Friday 8 March 2019

Compass Points 296

“Translation, like feminism, is a form of activism, its very etymology a movement.” It’s International Women’s Day today of course, and  there’s a great blog here on women in translation with a special mention for And Other Stories and also Sudanese author Rania Mamoun whose debut short story collection Thirteen Months of Sunrise (978 1910974391, pb £9.99) Comma publish in May. "English-language publishers ...who actively seek out women in translation are doing something revolutionary" it says, and naturally we agree!

I’m very excited to let you know that a title from one of our newer publishers, Fairlight has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019. You can see the full longlist here in Vogue. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn (£7.99, pb, 978 1912054305) is published in the Fairlight Moderns series which showcases short new fiction from around the world, and it’s the only small press book on the list, which is certainly one very good reason to support it! Another reason is that it’s a cracking read! Set in 1970s communist Romania, this novella-in-flash draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles that can't be put down. “A story to savour, to smile at, to rage against and to weep over” said Zoe Gilbert, while Dolly Alderton called it “enjoyable.” The book has also been longlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019 and The People's Book Prize 2018, so it seems like a bit of a buzz is growing for Sophie van Llewyn – this is her debut novel. She was born in Romania, and now lives in Germany. If any bookshop would like some Fairlight Modern posters (which include Bottled Goods) then please get in touch with

Widdershins by Helen Steadman was a bestselling title for Impress, and there will be plenty of fans waiting for its sequel Sunwise (978 1911293255, pb, £8.99) which is out on 1 April. The witch-finder is still at large and he will stop at nothing in his quest to rid England of the scourge of witchcraft. Inspired by true events, Sunwise tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world. There is an extensive blog tour planned for this title at the end of this month, including @thebooktrail, @pageturnersnook, @LisaReadsBooks, @TheQuietKnitter, @jaffareadstoo, @paperbackpiano, @thebookmagnet, @Beadyjan, @ShortBookScribe, @Cathy_A_J, @LoveBooksGroup, @Cat_book_tea and @Susana_Aikin. Widdershins was very well reviewed indeed with many readers comparing its atmospheric and dynamic writing to Hannah Kent's Burial Rites.

A new take on this subject is provided in Witchery (978 1788172042, £12.99, pb) by Juliet Diaz which has just been published by Hay House. In this book, third-generation Witch Juliet Diaz guides you on a journey to connect with the Magick within you.  Filled with inspiration, and love, Witchery is your guide and companion on a wickedly delicious journey to true self-empowerment. An interview with Juliet was in this month’s Soul & Spirit magazine. I think this book would look great displayed with Sunwise and Widdershins!

Top Ten Movie Witches anyone?

Many people in the UK are caring for someone one with dementia and don’t know where to begin Pink Slippers: Mum, Dementia and Me, a Story of Hope (£9.99, pb, 978 1788600880) has the answers. Jane Hardy writes frankly about the experiences she and her mum have shared over the past four years since Beth was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s with a score of 16 at the age of 90. Four years later, she has a score of 20+, is stronger and healthier, has a positive outlook on life and her GP cannot believe her improvement! This book contains real life strategies, gadgets and ideas to help avoid the same mistakes that Jane initially made and slow down this terrible illness. It’s out from Practical Inspiration in June, and there will be reviews in Red, Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home and Yours. There will also be advertising and promotion via dementia cafes, The Magnolia Club, Time 4 Carers Group, the Alzheimer’s Society, Carers UK and Dementia Forum. If you’d like to read a proof, then please email

Booksellers are lovely people – but you already knew that right? If you needed any proof, then this heart-warming story from the US is for you! When Seth Marko, the owner of The Book Catapult required immediate open-heart surgery, the booksellers who all worked at competing bookstores in the San Diego area all decided to pitch in and work there instead to stop Seth’s shop from closing.  Once I started to tell our book-selling friends what was going on, I had an entire roster” said one of them. “The book world is a little bit different. It’s the community coming together.” Ahhh!

You will probably enjoy this amusing clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, where among other things he discusses automation and AI. Interestingly, Kogan Page have just announced that they will be publishing a book on AI – nothing interesting whatsoever about that I hear you cry – but get this, the book itself is actually written with the help of artificial intelligence! Yikes – it sounds like I could shortly be out of a job! Superhuman Innovation: Transforming Business with Artificial Intelligence  (£14.99, pb, 978 0749483838 ) by Chris Duffey came out in paperback on 3rd March, and you can read more about it in the Bookseller here.  

Brexit Day (29 March) is approaching fast and that’s also the publication date for Zero Hours on the Boulevard: Tales of Independence and Belonging (pb, £9.99, 978 1912109128) which is a short story anthology written in response to this extrordinary moment. A collaborative project between Welsh publisher Parthian and Literature Across Frontiers, the work brings together fifteen short stories from authors all over the world. The mission is to perpetuate literary conversation among Britain and Europe and to reflect in earnest on the ramifications of Brexit. Zero Hours on the Boulevard features specially commissioned stories from award-winning writers such as Alys Conran, Clare Azzopardi, Albert Forns and Llŷr Gwyn Lewis. The many topics touched upon include immigration, political unrest, costs of living, cultural pasts and personal relationships. As Patrick McGuinness writes, this is “a book of many voices – angry, hopeful, confused and weary –  about our uncertain times. What all these tales have in common is a belief in the individual’s story, and in the power of smaller countries to give new perspectives on the world we think we know.” The anthology will be launched during the London Book Fair next week, and there is also a book tour going to The Grove in London W6 0NQ on 13th March 7:30 – 9:00, Roath Park Pub in Cardiff CF24 3JE on 14th March 7:30 – 9:00, The Morlan Centre in Aberystwyth SY23 2HH on 15th March 6:30 – 8:00 and Bangor University LL57 2DG on 18th March 6:30 – 8:00.

Staying with Brexit, Richard Simmons, one of the authors of Tales of Brexits Past and Present (£12.99, pb, 978 1787694385) was on the Emma Barnett Show on Radio 5 Live on Tuesday. You can listen to that here. By looking to the past, this book offers insights into what we might expect in the future, providing an engaging narrative that will open the minds of readers to the options, risks and opportunities that could be unmasked. Tales of Brexits Past and Present is published by Emerald.

Simon Elliott, author of Roman Legionnaires and the upcoming Julius Caesar: Rome's Greatest Warlord which is published in June by Casemate in their Short Histories series; is due to appear in a new show created by the team at Dan Snow’s History Hit. The show, titled The Big Questions: Caesar, has been filmed, and with release date will be announced soon! An article on the book written by Simon for History Hit, is available here. Julius Caesar has been the inspiration to countless military commanders over the last two millennia and this concise history details his military life, and how it impacted with his political career, from his youth through the civil wars that resulted in his becoming the dictator of Rome, and his legacy.

Oh alright, go one then, you know you want to; here are nine minutes of the best moments from Gladiator!

There was a great review for The D-Day Training Pocket Manual 1944 (pb, £8.99, 978 1612007335) in Britain at War. “Assembled by Chris McNab, this book combines excerpts from various Allied training manuals, including instructions to troops participating in amphibious landings, glider, and paratroop assaults. The result is a remarkable glimpse of how the Allies geared up for the largest amphibious invasion ever seen … a fascinating window on the preparations made ahead of D-Day.”

Simon Fishel’s Breakthrough Babies (£14.99, 978 1788600736, pb) has much publicity coming up with an exclusive large interview and photos in the Daily Telegraph and an extract in the Daily Mail and the Mail Online both tomorrow, plus an interview with Simon on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Then there’s a large interview in the Sunday Mirror on Sunday and an interview in the Jewish Telegraph on 15th March, live spots on BBC Radio Newcastle, Cambridge, Nottingham and Leeds over the coming week and a TV slot on the Ireland AM Breakfast Show.

And finally, a new study has revealed that the Mr Men books are only slightly easier to read than John Steinbeck! Read more on this story on the BBC here – 33,000 books for children and young people were analysed in total, with every page examined for sentence length, average word length and word difficulty level. Well, we always knew there was more to children’s books than meets the eye – and on that note, who knew that Beyoncé was such a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine? Enjoy!

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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