experience what it was like being dead drunk. I don’t drink much except for a couple of beers during Chinese New Year, so I came back one evening with two bottles of cheap made-in-Thailand brandy. Sitting in front of the TV after dinner, I started to gulp down the brandy. My startled wife asked, “Wazzup, darling? You never drink! Are you in a funk?” I told her that I wanted to be in the shoes of my alcoholic character and she quipped, “I hope he’s not also a wife-beater!”

“I can’t leave New Peng Hwa and solicit business elsewhere as I’m contracted to my boss,” said a China doll to me. Her answer indicated that organised crime and vice goes hand-in-hand in New Peng Hwa. Anyone who goes there can see the presence of thugs almost everywhere. Some hang around with walkie-talkies hooked to their belts. Since New Peng Hwa has links to triads, I created a subplot in the story. In Act I, Ouyang Lifu, the head of the Red Centipede Society, tries to extort protection money from Meisu, but she challenges him to a card game instead. During the final hand of the game, Lifu raises the stake to “loser chops off the last finger.”

An unforgettable incident was when the place was raided one evening. I was sitting in Kim Wah Café on the first floor of Ace Electronics Building, adjacent to New Peng Hwa (which houses the apartments used by China dolls), when a lookout employed by the vice syndicate shouted, “Run! Police! Run!” The whole place was in turmoil as all the girls started to stampede down the broken-down escalator. One China doll slipped and nearly fell facedown and several others took off their stilettos and ran barefooted. When I reached the ground floor, I heard the clumping of heels coming from the fire-escape staircase as more China dolls came scrambling down from their apartments. Standing on the sidewalk, I saw a police truck up ahead on the road, trying to manoeuvre through traffic. It was like a scene from a TV cop show.

A China Doll in KL is published by Monsoon Books, Singapore

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

October 2014 Highlights

“It was OCTOBER, and the leaves of the oaks around the language school had turned gold and were batting light into its tall windows. A young Irish woman was seated alone in the teacher’s lounge. She had made herself a cup of tea on the range in the corner, and she was opening a tangerine on a paper napkin, with hungry carelessness.” CALEB CRAIN, in Necessary Errors (2013)

Novels
1. The Prince’s Boy (Bloomsbury USA, 2014) / Paul Bailey
2. There Must be Some Mistake (Little, Brown, 2014) / Frederick Barthelme
3. The Empire of Night (Mysterious Press, 2014) / Robert Olen Butler
4. Confessions (trans. from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem) (Arcadia Books, 2014) / Jaume Cabré
5. Limonov (trans. from the French by John Lambert) (Allen Lane/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014) / Emmanuel Carrère
6. The Empty Throne (HarperCollins, 2014) / Bernard Cornwell
7. The Boy Who Drew Monsters (Picador USA, 2014) / Keith Donohue
8. The Book of Strange New Things (Hogarth, 2014) / Michel Faber
9. Hiding in Plain Sight (Riverhead Books, 2014) / Nuruddin Farah
10. West (trans. from the German by Anthea Bell) (Harvill Secker, 2014) / Julia Franck

11. The Far Side of the Sun (Berkley, 2014) / Kate Furnivall
12. The Sleeper and the Spindle (illustrated by Chris Riddell) (Bloomsbury Children, 2014) / Neil Gaiman
13. The Hilltop (trans. from the Hebrew by Steven Cohen) (Scribner, 2014) / Assaf Gavron
14. The Peripheral (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014) / William Gibson
15. The Grand Duchess of Nowhere (Quercus, 2014) / Laurie Graham
16. Gray Mountain (Doubleday/Hodder & Stoughton, 2014) / John Grisham
17. Dear Thief (Atavist Books, 2014) / Samantha Harvey
18. J (Hogarth, 2014) / Howard Jacobson
19. A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead, 2014) / Marlon James
20. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Doubleday, 2014) / Rachel Joyce

21. F (trans. from the German by Carol Brown Janeway) (Quercus, 2014) / Daniel Kehlmann
22. First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen (Viking, 2014) / Charlie Lovett
23. The Figures of Beauty (Harper, 2014) / David Macfarlane
24. Fractured (Lake Union Publishing, 2016) / Catherine McKenzie
25. The New World (Jonathan Cape, 2014) / Andrew Motion
26. The Lives of Others (W.W. Norton, 2014) / Neel Mukherjee
27. Last Winter, We Parted (trans. from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell) (Soho Press, 2014) / Fuminori Nakamura
28. An English Ghost Story (Titan Books, 2014) / Kim Newman
29. Us (Harper, 2014) / David Nicholls
30. The Age of Magic (Head of Zeus, 2014) / Ben Okri

31. I Refuse (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Harvill Secker, 2014) / Per Petterson
32. Leaving Time (Ballantine Books, 2014) / Jodi Picoult
33. The Girl Next Door (Scribner, 2014) / Ruth Rendell
34. Lila (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Virago/Little, Brown, 2014) / Marilynne Robinson
35. The Remedy for Love (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014) / Bill Roorbach
36. Electric City (Counterpoint, 2014) / Elizabeth Rosner
37. Lamentation (Mantle, 2014) / C.J. Sansom
38. Some Luck (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) / Jane Smiley
39. Sister Golden Hair (Tin House Press, 2014) / Darcey Steinke
40. Nora Webster (Viking/Scribner, 2014) / Colm Tóibín

41. The Book of Gold Leaves (Penguin, 2014) / Mirza Waheed
42. Sometimes the Wolf (William Morrow, 2014) / Urban Waite

First Novels
1. Academy Street (Canongate Books, 2014) / Mary Costello
2. Crooked River (William Morrow, 2014) / Valerie Geary
3. The Goddess of Small Victories (trans. from the French by Willard Wood) (Other Press, 2014) / Yannick Grannec
4. The Loney (Tartarus Press, 2014) / Andrew Michael Hurley
5. An Unseemly Wife (New American Library, 2014) / E.B. Moore
6. A Little Dust on the Eyes (Peepal Tree Press, 2014) / Minoli Salgado
7. The Lodger (Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Press, 2014) / Louisa Treger

Stories
1. Baboon (trans. from the Danish by Denise Newman) (Two Lines Press, 2014) / Naja Marie Aidt
2. Man V. Nature (Harper, 2014) / Diane Cook
3. The Redemption of Galen Pike (Salt Publishing, 2014) / Carys Davies
4. The Best American Short Stories 2014 (Mariner Books, 2014) / Heidi Pilor & Jennifer Egan (ends.)
5. The Wilds (Tin House Press, 2014) / Julia Elliott
6. The Seven Stages of Anger and Other Stories (Press 53, 2014) / Wendy J. Fox
7. The Dunning Man (Lavender Ink, 2014) / Kevin Fortuna
8. White Tiger on Snow Mountain (New Harvest, 2014) / David Gordon
9. The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories (trans. from the Swedish by Thomas Teal & Silvester Mazzarella) (NYRB Classics, 2014) / Tove Jansson
10. Six Stories and An Essay (Tinder Press, 2014) / Andrea Levy

11. Egg Heaven (Shade Mountain Press, 2014) / Robin Parks
12. There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In: Three Novellas About Family (trans. from the Russian by Anna Summers) (Penguin Books, 2014) / Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
13. Spoiled Brats (Little, Brown, 2014) / Simon Rich

Poetry
1. The Heart Is Strange: New Selected Poems (ed. Daniel Swift) (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014) / John Berryman
2. 77 Dream Songs (ed. Daniel Swift) (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014) / John Berryman
3. From Elsewhere (The Gallery Press, 2014) / Ciaran Carson
4. Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street Press, 2014) / Meg Day
5. Nine Bright Shiners (Dedalus Press, 2014) / Theo Dorgan
6. Blood Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2014) / Katie Ford
7. Habitation: Collected Poems (Lost Horse Press/University of Washington Press, 2014) / Sam Hamill
8. Miss Lost Nation (Anhinga Press, 2014) / Bethany Schultz Hurst
9. Splitting an Order (Copper Canyon Press, 2014) / Ted Kooser
10. The Collected Poems of James Laughlin (ed. Peter Glassgold) (New Directions, 2014) / James Laughlin

11. The Stairwell (Wake Forest University Press, 2014) / Michael Longley
12. To Keep Time (Omnidawn, 2014) / Joseph Massey
13. An Aviary of Small Birds (Carcanet Press, 2014) / Karen McCarthy Woolf
14. Collected Poems: 1969-2014 (Penguin Books India, 2014) / Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
15. The Open Secret (Flood Editions, 2014) / Jennifer Moxley
16. Blue Horses (Penguin Press, 2014) / Mary Oliver
17. Digest (Four Way, 2014) / Gregory Pardlo
18. Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014) / Claudia Rankine
19. Playing House (Seren, 2014) / Katherine Stansfield
20. The Hundred Lives (Quattro Books, 2014) / Russell Thornton

21. Bedouin of the London Evening: Collected Poems (ed. Neil Astley) (Bloodaxe, 2014) / Rosemary Tonks

Nonfiction
1. The History Manifesto (Cambridge University Press, 2014) / David Armitrage
2. Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (Alfred A. Knopf/The Bodley Head, 2014) / Karen Armstrong
3. The Bookshop Book (Constable, 2014) / Jen Campbell
4. Joan of Arc: A History (Faber & Faber, 2014) / Helen Castor
5. Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet (Jonathan Cape, 2014) / Mark Cocker
6. The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2014) / Richard H. Davis
7. Alex Miller: The Ruin of Time (Sydney University Press, 2014) / Robert Dixon
8. Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts (Yale University Press, 2014) / Robert M. Dowling
9. Isabella: The Warrior Queen (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2014) / Kirstin Downey
10. Engel’s England: Thirty-nine Counties, One Capital and One Man (Profile Books, 2014) / Matthew Engel

11. Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 (Allen Lane, 2014) / R.F. Foster
12. Tales of Two Cities: The Best abnd Worst of Times in Today’s New York (OR Books, 2014) / John Freeman (ed.)
13. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books, 2014) / Atul Gawande
14. Coming Ashore: A Memoir (ECW Press, 2014) / Catherine Gildiner
15. Family Politics: Domestic Life, Devastation and Survival, 1900-1950 (Yale University Press, 2014) / Paul Ginsborg
16. How to be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life (Liveright, 2014) / Ruth Goodman
17. Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey Into the Heart of Russia (W.W. Norton, 2014) / David Greene
18. Palace of Books (trans. from the French by Alice Kaplan) (The University of Chicago Press, 2014) / Roger Grenier
19. Discontent and Its Civilizations (Hamish Hamilton, 2014) / Mohsin Hamid
20. Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured (Doubleday, 2014) / Kathryn Harrison

21. A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe (ed. Nina Howe) (Yale University Press, 2014) / Irving Howe
22. Poetry Notebook: 2006-2014 (Picador, 2014) / Clive James
23. Arabs and the Art of Storytelling: A Strange Familiarity (trans. from the Arabic by Eric Sellin and Mbarek Sryfi) / Abdelfattah Kilito
24. Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism (Yale University Press, 2014) / Philip Kitcher
25. Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans (Crown Publishing, 2014) / Gary Krist
26. The Collected Poems of James Laughlin (ed. Peter Glassgold) (New Directions, 2014) / James Laughlin
27. The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) / Jill Lepore
28. Common People: The History of an English Family (Fig Tree, 2014) / Alison Light
29. Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place (Granta Books, 2014) / Philip Marsden
30. Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime (Profile Books, 2014) / Val McDermid

31. Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries (St Martin’s Press, 2014) / Rory McLean
32. Private Island (Verso, 2014) / James Meek
33. The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War (Verso Books, 2014) / Rohini Mohan
34. The Devils’ Alliance: Hitler’s Pact with Stalin, 1939-1941 (Basic Books, 2014) / Roger Moorhouse
35. Ciao, Carpaccio! (Pallas Athene, 2014) / Jan Morris
36. The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books (Viking, 2014) / Azar Nafisi
37. Shirley Hazzard: New Critical Essays (Sydney University Press, 2014) / Brigitta Olubas
38. American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street (Princeton University Press, 2014) / Paula Rabinowitz
39. Napoleon the Great (Allen Lane, 2014) / Andrew Roberts
40. Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East (Basic Books, 2014) / Gerard Russell

41. Mecca: The Sacred City (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014) / Ziauddin Sardar
42. Young Lawrence: A Portrait of the Legend as a Young Man (published in the U.S. as The Young T.E. Lawrence in 2015) (John Murray, 2014) / Anthony Sattin
43. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Belknap Press, 2014) / Larry Siedentop
44. Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness (Trinity University Press, 2014) / Rebecca Solnit
45. The Best American Essays 2014 (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) / John Jeremiah Sullivan (ed.)
46. The Best American Travel Writing 2014 (Mariner Books, 2014) / Paul Theroux (ed.)
47. Red Nile: A Biography of the World’s Greatest River (Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Press, 2014) / Robert Twigger
48. And Home Was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa (Doubleday Canada, 2014) / M.G. Vassanji
49. A Delicate Wildness: The Life and Loves of David Thomson, 1914-1988 (The Lilliput Press, 2014) / Julian Vignoles
50. Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (Oxford University Press, 2014) / Marina Warner

51. Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind (Riverhead, 2014) / Sarah Wildman
52. The Meaning of Human Existence (Liveright, 2014) / Edward O. Wilson
53. The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock (Pegasus, 2014) / Lucy Worsley