Friday 9 February 2018

Compass Points 249

Nuclear submarines. Secretive and intriguing, staying on their stealthy watch deep in the oceans, and keeping the world safe. On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service by Eric Thompson (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005713) is published by Casemate on 28 February and is an absolutely riveting inside story of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, revealing the undisclosed life of submarines and those who serve on them. Eric Thompson MBE is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the end of the Cold War; when nuclear submarines performed the greatest public service of all: prevention of a third world war. History shows that they succeeded; but for security reasons, only now can this story be told. In this vivid personal account of his submarine operations, Eric reveals what it was like to literally have your finger on the nuclear button. He leads the reader through top-secret submarine patrols, hush-hush scientific trials, underwater weapon developments, public relations battles with nuclear protesters, arm-wrestling with politicians and the changing roles in the Navy for women and those in the LGBT community. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. This sounds terrific, and unsurprisingly there is lots of publicity coming up. Casemate posted a blog piece with an extract from the book on exactly how submarines deal with what we will refer to as “sewage” – you can read that here – this post then went viral on Facebook! War History Online (which have 1.7 million likes on Facebook) have several articles commissioned by Eric coming up, and he will be appearing on two TV programmes on STV in Scotland: Live at Five and People’s History on 27 February. He’s being interviewed by Dan Snow for his History Hit channel about the book, and that interview will appear later this month. There will be a feature article in the Daily Record (Scotland’s most read newspaper) in late February – and there’s a launch for the book in Helensburgh on 13th March. Loads of feature and review coverage in the navy mags of course – including Warships International, Navy News, Naval Review, RNA Monthly Circular and Baird Maritime and an extract will be appearing in the ARNO yearbook (6,500 members) which will be out on February 28th. Eric will be interviewed on February 28th for Talk Radio Europe. This is a genuinely captivating book with the potential for a widespread readership as the subject matter is fascinating and Eric Thompson writes in a style that is both highly informed and also very personal. His MBE was awarded for leadership during a submarine emergency on patrol.
Top ten submarine films anyone? Dive dive dive!

Many congratulations to five bright young things who are “roaring through their 20s” at Comma and Jessica Kingsley and have just been shortlisted for a London Book Fair Trailblazer Award 2018. This award celebrates 30 young, talented publishing professionals under 30 all of whom “are demonstrating innovation and ambition in the book industry.” From Comma, Becky Harrison and Sarah Cleave are on the list and from JKP it’s Alexandra Holmes, Lily Bowden and William Horsnell whose stars are burning particularly brightly! The Awards, now in their third year, are run in partnership with the Publishers Association and supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch. Five winners will be selected by a judging panel and announced at a ceremony at the Groucho Club (of course!) on 26th February, hosted by the London Book Fair and the SYP. You can see the full shortlist here.

Voting Brexit was a “Scream Of Protest Against The Rich's Hijacking Of Democracy” says Victor J Seidler author of Making Sense of Brexit (978 1447345206, £14.99) in a very thought provoking article in the Huffington Post, which you can read here. All excellent publicity for his new book, which has just been published by Policy Press. This open and accessible book addresses the causes and implications of Brexit, exploring this moral anger against political elites and people feeling estranged from a political process and economic system. It engages with everyday ethical and political questions that are being raised by unfolding events – including looking at Trump and the connections between the Brexit vote and his campaign. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Victor J Seidler! In recent years his thought provoking writing and research have focused on the cultural memory of particular events and the ways they might challenge traditional social and cultural languages. Jon Cruddas, MP said of this title that “above all it speaks to the need for a renewed, democratic sense of justice; one that can include, unite and inspire. Seidler speaks of the thing that we need most – hope."

Nice piece in the Bookseller this week on our lovely friends at Devon-based indie publisher Impress Books which you can read here. They mention the excellent Widdershins by Helen Steadman (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293040) which came out last year – if you haven’t yet read this compelling historical novel about witch hunting and witch trials I urge you to order it – it had superb reviews and is selling well.

A century after women first won the right to vote in the UK, this week everyone has been paying tribute to the women who helped to force a change in the law. The hashtag #100Years trended worldwide; some celebrated the contribution of women who campaigned for the right to vote while others marked the occasion by highlighting work still to be done. Pluto has three important titles on three important women. Firstly, Sylvia Pankhurst Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire by Katherine Connelly (pb, 978 0745333229, £14.99). This is a lively and accessible biography on the most controversial and radical of all the suffragettes Katherine Connelly guides us through Pankhurst’s construction of a suffragette militancy which put working-class women at the heart of the struggle, her championing of the Bolshevik Revolution and her clandestine attempts to sabotage the actions of the British state, as well as her early identification of the dangers of Fascism. The book explores the dilemmas, debates and often painful personal consequences faced by Pankhurst and presents her as a courageous and inspiring campaigner, of huge relevance to those engaged in social movements today. Next, Ellen Wilkinson: From Red Suffragist to Government Minister by Paula Bartley (978 0745332376, £14.99, pb) makes a passionate case for the relevance of ‘Red Ellen’ to the twenty-first century. It is a vivid portrait of one of Britain’s first women MPs and Minister in the 1945 Labour government. Like the previous title, it is part of Pluto’s best-selling Revolutionary Lives series. Finally, Friends of Alice Wheeldon The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George (pb, 978 0745335759 £17.99) by Sheila Rowbotham is an intense, claustrophobic play about a show-trial of an innocent woman at the height of the First World War. First published nearly thirty years ago, this edition points readers to subsequent research into the case and the ongoing campaign to clear the name of Alice Wheeldon, containing an extended essay which explores the context and politics behind the play’s action.

On the same theme, The Stalled Revolution: Is Equality for Women an Impossible Dream? (£26.99, pb, 978 1787146020) is gaining a lot of media attention at present. Fifty years ago, the Women’s Liberation Movement began a sustained campaign for equal rights and in this book (just published by Emerald) Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds draw upon historical perspectives and contemporary interviews to convey what it felt like to be in the heart of the campaigns―the excitement, the solidarity, the suffering and the humour. They argue that tragically, after hard-won successes, the revolution has stalled and equality for women is still a distant dream. Today men are paid more and occupy nearly 80% of the most powerful jobs across society, so The Stalled Revolution asks whether women are now ready to draw inspiration from past successes and take a third leap forward towards equality? It showcases how the wisdom from our collective struggles can help form the bedrock of a new and successful liberation campaign today. John Edmonds appeared as a guest on BBC1’s The Big Questions on 4th Feb talking about this and Eva Tuchell was on The Book Hour on The Andrew Edwards Show. Both authors were also on BBC London’s Breakfast show talking to Vanessa Feltz about the book on Tuesday.

They say the first rule of politics is never to resign. But since when have politicians ever followed the rules?! Fighters and Quitters: Great Political Resignations (£20, hb, 978 1785901041) by Theo Barclay is a roaring dash through the most sensational political resignations of the past century charting the scandals, controversies and cock-ups that forced key players to quit. Each chapter focuses on a different episode, from the former minister who faked his own death in the 1970s to Chris Huhne's swift journey from despatch box to jail cell in the 2010s. The book also examines the swathe of sex and spy scandals that have killed dreams of high office, from peers busted in bed with prostitutes to MPs caught cavorting in public parks, and, of course, the Profumo affair. Who jumped and who was pushed? Who battled to stay in post and who collapsed at the first hint of pressure? Who came back, Lazarus-like, after their resignation for a second act? From ignominious surrenders to principled departures, it reveals the tales of the politicians who fell on their swords and explores the reasons why they did. This has had some super publicity, with pieces appearing in the Telegraph, Spectator, Independent, The Times and London Evening Standard Diary with lots more to come! Theo has also been talking about the book on Sky News, All Out Politics and in the Times, Red Box podcast. Fighters and Quitters is out this week from Biteback.

Two Carcanet titles: The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin (pb, £9.99, 978 1784103804) and The President of Planet Earth by David Wheatley (£12.99, pb, 978 1784104207) are on the Irish Times Poetry Now Award shortlist – hurrah! The winner of the annual €2,000 prize will be announced at the Mountains to Sea Poetry Now Festival in Dun Laoghaire on March 24th.You can see the full shortlist and find out more about the award here.

We were so pleased to hear that Istanbul, Istanbul by Burhan Sonmez translated by Ümit Hussein (978 1846592058, pb, £8.99) has just been shortlisted for a brand-new Literature Prize. The British Council and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have launched this €20,000 award to promote the “extraordinary richness” of the culture and history of the bank’s countries. It will be awarded to the year’s best work of literary fiction translated into English and originally written in any language of the EBRD’s 37 countries of operations, coming from a UK publisher. You can find out more in the Bookseller here.  Istanbul, Istanbul is a profoundly moving novel about the transformative power of words in times of desperation, and is inspired by the Turkish author’s own experiences when he was imprisoned after a military coup The Reader's Digest said it was “destined to become a classic.” It opens deep below the ancient streets of Istanbul where four prisoners –Demirtay the student, the doctor, Kamo the barber and Uncle Küheylan – sit, awaiting their turn at the hands of their wardens. When they are not subject to unimaginable violence, the condemned tell one another stories about the city, shaded with love and humour, to pass the time. Quiet laughter is their balm, delivered through parables and riddles. Gradually, the prisoners’ underground narrative turns into a narrative of Istanbul itself, and we discover there is as much suffering and hope in the city above-ground as there is in the cells below. It is published by Telegram.

In some ways linked to this title, comes a new inspirational self-help book from Hay House. The World is a Nice Place: How to Overcome Adversity, Joyfully (9781401950873, £12.99, pb). It is written by international journalist Amy Molloy who spent over a decade interviewing amazing people who've survived incredible challenges –  from terrorism attacks, to natural disasters, loss, grief, breakups, and breakdowns. As a 'serial survivor' herself, Amy wanted to discover the secret formula that allows some people to move forward after difficulty, without letting it become their entire identity. This insightful and honest book, the product of ten years' research, combines personal anecdotes with practical tools to help readers explore their memories, pinpoint their triggers and use their past to empower, inspire and guide them. When life is hard, The World is a Nice Place offers a new way of thinking. Amy Molloy is writing an article for the Observer about this, which will come out around publication day on 3 April. The World is a Nice Place is published by Hay House.

The longlist for the 2018 Dylan Thomas Prize has just been announced, and hooray, James Womack is on it with his Carcanet collection On Trust: A Book of Lies (pb, £9.99, 978 1784104160). This book of lying monologues plays with the idea that confession is not necessarily truthful. The shortlist of six books will be revealed at the end of March and the winner will be announced on Thursday 10th May 2018 at Swansea University’s Great Hall, in the run up to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May. You can find out more about the prize here.

The Juice has been back in the news recently as lawyers demand that OJ Simpson hand over any profits he’s made from signing autographs but then he apparently “begs” the family of Ron Goldman to stop dragging him to court over every “unconfirmed rumour” that he's now living the high life in Vegas. If this is a story that floats your boat, you can read more here and here. Whatever your views on the ex-con, this is a good opportunity to sell a few more of If I Did It (978 1783341290 £8.99 pb) which is now available in a new reprint, with a new cover. This world-famous, real crime book written by OJ Simpson, which Mark Lawson on BBC Front Row said was “impossible to read other than as a confession” was described as “stunning” by the Observer, “explosive” by the Mail on Sunday and “chilling” by Simon Mayo. It’s published by Gibson Square.

As you probably know, it’s LGBT History Month. Now in its 14th year this is a month-long annual event that celebrates the history and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people every February in the UK and aims to inspire organisations and communities to celebrate LGBT culture. You can find out more at Jessica Kingsley are your go-to publishers for gender diversity of course – and you can find a full list of their forthcoming and recently published titles here. A few key titles from recent months are To My Trans Sisters (978 1785923432), First Year Out: A Transition Story (978 1785922589), Gender Diversity and Non-Binary Inclusion in the Workplace (978 1785922442) and How To Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are (978 1785927461).

Happy publication day to Sweet Days of Discipline (£8.99, pb, 978-1911508182) – you see here a fantastic display for it at Foyles in Waterloo. Set in post-war Switzerland, Fleur Jaeggy's novel begins simply and innocently enough: “At fourteen I was a boarder in a school in the Appenzell”. But there is nothing truly simple or innocent here. With the offhanded knowingness of a remorseless young Eve, the narrator describes life as a captive of the school and her designs to win the affections of the seemingly perfect new girl, Frederique. As she broods over her schemes as well as on the nature of control and madness, the novel gathers a suspended, unsettling energy. In its Italian original this novel won the Premio Bagutta and the Premio Speciale Rapallo. Newsday said “How a novel could be so chilly and so passionate at the same time is a puzzle, but that icy-hot quality is only one of the distinctions of Sweet Days of Discipline while the New York Review of Books called it “startling and original-so disturbing and so haunting.” It’s published by And Other Stories.

Ooh – how many great songs are there with Sweet in the title? My top five? Well, I’m NOT choosing Sweet Caroline but I do love this  from Anita Baker, this from George Harrison, this from Jnr Walker and the All Stars and this  from Chuck Berry. But my number one has got to be this gem from 1927!

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

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

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