Friday, 14 July 2017

Compass Points 222

Wowsers – a real fizzer of a review in the Guardian this week for a Room Little Darker – the debut short story collection from June Caldwell which you can read in full here. “The Irish fiction renaissance continues with a gothic collection of short stories that shock and fascinate in equal measure” it said, comparing her writing to Irving Welsh, William Burroughs and Kathy Acker – pretty good company to be in! “As Irish fiction once again awakens to its true power and potential, Caldwell emerges as one of those giving the tradition a good old-fashioned shaking …. couldn’t get much blacker. It reads like boiling tar… If you prefer your Irish fiction sweet, ponderous and full to the brim with twinkles and craic – horseman, pass by. A work more attentive to – and understanding of – the terrible derangements of simply being alive I have not read in a long time.” Room Little Darker (pb, £9.99, 978 1848406094) has just been published by New Island Books

Book sales continue to rise, hurrah! According to Mintel, sales of physical books are forecast to rise by 6% this year to £1.7 billion while sales of e-books are predicted to fall by 1 % to £337 million in 2017. And no doubt we can attribute this to the excellent titles we are publishing and the superb job that the nation’s bookshops are doing selling them! Pats on the back all round then. But wait, what’s this? Apparently, the rise is actually due to a "shelfie" interior design craze sweeping the UK! Those cool cats out there are filling their living spaces with bookshelves, correctly believing that this makes them look like quirky, fascinating individuals to their dinner party guests and on social media! And having popped up the IKEA Billy Bookcase, they then realise they need several hundred yards of clever looking books to put on it! Can this possibly be right? Have a look at the article here in the Telegraph to find out!

There have been no end of fabulous events and publicity for the wonderful Wild Things books this summer – I spied a THREE-page feature for Hidden Beaches (pb, £16.99, 978 0957157378) last weekend in the Telegraph. And there’s an event coming up with three of the Wild Things authors at Stamford’s in Bristol. This great bookshop is celebrating their 20th anniversary of being in Bristol this week – Happy birthday guys! 

I see Stamford’s Bristol also have an event coming up on 24 August with author Julian Sayarer talking about Interstate: Hitchhiking Through the State of a Nation (pb, £8.99, 978 1910050934) which was published last year by Arcadia. This story of US morals found on the roads between New York and San Francisco grapples with the fault lines in US society and tells a tale of Steinbeck and Kerouac, as well as the frustrated energy of American culture and politics. Readers have found it a “colourful and sharp examination of the current soul of the USA, viewing it from its underbelly” and “enlightening, depressing, challenging and fascinating in equal measure.”

Talking of American politics, in January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions for 120 days and temporarily barring entry to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries. Mass protests followed, and the order has since been blocked, revised and challenged by judges, politicians, activists and artists alike. Comma’s forthcoming collection Banthology (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974360) features seven stories written directly in response to the travel ban. There is an event promoting this title at the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival next week, bringing together writers from some of the seven banned countries, and asking the question: what good is art in response to such times? Zaher Omareen and Cristina Ali Farah will both be reading from the stories in Banthology. The collection also features stories by Rania Mamoun, Anoud, Wajdi al-Ahdal and Najwa Bin Shatwan and is edited by Sarah Cleave. It is published by Comma in September.

The combination of literature and bans has a long history of course – here is an entertaining trawl though a top ten banned books!

“Anne Tyler meets Raymond Carver” says the information sheet, and fans of either of these authors will definitely enjoy Old Buildings in North Texas – a wry, witty and warm debut novel from Jen Waldo, which is out in paperback in August. Reviews for the hardback were universally positive: “Old Buildings in North Texas is about addiction recovery, familial relationships, and a journey to self-awareness. The narrative voice is strong and the main character, Olivia, is witty, complex, and compelling. The dialogue flows smoothly and is realistic. And the idea of exploring abandoned buildings in Texas is intriguing.”  “The writing style flows like a river. I could not put this down and I didn't want it to end.” If you would like a reading copy of the hardback to discover the delights of this title for yourself, then please email Nuala at Old Buildings in North Texas (pb, £8.99, 978 1911350170) is published by Arcadia on 17 August.

And if you want to immerse yourself in the experience of actually looking round an old building in Texas – then have a look here!

There an interview in the Times T2 section coming up with Theodore Dalrymple, talking about his new book The Knife Went In: Real-Life Murderers and Our Culture (978 1783341184, hb, £16.99) which is published on 21 July by Gibson Square. Since the 1990s, Theodore Dalrymple has witnessed its modern variety in real life. For over a quarter of a century he has treated and examined many more murderers than most as a prison doctor, psychiatrist, and court expert in some of Britain's most deprived areas. Here, he delves deep into his life of personal encounters with the murderous underclass to determine what has changed overtime and what has not. Inimitably, his unique portrait of modern criminals is at the same time a parable of dysfunction in our own culture. Through his experiences, he exposes today's vicious cult of denial, blaming and psychobabble that hides behind a corrosive sentiment of caring. Illustrated with scores of eye-opening, true-life vignettes, The Knife Went In is in turn hilariously funny, chillingly horrifying, and always unexpectedly revealing. The title refers to a comment made by some of the murders Dalrymple has encountered, who felt “it was the victim of the stabbing who was the real author of the killer’s action: if he hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have been stabbed. My murderer was by no means alone in explaining his deed as due to circumstances beyond his control. As it happens, there are three stabbers at present in the prison who used precisely the same expression when describing to me what happened. “The knife went in,” they said when pressed to recover their allegedly lost memories of the deed. The knife went in—unguided by human hand, apparently.” The Sunday Telegraph said this was a book “crying out to be written” and the Observer called it a “cultural highlight” while the Guardian praised it for its “surgical demolition”.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that TV history was made when Colin Firth's brooding Mr Darcy emerged dripping wet from Pemberley's lake. THAT scene from the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has clung to our collective conscience as closely as did Firth's white linen shirt to his sculpted torso. Two hundred years after the writer's death, Professor Kathryn Sutherland who is the lead academic on the bi-centenary celebrations, gives her historical perspective here on the long relationship between Jane Austen and the BBC – a most entertaining read!

Last week we were talking about Alexander McCall Smith’s evocative new short story collection, Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories (978 1846973703, pb, £9.99) based on old black and white photographs and published by Polygon. This short film caught my eye on the BBC about a Brazilian artist who is bringing new life old photographs in a different way – by adding colour. Have a look, it really is extraordinary how much more vivid and relevant the photos seem when they look more modern, which maybe says something about our ability to empathise.

'50 is the new 30 - haven't you heard?' Or so says Ben Wilde's record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he'd be a happy man. But married Kate has moved on, and moved out to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs.  Or is it? Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate is living proof that older does not always mean wiser because in Eden Hill, there's temptation around every corner. Seeking Eden (pb, £8.99, 978 1911331896) by Beverly Harvey is the perfect summer beach read, and it’s just out from Urbane. There’s been lots of publicity for this author in her local Kent – both in print and on local radio.

A big feature this week in the Mirror for The Gender Agenda (pb, £9.99, 978 1785923203) which is out from Jessica Kingsley on 21 July.  Why do boys get sturdy shoes and girls delicate bows? Why do girls learn ballet and boys do martial arts? Boys play with trucks and girls with dolls' houses? Boys get toy dinosaurs and girls get toy unicorns?  Ros Ball and James Millar chronicles the differences they noticed while raising their children, and this very thought-provoking title (adapted from the authors’ tweets and blogs and diaries) shows how culture, family and even the authors themselves are part of the 'gender police' that can influence a child's identity. There’s loads to enjoy and debate in the Mirror article – which you can read here  and this is a topic that pretty much every parent has a strong opinion on, so there’s bound to be loads more media buzz for this one – there have already been pieces in the Sunday Express, the New Statesman and the Huffington Post. Jo Swinson, former Lib Dem Equalities Minister said of it “One daughter. One son. Two different worlds. This book is a fascinating insight in how gender inequality is embedded in our society from the earliest years of a child's life.”

There was a two page-spread in the Mail this week entitled by Helena Frith Powell, author of Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles: Look and Feel Ten Years Younger Without Effort (978 1783340910, pb, £8.99) published by Gibson Square. It mentioned the book, and you can read that piece here.  

Biteback had two titles in this year’s Saturday Guardian’s Best Holiday Reads 2017 which you can see  here.  Kazuo Ishiguro chose Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World (pb, £9.99, 978 1785902147) saying “Both Evan Davis and Matthew d’Ancona recently published excellent books on our so-called post-truth era, but I’d like to highlight James Ball’s Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World for its vivid analysis of how the business models and incentives currently prevailing in digital media render decent discourse all but inaudible.” 
And Phillipe Sands chose The Greatest Comeback (hb, £20, 978 1785901393) writing “History and memoir offer insights into other times and lives that make Britain’s current miserable travails marginally more tolerable. The Greatest Comeback by David Bolchover is astonishing, not least for its unlikely melding of football and mass murder, two of my daily passions.”

Hamlet, starring the very wonderful Andrew Scott, is currently playing to packed houses at the Harold Pinter Theatre. This is a radical new version of Shakespeare’s classic, reworked and directed by Robert Icke, who the Observer called "one of the most important forces in today’s theatre" and the script is published by Oberon (LOVE the cover!) This new production has had absolutely cracking reviews: “an admirable lucidity. Much of the time it feels like a modern and highly charged family drama, steeped in Nordic Noir... Icke’s interpretations of classic plays are unapologetically audacious, yet they have a rigorous logic... rich and beautiful” said the Evening Standard; and there will be a demand for this new paperback. Hamlet (pb, £9.99, 978 1786822246) by Shakespeare/Robert Icke is available now and you can find out more on the Oberon website here.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy": Andrew Scott plays Moriarty to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock of course – oh go on then, you know you want to see them; here are his very best moments!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Compass Points 221

A big extract in the Times this week for Death of a Translator (£14.99, hb, 978 1911350088) by Ed Gorman which has just been published by Arcadia. PJ O'Rourke said he had “never read anything that so fully and perfectly captured the personal experience and the personal aftermath of war” and this gripping, enlightening and deeply moving title is sure to get more review coverage. One of our own Compass reps who has recently read this title has also given it a major thumbs up saying it was “compelling, honest, insightful, a little bit heart breaking at times but kinda weirdly joyful by the end – much more than I would imagine from a war type book. You can really imagine the author as a young man, his curiosity, his enthusiasm, his endearing naivete at times and it taught me more about the Afghan Soviet war which is a war I was curious about as there is such resonance with the history I've seen created over the last 15 years. So, yeah. It's a good book. Highly recommended!”

We all know that we probably need to do more to promote books on social media – but how? Using Facebook by making enticing content from your titles freely available, is something that expert parenting publisher White Ladder Press are very good at indeed! This form of promotion reaches a huge number of parents, and the latest title to benefit is Weaning Made Easy. You can see the video they’ve produced together with Mother & Baby here and there will be more recipes from this practical and popular book to come. After being on FB for less than a day, the post had already had over 7,000 views – so this is clearly a really good way to engage the potential audience for this title! Weaning Made Easy (pb, £9.99, 978 1908281746) contains 150 healthy, tasty recipes for both traditional purees and baby-led weaning plus simple weekly meal planners, nutrition advice and foods for each stage of weaning. Parents are very enthusiastic about the simple and heathy approach of this fab little book, by expert nutritionist Rana Conway, saying: “I bought this and one of the "well known mainstream" books and this has been my bible. I've made nearly every recipe, they're all delicious and genuinely quick and easy rather than completely tedious like those in some other books.”

Congratulations to Carcanet poet Adam Crothers who has just won the £5,000 Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry First Collection Prize for Several Deer (pb, £9.99, 978 1784102449). Also winner of the Shine/Strong Poetry Award, this acrobatic debut collection is as much indebted to Bob Dylan and Lana Del Rey as to Emily Dickinson and George Herbert; and the rhythmic subtlety as well as the verbal craftsmanship of the poems have won him much praise.

We often feature stories about inspiring libraries in Compass Points because, let’s face it much as we all want people to BUY books, being able to freely access the written word is the sign of a truly civilised society. So I think you’ll be interested in this article. When ISIS took control of Mosul and declared its caliphate in 2014, militants ransacked the city's university then burned down its library, destroying hundreds of thousands of books in Arabic and English, historic maps and periodicals from the Ottoman era, and ancient Islamic manuscripts, including a ninth-century Qur'an. Now one anonymous blogger is leading efforts to restock it.

Plenty of publicity for the new Alexander McCall Smith title; Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories (978 1846973703, pb, £9.99) which has just been published by Polygon. In this beguiling book McCall Smith casts his eye over five black and white photographs and imagines the stories behind them. Who were those people, what were their stories, why are they smiling, what made them sad? This is vintage McCall Smith, full of insight and empathy, surprising and poignant tales of love and friendship in a variety of settings –  an estate in the Highlands, a travelling circus in Canada, an Australian gold-mining town, a village in Ireland, and Edinburgh. Alexander McCall Smith is doing a BBC Radio 4 Live interview with Clive Anderson in August; one of the stories is running in the current issues of Good Housekeeping magazine, there is an interview in Reader’s Digest plus there is station advertising running in Scotland. This title should keep selling right through until Christmas – his previous romantic short story collection Train and Lovers sold extremely well!

Talking of black and white photographs, why is it that the world seems so much more evocative when seen in monochrome? Have a look at this  –  two minutes of the most beautiful black and white film shots.

Hurrah for Comma Press who last week were crowned the Northern Publisher of the Year at the Northern Soul Awards at The Hilton in Manchester. Northern Soul is a celebration of culture and enterprise, from theatre, music, authors and art, to heritage, small businesses, food, and leading figures, as well as everything in-between. Comma won the award for their many accomplishments like acquiring excellent writers, terrific design and superb marketing and a strong social media presence – if you'd like to find out more about Northern Soul and see the winners of all the awards, click here!

It’s the Pride in London parade this weekend, and And Other Stories have a great guest blog from editorial assistant Claire Browne on her experiences of being LGBT+ and working in publishing, as well as a great discussion about LGBT+ fiction. You can read that here.

And this is an excellent time to remind you about Not Guilty: Queer Stories from a Century of Discrimination by Sue Elliott and Steve Humphries (pb, £12.99, 978 1785902161) which is just out from Biteback. Only fifty years ago, sex between men was a crime, and although the Sexual Offences Act 1967 changed that in part, it was only the beginning of the long fight for equality in the eyes of the law, in society and in millions of private lives. Not Guilty gives voice to previously untold stories of denial, deceit and subterfuge, public pain and secret pleasure through the ten tumultuous decades before and since that watershed Act and is a vibrant celebration of past achievements. It offers a powerful reminder of how much has changed in the past fifty years, and a warning that hard-won freedoms can so easily be eroded in uncertain times.

I LOVE this – a celebration of brave voices from #ProudToBe

A fascinating article in the Guardian this week on the current state of Russia, by distinguished journalist Angus Roxburgh referencing his book which is out from Polygon in September. Moscow Calling: Memoirs of a Foreign Correspondent (hb, £17.99, 978 1780274928) presents not the Russia of news reports, but a quirky, crazy, exasperating, beautiful, tumultuous world that in forty years has changed completely, and yet not at all. From the dark, fearful days of communism and his adventures as a correspondent as the Soviet Union collapsed into chaos, to his frustrating work as a media consultant in Putin's Kremlin, this is a unique and often hilarious insight into a country that today, more than ever, is of global political significance. Angus Roxburgh’s piece in the Guardian was the third most viewed article that day – which bodes very well for interest in the book – and you can read it here.

The Threat Level Remains Severe (pb, £8.99, 978 1910709153) from Gallic was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine this week as “One to Watch” describing it “a witty and well-observed contemporary drama.” And Rowena Macdonald was interviewed on Simon Lederman’s BBC Radio London show on Wednesday, discussing the book and talking about her own stalker experience in light of the news report that came out this week about support for victims of stalking. You can listen again to that here.

Congrats to Jeffrey Wainwright whose poetry collection What Must Happen published by Carcanet has been announced today as one of the final five books in the running for the 2017 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. The prize celebrates Stoke-on-Trent author Arnold Bennett – this year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the 'Bard of the Potteries'. The competition was open to any writer from North Staffordshire, or authors from elsewhere who wrote about life in the area. What Must Happen is Jeffrey Wainwright's most intimate and elegiac collection of poems to date, recalling lost parents, relations and friends along with shared childhood memories and the history of his hometown Stoke.

One of the finest players football has ever seen; Alan Hudson is still revered at Chelsea, Stoke City and Arsenal, and yet his professional success was dogged by injuries and enormous personal challenges. His love of the glitzy 'footballer lifestyle', dominated by hard-drinking and glamorous women, saw Alan descend into rampant alcoholism, depression, and frequent brushes with authority. Huddy: The Official Biography of Alan Hudson by Jason Pettigrove (pb, £13.99, 978 1902719573) reveals for the first time, the full story of the real Alan Hudson, the man behind the lurid newspaper headlines and booze-fuelled anecdotes. A straight-speaker who doesn't suffer fools gladly, he has as many enemies as close friends. Even his team-mates were evenly split; they either loved or loathed him. The one thing that couldn't be taken away from him, however, was his talent for the beautiful game. Some years after retiring from the sport he loved, Alan embarked on a new career in the media but in 1997, he was the victim of a 'hit-and-run' car accident near his East London home and his 'life well-lived' changed forever when he sustained injuries that the medical profession thought would kill him. Huddy, which has just been published by St David’s Press describes a fascinating story, and one that has never been fully told ... until now.

And here's Huddy back in his prime in the 70’s at Chelsea – they really don’t make ’em like that any more!

Well done Bushra al-Fadil, who is the winner of the 2017 Caine Prize for African Literature for his story The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away (translated by Max Shmookkler). It’s published in The Book of Khartoum (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583720) from Comma. Bushra al-Fadil is the first Arabophone author to win the prize – a great achievement. You can read or listen to his story online, and more information can be found on the Caine Prize website.

Here is an interesting bit of radio, Deborah Levy discussing her novel Swimming Home (pb, £8.99, 978 1911508083) published by And Other Stories with James Naughtie on the Radio 4 Bookclub. “I’m always interested in people who are a little bit from here, a little bit from there" she says – and talks about how the darkness of the Brothers Grimm has influenced her. The Telegraph called it “a stealthily devastating book . . . Levy manipulates light and shadow with artfulness. She transfixes the reader: we recognize the thing of darkness in us all. This is an intelligent, pulsating literary beast.”

Rudolf Nureyev was arguably the greatest male dancer the world has seen, and many he worked with have described the moods and outbursts that accompanied his breathtaking performances. The autobiography of former prima ballerina and Artistic Director of English National Ballet, Dame Beryl Grey; reveals that he was actually so volatile and violent that he once caused a ballerina a spinal injury by kicking her, and threatened another colleague with a knife. For the Love of Dance (hb, £25.00, 978 1786820976) which is published next week by Oberon, reveals many other fascinating stories of the people, characters and institutions that made up the world of dance in the 20th century as well as giving us a very personal insight into an extraordinary woman. There were big piece on this title last weekend in the Times which you can see here and the Guardian here and there will be more publicity to come for this handsome 400 page illustrated autobiography of the woman whose hard work and natural virtuosity helped make British ballet the powerhouse it is today.

Here's a beautiful 6-minute film of Beryl Grey dancing Swan Lake over 50 years ago at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1958.

Talking of the spirited older lady (Dame Beryl is 90), The Year I Turn: A Quirky A-Z of Ageing by Angela Neustatter (978 1783340002, hb, £9.99) published by Gibson Square has plenty of publicity recently! There is no doubt that aging NOT so appropriately is a big trend at the moment and there are plenty of readers who want to find out all about the “deliciously naughty joy of being a bad granny” as the Daily Mail put it in their big full-page feature. The Mature Times called it “Humorous, clever and pertinent” and the Irish Times praised it for showing “How defying convention can be good at any age.” It was recently featured on the front page of Inspire Magazine (part of the Daily Mail) under the heading “Now that’s what 70 looks like!” This title is a bestseller – that has continued to sell and get publicity, so do stock it! There have been mentions in most of the broadsheets this year including the Sunday Times and Telegraph, and Angela is currently out and about promoting it. You can see a short clip of her talking about the book here on the BBC breakfast news when it first came out.

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite tweets from this week …
NearSt‏ @NearSt Three essentials in life are; something to do, to love, and to hope for. Oh and these books from @BelgraviaB
Leeds Waterstones @WstonesLeeds Happy Birthday Laurent Gaudé (born 6 July 1972 in Paris) award winning author. His novel Hell's Gate is in stock and is highly recommended!
And Other Stories‏ @andothertweets Take this from Kingdom Cons: “Let them be scared, let the decent take offense. Put them to shame. Why else be an artist?”
Mr B's Emporium‏ @mrbsemporium Yep, festival goers still like to browse books at 1am #night bookselling @glastofest @booksaremybag @Bertrams
Anness Publishing‏ @Anness_Books Lovely summery #microwave mug meals by @TheoCooks on @thismorning - salmon looked delicious. Check out his cookbook!
Victoria Cornwall‏ @VickieCornwall Adding some Choc Lit Tasters to my mum's birthday present. She will love these novellas. @ChocLituk #birthday #gifts #books
David Barker‏ @BlueGold201 Looking forward to the annual #raftrace @thameswater at Reading this evening. I'll be selling Blue Gold from @urbanepub for @WaterAidUK
Compass Academic‏ @CompassAcademic Nice to see our lovely publishers @JKPBooks& @PlutoPress cozily nestled up together at the brilliant & cake filled @LRBbookshop #greatbooks #rollup

That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog begins its life as an e-newsletter which is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you'd like to subscribe, then do add your email address to the box at the bottom of the homepage. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Compass Points 220

Theo Michaels was back on ITV’s breakfast show this week with his fabulous and fun summer microwave mug recipes. If you want to find out how to cook warm orzo and lemon chicken salad, chilli salmon and spinach salad and, one of his favourites, sea bass with fresh pea puree in 90 seconds (and frankly, who wouldn’t) then you can see all three recipes on This Morning here. And you can see even more of Theo’s brilliant microwave mug meal recipes on his own website here! All the recipes are from Microwave Mug Meals (£9.99, hb, 978 0754832850) which is published by Lorenz.

On July 27th, 2015, Colin Cremin overcame a lifetime of fear and repression and came to work dressed as a woman called Ciara. Man-Made Woman: The Dialectics of Cross-Dressing (pb, £16.99, 978-0745337128) charts her personal journey as a male-to-female cross-dresser in the ever-changing world of gender politics. Interweaving the personal and the political, through discussions of fetishism, aesthetics and popular culture, Man-Made Woman explores gender, identity and pleasure through the lenses of feminism, Marxism and psychoanalytic theory. Cremin's anti-moralistic approach makes this a very emancipatory and empowering read, where both author and reader are encouraged to examine their relationship to gender. One critic called this “a wonderful book, erudite, politically astute, brilliantly written, and at times wickedly funny. It's my favourite I've read for quite some time” and this feminist-Marxist analysis of being a crisscross-dresser set within the scathing critique of patriarchal-capitalism is sure to get plenty of publicity. It is published by Pluto in August, and if you would like to read a proof copy then please email Kieran O'Connor at

Talking of outdated gender stereotyping in popular culture, I think you will very much enjoy looking at these seriously outdated vintage advertisements!

Any novel set in the Houses of Parliament is probably onto A Good Thing I feel, as it has provided the location for many a memorable moment – most recently perhaps, THAT scene in Apple Tree Yard.  Among my personal favourite fictional political characters are Hugh Grant as the PM in Love Actually; Alan B'Stard played by Rik Mayall; all the cast of Yes Minister; Frances Urquhart; Malcolm Tucker; Harriet Jones played by Penelope Wilton and Harold Saxon (aka The Master) played by John Simm in Dr Who; and the prime minister in Ian McEwan's The Child in Time whose name I can’t remember. Any more? This leads me neatly to a new arrival in this genre; The Threat Level Remains Severe (pb, £8.99, 978 1910709153) which shines a sly light into the backrooms and office romances of the corridors of power by an author who currently works there! You can find out more about her inspiration for the book here.  There will be an interview with Rowena Macdonald in the Femail section of the Daily Mail on Saturday 8th July and this Sunday (2 July) Rowena will be featuring in the One Day slot in the Sunday Telegraph magazine, Stella. This is a full page of promotion – terrific publicity for this stylish, acutely observed contemporary drama, published next week by Gallic.

A few weeks ago; we talked about the Chemsex Monologues, and this week we tell you about Something for the Weekend: Life in the Chemsex Underworld (pb, £12.99, 978 1785902291) coming from Biteback on 27 July. When James Wharton left the army, he found himself with more opportunities than most to begin a successful civilian life; a husband, two dogs, two cars, a nice house in the countryside and a book deal. But a year later he found himself alone, living in one room and trying to adjust to single gay life back in the capital. In his search for new friends and potential lovers, he became sucked into London's gay drug culture, soon becoming addicted to partying and the phenomenon that is 'chemsex’. Exploring his own journey through this dark but popular world, James looks at the motivating factors that led him to the culture, as well as examining the paths taken by others. He reveals the real goings-on at the weekends for thousands of people after most have gone to bed, and how modern technology allows them to arrange, congregate, furnish themselves with drugs and spend hours, often days, behind closed curtains, with strangers and in states of heightened sexual desire. Something for the Weekend looks compassionately at a growing culture that's now moved beyond London and established itself as more than a short-term craze. As our sales team have reported, the jacket of this book is certainly not for the more conservative or timid booksellers among you  but as they always do, Biteback have definitely tapped into a growing trend, and there will be a market for this title.

Yuri Herrera was tipped in the Critic’s Picks for the Summer Books of 2017 in the Financial Times this week as one of "two of the best writers working today: unsentimental, clear-eyed witnesses in troubling times" You can see that whole piece here.  The book they were recommending was Kingdom Cons (pb, £8.99, 978 1908276926) which has just been published by And Other Stories. Part surreal fable and part noir romance, this prize-winning novel in which a penniless street musician swears an oath of loyalty to a powerful Mexican drug baron, questions the price of keeping your integrity in a world ruled by patronage and power.  The New York Times called it "short, suspenseful . . . outlandish and heartbreaking."

A drug baron usually makes pretty memorable fictional villain – or sometimes even hero. Who’s top of the pile? Walter White? Tony Montana? Have a look here at a pictorial line up of fifteen of the most ruthless and powerful, from The Wire to 21 Jump Street. And here are WatchMojo’s Top Ten Movie Drug Dealers – they so shouldn’t be cool, but some of them so are!

How to manage childhood anxiety is a growing concern for many. Dr Suzanne Barret and Dr Fiona Zandt, the authors of Creative Ways to Help Children Manage Big Feelings (pb, £19.99, 978 1785920745) which has just been published by Jessica Kingsley; spoke recently about the issue on a podcast here. This ingeniously easy-to-use therapy toolkit helps children to stay on top of "big" feelings like anger, sadness and anxiety and provides activities using everyday materials and a variety of tried-and-tested therapy models. With its winning mix of creative resources and clinical expertise, all wrapped up in a simple and practical format, this is the ideal companion for those working with children aged 4-12.

How many of you are secretly budding crime writers who dream of giving up your day job and plunging into the fickle world of publishing? Charles E McGarry’s was one such would-be author and in his thirties, he gave up a well-paid job as a business analyst with BT to concentrate on writing. He received one rejection after another from agents and publishers and some fourteen years later, his tale is finally being published next week by Polygon. You can hear all about his journey from the bedroom to the bookshelf on a brilliant 6-part podcast which you can find at It includes interviews with two of the biggest names in Scottish crime writing, Val McDermid and Chris Brookmyre, who offer advice to McGarry on his fledgling literary career as well as many entertaining insights into the journey to publication. The Ghost of Helen Addison (pb, £7.88, 978 1846973796) was featured in the Bookseller’s Editor’s Choice, and there have also been pieces about it in Scotland on Sunday, the Daily Record and in the Scotsman here.  Charles’ editor at Polygon loved how the novel’s protagonist, private detective Leo Moran, was not the conventional divorcee, alcoholic detective with the empty fridge; but an avowed gourmand and wine connoisseur who enjoys the pleasures of life to the hilt in the splendid isolation of his West End apartment! However, he becomes increasingly unsettled by his visions of violent crimes, and after the ritualistic murder of a young woman in Argyll, he helps the police, meeting a host of strange and colourful characters along the way, including her ghost…

The Book of Khartoum (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583720) which was published in April by Comma, is back in the spotlight, as one of the stories featured by Sudanese author Bushra al-Fadil; The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away; has been shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing. It is only the second translation from Arabic in the prize’s 18-year history. The story was translated into English for the first time by co-editor Max Shmookler, with support from Najlaa Osman Eltom. He is joined on the shortlist by Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria), Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria), Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) and Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa). The Book of Khartoum was the first major collection of Sudanese short stories in English translation, and you can read al-Fadil’s shortlisted story in full here. There are reading and events across London promoting the prize next week which you can find out about here and the winner of the prize will be announced on Monday 3rd July. Comma have had quite a run of awards recently – you can find out more on their news pages here.  

In yet another week where the world appears to be ever more bonkers, I think it’s time for some more headlines from The Daily Mash …

  • Passionate crowd of about 15 people broke into chants of 'Oh, Andrea Leadsom' at a village fete in Northamptonshire yesterday
  • Tesco launches pre-binned bagged salad
  • Remainer celebrates one year of feeling morally superior
  • EU Brexit secretary David Davis is on his way home from Brussels after Google abolished the European Union.
  • Parenting 'a doddle', confirms aunt who has been babysitting for half an hour
  • May hoping for 'constructive relationship' with creationist homophobes who think Pope is Satan
  • Glastonbury massive media coverage welcomed by Britain's top letches
  • Please stay while we savour your humiliation, Britain tells May
  • Researchers discover only British actor who hasn't been in Doctor Who
  • Robots are enjoying the May-Hammond rapport
  • Corbyn to perform Labour manifesto on 50-date stadium tour
  • My idiot sons could run this country better than you, the Queen tells May
  • Third bottle of wine 'always a bad idea for wide variety of reasons', say experts
That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This blog is taken from a newsletter which is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Compass Points 219

This week was National Breastfeeding Week and ex-midwife, parenting consultant and author Rachel Fitz-Desorgher hosted a Q&A session on the Mother and Baby social media pages to talk about this while ever so subtly promoting her fantastic new book Your Baby Skin to Skin (£12.99, pb, 978 1910336311) which is out from White Ladder Press. If you’re on Facebook, you can watch that session here - there have been over 4,500 views of it already! Your Baby Skin to Skin has had ecstatic reviews from parents, e.g. “After my second baby was born, I got rid of all the parenting books I had ever bought and swore I'd never buy another. The conflicting advice about 'the right way' to parent in the early years had ended up feeling deeply unhelpful. Your Baby Skin to Skin is the first book I've picked up since then that has had the opposite effect. It reminded me that the most helpful advice is simply to trust my instincts and listen to my baby” and really does give parents a fresh, empowering approach by the woman who has been described as “the best mother, doula, midwife and best friend all rolled into one”.

Here's a cool story – a dustbin man in Columbia has built a free community library of thrown away books. Mr Gutierrez, who has gained the nickname The Lord of the Books, began collecting books that had been dumped in the waste bins in wealthier parts of the city – the collection began with discarded copy of Anna Karenina.

The Sunday Herald's Culture Awards, dubbed Scotland's Oscars, have been unveiled and many congratulations to Birlinn who have THREE authors on the Author of the Year shortlist. The awards, now in their second year, are to celebrate, reward and nurture the huge pool of talent across the Scottish arts and cultural scene and the Birlinn three join a starry line up which include Ewan McGregor, Karen Gillan and David Tennant. The authors are: Liz Lochhead (Fugitive Colours, 978 1846973451), Kevin MacNeil (The Brilliant & Forever, 978 1846973376) and Malachy Tallack (The Un-Discovered Islands 978 846973505 and 60 Degrees North 978 1846973420). The Culture Awards will be held on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at Glasgow’s stylish art and music venue, SWG3.

James McAvoy won a Culture award last year – I love this clip of him on The Late Show explaining to a US audience exactly what it means to be Scottish!

Meet Simon Haines. For a decade, he's been chasing his dream: partnership at a law firm. The gruelling hours of his job have come close to breaking him, but he is now within a whisker of his millions and in less than two weeks, he will know the outcome of the partnership vote. He decides to spend the wait in Cuba to clear his mind before the arrival of the news that might change his life forever. But alone in Havana he becomes lost in nostalgia and begins to relive his past… Set against the backdrop of an uncertain world, Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughan MacAulay (£8.99, pb 978 1910453353) is a searching story about the current generation of young professionals and their aspirations. It asks the most universal of questions: are we strong enough to know who we are? It was published by Red Door yesterday, with a launch at Waterstone’s Leadenhall and Red Door have organised a super Book Blogs Tour for it and reviews have been extremely enthusiastic – have a look and read the opening chapter of the book here.  
There is also an advertising campaign running on the Docklands Light Railway for the next three weeks plus a fun promotion with teaser cards promoting it on tube trains around the city and twenty copies of the book placed around London for readers to discover. This is all backed up with a clever Twitter campaign – have a look at #WhoIsSimonHaines . Being Simon Haines is an assured and intelligent debut: The Times said it “pushes all the seductive buttons in a world tangential to our own” and if you’d like to find out more, you can read a piece where Tom talks about writing it in the Warrington Guardian here.

There was an excellent interview with Alison Murdoch this week, discussing her powerful and poignant book Bed 12 (£9.99, pb, 9780995647800) about how it feels to suddenly plunge into the world of acute medicine, on BBC Radio London: you can listen to that here; (it starts at 2hours 6 minutes in). Dr Phil Hammond said this book was “a love letter to the NHS, and the everyday acts of kindness that keep it afloat ... it needs to be widely read” and Alison will be talking about it on Good Morning Sunday on 25th June and Hikari Press are expecting more coverage for it in the Guardian, Red Magazine and the Evening Standard. Alison will also be reading at The Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London on Saturday 24th June – details are here – and talking at The Royal Medical Society on 7th July.

In a thoroughly uncertain world, what you need to set yourself up for the day is a superfood breakfast and Lorenz have just the book. Superfood Breakfasts! 50 Smoothie Bowls, Power Bars & Energy Balls: Smoothie Bowls and Power-Packed Seed Bars and Balls to Start the Day by Sara Lewis (hb, £9.99, 978 0754832379) is bursting with fabulous breakfast ideas packed with essential vitamins, minerals, good fats, good carbs and fibre to help keep our body in tip-top shape and to boost our immunity. Soul and Spirit Magazine is featuring this title in in its July issue – you can see a couple of spreads from it below!

This week is Refugee Week so an ideal opportunity to remind you about Voices from the Jungle (pb, £14.99, 978 0745399683). The refugee camp near Calais epitomises for many the suffering, uncertainty and violence which characterises the situation of refugees in Europe today. But the media soundbites we hear often ignore the voices of the people who lived there; people who are looking for peace and a better future, people with astounding stories. Voices from the Jungle is a collection of these stories told in powerful, vivid language and illustrated with photographs, poems and drawings by the refugees. It paints a picture of a different kind of Jungle; one with a powerful sense of community despite evictions and attacks, and of a solidarity which crosses national and religious boundaries. It should be read by anyone hoping to understand this crisis a little better and you can see some of the pictures and read extracts from it on a blog here introduced by one of the editors, Katrine Møller Hansen. There have been promotional events for it linking in with Refugee Week at UEL, and at Book and Kitchen tomorrow – you can see more info about that one here. Voices from the Jungle: Stories from the Calais Refuge Camp is published by Pluto.

The Threat Level Remains Severe (pb, £8.99, 978 1910709153) published next month by Gallic has been chosen as one of Red Online's top summer reads  - you can see that here and its author Rowena Macdonald will feature in the Telegraph's Stella magazine on 2nd July, writing about her experience of having been stalked at work. Confirmed magazine review coverage also includes Good Housekeeping and Closer.

What’s the difference between a public service organisation and a sailing boat? You can find the answer here in an extract from The Moral Heart of Public Service, where its editor Claire Foster-Gilbert of the Westminster Abbey Institute explores why we so often think that members of the public service lack moral integrity. There was some great publicity this week in the Telegraph for this title which has just been published by Jessica Kingsley; a long interview with one of the contributors, Mary McAleese with two juicy plugs for the book!

On the subject of moral integrity, and as the Brexit talks finally grind into gear, I think it’s a good time to watch this  – Tracey Ullman as Angela Merkel!

Millions of teens around the country are in the throes of exams. Tears, tizzes and tantrums abound – and that's just the parents. Two men hoping to help children and their parents get a handle on the most effective ways of revising, and handling stress have a brilliant book out from Crown House packed with their expert tips – and it’s getting lots of publicity! Bradley Busch and Edward Watson have worked with Premier League footballers and Olympians, and strongly believe that the techniques they’ve used to coach elite athletes can help children achieve their potential. Release Your Inner Drive: Everything You Need to Know about How to Get Good at Stuff (£9.99, pb, 978 1785831997) was featured recently here in the Daily Mail, and here in the Guardian and there will be more to come – these authors are GREAT at self-promotion! “LOVE this book. Perfect for teenagers as has lots of tips based on research. The graphics are fab and really colourful, so grabs attention quickly. The parts on motivation and mindset really stand out. Would definitely recommend other parents get this book” is typical of the Amazon reviews – do NOT let them get all the sales!!

Actually, I think all you need to know about revision and exams is contained in this  classic Mr Bean clip – I can’t actually believe it was first broadcast 27 years ago!! Still comedy gold IMO.

A phenomenon in Turkey with more than 120,000 copies sold; Women Who Blow on Knots (pb, £9.99, 978 1910901694) chronicles a voyage reaching from Tunisia to Lebanon, taken by three young women and septuagenarian Madam Lilla. Its author Ece Temelkuran weaves an empowering tale pondering not only the social questions of politics, religion and women in the Middle East, but also the universal bonds of sister- and motherhood. Unique and controversial in its country of origin for its political rhetoric and strong, atypically Muslim female characters, it is Foyle’s Book of the Month for June and there have also been well attended events promoting it at Waterstones Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square; preview launches at Asia House, and appearances at the Hay Festival, the Edinburgh Festival and the Stoke Newington Literature Festival. KulturWest described it as being “like a firework. It is the book where Twitter and the Thousand and One Nights fairytales meet.” Ece Temelkuran is one of Turkey’s best-known novelists and political commentators and this title is a PEN Translates Award Winner – definitely one to watch. As one reviewer said “If you cannot think of a better road story with heroines other than Thelma & Louise, you should read this novel”. It has just been published by Parthian.

Jane Menczer was on BBC Cambridge recently promoting her title An Unlikely Agent (£8.99, pb, 978 1846973802) which was published last month by Birlinn. The book bloggers have gone mad for this title: “I would heartily recommend it if you enjoy spy novels with a twist of romance, elements of danger and plenty of nail-biting suspense”; “an enthralling Edwardian espionage thriller featuring an endearing, independent female lead and lashings of intrigue”; “an engrossing read, with many funny moments, and I rather hope this gifted debut novelist dishes up more detective delights in the very near future”.

When does a riot become a revolution? When does a demonstration of dissent tip over into a moment of unstoppable political change? Protest: Stories of Resistance (pb, £14.99, 978 1905583737) asked fifteen authors to bring crucial moments of British protest to life. Each author is paired with either a historian or a genuine witness to the protest; resulting in the stories being both readable and factually informed; and each tale is then followed by an accessibly written afterword by the witness or historian. By following fictional characters caught up in the momentum of nonfictional moments, the stories offer rare insights into protests from a live, street-level perspective and include the Peasants Revolt, the Suffragettes, the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, Greenham Common, and more. The authors include Frank Cottrell Boyce, David Constantine, Alexei Sayle and Maggie Gee. This is a brilliant and timely idea for a short story anthology – it has a great cover and it is published by Comma Press on 6 July. You can see some of the authors reading their stories on YouTube here.

So, let’s end with the Top Ten Protest Songs! Power to the people! Right now!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This blog is taken from a newsletter which is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696. And if you'd like to subscribe to the newsletter so that you get it every week in your own inbox then please submit your email at the foot of this page!