Friday 21 February 2020

Compass Points 338

You are no doubt aware of the BBC4 television series A Very British History which focuses on the many migrant communities who have settled in the UK and the positive contribution they have made to British life. Next week sees the airing of a really interesting documentary examining the migration history, settlement and experiences of the brilliant British Bangladeshi community. A Very British History: British-Bangladeshis goes out on Wednesday 26th February at 9pm on BBC4, presented by Aminul Hoque; you can watch a trailer for it here and here is a BBC press release on the series. It’s already available on the iPlayer here. Aminul Hoque is the author of a book that links in really well to this programme, British-Islamic Identity (978 1858566030, £16.99, pb). By looking at the lives and multifaceted identities of six British-born third-generation Bangladeshis from East London. it examines how it feel to be constructed as the violent, terrorist, un-British ‘other’. It shows how these young people have constructed a new British-Islamic identity for themselves, offering important new insight and understanding of their own stories of identity. Do they see themselves as Bangladeshi, British, Muslim, Londoners, none of these or a fusion of them all? Their stories are powerful, clear and unsettling, charting their journeys from invisibility to visibility and from the periphery to the core of social life. The issues explored in both the documentary and book are so relevant in this current climate of heightened xenophobia and hate towards minority communities; and hopefully both will help to increase understanding and tolerance. British-Islamic Identity is published by Trentham Books.

Congratulations to Carcanet, Comma, Parthian and New Island, who have all made the regional shortlists for Small Press of the Year in the British Book Awards! In total, 40 publishers are shortlisted. Philip Jones, chair of the judges and editor of the Bookseller, said: ‘For a second year, this shortlist shows how publishing is thriving across the regions and countries of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The shortlist shows companies every bit as dedicated to their authors as the bigger publishers and with some notable success stories contained in their submissions. It is our pleasure to platform their hard work once again.’ You can see the lists in full here. The regional and country winners will be announced on 20th March and the overall winner will be announced on 18th May.

And in more British Book Awards news, the Independent Bookshop of the Year Regional Shortlists are in too! Have a look here to see them – it’s terrific to see so many of our favourite customers on the lists – congratulations all! Tom Tivnan, one of the judges, said: ‘There is a new strength and vibrancy of the indie bookshop sector and you can see why with this year's regional finalists, who all meld passion, creativity and innovation to become true hubs of their communities.’ Hear hear!

A nice mention for Waymaking: An Anthology of Women’s Adventure Writing, Poetry and Art by Helen Mort this week in a big travel feature in the Guardian that you can read here entitled ‘From horse marathons to Roman running: 11 great UK adventures’. Winner of the Mountain Literature Award in the Banff Mountain Book Competition 2019, Waymaking (pb, 978 1910240755, £17.99) is a stirring anthology of prose, poetry and artwork by women who are inspired by wild places, adventure and landscape. It’s published by Vertebrate.

There was a really fascinating interview with Inua Ellams talking to Jon Snow on the Channel 4 News on Monday evening about his bold new retelling at the National Theatre of Chekhov's classic play, Three Sisters. The iconic characters are relocated to Owerri, 1967, on the brink of the Biafran Civil War, where Lolo, Nne Chukwu and Udo are grieving the loss of their father. Months before, two ruthless military coups plunged the country into chaos. Fuelled by foreign intervention, the conflict encroaches on their provincial village, and the sisters long to return to their former home in Lagos. You can see the Channel 4 interview here and this new edition of Three Sisters (978 1786829665, pb, £9.99) is published by Oberon.

Exciting news this week that Possum has been shortlisted for the CAMEO Awards 2020 in the Book to Film category! Huge congrats to Mathew Holness who adapted his short story of the same name from Comma’s The New Uncanny, (£7.99, pb, 978 1905583188) into this terrifying film. You can watch a trailer here.

Things went flat for two burglars who broke into London bookshop Gay’s the Word, after police caught them quaffing prosecco in the shop’s basement! You can read the full story in the Guardian here. The thieves took money from the box on the counter where they had been collecting for the LGBT+ youth charity Mosaic, but as bookseller Uli Lenart explained, ‘We were sad about the money for charity but we’ve received so many donations we’ve got far more money for Mosaic now than we had before. The positive community response has been wonderful. Customers turning up with bunches of flowers, people dropping off bottles of prosecco, publishers sending us free books and boxes of chocolates. We’ve felt really held and supported, and we’ve found that deeply touching.’

An extremely interesting piece in the Guardian last weekend which you can read here about life Britain’s uni campuses. It reveals that far from being hotbeds of political correctness as the media might have you believe, universities are ignoring victims of sexual harassment, racism and bullying. The author of Pluto’s next title in their Outspoken series, Lola Olufemi was quoted at length. Her title Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power (£9.99, pb,978 0745340067) is published along with Split: Class Divides Uncovered (978 0745340210, £9.99, pb) on 20th March.

Two Red Door titles have been shortlisted for the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2020. They are The Claim (£9.99, pb, 978 1910453735) and The Fell. The Claim is a gripping novel about love, loss and companionship, set during one claustrophobic summer, against the remote and beautiful backdrop of New Zealand's southern Alps which was also longlisted for the Michael Gifkins Prize. The Fell (pb, £9.99, 978-1910453742) is a debut novel set in an unspecified time and location, with an unnamed boy who is sent to a boarding house for dysfunctional youths. As one reviewer said ‘clever, funny, sad, disturbing and uplifting – entirely absorbing.’

A special event is coming up for Lorna Goodison who will be awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry at a ceremony in March. To celebrate, Carcanet are holding an event at the London Review Bookshop with Lorna and Linton Kwesi Johnson which you can find out more about here.

Does all the good stuff only happen at weekends? Have Sunday evenings become depressing, as the working days ahead come into view? Has your week been reduced to pointless meetings, over-complicated tasks and disillusioned colleagues? David Mansfield is convinced there’s a better way, and his new book The Monday Revolution is getting lots of PR including a Recommended Read by We Are the City, numerous speaking events, Q&A sessions and presentations and interviews on the Right Angles and  James Ashton podcasts. The Monday Revolution (978-1788601481, pb, £12.99) has also had some major endorsements , with the chairman of Burberry saying ‘I know from experience David doesn’t do waffle and I wish he’d written this no-nonsense and no-jargon book years ago’ and the CEO of ITV writing: ‘David Mansfield was always known as a tough operator from his earliest days in TV. He is also known for building strong teams who share a unified vision and have a lot of fun. His range of experience written in his inimitable, no-nonsense, dry style will make this a very useful and readable book.’ It’s published on 19 March by Practical Inspiration.

The Last Blue Mountain (pb, £14.95, 978 1912560424) by Ralph Barker is one of the great mountaineering classics. It tells the harrowing true story of the 1957 expedition to Pakistan’s Mount Haramosh when two of a team of four climbers were avalanched into a snow basin at 20,000 feet, only for the rescue attempt by their teammates to result in the plight of all four climbers as they tried to liberate themselves from an icy grave. Irish Mountain Log said the book is ‘Equalling, if not excelling, Touching the Void’ and the Daily Telegraph commented, ‘the last part of the book is merciless to the feelings of the reader.’ It has long been out of print with second-hand copies fetching large prices, but on 5 March Vertebrate are publishing a new edition. With reports of stricken climbers rarely out of national media, there was some nice publicity in My with the announcement here that Vertebrate is donating £5 to Mountain Rescue England and Wales for every copy sold. 

The Booksellers Association have joined with more than fifty major retailers including Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons, calling on the government to take the first steps towards fundamental business rates reform in the upcoming budget. BA MD Meryl Halls said: ‘The BA has been lobbying on business rates reform for many years. Bookshops of course play an exceptional role on those high streets lucky enough to have one, and we know the added benefit that bookshops bring to their communities, their local cultures and to their customers, over and above the commercial drivers they represent.’ You can read more on that story in the Bookseller here.

And in this week’s Hot Topics here's Donald Trump asking 'What was that all about?' as he mocks Oscars winner Parasite, here’s Dave live at The Brits and here are some really cool Book Nook Shelf Inserts – who knew!

That’s all 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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