Friday 13 April 2018

Compass Points 256

Alt-Right – the white nationalist, anti-feminist, far-right movement that rose to prominence during Donald Trump's successful election campaign appears to have burst out of nowhere, but Mike Wendling has been tracking it for years. In Alt-Right: From 4chan to the White House (pb, £12.99, 978 0745337456) which has just been published by Pluto, he reveals the role of technology, reactionaries, bulletin boards, bloggers, vloggers and tweeters, along with the extreme ideas which underpin the movement's thought. This title has just been reviewed very positively in the New York Times and will shortly be featured in the Observer. Excitingly, The Sun has also been in touch, to see if Mike can write a piece about it for them – watch this space! Including exclusive interviews with members of the movement and evidence linking extremists with terror attacks and hate crimes; this book is, as one reviewer said: “an urgently needed dose of clarity for anyone hoping to understand the twists and turns of far-right politics”.

Little Island Press are very excited to be publishing What Happened To Us, the third novel from by acclaimed Zimbabwean author Ian Holding. Holding’s writing has won much praise: Maggie Gee in the Times wrote that “much modern fiction is glossy but empty, but Ian Holding comes from another world. He has courage and wide sympathies” and Michael Ondaatje described this new book as “stunning and original, almost Blakean in its vision.” What Happened To Us (978 1999854904, hb, £14.99) is a portrait of life under Mugabe, a mesmerising coming-of-age tale of guilt and responsibility set within the fault-lines of modern Africa. His lean, lyrical prose is reminiscent of the work of J.M. Coetzee and Cormac McCarthy and this gripping story set in the fiery environment of an election season, with tensions stoked by an unrelenting heatwave, is a dazzling read. There is a feature including a review and author interview coming on BookBlast today – which I will share with you next week and Ian is recording a Literary Postcard for BBC’s Open Book programme which will be aired around publication date on 17 May. Ian will be in the UK to promote his novel between 1– 10 May and if any bookshops would like to host a reading or other event, please do email Andrew Latimer for more information.

We’re so pleased to announce that Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (978 1846592058, £8.99, pb) translated by Ümit Hussein and published by Telegram Books has won the EBRD Literature Prize 2018. The €20,000 award will be split between the author and the translator. Rosie Goldsmith, chair of the judging panel called it “a life-affirming novel of profound humanity and exquisite writing. Yes, it’s set in a prison cell, yes it’s set in Turkey, but at no point does it condemn or take a position, it’s our story too. The author and translator have created a prize-winning novel of great passion and poetry”. Congratulations Burhan, Ümit and all at Telegram!

An interesting feature in the Guardian here this week, about the mass exodus expected from the teaching profession this year. As the deadline looms for staff to hand in their notice before the next school year; around 80% of classroom teachers are seriously considering leaving the profession because of their workload. If they are wondering what to do next, then the title they must read is What Else Can a Teacher Do? Review Your Career, Reduce Stress and Gain Control of your Life (pb, £12.99, 978 1785830150) by David Hodgson which came out last November from Crown House. This practical handbook surveys and suggests a diverse range of alternative career options suited to teachers’ transferable skill sets. David combines expert guidance with a carefully compiled list of over one hundred job profiles in order to help teachers find clarity on their career path and presents numerous case studies of education professionals who have already successfully done so. This is a highly topical subject – and this book is essential reading for teachers who are stuck in a rut and want to explore other options.

There have been some excellent reviews for Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies: 500 AD to the Present by Simon Young and Ceri Houlbrook (hb, 978 1783341016, £16.99). The Mail on Sunday called it “enchanting” and the Sunday Telegraph “engaging and authoritative… British fairies, it turns out, are classic eccentrics.” The Literary Review praised its “detail on local mythology… sparkling” and the Glasgow Herald said it gave “a big insight into the lives of little people… provocative.” Fortean Magazine called it “Perfect… vital and exciting.” British and Irish fairies have been around since 500 AD but ever since the Cottingley Fairy Hoax of 1917 they have been in decline. However, thanks in part to our enthusiasm for The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, British fairies are regaining their old lustre. The digitalisation of local parish records has unlocked a hoard of folklore and fairy citings not previously available, and acclaimed historian Simon Young has gathered together all the latest learning on this fascinating topic in this highly informative illustrated hardback – published by Gibson Square.

Good to see South Atlantic Requiem (£14.99, hb, 978 1911350316) by Edward Wilson at number three in London’s Bestsellers list in the Standard this week. This stunning new spy thriller brilliantly evokes the intricate world of high-stakes espionage – the Tribune said the Catesby novels were “on a par with John Le Carre – it’s that good.” In this new title, set in 1982 both the UK Prime Minister and the Argentine President are both clinging to power. From Patagonia to Paris, from Chevening to the White House, Catesby plays a deadly game of diplomatic cat and mouse determined to avert the loss of life. The clock is ticking as diplomats and statesmen race for a last-minute settlement while the weapons of war are primed and aimed. Published by Arcadia.

Fab to see outstanding Carcanet poet Mary O’Malley named as joint winner of the €4,000 Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2018, (together with Macdara Woods) which is awarded annually in Co Limerick. The judges in their citation described Mary O’Malley’s Playing the Octopus (978 1784102807, £9.99, pb) as “a beautiful collection of rare gems that sparkle and seduce. Through the finely wrought, delicately woven poems, Mary has created a world that sustains us, that we recognise and can inhabit. This is a collection that balances beauty and harmony, the poems are restrained but deeply felt, the voice assured, meaning is revealed slowly like an uncovering of essence, something essential and elemental. There is a playfulness and joy in language that at times produces a magical quality: light bounces and refracts; musical intonations interweave with the lyric voice. What is achieved is a virtuoso performance.”

A great piece here on the Arts Council North's latest blog on how the North has become a dynamo of independent publishing, with lots to read about the success of our fab friends at Comma, And Other Stories and the Northern Fiction Alliance. It says: “The Arts Council believes that the North should be a place where artists can live and work without feeling that they need to move elsewhere in the country to gain success. The strength and diversity of the work by talented writers published by Northern organisations is testament to this belief.” We couldn’t agree more!

Would the four Yorkshiremen in 1948 here ever have believed the powerhouse that the North has now become? We doubt it!

Hurrah! Stuart Cosgrove has won the Penderyn Music Prize with Memphis 1968: The Tragedy of Southern Soul which is published by Polygon. You can find out all about it here. Lots of great publicity for this one – so do make sure you have plenty of copies on display - all remaining stock will be stickered with the prize – and if you’d like some stickers to use on the stock you already have, then please email! It’s headline news in the Bookseller and there was also coverage in the Guardian and The Times here. As Clash Magazine said; this is “a heartbreaking but essential read – and remarkably timely.”

Here’s a good idea – a Virginia judge handed down an unusual sentence recently after five teenage vandals defaced a historic black schoolhouse with swastikas and the words “white power” and “black power.” Instead of spending time in community service, Judge Avelina Jacob decided that the youths should read a book. But not just any book. They had to choose from a list covering some of history’s most divisive and tragic periods. You can read more about what one of them learned from the experience here in the New York Times.

A very interesting interview in last weekend’s Observer here with Patrick McCabe, author of the newly released Heartland (978 1848406605, pb, £12.99) which is published by New Island. As referendum day on abortion nears (25th May), Patrick says that the Dublin media liberals could pay for snobbery towards rural Ireland. McCabe, twice nominated for the Booker prize, said parts of the Dublin media should never ignore the importance of the mid-west and western parts of Ireland where Heartland –  a dark tale of murder and mayhem largely set in an Irish mid-west bar – is set. Scotland on Sunday said of Patrick “McCabe can make you howl at the darkest antics ... He never sets a foot - or syllable - wrong.”

Biteback author Vladimir Yakunin was part of a heated debate, involving his new book The Treacherous Path: An Insider’s Account of Modern Russia (hb, £20, 978 1785903014) on Newsnight this week. You can see the full interview here. He’s also been on BBC World Service, Newshour. Following a piece in the Sunday Times, further reviews are expected in the Times and Observer. The Treacherous Path is Yakunin's account of his own experiences on the front line of Russia's implosion and eventual resurgence, and of a career – as an intelligence officer, a government minister and for ten years the CEO of Russia's largest company – that has taken him from the furthest corners of this incomprehensibly vast and complex nation to the Kremlin's corridors. Tackling topics as diverse as terrorism, government intrigue and the reality of doing business in Russia, and offering unparalleled insights into the post-Soviet mindset, this is the first time that a figure with Yakunin's background has talked so openly and frankly about his country.

Mental health is such a hot topic at present, and Amy Molloy’s book The World is a Nice Place: How to Overcome Adversity, Joyfully which has just been published by Hay House is getting some terrific publicity. She has written a big piece for the Observer magazine entitled I Never Took My Mental Health for Granted – Now I’m Reaping the Rewards which you can read here and also an article for the Stylist – which has a circulation of 400,000 readers.

Author Claudio Macor is at Waterstone’s Blackheath on 23 April, reading and answering questions about two of his plays – from which there will also be performances of some of the scenes – this sounds like a really terrific event! The Tailor-Made Man (pb, £9.99, 978 1786823120) is the incredible story of the openly gay and hugely popular silent screen movie star William 'Billy' Haines, whose refusal to give up his lifelong partner Jimmie Shields saw MGM studio attempt to remove his work completely from movie history. Savage (£10.99, pb, 978 1783197798) uncovers the powerful true story of Nazi Dr Carl Vaernet's experimental cures for homosexuality in the 1940's. The plays are both published by Oberon.

There is a brilliant 2-minute piece about Billy Haines on the LGBT Snapshots series here and you can see him in action in 1928’s Show People here.  

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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