No doubt you heard of the sad death of Sir Peter Hall on Monday; the BBC obituary of this giant of theatre is here. His relationship with Oberon Books goes back many years so this is doubly sad for them, notwithstanding his status as a cultural titan. You can read the tribute that James Hogan publisher at Oberon wrote for this “treasured author who helped to transform the fortunes of the small independent press 15 years ago” in the Bookseller here.
There are four Oberon titles available – all of which are well worth ordering! The Autobiography of Peter Hall: Making an Exhibition of Myself (£25.00, pb, 9781840021158) is, as the Independent said “Compulsive stuff ... his insights, off stage as well as on, are still much needed.” Peter Hall's Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle (pb, £16.99, 978 1840021028) chronicles the eight frenzied years between 1972 and 1980 when Hall conducted the historic move of the National Theatre from the Old Vic to the South Bank, and then triumphantly consolidated its position as the leading showcase for theatre in Britain. With remarkable candour Hall describes his relationship with Lord Olivier; and numerous actors, directors and playwrights including Ralph Richardson, Alec Guinness, John Gielgud, Jonathan Miller, Harold Pinter, John Osborne and Samuel Beckett. In his startlingly frank, incisive style, he creates sometimes affectionate, sometimes acid portraits of both his friends and his enemies. On its publication Michael Billington writing in the New York Times called it “an intimate, candid, crisis-filled account that raises controversy, dust and tempers in theatrical circles.”
Shakespeare’s Advice to the Players (pb, £14.99, 978 1783190096) is an invaluable reference book for students, actors and directors working on Shakespeare productions and a treasure trove for avid Shakespeare readers and theatregoers. In it Sir Peter works through speeches from Shakespeare’s plays, revealing and elucidating as he proves the key to understanding and speaking them. Sir David Suchet commented that “reading this book I am reminded not only of Shakespeare's genius but also of Peter's. He manages to convey, lucidly and helpfully how to speak the language that can seem so very daunting.” And finally Exposed by the Mask: Form and Language in Drama (pb, £9.99, 978 1840021820) reveals in four parts, a lifetime’s discoveries about classical theatre, Shakespeare, opera and modern drama. The Sunday Telegraph called it "the wisest and most stimulating short book about theatre since Peter Brook’s ‘The Empty Space”.
I daresay many of you are pretty irritated by the news that British bookshops contribute ELEVEN times more corporation tax to the UK than Amazon does. You can read the full report in the Bookseller here. Looking on the bright side, this does show what a good state the British book trade is in, contributing £1.9bn to UK finances. Tim Godfray, CEO of the BA said that the report is “irrefutable proof” of the “significant economic value of bookshops to the UK’s economy.”
Published at the end of this month is the Radio Times Film Guide 2018 (pb, £27.50, 9780992936440) A cinephile's dream, and running this year to a whopping 1216 pages, this guide contains nearly 25,000 authoritative, opinionated and readable reviews, complete with credits, star rating, BBFC rating and availability on DVD or Blu-ray. Well-thought-out extras include a chronological list of the winners of major awards at the BAFTAs, Berlin, Cannes, the Golden Globes and the Oscars; 200 pages of actor and director filmographies; and a list of four and five-star films organized by genre. Readers are agreed – this is the best value for your money guide available, giving you “everything you could want. Excellent, authoritative but user-friendly reviews. Not your online, everyone's-an-expert-now rubbish. Get the opinions of those who actually know what they're talking about.” The Radio Times is a brand that readers really trust: “Great film book. It's a must for my dad every year. Only one he'll have bought. He says all the rest are a waste of money” is a typical comment – and this hefty blockbuster is clearly an excellent Christmas present option!
This year’s edition has lovely Leo on the from cover – so let’s have a look at here at five minutes of Di Caprio’s best acting performances or here if you prefer the grisly Oscar winning stuff!!
This week I’m pleased to say we can bring you a publicity round-up in an author’s own words! Here’s Carcanet poet Karen McCarthy Woolf’s description of what she’s been up to lately!
Dearest Friends and Poetry Family,
It’s been a while and the year has whizzed by in a blur in which ... I reimagined Odysseus as a London cab driver in Night Shift for BBC Radio 4 as part of My Name is Nobody … Recorded my extended poem Conversation, With Water with soundtrack for The Verb on BBC Radio 3 … & switched hemispheres to swap the English summer for winter in Mozambique! July wasn’t all beaches and blue skies though as the BIG news was the publication of my second collection Seasonal Disturbances … one of the book’s poems on gentrification was published in the Financial Times where perhaps it might get a chance to preach to the unconverted ;-), Jeremy Noel-Tod reviewed it for the Sunday Times, saying “McCarthy Woolf conjures her home city of London with vivid strokes of phrase…these are big-idea poems made up of bite-size insights and ironies … establishing the political anger and ecological anxieties that converge forcefully in the book’s shorter, more personal pieces.”
Granta also published three poems, including The CEO who's a slightly more dystopian version of dear old DT… or is that less dystopian? Anyway...it was also a Poetry Book Society Summer Recommendation: “to read Seasonal Disturbances is to be in the presence of a highly unusual, deeply inventive imagination, to which nothing is what it seems, nothing remains the same for long and nothing is ever allowed to get old.” I like that last bit, hope it rubs off!
CATCH ME … on Tuesday 5 September, when I’ll read from the book and talk to Samira Ahmed about it on BBC Radio 4’s flagship arts programme Front Row. 7.15 pm. At Ty Newydd, in Wales, where I’m teaching a one-week residential 11-16 September with Pascale Petit on Transforming Trauma, whether political, ecological or personal … Malika Booker is our guest poet … and there are still a couple of places going. You can book here. In Bloomsbury ... This year I spent the early shift on my birthday running a one-day Starting to Write Poetry course at Faber Academy. Which was actually great fun and reminded me why I love teaching! The next one is on Saturday 23 September. Then it’s the Poetry Book Fair at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square on 30 September, The Bristol Poetry Festival on Tuesday 17 October, the Manchester Poetry Festival on 22 October where I’m reading from Seasonal Disturbances and presenting some amazing new voices from the Complete Works showcase anthology Ten: Poets of the New Generation which I edited for Bloodaxe Books, and one of my favourites, Poetry in Aldeburgh on 3-5 November. & finally, I’ll be giving a keynote presentation on ‘sacred hybridity’ at the Complete Works Conference on Diversity in Poetry at Goldsmiths on 9 November.
Oh, and somewhere in between all that I’ll be finishing off the doctorate … on that note I’d better dash! Hope to see you at one thing or the other soon.
Love & Poetry, Karen XX
A permanently frozen London is the setting for The White City: a harrowing yet lyrical tale of survival in a dystopian near-future by Costa-shortlisted author Roma Tearne. Publishers Weekly in the US has just given it a very positive review saying “Tearne's sensitive tale of love amid the ruins of a Western civilization attempts, mostly successfully and always passionately, to tie the plight of Muslim immigrants to the suffering of all victims of modern totalitarian regimes … this small novel has a large message about human brutality.” You can read the whole piece here. The White City (£12.99, hb, 978 1910709429) is published in the UK on 10 October by Aardvark and Roma’s previous book The Last Pier (pb, £8.99, 978 1910709306) attracted much praise (“skilled and sensitive” Independent on Sunday; “a wonderful ability to create atmosphere” The Times; “charts the patterns of love and loss with beautiful prose” Sunday Times). It also sold very well, so there will be many fans waiting for this compelling new novel.
From the Brothers Grimm to Roald Dahl, witches have been a source of inspiration to many authors, and a new novel from Impress also reflects its author Helen Steadman’s own fascination. Widdershins (pb, £8.99, 978 1911293040) tells the story of the women who were persecuted and the men who condemned them and is inspired by true events in the northeast of England. Readers have found it “immersive and compelling” and “well written and informative. I remember being fascinated as a child by the witch hunts and ducking of witches but I'd never really given much thought to the actual process involved or the sheer horror and unfairness of it all! The author has obviously researched her subject thoroughly and adapted a very real historical situation in to a fantastic work of fiction that had me hooked from the start.” You can find out more about Widdershins which was published in July on Helen’s own website at www.helensteadman.com and there are some promotional events coming up around the UK. Helen will be at The Bakewell Bookshop in Bakewell on 30 September, then at the Gateshead Central Library 17 October followed by the Consett Library in Consett, County Durham on 31 October. There’s also an event at the Newcastle Book Festival on 28 November.
Top Ten witches anyone? Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?! ARGHHHHH !
Delizioso! A new deluxe, 624-page hardback edition of Valentina Harris’s classic title The Italian Regional Cook Book (£25.00, hb, 978 0754832409) has just been published by Lorenz, and it looks absolutely mouth-watering! Famous for its bold flavours, seasonal ingredients and vibrant colours, Italian has repeatedly been voted the world's favourite cuisine and of course there is so much more to this nation's food than the ubiquitous pasta and pizzas. Italian-cooking expert Valentina Harris examines each area in turn, with a carefully curated selection of recipes, and detailed instructions and photographs to help you achieve an authentic, and completely delicious, end result. This comprehensive book is a must-have reference for anyone who is passionate about cooking authentic Italian food and is an extensive culinary tour of all the famous “foodie” regions including: Lombardy; Piedmont; Liguria; Emilia-Romagna; Veneto; Tuscany; Umbria; Sardinia; Campania; Sicily; Puglia; Basilicata; and Calabria. This newly designed single compendium volume is the first time Valentina's prestigious Italian regional series has been published together, with new additional recipes, updated dishes and totally gorgeous photographs.
“Playful and perplexing, delighting in wordplay and sly little puns” said a review last week for Worlds from the Word's End by Joanna Walsh in the Daily Mail! You can read an extract from this unconventional short story collection on Lit Hub here. Here you can see a fantastic autumnal window display for this title at the lovely Books Upstairs in Dublin – the stunning jacket on this book looks so wonderful when there are lot of them!! It’s just been published by And Other Stories.
A reminder that the latest episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature Podcast is available to download! This month, Kristian and Vikki are reimagining Robert Louis Stevenson, paying attention to Emma Tennant’s Two Women of London, and interviewing Kevin MacNeil. You can find all that here.
And while we’re on the subject of Scotland, I am thrilled to announce the return of Richard Hannay – John Buchan’s perennial adventurer, and hero of course of the bestselling Thirty-Nine Steps. The Polygon editions of the Richard Hannay novels have sold over 15,000 copies and October sees the publication of The Thirty-One Kings (£12.99, hb, 9781846973918), a brand-new Richard Hannay story by Robert J Harris. Towards the end of John Buchan’s last novel, a character reflects that with the outbreak of a second world war, the veterans may be called for action once more – and The Thirty-One Kings tells the tale of this new escapade. As German troops pour across France in June 1940, an individual code named 'Roland' has disappeared and is assumed to be in the hands of Nazi agents. Only Hannay knows the secret of the Thirty-One Kings, a secret upon which the whole future of Europe depends, and on his hazardous journey across the battlefields of France, Hannay is joined by old friends and new allies as he confronts a ruthless foe who will stop at nothing to destroy him. The lights are going out across Paris and time is running out for the world as both sides battle for the secret. Great stuff – bringing “elderly” heroes out of retirement and back onto the bestseller lists (e.g. Sherlock and James Bond) is a big trend at the moment and I think this well-written and exciting page-turner should do very well.
Who doesn’t love a bit of heroic derring-do escapism, so here's Richard Hannay in his 1935 version played by Robert Donat – directed by Hitchcock of course; and here he is in his 1978 incarnation played by Robert Powell – back in the days when Big Ben was actually working!
Despite becoming a big issue in public debate, social mobility is one of the most misunderstood processes of our time. In fact, in a thought-provoking piece here you can discover “Why upward social mobility means some people move downwards”. The New Social Mobility: How the Politicians Got It Wrong (pb, £23.99, 978 1447310655) is an accessible and engaging title in which Geoff Payne, one of Britain’s leading mobility analysts, presents up-to-date research evidence to demonstrate how our politicians have not grasped the ways in which mobility works. This important book will challenge the well-established opinions of politicians, pressure groups, the press, and the public; and is also sufficiently comprehensive to be suitable for teaching and of interest to a broad academic audience. It is published by Policy Press.
Jane Austen on our tenners – hurrah – what’s not to love! However, when this news was announced few were aware that a £10 Austen banknote had already existed – issued by her favourite brother. Handsome, clever and enterprising, Henry Austen founded a bank business and charmed his way into the top rank of aristocratic society before going spectacularly bust in the financial crash of 1816. He left an enduring legacy however, for it was Henry who supported Jane’s dream of becoming a published author. Literary critic and cultural historian E. J. Clery presents a radically new vision of the much-loved novelist, revealing how her works were shaped by an acute awareness of the economic scandals, crises and speculations that marked the Regency era. Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister (£20, 978 1785901768, hb) provides a fascinating reappraisal of the political connections and economic interests of the Austen family, and is also an engaging exploration of the bond between brother and sister. The Times Literary Supplement said it was “calmly commanding … and makes some enlightening juxtapositions of material from the Austen family so as to suggest fresh things about the author herself. A perfect read for those who cannot understand why Austen should be on the £10." See it below looking mighty fine in a superb Jane Austen display in Heffers Cambridge. Jane Austen The Banker’s Sister is published by Biteback.
Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week here are our favourite tweets from #JaneAusten!
Waterstones @Waterstones Jane Austen is of course trending due to the new £10 note. Here's the first one being spent in @Hatchards On Pride and Prejudice. Natch.
ImaginedThings Books @ImaginedThings Thrilled the #NewTenPoundNote is out today! Fitting with the literary theme they should only be spent on books. Nothing else. Just books.
The Madder Mind @TheMadderMind “I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”
Trevor Baxendale @trevorbaxendale Just seen Jane Austen trending and for one terrible minute thought she'd died.
David Tully @DavidEdwinTully #bbcbreakfast The Jane Austen tenner, the only woman on a note. But apparently there has been a woman on the notes since 1952. Who knew?
iHeart @HeartAmazona "I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.”
Phil Rickman @PhilRickman Let's not forget today that ten quid was exactly what Jane Austen got for her first novel. Peanuts even then.
Faber & Faber @FaberBooks “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
Paul Lewis @paullewismoney "A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.”
MindGourmet @MindGourmet “There is no charm equal to tenderness of the heart.”
Evan Robb @ERobbPrincipal “I was quiet but I was not blind.”
Quite Interesting @qikipedia Mark Twain said he wanted to dig up Jane Austen and beat her over the skull with her own shin bone.
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.