Friday 3 August 2018

Compass Points 270

On 1 July 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected as the next President of Mexico. A progressive politician, AMLO’s campaign galvanised people across Mexico and his decisive victory speaks volumes about the corrupt state of the Mexican political elite, the temperament of the country’s people, and the election of Trump, who publicly derides the Mexican people as drug dealers, criminals and rapists. Pluto are thrilled to have won a major bidding war to publish A New Hope for Mexico: Saying No to Corruption, Violence, and Trump’s Wall (pb, £12.99, 978 0745339535) which in AMLO’s own words, paints a picture of a country plagued by cronyism and neoliberalism, and declares the dawn of a new era, vowing to uplift poor, indigenous communities and provide jobs and welfare for all. This is a vital book – AMLO’s election has huge implications for the Mexican people and the United States, and there will be loads of publicity! It will be extracted in the Guardian, and there will be author interviews on BBC Radio 4 Today, BBC 2 Newsnight, and the ITV News as well as big features in the FT and Economist and reviews in all the major broadsheets. There is a launch event partnership with Guardian Live and endorsements from Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Yanis Varoufakis. Pluto are mounting a social media campaign around the theme of Who is AMLO? and there will be special promotional merchandise available for booksellers: campaign tote bags, hats, postcards available as well as proof copies; contact for more info. It will be published in October, on the eve of AMLO’s inauguration, capturing a political moment that will be game-changing in the fight against Trump’s America.

Vegetable Cakes: The Most Fun Way to Five a Day (£10, hb, 978 0754833246) by Ysanne Spevac  is out on 7 September from Lorenz. This gorgeously illustrated hardback has just been featured in Waitrose magazine with some fabulous photographs which is fantastic publicity! This baking book with a difference brings you a kale and coconut gateau, asparagus and sesame cake, a carrot and coriander traybake, cheesecakes made with fennel and pumpkin ... delicious baking with major health benefits, what’s not to love! From beetroot cheesecake to radish-topped pavlova, smuggling veg into meals has never been easier or more enticing; the photos of the vibrant veggie creations in this book are truly fabulous.

What do you think about internet celebrities? Well, whatever your views, chances are that most of your assumptions are wrong says digital anthropologist and Emerald author Crystal Abidin! Here are five common misconceptions about internet celebrities from Female First that you can find in her new book, Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online (£16.99, pb, 978 1787560796, which is part of Emerald’s Society Now series. This book presents a framework for thinking about the different forms of internet celebrity that have emerged over the last decade, to consolidate key ideas about cultures of online fame. Have a read of her article to find out about things you didn’t even know you wanted to know about like the plane bae romance and the Bad Luck Brian meme!

There's some great publicity on the way for the publication of Norah Lange’s People in the Room (£10, pb, 978 1911508229) which is out next week from And Other Stories. There will be reviews in the Guardian, TLS, Spectator and Literary Review and a profile of Norah in the Guardian Online. Lange's imaginative excesses and almost hallucinatory images make this uncanny exploration of desire, domestic space, voyeurism and female isolation a twentieth-century masterpiece. Too long viewed as Borges's muse, Lange is today recognised in the Spanish-speaking world as a great writer and is here translated into English for the first time, to be read alongside Virginia Woolf, Clarice Lispector and Marguerite Duras.

Lots of buzz around Refugee Tales this week – the Guardian Books Podcast features journalist Claire Armistead's time on the most recent Refugee Tales walk, calling it “ a visionary project amplifying the voices of refugees” and you can listen to that  here.  And you also may have seen that the Comma crowdfunder campaign with Refugee Tales has already hit its target! The campaign featured a statement read by actress and Comma patron Maxine Peake, calling for a 28-day time limit for detainees. Comma have since published two further videos, with actresses Zoe Wanamaker here and Sheila Hancock here reading the same statement. Refugee Tales 1 (pb, £9.99, 978-1910974230) and 2 (pb, £9.99, 978-1910974308) are both available now.

Alan Wilkins will be chatting today with the legendary Aggers at Edgbaston on the BBC during the cricket tea interval about his book Easier Said Than Done: A Life in Sport (£20, hb, 978 1902719610). From boy racer in Cardiff, to first-class cricket, to life as a sports broadcaster, this is sure to be extremely entertaining – as is the book itself which is out from St David’s Press now! Alan’s has been out and about at cricket matches chatting (you can hear him on BBC Radio Gloucestershire here ) and signing copies of his memoirs all over the place this summer: Cardiff, Bristol, Headingly, Trent Bridge, Old Trafford  and Lords to name just a few! This absorbing hardback should sell well right through to Christmas!

We’re always keen to spread the word about our wonderful indie publishers in any way – so we’re pleased to tell you about a new platform called Readers and Publishers which you can find out more about here.  The Carcanet page is here. I do hope this takes off and we see even more publishers on the site – could be a great way to find new readers!

There’s a terrific interview here with director Eamon Bourke talking to writer Robert Minhinnick about his Wales Book of the Year winning Carcanet collection, Diary of the Last Man (£9.99, pb, 978 1784103484 ) and the new documentary film it has inspired. The judges commented on the importance and relevance of these “vital and visionary” poems as reactions to and against the times we find ourselves and the film will be screened at various festivals in the coming months (including the Swansea Fringe Festival, 5-7 October) alongside readings from Robert. You can watch a trailer for it here.  

A lovely review in the TLS for The Heart’s Granary (£30, hb, 978 1911253280) which marks the fiftieth anniversary of Enitharmon Press. Compiled by Lawrence Sail, it is a personal selection that conveys the Press’s striking range and coherence – international in reach, while true to its Blakean vision. Including prose as well as poems, with more than 120 contributors, and with full-colour illustrations by some of the many well-known artists who represent another facet of Enitharmon’s achievements; the anthology creates new contexts for writers, translators and artists, and is a touchstone of the journeys undertaken by writers in a world that has changed radically since the publisher’s beginnings in 1967. The TLS called it “Not only a commemoration of a remarkable publishing venture but a rich and rewarding demonstration of poetry’s variety.”

Some terrific reviews coming in for The First Bridge Too Far (£22.50, hb, 978 1612006895) which has just been published by Casemate. The Recollections of WW11 blog said “The Battle of Primosole Bridge is brought to life in a well-researched narrative solely dedicated to one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles for British airborne troops of World War Two.” You can read the whole piece here. This absorbing story of courage and determination is at times breathlessly exciting, but the author does not shy away from the grim horrors, appalling waste of the lives and shocking list of missed lessons. There are useful parallels drawn with modern operations.

Fantastic to see Carcanet, Saqi and Comma all taking part in the BookBlast Tour this September! This nationwide festival of indie publishing will be travelling to major cities across England, showcasing some of the finest independent-spirited literature and poetry being published today. The tour is in association with Waterstones, and will visit nine regions of England, celebrating risk-taking publishers who fill a unique niche in discovering extraordinary writing. Writing that surprises, amazes and intrigues. Writing that challenges, disrupts and demands. Writing that is from the margins of culture portraying areas of life that the traditionalist mainstream often ignores. The tour will inspire readers, existing and new, to explore what’s happening in different parts of the world now, and to immerse themselves in the unfamiliar. BookBlast runs from 11 September – 15 November 2018 and you can find out more about it here.  

Those of us who are fans of William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic 1848 novel Vanity Fair are already getting rather overexcited about the ITV and Amazon seven-part adaptation that features Olivia Cooke playing Becky Sharp, as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English society. Her story of villainy, crime, merriment, lovemaking, jilting, laughing, cheating, fighting and dancing, takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking hearts and losing fortunes along the way – and it looks brilliant – you can watch a trailer here.  Lots of editions available – but let me draw your attention to this one (978 1788881876, pb, £6.99) which is out next week from Arcturus, and is beautifully presented with a striking cover, easy-to-read type and an excellent price point without compromising on style or content. The series starts in September – I can’t wait!

Inequality is the key political issue of our time. The gap between the very rich and the rest is wider in Britain than in any other large country in Europe. In Peak Inequality: Britain’s Ticking Time Bomb (pb, £12.99, 978 1447349075) which has just been published by Policy Press, Danny Dorling brings together brand new material alongside a selection of his most recent writing on inequality from publications as wide ranging as the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, New Statesman, Financial Times and the China People's Daily. Covering key inequality issues including politics, housing, education and health, he explores whether we have now reached peak inequality. There’s a great piece on this title here in the New Statesman, and I am loving this picture of it lording it over Mrs Thatcher in Foyles this week!

A nice review of There to Be Shot At (£20, hb, 978 1909245617) by Tony Coton in When Saturday Comes, which you can read here.  “Throughout this lively autobiography, former Birmingham City, Watford and Manchester City goalkeeper Tony Coton comes across as a straightforward, likeable character with a strong work ethic and sense of loyalty to family and friends – albeit a man you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. An engaging book.” Tony Coton is considered as one of the best goalkeepers never to play for England and in this "riveting new autobiography." (The Telegraph) he deals with the minutiæ of goalkeeping: what it takes to succeed, how to improve and whether, as commentators say, you really need to be mad to be one. It’s just been published by De Coubertin

Has kindness become the new cool? David R Hamilton certainly thinks so, and in this entertaining article in Grazia magazine he argues that kind has become the buzz word of summer 2018 and culturally, we’re at the heart of a revolution. The waistcoated one may be the personification of cool kindness, but he isn’t the only one leading the charge. Queer Eye is 2018’s breakout TV success, and is a show centred on kind men; we’ve also unexpectedly fallen under the spell of kind comedy Gone Fishing, and podcasts such as Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place top the charts. David’s Hay House book I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love (978 1781801840, £10.99, pb) has had so many positive reviews, and is, as the Sun wrote “is packed with powerful exercises designed to increase your level of self-worth, which will make you stronger and happier. Interesting and thought-provoking stuff.”

It was the world premiere of Daphne Oram’s major orchestral work Still Point lovingly pieced together from archive material at a special Proms tribute to the godmothers of electronica, earlier this month, and the concert got a lot of coverage – you can watch it again here.  Oram's only book An Individual Note of Music Sound and Electronics (£20, hb, 978 1910221112) which was first published in 1972 and was out of print for many years, is now available in a new edition from Anomie. This playful yet compelling manifesto from the dawn of electronic music is a unique perspective from one of Britain's greatest (if woefully under recognised) composers. It’s a handsome hardback edition, and includes a number of beautiful archival images that the original did not, and with its striking design it comes highly recommended for anyone with an interest in music of any type.

A busy week for Biteback’s The Briefing (hb, £20, 978 1785903809), with Sean Spicer attracting a lot of attention on both sides of the Atlantic. The book has amassed many column inches this week from  The GuardianMail OnlineDaily TelegraphDaily MirrorThe Independent, and on the other side of the pond pieces in the Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostNewsweek, and Vanity Fair. Spicer's broadcast appearances have prompted much discussion, especially his interview with Emily Maitlis on  Newsnight which has been much commented on on social media this week, and which Emily Maitlis analyses in an article in yesterday's The Times, T2. Spicer also appeared on Good Morning Britain and had another fiery exchange, on LBC, where he discussed the book with Iain Dale. You can watch that interview here.

Dark Chapter (£8.99, pb, 978 1785079061) by Winnie M Li has had some truly astonishing endorsements from other novelists recently. Sara Pascoe wrote “The novel is as disturbing and entertaining as any crime thriller is. But Li is writing from experience, fictionalising her attack as a way to explore how the legal system treats rape victims, and the real effects of such an experience. Most interestingly, Li fleshes out the mind of the rapist: the experiences that have shaped him and which legitimise his behaviour to himself. I really want lots of people to find it and read it.” Joyce Carol Oates said “I highly recommend Dark numbness, stifled rage, female victim alternating with rapist - how circumstances and accident come together tragically” and A.L. Kennedy called it “extraordinarily courageous... humbling... A remarkable book to read in this time.” Now its author Winnie M Li has done a TEDx London talk on reframing the way we think about sexual violence which you can watch  here, there was a big piece on it in Metro and it has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel 2018.

If you’re a book blogger keen on gender diversity issues, then maybe you’d like to review a new trans teen guide from Jessica Kingsley? The Trans Teen Survival Guide (pb, £12.99, 978 1785923418) by Owl and Fox Fisher is out at the end of September and is a frank, friendly and funny, manual which will leave transgender and non-binary teens informed, empowered and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life. Direct mesage JKP on Twitter to get your hands on a copy!

Any booksellers looking for window or instore display inspo, could do worse than to look at these fab pics on Buzzfeed one book lover turned Bookstagrammer who has very successfully turned his book collection into art with a real wow factor !

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

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