Review | Fox, Anthony Gardner | Book of the Week

Frank and Anna’s day was one of mixed fortunes. They chased a great brute of a fox down to Chelsea Harbour, finally cornering it in the underground car park, though not before several of the residents had been reduced to hysterics; then they were called to the other end of the King’s Road, where a vixen had slipped on to a bus, bringing the traffic to a standstill as the passengers poured out on to the road. The vixen had escaped in the confusion; by the time Frank and Anna appeared on the scene, she had vanished with a chicken stolen from the Cadogan Rôtisserie.
‘Call yourself a huntsman?’ the manager shouted at Frank. ‘That’s the third fox I’ve had in here this week.’
‘Give them customer loyalty cards, mate,’ Frank replied cheerfully, ‘and don’t forget to ask for their addresses. We’ll catch them, roast them with some parsnips, and your clientele won’t know the difference.’”

What if . . . the British government struck a deal with the People’s Republic of China? And acquired new and ground-breaking technology enabling them to implant a surveillance microchip in every British citizen under the guise of having a routine injection against fox flu.

Continue reading Review | Fox, Anthony Gardner | Book of the Week

Interview | Anthony Gardner | Author of the Week

Where were you born and how did it feel to grow up between Ireland and England?
I was in London until the age of ten, and then in Tipperary with school and university in England. Going backwards and forwards between the two during The Troubles didn’t feel comfortable at all. As a writer I’ve come to appreciate the advantages of not belonging entirely in one place – always having an outsider’s eye.

What did you read as a child?
C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia; Kate Seredy’s The Good Master and The Singing Tree; John Buchan’s The 39 Steps; Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle’s Molesworth books

Who were early formative influences as a fledgling writer?
For poetry, W.B. Yeats; for prose, Evelyn Waugh and F.Scott Fitzgerald. Continue reading Interview | Anthony Gardner | Author of the Week

Review | The Book of Birmingham, Kavita Bhanot (ed.) | Book of the Week

The Book of Birmingham is the latest title to be published by Comma Press in their cities in short fiction series which serves as an excellent introduction to some superb contemporary writers. The ultimate in armchair city tours, the series is ideal for discovering other places, other lives.

The Book of Birmingham – focusing on the second largest city in the UK after London which “sits at the central crossroads of England, the industrial heartland of the country” – brings together short stories by some writers known to me, (Kit de Waal, Bobby Nayyar, C.D. Rose, Sharon Duggal, Kavita Bhanot), and some not, (Sibyl Ruth, Malachi McIntosh, Joel Lane, Jendella Benson, Alan Beard, Balvinder Banga). The city’s “working-class foundation is inseparable from the city’s literature, reflected in the voices of its best-known contemporary authors: Jonathan Coe, Catherine O’Flynn, Benjamin Zephaniah, Kit de Waal, Joel Lane . . .

The voices in this eclectic collection are all significant and have a powerful sense of engagement with the city. They convey a thoughtfulness and lyrical elegance imbued by anger as well as a tender melancholy. Continue reading Review | The Book of Birmingham, Kavita Bhanot (ed.) | Book of the Week

BookBlast® France | Paris Burning, Paris Brûle, Georgia de Chamberet

Is Paris burning? I arrived in the capital the day after the fourth Saturday of gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests in the 8th, 17th and 16th arrondissements.

1848, 1968, 2005 . . . the French have a habit of getting out on to city streets to protest against the state machine and its politicians. The recently published work Une histoire populaire de la France du XIVe siècle à nos jours  (A history of working-class France from the fourteenth century to the present day) by Gérard Noiriel is an essential read. Not yet available in English, perhaps a canny British publisher will pick it up.
Continue reading BookBlast® France | Paris Burning, Paris Brûle, Georgia de Chamberet

Podcast LIVE | In Conversation with Andrew Crumey, author

Andrew Crumey: “Art is the expression of value and science is the explanation of phenomena . . . I’m interested in the borderline of the explanatory and the expressive.”

Alasdair Gray, James Kelman, A.L. Kennedy, Allan Massie, Val McDermid, Andrew O’Hagan, Ian Rankin, Ali Smith, Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner . . . the list of fine Scottish writers is a long one.

dedalus eric lane margaret jull costa andrew crumey 2Andrew Crumey was in conversation with doyenne of translators, Margaret Jull Costa, and Eric Lane, founder of Dedalus Books at the opening event of the BookBlast 10×10 Tour at Waterstones in Gower Street, Bloomsbury, on 11 September. HEAR HERE

Continue reading Podcast LIVE | In Conversation with Andrew Crumey, author

Interview | Chris McCabe @mccabio | Author of the Week

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Mill Road hospital Liverpool, and then in Liverpool (built on the site of a Victorian workhouse), until moving to London in my early twenties. I now live in Liverpool and work in London.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
My dad was an autodidact, acquiring a good collection of books through joining various book clubs. As a result there was an impressively wide range of books on our shelves at home, from history (The World at War; The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire; The Third Reich), fiction (The Lord of the Rings, all the novels of Thomas Hardy), complete Shakespeare and most useful for my development as a writer and poet, the works of Dylan Thomas and James Joyce. Continue reading Interview | Chris McCabe @mccabio | Author of the Week

Interview | Elizabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager, Saqi Books | Indie Publisher of the Week

Meet in person the indie publisher, Elizabeth Briggs, from Saqi Books, at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Birmingham, 24-26 High Street, B4 7SL  @Bhamwaterstones 6.30 p.m. Thursday 25 October. Theme: The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write with reference to the anthology edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. With poets Nafeesa Hamid and Aliyah Holder. Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Worcester, where I lived until I left for university in the North East of England at seventeen. Determined as ‘Britain’s most average constituency’ by the BBC last year, it’s not bad coming from a city whose place on the international stage is thanks to a great sauce and Edward Elgar.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. I was very lucky. We had these incredible encyclopedias of animals from around the world, which I used to spend hours pouring over and copying the pictures. They were shelved alongside an illustrated bible, which I didn’t think at all odd at the time. It never occurred to me as a child that people took stories from the old testament as gospel: I thought they were wild and strange fantasy at the time – violent and bloody, the kind of things I wasn’t allowed to watch on TV. My dad also has an astonishing collection of moldy orange Penguin original paperbacks, bought back when they cost 85p each. I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie. I also have two older sisters so could borrow their books too. I read The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst when it first came out (I was twelve at the time), which was eye-opening.
Continue reading Interview | Elizabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager, Saqi Books | Indie Publisher of the Week

BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 11 Oct., Waterstones, Norwich, 6.30 p.m. | Sam Jordison, Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge, Paul Ewen @GalleyBeggars @NorwichStones

The sixth talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Galley Beggar Press (Modernist Contemporary) in Castle Street, Norwich. Co-director, Sam Jordison, is also an author, teacher and journalist. Galley Beggar have an eye for literary talent. Their early success with experimental debut novel A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, which soared up the Amazon best-seller charts and won four awards, was a game-changer. Book Tickets

sam jordison galley beggar press bookblast diary interviewOn Thurs 11 Oct 6.30 p.m. @NorwichStones Sam Jordison will lead a discussion with authors Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge, Paul Ewen, with as its theme: All Hail the New Modernists! Experimentalism & Contemporary Literature.

Book extract: Lucia by Alex Pheby is about James Joyce’s schizophrenic daughter. It is one of the few surviving portraits of her troubled life. Most other references to her have been lost. We know she was the daughter of the famous writer. She was the lover of Samuel Beckett. She was a gifted dancer. From her late twenties she was treated for suspected schizophrenia. She spent the last thirty years of her life in an asylum. After her death, her voice was silenced. Meet Alex in person on Thurs 11 Oct. 6.30 p.m. @alexpheby Continue reading BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 11 Oct., Waterstones, Norwich, 6.30 p.m. | Sam Jordison, Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge, Paul Ewen @GalleyBeggars @NorwichStones

Interview | Paul Ewen, author

Meet Paul Ewen in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Castle Street, Norwich 6.30 p.m. Thursday 11 OCT. His latest novel Forbidden Line,  Francis Plug: Writer in Residence is published today, 4 October. Theme: All Hail the New Modernists! Experimentalism & Contemporary Literature. With Sam Jordison from Galley Beggar Press, chair, and authors Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge.  Book Tickets

Forbidden Line,  Francis Plug: Writer in Residence is published today, 4 October.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Blenheim, New Zealand. I grew up in various places around the South Island, like Christchurch and Lyttelton, but I spent my formative years in a town called Ashburton (nicknamed Ashvegas).

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. Art books, NZ fiction, and lots of library books because my Mum was a librarian.
Continue reading Interview | Paul Ewen, author

Interview | C. D. Rose, author

Meet C. D. Rose in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Leeds 6.30 p.m. Thursday 20 SEPT. Theme: Birmingham & Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities. With Ra Page COMMA PRESS chair, authors  C.D. Rose (The Book of Birmingham) and Ian Duhig (The Book of Leeds). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
I was born in a small semi-detached house in south Manchester, and there I grew up. While I still love Manchester, I have an inexplicable fear of semi-detached houses. Continue reading Interview | C. D. Rose, author