Friday 3 November 2017

Compass Points 237

We're delighted to announce that Turkish author Ece Temelkuran is the winner of the 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award for her novel (translated into English by Alex Dawe) Women Who Blow on Knots (£9.99, pb, 978 1910901694) the story of four women on a journey from Tunisia to Lebanon. All fifty titles featured in the Book Festival programme this year were eligible for the Award, which is voted for by readers and visitors so there was some pretty stiff competition. making winning this prize especially gratifying! Ece said “I am thrilled that the story I have written to survive the most difficult time of my life is now inspiring many and receiving such an award. Many thanks to all the readers who chose to join the insane journey of Women Who Blow on Knots.” Full of political rhetoric and strong, atypically Muslim female characters, Temelkuran has woven an empowering tale that challenges the social perceptions of politics, religion and women in the Middle East as well as the universal bonds of sister and motherhood. Book Festival Director Nick Barley said Women Who Blow on Knots is a perfect winner for this year’s First Book Award. It’s a funny, pacy and above all life-affirming road movie of a novel which celebrates strength and sisterhood among a group of Arab women at the height of the Arab Spring uprisings. Ece Temelkuran is not only a great novelist: she’s a fearless journalist whose writing about Turkey and its neighbouring countries deserves to be read widely across the world. I’m proud that book lovers from across the world voted for Ece’s exuberant novel.” Richard Davies from Parthian said it “is a book that takes the reader on a road trip of the mind in the company of four remarkable women racing across the Middle East at the end of the Arab Spring. We are delighted that Ece's words and ideas have had such a resonance with readers. She is a novelist of daring and ambition in difficult times.” Well done Ece and Parthian! You can watch a short film about the book on YouTube here.

How does an author behave when they see their book for the very first time? And what do they do when they find their book in an actual real live bookshop! Have a look here at this highly entertaining film of the fabulous Charlie Craggs discovering copies of To My Trans Sisters (£12.99, pb, 978 1785923432), which has just been published by Jessica Kingsley. The film was made by the Huffington Post and the shop is Foyles in Charing Cross – we love it! And yes, authors turning their books face (rather than spine) out is absolutely “a thing” Charlie – in fact I’m quite surprised your pal didn’t suggest you moved them to a table at the front of the store as many an over-enthusiastic new author has been known to do!! The Huffington Post were filming Charlie as part of their New Activists docu-reality 10-week series which follows the lives of young people who are changing the world, campaigning for the causes that matter to them.

When did our obsession with wellness start making us sick? In Hear Me Raw (£9.99, pb, 978 1786823748) Daniella Isaacs peels back the Instagram filter to reveal the dirty truth behind clean living. This autobiographical account of one woman's journey through the world of contemporary wellness is a provocative new play which has just been performed in London, and is now available in paperback from Oberon. The Stage said it is “extremely astute about how easy it is to conceal disordered eating behind a sheen of living cleanly.” and Younger Theatre called it “an important, emotional and sharply clever exploration of the many disturbing layers of ‘wellness’ and ‘healthy’ living...  moves from sharp and funny to life affirming... Isaacs has achieved something completely original, and entirely brilliant.” You can read a very thought-provoking article in the Telegraph entitled The Woman Who Knows the Dirty Truth about Clean Eating on Daniella Isaacs and her play here.

Halloween done and dusted – and we all know what comes next. Are you already playing your Christmas music in your bookshop? The Entertainer Toy Shop chain is, and boss Gary Grant is unrepentant, believing that Christmas is so utterly crucial that it can't start soon enough. He expects to turn over as much money in the last two months of the year as he does for other ten and says that “we basically spend 10 months preparing for two and without these final eight weeks we wouldn't make any money." Sound familiar? You can read about that on Sky News here and you will see that White Ladder author Linda Blair is quoted, saying that Christmas music “might make us feel that we're trapped” and although “some people will react to that by making impulse purchases, which the retailer likes. Others might just walk out of the shop. It's a risk." She also raises concerns about the shop workers who are likely to be driven nuts by having to listen to the festive racket for weeks on end! Linda is very much the go-to clinical psychologist for the media on a whole range of subjects – which is all excellent publicity for her own book Siblings: Your Handbook for Managing Sibling Rivalry, Coping with Arguments and Handling Family Fights (pb, £12.99, 978 1910336250) which has just been published by White Ladder. The Telegraph called it “long overdue …. the parenting handbook I've been looking for” and it continues to get excellent reader reviews. Linda Blair will be talking siblings on Radio 4’s All in the Mind programme this Thursday (9 November) and is also speaking at the Folkestone Literature Festival in November.

Northern Irish women’s writing is going from strength to strength at the moment, and a new anthology just out from New Island captures much of its current richness and audacity. Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland (hb, £17.99, 978 1848406421) edited by Linda Anderson and Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado is a stunning mosaic of work by some of the best contemporary women writers. This vibrantly feminist collection features both experienced and newer writers playing with different modes, forms, and innovations – from magical realism and surrealism to humour and multi-perspective narratives – and celebrates fiction, poetry, drama, essays, life writing, and photography. You can read a piece about it in the Irish Times here. You can see it here, displayed at the wonderful No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast.
Talking of strong female voices, I very much enjoyed these 25 quotes that indisputably prove that Hermione totally ruled Hogwarts!
Many of us are increasingly becoming aware that in order for children to thrive, it is not enough just to churn them out of school with a collection of A*s and a burning ambition to succeed. What is required, is the ability to think – and think creatively – something which we Brits used to excel at before Gove, Ofsted et al turned our schools into exam factories. A new title from Crown House, Teaching Creative Thinking: Developing Learners Who Generate Ideas and Can Think Critically by Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer defines and demystifies the essence of creative thinking, and offers research-informed suggestions as to how it can best be developed. Creative thinkers are inquisitive, collaborative, imaginative, persistent and disciplined; and fostering this key capability so that it becomes a habit of mind is vital. Teaching Creative Thinking is both a powerful call to action and a practical handbook. This title is one of many from our academic publishers that, although originally intended for teachers, has much to recommend it for parents. The education of kids at home is a huge growth area – and I would urge booksellers not to underestimate the need for easily available materials to help parents do this. The number of children being home schooled has doubled in six years and nearly 30,000 children were educated at home in the 2016/17 academic year representing a 97% increase since 2011. The increase in private tutoring, Saturday schools etc has added to the massive surge in demand for well-written, accessible, helpful titles. Teaching Creative Thinking (£16.99, pb, 978 1785832369) is one such book! You can read an excellent interview with one of the book’s authors Bill Lucas in Nursery World here. 
In less than five years, Twitter is set to become as popular as TV, with close to 20 million people using it across all age groups. There are still plenty of people who find the whole thing pretty baffling though – and plenty too who are utterly obsessed by it. Twitterology: All the Pointless Trivia You Never Knew about Twitter (978 1783340989, £8.99, pb) by Susanne Lumsden is ideal for either camp – and is out on 30 November from Gibson Square. This amusing book gathers for the first time all the facts and trivia about the little white bird. Did you know that it might have been called 'Friendstalker' or what the Queen's first tweet was? Sit back and enjoy!
How hilarious was the news today that a Twitter employee decided on his final day at the company to turn off Donald Trumps’ account! Inspired! Here  are some of his most ridiculous moments…

How many of us believe in the power of spiritualists, clairvoyants and soothsayers? Here is a great piece by author Cassandra Parkin in the Scotsman entitled “why I believe in psychics (even though I don’t)” about how she found the experience of visiting one challenged her avowed scepticism and inspired her new novel. “She got out this deck of Divination cards and asked me to pull one out of the deck, which I did. When I turned it over, it said, Writer. And I got chills down my spine, because I’d just had my first novel accepted for publication.” Cassandra’s new book Winter’s Child is published by Legend, she’s just done a Book Blog tour to publicise it, and there is quite a buzz building for this East Yorkshire author. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales, won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories and her debut novel The Summer We All Ran Away was nominated for the Amazon Rising Stars 2014.
The Winter's Child (£8.99, pb, 978 1785079030) is her fourth novel, and is a ghostly winter tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings. Her reviews are unanimously five-star from the influential bloggers: “Goodness, it might have taken me rather longer than it should have to discover Cassandra Parkin’s books, but I’m in complete awe at the depth and quality of her writing. There’s a wonderful gothic and sinister edge to this one … compelling … just stunning – without question, one of my favourite reads of this year” is typical.

Published this month, and the big literary title of the year for Impress, is Home Is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire (978 1911293149, pb, £8.99) which is a vivid and intimate exploration of the struggle to find your place in the world no matter where you are. Set in 1980: the beginning of the Polish Crisis, country-girl Ania arrives in the university city of Wroclaw to pursue her career as a sculptor. Here she falls in love with Dominik, an enigmatic writer at the centre of a group of bohemians and avant-garde artists who throw wild parties. When martial law is declared, their lives change overnight: military tanks appear on the street, curfews are introduced and the artists are driven underground. Together, Ania and Dominik fight back, pushing against the boundaries imposed by the authoritarian communist government. But at what cost?

Two Formula One thrillers by Toby Vincent; Driven (£8.99, pb, 978 1910050712) and Crash (£8.99, pb, 978 1910050798); have been selected by (the official store for Formula 1) as their Black Friday gift for high spending customers. This is a very popular website – their YouTube channel alone has nearly a million subscribers, and this is superb publicity for these two exhilarating titles. Driven and Crash would make perfect presents for any of the 29.1million F1 viewers in the UK and Boris Johnson no less said they “howl along like Lewis Hamilton round the streets of Monaco” while Murray Walker enthused “a great plot ... a great read ... I couldn't put it down.” F1 Racing Magazine wrote “Toby Vincent takes inspiration from F1's on-track action and off-track paddock politics in weaving together a page-turning conspiracy thriller. His attention to detail captures the spirit of current F1” and as the Evening Standard agreed, these are “fast-paced reads for any speed demon”. The third in this series featuring Matt Straker is out from Arcadia next summer.
And for the petrolheads among you here are the ten best battles of the 2017 Formula 1 season so far!

I am very much looking forward to the new Cesar Aira title The Lime Tree (pb, £8.99, 978 1911508120) which is coming from And Other Stories in December. A new book from this bewitching author is always a treat; as the Financial Times said: “Compulsively readable ... Aira's writing – with its equal measures of rich complications and airy whimsies – combines brevity with so many possible meanings.” Seeing double rows of elegant lime trees around the main square of his hometown of Colonel Pringles, our narrator (who could well be the author himself) suddenly recalls the Sunday mornings of his childhood, when his father would take him to gather the lime-flower blossoms from which he made tea. Beginning with his father, the narrator quickly leaps from anecdote to anecdote, bringing to life his father's dream of upward mobility, the dashing of their family's hopes when the Peronist party fell from power, the single room they all shared, and his mother's litany of political rants, which were used –  like the lime-flower tea – to keep his father calm. Aira's charming fictional memoir is a colourful mosaic of a small-town neighbourhood, a playful portrait of the artist as a child and an invitation to visit the source of Aira's own extraordinary imagination.
We do like to finish with some music – and this is an extremely tempting way to waste 15mins or so – a complete list (with video) of the most popular songs (in the US) for every year from 1940 to the present day!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite tweets from this week.
Big Green Bookshop‏ @Biggreenbooks It's Halloween tomorrow. Why not scare Amazon by not buying anything from them all day? 
Justice for LB‏ @JusticeforLB Do you talk to LB? I do, I tell him I miss him, tell him I love him. The book has helped, he came across as human to people, as he was.
Maureen Boyle‏ @BoyleMo This is such a beautiful object -so delighted to be one of its 'female lines'! Thank-you @NewIslandBooks , @drdawnmiranda & Linda Anderson
Comma Press‏ @commapress A very special event on Nov 11th at @dulwichlitfest, with Alexei Sayle, @FRhydderch & @courttianewland on Protest: Stories of Resistance
Alistair Braidwood‏ @ScotsWhayHae I can't wait to get stuck into @Detroit67Book's latest, 'Memphis 68', out now on @PolygonBooks. And, yes, that is Otis on the cover. I love Otis...
Golden Hare Books‏ @GoldenHareBooks We have just had a shipment of books delivered that is so large, I may in fact be trapped in the shop forever. Send biscuits.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
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