Friday 29 June 2018

Compass Points 266

Congratulations to Robert Minhinnick who this week won both the Roland Mathias Poetry Award and £4,000 Wales Book of the Year for Diary of the Last Man (pb, £9.99, 978 1 78410 348 4) which is published by Carcanet. Carol Ann Duffy said that this “new collection confirms his status as one of the most important poets of these turbulent times”. Described by the author (who is the co-founder of Friends of the Earth Cymru) as a walk across Brexit Britain as the world faces political uncertainty and a "change of all kinds" including climate change; this is a powerful call to action. Judge Carolyn Hitt described it as “environmentalism turned into elegy”. You can see Robert reading one of the poems from this celebration of the dwindling Earth here.

Celebrating books across three categories in both English and Welsh in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, the ceremony saw ten authors take to the stage to claim a total prize fund of £12,000, and we’re pleased to say that Compass publishers had two other winners on the night! M Wynn Thomas took the English-language Creative Non-Fiction Award for All that is Wales (£24.99, pb, 978 1786830890) University of Wales Press), a collection of essays on a number of English-language authors from Wales, offering a sample of the country’s internal diversity. Meanwhile, the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Prize was awarded to Tristan Hughes for his moving and lyrical novel, Hummingbird (pb, £8.99, 978 1912109807) which is published by Parthian.

The comments by Ofsted head that white working-class communities can lack the "aspiration and drive" of many migrant groups, was all over the press this week, with England's chief schools inspector saying that a long-overdue debate was under way about why white working-class pupils fall behind. You can read that story here on the BBC and here in the Guardian. This topic is tackled head on in the excellent The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices (pb, £24.99, 9781781352786) in which Ian Gilbert unites educators from across the UK and further afield to call on all those working in schools to adopt a more enlightened and empathetic approach to supporting children in challenging circumstances. It is both a timely survey of the impact of current policies and an invaluable source of practical advice on what can be done to better support disadvantaged children. It came out in March from Crown House.

Who doesn’t like a daft quiz on a Friday? Try this one which claims to be able to tell your mental age from the way you perceive colours!

Super to see three terrific Comma events coming up at Edinburgh Book Festival this summer. Palestinian author Nayrouz Qarmout will be talking about her debut short story collection The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb, 978 1905583782) which draws from her own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp, as well as her current life in Gaza, stitching together a patchwork of different perspectives on what it means to be a woman in Palestine today. Editor Sarah Cleve and one of the contributors to Banthology (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974360) Zaher Omareen will talk about fighting Trump with fiction; and Kamila Shamsie and Jackie Kay discuss Refugee Tales II (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974308).

Often in this newsletter I bring you a book by one of our many hardworking publishers such as Canbury Press; attempting to explain the consequences of Brexit in an incisive and easily-digestible manner. Titles such as Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? (£8.99, pb, 978 0995497856). Clearly, despite their best efforts most people clearly still don’t get it; as Danny Dyer’s hilarious and spot-on rant this week illustrates, describing Brexit as a 'mad riddle' that nobody understands. I also very much enjoyed the pithy Brexit discussion on Love Island here.

Social scientist Catherine Hakim has been invited as panellist on Good Morning Britain shortly to talk about elite dating agencies – and of course she will be mentioning her book The New Rules (pb, £9.99, 978 1908096609). This Gibson Square title has already had lots of great publicity; the Independent called it a “masterwork” and the Times “too juicy to ignore.” Catherine has been on media as varied as Loose Women, the Today Programme, Sky News and Radio 5 Live discussing it, and is much in demand as an expert on the changing attitudes and theories on the position of women in society. The New Rules investigates how the internet is changing the power dynamic between the sexes, and looking at the latest data, Catherine Hakim traces a new fault line between men and women and how it is shifting in our increasingly sexualized culture.

Taking of publicity for books – I think we’ve all sympathised with the author who’s being interviewed by a journalist who clearly hasn’t read a word of their latest oeuvre. However, most don’t lose it quite so comprehensively as reality TV star Gemma Collins did – have a read here about her conversation with Now magazine, it’s very funny!

The longlist for the Polari Prize was announced this week, which is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. Now in its eighth year, this prize is celebrating a record number of submissions with four times the number of entries this year! You can see the full longlist of twelve here. I’m pleased to say that the Legend title, Little Gold by Allie Rogers (pb, £9.99, 978 1787199958) is on it! Little Gold is a story of survival and a celebration of love that comes up through the cracks, inspired by the author’s memories of the Brighton of her childhood. Her second novel, Tale of a Tooth (pb, £9.99, 9781787198524) was published by Legend this spring and is an immersive and compelling look at the impact of domestic abuse on a vulnerable family unit. Book Bag said of it “Allie Rogers strikes gold again … A book about issues that isn't issue-led, and a book about childhood that isn't mawkish and emotional. Allie Rogers has created a tale that's original, powerful and long lasting.” Good luck Allie – the winner of the Polari will be announced on 20th October 2018 at the London Literature Festival.

A brilliant review in the Sunday Times for Sean O'Brien's new collection from Comma, Quartier Perdu (£9.99, pb, 978-1905583706) saying “O'Brien's ever-lurking sense of humour turns satirical … Atmospheric and highly literate, with a sense of writerly power in reserve, these gothic tales from a prize-winning poet strike a relishable balance between playful and macabre.” You can read more about it on the Independent Literary Fiction blog here which also gives it a major thumbs up saying “Britain has a long ghost story tradition and after reading Quartier Perdu, I’m happy to say that Sean O’Brien … at his best, is as chilling and compelling as any of them.”

Are we talking about football? Oh go on then, and as Germany crash out of the World Cup, there wasn’t much sympathy in sight on Twitter – here's  an amusing summary of some of the best responses…

If you’re a typical mid-career worker the chances are you are being squeezed. Hard. You’re under pressure like never before, coming at you from all directions. You’ve been asked to do more with less for years, and there is nothing left to give. Meanwhile the outside world appears to have gone mad, the millennials are coming up fast behind at half your salary and you ought to be worrying about when a robot is going to take your job. Sounds familiar? My Job Isn't Working! 10 Proven Ways to Boost your Career Mojo (pb, £14.99, 978 1788600224) uses real-life stories and examples to reveal the 10 techniques Michael Brown has used to help thousands of mid-career workers. Some good publicity for this one – Michael is writing articles in both the Sun and the Mirror to publicise it, which will appear around publication which is on 10 July from Practical Inspiration.

Which is your favourite work of translated fiction? You may be interested to see if it features in The 100 Best Novels in Translation (£12.99, pb, 978 1903385678) – a selection made by Boyd Tonkin which has just been published by Galileo. The FT praised its “expertise and research” while the Times wrote “what Tonkin has to say is… often a model of pithy insight and conveys an enthusiasm which makes you immediately want to read the book he is discussing …you will emerge with expanded horizons.” Tonkin’s selection of classics ranges from the well-known authors such as Proust, Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Cervantes, Nabokov, Marquez, Kundera etc, to lesser known authors writing in languages from every corner of the earth. For each selection he has written a commentary on the plot and theme of the work concerned. The result is a rich tapestry that will surely accelerate the recent trend towards a more outward looking approach to what we read. It is both a work of reference but as importantly a book that can read from cover to cover with huge enjoyment.

We don’t usually mention titles quite so far in advance, but Dazed magazine has already flagged up The Dominant Animal by Kathryn Scanlan (978 1999854935, pb, £12.99) as one to watch out for in March 2019 from New Island. They wrote “Scanlan's first collection will come out next year, but it’s worth putting on your list now to keep an eye on. Her stories are often just a page or two long, and she writes with a bold originality, almost casually pushing her characters into wild places. The imagery is unforgettable and, fittingly for the collection’s title, animalistic. Revenge is on the minds of Scanlan’s women, who are pursued, bought, sold, mistreated, and underestimated; that is, until the decisive moment approaches, and they act, as in the closing line of The Poker: “All of this is just to say that I have seen mine enemy upon the earth – and I smote him.” You can read the whole piece here.

Blood Money: Stories of an Ex-Recce’s Missions in Iraq (978 1612006611, hb, £19.99) is a riveting and rare glimpse into the world of private military contractors and the realities of everyday life in one of the world’s most violent conflict zones. It is written with candour by an ex-South African Special Forces (Recce) soldier, Johan Raath. And it’s getting quite a bit of publicity – there are articles coming up the syndicated media on fascinating topics taken straight from the book such as How sniffer dogs foiled suicide bombers in Iraq and What would have happened if ISIS had destroyed the Mosul dam? Blood Money contains lots of black and white photos and maps, and it’s published by Casemate this month.

Fishing is undoubtably having a moment. Angling continues to be one of the largest participant sports in the UK and Gone Fishing – the new BBC programme starring Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer has had rave reviews. A much-quoted statistic is that more people in the UK go fishing every week, than go to football matches. Trout is one of the best-known and most popular of all freshwater fish, and all those amateur anglers could do a lot worse than get a copy of The Trout Cook Book: 60 Classic Recipes (£10, hb, 978 0754834274) by Jane Bamforth which is published by Lorenz in July. This is an inspiring and essential guide to preparing and cooking all trout from the rainbow to the less common brown, golden and coral as well as succulent sea trout. The sixty recipes provide lots of tasty ways to make the most of this versatile fish, with tempting ideas for grills, barbecues, bakes, stir-fries, salads, terrines and mousses; everything from Trout Bisque and Smoked Trout Tartlets, to Stuffed Trout with Tarragon Sauce and Thai-Marinated Sea Trout. As always with Lorenz, it has stunning full colour, full page photographs throughout – and I cannot believe the fantastic price point!

Let’s finish with some music – and for a change we’ll go a bit classy this week with the fourth movement of Schubert’s lovely Trout Quintet.

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 22 June 2018

Compass Points 265

"A quirky, surreal, often very funny story by a talented new writer, Red Dwarf meets Trainspotting, narrated in a new original voice." So said Joanne Harris of Lloyd Markham’s novel Bad Ideas\Chemicals (pb, 978 1912109685, £8.99) which is one of six debut novels by young writers which has just been shortlisted for the 2018 Betty Trask Prize. The prize will be presented by Stephen Fry, on Thursday 19 July; past winners include Zadie Smith and Sarah Waters, so this is definitely an award to win! Bad Ideas\Chemicals has also been shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Fiction Award and the Wales Book of the Year; there’s definitely a bit of a buzz going on about this one. Everyone who has read this in the office has loved it – and if you’d like a taste of Lloyd Markham’s uniquely odd, poignant and poetic style, you can download a chapter to read on the Parthian website here. This dark and witty take on small town life, is, as reviewers have said “bleak, weird, grim, cool... it will probably become a cult classic.” You can read an interview with Lloyd in the Cardiff Review here and in the Western Mail here.  

We live in an age where radical technological and scientific progress has helped us to be more independent and expand our ideas. But a new book suggests that religion is holding us back and is denying us the chance to enjoy society’s progress because it represses pleasure and makes us suffer. Dangerous Illusions: How Religion Deprives Us Of Happiness (hb, £25, 978 1911350286) is by Russian philanthropist and businessman Vitaly Malkin. He claims that religion has a devastating effect on the morals of both individuals and society, but by reading his book, we can free ourselves of centuries of restrictive ways of thinking. The marketing for this book which was published last week has been immense – there has been extensive advertising with the Independent and Evening Standard plus articles which you can read here and here and the book was the subject of Jeremy Clarke’s Low Life column in the Spectator. Advertising with social media channels and Amazon has also gone live and much more publicity is to come, including advertising in all of the major national papers. This battle cry for the human race to throw off religion in favour of logic and reason is based on 10 years of dedicated research and is illustrated with a rich selection of colour images. It is a highly topical work echoing contemporary debates on religion from authors such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and is published by Arcadia.

The Oberon Book of Queer Monologues (£12.99, pb, 978 1786823472) is published on 28th June to coincide with Pride Month and is the first collection of its kind chronicling over one hundred years of queer and trans performance. Combining stage plays with spoken word and performance art, this anthology features over forty extracts from some of the most exciting stage works in the English-speaking world. It will be an essential tool for artists seeking monologues for auditions or training and is a comprehensive guide through the hidden histories of queer theatre. Scottee, the book’s curator, was interviewed by the Evening Standard, where he talked about the importance of the book – you can read that article here. As he comments, “it’s quite astonishing to think we haven't seen an anthology of queer performance throughout history before” – this book is a true celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community, and as Peter Tatchell writes, is “awesome, diverse and historic”.

When was the last time you stopped to tune in to your body? Do you feel energized and full of life, or exhausted and constantly struggling? Most of us have shockingly little awareness of how badly our body is functioning, let alone how to take charge of our own health. In Reboot Your Health (978 1788170550, £12.99, pb) Sara Davenport reveals her holistic blueprint for wellbeing –  a DIY manual to help you assess the function of each of your body's systems and build a clear and detailed map of your health. It’s just been published by Hay House and has been featured in Woman & Home, Natural Health magazine and on the under the heading 12 easy ways to reboot your health. And you can find out lots more plus plenty of Sara’s invigorating re-boot tips on her own website

A terrific publicity boost for On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service (£19.99, hb, 978 1612005713) by Eric Thompson which will be appearing as a feature and extract in the Mail on Sunday at some point in the next three weeks – possibly this weekend. This book has been a stand-out success for Casemate and is the riveting inside story of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, revealing the secretive life of submarines. The author 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 of women and homosexuals in the Navy. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. It has already had five-star reviews and lots of great coverage, and this latest feature is certain to provide another sales surge.

Who knew that one of Gareth Southgate’s strategies has been to bring in ex-Royal Marines, who had lost limbs in battle to talk with the England squad? They told them that they too had once been young men sent abroad to fight for their country and helped the players to park any fears of what lay ahead and focus on the positives. Southgate said those marines had given the players “huge perspective” on what pressure really meant. One of one of those soldiers was Andy Grant. When he woke from a ten-day coma in February 2009, he had a broken sternum, a broken leg, a broken elbow and shrapnel lodged in both forearms. He had a severed femoral artery, nerve damage to his hands and feet as well as deep gaping wounds in both of his cheeks. He had been blown up during a routine foot patrol in Afghanistan. Within days of coming to his senses, a doctor told Andy that because of the blast he would no longer be able to have children. You'll Never Walk (£15.99, hb, 978 1909245709) is his story. Its title comes from the fact he had a ­tattoo of Liverpool FC’s crest on his calf before he was blown up, and when the surgeon cut through his leg he removed the word Alone, leaving You’ll Never Walk on show. There’s been lots of publicity already for this inspirational book in the Daily Express, the Mirror, and we’ve just heard that Andy will be on BBC Breakfast talking about it on 18th July. It’s published by deCoubertin

Last week we were talking about a couple of books on the Practical Inspiration list – from publisher Alison Jones. Now let’s talk about Alison’s own new title This Book Means Business: Clever Ways to Plan and Write a Book that Works Harder for your Business (£15.99, pb, 978 1910056691) which is aimed at all those who believe they have a book in them! In her Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast, Alison Jones goes under the hood of successful business books to discover how they’re put together and how they work for the businesses behind them. This book brings together all those inspiring and effective ideas, giving you a unique insight into how some of the world’s top business authors work and showing how you can make these ideas work for you too. Scott Pack said of it “What Alison Jones doesn't know about writing, publishing and marketing business books probably isn't worth knowing. Even if the cover price of this book were £100, you'd still be getting a bargain: the sheer volume of advice it contains will prove priceless to anyone thinking of writing a business book. It contains everything you need to know, and then some.” This is a both practical and entertaining handbook which as one entrepreneur said “is full of ideas that work: open it at any page and you’ll find something you can use.”

Saira Hamilton is a chef, food writer and cookery teacher, whose Bengali-inspired food took her to the finals of MasterChef 2013. During the competition, Saira won high praise from John and Gregg for her delicious dishes and deftness of touch, and I’m pleased to tell you that Lorenz are publishing her first book in November; My Bangladesh Kitchen: Recipes and Food Memories From a Family Table (£20, hb, 978 0754834502). Bangladesh is a land of contrasts, from busy cities to the lush and fertile countryside, with lakes and rivers at every turn. The cuisine reflects the abundance of vegetables and fish, and in this book Saira has brought together everyday classics, regional specialities, street snacks, and impressive celebration food too. It is packed with background detail and anecdote, vibrant photographs of every dish, and an informative introduction describing the ingredients and cooking techniques of Bangladesh. I have seen spreads from this one – and it really is gorgeous!

Lianna Champ has nearly 40 years’ experience in funeral care and bereavement counselling. She has worked in all areas of bereavement, including, most recently, with the relatives of those involved in the traumatic Manchester terror attack. She is passionate about improving our relationship with death and dying, teaching us that if we live well we can die well. Her new book How to Grieve Like a Champ (£9.99, pb, 978 1910453551) is both comforting and practical, and designed with the knowledge that most grieving people have a short attention span; the book clearly presents essential information together with inspirational words in easily digestible short paragraphs. Plenty of publicity for this one, you can find an online summary of all the magazine and press coverage so far here and Sarah has also been on Ireland’s Newstalk talking about life as a female funeral director, and there is likely to be a forthcoming article in the Sun. It was published last week by Red Door.

Three winners for Crown in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. When The Adults Change, Everything Changes (978 1781352731) by Paul Dix has been awarded the Silver Winner in the education category. Release Your Inner Drive (978 1785831997) by Bradley Busch and Edward Watson has been awarded the Honourable Mention in the young adult nonfiction category. And The Lazy Teacher's Handbook (978 1781352687) by Jim Smith has been awarded the Honourable Mention in the education category. Well done all!

There’s a forthcoming Irish market focus edition of the Bookseller coming in the last week in June which will feature an interview with Sue Rainsford, author of the stunning debut Follow Me to Ground (hb, £9.99, 978 1848406889) an unnerving, beautifully controlled and sinister tale that questions our preconceptions of predator and prey and the consequences of unchecked desire. A number of other New Island titles will also be featured in the round up of new titles and there will be an ad featuring the new reissue of Nuala O’Faolain’s Are you Somebody? which we mentioned last week.

Primosole Bridge in Sicily from 13-16 July 1943 provided the stage for the first instance of opposing elite paratroopers parachuting into battle and then fighting each other in a see-saw battle raging under the blazing Mediterranean sky. It’s a story of courage and determination. A story of legendary military units and their commanders. A story that now, on the eve of its 75th Anniversary, is told for the first time ever in The First Bridge Too Far: The Battle of Primosole Bridge 1943 by Mark Saliger (£19.99, hb, 978 1612006895). War History Online are running a feature entitled “This is what happens when elite German and British paratroopers try and land on the same bridge at the same time” and there are other articles coming up in the military media. This is a gripping and well-researched narrative solely dedicated to one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles for British airborne troops of WWII, and the bravery and grit of the paratroopers in standing up to overwhelming odds is something that deserves to be more widely known. It is published on 13 July by Casemate.

July 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11's epochal lunar landing. Here's  the trailer for First Man – the film on this great achievement (staring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong) which is out this autumn. As you would expect, there is going to be lots of publishing around this story, but I really think that London Stereoscopic have an absolute belter on the subject with Mission Moon 3-D: A New Perspective on the Space Race (£30, 978 1999667405, hb) which is the story of the lunar landing and the events that led up to it, grippingly told and with visually stunning 3D images. It is written by editor of Astronomy magazine David Eicher, with a foreword by Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke and an epilogue by former NASA Astronaut Naval Aviator Jim Lovell. Mission Moon 3-D offers unique access to the Apollo astronauts and what they saw. It tells the story of the US-Soviet space race, from Sputnik and the space dog Laika to Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. On July 20, 1969, President Richard Nixon told the astronauts, and the nation, that it was "the greatest week in the history of the world since the Creation." Mission Moon 3-D recounts all this and more in memorable and visually stunning fashion. It has 192 pages, 300 photographs and includes the OWL 3D viewer. Astrophysicist (and lead guitarist with Queen!) Brian May is the creative director behind the book and think this will sell very well.

Always good to finish with some music – so here  are the Top Ten Space Songs! I think we can all guess what’s number one – which is also fifty years old next year!

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 15 June 2018

Compass Points 264

Who’s ever wondered why most business books are written by men? Well, if you and your bookshop are bored of the same old macho willy-waving, then this is a highly refreshing list in the Independent of ten that are written by women. It includes two titles from a publisher we’ve recently been delighted to welcome to Team Compass; Practical Inspiration Publishing. This is the home of books that mean business: from management to marketing, parenting to leadership, HR to outdoor skills, internationally recognized authorities share their expertise. Strip Naked and Re-Dress With Happiness by Maria Hocking (£10.99, pb, 978 1910056448) is an emotional and thought-provoking title about how to survive and thrive though adversity; whether you’re in the boardroom or just facing going out alone. Maria shares her emotional journey of battling alopecia, amongst other health challenges, and how these shaped her outlook but also her future career. The Invisible Revolution by Nicola Huelin (£14.99, pb, 978 1910056615) shows the reader how they can join the empowered mumpreneurs and build a business they love. From finding your vision and personal values to marketing and persistence, it covers multiple important aspect of the business world. The list also includes the recent Hay House title Purpose: Find Your Truth and Embrace Your Calling by Jessica Huie (£12.99, pb, 978 1788170567). In it, Jessica documents her journey from teen mum struggling to make ends meet, to an extremely successful entrepreneur who advised the prime minister and worked with every celebrity around. Estelle, no less, said of this title “Once you read her story you are left feeling refreshed, rebuilt and ready to take on the world.”

Thanks Estelle, let’s have a bit of your uplifting music right now!

While we’re on the subject of inspirational women; it’s Feminist Book Fortnight from Saturday 16th June to Saturday 30th June. In celebration of Vote 100 (the hundredth anniversary of some women in the UK getting the vote) a group of radical and independent bookshops is launching this fabulous celebration of feminist books, when some of our very favourite indies around the country will be highlighting the diversity of feminist books with displays of books and events. You can find out all about it here.  

Lots of publicity coming up for the wonderful Elsewhere Home (pb, £8.99, 978 1846592119) by Leila Aboulela which is published by Saqi on 2 July including interviews and extracts in the Herald, a feature in Woman’s Way, radio interviews on the BBC World Service and lots of appearances at festivals. It’s been longlisted for the People’s Book Prize which you can find out more about – and vote for – here.

Here’s a highly topical book coming from Pluto in September. Talking to North Korea: Ending the Nuclear Standoff (pb, £14.99, 9780745337852) is by Glyn Ford and is a very controversial take on one of the most terrifying political situations of the twenty-first century. Glyn has visited North Korea over 40 times and has worked with the regime’s leadership as MEP. He has been highly in demand recently – he’s very knowledgeable and opinionated and has just done a couple of slots on Talk Radio, one with Eamonn Holmes and one with James Whale. You can hear his views on the Trump / Kim summit on this terrific five-minute video promoting his book on YouTube here.  Talking to North Korea challenges the media myths which paint it as a rogue state run by a mad leader, myths which are used Glyn believes by Western governments to support a military strike against the country. What if, instead of forcing regime change, the West listened to what the regime actually wanted?

Punch and Judy Politics? I’ll say! Who saw the extraordinary scenes at PMQ’s this week? What perfect timing for Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton’s book which launches next week. The authors have been much demand with their comments all across the media! Ayesha and Tom spent five years preparing Ed Miliband for the weekly joust, living through the highs and lows, the drama, the tension and the black humour of the political front line. With their unique knowledge plus personal recollections from key players from both sides, including Tony Blair, David Cameron, William Hague, Ed Miliband, George Osborne, Vince Cable, Harriet Harman and Neil Kinnock, this insightful and often hilarious book takes you behind the scenes of some of the biggest PMQs moments. Punch and Judy Politics: An Insiders' Guide to Prime Minister's Questions (£20, hb, 978 1785901843) is published by Biteback.

I had a bit of a chuckle at this A-Z of Author Events on Secret Bookseller’s blog. A is for Authors, B is for Books – yep I think we’re all in agreement so far. How about K is for Knobhead and N is for Narcotics…

What is a “lost” women’s classic? How unappreciated does something have to be before you consider it lost? Also, lost to whom? In a recent article on Top Ten Lost Women’s Classics in the Guardian, which you can read here Nuala O’Faolain’s Are you Somebody? (£7.99, pb, 978 1848406858) was listed as one of the “books, you’ll realise, that your library was lost without.” New Island reissued it this year in an anniversary edition to mark ten years since the author’s death. The Guardian said of Nuala’s writing that she was “someone witty and female who would not only call a spade a spade but acknowledge the blade, the handle the funny way it sticks out of the earth” and this book is as Roddy Doyle said “an extraordinary, powerful memoir. It is beautifully written, with an honesty that is both sensitive and stark.”

Great to see Kalwant Bhopal launching her book White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-racial Society (£15.59, pb, 978 1447335979) at The Centre for Research in Race and Education in Birmingham this week. Despite claims that we now live in a post-racial society, Kalwant examines how race continues to disadvantage those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, shifting from overt to covert racism. She also shows how certain types of whiteness is privileged, whilst other white identities, Gypsies and Travellers for example, remain marginalised and disadvantaged in society. Drawing on topical debates around education, employment, class and poverty, this important book examines the impact of race on wider issues of difference in society. It’s published by Policy Press.

Martina EvansNow We Can Talk Openly About Men (pb, £9.99, 978 1784105785) is the Observer’s Poetry Book of the Month – with an enthusiastic review saying “I loved everything about this book … there is a garrulous humanity and humour in Evans’s writing.” You can read the whole feature – which includes an extract, here.  Now We Can Talk Openly about Men is a pair of dramatic monologues, snapshots of the lives of two women in 1920s Ireland. The first, Kitty Donovan, is a dressmaker in the time of the Irish War of Independence. The second, Babe Cronin, is set in 1924, shortly after the Irish Civil War. Kitty is a dressmaker with a taste for laudanum. Babe is a stenographer who has fallen in love with a young revolutionary. Through their separate, overlapping stories, Evans colours an era and a culture seldom voiced in verse. It has just been published by Carcanet.

In 1919 Sigmund Freud published an essay The Theory of the Uncanny that delved deep into the tradition of horror writing and claimed to understand its darkest tricks. In the spirit of this great experiment, back in 2007, fourteen leading authors were challenged to write fresh fictional interpretations of what the uncanny might mean in the 21st century; updating Freud’s famous checklist of what gives us the creeps. Possum, one of the stories from this award-winning collection has now been turned into a film, which is premiering on the 25th June at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Directed by its author Matthew Holness and starring Sean Harris, who is on magnificently twisted form as Philip, a troubled children’s puppeteer who is forced to face up to his wicked stepfather (Alun Armstrong) and the dark and surreal secrets that have tortured him his entire life. Comma are publishing a new edition of The New Uncanny (£9.99, pb, 978 1905583188) that Time Out called a masterclass in understated creepiness.” I LOVE the new cover! It’s available to order now.

As the #MeToo movement spreads across the creative industries, writers are facing increasingly draconian attempts by publishers to police their behaviour, calling into question centuries old assumptions about the desirability – or even the possibility in today’s networked world – of separating writers’ lives from their work. So begins a very thought provoking article in the Guardian here about the return of ‘morality clauses’ in US publishing contracts. Are writers entitled to hold offensive opinions? How about sexual misconduct? And should their behaviour influence our opinion of their work?

Author Andy Hedgecock wrote a brilliant article recently for The Morning Star about the real-life people that inspired his short story Trying Lydia in Comma’s anthology Protest: Stories of Resistance. He found that researching a Luddite rising in Nottinghamshire revealed state collusion which offered many insights into the present. You can read the whole piece here.

Andrew Liddle’s new biography Ruth Davidson: And The Resurgence Of The Scottish Tories (hb, £18.99, 978 1785901744) continues to gain attention, particularly, north of the border of course with a variety of news pieces in The Times, Daily Record,  Scotsman, The National and Herald Scotland and this review in The Times. A lesbian, kick-boxing former Territorial Army reservist, Davidson has broken the mould of both Tory and Scottish politics and has been touted as a future Prime Minister. This first biography of one of Britain’s rising political stars examines how Davidson rejuvenated the toxic Tory brand and asks what the future holds both in Scotland and beyond for this extraordinary young politician. With Scottish politics in flux following the hard-fought independence referendum and Britain s imminent departure from the EU, Davidson’s profile will only become more prominent as she heads up the official opposition. It’s published by Biteback.

John Erik Fossum and Hans-Petter Graver, authors of Squaring the Circle on Brexit: Could the Norway Model Work? (978 1 447348122, pb, £ 12.99) have published an interesting blog post here for the LSE Politics and Policy website – all great timing, with Brexit debates more in the news than ever! It’s published by Policy Press.

The William Roache book Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Healthy Life (hb, £18.99, 978-1781809778) is published by Hay House next week and there’s loads of publicity – he is going to be EVERYWHERE! Just for starters that includes Loose Women –15th June, BBC Breakfast – 20th June, RTE TV – 22nd June and Granada TV News – 20th June. He will be speaking on the following radio shows: BBC Radio 2 Steve Wright – 19th June, BBC Radio 5 – date tbc, BBC Radio Manchester – 20th June, Newstalk Pat Kenny Show – 22nd June and will be featured in the Daily Mirror – 10th/11th June, Daily Mail – w/c 12th June, Sunday Express, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail Weekend, OK! – w/c 12th June and the Radio Times w/c 12th June. And there’s likely to be more!

There was a great review of Banthology (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974360in World Literature Today saying "The stories, while cohesive, are not so similar that reading them feels monotonous. Rather, utilising uniquely different styles, each author manages to capture and fully develop a different perspective on the same overarching themes of immigration and xenophobia." You can read that here.

It’s Pride Month and of course Jessica Kingsley are fully committed to publishing pioneering books on LGBT issues for all readers. From children's storybooks, through to memoirs and practical guides for practitioners, there's something for everyone. To celebrate #Pride2018 in your bookshops check out their full range of titles here.  

Always good to finish with some music – and in the absence of an official England World Cup offering, what do we have to entertain us? First up is this unofficial remix – Rasputin Rebooted from Ricky Wilson and Freddie Flintoff. No, I’m not joking. OK then how about this, Live it Up, the official FIFA video by Nicky Jam feat. Will Smith and Era Istrefi. Hmm. Or you could try Colors from Jason Derulo which is the Coca-Cola World Cup anthem. No? Not really feeling it? Never mind, this little ditty from CBeebies is trending rapidly – and something tells me it could yet be the hit of the summer…

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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