Friday 22 March 2019

Compass Points 298

The full shortlists for the British Book Awards (aka the Nibbies) are out this week, and congratulations to Wild Things who are up for Independent Publisher of the Year and Emerald, Kogan Page and Historic Environment Scotland who are shortlisted in the Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher category. Three cheers too for Carcanet’s wonderful Michael Schmidt who is up for Editor of the Year! And of course, congrats to the many of you wonderful booksellers shortlisted for Retailer of the Year, Individual Bookseller of the Year, Children’s Bookseller of the Year and Independent Bookseller of the Year. Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh had an especially good showing – they are on THREE shortlists; being Scotland’s regional winner for Independent Bookshop of the Year, shortlisted for Children's Bookseller and Assistant Manager Jonathan is on the shortlist for Individual Bookseller!! The awards culminate in a gala ceremony presented by Lauren Laverne at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 13th May. Good luck everyone!

Some terrific endorsements for The People's Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party (£25, hb, 978 1785903861) by Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw which is published by Biteback on 23rd April and argues that Labour's Britishness and its ambiguous relationship with issues of national identity matter more today than ever before.
“This book is brimming with insights about one of the Brexit era’s most overlooked aspects: the Labour Party’s close ties to increasingly outmoded ideas about Britain. It’s a timely and urgent read – because if it wants to define the post-Brexit future of the four countries of the UK, the wider left is going to have to deal with this stuff.” John Harris, Guardian columnist and UK Political Correspondent of the Year “What George Orwell feared has come to pass. Britain is no longer held together through exploiting its enormous former empire. The Union Jack, the flag of a marauding navy, is now tattered. Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw deftly upturn the stone of what Britishness is, to see what lies beneath from the point of view of the Labour Party and labour movement. There has never before been a serious study of the relationship between Labour and Britain; The People’s Flag and the Union Jack is both intriguing and timely.” Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, Oxford University
“This book is long overdue and highly relevant to the current crisis of nationalisms in the UK. Hassan and Shaw bring clear sight and a wealth of knowledge to a neglected subject. We badly need history like this if we are to plot our futures as nations.” Madeleine Bunting, author, writer and commentator
“Few writers are better placed than Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw to anatomise not only the strange death of Labour Scotland but also the fragmentation of the United Kingdom. This fascinating book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the forces transforming our politics in this age of upheaval.”
Jason Cowley, editor-in-chief, New Statesman

A big piece in the Daily Mail on Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith (978 1788173438, £14.99, pb) which is a heart-wrenching memoir taken from the diaries of a remarkable young woman who was determined to live a meaningful and happy life despite her struggle with cystic fibrosis and a rare superbug , dying at twenty-five. An interview with Mallory’s mother was also featured on the CF Trust website and there was a feature and extract on BuzzFeed which you can read here.  It’s just been published by Hay House.

“A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father…” So begins Ann Quin’s madcap frolic with sinister undertones, a debut “so staggeringly superior to most you’ll never forget it” (the Guardian), and I LOVE this terrific window display at City Books in Hove for Berg (£10, pb, 978 1911508540) which has just been published by And Other Stories. Anarchic, heady, dark, this is Quin’s masterpiece, a classic of post-war avant-garde British writing, and now finally back in print after much demand. You can read an extract from this caustic, thrilling and unforgettable novel here.  

Some nice reviews are coming in for The Book of Tehran (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974247), which Comma publish next week. “Tehran, as seen through these stories, is a city of eccentricities and a population who like observing the lives of others... Personally this is the first time I have been presented with a balanced view of this multi-faceted city” says The Bobsphere, you can read that here. The Book Spine also praised it saying “the Tehran tales were rich and textured, impactive and real... there is a tension to many of the stories, most provide an insight into everyday life in Tehran which defy stereotypes.” That’s here.

There is a big feature with lots of images from the book in this month’s All about History magazine for Ancient Peoples in Their Own Words (hb, £19.99, 978 1782747079). This highly illustrated and illuminating volume includes citations from classical Greece, Rome, Persia, Minoan, and the Mycenean dynasties, as well as biblical texts and a few mysterious, undeciphered examples. It provides an exciting, highly informative, and innovative look into the classical world and its published by Amber.

Flicking through this lovely Amber title it makes you wonder how our generation will look when viewed several millennia later. Of course, it’s going to be much harder to know whether the images we leave behind are real at all, thanks to the wizardry of photoshop! I found this very amusing; photoshop requests taken literally!

An interesting piece here in the TLS on the pleasures and pains of formal correspondence, and investigating why an email is not the same as a letter, which has lots of references to What a Hazard a Letter Is (£14.99, hb, 978-0993291173) which was published last year by Safe Haven, and the Sunday Times called “curious, astute and entertaining”.

Some lovely reviews for Cool Places (£18.99, pb, 978 1906889692), the new lavish full-colour guide to the 200 very best places to stay in the UK. There was a big spread in the Times last month here, and in the Standard a couple of weeks ago, that’s here. Coming up, we're hoping for a long-promised piece in the Observer next month, and also Marie Claire magazine and Country Living online. Watch this space!

There has been lots of publicity for 61 Minutes in Munich: The Story of Liverpool FC’s First Black Footballer (£16.99, hb, 978 1909245396) focussing on the recent Bayern Munich v Liverpool clash and the memories it brought for Howard Gayle of the famous Bayern/Liverpool match in 1981.“People say I should have just kept my mouth shut at Liverpool and played along. That was never my way. I’m proud of the colour of my skin and my culture and my origins. I would do it all again” he said to Oliver Kay who called it “an amazing story” for the Times and Sunday Times, that’s here.  Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror also previewed the Bayern Munich v Liverpool game, calling the book “a very good read.” Part social-history, part-autobiography, 61 Minutes in Munich is an exposition of life in the city of Liverpool during one of the most turbulent periods in its history. Howard Gayle details life on the streets, the racism and other forms of abuse, of which he has only told a handful of people before; and his ascent from teenage football hooligan to a player with Europe's leading club, a place where only the strongest survived.

A terrific review for Neil Price’s much awaited The Viking Way, (978 1842172605, hb, £30) in the Fortean Times saying “Now, after 17 years, Oxbow is releasing a new edition at a price that makes it a must-have for any student of religion and magic in the early Middle Ages. The new edition of The Viking Way is essential for anyone interested in the religion and magic of the Viking world. Five stars.” Magic, sorcery and witchcraft are among the most common themes of the great medieval Icelandic sagas and poems, and this fascinating book examines the evidence for Old Norse sorcery, looking at its meaning and function and the complicated constructions of gender and sexual identity with which these were underpinned. Combining archaeology, history and literary scholarship with extensive studies of Germanic and circumpolar religion, this multi-award-winning book shows us the Vikings as we have never seen them before. The Viking Way is out on 31st March.

A super review for Venus as a Bear (£9.99, pb, 978-1784105549 )in the TLS this week, saying “industrious and prolific, Vahni Capildeo is a writer of apparently effortless variety in form and content...She belongs to no tribe or school or movement This may make her a "poet's poet", one for the cognoscenti; and yet, as Venus as a Bear demonstrates, she deserves the widest audience possible.” Venus as a Bear collects poems on animals, art, language, the sea, thinghood, metaphor, description, and dance. We have feelings for creatures, objects and places, but where do these affinities come from? How do things, as things, affect us, remain mysterious while making themselves known? It was shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize and was The Poetry Book Society Summer 2018 Choice.

Rupert Wieloch appeared on Sky News during the Total Politics show to discuss his new book, Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners (978 1612007533, £20, hb). He discusses how the act of intervention by the Allies during the Russian Civil War resulted in a hundred years of bad blood between the country and the west. The Daily Echo, a leading Hampshire newspaper, has written an article about it ahead of Rupert’s scheduled launch event in Winchester on April 5th. You can find that here. Soldier Magazine called it “a very informative account of a lesser-known conflict.” The events described in this book are not only a stirring tale of courage and adventure but also only lift the lid on an episode that did much to sow distrust and precipitate events in World War Two and today, and there is likely to be more publicity to come.

A great  review of Mike Sergeant’s PR for Humans (£15.99, pb, 978 1788600552) here on Curzon PR. There’s also a feature in PR Moment here, an opinion piece for Cision on why the PR industry needs to keep it human to survive here and an article from Design Business Association here . PR for Humans is for pure-of-heart storytellers who want to cut through the noise and the nonsense. It brings together the essential and timeless principles of effective leadership communication and the principles and techniques Mike sets out in this book will help the reader deliver more powerful speeches, presentations, media interviews, videos, podcasts and blogs. It’s just out from Practical Inspiration.

Always good to end with some humour – so here are twenty-seven jokes that are NOT rude, but ARE funny! That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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