Friday 6 September 2019

Compass Points 318

There’s been lots of superb publicity for Matt Jensen’s stirring autobiography What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been (£18.99, hb, 978 1909715851) You can read the piece in the Sun here and the Mail here. There’s plenty more to come, the Guardian are running extracts, there will be pieces in FourFourTwo and the Times and plenty of digital media and radio interviews with Matt too. He will be making an appearance at Selhurst Park with a book signing in the fans’ zone around Man City game on Sunday 20th Oct at 4.30pm and there’s a Q&A evening at the Ewood Park stadium on Friday September. This is the story of a career destined for the stratosphere, cruelly snatched away by the vagaries of fate. Brilliant, bold, and at times brutal in its honesty, this powerful tale of shattered dreams and a life rebuilt is a testament to an inspiring, unconquered soul. It’s just been published by Polaris and if any bookseller hasn’t ordered it yet and would like a reading copy, the first to email  with What Was in the subject line and their bookshop name and address will win one!

The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think (£25, hb, 978 1789550733) will be serialised in the Mail on 27-29th September which will no doubt kick off plenty more media interest.  This is a never before seen insight into the lives of the family by youngest brother John Hockney, where hardship, successes as well as close and complex relationships are poignantly illustrated by both famous and private pictures and paintings from David Hockney. There will be interviews with John on BBC local radio on Monday 7th October which so far includes BBC Leeds, BBC Northampton, BBC York, BBC Lancashire and BBC Humberside with more to come. There will be features in the Yorkshire Post and events at Salt Mills and the Royal Academy. It is published by Legend on 3 October.

The Kingdom of Sicily, early thirteenth century. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II has, through invasion and marriage, expanded his empire, but always subject to the will of the pope and the rulings of the Church. Into this world of political and military intrigue steps Michael Scot, headstrong and determined, a young monk and barbarian from Scotland who tutored Frederick as a boy. A Matter of Interpretation (978 1912054701, hb, £12.99) by Elisabeth MacDonald is a thrilling, witty, violent and mysterious debut. Elisabeth has been on the Radio Ulster Arts Show, and the books is also about to be reviewed in the Irish Times, with an article written by Elisabeth. There will also be reviews in the Sunday Independent, and the Irish Independent and it will be included in the Sunday Times September historical fiction round up. It’s published by Fairlight.

Hands up all of those who read Circe on their summer holiday and then felt the stirrings of their own inner powers? Witch by Lisa Lister (pb, £10.99, 978 1781807545) is currently a top ten bestseller for Hay House at Waterstones, so I think there’s plenty of us would-be wise women out there. Rebecca Campbell wrote “Lisa Lister is a badass leader of all things feminine. She is here to shine a light on all the shadows of patriarchy that we have all inherited. Witch is a book whose time has come and a response to the feminine that is rising within us all. Rise sister rise.”

How exciting to hear that Comma’s The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb, 978 1905583782) was the best-selling book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival! You can read more about that here. And it was endorsed by Ali Smith who said “All the arts are close to us because they allow us to recontextualise, to understand where we are, what we are, who we are. The Sea Cloak by Nayrouz Qarmout re-contextualises things so we really understand the world from the point of view we always knew was there.”

Back to school for many this week of course, and in amongst the gazillions of Facebook posts of smiling moppets in their shiny shoes, spare a thought for all of those parents and teachers who aren’t finding it quite so easy. Troubled Hearts Troubled Minds (978 1785834103) is for anyone who has struggled to connect with a troubled child. Drawing on over 25 years of experience working with children with challenging behaviour, Peter Nelmes argues that disruptive of destructive children are possibly the least understood and accepted in society and their problems are often met with condemnation rather than understanding and support. Through his insightful explanation of this phenomenon, he delivers key lessons on how we can better connect with both the head and the heart during the teaching and learning process. We have three reading copies available of this excellent title, booksellers should email with their name and bookshop address, and Troubled Hearts in the subject line.

How voters vote, what they think and what leads them to vote one way or another is likely to come under media scrutiny like never before in the coming weeks. Sex, Lies and Politics: The Secret Influences that Drive Our Political Choices (978 1785905063, pb, £9.99) is the only title on the market addressing those very questions and it also happens to be very readable, revealing and funny. Gary Gibbon, political editor of Channel 4 News said “This is the perfect navigation kit for the inevitable general election coming towards us. Buy it, read it and assume the brace position.” It’s just been published by Biteback.

And if you feel you need some light relief from all the Brexit babble then I suggest you watch this  hilarious Commons spoof of the Python What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us sketch!

The newest instalment in Comma’s Reading the City anthology series will be published on 24 October and it’s The Book of Sheffield (£9.99, pb, 9781912697137). The collection of ten stories is edited by Catherine Taylor, who wrote this piece for the Guardian about it last week. Known for both its industrial roots and arboreal abundance, Sheffield has always been a city of two halves. Bringing together fiction from some of the city's most celebrated writers, The Book of Sheffield traces the unique contours that decades of social and economic change can impress on a city.

Peter Kennard: Visual Dissent (pb, £19.99, 978 0745339870) is a fully illustrated anthology showcasing key images from Britain's foremost political artist over the last fifty years. The book centres around Kennard's images, photomontages and illustrations from protests, year by year, which provoked public outrage; including Israel/Palestine protests, anti-nuclear protests, responses to austerity, climate destruction, and more. Jarvis Cocker said “This art is a jolt of electricity. A shot in the arm. A kick up the backside. You know what? It’s a wake-up call.” You can see here a brilliant window for it at Foyles in London. It’s just been published by Pluto and there is an interview in The National here. You can have a look at some of the astonishing art from the book at 

Clive James needs no introduction. He is universally known as a legendary critic, TV presenter, broadcaster, author and, and in the last decade, his reputation as a poet and an intellectual has grown immeasurably. So Brightly at the Last: Clive James and the Passion for Poetry (hb, 978 1913062071, £18.99) by Ian Shircore is published by Red Door on 3 October to coincide with Clive James’ 80th birthday and simultaneously with Clive’s new book on Philip Larkin, Somewhere Becoming Rain (Picador). The major publicity campaign will include both titles. In this offbeat and affectionate poetic biography, Jimi Hendrix, Princess Diana and Syria's Asma Al-Assad rub shoulders with Auden, Eliot and Shelley, and with the Trouser Thief Clive met during ten long weeks locked up in a closed psychiatric ward. Clive James has written more than 40 books and his sales are in the millions. Stuart Maconie said of the book that it was “long overdue. A readable, insightful celebration of Clive James wonderful and humanely rich verse” and Stephen Edgar called it “a compelling portrait of the man through the work. Not to be missed.”

First published in 1989, No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien (pb, £14.99, 978 1848407145) by Anthony Cronin was the first full-length biography of O’Brien and is an undisputed classic of Irish literary biography. Rich in background, anecdote and social history, it is an extraordinary portrait of a writer and his times, perceptive, sympathetic and authoritative. This striking new redesigned edition from New Island, with its foreword by acclaimed author Kevin Barry has just had a big two page spread in the Irish Post.

A Nazi scheme to capture the Pope, an IRA plan to invade Northern Ireland, a British plan to attack the Soviet Union after the defeat of Hitler or a Japanese seizure of the Panama Canal - during World War II these operations and others as seemingly far-fetched were seriously considered by both the Allies and the Axis. World War II Plans That Never Happened (978 1782748809, £14.99, pb) tells the stories of some of the most secret and outrageous operations that were planned during the war, many of which could have taken place and might well have changed the course of history. Arranged chronologically, the book includes copies and transcripts of previously secret documents, rare colour and black-and-white photographs, illustrations and maps. World War II Plans That Never Happened has just been published by Amber and a two-page extract was published in the Express.

At Arsenal, the club where he won the FA Cup three times, Per Mertesacker was affectionately called the Big Friendly German. Standing at 6ft 6in, he was the defender who took fitness so seriously that he invested ten per-cent of his annual salary on personal therapists. His endurance would help him in a decade-long career with the German national team which culminated in him lifting the World Cup in 2014. In his intelligent and thoughtful autobiography, Big Friendly German (hb, £20, 978 1909245938) out from De Coubertin today, Mertesacker details what it really takes to become a success in the game he started playing when he was just four years old. There will be plenty of publicity, Mertesacker is being interviewed by Sky, Radio London, Talksport, the Telegraph, the Express and the World Service as well as all the main footie blogs.

Palestine +100 was reviewed in the Morning Star this week "This rich and varied anthology offers thoughtful insight into the hopes, fears and traumas of people whose suffering has been wilfully ignored by the mainstream media for decades. It's also a timely and entertaining reminder of the potential of SF as a literature that reframes perceptions and challenges assumptions." It was also reviewed by NPR, that’s here and contributor Saleem Haddad was interviewed as part of Open Democracy's review of the Comma collection here. There is major event at the British Library next Friday showcasing the anthology with the editor Basma Ghalayini alongside Selma Dabbagh and Anwar Hamed, two of the contributors.

The BBC National Short Story Award 2019 shortlist is announced tonight from 7:15pm on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, do tune in! The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the anthology (£7.99, pb, 978 1912697229) will available shortly from Comma.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's  the latest on Brexit, here's Princess Charlotte flipping her hair and here's a reminder of England’s sensational performance in the third test as we currently battle it out in the fourth! 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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