Yesterday it was the birthday of not one but TWO of our great literary giants. Kingsley Amis, who was born in 1922 in Clapham and Spike Milligan who was born in 1918 in
. But who was better? Who was funnier? India
Have a look here at twenty hilarious Spike Milligan quotes – with some terrific photos too – and then go here for some very amusing lines from the man who once said “If you can’t annoy someone, there is little point in writing.” How true Kingsley, how very true.
The London Book Fair was this week of course – lots of opportunities for those attending to meet their pals, eat horrible overpriced food and drink endless warm fizz in plastic glasses. Naturally of course Compass Points was there on your behalf – sniffing out the genuinely interesting publishing stories for you as well as glugging the free plonk.
Scott Pack made his first acquisition for his new Compass list Aardvark Bureau – look out for When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow by Dan Rhodes coming in October. This is the title which
self-published 400 hardback copies of in February last year, attracting
mainstream media coverage and critical acclaim. It’s a satire starring atheist
Richard Dawkins, who is forced to stay with a vicar and his wife after
getting caught in a blizzard. Sounds pretty good to me, but what on earth does
Richard Dawkins make of it?! Pack said Dawkins has a “great sense of
humour” and was a “champion of free speech” before adding that he
thought other publishers were too afraid to publish the title for fear of being
sued! Read a bit more about it in the Bookseller here.
Max Ström Publishing have what I think will be a brilliant book coming up in October. Called Journey of Change: Women Pushing Boundaries it is the diary from an all woman team in the Round the World Yacht Race – it will be packed with inspiring photos as well as insights from the sailors.
And Myrmidon has acquired Investigating Sherlock by Nikki Stafford – an unofficial guide to the award-winning BBC TV series, which they will publish in paperback in September. The book examines each episode through in-depth and fun analysis, exploring the character development and cataloguing every subtle reference to the original stories. “This is a real, ultimate fans' guide,” said Kate Nash, from Myrmidon. “Investigating Sherlock is more than just trivia. There's no other book on the market that considers Sherlock as a phenomenon and puts the BBC TV series into context. Included are biographies of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as well as Arthur Conan Doyle, and interviews with Sherlockian experts.”
Comma Press has sold the German and American rights for Atef Abu Saif’s The Drone Eats With Me. The book documents the siege that took place in
in July and August 2014 through the diary
entries of Palestinian writer Atef Abu
Saif. His account of life on the Gaza strip has already received media coverage
in publications as the New York Times, the Guardian and the
Sunday Times and Comma will publish The Drone Eats with Me (pb, 9781905583713, 9.99)
with a foreword by Noam Chomsky in May. You can find out more about that one here.
Well, I don’t know about you – but I’m greatly looking forward to all of these forthcoming titles. Hang on though, according to the French intern currently working at Gallic, who has been at Olympia this week; the London Book Fair is mostly a chance to “shake hands and say “You’re the best” and reply “No, you’re the best”” You can read his entertaining comparison between the Salon du Livre (the Paris equivalent) and the London Book Fair here – as he puts it: the chauvinists versus the capitalists!
There will undoubtedly be lots of media coverage for the VE Day anniversary celebrations on the 8th May – and a new British rom-com, A Royal Night Out, is released at the start of May to coincide with them. And hurrah – it is based on a chapter from the Birlinn book The Final Curtsey by the Queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes (B-format pb, 978 1780270852, £7.99). It’s a fictionalised account of the night when the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret slipped out of the palace on VE Day and mingled with the crowds. And according to the movie, got into a bit of trouble and enjoyed the first hints of romance! The movie stars Rupert Everett and Emily Watson as the king and queen, and has already seen big preview features in the Daily Telegraph and there was an interview with Margaret Rhodes in the Daily Mail who called the book “one of the most remarkable books ever written about life at the heart of the Royal Family” which you can read here. There will be an extract of The Final Curtsey in the Radio Times on 8 May and Margaret Rhodes has been interviewed by The One Show, which will be broadcast around the release of the film. Channel 4 News have also interviewed her and there will definitely be more publicity to come – this film looks great fun and you will remember that The Final Curtsey was already a bestseller in hardback, so this is all good news! The stock will be reprinted with a sticker mentioning the film – order it now!
Here’s a trailer from the film – looks fab!
Amidst all the ranting from UKIP et al about immigration, there are some genuinely fascinating stories to be told about the clash of different cultures that occur in modern
World’s Apart: A Muslim Girl in the SAS
by Alisha Khan is one such story. This
remarkable book highlights two very different worlds: the British Army and
Britain ’s Muslim community. It
follows a young girl’s extraordinary journey from working in the family kebab
shop in Britain Manchester to a barracks where the
SAS is putting women through selection training with the men. Lacking military
experience, physically slight and, as a Muslim, socially isolated, Alisha was
plunged into the ordeal with eleven other girls and 200 men. Deep-rooted ethnic
and gender prejudices need overcoming and she was faced with trying to defend
her religion and culture within a regimented and hostile environment, a
situation that is not helped by the events of 9/11. At home, Alisha hears her
community’s anger over the British intervention in the London Middle East. Back at the barracks she supports her soldier
comrades preparing for the War on Terror. On the one hand, she describes having
to deal with the squaddie drinking culture and deeply engrained stereotypes; on
the other, her parents are still trying to find her a suitable boy to marry.
This is an extraordinary true story about the most violent of culture clashes
and there will be plenty of press coverage for it. After leaving the army, Alisha Khan went on to work for the Ministry of
Defence on campaigns for British soldiers in . Worlds Apart: A Muslim Girl in the SAS (hb,
9781849547796, £16.99) by Alisha Khan is
published in May by Robson Press and you can find out more and order it here. Afghanistan
Coming at the end of May is the hotly anticipated new collection from bestselling crime writer and author of The Monogram Murders: Sophie Hannah. Marrying the Ugly Millionaire: New and Collected Poems features both previously published and new and unseen work from the author whom the Telegraph called “a real star” and who is both the winner of the Crime Thriller of the Year Award and has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize – no mean feat to be one of the UK’s best-loved poets, AND an internationally-acclaimed and bestselling psychological crime writer! Marrying the Ugly Millionaire: New and Collected Poems (pb, 978 1784100254, £12.99) by Sophie Hannah is published by Carcanet on 28 May, and you can find out more and order it here
Make sure you capitalise on the publicity surrounding Lifeblood: Gill Fyffe’s outstanding story of contracting hepatitis C from a contaminated NHS blood transfusion and its life-altering consequences, which has received wall to wall coverage in the national media during and after the publication of the final report from the Penrose Inquiry, the UK’s only public inquiry into the worst medical scandal in the history of the NHS. Gill appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, BBC Breakfast News, Network News, BBC Scotland’s Scotland 2015 programme, Radio Europe, and there were features in the Daily Telegraph,
Evening Standard, Herald, Daily Record,
Daily Express and others. The Evening Standard said Lifeblood is “beautifully written and deserves
to win a prize”, while Sarah Maitland, said “This is a story of medical
incompetence, political malfeasance, financial hardship and real long-term
horrible suffering. It is also one of the funniest, most buoyant, triumphant
books I’ve read in ages; tragi-comedy at a very high level, delightful and
admirable.” Lifeblood (pb, 978
1910449165, 12.99) has just been published by Freight and you can order it and find out more here London
This week’s Compass Points seems to feature an extraordinary number of strong and admirable women – so to celebrate that, let’s just imagine what it would have been like if Hermione had been the main character In the Harry Potter books. Have a read of Hermione Granger and the Goddamn Patriarchy here on Buzz Feed!
Pascal Garnier was a leading figure in contemporary French literature who died in March 2010. He lived in a small village in the Ardèche, painting and writing for adults and children and Gallic publish his noir novels in the UK – if you haven’t discovered these paperbacks with their beautiful, pared-back prose and striking covers for your bookshop yet, you really should! Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. The Financial Times called him “A mixture of Albert Camus and JG Ballard” while the Observer says his writing is “bleak, often funny and never predictable”.
Boxes (pb, 978 1910477045, £7.99) is the new paperback coming in May – those readers who love Patricia Highsmith, and Georges Simenon will love Pascal Garnier too – John Banville and Ian Rankin are fans – what more endorsement do you need! Find out more and order Boxes here.
Compass is now on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. You’ll get the breaking news on our top titles even faster – and better still, we can find out what all of you lovely booksellers are up to – and re-tweet your news back to all of our publishers, editors and sales people! Happy days!
This week we bring you our favourite tweets from #makeabooknerdy...
Eat Pray Lovecraft
Pi and Prejudice
The Fault in Our Statistics
The Secret Life of Spelling Bees
Zen and the Art of Ham Radio Maintenance
Angles and Demons
The Lord of the Ringtones
Alright, last one for me: There’s a Fault in Our Star Trek into Darkness
And to finish, you know we love a bit of music on a Friday afternoon – so how about this great list of 25 pop songs that reference books. Come on now, without looking, how many of (these sometimes rather obscure) ditties can you think of? You’ve got to love Yertle the Turtle by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but I think my favourite is still the one that references that book by Nabakov!
That’s all for now folks, more next week!