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The Seventh Cross

Anna Seghers

A rediscovered German classic novel from 1942, The Seventh Cross is both a gripping escape story and a powerful novel of resistance.

Seven prisoners escape from Westhofen concentration camp. Seven crosses are erected in the grounds and the commandant vows to capture the fugitives within a week. Six men are caught quickly, but George Heisler slips through his pursuers' fingers and it becomes a matter of pride to track him down, at whatever cost.

Who can George trust? Who will betray him? The years of fear have changed those he knew best: his brother is now an SS officer; his lover turns him away. Hunted, injured and desperate, time is running out for George, and whoever is caught aiding his escape will pay with their life.

The Seventh Cross powerfully documents the insidious rise of a fascist regime - the seething paranoia, the sudden arrests, the silence and fear.

The Map of Salt & Stars

Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

Nour has lost her father. She has also lost the place she was born in and now lives in the Syrian town of Homs, along with her sisters and mother. And so, by the fig tree in the garden, Nour whispers the stories her Baba once told her, so that the roots of the tree will carry those stories back to where her father is buried and he won't feel so alone. Her favourite is the story of Rawiya, a young girl from the twelfth century who left her home in search of adventure, dressed as a boy.

But Syria is changing and it isn't long before protests and shelling destroy the peace of the quiet city. As Nour begins her own journey as a refugee, she draws strength and inspiration from the voyage of Rawiya, who became apprenticed to the famous mapmaker, Al Idrisi, and who battled mythical creatures and endured epic battles in the attempt to compile the most accurate map of the world ever made.

The Map of Salt & Stars is a breathtakingly beautiful novel that illuminates the story of a country in turmoil, a tale of human resilience and the power of stories to transform.

The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup: bringing an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDs epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico's funeral, he finds his partner is infected, and that he might even have the virus himself. The only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago epidemic, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways the AIDS crisis affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. Yale and Fiona's stories unfold in incredibly moving and sometimes surprising ways, as both struggle to find goodness in the face of disaster.

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