Ingrid Lamprecht

Everlasting Moments

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Director Jan Troell; Release date: 17 April

Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen) is the mother of seven and wife of an abusive drunk, Sigge (Mikael Persbrandt). He beats her and their children whenever he's had a drink too many, which is quite often.

Maria makes a living mending gentry folk's clothes and washing their floors. Sigge takes on work wherever he can find it. It's at the beginning of the 20th century and life in the Larsson family's tiny apartment in Malm&oumlaut;, Sweden, is hard and bleak, something even the brownish-sepia coloured shots of Everlasting Moments capture spot on.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

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Stieg Larsson, Maclehose Press, £16.99

The second crime novel in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy is a page turner of the highest quality.

Hacker and researcher Lisbeth Salander returns to Sweden after a longer stay abroad. Meanwhile, journalist Mikael Blomkvist is about to publish an exposé of the extensive Swedish sex trafficking underworld. His scoop names Swedish policemen, judges and politicians who have all used and abused women trafficked from Eastern Europe. The paths of Blomkvist and Salander cross when the report's author and two other people are murdered before publication.

A Girl Made of Dust

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Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, Fourth Estate, £12.99

It's 1982 and life in a Christian village in the hills above Lebanon's capital, Beirut, is about to change forever. But for Ruba, a ten year old girl who lives in the village with her older brother, parents and grandmother, things loll on pretty much as usual. She plays in the woods with her brother and friends, eats roasted almonds from the nut shop, goes to school, watches her mother cook and clean the house, and tip-toes around her father, slouched on the living room armchair.

Cell Block Five

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Fadhil al-Azzawi, AUC Press, £10.99

Aziz sits in a Baghdad café. Suddenly police are all around him. They bundle him off to prison. All the while he's proclaiming his innocence. Aziz ends up in Cell Block Five - a ward for political prisoners - without having committed any political crime or any other crime. At first he's distraught and keeps trying to regain his freedom - there has been a mix-up with his name and surely the authorities will soon realise their mistake and let him loose.

Chicago

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Alaa Al Aswany, AUC Press, £13.50

Alaa Al Aswany's novel Chicago doesn't disappoint although it had a lot to live up to following The Yacoubian Building - bestselling novel in the Arab world in 2002 and 2003. Chicago is about Egyptian immigrant students and professors in Chicago and the Americans they meet and work with at the University of Illinois. And most of all, Chicago is a novel about love: carnal love, love between friends and family, love that breaks cultural boundaries and bridges cultural differences, lost love, nationalistic love and love for an adopted country.

Rescue Dawn

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Director Werner Herzog; Release date: out now

Rescue Dawn develops on from Werner Herzog's 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, about his friend, German born US Navy pilot, Dieter Dengler. Dengler managed to break out of a North Vietnamese prison camp in Laos during the Vietnam War.

The Golden Door

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Director: Emanuele Crialese

Postcards picturing chickens as large as pigs and plate-sized golden coins growing on trees in the new world across the Atlantic reach a wind-beaten village in Sicily at the beginning of the 20th century. Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato), a farmer whose family has tilled the stony land for generations, sees them as a sign to pack up his home, two sons and old mother, to head for the boat that will take them away from drudgery forever.

The Opposite House

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Helen Oyeyemi, Bloomsbury, £;12.99

This novel is like a long poem. It flutters in and out of realism and surrealism, touching on the subjects of religion, belonging, identity, love and politics.

Inspired by US author and poet Emily Dickinson, biblical references and ancestral Yoruba deities, Oyeyemi's language is lucid and simply beautiful.

The text flows easily through the main character Maja's memories of childhood years in Cuba, her parents' experiences in Havana as descendants of black slaves and Maja's life in London, where the main story unfolds.

Guatemalan Lessons

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Guatemalan teachers have held several strikes this year against attempts by President Oscar Berger to privatise Guatemala's 17,400 state schools.

The teachers also demanded better wages, nutritional meals for school children and increased funding. They ended their most recent three-week strike and road blockade in mid-May when the government pledged to meet their demands.

Joviel Acevedo, president of the National Teaching Association in Guatemala, is a leading figure in the struggle. He describes the Berger government as representing the traditional oligarchy that is responsible for Guatemala's poverty and wants to sell state schooling down the drain.

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