This week the Guardian discussed overlooked novels – those that have faded into obscurity. As journalist John Sutherland remarked, most novels come, have their day, and are gone. Most deserve their "do not resuscitate" label. Every so often, though, a novel rises from the grave to claim its belated fame. Last year in July, addressing the nation on the Today programme, Ian McEwan did a revival job on Stoner – a novel published to modest praise in 1965 and long out of print. And we all know what has happened since to John Williams’ bleak, but exquisitely written, chronicle of a second-rate professor in a third-rate American university; it went on to become the 2013 novel of the year and a massive bestseller. So what other dead and forgotten works would one dig up from the dusty vaults of the British Library? You can see the top ten overlooked novels chosen by the Guardian here. How many have you read I wonder? Well one of them I’m pleased to tell you is The Book of Disquietude by Fernando Pessoa (978 1 857543 01 8 £17.95 paperback) which is published by Carcanet. This is the first, and only complete English edition: all other versions are abridgements. Will The Book of Disquietude go on to become as big as Stoner? Why not order some and let’s find out!
The Last Tiger by Tony Black is a literary thriller from one of the
finest authors (978 1908885555 B format paperback, £8.99) coming from
Cargo in June. Subject to a
bidding war among several publishers in 2013, The
Last Tiger is a remarkable book. Tony
Black has incorporated his page-turning crime style into a literary
story that has much to tell us about alienation, persecution, loss, and the
bonds of family; all set in the stark, sweeping landscape of UK . Twelve year-old
Myko and his family have fled the Czarist occupation of their native
Tasmania Lithuania for the freedom of
America – only to discover
their ship has arrived in Tasmania, the once
notorious prison island of the British Empire.
All are anxious about how they will survive in this wild new land where tigers
roam. Myko has never seen a tiger before – except in his picture books – and is
filled with fear as stories of the tigers’ vicious attacks on the settlers are
retold to him. But when he discovers the den of the last tigers, the family are
thrust into a fight over the last of these beautiful, wild beasts that will
force dark secrets to the surface – and pit son against father. The Sun has called this “a beautiful
powerful tale to move the hardest heart” and there is some great publicity
coming up for it. Tony Black will be on
The One Show (which has a weekly audience of 6 million viewers!) on 3
June, and he will also be on BBC Radio’s The Culture Show. There
will be interviews with Tony and/or reviews in the Guardian, the
Times, the Independent on Sunday, the Sunday Times,
Daily Record and the Times. Tony
Black is touring the UK, and will be appearing at Blackwell’s in
Edinburgh on 5 June, Waterstones Glasgow on 10 June, Waterstones Ayr on 12 June,
Bad Language Manchester on 22 June and Waterstones Deansgate in on 22
Right then it’s not just those clever dicks on the Guardian who can give you fun Top Ten lists to while away your Fridays with! Here’s our very own Compass Points list of the Top Ten Tigers!
- In at number ten of course is the book I’ve just mentioned; The Last Tiger by Tony Black – let’s get it to number 1!
- Next I’m nominating Tiger Lily in Peter Pan – one of the less well known Disney Princesses- but as you will see – quite a heroine!
- Bit random, but how about the hilarious Tyger Drew Honey from Outnumbered – here’s the scene where he gets a tattoo!
- I wasn’t a fan – but millions were – how about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?
- OK then, I admit Yann Martel might have just have come up with the idea making a tiger the star of a book before Tony Black did; we cannot possibly ignore Richard Parker in Life of Pi
- We’re into the top 5 tigers now – and even if you don’t like golf you must appreciate this utterly extraordinary shot from Tiger Woods
- Number four – it’s another literary one, The Tyger by William Blake is an amazing poem, read here by Tom O’Bedlam.
- Number three – who doesn’t love Eye of the Tiger by Survivor as used in Rocky of course.
- He’s grrrrrrrreat! Yup it’s Tony the Tiger – who else!
- And that means that the number one tiger must be … well, as he says himself; “can it be possible that you don’t know who I am?” Yep, it’s the silken voice of George Sanders giving us the deeply cool but also burning hot (by the end of this clip anyway) Shere Khan !
The great American poet John Ashbery is known as America’s foremost poet, and his prose writing and his engagement with prose writers – through translations, essays and criticism – has also had a profound impact on the cultural landscape of the past half-century. John Ashbery will be giving a rare interview from
BBC Radio 3’s The Verb on Friday 23rd May from 10pm. He’ll be discussing
his Collected French Translations: Poetry
(978 1 847772 34 3) and Collected French
Translations: Prose (978 1 847772 35 0) both published by
Carcanet, which is great publicity for these two
paperbacks. New York
Deadly women next, and of course Mothers Day has been and gone here in the UK, but this weekend it is Mom’s Day in the US – have a look here for the ten worst mothers in literature!
The Poisoning Angel by Jean Teulé (pb, 9781908313683 £8.99) is published by Gallic Books in June. This novel is based on the true story of Hélène Jégado; one of the most notorious female poisoners of all time. The Poisoning Angel spent 100 weeks on the French bestseller list and is both an upbeat portrait of nineteenth century provincial French life and a startling chronicle of a decades long killing spree carried out by the most notorious female poisoner in history. Beginning with the demise of her very own mama, Hélène Jégado leaves a trail of devastation with the special soups and cakes she makes – those who taste them never recover. Jean Teulé brings his unique blend of imagination and historical insight to a novel that is unusual and extraordinary.
How many famous poisoners can you name – and how many victims of poison? Click here for a list of poisoners and poisonings – everyone from Socrates to Hitler to Alan Turing to Livinenko.
And while we’re in a macabre mood, if you fancy some more gothic grimness, then look out for Tim Burton: A Child’s Garden of Nightmares edited by Paul A. Woods and published by Plexus in July (978 0859654012 £14.99) This is a fully updated edition of an extremely popular cult title, which now includes Burton’s most recent films such as Sweeny Todd, Alice in Wonderland and Frankenweenie. Tim Burton’s fans are many and are enthusiastically in thrall to his penchant for intelligently stylised films such as Batman, The Night Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many more. His new film Big Eyes is released in August. Tim Burton: A Child’s
filmmaker’s path from malcontent animator at Walt Disney to directing feature
films with a fantasy aesthetic and a natural sympathy for the alienated
outsider. Tim Burton: A Child’s Garden of
Nightmares is the definitive guide to a cinematic career based on a
love of pop-gothic imagery and shows how he revises the imagery of horror
movies, TV sci-fi and cartoons, and imbues juvenile fantasy with emotional
depth. Garden Of Nightmares
Here’s one of my favourites – the fab Jonny Depp in Edward Scissorhands
The Trials of Lady Jane Douglas The Scandal that Divided 18th Century Britain by Karl Sabbagh is published by Skyscraper Publications in June (hb, 978 0992627010 16.99) This is a mystery that has never been solved, until now – did the beautiful Lady Jane Douglas, sister of the richest man in
Scotland, give birth to twins
1748, or did she buy the babies from French peasants? The truth about what
really has never been established. And the original exploration of this 18th
century mystery took place in public over twenty years, culminating in a
dramatic session in the House of Lords. Combining, as it did, issues of sex,
power, money, politics, and aristocracy, ‘the Douglas Cause’ was a fertile
source of gossip and tittle-tattle. Karl
Sabbagh gets as near as anyone ever will to the truth, in a
definitive account of a case which divided the chattering classes at every level
A former documentary-maker, Karl
Sabbagh is a British author whose books include The Hair of
the Dog (a Radio 4 Book of the Week) and Palestine: A Personal
Sidney Reilly: Adventures of a British Master Spy is a classic espionage title available for the first time in many decades and is published by Biteback in July. This is the latest in Biteback’s series of republished Dialogue Espionage Classics. It is the autobiography of the so-called ‘Ace of Spies’, the master of deception Ian Fleming would later use as a model for James Bond. The first part of the book is Reilly’s life as told from his personal notes and more specifically his attempt to overthrow the Bolshevik regime in
and restore the Czar. The
second part is written by his wife, Pepita, who, is determined to find out what
really happened after his disappearance, searches Russia Finland and Northern
Russia for her missing husband. Sidney Reilly: Adventures of a British Master Spy
(971849547185 £9.99) is a cracking read and you can find out more and order Adventures of a British Master Spy
Who doesn’t love a spy – and especially a real one who was the model for James Bond! Talking of James Bond – I think you will all enjoy this rather rude spoof...
That’s all for now folks, more next week!
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