Congratulations to Pluto Press who are shortlisted along with Chatto, Viking, Picador, Faber, Granta, Melville House and Fourth Estate for the Rathbones Folio Prize for Burning Country; Syrians in Revolution and War (£14.99, pb, 978 0745336220) by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami. The judges said “We're delighted to have worked with a prize that rewards exceptionally good writing in novels and non-fiction alike, and honours and showcases brilliantly innovative, uncategorizable books.” The winning author will receive a cheque for £20,000 at the awards ceremony on 24th May at the British Library. Burning Country explores the horrific and complicated reality of life in present-day Syria drawing on new first-hand testimonies from opposition fighters, exiles lost in an archipelago of refugee camps, and courageous human rights activists among many others. These stories are expertly interwoven with a trenchant analysis of the brutalisation of the conflict and the militarisation of the uprising, of the rise of the Islamists and sectarian warfare, and the role of governments in Syria and elsewhere in exacerbating those violent processes. Burning Country is a vivid and ground-breaking look at a modern-day political and humanitarian nightmare.
The bestselling An Illustrated History of 151 Video Games by Simon Parkin (£15.00, hb, 978 0754823902) published by Lorenz has just come back into stock – this is an amazing good-value title which has got an astonishing amount of content! It chronicles the history of gaming through the individual stories of the worlds’ most iconic and best loved games, charting five decades of video game evolution. You can see a great preview of it here on YouTube – which flicks through the book showing you all the fabulous full-colour spreads. Gamers are massively enthusiastic about this title: “lots of photos and a witty incisive text”, “a wonderful book…highly recommended”, “a certified must-read”. It would make the ideal present for hard-to-buy-for teenagers or nostalgic dads reminiscing about the games of their youth – a good option for Father’s Day displays in June!
And to get you in the mood, here is WatchMojo’s list of the Top Ten Video Games EVER!
The Wipers Times (which took its name from the army slang for Ypres, where it was first produced) was a famous trench newspaper produced during the First World War. Often produced in hazardous conditions (at one point only 700 yards from the front line) it acted as the voice of the average British soldier, relaying his experiences, grief and anger during the entire conflict. A play based on The Wipers Times is currently playing to rave reviews in the West End – you can see a trailer here. The Best of The Wipers Times (£12.99, pb, 9781 906251 85 7 ) is published on 25 May by Max Press and this unique selection of the very best of the previous bestselling Max Press edition now has detailed explanatory notes and appendices, a foreword by Ian Hislop, an extensive introduction by acclaimed military historian Malcolm Brown and maps by Patrick Beaver. The satire of the paper; at times, irreverent, at times hysterical; helped reinvent the situation in the trenches – diffusing the conditions of war by ridiculing and exaggerating them and its humour provides an excellent insight into life in the trenches. The Best of The Wipers Times is published to coincide with 100th anniversary Passchendaele events this year and obviously, interest in and demand for books on WW1 is going to continue right though until 2018.
If there’s one topic that is quite rightly getting a lot of media coverage at present it’s mental health – and anxiety disorder in particular. All Birds Have Anxiety (978 1785921827, £9.99, hb) by Kathy Hoopmann is a new take on this topic which has just been published by Jessica Kingsley. Following the style of the best-selling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome (978 1843104810, hb, £9.99) and All Dogs Have ADHD (hb, £9.99, 978 1843106517); wonderful photographs express the complex ideas related to anxiety disorder in an easy-to-understand way. Through a light-touch and quizzical depiction of bird behaviour, All Birds Have Anxiety uses vivid images and astute explanations to explore with gentle humour what it means to live with anxiety day-to-day. This simple yet profound book validates the deeper everyday experiences of anxiety, provides an empathic understanding of the many symptoms associated with anxiety, and offers compassionate suggestions for change. The combination of understanding and gentle humour make this the ideal introduction for those diagnosed with this condition, their family and friends and those generally interested in understanding anxiety. Educators, doctors, mental health practitioners and psychiatrists are falling over themselves to recommend this title: “this wonderful book is a powerful resource for parents … it normalises the experience of anxiety, it explains how worry happens and how it affects us, but it also gives hope on how to overcome worry, stress, and fear. The beautiful images are carefully selected, displaying common emotions amongst all living beings. I strongly recommend it” and I strongly advise you to stock it – the photography alone is worth the cover price! Jessica Kingsley ran a fun promotional campaign for this book (appropriately!) on Twitter under the #birdsmeetbooks. The Tern of the Screw, The Last Kingfisher of Scotland, The Oyster Catcher in the Rye, All Quiet Swan the Western Front, We Need to Stork About Kevin, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Snipe and Robin-son Crusoe are some of the tweeted ideas – any more suggestions all you literary twitchers out there?
First-hand accounts of journalists working in war-torn dangerous places are always gripping to read, and Ed Gorman’s powerful autobiography Death of a Translator has been described as “required reading for any editor in charge of sending journalists into harm’s way.” PJ O'Rourke said of it: “I have never read anything that so fully and perfectly captured the personal experience and the personal aftermath of war. This is a brave book. Ed Gorman has a lonely struggle, but, excellent reporter that he is, he shows us how the struggle is not his alone.” Gorman starts as a young, devil-may-care Englishman, determined to report on the Soviet war and make a name for himself who makes a fateful commitment to a swashbuckling Afghan guerrilla commander. Not only will he go inside the capital secretly and live in the network of safe houses run by the resistance, he will travel around the city in a Soviet Army jeep, dressed as a Russian officer. Waiting in the mountain camp, from where Niazuldin’s band of fighters lived and planned their hit-and-run attacks on Soviet troops, he soon discovers what it means to experience combat with men whose only interest is to be killed or martyred. Death of a Translator (hb, £14.99, 978 1911350088) is published by Arcadia in June, and there are a series of planned events and significant enthusiasm in publishing extracts from The Times.
Have you discovered the Tony Underwood thrillers written by Joseph Clyde (aka former MP, diplomat and journalist George Walden) yet? If not – you really should, as they are getting some superb reviews! The China Maze (978 1783341368, pb, £8.99) has just been published by Gibson Square and was launched with a party at the Garrick Club, London – Piers Morgan attended and tweeted to his five million followers that the title was “riveting” and author Jung Chang agreed, calling it “gripping and intriguing … intelligent... in the tradition of Frederick Forsyth." It’s been chosen for the WHS travel promotion, and follows Walden’s two successful previous titles The Oligarch (978 1908096715, pb, £8.99) of which the Sunday Times wrote: “Echoes of Frederick Forsyth and Gerald Seymour, you’re reminded of French or Russian literary fiction in this suavely cynical novella, which is resolved cleverly” and the Independent said: “Sit back in wonderment and enjoy this romp around a parallel universe that exists – I assure you, it does. A treat of acute observation and deadpan humour that testifies to a highly-informed eye.” The first in the series was A State of Fear (978 1906142957, pb, £8.99) which the TLS praised as “echoing the best of Len Deighton or John Le Carré.”
We love a bit of JK Rowling sass – so I certainly enjoyed these 25 best comebacks from one of the feistiest authors on Twitter!
I’m delighted to announce that Adam Crothers' Several Deer (£9.99, pb, 978-1784102449) published by Carcanet has won the Shine/Strong Award! This is presented annually to the author of the best first collection of poems published in English or Irish by an Irish poet in the previous year. The Shine/Strong Award is awarded in memory of Rupert and Eithne Strong and is made possible by the generous support of Shine: the national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of all those affected by mental ill health. Addressing themes of destruction, consumption, misogyny, gods, sex, form, failure and rock ’n’ roll, Several Deer is the debut collection by this wonderful Northern Irish writer who is as much indebted to Bob Dylan and Lana Del Rey as to Emily Dickinson and George Herbert.
What do you do when the most important person in your life is about to die? Who can help you? How do you keep going? When Alison Murdoch's husband catches viral encephalitis, and falls into a life-threatening coma, everything changes. Bed 12 (£9.99, pb, 978 0995647800) which is published in May by Hikari Press is a survival guide to the world of acute medicine, and a poignant and darkly comic account of what it's like to fight for someone's life. Over the course of a summer, machines beep and clatter, medical staff come and go, and family and friends of varying beliefs offer well-intentioned advice. For someone unfamiliar with hospitals, death and dying, the insights of Buddhism assume a greater relevance than ever before and this book is an astute, profound and uplifting insight into how to cope with despair, heartache and the unknown. This powerfully moving book has a forward by Dr Phil Hammond who called it a “love letter to the NHS, and the everyday acts of kindness that keep it afloat ... it needs to be widely read.” Half of all royalties from the sales will be donated to the Encephalitis Society and you can watch a short film about it here.
What does Brexit actually mean for the UK? What are the wider implications for Europe? Was the UK vote symptomatic of broader issues such as population mobility and the rise of non-traditional parties? Written by three leading international authors, The Human Atlas of Europe: A Continent United in Diversity (£20.00, pb, 978 1447313540) by Dimitris Ballas, Danny Dorling, and Benjamin Hennig explores Europe's society, culture, economy, politics and environment using state of the art mapping techniques. With maps covering over 80 topics ranging from life expectancy, greenhouse gas emissions, GDP to Eurovision voting; The Human Atlas of Europe addresses fundamental questions around social cohesion and sustainable growth. This concise, accessible atlas is packed with very readable and appealing features, including short introductions to each topic, maps using the very latest data, infographics bringing this all to life, and handy summaries of the key information. Taken as a whole, the atlas shows how geographical boundaries only tell a partial story and that we still live in a far more cohesive Europe than we realise. The Guardian called it “a fascinating, accessible and timely guide to modern Europe, providing an essential toolkit for understanding the continent post-Brexit” while Kevin Featherstone, LSE said: “Think you know Europe? Think again: this is a captivating window on the deeper realities of the Europe we share.” It is published next week by Policy Press.
One thing I think we can all agree despite our Brexit differences, is that the very best of Europe is to be found in the Eurovision Song Contest. So, here, to finish, are the Top Ten Eurovision entries of all time!
As Facebook helpfully launches a campaign this week to help us spot fake news; this seems like a good time to enjoy some recent stories from The Daily Mash!
Bookies don’t want your shitty £1 bet. The nation’s bookmakers have told once-a-year punters to refrain from placing their pathetic Grand National bets this year.
Fan with ‘Wenger Out’ banner sick of Arsenal winning. A disgruntled fan is tired of bringing his ‘Wenger Out’ banner to games that the Gunners win.
People without kids dreading Easter Holidays even more than parents. Those who prefer to avoid children are concerned that they will be absolutely everywhere next week.
Anywhere without ‘No Fly Tipping’ signs fine for fly-tipping. Any lay-by, alleyway or domestic garden that does not display a ‘No Fly Tipping’ sign is open for fly-tipping, local authorities have confirmed.
Child taken on term-time holiday will never catch up on colouring. A six-year-old girl taken on holiday during the school term will be a week behind in colouring for the rest of her life, teachers have confirmed.
If you run away from our missiles you’re a terrorist, says US. Anyone fleeing Syria because of US airstrikes is not a refugee but a terrorist, the US has confirmed
London in grip of normality. The capital is today in the grip of normality today, with millions having their breakfast then going to work.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
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