Friday 10 August 2018

Compass Points 271

Sadly, I think the lead story this week has to be the violent attack on the London bookshop Bookmarks. As its manager David Gilchrist writes in the Guardian here; when the far right targets books, it should ring alarm bells for us all.  This was a group of so-called alt-right protesters who decided that a socialist bookshop, which stocks radical literature and working-class history titles was a legitimate target for violence. Since the assault, UKIP has suspended three of its members – you can read about that on the BBC here.  Following the attack, messages of encouragement from around the world have poured in, and of course Compass would also like to add our support to this brilliant bookshop. Bookmarks is holding a solidarity event in the shop tomorrow (Saturday 11 August) from 2pm, and throughout the afternoon there will author readings as well as speakers from the trade union and labour movement. Gilchrist said: “This horrific attack on a radical bookshop should send shivers down the spine of anyone who knows their history. The Nazis targeted books because they knew how important radical ideas are for challenging racism and fascism. The same is true today, and that is why we have to show that we won’t be intimidated.” Bookmarks is also calling on supporters to donate funds to help bolster security in the shop and to replace lost stock – go to the shop’s Facebook page to find out more.

Canbury Press have just announced a terrific new title for the autumn;  Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories, of Murder, Guilt and Innocence (hb, £16.99, 978 1912454082); you may have seen a piece about it in the Bookseller here.  It will recount William Clegg QC’s rich experiences in the top echelon of the English criminal law over the past forty years. Clegg has fought more than a hundred murder cases, more than anyone else currently practising at the English Bar, and in this vivid memoir, revisits his most notorious and intriguing trials, from the acquittal of Colin Stagg to the murder of Jill Dando, and from Britain’s first Nazi war criminal to the man given life because of an earprint. All the while he lays bare the secrets of his profession, from the rivalry among barristers to the nervous moments before a verdict and how our right to a fair trial is now in great peril. Other cases featured include the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, the Chillenden murders (Dr Lin and Megan Russell), the serial killer Robert Napper, the trial of paratrooper Lee Clegg, the Rebekah Brooks phone hacking trial and the murder of Joanna Yeates. I think this book is going to be mega and is certain to get tons of publicity. Canbury describe the writing as “a turbo-charged narrative which will intrigue and thrill.” Clegg, 67, has spent three years writing his book, which will be published in hardback on 4th October.

“I had always wondered, when reading Nora Ephron, if Ireland ever had an equivalent. Someone witty and female who would not only call a spade a spade but acknowledge the blade, the handle and the funny way it sticks out of the earth. Recently, I discovered that person in Nuala O’Faolain. Her memoir is equal parts hilarious, tragic and wonderfully gossipy.” Are You Somebody? (£7.99, pb, 978 1848406858) gets a rave review in a recent Guardian feature Ten Lost Women’s Classics which you can read here. Ten years after Nuala’s tragic death, New Island have brought out a lovely anniversary edition of this title which was a New York Times number one bestseller on its publication in 1996 and one of New Island’s biggest successes ever with world-wide sales in excess of 1.3 million. This new edition is aimed at a new generation of readers with an introduction by the current shooting star of Irish writing, June Caldwell. Zoe Heller said “this book has to be read” and Roddy Doyle called it “an extraordinary, powerful memoir. It is beautifully written, with an honesty that is both sensitive and stark.”

An interesting article here in the Bookseller about the rise and possibly fall of “influencer marketing” for books; with five ideas for how to update your approach to stimulating word of mouth promotion.

We’ve all heard of pets who warned their owners of danger just in time, or who protected them from harm and of pets who have somehow brought healing and even displayed psychic powers. If you've ever felt you had a truly special connection with your cat or dog, guess what you probably do! Jenny Smedley has spent her life communicating with animals both live and departed and in this collection of true stories she has collected from across the globe, she will show you that your instincts are correct: pets really do communicate with us and have souls! Dogs and Cats Have Souls Too: Incredible True Stories of Pets Who Heal, Protect and Communicate (978 1788170659, £12.99, pb) has just been published by Hay House, and has recently been extracted in July’s Psychic News and Soul & Spirit magazine.

It’s Women in Translation month, and the Poetry Book Society are promoting Evelyn Schlag’s All Under One Roof (£12.99. pb, 978 1784102241) translated by Karen Leeder and published by Carcanet on their website as one of their five best translated female poets – you can see that here. “Evelyn Schlag's poems have a kind of discreet presence; once spoken they have claimed their permanent place in the lyric cosmos”.

The Little Book of Awe and Wonder: A Cabinet of Curiosities (pb, £12.99, 978 1781353080) by Dr Matthew McFall sold very well for Crown House in hardback and is out in paperback next week. This little gem of a book challenges readers of all ages to extend their thinking processes and has page after page of pictures, proverbs and puzzles to stimulate their imagination, pique their curiosity, encourage their humility and arouse their awe! It is an extraordinary collection of the inspiring, the informative, the weird and the wonderful and would be an excellent bedside book or a marvellous birthday present for the intellectually lively!

Reading copies are now available for any bookseller who’d like to sample Mark Hodkinson’s new novel That Summer Feeling (pb, £9.99, 978 1904590323) which is published by Pomona on 15 October. The Times said of Mark: “Hodkinson writes quite beautifully, which means that those of us with lesser gifts are given a glimpse into his soul. It is a richly rewarding place to be” and this literate and enigmatic book coalesces genres, among them coming-of-age, northern, and comic. If you’d like a copy then email with your details and That Summer Feeling in the subject line.

A super review for M. John Harrison's You Should Come With Me Now (pb, £9.99, 978-1910974346) this week in Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction“Harrison is a satirist who gives his stories space in which to breathe. His narratives give their readers some purchase to climb but, once they think they have reached the summit, tantalizingly close to a revelation, they re-orient the reader to reveal only more questions and mysteries.” M. John Harrison’s work sits at the boundaries between horror and science fiction, fantasy and travel writing just as his characters occupy the no mans land between the spatial and the spiritual. This is his first collection of short fiction for over fifteen years; weird stories for weird times and it’s published by Comma.

A great feature on George Washington Wilson: Artist and Photographer (hb, £30, 978 0957424692) in the Guardian which you can read here. Entitled Love of My Life: Brian May to Launch Book on Victorian Photographer it has loads of great publicity on Brian’s passion for the royal photographer and this lavishly illustrated biography which will be officially launched by London Stereoscopic at the Edinburgh Lit Fest next week.

Lucy Fisher's Biteback biography of Emily Wilding Davison: The Martyr Suffragette (£12.99, pb, 978 1785904127) has been very favourably received in The Observer, who said it is “a compelling examination of the short but eventful life of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. This skilful biography makes a convincing case for Davison having achieved a great deal more than simply being a martyr to the cause.” Another review is expected in the Times shortly and Lucy will be making some broadcast appearances in August.

Comma has always struggled to obtain visas for its Middle Eastern writers to visit the UK, and unfortunately it seems to be getting even more difficult. There have been a recent spate of visa rejections for UK literary festivals; you can read discussions about this issue by Edinburgh Book Festival director Nick Barley here in the Guardian and the Bookseller .

The Story of Computing: From the Abacus to Artificial Intelligence (£9.99, hb, 978 1788280303) by Alan Turing’s nephew Dermot Turing, is a history of computing from its earliest days, when individual mathematicians worked as 'computers' making calculations for their rulers, to the modern day. Subjects range from Babbage's difference engine to the creation of the Colossus in the codebreaking efforts of the Second World War to artificial intelligence and the new risks presented by cybercrime. The book is an entertaining and interesting read with very little techno-babble, and lots of trivia to really bring the story alive. Pretty much anyone with even a passing interest in computers would find it fascinating, and it could also work an ancillary text for a computer science course. It’s just been published by Arcturus and you can watch a short film of Dermot talking about it here.  

There has been quite a bit of press activity around The Man on the Middle Floor by Elisabeth S Moore (978 1910453544, £8.99, pb) which Red Door describe as “Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon” and Piers Morgan said was “A page-turning thriller with a twist.” It was included in the Times Summer Read list of only nine books! The author is planning some more advertising around this activity and the Byline festival she is speaking at. Highlights include an interview on Talk Radio, a Staffordshire Living feature on Best Poolside Reads, a piece in Marie Claire and an article on Female First.

Little Gold (978 1787199958, pb, £9.99) by Allie Rogers published by Legend is one of the six titles shortlisted for the The Polari First Book Prize. You can find out more about that here. Established in 2011, this award is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience, in prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction and the winner will be announced on 20th October 2018 at the London Literature Festival. Little Gold is a moving and atmospheric novel about the importance of friendship and the pain and wonder of leaving behind childhood. Reviewers have praised its vivid depiction of a Brighton summer in the 1980s and its complex and intriguing characters.

And to finish, just for fun, let’s hear a bit of There’s A Wocket in my Pocket from @DrSeussRapper here!

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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