Friday 16 November 2018

Compass Points 283

In amongst the Brexit bollocks there’s plenty of serious news – including a lot of talk of poverty. This piece in the Guardian and this on the BBC News make sobering reading. Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience by Paul Sng (£20, pb, 978-1447344117) reveals untold stories from people who have been left out of the media narrative and left behind by government policy. Featuring new work from award-winning and accomplished documentary photographers the book presents people speaking in their own words to create a narrative that illustrates how an unprecedented world of austerity, deindustrialisation and social upheaval is affecting us all. With a foreword by actor and activist Michael Sheen, this is an incredibly moving and important book. Aditya Chakrabortty writing in the Guardian said: "This is Britain in the decade of cuts – but these aren't portraits of despair. They're stories of defiance, of fight and of faith that a better country awaits us all. These are your friends, neighbours, family – and they've got stuff to tell you." It’s just been published by Policy Press.

Boyd Clack is a Welsh actor and writer – you may know him from his work on High Hopes, the classic cult Welsh sitcom written by him and Kirsten Jones. If you don’t, give it a go – lots of episodes are on the iPlayer here . Now he has written a book; Head in the Clouds: Memories and Reflections based on years of observing the common beauty found in people, animals and trees; it’s something of a work set to defy genres. One hundred blog posts blend prose with poetry to share tales from the stage and screen and Boyd’s thoughts on growing up in the Welsh valleys. High-profile Welsh actors, directors and playwrights are queuing up to say nice things about it – so this could be a bit of a winner I feel! Rhys Ifans said “Boyd is a brilliant actor and writer, truly unique, a genius by any definition of the word. Head In The Clouds is a work of profundity and sparkling wit. You’d be crazy not to buy it” while Rob Brydon said “I love Boyd’s unique take on life. A wonderful, thoughtful and rewarding read” and film director Kevin Allen wrote “Whilst most commentators of Wales and the wider world about them keep their heads firmly lodged up their asses these days, Boyd effortlessly manages to buck the trend. This book is a must read.” It’s out from Parthian on 5 December.

Ooh we publishing types love an obscure word – and even more when it comes from an even more obscure literary novel! Have a look here at these fifteen words that came from classic literature and see if you a) know what they mean and b) have read the books they came from!

Deborah Binner suffered the unimaginable pain of losing her precious daughter Chloe to bone cancer when she was just eighteen years old. Still blinded by grief, just eighteen months later, she then received the devastating blow that her beloved husband Simon had motor neurone disease. Simon refused to allow the disease to take him and instead opted for an assisted suicide in a Swiss clinic, leaving Deborah bereaved once more. Many people would have sunk into despair but Deborah who had another daughter and two grandchildren to think of, knew she couldn't afford to succumb to her heartbreak and instead set about carving an altered future for herself and small family. In Yet Here I Am she talks candidly of the crippling pain she suffered and how she learned to live with such cruel loss and find a form of happiness once more. The Mail ran an extract of this heart-rending story last week which you can read here which was picked up by other tabloids such as the Mirror here and Deborah was on Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC2 show talking about the book this morning. Yet Here I Am has just been published by Splendid Books.

Some excellent reviews for The Remainder (978 1911508328, £10, pb) by Alia Trabucco Zerán, translated by Sophie Hughes, which was published last month by And Other Stories. The Spectator called it a “darkly comic road trip” in which “her spring-heeled prose moves lightly from lyrical to demotic, bawdy to elegiac” while the TLS said it was “intelligent, immersive and elegiac” The Irish Times wrote: “In a notable translation by Sophie Hughes, Zerán’s lyricism and eye for detail shine on the page ...There is plenty to commend in the book’s intentions, and in its elegiac ambitions” while The Big Issue called it a novel which “tells us ... everything about what it is like to grow up in the shadow of other people’s unhappiness.”

If there’s one thing we can all relate to in these frazzled times, it’s the concept of less rather than more. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders (pb, 978 1781808597, £11.99) is out in paperback from Hay House in January and Cait is writing a multi-page feature for Marie Claire’s January issue. Cait will also be interviewed on In the Moment podcast, there will be an interview with Cait in February’s Yoga magazine and Psychologies will also mention it in one of their early 2019 issues. The Year of Less documents Cait's life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries and petrol for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things. She got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt. The Year of Less will leave readers questioning what they’re holding onto and, quite possibly, lead them find their own path of less.

If a review begins with the sentence “Right, straight off the bat – this collection is insanely f***ing good!” followed by “this collection is so good that it has quite literally jumped into my top books I’ve ever read!” then you definitely want to buy it right? This quote comes from a review in Storgy magazine of the Comma anthology The New Uncanny: Tales of Unease (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583188); you can read the full review here here.

Legend Press are delighted to announce an exciting two-book deal with Australian journalist and author Holly Wainwright. The Mummy Bloggers will be published on 3rd June 2019, followed by How to Be Perfect in November 2019. The Mummy Bloggers offers a sharp and funny look into the brave new world of mummy blogging, the power of social media and the women behind the likes, shares and filters. Wainwright shines a mirror on the lives we create for ourselves – and the vortex of lies we can fall into when living life through the filter of social media. Holly Wainwright (who originally hailed from Manchester) has been described as “the freshest, funniest new voice in fiction since Liane Moriarty” so this is definitely something to look forward to!

Many congratulations to the one and only Vivian Archer from the Newham Bookshop, who won the Outstanding Contribution to Bookselling award at the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards this week. Described as “total legend, absolute hero, rock-solid human,” she was a popular and a well-deserving winner!

Critics, booksellers, newspaper editors and all esteemed workers in the literary field, do let know if you’d like to have a proof/galley copy of Lina Wolff's The Polyglot Lovers (£9.99, 978 1911508441, pb, translated by Saskia Vogel) which is published next May by And Other Stories! Irreverent and smart, not least on #metoo issues this is a brilliant read! You can find out more and read an excerpt on the And Other Stories website here. Both of Lina’s two novels (this one and Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs) have both been awarded PEN Translates Awards in recognition of their importance and the excellence of the translations.

Bad Lies (978 1684016020, hb, £23.00) by high-profile golfer Tony Jacklin is, as the strap line says: a story of lies, slander and professional golf. Its hero is Eddie Bennison, a successful pro golfer whose world is shattered when, at the peak of his success, the golf world’s most popular magazine runs articles that claim Eddie is cheating and doping to get ahead. Weaving in and out of the courtroom, across the offices of the lawyers, the litigants, the sponsors, and through well-known golf courses, Bad Lies is a gripping and entertaining novel which would make a good Christmas gift for any golfer. Jack Nicklaus said of it "I have always said that you can learn more about a person in four hours on a golf course than you can in a day of meetings. Golf exposes how one handles adversity and success and provides a glimpse into someone’s personality and integrity. Simply put, the game of golf often unveils the truth about someone. The same could be said for a courtroom, and much like a golf tournament, there are highs and lows in every legal battle. My long-time friend, Tony Jacklin, and author, Shelby Yastrow, understand these similarities and have managed to wonderfully weave them into a fascinating, fictional page-turner." It’s published by Gazelle.

Fiction and the fairway are a popular mix of course – perhaps most famously here in Goldfinger – and I think you will also enjoy these top ten funny golf scenes from the movies!

There have been some super reviews from the bloggers for The Truth Waits by Susanna Beard (£8.99, pb, 978 1787198012) which is out this month from Legend. Book in the Bag said “Beard does not disappoint in this fast-paced thriller. Be warned, if you are looking for a book that you will be able to put down to go to bed at night, this is not the book for you”, Robin Loves Reading called it “compelling” while Great Leaves and Tea Leaves said “I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and thrillers or even if you don’t! There’s a bit of everything in here, suspense, relationships, love, money, greed, power, tragedy and corruption.”

Congratulations to Mary O'Malley who has been awarded the 2018-19 Trinity College Dublin Writer Fellowship. Mary’s latest book (and eight collection) from Carcanet is the wonderful Playing the Octopus (pb, £9.99, 978 1784102807) which is a body of writing buoyed by the redemptive power and sustaining joy of music.

Professor Simon Fishel worked with Robert Edwards during his pioneering early IVF research and was part of the team in the world’s first IVF clinic, with all the trials and tribulations that involved at the time, including a writ for murder! As the science developed over the decades so did his career, and the clinic he founded has grown into the largest IVF group in the UK. His book Breakthrough Babies (pb, £14.99, 978 1788600736) which is out from Practical Inspiration in March is a riveting account from the frontline of fertility treatment, giving a unique insight into not only the medical and scientific advances involved but the human cost and rewards behind this life-changing technology. The national media are very interested in this one as it covers three popular areas of interest: infertility, medical science, and parenting. There will be features in Science, Nature, The Guardian, British Medical Journal and Science News – and probably lots more.

Well done to And Other Stories who won Small Business of the Year in the Northern Soul Awards last night, were the Specially Commended in the Publisher category (which Dead Ink won), and were named in their Great Northerners list too! Hurrah! 

During his campaign for President in 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders stated over and over again that the future of the US was dependent upon its willingness to start a political revolution. Real change never occurs from the top down it always happens from the bottom up. That's what he said when he ran for President, and that's what he believes now. Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance by Bernie Sanders (hb, £20, 978 1785904677) is an important new book in which America's most popular political figure speaks about what he's been doing to oppose the Trump agenda and strengthen the progressive movement, how America can go forward as a nation and the impact that can have on the global stage. It’s published by Biteback on 27th November and the Sunday Times, Guardian and Observer will be reviewing it shortly. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders will be interviewed (from the US) on Newsnight and by Robert Peston on Peston.

Let’s finish with some music – what do we all think of the 2018 John Lewis ad? It’s certainly a very good opportunity to remind you about Captain Fantastic: Elton John's Stellar Trip Through the '70s by Tom Doyle (978 1846973741, £16.99, hb) published by Birlinn, which I think could do rather well on the back of this year’s tribute to the great man and his mum!

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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