Friday 23 February 2018

Compass Points 250

With Jacob Zuma’s recent resignation from his post as President of South Africa, author Robin Renwick, former ambassador to South Africa, will be in much demand by both broadcast and print media for comment. His book How to Steal a Country (hb, 978 1785903618, £17.99) which is published by Biteback on 27 March, maps out the growing scandal around Zuma and his relationship with the powerful Gupta family. There is an election in South Africa coming up and any legal action against the former president or members of the Gupta family (two were arrested this week) will ensure that the story stays in the news. The book describes the vertiginous decline in political leadership in South Africa from Mandela to Zuma and its terrible consequences. It reads in parts like a crime novel in terms of the audacity and sheer scale of the looting of the public purse, let alone the impunity with which it has been accomplished. Based on Renwick s personal experiences of the main protagonists, it describes the extraordinary influence achieved by the Gupta family and the massive amounts earned by Gupta related companies from their associations with them. But Robin Renwick believes that South Africa has succeeded in establishing a genuinely non-racial society full of determined and enterprising people, offering genuine hope for the future. The book concludes that change will come, either by the ruling party reverting to the values of Mandela and Archbishop Tutu, or by the reckoning it otherwise will face one day.

What an excellent piece in the Bookseller last week on the wonderful Wild Things, whose sales surged 129% through Nielsen in 2017, recording their first £1m-plus year through the TCM and having by far the greatest percentage growth of the top 20 publishers in the sector. They explain that Wild Things will aim to expand its range but the content will always remain true to the founding principles. Publisher Daniel Start said: “We’re just looking for subjects that are localised, inspiring and that everyone in Britain would be able to get out and do. We’re pretty niche, but it’s a good niche to be in.” They also gave us a nice shout-out saying “hiring Compass was a definite help” when they founded the business back in 2012 – thanks guys, we love you too! You can read the whole piece here.

Congratulations to the four Compass client publishers who have been shortlisted for the IPG Independent Publisher Awards! Kogan Page are up for both Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year; as are Emerald; and also, the Bookseller International Achievement of the Year. Pluto are shortlisted for the Nielsen Digital Marketing Award and Carcanet are in the running for the Alison Morrison Diversity Award. You can find the full shortlists here. Good luck all! The winners of the 12 awards will be revealed at a Gala Dinner during the IPG’s Annual Spring Conference on Thursday 8 March 2018. IPG chief executive Bridget Shine said: “Each year we say it: competition for the IPG Independent Publishing Awards is tougher than ever. We were blown away by the quantity and quality of the entries from IPG members, which gave our judges an extraordinarily tough job. The shortlists they have produced reveal the incredible diversity and dynamism of independent publishing in 2018, and our only regret is that many more superb entrants could not be included.”

Carcanet poetry collections often feature some pretty stunning artwork – but it’s rare for the artist to have also designed an award-winning album cover. Step forward Dan Hillier whose work is on the cover of Unearthly Toys: Poems and Masks (978 1784105389, £12.99, pb) by Ned Denny and who also designed the Royal Blood debut album – which won the 2014 NME Best Art Vinyl Award. (You can see that here. ) Unearthly Toys is a David Lynch-esque debut which taps into the ethereal, transcendental and engages with widespread popular topics such as alien intelligence and abduction, conspiracy theories, legend and spirituality, and parallel realms. The melodiousness, formal rigor and rhyme-schemes of the poems will appeal to those who tend not to read or like contempo­rary poetry! It was published this week.

The Romantic Novelists Association Shortlists for 2018 are announced featuring the best in romantic fiction from big publishers, small presses and self-published authors, and hurrah, Choc Lit author Jane Lovering is nominated for two awards! Firstly, for Christmas at the Little Village School which is up for the RONA Rose which is for shorter romantic novels. And she’s also up for the Romantic Comedy Novel Award with Little Teashop of Horrors (pb, £7.99, 978 1781894200) which is published on 8 May. You can see the full shortlist here. Jane won the Romantic Novel of the Year in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music (978 1906931278, £7.99, pb) and this new title looks equally engaging. Set in a Yorkshire tearoom, Little Teashop of Horrors is choc-a-bloc (see what I did there) full of Lovering’s very special sense of humour and offers the reader an emotional roller coaster ride blending sadness, deep emotion and joy, with cakes, a gorgeous stately home, birds of prey and a deliciously dreadful bad guy.

Ooh, who doesn’t love a book set in a café? Chocolat and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe spring to mind for starters. Of course JK Rowling famously penned her best-selling books in a coffee shop – have a look here to see the UK’s most inspiring literary cafes! Plenty of our favourite booksellers are included we’re pleased to see!

Talking of books about cake, great piece here in the Guardian about the Archers Academic Conference (yes really) last weekend in the British Library at which Custard, Culverts and Cake (£14.99, pb, 978 1787432864) was on sale. This paperback from Emerald was rather a hit when it came out last year – so I’d urge you to stock it if you don’t already as there are millions of listeners to the Radio 4 show who would love it! By Doctors Cara Courage and Nicola Headlam, it is a sometimes serious, but most often wry look at the people of Ambridge and takes on subjects such as food, geography, social media and faith. With contributions from members of the Academic Archers network, the book blurs the line between fact and fiction - each chapter is ‘peer reviewed’ by a different Ambridge inhabitant. It gives the reader a deeper understanding of the real-life issues covered in the programme and validation that hours of listening to The Archers is, in fact, academic research. And if you didn’t make it to the British Library conference, but would like to join this community of Archers fans with an academic interest in the show, then have a look on their website, where there are YouTube films and podcasts from previous conferences.

Four Crown House titles are named in the 2018 Education Resources Awards' Educational Book Awards shortlist! The ERA aims to encourage the raising of educational services and product standards throughout the industry and is recognised throughout the sector as the accolade of excellence. The titles are: Messy Maths by Juliet Robertson (978 1781352663, £18.99) which is a rich resource of ideas that will inspire teachers to tap into the endless supply of patterns, textures, colours and quantities to be found in the great outdoors and deepen children’s understanding of maths through hands-on experience. The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook by Jim Smith (978 1781352687, £18.99) is Jim's latest thinking on how to be the best lazy, but outstanding, teacher you can be. Every chapter has been revised and some significantly expanded, particularly those on planning, conducting and reviewing lazy lessons. Puffed Out by Will Hussey and Barry Hymer (978 1785831171, £14.99) is a comprehensive catalyst for cultivating a growth mindset. Schools increasingly value grit, determination, resilience and adaptability as being key to deep learning. But how do you put these values into practice? This innovative approach starts by getting learners to think about a seemingly familiar story in a radically different and creative way. And finally, The Teacher's Guide to SEN by Natalie Packer (978 1785830259, £18.99) outlines what all teachers need to know about SEN, and provides a range of practical tips and ideas that can be applied in the classroom. A full listing of the awards' shortlists can be found here.  The winners will be announced at a gala event to be held at in Birmingham on the second evening of The Education Show on Friday 16th March 2018.

Lots and lots of publicity still coming in for And Other Stories on their Year of Publishing Women. There’s an interview on the BBC here, and publisher Stefan Tobler has also been interviewed on BBC Radio Wales, on the Drive Time show Good Evening Wales and on BBC Derby.

Fancy a book quiz? This one from our pals at Buzzfeed gives you a quote from a popular novel on top of an extreme close-up of that novel's cover. Your job is to guess which they belong to by typing the title of the novel into the box. Play here.  

I’m pleased to report another excellent week of publicity for the inspiring Barbara Hosking talking about her enthralling memoir Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant (£25, hb, 978 1785903557). Barbara made quite the splash as she appeared on the BBC Radio 5 Live Emma Barnett Show, to discuss it, receiving a rapturous response on Twitter. BBC News Online covered the story, which went on to become one of the BBC website’s Top 10 Most Read articles of the day, which in turn was picked up by many other outlets. Following interviews in The Observer, New Statesman, and Daily Mail, Barbara appears in this month’s feature ‘Lunch with…’ slot in Civil Service World Magazine – a really interesting interview, definitely worth a read!

Gringa by Joe Thomas (978 1911350248, £14.99, hb) is the second thriller in the series that began with Paradise City (978 1911350163, £8.99, pb) featuring detective Mario Leme. Set in the harsh metropolis of São Paolo, in the build up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Leme investigates the curious disappearance of a young English journalist that leads him into the murky depths of the city’s political underworld.GQ said of it “Great crime fiction hinges on a sense of place, and after his sophisticated debut, Thomas proves an adroit guide to a city that has developed at dizzying speed.” Pacy and giving the reader a completely authentic picture of life in this most exciting of great world cities it would be an excellent read to whet the appetite of anyone thinking of visiting Brazil. And indeed, a feature on The Culture Trip website entitled What Our Literary Editor Thinks You Should be Reading This February suggested exactly that – you can read that here.  There’s also a good piece in Bookanista by Joe Thomas which you can see here and there are lots of other reviews coming in the Crime mags. Gringa has just been published by Arcadia.

There’s a bit of a buzz building for Fire on the Mountain, (pb, £8.99, 978 1785078996) a complex, and emotional read that doesn’t fully uncover itself until the very last word with a structure and themes as intricate as the political Africa of its setting. It was launched this week at the Book Hive in Norwich – a great evening with John Boyne, Caryl Phillips and Margaret Atwood among the guests attending. But the star of the night was the author Jean McNeil who gave a short talk and answered many questions. Reviewers and bloggers are enthusiastic saying “Right from the first page I was overwhelmed by a feeling of dread and discomfort, that something extraordinarily awful was going to happen to Nicklaas, a young man who has, inexplicably, run away from his work in overseas disaster relief. The book is set somewhere in southern Africa, where there is social menace on the streets and natural perils in the undergrowth.”Burns with a fierce intensity. Passions are ignited and family dynamics laid bare. A triumph." It’s just been published by Legend.

Women vs Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars (£14.99, pb, 978 1787144767) was chosen by Dame Helen Morrisey in Stella magazine last week as the “last book I loved”. This title challenges the stance of some contemporary feminists that women are still oppressed, and unpicks the statistics from the horror stories to explore the reality of women’s lives. It argues that today’s feminism is obsessed with trivial issues – skinny models, badly phrased jokes and misplaced compliments – and focuses on the regulation of male behaviour, rather than female empowerment, pitching men and women against each other in a never-ending gender war that benefits no-one. It’s published by Emerald.

Darker With the Lights On by David Hayden sold out in hardback and the surreal short story collection got absolutely stunning reviews with the Guardian saying “once in a blue moon, a book comes along that really is like nothing you’ve ever read before. The 20 stories in this debut are strange, uncomfortable fables: hard to fathom, but impossible to ignore ... with a blunt impact that reverberates long after the final page.” And Eimear McBride wrote "It's an open secret that David Hayden is one of the most interesting short story writers around. Why it's taken this long for his first collection to be published is beyond me but I, along with anyone with even the vaguest interest in looking at modernism anew, will be queuing up for a copy." It’s shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and one of the stories from it will be aired on BBC Radio 4 in April. The paperback (978 0995705296, pb, £9.99) is published on 1 May by Little Island Press – definitely one to order plenty of methinks!

Do you see unicorns everywhere? Have you noticed that unicorns are appearing more and more in modern culture? Scottish born healer Calista believes that is because the unicorn energy is coming through right now to help those who are ready to raise their vibration and start living a life that is true to them. Unicorn Rising (978 1788170918, £12.99, hb) explains what the energy of the unicorns symbolises, why it is appearing strongly at this time in history and what the unicorns can help you with. Fun and original, Unicorn Rising: Live Your Truth and Unleash Your Magic weaves relatable stories of breakthrough, with transformational exercises. This compassionate and empowering book aims to help the reader experience deeper levels of freedom, joy, play and love to help them follow their path with power and purpose. This book will be in a summer issue of Fate magazine and Calista will also be speaking on Talk Radio. You can see an interview with Calista talking about her book on YouTube here.  It’s published by Hay House on 29 May.

I love this thoughtful piece by Neil Gaiman explaining why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. You can read it here in the Guardian explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.

On a cold February day, who wouldn’t want to be transported to the sunny Caribbean. So Many Islands (pb, £8.99, 978 1846592072) does just that, bringing together stories from the distant shores of the island communities in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Giving voice to their challenges and triumphs, these writers paint a vibrant portrait of what it is like to live, love and lose the things most precious to them on the small islands they call home. Just published by Telegram in partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation, this enchanting collection will transport you to Marakei, ‘the women’s island’, where a female statue stands guard at each compass point, and introduce you to colourful characters like Leno Humphrey, a small-time cricketer from St. Vincent who buys his own trophies to take back to his wife. Voicing global issues such as nuclear testing in the Pacific and climate change to petty politics and the gaps between generations; readers everywhere will find universal connections with these words and worlds. As Booker Prize winner Marlon James says in his introduction to this lovely collection: “This is the real globalism, a glorious cacophony that seeks no common ground other than attitude.”

And just to get you in the mood – here are the top 21 songs with that Caribbean vibe – as chosen by Beachbox TV! Reggae, salsa, calypso and sweet soca music, this playlist will transport you straight to those sun-kissed, tropical beaches!

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

Friday 9 February 2018

Compass Points 249

Nuclear submarines. Secretive and intriguing, staying on their stealthy watch deep in the oceans, and keeping the world safe. On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service by Eric Thompson (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005713) is published by Casemate on 28 February and is an absolutely riveting inside story of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, revealing the undisclosed life of submarines and those who serve on them. Eric Thompson MBE is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the end of the Cold War; when nuclear submarines performed the greatest public service of all: prevention of a third world war. History shows that they succeeded; but for security reasons, only now can this story be told. In this vivid personal account of his submarine operations, Eric reveals what it was like to literally have your finger on the nuclear button. He leads the reader through top-secret submarine patrols, hush-hush scientific trials, underwater weapon developments, public relations battles with nuclear protesters, arm-wrestling with politicians and the changing roles in the Navy for women and those in the LGBT community. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. This sounds terrific, and unsurprisingly there is lots of publicity coming up. Casemate posted a blog piece with an extract from the book on exactly how submarines deal with what we will refer to as “sewage” – you can read that here – this post then went viral on Facebook! War History Online (which have 1.7 million likes on Facebook) have several articles commissioned by Eric coming up, and he will be appearing on two TV programmes on STV in Scotland: Live at Five and People’s History on 27 February. He’s being interviewed by Dan Snow for his History Hit channel about the book, and that interview will appear later this month. There will be a feature article in the Daily Record (Scotland’s most read newspaper) in late February – and there’s a launch for the book in Helensburgh on 13th March. Loads of feature and review coverage in the navy mags of course – including Warships International, Navy News, Naval Review, RNA Monthly Circular and Baird Maritime and an extract will be appearing in the ARNO yearbook (6,500 members) which will be out on February 28th. Eric will be interviewed on February 28th for Talk Radio Europe. This is a genuinely captivating book with the potential for a widespread readership as the subject matter is fascinating and Eric Thompson writes in a style that is both highly informed and also very personal. His MBE was awarded for leadership during a submarine emergency on patrol.
Top ten submarine films anyone? Dive dive dive!

Many congratulations to five bright young things who are “roaring through their 20s” at Comma and Jessica Kingsley and have just been shortlisted for a London Book Fair Trailblazer Award 2018. This award celebrates 30 young, talented publishing professionals under 30 all of whom “are demonstrating innovation and ambition in the book industry.” From Comma, Becky Harrison and Sarah Cleave are on the list and from JKP it’s Alexandra Holmes, Lily Bowden and William Horsnell whose stars are burning particularly brightly! The Awards, now in their third year, are run in partnership with the Publishers Association and supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch. Five winners will be selected by a judging panel and announced at a ceremony at the Groucho Club (of course!) on 26th February, hosted by the London Book Fair and the SYP. You can see the full shortlist here.

Voting Brexit was a “Scream Of Protest Against The Rich's Hijacking Of Democracy” says Victor J Seidler author of Making Sense of Brexit (978 1447345206, £14.99) in a very thought provoking article in the Huffington Post, which you can read here. All excellent publicity for his new book, which has just been published by Policy Press. This open and accessible book addresses the causes and implications of Brexit, exploring this moral anger against political elites and people feeling estranged from a political process and economic system. It engages with everyday ethical and political questions that are being raised by unfolding events – including looking at Trump and the connections between the Brexit vote and his campaign. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Victor J Seidler! In recent years his thought provoking writing and research have focused on the cultural memory of particular events and the ways they might challenge traditional social and cultural languages. Jon Cruddas, MP said of this title that “above all it speaks to the need for a renewed, democratic sense of justice; one that can include, unite and inspire. Seidler speaks of the thing that we need most – hope."

Nice piece in the Bookseller this week on our lovely friends at Devon-based indie publisher Impress Books which you can read here. They mention the excellent Widdershins by Helen Steadman (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293040) which came out last year – if you haven’t yet read this compelling historical novel about witch hunting and witch trials I urge you to order it – it had superb reviews and is selling well.

A century after women first won the right to vote in the UK, this week everyone has been paying tribute to the women who helped to force a change in the law. The hashtag #100Years trended worldwide; some celebrated the contribution of women who campaigned for the right to vote while others marked the occasion by highlighting work still to be done. Pluto has three important titles on three important women. Firstly, Sylvia Pankhurst Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire by Katherine Connelly (pb, 978 0745333229, £14.99). This is a lively and accessible biography on the most controversial and radical of all the suffragettes Katherine Connelly guides us through Pankhurst’s construction of a suffragette militancy which put working-class women at the heart of the struggle, her championing of the Bolshevik Revolution and her clandestine attempts to sabotage the actions of the British state, as well as her early identification of the dangers of Fascism. The book explores the dilemmas, debates and often painful personal consequences faced by Pankhurst and presents her as a courageous and inspiring campaigner, of huge relevance to those engaged in social movements today. Next, Ellen Wilkinson: From Red Suffragist to Government Minister by Paula Bartley (978 0745332376, £14.99, pb) makes a passionate case for the relevance of ‘Red Ellen’ to the twenty-first century. It is a vivid portrait of one of Britain’s first women MPs and Minister in the 1945 Labour government. Like the previous title, it is part of Pluto’s best-selling Revolutionary Lives series. Finally, Friends of Alice Wheeldon The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George (pb, 978 0745335759 £17.99) by Sheila Rowbotham is an intense, claustrophobic play about a show-trial of an innocent woman at the height of the First World War. First published nearly thirty years ago, this edition points readers to subsequent research into the case and the ongoing campaign to clear the name of Alice Wheeldon, containing an extended essay which explores the context and politics behind the play’s action.

On the same theme, The Stalled Revolution: Is Equality for Women an Impossible Dream? (£26.99, pb, 978 1787146020) is gaining a lot of media attention at present. Fifty years ago, the Women’s Liberation Movement began a sustained campaign for equal rights and in this book (just published by Emerald) Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds draw upon historical perspectives and contemporary interviews to convey what it felt like to be in the heart of the campaigns―the excitement, the solidarity, the suffering and the humour. They argue that tragically, after hard-won successes, the revolution has stalled and equality for women is still a distant dream. Today men are paid more and occupy nearly 80% of the most powerful jobs across society, so The Stalled Revolution asks whether women are now ready to draw inspiration from past successes and take a third leap forward towards equality? It showcases how the wisdom from our collective struggles can help form the bedrock of a new and successful liberation campaign today. John Edmonds appeared as a guest on BBC1’s The Big Questions on 4th Feb talking about this and Eva Tuchell was on The Book Hour on The Andrew Edwards Show. Both authors were also on BBC London’s Breakfast show talking to Vanessa Feltz about the book on Tuesday.

They say the first rule of politics is never to resign. But since when have politicians ever followed the rules?! Fighters and Quitters: Great Political Resignations (£20, hb, 978 1785901041) by Theo Barclay is a roaring dash through the most sensational political resignations of the past century charting the scandals, controversies and cock-ups that forced key players to quit. Each chapter focuses on a different episode, from the former minister who faked his own death in the 1970s to Chris Huhne's swift journey from despatch box to jail cell in the 2010s. The book also examines the swathe of sex and spy scandals that have killed dreams of high office, from peers busted in bed with prostitutes to MPs caught cavorting in public parks, and, of course, the Profumo affair. Who jumped and who was pushed? Who battled to stay in post and who collapsed at the first hint of pressure? Who came back, Lazarus-like, after their resignation for a second act? From ignominious surrenders to principled departures, it reveals the tales of the politicians who fell on their swords and explores the reasons why they did. This has had some super publicity, with pieces appearing in the Telegraph, Spectator, Independent, The Times and London Evening Standard Diary with lots more to come! Theo has also been talking about the book on Sky News, All Out Politics and in the Times, Red Box podcast. Fighters and Quitters is out this week from Biteback.

Two Carcanet titles: The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin (pb, £9.99, 978 1784103804) and The President of Planet Earth by David Wheatley (£12.99, pb, 978 1784104207) are on the Irish Times Poetry Now Award shortlist – hurrah! The winner of the annual €2,000 prize will be announced at the Mountains to Sea Poetry Now Festival in Dun Laoghaire on March 24th.You can see the full shortlist and find out more about the award here.

We were so pleased to hear that Istanbul, Istanbul by Burhan Sonmez translated by Ümit Hussein (978 1846592058, pb, £8.99) has just been shortlisted for a brand-new Literature Prize. The British Council and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have launched this €20,000 award to promote the “extraordinary richness” of the culture and history of the bank’s countries. It will be awarded to the year’s best work of literary fiction translated into English and originally written in any language of the EBRD’s 37 countries of operations, coming from a UK publisher. You can find out more in the Bookseller here.  Istanbul, Istanbul is a profoundly moving novel about the transformative power of words in times of desperation, and is inspired by the Turkish author’s own experiences when he was imprisoned after a military coup The Reader's Digest said it was “destined to become a classic.” It opens deep below the ancient streets of Istanbul where four prisoners –Demirtay the student, the doctor, Kamo the barber and Uncle Küheylan – sit, awaiting their turn at the hands of their wardens. When they are not subject to unimaginable violence, the condemned tell one another stories about the city, shaded with love and humour, to pass the time. Quiet laughter is their balm, delivered through parables and riddles. Gradually, the prisoners’ underground narrative turns into a narrative of Istanbul itself, and we discover there is as much suffering and hope in the city above-ground as there is in the cells below. It is published by Telegram.

In some ways linked to this title, comes a new inspirational self-help book from Hay House. The World is a Nice Place: How to Overcome Adversity, Joyfully (9781401950873, £12.99, pb). It is written by international journalist Amy Molloy who spent over a decade interviewing amazing people who've survived incredible challenges –  from terrorism attacks, to natural disasters, loss, grief, breakups, and breakdowns. As a 'serial survivor' herself, Amy wanted to discover the secret formula that allows some people to move forward after difficulty, without letting it become their entire identity. This insightful and honest book, the product of ten years' research, combines personal anecdotes with practical tools to help readers explore their memories, pinpoint their triggers and use their past to empower, inspire and guide them. When life is hard, The World is a Nice Place offers a new way of thinking. Amy Molloy is writing an article for the Observer about this, which will come out around publication day on 3 April. The World is a Nice Place is published by Hay House.

The longlist for the 2018 Dylan Thomas Prize has just been announced, and hooray, James Womack is on it with his Carcanet collection On Trust: A Book of Lies (pb, £9.99, 978 1784104160). This book of lying monologues plays with the idea that confession is not necessarily truthful. The shortlist of six books will be revealed at the end of March and the winner will be announced on Thursday 10th May 2018 at Swansea University’s Great Hall, in the run up to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May. You can find out more about the prize here.

The Juice has been back in the news recently as lawyers demand that OJ Simpson hand over any profits he’s made from signing autographs but then he apparently “begs” the family of Ron Goldman to stop dragging him to court over every “unconfirmed rumour” that he's now living the high life in Vegas. If this is a story that floats your boat, you can read more here and here. Whatever your views on the ex-con, this is a good opportunity to sell a few more of If I Did It (978 1783341290 £8.99 pb) which is now available in a new reprint, with a new cover. This world-famous, real crime book written by OJ Simpson, which Mark Lawson on BBC Front Row said was “impossible to read other than as a confession” was described as “stunning” by the Observer, “explosive” by the Mail on Sunday and “chilling” by Simon Mayo. It’s published by Gibson Square.

As you probably know, it’s LGBT History Month. Now in its 14th year this is a month-long annual event that celebrates the history and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people every February in the UK and aims to inspire organisations and communities to celebrate LGBT culture. You can find out more at Jessica Kingsley are your go-to publishers for gender diversity of course – and you can find a full list of their forthcoming and recently published titles here. A few key titles from recent months are To My Trans Sisters (978 1785923432), First Year Out: A Transition Story (978 1785922589), Gender Diversity and Non-Binary Inclusion in the Workplace (978 1785922442) and How To Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are (978 1785927461).

Happy publication day to Sweet Days of Discipline (£8.99, pb, 978-1911508182) – you see here a fantastic display for it at Foyles in Waterloo. Set in post-war Switzerland, Fleur Jaeggy's novel begins simply and innocently enough: “At fourteen I was a boarder in a school in the Appenzell”. But there is nothing truly simple or innocent here. With the offhanded knowingness of a remorseless young Eve, the narrator describes life as a captive of the school and her designs to win the affections of the seemingly perfect new girl, Frederique. As she broods over her schemes as well as on the nature of control and madness, the novel gathers a suspended, unsettling energy. In its Italian original this novel won the Premio Bagutta and the Premio Speciale Rapallo. Newsday said “How a novel could be so chilly and so passionate at the same time is a puzzle, but that icy-hot quality is only one of the distinctions of Sweet Days of Discipline while the New York Review of Books called it “startling and original-so disturbing and so haunting.” It’s published by And Other Stories.

Ooh – how many great songs are there with Sweet in the title? My top five? Well, I’m NOT choosing Sweet Caroline but I do love this  from Anita Baker, this from George Harrison, this from Jnr Walker and the All Stars and this  from Chuck Berry. But my number one has got to be this gem from 1927!

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

Friday 2 February 2018

Compass Points 248

A year ago, as one of his first official acts as President, Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769. The order banned anyone travelling from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the United States. “We don’t want them here” Trump said. In response, Comma Press have just published Banthology (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974360); a collection of short stories by writers from the seven countries included in the ban. Subtitled Stories from Unwanted Nations, Comma says the book “seeks to champion, and give voice to, a set of nations that the White House would like us to believe are populated entirely by terrorists.” Banthology is comprised of seven stories, one from each country, and is translated from the authors’ original languages. The stories vary in style and tone, ranging from satire to literary realism to allegory, but each one examines the personal and emotional impact of the restriction of freedom. “We wanted the book to encourage debate and discussion, and deliberately chose writers who have been affected directly or indirectly by the ban,” says one of the book’s editors, Sarah Cleave. “One of the authors, Anoud, moved to New York from Iraq just a month before the first travel ban came into place, and was, like many others, scared to leave in case she wasn’t allowed to return.” The majority of authors featured in Banthology are not only writers, but also journalists and activists who have long advocated for freedom of expression. As you would expect, there has been loads of great publicity for this title! You can read a brilliant interview with Sarah and the US publisher in Literary Hub, here. The State of the Arts said “this is finely spun magical realism to rival the likes of Borges and García-Márquez.”  The Skinny gave it a 4* review, saying  “Banthology aims to give voice to and better understand a set of nations who have been writ off in one sweeping stereotype, and it does so. Those in power try to silence many voices – this is a triumphant refusal to let that happen.” And the collection was included in BookBlast's Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds saying "The writing is varied, vibrant and superb. The collection brings together a brilliant line up of writers I have not read before"  – you can read that article here. This was a brilliant idea for a book – and as you can see from the reviews, it has been brilliantly executed and stands up on literary merits as well as being, as Sarah says “a way to fight for precarious rights we often take for granted.”

It’s Muriel Spark’s 100th birthday this week and Polygon’s Spark Centenary celebrations are going magnificently! This week saw a fantastic Crème de la Crème event in a jam-packed Usher Hall in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Book Festival starring Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Nicola Sturgeon! And this is only the beginning of the celebrations for Muriel Spark’s centenary year with more events planned at book festivals, film festivals, schools, universities, bookshops, libraries and galleries across the UK and beyond. To catch up on all things #MurielSpark100, please visit the website And do listen here to the latest Hitchhikers Guide to Scottish Literature podcast – which features all things Sparky! You can get all the bibliographic info on all twenty-two of the new Polygon hardback centenary editions here.  Ali Smith wrote recently; “I long for Spark right now, the knowing Spark smile in the era of Trump." We quite agree Ali – you can read that Guardian article here.  

Here's an interesting Guardian piece discussing how disability is portrayed in books and plays; and how from Richard III to Captain Ahab, literature reveals much about how we treat disabilities. And here's  a great piece from Jessica Kingsley author Richy K Chandler talking through the challenges that come with creating diverse characters in stories, and why it is so important to do.

All at Sea by Julian Sayarer (£9.99, pb, 978 1911350231) has just been confirmed as the March Book of the Month in Geographical Magazine – and there’s a review coming up in the Daily Telegraph too. Julian Sayarer was the winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year in 2016 for Interstate (£8.99, pb, 978 1910050934) and this new title about his adventures in Thailand looks equally enthralling. Julian travels to the small island of Surin, near the naval border of Thailand and Myanmar, and hears the stories of an indigenous people known as Moken 'sea gypsies' who struggle to maintain the same timeless existence as their ancestors. It’s published by Arcadia.

Those of us who love animals often believe that our pets know more about us than we realise. Gordon Smith is a well-known medium, and in his new title Animal Magic: The Extraordinary Proof of Our Pets' Intuition and Unconditional Love for Us (978 1781170635, pb, £10.99) he recounts some of the remarkable experiences that people have had with animals – both in the spirit world and our own. In this extraordinary book you can read about pets who saved their owners' lives, moving accounts of dogs who know intuitively when their owners are coming home, and animals who have found ways of proving they are still with their families after death. Through these amazing stories, Gordon shows just how deeply animals care for their human families and the profound understanding they have of the world around them. Animal Magic is currently the number one Amazon bestseller in the category of New Age Reincarnation – who even knew that WAS a category?! Throughout the book, Gordon shares his own experiences with his springer spaniel 'Cheeky' Charlie, who came into his life unexpectedly, completely overturning it! Animal Magic has been featured recently in the Daily Express and Chat It’s Fate and Gordon was talking about it on ITV’s This Morning this Tuesday (30th Jan). Gordon will also be on Talk Radio on 5th February. Animal Magic has just been published by Hay House.

Great piece in the Independent on Burns night on Nan Shepherd entitled “Move aside Robert Burns, it's time to celebrate Scotland's identity with a woman” which you can read here . It featured Into the Mountain by Charlotte Peacock (£20, hb, 978 1903385562) – the first biography of Nan Shepherd who is of course featured on the Scottish £5. This title, which is published by Galileo unravels some of the mysteries, dispels some of the rumours and gives insight into the life and work of this perceptive and intensely private woman.

There’s a nice article on Abandoned Wrecks in BLOC magazine this month – which is read by airline travellers coming in and out of Gatwick. It includes lots of the beautiful and evocative photographs which you can see at here, click on page 40 onwards. Abandoned Wrecks (hb, £19.99, 978 1782745204) explores 150 fascinating sites from all around the world and across centuries of history. Aside from the peculiar beauty of rusting hulks on forgotten battlefields, anemone-covered battleships on the seabed and cars being consumed by forests; the images and text introduce us to some fascinating stories in haunting style, showcasing these battered time capsules and their stories of wars, natural disasters and changing fortunes. It is published by Amber.

With the news this week of the death of Ingvar Kamprad the founder of IKEA; this is a good chance to sell some more copies of The Truth about IKEA (978 1908096074, £9.99, pb) which is published by Gibson Square. In it, Johan Stenebo reveals in close-up detail the brilliance of the flatpack giant in growing its business, as well as where it fell short of its green ideals, exposing the nepotism and murky financial dealings behind Sweden’s iconic export. Casting an insider’s eye over the practical application of the ‘IKEA philosophy,’ Stenebo provides an exclusive view inside this successful profit machine, and how Ingvar Kamprad secretly became one of the world’s richest men. The Financial Times called it “racy”, the Guardian “explosive”. Johan Stenebo was a key IKEA director for over twenty years and one of Ingvar Kamprad’s closest collaborators.

Owen Lowery has received £2,800 from the Royal Society of Literature as part of their Literature Matters Awards for his proposed project R. S. Thomas for a New Generation: The Poet Prevails. The project is a production of poetry, music and film, inspired by the poetry of R. S. Thomas and in Jonathan Keates’s, view this “mixed-media homage to R. S. Thomas is a tribute long overdue, celebrating one of Wales’s most idiosyncratic and sharply-defined poetic voices.” You can read more about it here and also here  in the Bookseller. Owen’s own poetry collection Otherwise Unchanged (pb, £9.95, 978 1847772008) is published by Carcanet.

With all the publicity surrounding The Darkest Hour, there has been a surge of interest in all things Churchillian – and one of the most authoritative titles is Churchill Warrior: How a Military Life Guided Winston's Finest Hours by Brian Lavery which was published recently by Casemate (hb, 978 1910860229, £25). Forces News commissioned an article from Brian entitled Darkest Hour: How Much of it is True? which you can read here which has been much shared on social media. Brian Lavery is a renowned maritime and military Sunday Times bestselling history author and has written a fascinating and complete overview of how Churchill's military experiences and experience of command enabled him to lead Britain to victory. It covers his childhood, education, the First World War, the inter-war period and the events of the Second World War, including of course, the darkest hour. Military History Monthly have also commissioned an article on Churchill by Brian which will refer to the book.

Who’s watching the documentary Working Class White Men on Channel 4 where Professor Green explores why many working class white men in Britain feel demonised, forgotten and angry. It’s really interesting; you can catch up here. Social class remains a fundamental presence in British life in the twenty first century, woven into the very fabric of political discourse and undiminished by the end of mass industry. Three of our publishers have books on this very subject coming up this Spring. The New Working Class: How to Win Hearts, Minds and Votes by Claire Ainsley (pb, 978 1447344186, £12.99) is coming from Policy Press in March. The majority of people in the UK still identify as working class, yet no political party today can confidently articulate their interests. So, who is now working class and how do political parties gain their support? Based on the opinions and voices of lower and middle-income voters, this insightful book proposes what needs to be done for political parties to reconnect with the electorate and regain trust. This will specifically appeal to readers interested in whether the Conservatives can find a way into former Labour areas and is the first book, based on the opinions and voices of low income voters. It identifies the ‘new working class’, a key demographic looking to the 2020 election and Brexit.  Class Matters: Inequality and Exploitation in 21st Century Britain by Charles Umney (pb, 9780745337081, £18.99) is a provocative critique of widespread popular assumptions regarding class which reasserts the importance of a Marxist framework for understanding pressing issues of inequality today. Charles Umney brings Marxist analysis out of the 19th century textiles mill, and into the call centres, office blocks and fast food chains of modern Britain. It is published by Pluto in May. And finally, The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices by Ian Gilbert (pb, £24.99, 9781781352786) draws together educators from across the UK who call on all those working with young people to adopt a new approach to children in challenging circumstances. When it comes to the education of children living in poverty there has been a great deal of talk about resilience and the drive for social mobility. Yet such terms are also part of a narrative which puts all the onus on young people to ‘pull themselves up’ or else accept their fate among the ranks of the ‘feckless poor’. This unique collaboration challenges this destructive narrative and calls on all those working with disadvantaged children to adopt a more enlightened, empathetic and practical approach. It’s coming in March from Crown House. There’s a blog and even a Spotify playlist to go with this book – which is an idea I like VERY much – you can access that here.  

Both the Waitrose food trend predictions and the Trendspotter Panel of the Specialty Foods Association are tipping black-hued products as a major trend for 2018  –  a reaction apparently to the unicorn and rainbow trends of the past few years! Top of the “blacklist” is liquorice. Hailed the latest superfood with benefits listed as helping fight depression and menopause symptoms, it comes from the root of a plant that’s been shown to fight inflammation and viral infections, not to mention constipation. It is used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and is said to calm stomachs, open lungs, and ease minds and some are saying that it might be one of the most overlooked natural remedies to digestive health there is. So, this is the perfect time for Lorenz to be publishing Liquorice: A Cookbook: From Sticks to Syrup: Delicious Sweet and Savoury Recipes by Carol Wilson (hb, £10, 978 0754833659) which is published on 10 February. With gorgeous photographs by Nicki Dowey, the reader is expertly guided through the different products – roots, sticks, powder, syrups and essence - and shown which to use and when. This brilliantly priced hardback is both a fascinating history, and a treasure trove of recipes that will appeal even to people who say they don't like liquorice! Learn how to create a sumptuous liquorice cheesecake, choc chip muffins with liquorice buttercream, liquorice macarons and liquorice brownies as well as lots of tips on using liquorice in savoury dishes such as a glaze for chicken and roast pork, as a distinctive salad dressing, in a crisped topping for fish, and in drinks and preserves.

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