Friday 20 July 2018

Compass Points 269

George Washington Wilson was Victorian Scotland’s leading photographer, particularly in the art of stereo photography. Prince Albert commissioned him to photograph the construction of Balmoral Castle, and he also captured many historic portraits of Queen Victoria who honoured him by appointing him her official photographer. He made a thriving business printing and selling stereo cards of tourist attractions and now a new book, George Washington Wilson: Artist and Photographer (hb, £30, 978 0957424692) presents a glorious gallery of his work in colour. The 3D imagery that had enthralled Wilson, captured the imagination of Brian May a century later and he has written a foreword to the book which includes the OWL 3-D viewer, which May designed. Of course Brian May’s involvement ensures plenty of publicity for this fascinating title, and there have already been pieces in the Mail, the Scotsman, the Herald, and the Independent. It’s by Professor Roger Taylor, who is the world authority on Wilson, and will be published on 15 August by The London Stereoscopic Company. This will appeal to stereo photography enthusiasts, collectors of LSC fine art editions; historians tourists and everyone interested in Scottish culture.

Lots to look forward from And Other Stories in the last of the summer's literary festivals, with highlights including author of Brother In Ice (pb, £10, 978 1911508205) Alicia Kopf in conversation with Philip Hoare in a very special event at West Cork Literary Festival on Garnish Island which includes a special little boat trip and everything! There’s a performance of Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World (£8.99, pb, 978 1908276421) at the Edinburgh International Literature Festival. Herrera will be flying over from the US to take part in this unique event on 25th August. More information here. Also at Edinburgh will be Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (21st August), Jen Hodgson (talking about Ann Quin's The Unmapped Country) (21st August), and Alicia Kopf (25th August).

More excellent coverage of Leila Aboulela’s Elsewhere, Home (£8.99, pb, 978 1846592119) which was selected as a Guardian Best Summer Read. The Observer called it “A beautiful and desolate collection … Aboulela’s stories distil many of her recurring concerns – immigrant loneliness, complicated romance and a portrayal of the Islamic faith that goes far beyond the cliched narrative – but without ever becoming trite. … There is so much quiet brilliance that it is a surprise for those who have only followed Aboulela’s long-form fiction to discover she has just as much mastery of the short form.” There have also been features in Lithub, and interviews on BBC Radio Scotland, Middle East Eye, and reviews in The National, Bookoxygen, and the Herald who said it was “thoughtful, wry, funny … The deceptively quiet tales in Elsewhere, Home are barbed with tension and conflict. There is the desperate homesickness of immigrants; the complications of love between believers and non-believers … Aboulela’s interest is with ordinary people, with everyday ambitions and desires.”

Who daydreams about being a billionaire? And how would you spend your hard-earned cash? David McCourt shares just that in the Guardian here and this highly successful Irish American telecoms entrepreneur also has plenty to share in his new book which is part business biography, part business blueprint. Total Rethink: Why Entrepreneurs Should Act Like Revolutionaries (£20, hb, 978 1910453537) has just been published by Red Door. David believes that in business, and life, everything is changing fast – apart from how we behave. Our ways of thinking and making decisions have changed little since we lived in agricultural and industrial societies, but the problems we now need to solve are entirely different and require a revolution in thinking and behaviour to meet the challenges that now face us. This book has had good press and is a genuinely new and insightful way of looking at not just business but the whole of life. And if you fancy becoming an entrepreneur yourself? Well, David says that “my new book is about how people can engage in their creative side as well as business, and it’s for anyone – not just business people. If anyone comes up to me (or tweets me @DCMcCourt) and can prove they have read my book, I’ll guarantee to do one of two things: give them a copy or read their business plan.”

During the 1920s and 30s, a British journalist, JMN Jeffries followed the events in Palestine with growing anger, as he saw the effects of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 on the indigenous Arab inhabitants as they faced the loss of their rights and their land to a movement, political Zionism, which wanted to take over Palestine and turn it into a Jewish state. Colin Andersen has written the first ever biography of Jeffries and of how he came to write his monumental book, Palestine: The Reality, which revealed the truth about the injustice being inflicted on the Palestinians. Balfour in the Dock (978 1911072225, £16.99, hb) is published by Skyscraper and has just been shortlisted for the Palestine Book Prize to be awarded in November. Balfour in the Dock is a devastating indictment of British policy in the Middle East and strengthens the growing campaign for an apology for the Balfour Declaration which has caused such havoc in world politics over the last hundred years.

At the age of thirty-six, Gordon Darroch's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a devastating blow just as he, and their two children with autism, were preparing to move to her native Holland. Eighteen months later, as their plans seemed to be back on course, came the second blow: Magteld was terminally ill and possibly had only a few months to live. As her health rapidly deteriorated, they became caught up in a race against time to get a dying mother home and give their children a future in a country they hardly knew. All the Time We Thought We Had (pb, £9.99, 978-1846974472) is a story of love and loss and a meditation on grief and memory. It's about how events shape our lives and how we cope with them. And it raises important questions about what we value in life and the legacies we leave behind. The National Autistic Society will be promoting this very special book and will do a social media campaign for their members (600,000 followers) and interview Gordon for their newsletter and magazine (25,000 print edition for members and online edition too). It’s out in September from Birlinn.

As part of their Basque Literature in Translation Carnival project, Parthian are publishing for the first time in English, two Basque novels: Her Mother's Hands by Karmele Jaio and A Glass Eye by Miren Agur Meabe. One of the bestselling books in the Basque literary scene, Her Mother’s Hands (£8.99, pb, 978 1912109555) is an examination of the deepest human bonds and a beautiful and moving tribute to life. The precarious balance in the life of Nerea, a thirty-something journalist, breaks down when her mother, Luisa, is hospitalised with total amnesia. Nerea, who feels guilty for not having recognised the symptoms that afflicted her mother, now finds a person almost unknown to her, but soon she begins to discover that the two women share much more than they believe. A Glass Eye (pb, £8.99, 978 1912109548) begins when a woman flees from Spain to France. She is a writer and she is trying to come to terms with loss after the break-up of a relationship. The new world offers solace and the practice of writing offers hope and understanding as she comes to term with the losses in her life. Karmele Jaio is taking part in the Edinburgh International Bookfair in August and Pen Translates will be releasing information on both titles in their newsletter and on their website.

Guardian journalist Claire Armistead joined the fourth day of the annual Refugee Tales Walk in solidarity with asylum seekers who have suffered under the UK's policy of immigration detention. Read here what she had to say about her experience, and the influence of fairytale and myth on modern narratives

What’s your other half’s most irritating habit? If you’re thinking “blimey, where do I start” then you’ll enjoy this entertaining piece in the Mail by Olivia Fane, the author of Possibly a Love Story (£8.99, pb, 978 1910050965) about the smallest things that our partners do can to upset us. Possibly a Love Story is a viciously funny satire on the middle classes and middle-class values, but with a huge heart, and it’s published by Arcadia. The Mail called it “Surprising, beautifully written ... hilarious, heartbreaking and thought-provoking”.

How do you write a story set in 1904 Morocco about a group of missing women when they do not exist in any public record and when these women are “defined by their relationship to a man.” That was the task facing Saeida Rouass in her novel Assembly Of The Dead (£8.99, pb, 978 1907605772) which is published by Impress. Set in 1904 as Morocco is under threat from the colonial ambitions of France and Spain; the urbane and wise detective Farouk is sent by the Sultan to Marrakesh to solve the mystery of the missing girls. This multi layered novel is grounded in historical truth and detail, and is a captivating journey through colours, scents and sounds of old Marrakesh, peopled by vivid characters who perfectly capture the unsettled sensation of changing times and mingling cultures. Reviewers have compared “this little pearl of a book … to Umberto Eco’s classical novel The Name of the Rose, having clear parallels in describing the struggle between the dark ages’ social and religious control mechanisms and a progressive, scientific approach, deciding over the destiny of individuals, and of women in particular.”

I very much enjoyed reading this month’s And Other Stories blog which chooses the lovely Harbour Books in the seaside town of Whitstable, Kent as its bookshop of the month. Who wouldn’t want to be working beside the sea right now – fancy a job swap anyone there?!

When Gerald Grosvenor, sixth Duke of Westminster, died in August 2016 he was one of the world’s richest men, his fortune estimated at just under £10 billion. Yet he hated his wealth and spent long periods suffering from severe depression, much of it brought on by a feeling that his whole life had been a failure and that his money had destroyed any chance of happiness. The Reluctant Billionaire (hb, £20, 978 1785903168) is by Tom Quinn, who interviewed the sixth Duke on a number of occasions as well as many people who knew him. The book looks at the long and often eccentric history of the Grosvenor family and its wealth and the intriguing means by which that wealth has been shielded from the taxman; as well as the bizarre life of a complex and tortured man. The Daily Mail will be serialising this one from 26th July through to the 7th August and it’s published on 7 August by Biteback.

There was a great review for The Book of Havana (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974018) this week in Disclaimer Magazine, who said of the collection “This book proves what it set out to prove, that Havana, and more widely its surrounding country, is not simply a remnant of the Cold War, is not a footnote to US history.” There was also an interview with editor Orsola Casagrande on Booktrail and an extract from one of the stories called The Trinity of Havana on

A Perfect Mother (hb, £15, 978 0995647848) is a bracing, hypnotic story of midlife crisis about the complexities of love, relationship and legacy by literary editor Katri Skala. Vesna Goldsworthy, author of Gorsky called it “a wonderfully accomplished novel...complex and compulsively readable at the same time... It tells a story of attraction, parenthood and madness with great psychological subtlety, while also creating an unforgettable sense of place, equally at home in England and in Italy. I haven’t encountered as beautiful a portrait of Trieste and its culture in many years.” It’s published by Hikari Press in September, and there’s quite a bit of publicity lined up; a 1600-word spread in the Times T2 at the end of August, an interview in the Telegraph, and articles in You Magazine and the Sunday Times as well as reviews coming in the Economist, Tatler, Sunday Times, Marie Claire, Nature and The TLS. There’s also going to be a blog tour at the start of September with The Last Word, Books By Women, Love Books Group, Portobello Book Blog, Liz Loves Books, The Book Magnet, Writers & Artists Blog and My Reading Corner all reading it!

What was the first official international association football match England ever played? A nil nil draw with Scotland, which took place at Hamilton Crescent on 30 November 1872! Just one of the fascinating facts you’ll find in England The Complete Record 1872-2018 (£25, hb, 978 1909245686) by Jack Gordon Brown and Philip Ross. Fully updated ahead of the 2018 World Cup, England: The Complete Record is the definitive account of one of the world's most recognisable and historic national teams. You can hear the authors alongside De Coubertin assistant publisher Megan Pollard on BBC Radio Merseyside talking about the book which is published on 30 August here.

And on the subject of the English football team, I don’t think it gets much funnier than this mash-up from the ever hilarious Cassetteboy!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment