Friday 20 October 2017

Compass Points 235

Hurrah! Carcanet have not one, not two but THREE poets on the TS Eliot Prize shortlist! Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion described this annual prize for the best new poetry collection as “the prize most poets want to win.” And in a very strong year, (with a record 154 poetry collections submitted) the TS Eliot Foundation has increased the winner’s prize money to £25,000 to mark the 25th anniversary of the award! The poets are: Tara Bergin for The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (978 1784103804), Caroline Bird for In these Days of Prohibition (978 1784104788) and Robert Minhinnick for Diary of the Last Man (978 1784103484). All are £9.99 paperbacks. One of the highlights of this prize are the TS Eliot Shortlist Readings which is the largest annual poetry event in the UK and which will be hosted once again by Ian McMillan. They are on Sunday 14th January, the day before the Award Ceremony itself which will be at the Wallace Collection on Monday 15th January.  An exciting new addition coming this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this highly prestigious prize; is a series of little films of all the shortlisted poets, reading their work and giving a short interview. I’ll let you know when these are available to view! You can see the full shortlist of ten and find out more on the TS Eliot Prize website.

What’s your opinion on Katie Hopkins? Do you share the opinions of Donald Trump who tweeted recently “thank you to respected columnist Katie Hopkins for her powerful writing” or are you more in agreement with Simon Cowell who said he “would rather take a bath, fill it with vinegar, cut myself a thousand times, immerse myself slowly for an hour than work with her.” Love her or loathe her, she is impossible to ignore, and Rude (pb, £9.99, 978 1785902468) which is out from Biteback on 7 November is equally in your face. Part memoir, part handbook for the modern woman, this book shares Katie’s disasters, her biggest disappointments and the time she had to ring her super sensible boss to say she was on the front pages of the tabloids having sex in a field. Like you do. From being kicked out of the army for being epileptic, to firing little Lord Sugar; from her first husband leaving her in the maternity ward for the big-boobed secretary, to the reality behind Celebrity Big Brother, to the privacy of her home and role as a mum of three; she has plenty of surprises to share and lessons she thinks we should learn. As you would expect, Katie doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and neither does she hold back, making her as honest in her book as she is in life.

Let’s just remind ourselves of some classic Katie Hopkins moments here!

So, so pleased to see the braw Scottish Bothy Bible winning the of Travel Guidebook of the Year on Wednesday at the Travel Media Awards 2017. The awards were created in recognition of the hugely influential role that today’s travel media play, and categories cover a wide range of media, from consumer travel magazines to travel trade titles and guide books. The evening saw 20 publications, broadcasters, journalists and photographers awarded prestigious trophies. You can find out more on their website here.  The Scottish Bothy Bible (£16.99, pb, 978 1910636107) is rightly a bestseller for Wild Things and whether you are actually planning your own bothy break or just an armchair traveller it is a captivating read. Beautifully produced, full of gorgeous captivating photos and maps so that just by reading it you feel you are learning more about the real Scotland.

Huge congratulations to debut novelist Winnie M Li whose vivid account of the aftermath of a sexual assault, Dark Chapter (£8.99, pb, 978 1785079061) is the winner of this year’s Not the Booker Prize. It was the voting public’s favourite, and the Guardian judges concurred. You can read more about that in the Guardian here. Dark Chapter which is an astonishing and unique novel inspired by the author’s own story, is out in paperback from Legend on 1 November and there’s a LOT of buzz about it. The Stylist made it one of their Top 10 Debuts to Look Out for in 2017 calling it “an important and moving book” while Cathy Rentzenbrink said it was “complex and rewarding” and Erin Kelly said Dark Chapter is a must-read. It’s gripping, compelling and all the more authentic for inhabiting both voices so completely. Stunning.” The Daily Mail said it was a “heart-wrenching depiction... Brave, raw and strikingly original, it is a story that will resonate for many years.”

Sexual assault is not an easy subject to write about – and an even harder subject to laugh about. I think Tracy Ullman successfully manages it in her sharp parody of police attitudes  here though!

Neil Powell’s Was and Is: Collected Poems (pb, £14.99, 978 1784102326 ) published by Carcanet is up for the poetry category in the East Anglian Book Awards and you can see the full shortlist here.  The winner will be announced at a celebration of regional writing and publishing in England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, Norwich on 24th November. These playful and elegiac poems by the celebrated biographer of Amis and Britten explore music, seascapes and landscapes, travel, family, love and loss in traditional forms with warmth and humour. Peter Scupham called them “lucid, elegant, formal and humane.”

There has been lots of upbeat poetry news to tell you about today hasn’t there, so in celebration of all things poetic, I don’t think you can do much better than listen to this  highly hilarious ten minute-clip from Hancock’s Half Hour: The Poetry Society!

We’re always pleased to tell you about a really good author of historical fiction, as it is a massively popular market. Tracey Warr’s first novel was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction, the Rome Film Festival Book Initiative, and received a Santander Research Award. Her second historical novel, The Viking Hostage has now sold more than 1,500 copies. Her Conquest trilogy is set in medieval Wales and follows the tumultuous life of the last Welsh Princess and its first book Daughter of the Last King won much praise from the book bloggers with Lisa Reads Books calling it “a wonderful novel brilliantly researched and told in a fantastic page turning style… it will appeal to fans of Carol McGrath, Joanna Courtney and Patricia Bracewell”.  WhatIRead suggested that it was “recommended if you’re a fan of Poldark, Outlander or Philippa Gregory” and Cosy Reads said that “Tracey Warr manages to bring forgotten, historical characters to life with such vivacity …I impeccably well researched history and well-conjured settings … one engrossing historical read”. The second book in the trilogy Conquest: The Drowned Court (£8.99, pb, 9781911293088) is out from Impress on 30 October. This title will obviously have a big appeal to Welsh bookshops – but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be popular everywhere else too! Tracey is doing numerous events at medieval castles over the coming months and also talking about her writing at on 8 November at Gaywood Library in Kings Lynn, 13 November at Pembroke Dock Library (close to Pembroke Castle where the heroine of The Drowned Court lived), and on 27 November at Downham Market Library. You can find out more about Tracey Warr on her website

Talking of Welsh history, let’s hear what Edmund Blackadder has to say on the subject…

And more Welsh news with the announcement that Pigeon by Alys Conran (pb, £8.99, 978 1910901236) is on the shortlist for the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award – one of the awards in the 2017 Wales Book of the Year awards. There are 10 prizes on offer for works of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry in English and Welsh and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Cardiff's Tramshed on 13 November. Pigeon is a journey through the uneasy half-forgotten memories of childhood, a story about wishful-thinking and the power of language. The New Welsh Review said it “might have been authored by Faulkner... just as imaginatively capacious ... never overwrought, rather pitch-perfect.” It is published by Parthian.

Last week was World Mental Health Day, which seems like an excellent opportunity to tell you about Gail Mitchell’s transformative book, Loving The Life Less Lived (pb, £9.99, 978 1910453261) which is published by Red Door. Like many people, Gail battled with anxiety and depression for many years, finding it exhausting, stressful and demoralising at times. Realising that this approach to her condition was futile, Gail chose a different approach: acceptance. Taking control in this way removed some of the pressure and enabled Gail to focus on developing coping strategies, creating the tips and tools that are included in this empathetic and practical book. Gail Mitchell focuses on the positive aspects of her condition, showing how a person living with mental illness is so much more than the label that society puts on them. She found acceptance empowering, enabling her to live her life to the full. Perhaps not the life she had planned, but one that is happy and fulfilling and that she loves. You can find out more on her blog at

Theo Michaels appeared again on ITV This Morning this week – he’s becoming something of a regular! Introduced by Holly Willoughby as “The king of the microwave” he cooked winter stews in a matter of minutes which were tasted with great appreciation by Holly and Phillip Scofield. He was talking about Microwave Mug Meals (978 0754832850, £9.99, hb) and Microwave Mug Soups 978 0754833734, £10, hb,) which is his new title out on 3 November from Lorenz. Everyone loves soup, it is the ultimate comfort food. Whether you yearn for a traditional creamy tomato, a spicy fish chowder or a deliciously umami-rich ramen, a mug of soup is the perfect supper on the sofa, quick lunch and between-meal savoury snack. And Theo Michaels can show you that a great-tasting soup does not have to involve long cooking with big pans and bulk ingredients! Every soup in this book has been specially created to suit the microwave and to be cooked in a single mug, ready to eat. Instead of opening up a can, you can have an even yummier home-cooked mushroom soup, or chicken, even minestrone – made fresh in just the same amount of time. The appearances on This Morning are absolutely fantastic ongoing publicity for this charismatic author and his books.

Swallow Summer (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583447) by Larissa Boehning (translated by Lyn Marven from the German) is one of six titles to be shortlisted for the inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. The winner will be announced on the 15th November. The prize aims to address the gender imbalance in translated literature and to increase the number of international women’s voices accessible by a British and Irish readership. A recent report by Nielsen Book showed that translated literary fiction makes up only 3.5% of the literary fiction titles published in the UK, but accounts for 7% of the volume of sales. You can find out more about the prize here. Each character in Larissa Boehning's unflinching debut collection experiences a moment where they’re forced to confront how differently things turned out, how quickly ambitions were shelved, or how easily people change. It is published by Comma.

Compass Points has now been bringing you the very best in new titles, publishing news, trivia and fun every Friday for five years! The first ever book we featured back then in autumn 2012 was Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire (pb, £10.99, 9781908906106) by Eric Berkowitz which is published by Westbourne Press, who launched the same year. They’re an imprint of the fabulous Saqi (which also includes international literary fiction imprint Telegram). Sex and Punishment tells the story of the struggle throughout millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behaviour: sex. The "raging frenzy" of the sex drive, to use Plato's phrase, has always defied control but that's not to say that pretty much every civilization hasn’t tried; wielding their most formidable weapon: the law. At any given point in time, some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly. Jump forward or backward a century or two (and often far less than that) and the harmless fun of one era becomes the gravest crime in another. The Sunday Times called it “enlightening and hugely entertaining” and it has become a bestseller – proving Compass Points sure knows how to spot them!

The first ever film we featured was this one! Still love it!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are our favourite tweets from the week!

FavershamLitFest‏ @FavershamLit We've started a book exchange on Platform 3 at #Faversham rail station. Enjoy!
Rachel Newsome‏ @RachelENewsome Brought to tears by the powerful stories of the invisible & silenced in #refugeetales @commapress
Alex Cobham‏ @alexcobham An amazing book made me cry & laugh on 3 continents this week. #JusticeforLB. Buy it. Read it. Go change the world.
Winnie M Li‏ @winniemli Great fun yesterday @Legend_Press filming #bookblogger video on #DarkChapter #NotTheBooker with @Frizbot - look out for it next wk! #books
SF Said‏ @whatSFSaid Happiness is having your own library card - and a well-funded library service, with specialist librarians there to help you! #SaveLibraries
New Island Books‏ @NewIslandBooks We're 25 years old this year! Come help us celebrate on Saturday, November 4th @DublinBookFest - all welcome!
Waterstones‏ @Waterstones Wow, we just popped into the new-look @WaterstonesCamb and it is absolutely gorgeous. People of Cambridge rejoice!
JKP Books‏ @JKPBooks We'll be talking about our three new books on #dyslexia at half 11 today on Facebook Live. Follow us to be notified
Ashley C. Ford‏ @iSmashFizzle "How's writing the book going?"
First of all, fuck you.
And Other Stories‏ @andothertweets “It is about time more publishing firms got out of London" @yorkshirepost on UK literature spreading its wings
Red Lion Books‏ @RedLionBooks 'Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.' Arthur Miller, born #onthisday in 1915.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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