Friday 9 August 2019

Compass Points 316

The first three books have been announced in the Guardian’s annual Not the Booker Prize shortlist. They are The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas and Please Read This Leaflet Carefully both of which are published by Dead Ink Books and also Skin (£8.99, pb, 978 1789550405) by Liam Brown which, hurrah, is published by the fabulous Legend! The next stage is to lengthen their shortlist to six books by announcing the final three choices: one from last year’s judges and one from each of the two nominated book champions for this year who are Storyhouse Library in Chester and Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh; those choices will be announced next week. You can see all the details on the award here.  Reviewers have already heaped praise on Skin calling it a “lyrical dystopian fever dream” and saying “If Brave New World and 1984 were combined and whisked into this century, they couldn't be more impressive than Liam Brown's superb story.” A strange virus is sweeping the globe and humans have become allergic to one another. Simply standing next to somebody could be a death sentence. A kiss could be fatal.  People are confined to their rooms, communicating via their computers and phones. In some ways, very little has changed…

Where do you stand on the Elgin Marbles? Well, if you think of them as the “Elgin” Marbles at all, then that’s maybe not a good start. The biggest question in the world of art and culture concerns the return of property taken without consent. Throughout history, conquerors or colonial masters have taken artefacts from subjugated peoples, who now want them returned. A new book by the celebrated lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, Who Owns History? (£20, hb, 978 1785905216) offers a system for the return of cultural property based on human rights law principles. It’s out from Biteback in November, and we’ve just had a great endorsement from Stephen Fry who called it “A book that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Parthenon Marbles belong back in Athens. Elgin’s heist prevents the modern world appreciating this ancient wonder – created by the same people who gave us democracy, philosophy and (best of all) comedy. Other cultural crimes must also be redressed, and in this important book Geoffrey Robertson shows why, and how.” This title is going to attract a huge amount of debate and I think many people will be very interesting in reading Robertson’s arguments.

It's the summer hols, it’s time for some light romance, and The Purrfect Pet Sitter (£7.99, pb, 978 1912550111) by Carol Thomas is ideal! As readers have pointed out, this engaging and witty tale is the purrfect read whether you’re cooped up in a caravan or lounging on a lilo! There’s been a lot of publicity for its author Carol Thomas who was interviewed on BBC Radio Sussex this week, featured on Female First and there’s more to come. If you’d like a reading copy of this story of friendship, love and dogs which was published this week by Choc Lit, then please email your name and bookshop address to with Purrrrrrfect in the subject line!

And staying on the canine theme, Pets by Royal Appointment: The Royal Family and Their Animals (pb, £9.99, 978 1785905100), which is new from Biteback has just had a feature in The Lady. With intimate anecdotes and fascinating detail, royal author Brian Hoey describes the mini palaces provided for the Queen's pampered corgis, Princess Anne's badly-behaved bull terriers and the wild animals including crocodiles, hippos and an elephant presented to princes and princesses. Exploring a seemingly eternal regal passion for all things canine and equine, Hoey also turns his attentions to the modern royal family's love of animals, celebrating the latest arrivals to both William's and Harry's new households. From the corgi dynasty to the Jack Russells rescued from Battersea Dogs Home, Pets By Royal Appointment presents a very British family besotted with all creatures great and small.

What a brilliant line up for the Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 on 25 September including events with two Comma authors. Nayrouz Qarmout’s The Sea Cloak (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583782) is a collection of fourteen stories by this author, journalist, and women’s rights campaigner. Drawing from her own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp, as well as her current life in Gaza, these stories stitch together a patchwork of different perspectives into what it means to be a woman in Palestine today. The stories in Sara Maitland’s collection Moss Witch (pb, £9.99, 978-1905583423) enact a daring kind of alchemy, fusing together raw elements of scientific theory with ancient myth, folkloric archetype and contemporary storytelling. Each of them sprang from a conversation with a scientist and grew directly out of cutting-edge research; the Guardian said of it “she has built bridges that may tempt new minds across to science. How ingenious.” You can find out more about the Cork Festival here.

More great publicity for Safe Haven’s A Field of Tents and Waving Colours: Neville Cardus Writing on Cricket (hb, £14.99, 978 1916045309) with a massive review in Wisden Cricket Monthly. This title has sold out in its first a fortnight of publication and is now reprinting, thanks very much to all of your booksellers who have supported it so far, and if you haven’t ordered it yet, what are you waiting for?! This title ties in perfectly with the major new biography of Cardus, The Great Romantic just published by Hodder and this handsome small hardback should sell and sell.

Lots of publicity and events for Animals Eat Each Other by Elle Nash (£9.99, 978 1912489169) which was published this spring by 404Ink. Picked by the I Paper as one of the best debuts for 2019 and described by as a “edgy, erotic fiction”; Animals Eat Each Other tells the story of a young woman with no name who embarks on a fraught three-way relationship with Matt, a tattoo artist, and his girlfriend Frances, a new mum. As she grows closer to Matt, she begins to recognise the dark undertow of obsession and jealousy that her presence has created. With stripped-down prose and unflinching clarity, Nash examines madness in the wreckage of love, and the loss of self that accompanies it. It just got a great review in DIVA magazine who said that it "explores sexuality, obsession, and hard lessons with an honesty and clarity that does these topics justice." Elle will be in the UK (for the first time since she was born here!) from 19th - 25th August and there are events for her lined up across London and Edinburgh and central Scotland. You can see the details of all those events here.

If you’d like an intelligent, curated snapshot of the week’s most interesting news, then you may like to take a look at Policy Press Weekly, the latest issue is here. Lots to look at from this independent, not-for-profit academic publisher, focusing on social issues.

I am absolutely loving this superb window display for The Therapist, the mesmerising debut novella by Nial Giacomelli (£7.99, pb, 978 1912054909) at Foyles at the Royal Festival Hall in London where it is their Book of the Month for August. In this bittersweet and hauntingly surreal tale, a couple finds the distance between them mirrored in a strange disease sweeping the globe. Little by little, each victim becomes transparent, their heart beating behind a visible rib cage, an intricate network of nerves left hanging in mid-air. Finally, the victims disappear entirely, never to be seen again. This is at once a haunting study of grief, a post-apocalyptic dystopia, and ghost story of sorts. It’s just been published by Fairlight Moderns.

The horrendous shooting in El Paso has everyone looking for answers, and many are looking to Mike Wendling, expert on the Alt Right, to find them. Author of Pluto’s Alt-Right: From 4chan to the White House (£12.99, pb, 978 0745337456), this BBC journalist has been covering the horrible underbelly on forums like 8chan since the beginning, and writing up his finding on the Trending page he edits on the BBC. Mike featured on BBC Radio 4's World at One and Beyond Today this week and has a piece in the Metro coming out next week. Alt-Right: From 4chan to the White House is a vital guide to understanding this white nationalist, anti-feminist, far-right movement. It includes exclusive interviews with members of the movement in order to gain a deeper understanding of the movement's philosophy, history and role in politics today.

I’m looking forward to Bookshop Day on Saturday 5 October, which of course is run by Book Are My Bag, a nationwide campaign run by the BA to celebrate bookshops. It launched in 2013 and today comprises Bookshop Day and the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards. At the centre of the campaign is the iconic BAMB tote bag and since the campaign launched, over a million people have worn a Books Are My Bag to show their love for their local bookshop. Every year over a thousand bookshops around the country take part in Bookshop Day by holding special events, creating bespoke window displays and more. Good luck to everyone planning for this year’s event!

A big three-page feature entitled The 37 Therapies That Healed my Mid-life Crisis in Good Housekeeping for My Life in 37 Therapies (£9.99, pb, 978 1910453773). As one reviewer has said, this is a “disarmingly honest revelation of the author's middle-aged journey through divorce, career and relationship challenges. For sure there’s a lot to learn within the pages and the book is less expensive than therapy.” It’s published by Red Door.

In Comma news, their latest Reading the City title, The Book of Cairo featured in the University of Nevada's End of Summer Reading List, you can see full list here here. And another title from the series, The Book of Tehran, was included in The Book Satchel's #WITmonth list of 14 Books by Women in Translation 2019, that’s here. There have been  some amazing endorsements coming in for The Dressing-Up Box by David Constantine which is out next month, you can see those here. And finally, many congrats to Comma’s  CEO Ra Page who has been once again shortlisted for a hClub Award for his contribution to the publishing industry, those details are here!

And in this week’s Hot Topics – here's Will Smith performing Friend Like Me from the new Aladdin film, here are Love Island Winners Greg and Amber telling us what happens next, and here are eighteen really inspiring quotations from the great Toni Morrison. That’s all 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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