All posts by candida

Bread & Roses Award Winner The Chagos Betrayal

Winner of the Bread & Roses Award 2022,  Florian Grossset’s The Chagos Betrayal is a shocking graphic novel account of poverty and discrimination suffered by the Chagos Islanders when their eviction by the British enforced US military control of their Indian Ocean home. It was the first time a graphic novel has won the prize.

Interview with Charlotte Amelia Poe

Book Sales and Promotions Co-ordinator Alex Thornber talks to Charlotte Amelia Poe about their award winning memoir How To be Autistic.

AT: Good Morning, and Happy Pride! How are you?

Charlotte Amelia Poe: Hi! I’m good, thank you. Currently listening to My Chemical Romance and blasting it loud.

AT: I thought it would be fun to revisit How to be Autistic and was wondering where the first seeds of that project came from?

CAP: Pretty much as soon as I got home from winning the Spectrum Art Prize, I started writing How To Be Autistic. I really wanted to expand on the ideas the video had, and I felt like I finally had an opportunity to speak about my experiences and share a perspective I hadn’t found before. It was a kind of manic, mad dash to the finish line, and I never expected anything to come of it.

AT: Your voice in the book is so clear and so open, it reads like having a conversation, was that a conscious choice for this project?

CAP: I think part of writing it quickly, and with only a sentence as a plan for each chapter, I think it just made it really honest and a little rough around the edges. I’ve spent my entire online life writing about what I’ve been going through in blogs, talking in vlogs, making graphics – generally just having a conversation with anyone who was willing to listen, and How To Be Autistic was a genuine extension of that. So I don’t know how much of it was a conscious choice, as opposed to what I was used to doing.

AT: Putting yourself, and your inner life, out into the world like your book does must be a daunting experience. How has the books reception been for you?

CAP: Honestly it’s a little bit terrifying. I haven’t read it since I finished it, and it’s sort of this sort of secret locked away thing that I have to accept is out in the world, but I have to separate myself from or I think I’d go mad. I’ve basically given the world all the weapons they need to hurt me. Thankfully, people have been kind, and very understanding, and instead of using it to harm, people have used empathy and reached out to say “hey, I relate to this”, which is hard to read sometimes, because when I wrote it I was half hoping nobody would relate to it, that things would have changed enough that it was irrelevant, but at least it has helped people feel less alone in some way. Which is neat.

AT: What has been the most rewarding part of the process for you?

CAP: Definitely the messages and emails I get from people who have read it. I’m terrible at replying, I never know what to say – I immediately forget how to hold a human conversation, but I read every single one even if I don’t reply and it means so, so much to me. That there are dozens (literally!) of people who have been diagnosed as a result of something I’ve done, that’s amazing. That there are people who understand themselves or a loved one better as a result – that’s just so cool. I think we reach for books to try to understand ourselves, I know I do, and the fact that people found that understanding, I don’t even know what to do with that, except to say thank you for taking a chance on a very strange book.

AT: Are you working on anything at the moment?

CAP: My second book, The Language Of Dead Flowers, my first novel, is coming out at the end of September, preorders open really soon (beginning of July!) and I’ll get to share the absolutely beautiful cover I was lucky enough to have my friend, Tylar, work on, soon. It’s about a nonbinary tattoo artist who just happens to be a necromancer in a world where necromancy is forbidden. I’m absolutely in love with all the characters and I’ve fought really hard for this book to exist, and I’m really excited for other people to read about Tao and Adam and their lives.

AT: If you could recommend one book for people to read this pride month, what would it be?

CAP: That’s so hard! I think, just because it’s one of my all time favourite books and I absolutely devoured it when I read it, it has to be Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. It uses multimedia elements to tell more than one story at once, which I always love to read, and Aled and Frances are both absolutely amazing characters, and honestly having Aled as ace representation (and I headcanon him as nonbinary, to be honest, though I don’t know if he was written to be or not) and Frances as bi representation is really awesome. It’s just a great story and I return to it over and over again.

How To Be Autistic is available at all good bookshops and at Ethical Shop.

Interview with Lucy Fry

Continuing our Pride Month celebrations, this week we caught up with Lucy Fry and looked back at her memoir Easier Ways To Say I Love You.

Alex Thornber: I thought it would be fun to revisit Easier Ways to Say I Love You and was wondering where the first seeds of that project came from?

Lucy Fry: The project began as I tried to process some of my very intense sexual and romantic experiences about five years ago, during a specific time in my life where I felt like something enormous was happening in my life, both internally and externally. I used writing as a way of getting it out of my head. I never at that stage expected it to become a book, but then it grew, as I started to link up my current behaviours and desires with certain elements of my past. A memoir began to take hold. I was also reading lots of memoir at the time – female writers like Maggie Nelson, Ariel Levy and Deborah Levy and was massively inspired by their style and passion.

AT: The book is exquisitely honest, even about the uncomfortable parts, did you have to really push yourself to put it all on the page, or did you hold back at all?

LF: There is so much that I ended up cutting. People find that hard to believe because the book is so raw as it is, but really, I edited it a huge amount. I always try to write initially like nobody will read it, or at least not worry about that bit. Then, when I edit, I ask myself if any discomfort I feel about this being read is actually worth going through – does it make the work better? Might it help me and my readers grow in some way? Will it seriously harm another? Once I have answers to these questions I can choose whether to follow that discomfort through or cut certain bits. There’s no doubt that I experienced a re-visitation of a lot of shame when this book was published, though. Looking back, I wonder if I did put myself too far out there as it hurt a lot to hear some people’s reactions, but it felt essential at the time to be brutally honest.

AT: Your story is a vital addition to the wider narrative of queer lives but how has the book’s reception, or legacy, impacted you personally?

LF: I think sadly that the book wasn’t read by as many people as it might have been. I have however received some emails from people who were profoundly personally impacted by the story and the honesty. Even one email like that makes it feel worth the uncomfortable exposure, somehow.  I do feel though that I’ve now moved on from that stage in my life and wouldn’t write in the same way again, or I don’t need to write about those same things anymore. It was certainly an excruciatingly healing act; painful, important, heart-opening.

AT: What has been the most rewarding part of the process for you?

LF: The most rewarding part was piecing the sections together in a way that fitted with my therapeutic process, rather than the way that suited narrative specifically. Or rather, it was about structuring something in an intuitive way that fits with the way that healing from trauma works, rather than suits a typical narrative structure. I love playing with form. I love finding new ways to tell stories.

AT: Are you working on anything at the moment?

LF: This year in February I had another non-fiction book published called Love and Choice. This book told a little of my story but mostly focused on the stories of others who had gone through difficult or eye-opening relationship journeys, and also incorporated my understanding and experience as a psychotherapist. It’s somewhere between narrative nonfiction and self development. Now I am playing around with ideas, figuring out where to go next.

AT: If you could recommend one book for people to read this pride month, what would it be?

LF: I think for me, The Dream House by Carmen Machado is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. It happens to be a queer memoir and that’s really important too, but I don’t want to say it’s one of the best queer memoirs as that implies it doesn’t stand up against any other memoirs in the same way, and it really, really does.

Easier Ways To Say I Love You is available now at all good bookshops and at Ethical Shop.

Interview with Kate Charlesworth

Happy Pride Month!

Here at Myriad one of our driving tenets has been to amplify and spotlight underrepresented voices, and the LGBTQIA+ community is at the heart of that. So this Pride Month we wanted to share with you some of the amazing books we have published over the years by authors who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community.

This week our Book Sales and Promotions Co-ordinator Alex Thornber had a chat with author Kate Charlesworth to discuss her landmark graphic history Sensible Footwear.

 

Alex Thornber: I thought it would be fun to revisit Sensible Footwear and was wondering where the first seeds of that project came from?

Kate Charlesworth: I thought about making an LGBTQ+ history years before I began work on Sensible Footwear. When I came out in the early 1970s, the gay scene was changing before my eyes, and I hoped, vaguely perhaps, that somehow it would be recorded.

I began to think I might do something about it myself around the turn of the millennium,  because I wanted a record in pictures – I felt words alone could never be enough to describe the LGBTQ+ community…

I started making occasional notes around 2007.

AT: The book itself is beautifully detailed. How long did it take to complete?

KC: Eventually a script began to come into focus and with the firm but fair guidance of Myriad’s Corinne Pearlman, in 2016 I began to lay out the (320) pages and carry on to final artwork for publication in 2019. 

AT: In the years since sensible footwear was published, it has become in many ways an iconic piece in LGBTQIA+  literature as well as history, how does the books legacy make you feel? Did you see it coming?

KC: Thinking of the book as an icon in itself is rather awe-inspiring. I was pretty sure there was nothing else around like it; and I did it partly because I wanted to read an illustrated LGBTQ+ history myself (which is how I thought of it in the early stages before it the memoir strand became such an integral part of the story).

I hoped it would be well received, and I thought it might be important because it was unusual – probably unique in terms of lesbian history – so if it is an icon, I’m thrilled.

AT: What has been the most rewarding part of the process for you?

KC: Crossing off the last page of the book on my progress wall chart, and finally holding a copy of the finished book were standout moments but the most rewarding aspect has been comments from readers who’ve been moved by the book, or found it helpful, or bought it for their children – or just plain loved it. I couldn’t have foreseen this and I am beyond words.

AT: Are you working on anything at the moment?

KC: I’ve applied for funding for the next book from Creative Scotland (who generously supported Sensible Footwear) and it will address issues that affect absolutely all of us – and it’s funny.

Spoiler alert: it’s stuffed with lesbians.

AT: If you could recommend one book for people to read this Pride month, what would it be?

KC: Alison Child’s Tell Me I’m Forgiven : The Story of Forgotten Stars Gwen Farrar & Norah Blaney (Tollington Press, 2019). I enjoyed this very much. Lesbian history, show business, classy dyke social circles, celebrity gossip. I want to read it again now.

Sensible Footwear is available now at all good bookshops and at Ethical Shop.

A Q&A with Nicholas Royle by Samantha Harrold

“It’s uncanny – the thought and feeling that someone, in a sense, wouldn’t be identifiable or remembered without this piece of writing. That was a starting point for me. My mother was an amazing person and if I didn’t write about her, well, people wouldn’t even know she had existed!”

Nicholas Royle talks to Samantha Harrold about writing Mother: A Memoir in this richly detailed Q&A – read in full here.

Tyler Keevil on The Worm Hole podcast

Charlie Place asks Tyler Keevil about his latest novel, Your Still Beating Heart.

They discuss using the violence of Snow White in an adult thriller to shocking and literary effect, writing in the second person to tell a story within a story where either – or both, or none – may be ‘true’, and the many hearts at the heart of his novel.

Margaret Busby talks to Writers Mosaic

Margaret Busby CBE talks to the director Burt Caesar for Writers Mosaic about her daring beginnings as Britain’s first black female publisher in the 1960s.

Throughout her extraordinary career, Margaret has championed unknown authors and giants such as CLR James, whose work might have been forgotten but for her intervention.

Her two international anthologies, Daughters of Africa (1992) and New Daughters of Africa (2019), each featuring 200 writers, are widely regarded as monumental achievements that have changed the literary landscape.

‘Worlds After Windrush’ at Bradford Literature Festival

Yvonne Bailey-Smith was joined by novelists Leone Ross and Louise Hare at Bradford Literature Festival’s digital edition to discuss ‘Worlds After Windrush’ – the inspiration for their fiction and their sense of belonging to a Caribbean literary tradition.

Margaret Busby’s Desert Island Discs

Margaret Busby shared the soundtrack of her life with Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

Described by novelist Zadie Smith as ‘a cheerleader, instigator and celebrator of Black arts for the past 50 years, shouting about us from the rooftops…’, part of Margaret’s very significant contribution to the publishing world has been two monumental anthologies, Daughters of Africa (1992) and New Daughters of Africa (2019).

Historical fiction: ‘You couldn't make it up, could you?’

We often distinguish between history and story, forgetting that history has always been brought to life by creative artists, whether in the form of carved and painted images, through oral storytelling traditions, or the written word.

Umi Sinha joined playwright and theatre director Patricia Cumper and novelist Ingrid Persaud, winner of the 2020 Costa First Novel Award, to discuss how fiction sits side-by-side with history writing. WritersMosaic’s director, Colin Grant, chairs this essential and timely conversation.

Brighton & Sussex Medical School: Zara in Slattery in Conversation

Bobbie Farsides of BSMS talks with Zara Slattery about the creation of Coma – joined by Zara’s husband Dan, whose diaries and recollections were key to the book; Lucy Pitt, Matron on the intensive care unit in Brighton, who was part of the team caring for Zara; and Dr Barbara Philips, Reader in Intensive Care Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) who met with Zara during the book’s creation. Watch here.

London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award for Margaret Busby OBE

Myriad is delighted to congratulate publishing pioneer and New Daughters of Africa editor Margaret Busby on the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award 2021.

Myriad’s Publishing Director and Busby’s longtime editor Candida Lacey comments:

‘It is such a pleasure to congratulate Margaret on this richly deserved award. Margaret Busby is quite simply a living legend. She has touched and enriched so many lives, and dedicated her life to championing the work of others, and especially the work of under-represented writers and artists.

‘I first met Margaret 30 years ago when I commissioned her to compile Daughters of Africa (Cape, 1992), a landmark anthology that celebrated the work of over 200 women writers of African descent. With this anthology and its sequel New Daughters of Africa (Myriad, 2019), Margaret charted a literary landscape as never before and inspired a new generation to write their own stories.

‘The legacy of both anthologies is profound: not only has New Daughters of Africa inspired and helped to finance a student bursary in Margaret’s name at SOAS University of London, it has also launched the literary careers of several of its contributors.

‘This award could not be better-timed. Today sees Myriad’s publication of The Bread the Devil Knead, the debut novel by New Daughters contributor, Trinidadian Lisa Allen-Agostini. And on 10 June we’ll be publishing another debut by fellow contributor, Jamaican-born novelist Yvonne Bailey-Smith’s The Day I Fell Off My Island. Bailey-Smith, a psychotherapist, is also the mother of one of our best-known contributors, Zadie Smith.’

Launched at London’s Royal Festival Hall and celebrated at Somerset House and literary festivals from Hay and Edinburgh to Cape Town and Trinidad, New Daughters of Africa was published to international acclaim in 2019.

 

Mansplaining Feminism with Cynthia Enloe

 ‘Patriarchy is always being updated – being made more modern, being made more hip. That’s how it survives.’

Listen to this epic episode of Mansplaining Feminism with professor, researcher and author, Cynthia Enloe.

Cynthia Enloe’s most recent book is The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy, published by Myriad. The essays within The Big Push explore the resilience of patriarchal beliefs and values, and identify the unwitting nature of our complicity. She shows how, simply by noticing, questioning and crafting fresh feminist concepts, we can update our resistance and challenge patriarchy’s self-perpetuating core.

The Indie Insider Issue: Brave New Words

The Indie Insider highlighted Brave New Words in their latest round up. A collection of essays on the value and future of literature, Brave New Words features renowned writers Bernardine Evaristo, Githa Hariharan, Eva Hoffman, Romesh Gunesekera, James Kelman, Tabish Khair, Olumide Popoola, Shivanee Ramlochan and Marina Warner, amongst others. Edited by Susheila Nasta, Brave New Words was published to celebrate 35 years of Wasafiri, the leading magazine of international literature.

Read Issue 9 of The Indie Insider here and sign up to receive their upcoming newsletters directly into your  inbox.

Win Wiacek's MUST READ Comics List of 2020 for Comics Review

‘What a year it’s been. I’m not talking about the other stuff. I can’t do anything about that. As usual, I’m waffling on about comics and 2020 has seen some absolute graphical wonders released: so much so that I’m about to do a thing I hate and list some.’

Win chose two Myriad books for his Must Read Comics from 2020 list: Blackwood by Hannah Eaton, The Wolf of Baghdad by Carol Isaacs. You can read his review of both books in full on Comics Review, and check out the rest of his Top Ten while you’re at it.

Thanks, Win!

Make It Then Tell Everybody with Hannah Eaton

“The only tool I have a fetish about is Edwardian style dippy-pen. When my Dad died, I found this old OXO cube tin, thinking it was going to be something really weird because one time I was looking through his stuff and I found my umbilical cord in a matchbox. Dried, obviously. Anyway, I found this little tin of nibs. He had a brief stint in the 60’s as a draftsman for hand-drawn adverts, and had a tin of these metal nibs. The funny thing is, they’re not very good quality. There were about 100 rusty, spiky little nibs and they’re amazing to draw with. The ink just sits in them really well and they have the most amazing line. I have about 10 left.” – Hannah Eaton

Dan Berry talks to Hannah Eaton, author of Naming Monsters and Blackwood about drawing tools, dreams, comedy careers and instilling terror through the mundane for his acclaimed podcast, Make It Then Tell Everybody. Listen again now and make sure to subscribe.

Royal Literary Fund Writers Aloud series with Hannah Vincent and Bethan Roberts

“My house is never tidy. It’s filthy. I live in filth because I’d rather spend my time writing.”

Hannah Vincent speaks with Bethan Roberts about how acting led her to playwriting, working as a script editor, her mid-career move into fiction, the ‘core self’ that drives creativity and some of the recurring themes in her work. This recording was made for the Royal Literary Fund Writers Aloud series.

Episode: 302
Length: 28:29

A Studio of My Own: Bobby Baker and Sarah Lightman in Conversation

“Sometimes in the drawings was the only place that I could be where I knew where I was, everything else in the world felt unsteady and frightening.”

The Royal Drawing School’s Online Lecture Series hosted a creative conversation between artist and activist Bobby Baker and author of The Book of Sarah, Dr Sarah Lightman,  recorded live on the 20 January.

LISTEN HERE as they talk about claiming time and space to make work, as women and mothers.

Bitches on Comics podcast Comic of the Week: The Book of Sarah

“I can’t imagine there being a more beautiful tribute to one’s own life. There’s so much beauty in this and so much love…that invites you to share… A level of openness that’s so rare even among writers. It’s so rare to be invited into someone’s crises of what defined her.”

Episode 70 of the excellent Bitches on Comics podcast features The Book of Sarah by Sarah Lightman and boy, it’s a goodie. Listen again HERE and make sure to subscribe to catch all their future podcasts. We’re officially fans.

Warning – there’s a good few swears.

R&R Lab: Real talk with feminist visionaries Episode 63 with: Cynthia Enloe

‘This week’s radical is Dr. Cynthia Enloe, an internationally renowned academic and thought leader on feminism, particularly in the context of militarism. She has taught generations of young minds around the globe, and is a prolific author of books including The Curious Feminist, Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as if Women Mattered, and The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging Persistent Patriarchy, among many others.’

Listen again to the wonderful Cynthia Enloe talk to Continuum Collective in Episode 63 of their podcast, Radicals and Revolutionaries Lab: Real Talk with Feminist Visionaries.

Shortlisted: Broken Frontier Awards 2020

‘This has been one of the toughest years that any of us have lived through but one positive we have been able to hang on to has been the plethora of truly excellent and boundary-pushing practice we’ve been able to read and write about over the last few months.’

A lovely end to a very strange year as Myriad and The Wolf of Baghdad by Carol Isaacs were both shortlisted in the 2020 Broken Frontier Awards. Thank you to the Broken Frontier team and congratulations to everyone else nominated, we were among a truly excellent list of makers and creators.

Head over to Broken Frontier to see who won each of the categories.

Teddy Jamieson chats with Jenny Robins about Biscuits (Assorted) for Herald Scotland

‘Almost everything in the book is drawn from photographs, with certain changes made to the characters of course. But I don’t tend to think of London as a city of scuzzier corners. Here the scuzz can often exist on the very same street as the posh, or at most a few blocks over. The infinite desire for real estate has gentrified so much of the city, but there’s still a lot of communities rubbing elbows with each other – tower blocks or rundown terraces one block over from Georgian splendour or modern chrome. That doesn’t mean the people actually talk to each other of course, or frequent the same establishments, but they are very much in the same space.

I live in Islington, which is very much poshville, but pictures like the stack of discarded market boxes or the broken sofa left in the street were photographed within a three-minute walk of our flat. The image of Jane and Alice walking through what looks like a pretty rundown area is one of the few pages taken almost entirely from one photo – and it’s a photo taken in Bermondsey (also poshville).’

Teddy Jamieson interviews Jenny Robins about her debut comic, Biscuits (Assorted) for Herald Scotland.

NaNoWriMo with the Guardian

Elizabeth Haynes takes part in NaNoWriMo each year – in fact her New York Times bestselling novel Into the Darkest Corner was originally written as part of NaNoWriMo – so she shares her insider knowledge with novelist David Barnett for the Guardian.

“Every year without fail I see something, a tweet, a blog, an article in a national newspaper, the gist of which seems to be, ‘Oh no, not November again. All those people thinking they can write. All of those manuscripts flooding agents’ offices! Please just don’t!’” she says. “It isn’t a competition. The world needs more novels, more readers, more writers. You want to be heard? Ignore everyone else. Work hard.”

Haynes had no intention to publish her first NaNoWriMo effort: “It was purely for fun. Publishing had always felt like something that happened to others, not me. I had three goes at NaNoWriMo before I had something with a beginning, a middle and an end. That was the first time I had something I thought I could actually edit.”

Read in full.

Best Book Covers of 2020 featuring A More Perfect Union, designed by Anna Morrison

Lit Hub chose A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf in their list of the Best Covers of 2020. Designed by the wonderful Anna Morrison, the cover features on the hardback edition, published in Autumn 2020.

‘Anna Morrison is such a talented book designer who can create stellar designs for every genre. This cover balances a bold feel with a subtle fragility through its deft use of type and illustration. The subdued palette is a nice touch as well.’

Have a peek at the full Lit Hub list.

Brent and Kilburn Times report on Yvonne's upcoming novel

Brent and Kilburn Times shares news of author Yvonne Bailey-Smith’s upcoming novel, The Day I Fell Off My Island, which we are publishing in June 2021.

The Day I Fell Off My Island tells the story of Erna Mullings, a teenage Jamaican girl uprooted from her island following the sudden death of her beloved grandmother. When Erna is sent to England to be reunited with her siblings, she dreads leaving behind her elderly grandfather, and the only life she has ever known. A new future unfolds, in a strange country and with a mother she barely knows. The next decade will be a complex journey of estrangement and arrival, new beginnings and the uncovering of long-buried secrets.

Pre-order your copy now.

Bookshop.org Book of the Month by Penrallt Gallery Bookshop

Penrallt Gallery bookshop in Wales chose Your Still Beating Heart by Tyler Keevil as their book recommendation for December on Bookshop.org.

Isabel Costello also picked Tyler’s literary thriller as one of the best books of 2020 saying, ‘Your Still Beating Heart has the emotional heft of a character-driven literary novel despite being a palpitation-inducing page-turner, a rare combination. I found it moving, gripping and evocative of place – if you enjoyed Judith Heneghan’s Snegurochka (set in Kiev) or Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs To You (set in Sofia), there are shades of overlap, but this book’s heart beats to its own tune.’

Penrallt is a lovely independent bookshop based in Wales. If you haven’t visited them before, have a look at their website and plan a trip! penralltgallerybookshop.co.uk

Buy your copy now.

Shortlisted for the Poetry Book Awards: Summon by Elizabeth Ridout

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Elizabeth Ridout has been shortlisted for the 2020 Poetry Book Awards for her collection, Summon.

The experience of living with the adventures and griefs of bipolar disorder forms the focus for this remarkable collection of poetry.

Ridout uses the language of the fairy story and visceral images of the female form and femininity to explore how personal trauma and instability makes their mark on the wider world. Different voices and twisted accounts of the body and mind are combined with the mythological and the esoteric to create striking, beautifully unsettling and unusual poems—each a celebration of the extremes of being human.

Spotlight Books is a collaboration between Creative Future, New Writing South and Myriad Editions to discover, guide and support writers who are under-represented due to mental or physical health issues, disability, race, class, gender identity or social circumstance.

Summon is available to buy now for £5 at all good bookshops.

Jenny Robins interview with Broken Frontier

AO: Given the diverse cast of players in Biscuits (assorted) how did you approach the responsibility of ensuring an authenticity to the voices you were bringing to life on the page?

ROBINS: Oof. Yeah. I read a lot. I looked at and listened to the world around me. I sought advice when I felt I needed it, and paid for it where appropriate. I probably have messed something up and will end up offending someone. But you can do that even if you only write about people that fit your exact identity profile, right? The scenes or throwaway lines that deal most directly with issues of identity are mostly things that I have seen or heard about first hand. The way that Samarah’s English teacher speaks to her for example, is something I saw happen in real life to a Somali student I knew. And yes of course when I drew her henna I tried my best to get the patterns accurate. But having her know about Pink Floyd, or watch horror films from between her fingers – that didn’t require any research. What I do believe is that we are all a combination of the expected and the unexpected. In London many people do grow up in or grow into a mix of different cultures and there’s a certain amount of common experience here. But no-one is 100% a stereotype, or 100% unstereotypical. As Hana puts it: “we are all simultaneously unique snowflakes and parts of the snowman.”

Read the interview between Jenny Robins and Andy Oliver for Broken Frontier in full HERE.

Biscuits (Assorted) is available to buy now.

10 tips for writing historical fiction with Writers & Artists

Writers & Artists share 10 tips for writing historical fiction, written by Tammye Huf, debut author of A More Perfect Union…

History can be a wonderful source of inspiration, with all those worlds ready for your characters to inhabit, but historical fiction requires a particular commitment from a writer. On top of grappling with the usual elements of story, a writer must authentically represent the historical age.

Writing my historical fiction novel, A More Perfect Union, has taught me quite a lot about the particular challenges of this genre and I’ve boiled down some of what I’ve learned into my top ten tips on writing historical fiction.

1) The importance of research cannot be overstated. You can never know too much about your historical period (although you can certainly include too many historical details in your story – more on that later). Be prepared to go deep with research in order to write authentically. Gain the trust of your reader by providing enough specific historical details…

Carry on reading…

A Recipe of Hope for Good Chance

Majid Adin has illustrated  A Recipe of Hope, a beautiful collective poem of home and hope put together by Good Chance to celebrate their 5th birthday.

Read more about Good Chance and the work they do here.

 

"But it didn’t matter.  Nobody was there to judge my struggles." Tyler on his trip to Prague, written for The Literary Sofa

“I had no contacts there, no friends or relatives to look up.  I’d booked a bedsit on the internet, unbelievably cheap for the location, in Vinohrady, within walking distance of Prague 1, the Old Town and tourist district.  I paid the equivalent in koruny of about $200 Canadian per month.  Eira’s room in the novel is based on it.  Too small to be called a studio flat – maybe ten by twenty feet.  A shower in one corner.  The toilet in the hall outside.  A battered cupboard with a single hotplate.  A bed that resembled an army cot.  Musty carpet and stale smoke.  Peeling wallpaper.  Cracked paint.  It was exactly what I’d wanted.

After deducting rent, I had a budget of about five dollars a day to get me through the autumn and winter.  On the hot plate I boiled potatoes and pasta, fried vegetables and eggs.  I bought the cheapest beer and cigarettes and spent evenings sitting at my window, smoking and imitating the pictures I’d seen of Camus.  It was an act, of course.  I was playing at being a writer.  But part of my act was writing.  And in the mornings I stayed sober and focused: I would boil coffee on my hotplate and write longhand in my notebook.  I had the will, but no direction, no craft, no skill.  My stories grew too long and got away from me, slippery and unmanageable as eels.  But it didn’t matter.  Nobody was there to judge my struggles.”

Tyler Keevil looks back at his trip to Prague and the aspects of that journey which made it into his latest novel, literary thriller Your Still Beating Heart.

The Radio 2 Book Club with Tammye Huf

“I myself am in an interracial marriage and know first-hand – even in our modern, enlightened society – my husband and I have experienced moments of disapproval. So to think back to the middle of the 19th century to their situation and their story, and what it must have been like for them… It just really resonated with me.”

Listen to Tammye Huf as she chats with Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2.

A More Perfect Union is a current BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice and is available to buy now.

When It Comes To Rape, We’re Still Asking The Wrong Questions by Sanjukta Bose

“We still persist in thinking that some women can’t be raped. Especially ‘bad’ women. If bad women are raped, it doesn’t fit our victim narrative, and so we’d rather ignore it. Or call it sex.”

The way we treat rape survivors also has to do with the way we imagine who gets raped and by whom. When women are raped, we ask them what they could have done to warrant such an action. What were they wearing? Why were they out so late? Were they drinking? We think the solution to rape is to lock up women, to teach girls to occupy as little space as possible, to not exercise their sexual freedom.

Sanjukta Bose writes about rape for Livewire, quoting from What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali. Read the article in full on Livewire now.

On Meeting Margaret Busby by Sarah Ladipo Manyika for Granta

‘March 7, 2019 – It’s cold and gray outside, but inside the Paul Webley Wing of London University’s School of Oriental Studies (SOAS) it’s all sparkle and warmth. For a moment, I stand by the entrance watching the crowd abuzz with laughter, music, and chatter as photographers and a film crew circle the room. Here are mothers, daughters, granddaughters and aunties rocking pantsuits, evening gowns, kente, tie-dye, ankara, turbans, tresses, locks, hijab, and afros of all curl textures, lengths, and colours. We have gathered in our scores on this eve of International Women’s Day, some traveling from as far as America and Nigeria for the launch of the much-anticipated book New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent. As the room fills, excitement builds.’

Sarah Ladipo Manyika shares her memories of meeting Margaret Busby for the very first time, then several times again for Granta. Sarah is an author and contributor to New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby. The paperback is now available.

Read the piece in full on the Granta website.

JFA Human Rights Journal feature What We Talk About...

‘Kiran wore a rather fabulous sparkly green blouse on the day we spent together. She took me to Gokulnagar, where she and other sex workers live and work in colourful houses set in a row backing on to an undeveloped parcel of land. It was a peaceful morning scene, with kids running around, smells of cooking and washing, women clustered around a sleeping newborn baby. The baby was so cute I pulled out my camera to take a picture, only to be smacked down. It’s bad luck to take pictures of babies with their eyes closed.’

An extract from What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali was selected by JFA Human Rights Journal and featured on their platform. Visit JFA here and read the extract in full.

Covid Comics with The Lancet

‘Comics of the COVID-19 pandemic are valuable contributions to the outbreak narrative and to the evolving visual culture of contagion. They can help us collectively process and understand this moment. The visual documentation of the pandemic in comics helps demystify the invisibility of contagion, creates personal narratives about the pandemic, provides public health education, and can create a sense of solidarity around shared emotions and experiences resulting from the disruptions to social interactions, bodily integrity, and communal boundaries.’

With a number of the Myriad novelists recording their daily antics while in lockdown, we were intrigued to read this article in world-leading medical health journal, The Lancet, on the value of Covid Comics.  Read in full HERE.

East Anglian Book Awards 2020 winners revealed!

The winners for the coveted East Anglian Book Awards 2020 have been revealed and How To Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe won the Biography & Memoir category!

Here’s what the judges said: ‘As we follow Charlotte’s journey through school and college, we become as awestruck by their extraordinary passion for life as by the enormous privations that they must undergo to live it. From food and fandom, to body modification and comic conventions, Charlotte’s experiences through the torments of schooldays and young adulthood leave us with a riot of conflicting emotions: horror, empathy, despair, laugh-out-loud amusement and, most of all, respect.’

Find out what other books won HERE.

October Newsletter from Turnaround

‘The art is highly detailed and evokes both time periods perfectly, showing a level of research and care that many reader will appreciate. It is also a style that lends itself to several different tones whether it be gritty murder, or the almost supernatural ambience the story takes at certain times. This is another strong showing from Hannah Eaton and perfect for Halloween reading. All fans of horror comics will want to give this a look.’

Hannah Eaton’s Blackwood is named Graphic Novel of the Month by Turnaround in their October newsletter.

The newsletter also featured A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf, with a reminder to tune into Instagram as we share exclusive content  from Tammye at 7.30 pm every night from 12 – 16 October.

'Progress? Yes, really.' A personal blog post by Dan Smith

‘Humanity’s social progress is real. More people live longer, healthier lives than ever. Fewer live in extreme poverty than 30 years ago and a much smaller proportion of the total population than 100 or 200 years ago. The store of human knowledge continues to enlarge. Human rights are respected now in a way that was not dreamed of 200 years ago. More people live in democratic political systems today than ever. And in the first two decades of the 21st century, warfare has taken far fewer human lives than it did in the first two decades of the 20th.”

Read Dan Smith’s new blog post about the state of the world HERE.

Buy a copy of The State of the World Atlas  by Dan Smith. Now in it’s 10th edition, this is a groundbreaking atlas and milestone of graphic reporting. Dan Smith is the Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and is also author of The State of the Middle East Atlas.

Bookstagrammer @iambookaanan on What We Talk About by Sohaila Abdulali

‘A woman walks into a hardware store. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s actually the beginning of one of the videos made by the “It’s On Us” campaign to demonstrate just how cracked some of our justifications for rape are.’

Bookstagrammer @iambookaanan on What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali.

The campaign video shared by @iambookaanan can be watched in full HERE.

Buy What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape via myriadeditions.com.

The SOAS Margaret Busby Award will run for years to come...

SOAS has committed to establishing the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award for years to come.  Following the successful launch of the inaugural Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award in 2020, the University would like to turn this award into a lasting legacy in Margaret’s name, establishing a new generation of African female writers.

The award supports a black, female African student taking an MA in African Studies, MA Comparative Literature or MA Translation (in African Languages) at SOAS University of London. This award is for a student with a particular interest in African Literature, with the aim to support a new generation of African female writers. This scholarship covers the fees, accommodation and living costs.

To donate to the award, click HERE.

New Daughters of Africa is now available in paperback. To buy your copy, click HERE.

Tammye Huf on Brighton Book Club

“I think knowing your history helps you to understand who you are. I think your past remains with you in your present; we are who we are because of who we’ve been and who our ancestors were.”

“My great-great grandparents were not alone in this interracial relationship in pre-civil war South; I found documentation a number of other couples who actually were able to get past the racial barrier and fall in love and be together.”

“For this particular book, during this strange racial climate that we’re in, with division and strife, I do hope that a book like this could help to…bring people forward.”

Author Tammye Huf was invited on to Brighton Book Club podcast to talk about her upcoming novel, A More Perfect Union, which is available to pre-order now.

Listen again HERE.

Hannah Eaton and Hannah Berry on Brighton Book Club Podcast

Hannah Eaton: “How could England very quietly sneak in real authoritarian into government? You could do two things. You could deter people for no legal reason. You devolve power to legal councils so that corporations could run the prison system. We’ve got places like Jarls wood. We do detain people for no real reason. It’s not dystopian, its an altered reflection of what actually goes on.”

Listen again as Hannah Eaton and Comics Laureate Hannah Berry chat comics, nightmares and Alison Bechdel (as well as Hannah’s latest graphic novel, Blackwood) on Brighton Book Club Podcast.

This podcast was recorded in September 2020 before the publication of Blackwood.

 

Your Still Beating Heart on BBC Radio Wales with Gary Raymond

‘This really grabbed me right from the start. I just couldn’t put it down. It’s unashamedly a pacy thriller. It’s hard-hitting with a really strong political undercurrent… in places I wanted to look away but I couldn’t. It’s very, very strong.’  Emma Schofield
‘I really enjoyed it… it really drew me in and it drew me in quickly too. It does ‘menace’ well. It has some strong parallels with the film Don’t Look Now… What I really liked was the personal questions it poses about  the moral importance of opting for bravery over cowardice and the very pertinent political overtones… It’s a book that stayed with me and a book that made me ask serious questions of myself. ’  Craig Austin, ‘The Review Show’, BBC Radio Wales
 
‘Very immediate snappy prose…it reminded me of writers like Gillian Flynn who get straight to the heart of the matter.’  Gary Raymond, ‘The Review Show’, BBC Radio Wales
BBC Radio Wales reviews what’s going on in the Welsh arts scene, including a look at Your Still Beating Heart by Tyler Keevil. Listen again now. Starts 16.15 mins in.

Woodrow Phoenix talks to Gill Roth for the Virtual Memories Podcast, episode 389

Who’s driving whom? With Crash Course [published in the UK as Rumble Strip by Myriad Editions] British cartoonist, artist and designer Woodrow Phoenix examines what cars do to us: physically, mentally, and environmentally.

In Virtual Memories podcast episode 389, Gil Roth talks to Woodrow about the evolution of Crash Course, the stint in LA that inspired it, the visual and design choices that make it a haunting piece of art, and how he reconciles driving his Mini Cooper One.

Woodrow also discusses growing up in South London, what being Black means in the UK and US, his compulsion to experiment with styles, why he sticks with pencils and inks, and his typography and design background and how they inform the semiotics of Crash Course.

Listen again now.

Literandra interview with Dr Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi

“I, as an African woman, navigate life, work, family, and daily living in America even as my heart continues to reach out, yearning for the smells, tastes, sounds, colours of Africa.” Dr Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi

Literandra interview contributors from the groundbreaking anthology, New Daughters of Africa, to celebrate the newly-released paperback edition.

Follow Literandra on Instagram and read their interview with Dr Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi online now.

A More Perfect Union and New Daughters of Africa in Stylist

Stylist magazine featured A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf and New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby, in their list of Best Books for Autumn 2020.

‘A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf (out 15 October, £12.99, Myriad Editions) is an epic love story between an Irish immigrant and a Black slave that you should pre-order now. There’s also the paperback release of New Daughters Of Africa (£14.99, Myriad Editions, out now) edited by Margaret Busby, which embraces every genre you can think of: fiction, poetry, letters, drama and journalism from such jaw-dropping names as Roxane Gay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Yrsa Daley-Ward.’

See the list in full.

Jesmyn Ward on losing her partner to COVID-19

‘My Beloved died in January. He was a foot taller than me and had large, beautiful dark eyes and dexterous, kind hands. He fixed me breakfast and pots of loose-leaf tea every morning. He cried at both of our children’s births, silently, tears glazing his face. Before I drove our children to school in the pale dawn light, he would put both hands on the top of his head and dance in the driveway to make the kids laugh. He was funny, quick-witted, and could inspire the kind of laughter that cramped my whole torso. Last fall, he decided it would be best for him and our family if he went back to school. His primary job in our household was to shore us up, to take care of the children, to be a househusband. He traveled with me often on business trips, carried our children in the back of lecture halls, watchful and quietly proud as I spoke to audiences, as I met readers and shook hands and signed books. He indulged my penchant for Christmas movies, for meandering trips through museums, even though he would have much preferred to be in a stadium somewhere, watching football. One of my favorite places in the world was beside him, under his warm arm, the color of deep, dark river water.’

Acclaimed novelist Jesmyn Ward lost her beloved husband—the father of her children—as COVID-19 swept across the country. She writes through their story, and her grief for Vanity Fair.

Jesmyn Ward’s work features in New Daughters of Africa, a glorious portrayal of the richness, range and diversity of African women’s voices. Now available in paperback.

Hannah Eaton on Books for Sussex Life

The book I’ve never finished
I hated A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara so much I threw it in the recycling to take it out of circulation. I like a lurid, kitschy abuse melodrama as much as the next person, but I’ll stick with Flowers in the Attic, which has deadly doughnuts, a better villain and doesn’t demand tearful reverence.

The book that moved me most
Beloved by Toni Morrison. The adapted film is a soul-rending companion piece… the ghost-laying chorus of holy grandmas at the end. And Oprah as Sethe.

The book I’m reading now
I have four on the go: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, Theodore Zeldin’s The Hidden Pleasures of Life, Rebecca West’s The Fountain Overflows and Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. I read the last two every year because they’re like amazing panopticons, not only of their particular positions in history and place, but also in a way that reflects your own shifting interiority each time you revisit them.

Author of Blackwood and Naming Monsters, Hannah Eaton talks books with Sussex Life magazine. Read in full.

Woodrow Phoenix and The War on Cars Podcast

With its stark and beautifully hand-drawn images of roads, traffic symbols, cities and highways, Crash Course [published in the UK as Rumble Strip by Myriad Editions] takes aim at the ways in which cars have shaped the built environment, politics, and even the human psyche, largely for the worse.

Crash Course unpacks the term “road rage,” explains why traffic accidents are anything but, and dispels the notion that people can be neatly separated into categories such as motorist, cyclist or pedestrian. It also examines the dangers of SUVs, the perils of driverless cars and the recent and growing trend of vehicles being used as weapons against demonstrators in places such as Charlottesville, Virginia.

In this episode of podcast The War on Cars, Woodrow Phoenix talks to Doug Gordon about the unique combination of artistry and journalism that makes Crash Course an effective polemic, one that will hopefully persuade people to think carefully about their responsibility when they get behind the wheel of a car.

Listen to the episode in full.

14 Brilliant New Books... by The Glossary

‘In this high-stakes thriller about organ trafficking, a young woman’s life is changed in the blink of an eye after a stabbing on a London bus leaves her widowed. Isolated and robbed of her future, she books an impulsive trip to Prague, where she and her late husband got engaged.

Wandering the city’s cobbled streets, she is approached with a proposition – pick something up, transport it back to the UK and save a life. Just once. But that once will change her life beyond recognition. Keevil is the director of Cardiff University’s Creative Writing MA, so expect a brilliant read as he shows he can practise what he preaches.’

Tyler Keevil’s new literary thriller, Your Still Beating Heart, is listed alongside new releases from Nick Hornby, Rose Tremain and Elena Ferrante as Must-Reads this month by The Glossary.

See the full list.

"I've always been a clown..." Hannah Vincent Interview

‘I have always been a clown. It can be exhausting at times. As I grow older, I have become more aware of the performance I give out and perhaps I am less compelled to perform myself for others – or at least, if I put on a performance, I am increasingly aware what this is. The stories in this collection describe stages of life when I wasn’t so aware of the performance I was putting on and they project forwards into a future to consider what performances might still be to come.’

Janet Emson interviews She-Clown and other stories author, Hannah Vincent for blog From First Page to Last.

How does migration affect a child's development? Eva Hoffman, Brave New Words

‘Poland was a country ravaged by war, impoverished and stifled by an oppressive regime. Among my most vivid childhood memories are images of ruined cities, of whole streets lying in rubble and gaping windowless buildings with the epidermis of exterior walls torn off and exposed interiors filled with broken stones. (Images of Aleppo in ruins today, which I have watched with a sense of terrible poignancy and rage, have now been superimposed on those early sights of Warsaw.)

Cracow itself had not been destroyed during the Second World War, for reasons which are not entirely clear, and remained a beautiful city, with layers of medieval, renaissance and baroque architecture. But the human losses were everywhere evident: in the history of my parents, whose entire families were killed during the Holocaust; in the presence in the streets of the war-wounded and the orphaned children, whose faces emanated a great sadness.’

How does migration affect a child’s development? Writer Eva Hoffman looks back on her childhood transition from Poland to Canada in her Brave New Words essay, featured in full on The Jewish Chronicle. Read now.

Three Spotlight Books by NB Magazine

Spotlight Books is a collaboration between New Writing South, Creative Future and Myriad Editions. Under this collaborative title, 3 stand along short stories were published. Kirsty Hewitt reviews them now for NB magazine.

Hugely different in style but all three offering glimpses into the lives of characters trying desperately to make sense of their own, unique realities.

Read Kirsty’s 4/4 star review HERE.

Literandra short story review: ‘A Very Young Judge’ by Leila Aboulela

‘Growing up, most of us probably had that one friend, who we were very fond of but who somehow, wittingly or not, made us feel at once inadequate about ourselves and grateful to be around them. That kind of friendship is what Leila Aboulela’s short story ‘A Very Young Judge’ is about.

The story explores the friendship between the first person narrator and her fashionable, fascinating, and ferocious friend Leena. It examines the role and nature of friendships between women and girls. ‘A Very Young Judge’ shows that women and girls can be each other’s most fierce judges and / or supporters.

Alongside this, the story also shines a light on the importance of self-determination, discernment, and critical examination of one’s friends and circle. It’s easy to get absorbed by a group of friends and forget to remain critical of one’s own and their morals alike. ‘A Very Young Judge’ also shows how quickly the most popular and revered girl in school (or anywhere else, for that matter) can morph into a deeply problematic, judgmental, and exclusionary person. It alludes to the fact that ‘hero-worship’ and the idolisation of any human being is a dangerous and slippery slope, because we are all fallible and susceptible to change.

Thank you to Literandra for reviewing Leila Aboulela’s short story from New Daughters of Africa. Make sure to follow Literandra on Instagram as they work their way through the anthology.

Read the full review HERE.

Q&A: Margaret Busby with Africa in Words

Africa in Words: ‘So, I think that’s why this anthology is so important, because it is providing a space and providing that platform for so many people.’

Margaret Busby: ‘It’s really just showing that there is more that you could be enjoying, that you could be learning from, that you could be reading. There are things that could open your mind, that could enlighten you that you have to seek out for yourself because it is not being offered within your formal curriculum.’

Read here.

Margaret Busby: What it takes to be the first Black Woman Publisher in the UK

MB: ‘Often, I’m at events or on panels and I ask the audience how many people want to be a writer, and everybody’s hands go up. And then you ask who wants to be a publisher and nobody’s hand goes up. But you can do both; it’s not as if you have to choose. You just have to be involved; otherwise they get to decide that you can come in the door. We have to be there at every level, whether it’s on the newspapers, etc. Otherwise, who chooses to review your show or my book? Who are the gatekeepers? We need to be part of it, so that there can be other perspectives. That way, everybody ends up benefitting. You want a richer literature, a richer artistic community. You don’t want everything to be narrowed down to just a small voice or coterie of people that are all thinking the same way. It would be very strange if you walked down the street and everybody looked exactly the same, spoke the same, or wore the same clothes. How boring would that be? But sometimes you feel that’s how it is. I can still go to a publishing party where I’m the only black person. And it’s not as if they even notice, because that’s the way it is for them – that’s the norm.’

Read this three-part interview with Margaret Busby by Satch Hoyt, as they discuss music, publishing and Black writing for Afro-Sonic Mapping.

Literandra short story review: ‘This Is Not Au Revoir’ by Zukiswa Wanner

‘Zukiswa Wanner’s short story, ‘This Is Not Au Revoir‘ is a feminist story that packs a punch. Set in Johannesburg, it follows the life and times of Naledi, a woman who decides that, in spite of everything she has been through, enough is enough. We follow her journey to self-determination through heartbreaks, mental health issues, and societal constraints.

‘While the story reads like an empowering, snappy, almost coming-of-age-story, it also looks at deeply complex societal and cultural issues. Over the course of the story, we see as Naledi evolves from the woman who unwittingly accepts emotional mistreatment from her lovers, to the one who decides to put herself first.’

Thank you to Literandra for reviewing Zukiswa Wanner’s short story from New Daughters of Africa. Literandra will be featuring the anthology across their platforms over August and September, to mark the publication of the paperback.

Read the full review HERE.

Afrolit Sans Frontières: Online African Literary Festival

Afrolit Sans Frontières is a virtual literary festival for writers of African origin, founded by author and publisher Zukiswa Wanner as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdowns. There have been four editions running every month since they began in March. Season five is up next and will include New Daughters of Africa contributors Sisonke Msimang and Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, as well as editor Margaret Busby.

You can follow Afrolit Sans Frontières on Instagram HERE. The festival is entirely free – head to their Insta Stories to watch each conversation as it happens.

Idza Luhymyo first recipient of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award

We’re overjoyed to announce that Idza Luhumyo is the first recipient of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award.  Luhumyo will start at SOAS University of London this Autumn and we very much look forward to celebrating with her.

Her writing has previously been published by Popula, Jalada Africa, The Writivism Anthology, Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly, MaThoko’s Books, Gordon Square Review, Amsterdam’s ZAM Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, and The New Internationalist. Her work has been shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, and the Gerald Kraak Award.

The news was shared by 2 Girls & A Pod, Vanguard, James Murua, the African Writers Trust and Brittle Paper.

Pondweed live launch now available to watch online!

To mark the launch of Lisa Blower‘s latest novel, Pondweed, she was joined by author Sharon Duggal to discuss the book and the inspiration behind the two main characters.  The event was hosted by New Writing South and introduced by Lisa’s commissioning editor and Myriad publishing director, Candida Lacey.

Watch again via New Writing South’s YouTube channel HERE, and make sure to subscribe to catch all their upcoming online events and content.

 

Kevin Gopal interviews Lisa Blower for The Big Issue North

“I’m not sure if fiction has overlooked restlessness in retirement – I know many strong novels that take on this subject and from various perspectives – and I do have two characters desperate to still matter and go on mattering. My focus on the restlessness was more to do with Selwyn and Ginny trying to fit together because they believe they’re supposed to fit together because they’ve been given this second chance, but neither wants to come fully clean to the other in case it ruins it.”

Big Issue North talks to Lisa Blower about Pondweed, her latest novel. Read the interview in full online now. Show your support for the The Big Issue by purchasing their latest issue from one of their street vendors or subscribe online.

Elizabeth Haynes on Virtual Noir at the Bar

Virtual Noir at the Bar is an online weekly event where crime and mystery writers read, live, from their works. Elizabeth Haynes was invited by Vic Watson to read from the very crime reports which inspired her to write The Murder of Harriet Monckton.

Sarah Lightman interview for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics

“I have worked so hard on not feeling regretful. I think that both my parents had regrets in their lives and they talked about them quite often. Perhaps this was one reason that I had adopted a defeatist approach to many things. I have to work hard each day to live in my now, and not wish for another life. One thing I have found is that my emotions can be quite strong at times, and instead of squashing them with food and crying, which I do as well, I have to remind myself to draw and write and paint them out. Those terrible feelings can become beautiful art.

So the truth is, I can draw these things, they can be cathartic, but I do find some regrets and sadness still linger. And for those, I just need to be mindful each day and let them sit beside me.”

Sarah Lightman talks to Partha Bhattacharjee and Priyanka Tripathi for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. This interview can be read in full here.

The Book of Sarah by Sarah Lightman is available to buy now.

Edge Hill Prize 2020 Longlist

Lisa Blower’s debut collection of short stories, It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s, and Elleke Boehmer’s To the Volcano have both leapt on to the 2020 Edge Hill Short Story Prize longlist – the only UK-based award to recognise excellence in a single-authored short story collection. The first ever all-female longlist features just twelve collections and represents an exciting range of new writing from UK and Irish writers. It will be narrowed down to a shortlist in September, with the winner announced in November.

Congratulations to both Elleke and Lisa!

The Readers Resistance Book Club

Brave New Words, edited by Susheila Nasta is The Readers Resistance Book Club’s current read. The collection of essays on the power of literature features the writing of Blake Morrison, Shivanee Ramlochan, Romesh Gunesekera, Eva Hoffman, Kei Miller, Bernardine Evaristo, Raja Shehadeh, Bina Shah, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Githa Hariharan, Hsiao-Hung Pai, James Kelman, Olumide Popoola, Tabish Khair and Marina Warner. Buy your copy HERE.

West Cork Literary Festival Recommends...

‘Saturday was #WorldRefugeeDay and we’d like to recommend this book by a Greek author Panos Karnezis who should have been in West Cork next month.  We are Made of Earth is the timely story of two refugees who seek safety on a Mediterranean island when their overcrowded dinghy capsizes.’

Thank you to West Cork Literary Festival for recommending the wonderful We are Made of Earth by Panos, published last year. A timely tale of crisis, loss and desire to belong.

Lisa Blower on BBC Radio Shropshire

‘I’ve been asked quite a bit recently about the origins of this novel… It’s very loosely based upon a family story about my great-grandmother, who was standing at the bus top when she was in her 80’s and she got chatting to an elderly gentleman aside of her. It turned out to be her childhood sweetheart, who she thought had been lost in the First World War…’

Listen again to Lisa Blower as she discusses the inspiration for her captivating new novel, Pondweed, with Adam Green on BBC Radio Shropshire. From 2 hr 07 minutes in.

 

'Skilful, honest and evocative writing': Sussex Life

‘Take away the glitz or grit, and many popular memoirs probably wouldn’t keep a reader turning pages for long. What Nicholas Royle, author and professor of English at University of Sussex, demonstrates in this portrait of his mother, Kathleen, is how skilful, honest and evocative writing can bring a person to life better than any film.

‘Royle admits he didn’t set out to write a conventional biography, and the finished book is “less a record of events than a grappling with what escapes words”. Nevertheless, his mother, a no-nonsense nurse and crossword loving autodidact emerges as a forceful, funny, talkative and practical woman whose love for her family knew no bounds.’

Sussex Life review Mother: A Memoir by local author Nicholas Royle for their June 2020 issue. Read online here.

 

Books to help you escape lockdown by Bernardine Evaristo

‘I’ve been making my way through New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent, edited by Margaret Busby (2019). It’s more than 1,056 pages long and yes, I’m in it, but so are more than 200 other writers. The first incarnation of the book, Daughters of Africa (1992), is even longer and features another couple of hundred writers. Bringing together fiction, poetry, memoir and essays, both books are an incredible introduction to black women’s writing from around the world, and feature every established name you can imagine, as well those who deserve to be better known.’

Bernardine Evaristo, contributor to Brave New Words, New Daughters of Africa and joint-winner of the Booker Prize 2019 with her novel Girl, Woman, Other joins a rich list of authors and politicians discussing the best books to read during Lockdown for The Guardian. Read more.

In Conversation with Carol Isaacs for Iraq Solidarity News

ISN: Music is a feature in The Wolf of Baghdad and plays a distinctive role throughout the story, can you please explain why?

CAROL: Music can be incredibly powerful, eliciting emotions from deep within the listener and performer. It is also the reason I decided to turn the book into a semi-animated film with its own soundtrack.

As the book is wordless the music chosen to accompany the images have very specific purposes, they all play their part in telling the story of our community using religious prayers, traditional folk tunes and popular Iraqi songs.

Hussein Al-alak from Iraq Solidarity News talks to Carol Isaacs about her 2020 graphic memoir, The Wolf of Baghdad.

Bad Form Young Writers' Prize 2020

The Bad Form Young Writers’ Prize has been founded by Bad Form, a literary review magazine by Black, Asian, Arab and other non-white people as part of their ongoing work to support and promote British authors from backgrounds underrepresented in the publishing industry. Submissions will open Monday 15 June, and close Monday 6 July.
Myriad will be gifting the winning author a selection of graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction books, with authors Umi Sinha and Elaine Chiew offering one-to-one mentor sessions to the shortlisted author.  We’re elated to be able to support such a wonderful prize and hope Bad Form are inundated with submissions.
Amy Baxter, editor of Bad Form commented “We’re so thrilled to be able to use our contacts in the British publishing industry to support the work of young, underrepresented writers in such a practical way. These past few weeks have seen a sudden shift in the industry, and I hope that this is a sign of long-term change to come.”
Head to the Bad Form website for more information.

Elaine Chiew on BBC Radio 4: Open Book

In a ‘Postcard from Singapore’, Elaine Chiew talks about Singlit (Singaporean literature) and the role history has played on the development of the literary scene.

In the rest of the show, Alex Clark talks to Andrés Neuman about his new novel, and William Boyd makes the case for revisiting two novels written by soldiers reissued 75 years after the end of World War Two.

Available now on BBC Radio 4: Open Book, 22:17 minutes in.

Elaine is author of The Heartsick Diaspora, and other stories.

Books for Pride 2020 - a Foyles selection

‘To say that 2020 has been a rough ride so far would be an understatement, and while there is no avoiding the need for continued social distancing, we can still celebrate Pride this month from the comfort of home. For this year we’ll have to leave the glitter cannons and find others way to celebrate, rather than parades or large celebrations, and there is still plenty of joy, community and comfort to be found within the pages of the books featured within the selections below.’

Foyles curated a visually stunning and diverse list of LGBTQI+ books to celebrate Pride 2020, including Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth – available now.

Books That Matter: Books and Treats Package 2020

Sold out in 30 minutes! Thank you to everyone who bought the latest Books That Matter gift box, which included To The Volcano by Elleke Boehmer and Cora Vincent by Georgina Aboud, along with treats from Bird and Blend, Kookie Cat Cookies and Candy Kittens. Did you manage to order your box in time?

Thank you to Lizzy Dening, Clare Burgess, Simply Steph 101, Siobhan Kangataran, Amy Parsnips and Holly & her Hardbacks on Instagram for featuring the box – we hope you’re now firm fans of both books and look forward to hearing your reviews.

Listen in: Nicholas Royle and Andrew Bennett on Crossed Lines

‘As I was writing, I was stumbling upon new memories or a new voice track. That moment in the book where I recount my mother’s reading of Iris Murdoch… I haven’t remembered this for ages but it triggered the memory of me phoning John and Iris at their house in Oxfordshire… It was always a very strange, surreal, poignant, comical experience because every time I did it I had to wait several minutes before one of them picked up the phone. It was always a long time and there’s something about that experience of waiting for someone to answer the phone, maybe patience, maybe suspension of life, feeling a strange languidness which went with phoning that number.’

This talk takes the shape of a phone call between Nicholas Royle and Andrew Bennett. They discuss nostalgia, family, homesickness, Iris Murdoch and Raymond Chandler. Listen in here.

Independent publishing in a time of Covid-19 with NB magazine

‘As dedicated readers we’re always searching for the next title but Covid-19 has made this much more difficult. Writers and publishers need our support more than ever. I spoke to a few independent publishers about their new books, where they can be purchased and how the pandemic has affected them. For some small publishers this is a battle for survival.’

The wonderful NB magazine discuss publishing under lockdown, highlighting several independent publishers and their latest releases including Mother: A Memoir by Nicholas Royle, She-Clown and other Stories by Hannah Vincent, and The Wolf of Baghdad by Carol Isaacs.

Read the article in full.

Short Story Month featuring Elaine Chiew and Hannah Vincent

‘May is Short Story Month! I am so excited to share my favourite short story collections with you all … I couldn’t let this opportunity pass without recommending The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew and She-Clown and Other Stories by Hannah Vincent. Both of them were incredibly written and memorable in their own ways. I highly recommend picking these up.’

The Biblio Sara shares brand new short story collections by Elaine Chiew and Hannah Vincent to celebrate Short Story Month on Instagram. Scroll through the rest of her posts here.

The Women's Atlas, German edition

Hanser: “You have authored The Women’s Atlas since 1987 to great international acclaim. What are the longterm developments that strike you?

Joni: “I would say two main areas of change:
• feminist organizing has become more globally connected, which means there’s a lot more cross-national and cross-coalition lesson learning going on. This is particularly apparent around organizing against violence against women.
• the gender gap across all economic domains is becoming more visible and difficult for entrenched interests to sweep under the rug; this is true across the economic board, from increasing awareness of the gender gap in pay (which now needs to be accounted for and is made illegal in several countries) to an understanding that women’s labour, both paid and unpaid, is the backbone of most economies

Hanser interview Joni Seager to mark the publication of The Women’s Atlas in German. To see all available editions head HERE.

Marbles on Bookanista

‘I have lost plenty of people. Every loss is a lessening. Every loss makes one more aware of how much there is to lose. But the death of my mother was something else. I don’t know when she died. She had dementia. For ten years she was among us in the midst of life cut off. An island going down under rising sea-levels. A skyscraper collapsing in a decade-long earthquake. A sunset sleepier than a druid’s daydream. It began in her mid-sixties. It was over before her seventy-fifth birthday. It wasn’t like an island or a skyscraper or a sunset. These similes are to no purpose. Nothing captures the pace of her descent into where she went.’

Bookanista shares Marbles, a chapter from Mother: A Memoir by Nicholas Royle (available to order now).

The world from a female perspective: Joni Seager interview with Il Libraio

‘This project is not just an atlas on women: it is a remapping of the world that takes women seriously. And regarding this, Seager declares: “For me, feminism means giving the lives of women the same attention, curiosity and analysis that men’s routines receive . The ordinary lives of women and men seem to have much in common, and sometimes they do; but the truth is that the way in which relationships are formed, earn a living and ensure autonomy varies significantly between women and men, as well as between women themselves at the intersectional level.” 

Il Libraio interview Joni Seager to mark the release of The Women’s Atlas in Italian. Read the interview in full HERE, and head to The Women’s Atlas Myriad page to browse through the various editions now available.

Exploring the plurality of female experience; an interview with Hannah Vincent

Q: What do you hope readers take away from She-Clown and Other Stories?

A: I hope readers might consider these stories as describing the different stages of one woman’s life as well as exploring the plurality of female experience.

My hope is that readers might be inspired to think about this cultural, historical moment as a moment in which patriarchal ways of organising society, government, business, and home might usefully give way to female methods – it’s about time, yes? It’s our time.

Fantastic new interview with She-Clown author, Hannah Vincent. Read here.

"We aren’t all in this together. We’re in the same rough seas, but we’re in very different boats."

‘The idea that the coronavirus pandemic might have some upsides that could help us live better lives seems almost distasteful in the face of the destruction and death it has caused so far. Domestic violence has surged in the UK, low-paid workers on zero-hours contracts are sleeping rough on the streets, and poor families in Britain are experiencing worsening food insecurity.

‘Even for those with a stable income, managing childcare, home schooling, domestic chores and work from home can be overwhelming, with a disproportionate burden falling on women. And it’s still early days. We have yet to see what the full extent of the fallout from this pandemic will be on our mental health, particularly for the most vulnerable people. As academic Cynthia Enloe put it, “We aren’t all in this together. We’re in the same rough seas, but we’re in very different boats. And some of those boats are very leaky. And some of those boats were never given oars. And some of those boats have high-powered motors on them. We are not all in the same boat.”’

Cynthia Enloe is quoted by Farrah Jarral in this piece on the current coronavirus lockdown for The Guardian.

Sohaila Abdulali and Ashwini Desphpande on measures to curb domestic violence during global lockdown

Sohaila Abdulali joins fellow author Ashwini Desphpande with straight-forward and urgent measure governments can put in place to curb domestic abuse and sexual violence during the global lockdown.

– There is a shadow pandemic on the rise and it is following the trail of the spread of COVID19 from China to Europe and the USA – rising cases of domestic abuse against women.

– In India the National Commission of Women has seen a spike in reported cases of domestic abuse during the lockdown. This is worrying particularly because there is massive underreporting of domestic abuse in India.

– Underreporting occurs because women are scared, lack resources and/or self-confidence, don’t know about hotlines, are culturally conditioned to believe abuse is acceptable. Data from the National Family Health Survey revealed that 52% of women think it is okay for their husbands to beat them up. In contrast, 42% of the men think beating their wives is par for the course.

Read their article in full here.

The Mermaid and the Tick, an extract on Minor Literature[s]]

‘A husband and wife lived by the sea. He was a handyman and she was a baker. Every day, after her baking was done, the wife would go down to the beach for a swim. In summer she lay on the shingle to dry off in the sun, and in winter she played chicken with the waves. Her husband joked that she was part mermaid, she loved the sea so much.’

The Mermaid and the Tick, a short-story from Hannah Vincent’s debut collection, She-Clown and other stories is cherry-picked by Minor Literature[s].

Not the Wellcome Prize

Bookish Beck has announced that in place of the Wellcome Prize (which is taking a year off) she will be hosting a ‘Not the Wellcome Prize’ blog tour, featuring books which disseminate crucial information about medicine and/or tell stories about how health affects our daily lives. The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams features on the longlist, with the winner being announced on the 11th May.

Please join us in following Bookish Beck and her fellow judges as they delve into each of the longlisted titles.

Listen to Me Sister, International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, Ros Martin organised Listen to Me Sister, celebrating writing from New Daughters of Africa and honouring the words of African women.

The event brought alive a range of writings: essay, commentary, provocation, short story and poetry from women of the African continent and its diaspora in US, Caribbean and UK others, their struggles past & present and view on life and the world around them from over 200 hundred years.

This public event was supported by the University of Bristol’s Centre of Black Humanities.

Photograph of Ros Barber by Christelle Pellecuer.

Elaine Chiew on The Heartsick Diaspora with Jessica Tay

Q: Most of the endings in this collection are open ended or very loose. Could you share with us why you decided to do so?

Elaine Chiew: E.M. Forster says, “The plot-maker expects us to remember; we expect him to leave no loose ends.” Realistic short stories (as a genre), however, by nature of the format, aren’t so much about plot as they are about change. The change is often in the heart, minute or invisible; in a hidden glance, a small gesture, a sudden apprehending, sometimes even a withdrawal. Even stasis, a character refusing to admit emotional change when a situation has changed, is a fundamental shift in psyche. The best short stories are windows into lived lives, and neatly tied endings would, in the end, do the reader a disservice because they are gimmicky and not true to real life. Our lives don’t consist of neatly tied chapter-by-chapter anecdotes or stories, do they?

The Heartsick Diaspora author Elaine Chiew is interviewed by book blogger Jessica Tay (AKA Endless Chapters on Instagram). Read the interview in full now.

Must-Reads with Sussex Life magazine

The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould and Cora Vincent by Georgina Aboud from the Spotlight Books series were both chosen as must-reads by Sussex Life magazine.

‘Of the first six books, five are by Sussex-based authors. Tara Gould is one, with a beautifully-written tale of a motherless girl growing up to become a mother struggling against her destiny. Hove resident Georgina Aboud’s story is very different: a disjointed account of scenes and events in an actress’ life as she prepares to return to the stage. Judging by these excellent little books, Spotlight Books deserves success.’

100 Pioneering Women of Sussex with Margaret Busby

Amy Zamarripa Solis features Margaret Busby, editor of New Daughters of Africa, in her 100 Pioneering Women of Sussex blog series for Brighton Museum.

‘In the 1990s, she edited the ground-breaking anthology Daughters of Africa (Jonathan Cape, 1992) and its 2019 follow-up New Daughters of Africa, published by Myriad Editions, who has an office in Brighton. The 2019 anthology has been nominated for NAACP Awards for Outstanding Literary Work 2020 and a Lifetime Achievement in African Literature by Africa Writes in 2019. Each anthology compiles more than 200 women from Africa and the African diaspora.

The title references a call to action from first African-American public speaker Maria W Stewart, who said in 1831:

‘O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties.’’

Amy is one of the creative team behind Writing our Legacy, raising awareness of the contributions of Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) writers, poets, playwrights and authors born, living or connected to Sussex and the South East.

COVID-19: Turning Swords into Ventilators? Or is it Ventilators into Swords? Cynthia Enloe for WILPF

‘They weren’t dressed in their usual khaki. They weren’t wielding guns or grenade launchers. Their combat zone was a civilian airport, not a battlefield. Their enemy was invisible to the naked eye.

Yet these were soldiers. Outfitted in bulky, white hazmat suits and wielding elongated disinfectant hoses, they were Spanish military personnel, spraying down Barcelona’s airport, to protect members of the public from coronavirus infection.

For a critic of militarism, is this a reassuring sight?

This is not a new quandary. Those resisting militarization have tussled with this puzzle before. In the wake of the tsunami, Japanese feminists pondered the implications of the Japanese Self-Defense Force being deployed to clean up the Fukushima region after the terrifying nuclear reactor meltdown. Chilean and Turkish feminists have debated the post-disaster consequences of their states’ militaries taking on the roles of first responders in the aftermaths of devastating earthquakes. While most Americans seem to have taken pride in their soldiers being sent to Thailand and the Philippines to aid in natural disaster relief efforts, many American feminists remained skeptical.’

Professor, feminist and theorist Cynthia Enloe writes about the harm done by using the military in disaster relief. Read the article in full on the WILPF website.

The Quarantine Files with Cynthia Enloe for LARB

Brad Evans, writer for the LA Review of Books invited several critical thinkers, artists and poets to share their thoughts and concerns about COVID-19, including Cynthia Enloe.

‘It has sounded so normal: “We’re in a war zone.” “We’re all soldiers now.” “We’ll defeat this enemy.” None of us seems to be immune to drawing on the language of war to describe this current state of affairs and this odd new way of living. It’s as if wartime were the only remembered (even if vicariously) time that can provide us with the metaphors and similes we need to address the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus is new. The scale of our collective effort to address it is new. But the linguistic repository we’re drawing upon to describe both is ancient — and unhelpful at best, risky at worst.’

Read Cynthia’s piece in full on the LARB website.

 

Living Apart with Love by Lucy Fry for The Gottman Institute

‘The space B and I need, to grieve and heal our twelve-year-long relationship, and to allow it to evolve, is being tightly squeezed by external pressures; widespread fear, a lack of work and all the usual things to do. Yet there is a sense running alongside this that we all need to be better, stronger, and more compassionate than ever! In essence, we are required to step up when we are feeling most like lying down, something that I suspect applies to each and every family, since being forced to remain in close proximity with loved-ones for weeks is arguably just as challenging as enforced separation or other complicated scenarios.

So we wait, and watch, and grow. Some families will become more unified, and others might break apart and reconfigure. One town under quarantine in China, Xi’an, reported unusually high divorce requests, and I suspect that isn’t a coincidence. Rather, these extraordinary circumstances will amplify all existing interpersonal dynamics – positive or negative – and it is our choice whether we wish to use this as an opportunity to notice and nurture such dynamics and do what’s necessary to help them shift.’

Lucy Fry discusses the pressures of COVID-19 lockdown on relationships for The Gottman Institute. Read in full here.

From surrendering to meltdowns, what being treated for addiction taught me about coping during lockdown

‘Eight and a half years ago I spent five weeks in quarantine, just outside London in an addictions treatment centre, in an attempt to give up drinking.

I’ll never forget that first, shocking week, when all the usual physical freedoms and emotional crutches were unceremoniously stripped away. I was not allowed a mobile phone or a computer, nor access to internet at any point. Meals were the same time every day, and snacks were strictly forbidden. There was no alcohol or caffeine, and nothing resembling a proper gym. Visitors were permitted, once a week, for just two hours. I could make one call, and take one walk each day, but neither for more than 30 minutes.

I raged and sobbed, a lot, in those five weeks, just as I have in these last three. Of course, it would be ridiculous to compare the enormous hardships that individuals and families are experiencing right now amidst Covid-19 to my rock bottom as an addict, or ensuing recovery….’

Read Lucy Fry’s article for iNews in full here. Lucy is author of Easier Ways to Say I Love You, available now.

Aisha Phoenix interview with poet Jacqueline Haskell

What did winning the Spotlight Books competition mean to you and how has it helped to advance your career?

This win led to my first full-length poetry collection being published, which these days is so hard to achieve for an unknown poet – I have had some competition wins and single poems published in magazines, but no pamphlet. That meant everything to me in terms of advancing my career, as being published in this way means I can apply to a wider range of presses, and opportunities that were previously closed to me are now within my grasp. The book has only recently been published, so longer term, it is too early to say, but I know I have only just started to reap the rewards.  I was also introduced to amazing organisations and individuals who all continue to support me.

Aisha Phoenix interviews Jacqueline Haskell about her new collection, Stroking Cerberus: Poems from the Afterlife, for The Mechanics’ Institute blog.

Meet the Locals: Jacqueline Haskell

‘Drawing insight from a number of sources, [Jacqui’s] poems look at the occult, mythology, life after death, spirit appearances from beyond the grave, and grief and loss in this world and the next.’

Columnist Nick Saunders  found time to chat about hearing loss, communication and poetry with Spotlight poet Jacqueline Haskell. The piece featured in New Milton Mail, April 2020, which you can read online here.

Be Curious, Do Research: An Interview with Professor Cynthia Enloe for PRAXIS

How do you define human security?

I have a really broad notion of security. Something I’ve learned is that people are very insecure in a lot of different ways. One really has to be curious about what makes somebody feel insecure, or what makes somebody feel secure. I think unless you’re curious, you won’t actually know what that person’s sense of security is because you don’t know what their insecurity is like. So, the first thing about human security is that one has to really listen to people to find out what makes them feel secure or insecure. It’s not a given.

The other thing to think about is about the word ‘human.’ There are some things that all humans share. Still, women and men can experience security and insecurity so differently. As a feminist, I never take “human” as my starting point. I’m always interested in a more intersectional and especially an intersectionally feminist curiosity about what an individual human person is experiencing. So, curiosity, I think, is where I start when I investigate both “human” and “security.”

Cynthia Enloe is interviewed by PRAXIS, the Fletcher Journal of Human Security (FULL INTERVIEW HERE).

“Waging War” Against a Virus is NOT What We Need to Be Doing: an article by Cynthia Enloe for WILPF

‘As towns and whole countries shut down in order to “flatten the curve” of outbreaks of the coronavirus, we are at risk of choosing the wrong analogy for what we collectively need to do in these perilous times. “Waging a war” is the most deceptively alluring analogy for mobilizing private and public resources to meet a present danger. We should, however, resist that allure.

We have learned – feminist investigators have taught us repeatedly – that in myriad countries and across generations war waging has fueled sexism, racism, homophobia, autocracy, secrecy and xenophobia. None of those will prevent a pandemic. They will never promote trustworthy science and functional medical infrastructures. They will not protect the most vulnerable among us. They will not keep us all safe. They most certainly will not lay the groundwork for post-pandemic democracy.’

“Waging War” Against a Virus is NOT What We Need to Be Doing: an article by Cynthia Enloe for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

My bookish life… Elaine Chiew

We’re delighted to begin My Bookish Life, a new series which will feature on our weekly newsletter, with writer and visual arts researcher Elaine Chiew, whose debut collection of short stories, The Heartsick Diaspora, came out in January.

How have your days changed?
As with many around the world, our routines got up-ended with my partner now working from home, and the kiddos being home for the short-term (Singapore just announced school closures). In daily life, we are doing some things different: (1) we no longer do our food-shopping on weekends, for two reasons – we are buying less each time, so as not to hoard, and we go during weekdays when the shops are emptier; we are also trying to support local businesses so we buy all our fruit now from our local fruit vendor around the corner; (2) we don’t allow talk about the pandemic at the dinner table and instead chat about what we did that day – a sharing of something learned, something experienced, something felt (or, sometimes, we do Jimmy Carr’s trivia quizzes while eating – it’s a good laugh); and (3) although we didn’t eat out a lot to begin with, now we don’t eat out at all, so this has meant a lot more of my time spent planning meals and being creative about them (which also rejuvenates the spirit). My son and I also do home-learning together (Coursera is great, and we are taking a course on Ancient Greek Civilisation together).

Read our full interview with Elaine here, and make sure to sign up to our newsletter to catch all our news and special offers. (Link at the bottom of our homepage.)

Sarah Lightman for The Author, Spring 2020

‘These are the endless negotiations I have faced as an autobiographical artist and a mother: between my body and mind; between my tiredness and my dreams of drawing and recording; between what I want to say, what I can’t say, what I won’t let myself say.’

Sarah Lightman on being an autobiographical artist while being a mother for the Spring 2020 issue of The Author.

Rap and Fine Dining: The Mix in The Heartsick Diaspora with Hyphen magazine

Leland Cheuk: I love a good ol’ ghost story, of which there are a few in the collection, but my favorite stories of yours are the ones in contemporary milieus like the fine dining kitchen or the mind of a mom who is super into hip-hop. There’s rap and food throughout the collection, and in “Chronicles of a Culinary Poseur,” there’s both. Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired the story? Did you spend time working in a fine dining kitchen?

Elaine Chiew: It’s fun to hear what stories appealed to a reader and why, so thank you! I did spend a week working in an Italian fine dining kitchen in New York City while researching a novel about haute cuisine and hip-hop (buried now in novel boneyard). I was intrigued by the class divide I saw from the kitchen peephole. Outside, the diners come to dine in their finery and spend easily upwards of hundreds of dollars per meal; inside the kitchen, the line cooks earn little more than minimum wage, and it is usually staffed by ethnic minorities, and yes, hip-hop music blares in the kitchen. Peepholes and doorways figure in several of the stories in the collection, for a reason — they often act as boundaries, keeping out (excluding) as well as keeping in (maintaining, protecting), but so flimsy and so porous. As a fellow writer, don’t you often feel that we as writers exist as translators or conduits or doormen? We stand at these liminal thresholds where we present contrasts by juxtaposing them. As service to story. Not to judge, but often as facilitator, “Look, look at, look through; perceive.”

Leland Cheuk interviews Elaine Chiew, author of The Heartsick Diaspora and other short stories for Hyphen magazine.

 

What happened when my wife and I opened up our relationship by Lucy Fry for iNews

‘As a child I wanted to be many things including a writer, actress, cricketer, and a boy. I also imagined I might get married, and perhaps one day become a mother.

I certainly never dreamt of having two intimate relationships simultaneously, nor did I think it was an option.

Fast forward 30 odd years, though, and that’s what happened. I was eight years into a long-term monogamous relationship with B. One evening over dinner we both admitted that we would like, ideally, to explore attractions with other people whilst also continuing to love each other.’

Read Lucy’s article on monogamy and the challenges of a relationship for iNews.

Tales of the amazing light show of life, Sunday Times South Africa

‘DH Lawrence talked about the “unspeakable beauty” of this light over the sea in Sydney. Katherine Mansfield admired its silver sheen on the waves in Wellington harbour. Many of us have watched it shimmer across the Karoo, as does the ex-combatant character in my story “Blue Eyes”. Some, like the group of people in the title story “To the Volcano” are so drenched in it they fall crazily in love. Or see their love in a completely new and shocking light, as in “The Biographer and the Wife”.

All of the characters in To the Volcano took on a distinct and definite shape as if standing under this light, bathed in it, even the titular “Evelina”, who (to confess) I first borrowed from James Joyce but then gave a home in Buenos Aires.

And this is not even to begin to speak of the light that is southern starlight, which simply is brighter than the starlight of the northern hemisphere. Fact. The South Pole is oriented to the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and some of the stars like Alpha Centauri are also actually closer by.’

Elleke Boehmer writes for Sunday Times South Africa about short story collection To The Volcano.

Confronting fractured worlds in Elleke Boehmer's To The Volcano, TLS

In “South, North”, the second story in Elleke Boehmer’s new collection, Lise, a young Australian woman, visits Paris after learning French. She has a backpack full of classic books, including Émile Zola’s L’Assommoir, and a map borrowed from her French teacher. She wakes early in her hostel, eats an apple and goes out looking for the Goutte d’Or, the setting for Zola’s novel. On the way she eats a madeleine from a packet bought in a métro kiosk. It “tastes of almost nothing”.

Anjali Joseph dissects To The Volcano and other stories by Elleke Boehmer for Times Literary Supplement.

Charlotte Amelia Poe interviewed by Joanna Moorhead for the Guardian

For artist and writer Charlotte Amelia Poe, 30, every day feels like a walk across a frozen pond. “It’s how it’s always been,” she explains. “You’re trying to navigate it and stay safe, but you’re aware that at any moment the ice is likely to crack, and at that point you will sink into the water.”

The worst of it is that, when she feels that way, she has no idea how she can avoid going under. “You think you’re doing fine and you’re treading carefully enough not to crack the ice. But suddenly you’ve gone under. You’ve got it completely wrong – and you’ve no idea why.”

Poe is describing how it feels to be autistic. She wants the rest of us to understand, she says, because it really matters, perhaps more than it’s ever mattered (of which more later). Her mission to break open the mystery of how it feels to be autistic has already been impressively successful: last year she won the Spectrum art prize for her video piece How To Be Autistic and recently she wrote a book of the same name. Her hope is that, by opening up about her own journey through childhood, school and adolescence, she can change other people’s perceptions and expectations about what autism is like, from the inside.

Joanna Moorhead interviews Charlotte Amelia Poe, author of How To Be Autistic for the Guardian. Read in full now.

Sarah Lightman for Jewish Journal

Do you think Sarah was overlooked in the Bible, since there wasn’t a book about her? 

SL: That’s what I argue. I felt about her story what I felt about myself — I wasn’t leading my own life. I was in someone else’s story. Like me, she was also an older mum. There’s contemporary literature written with her in mind. I found more as time went on. Once a lot of the biblical women began to become independent in the narrative, they were condemned and then ignored. Eve was condemned for wanting to learn more. 

With Sarah, she gets absorbed into Abraham’s great narrative. She’s a conduit through which the Jewish people are born. It’s Abraham who learns her name is going to be changed. It’s Abraham who converses with God. Sarah is deriving power through Abraham. Even when she talks about her baby, she says, “Who believes Abraham could have a baby at this age?” She’s often qualified in relation to the male characters. Sarah has power in my graphic novel. Women can take control of how other women are being presented in the arts and give them power and opportunity. 

Sarah Lightman talks to Kylie Ora Lobell about graphic memoir, The Book of Sarah for Jewish Journal.

Tara Gould on motherhood and writing for New Writing South

Is there a writer you particularly admire, and what about their work is powerful to you?

‘I don’t have one writer who has inspired or influenced me above all others. My tastes and obsessions change with each phase of life. More recently my stand out favourites have been Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, Grief is a Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and the Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.

When I was writing The Haunting of Strawberry Water, I revisited some of my favourite scary stories – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived at the Castle by Shirley Jackson, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I’ve always enjoyed the place where the supernatural and psychological disturbance meet in literature. I wanted to write a traditional ghost story with universal themes but to update it so that it had relevance now, especially to women. I drew partly on my own experiences of childbirth and postnatal depression to explore that most sacred of bonds, the mother daughter relationship and transport it into the territory of the uncanny, to the uncomfortable margins between the paranormal and the psychopathological.’

Tara Gould is author of The Haunting of Strawberry Water. Read the full interview on the New Writing South blog.

Georgina Aboud on writing for New Writing South

‘I wonder what gets a person up in the morning, what propels a person forward despite it all, the microseconds on which entire lives can be built and shaped, how history is made up of us. Script doctors ask what is the motivation of that character, but what is the motivation of any of us? Aren’t we just staggering around in the dark and in the light? For me, writing is just an exploratory mechanism which allows me to sink my feet into borrowed shoes and think about life in lands that I want to walk through; to smell their earth, and watch their cities drift into daybreak. Writing allows me to stretch inside and pretend I can understand what’s going on because, really, we can never reach the bedrock of anyone, there are too many facets and variables and situations we haven’t yet found ourselves in, may never find ourselves in, to truly know who we are or what we could become.’

Georgina Aboud, author of Cora Vincent, pensively looks at writing and its uses for New Writing South. Read her piece in full HERE.

Sarah Windebank for New Writing South

What are the challenges of your own life experiences, and do these present in your writing, as concerns, themes, ways of thinking about writing?

‘I have suffered from mental health problems since my adolescence, most likely as a consequence of being sexually abused as a fifteen year old. Thus, I have self-harmed, suffered from bulimia nervosa and depression, been diagnosed with psychotic episodes and paranoia and consequently experienced material poverty.  Sometimes I wonder, though, because of my involvement in women’s and LGBTQ politics and writing groups, whether it is just a lack of acceptance on the part of  the psychiatric services that people are gay, which has caused many of my problems.

Writing as catharsis, has helped me with psychiatric and social problems. Taking an MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development at Sussex University, a course that focused on the therapeutic as well as the aesthetic purpose of writing fiction and poetry, has been helpful.

Life in a psychiatric hostel, or a halfway house for homeless youth, or a council flat alone in an alien place with new born twins, makes me want to speak out, and so some of my writing, I hope, has a radical bite to it.’

Sarah Windebank, author of poetry collection Memories of a Swedish Grandmother is interviewed by New Writing South about her life experiences, writing  and what she’s currently working on.

Read in full HERE.

Amy Baxter and Elaine Chiew talk diversity, genres and short stories for Bad Form

Do you believe it is best to write from personal experiences? Could a non-migrant, for example, write fiction about migrant experiences? Or should they?

‘I don’t believe in policing fiction or the imagination, but I do believe that if you’re going to write experiences very far from your own, it takes an incredible feat of empathy, imagination and hard work to check all your blind spots. It’s important to get it right, it’s important to do it with incredible sensitivity. I contend that freedom to write is not in question, but peeps seem to be expecting freedom from consequences when they get it wrong.’

Head to Bad Form to carry on reading this terrific interview with Elaine Chiew, author of The Heartsick Diaspora and other stories.

Ana Tewson-Bozic discusses the value of words with New Writing South

What are the challenges of your own life experiences, and do these present in your writing, as concerns, themes, ways of thinking about writing?

I write to help put words to difficult emotions, to explain a situation, or a mood, I do this to give the reader company in their neuroses, they can look to mine and see my useless guilts and shames, and feel perhaps easier about their own confessions, whether shared or secret. Or I do it so that others may understand my neuroses, if it does not resonate as their own moods do, if it does not relate to their own experience, at least mine can be examined. I have a mood disorder and feel heightened a lot, I write when a mood or situation becomes so heightened it needs to become rid of, to be exorcised onto a page. To be in stone, etched, as a testament to that experience. It is grubby and shameful, the space between ears and sometimes it can be translated into writing to become tangible, and shared.

New Writing South speak to one of the Spotlight series authors, Ana Tewson-Bozic, whose short story Crumbs was written during a psychotic episode.

How To Be Autistic with Francesca Happe for TLS

‘By the end of the book, Poe has successfully tackled many challenges and gained recognition and greater knowledge of their own worth through their rawly honest short film, How To Be Autistic, which won the inaugural Spectrum Art Prize. Poe describes this book of the same title as flowing out of them, “this burst of words, anger, sadness, hope, joy, trauma”, as they search for identity, struggling “to be the person I knew I was supposed to be”.

‘This book will help many readers going through similar experiences, as well as their families; one has to feel for Poe’s mother, who – as Poe makes clear – fought so long and shouted so loud for her child, with so little help forthcoming. “By continuing to fight,” writes Poe, “every damn day, in a world that is not ours and is not shaped to handle us, we show how strong we are, and every second we’re breathing is in utter defiance of everyone who ever told us we were wrong.”

Author Francesca Happe for Times Literary Supplement.

'I was terrified of becoming a mum' Lucy Fry for Stylist magazine

‘When my wife, B, told me she was pregnant, over four years ago now, I felt numb and vaguely worried.

She was so excited and hopeful about the news. So why didn’t I share in that joy? Not only had she recently miscarried – and the remnants of that trauma were very much still hanging around, in different ways, for us both – but I had begun to wonder if parenthood was, really and truly, what I wanted.

I was obsessive about writing. I also loved weight training, yoga, and I was learning to hold a handstand. All of those things took up a lot of my time, requiring the kind of rested body and clear mind that I knew a baby would prevent. Was I about to lose all my independence, along with my ability to do everything that brought me joy?’

Lucy Fry questions her feelings towards motherhood and how they’ve changed since the birth of her son for Stylist magazine. Read in full.

Elleke Boehmer interview with Deborah Kalb

What additional themes do you see running through the collection?

Elleke: ‘As well as the themes of remoteness and encounter across distance I’ve already mentioned, and also of places and people eluding our expectations, a thread that runs throughout, perhaps it runs through much of my work, is the idea that the prizes we most fervently seek might be closer to home than we imagine: that thing about arriving where we began and knowing the place for the very first time…’

Deborah Kalb interviews Elleke Boehmer, author of To The Volcano and other stories. Read in full HERE.

This is the first year I... Lucy Fry on motherhood for Metro

‘It might sound strange, but here it is: this is my third Mother’s Day as a parent, but it feels like my first one as a mother.

I haven’t felt able to fully inhabit, or celebrate, my motherhood until now, for many reasons. Firstly, like many first-time parents, it took me a while to get a handle on the job requirements, and to recognise my capabilities. Some of this was because it wasn’t me, but my wife, who was pregnant, nor was it me who birthed our child. I’d never wanted to carry a baby, nor to give birth to one, and my wife always had, so the decision about who would be his birth mother was made fairly easily.’

Read the full Metro article  by Lucy Fry, author of Easier Ways to Say I Love You.

Henny Beaumont for The Author

A new look for the Spring 2020 issue of The Author, with cover and inside illustrations created by Henny Beaumont, author of Hole in the Heart.  The issue also features an article by Sarah Lightman on illustrating motherhood. Buy your copy online via The Society of Authors online shop.

‘I wanted to produce a [cover] image that was a warning, but also hopeful. A celebration of creativity and the imagination in the face of the imminent catastrophe that climate change represents. I wanted to capture the threat we are facing and, at the same time, show that writers and artists have a role to play, that they can have a positive impact on the way we think about climate change, and that we can be inspired to alter our behaviour.’ Henny Beaumont

Spotlite Exclusive: Literandra talks to Margaret Busby

Literary icon – Margaret Busby – talks about her second and most recent anthology ‘New Daughters of Africa’. She tells us what motivated her to publish its predecessor (‘Daughters of Africa’) in 1992, as well as why she felt the time was right for a sequel in 2019. Watch here.

Hannah Vincent in Big Issue North

‘In She-Clown, her first collection of short stories, Hannah Vincent, award-winning playwright and author of Alarm Girl and The Weaning, presents a group of funny and fierce heroines trying to be themselves while clowning around for others. From the ordinary to the magical, Vincent’s entertaining stories are fresh, thoughtful and surprising.’

Hannah Vincent discusses her latest book with Antonia Charlesworth for Big Issue North – buy your copy from a vendor now.

2020 Mogford Prize, 'How to Boil an Egg'

Peter Adamson has been shortlisted for the 2020 Mogford Prize! Congratulations Peter. His short story, How to Boil an Egg, was chosen by judges Stephen Fry and Prue Leith.

The Mogford Prize, now in its 8th year, honours short stories which specifically relate to the subject of food, drink or both.

Peter’s latest novel, The Kennedy Moment, was published by Myriad in February 2018. He is currently writing a new novel set in Italy.

Hannah Berry, UK Comic Laureate on Sensible Footwear

‘The immediacy and intimacy that you get from reading a comic is unparalleled. A recent favourite of mine is Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth, which grants a vivid insight into life as a lesbian during the shifting socio-political climate in the UK since the 50s – a story both vital, angry and uplifting and somehow largely unreported.’

Hannah Berry, UK Comic Laureate, argues for comics and their ability to be complex and unique. Read the full article over on i News.

Red magazine: '10 books by brilliant women around the world'

Red magazine picked Margaret Busby‘s New Daughters of Africa as one of their top 10 books by brilliant women around the world.

‘Subtitled “an international anthology of writing by women of African descent’, this collection gathers together women’s voices from Antigua to Zimbabwe as they share their experiences of sisterhood, race, gender and everything and anything in between. Some of our favourite writers like Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Malorie Blackman and Candice Carty-Williams are represented in this anthology which uses short stories, poetry, diaries and so much more to explore the rich history, culture and legacy of Africa on its daughters around the world.’

Head to Red Online to see the full list.

BBC Radio 4: Andrea Levy

Speaking on condition that the recording would only be released after her death, Andrea Levy gave an in-depth interview to oral historian Sarah O’Reilly for the British Library’s Authors’ Lives project in 2014. Now available on BBC Radio 4, hear Levy’s changing attitude towards her history and her heritage and how it is intimately bound up with her writing.  With extra commentary from Gary Younge, Baroness Lola Young, Louise Doughty, Helen Edmundson, Sarah Williams, Margaret Busby, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Catherine Hall and Andrea’s husband Bill Mayblin. Listen again HERE.

Andrea Levy features in New Daughters of Africa, a major collection of women writers of African descent, celebrating their contributions to literature and international culture.

Honorary Doctorate from the University of Iceland

Cynthia Enloe, research professor at Clark University in the United States, has been awarded an honorary doctoral degree at the University of Iceland’s Faculty of Languages and Cultures.

Her feminist teaching and research have explored the interplay of gendered politics in the national and international arenas, with special attention to how women’s labor is made cheap in globalized factories and how women’s emotional and physical labor has been used to support many governments’ war-waging policies—and how diverse women have tried to resist both of those efforts. Racial, class, ethnic and national identity dynamics, as well as ideas about femininities and masculinities, are common threads throughout her studies.

Cynthia Enloe’s most recent book is The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy, published by Myriad in October 2017.

Photograph by Kristinn Ingvarsson.

The Arts Foundation Futures Awards 2020: Zara Slattery, shortlisted

The 2020 Arts Foundation’s Futures Awards announced Zara Slattery, author of upcoming graphic memoir, Comic Coma, as one of their four shortlisted artists within the comics category, alongside Esther McManus, Danny Noble and Jess Taylor.

Broken Frontier covered the awards with a lovely interview with each artist, online HERE.

ZARA SLATTERY: “I started as an illustrator who likes to tell stories. I’ve always experimented with visual storytelling, in the past combining live action and illustration for both live performances and character and story development. I started playing around with comics after joining a writing group and being introduced to some amazing comic books and artists. I love creating silent comics and very much like to process of writing as I draw, and weaving myself along a story. Equally I enjoy the structure of translating text, thumbnailing and researching. My themes vary from silly to serious; and tend to be on subjects of identity, art, culture, and graphic medicine. I share my work online, and my work-in-progress primarily on Instagram. Much of my work can be seen on my website and I have a poorly run Etsy shop.”

Book launch for The Wolf of Baghdad

Last week we celebrated the launch of The Wolf of Baghdad by Carol Isaacs with a very merry party at The Cartoon Museum, London. Complete with oud player, middle eastern delicacies and very strong punch, the event was a wonderful meeting of friends, authors and family.

‘Stories like this deserve to be told and read, connecting us all with a recent past that’s so easily overlooked and at risk of being forgotten.’ Simon Chadwick, The Cartoonists’ Club

The Wolf of Baghdad is out now.

Photograph taken by Paul Dunne, The Comic Crush.

New Writing South interview with Spotlight author Elizabeth Ridout

New Writing South interviewed each Spotlight author about their relationship with the written word. Elizabeth Ridout is the author of Summon.

Is there a writer you particularly admire, and what about it is powerful to you?

I really love artists and writers who go out and disrupt and disturb the status quo. I’ve always really loved the idea that ‘art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’, and most of the writers I particularly love do this with huge grace. I love Sylvia Plath and Patti Smith so much I have tattoos of them both.  Kate Tempest, John Cooper Clarke, William Burroughs, the Beats, Carol Ann Duffy, Stevie Smith, Ginsberg, Ezra Pound, Rimbaud, Audre Lorde, Zadie Smith, Anne Sexton, Rumi, Genet. Shirley Jackson, Frieda Hughes, Leonora Carrington. To be honest, an awful lot of my inspiration comes from rock music and lyricists – I would like to be able to write the way Janis Joplin sings. Kate Bush, Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan. I am a Bowie obsessive – I have a Bowie tattoo as well! The most powerful thing in the world to me is the ability to express yourself without fear of judgement, and all these people have this in common in their writing and their personas.

Read the full interview HERE.

New Writing South Interview with Jacqueline Haskell

New Writing South interviewed each Spotlight author about their relationship with the written word. Jacqueline Haskell is author of Stroking Cerberus.

What are the challenges of your own life experiences, and do these present in your writing, as concerns, themes, ways of thinking about writing?

My own deafness and physical disabilities do have a practical impact on my writing – it is doubtful I would ever have been brave enough to give up the ‘day job’ in favour of writing if ill-health had not forced my hand! The enforced isolation of deafness intersects with the isolation experienced by many writers, in both positive and negative ways.

One of my first short stories was called ‘Songbird’, featuring a deaf protagonist living in Hong Kong, although this was more a metaphor for finding one’s true identity than exploring disability. My debut novel is set in a location known to attract those marginalised by society (a small island off the north-west coast of Africa).

But more than anything else, my writing comes from my unconscious, and I would not class myself as a writer setting out to discuss issues of disability per se. I see myself as being on the outside looking in, an observer of all life, and I believe this is an essential quality for successful writers, deaf and hearing.

I have always been a writer – aged 3 (well before my disabilities kicked in) my mother discovered me scribbling nonsense on her best writing paper: What are you doing? She exclaimed. I’m writing a book, was the reply.

Read the full interview HERE.

'Homesick for another land', Mark Reynolds interviews Carol Isaacs for Bookanista

Mark Reynolds interviews Carol Isaacs about family anecdotes, Jewish traditions and her childhood in London for Bookanista.

“I’ve got nothing to visit, really,” she tells me. “There’s no house, there’s no cemetery. Saddam Hussein bulldozed the major Jewish cemetery to build a highway in the 80s, so my grandparents’ grave will have gone, there’s nothing there. Some houses in the old Jewish Quarter are still standing, but in terrible disrepair. So I wouldn’t have anything tangible to go back to, but it would be more about a connection, returning the story back to its roots. And there is interest from some Iraqis, it would seem, about the history of their minorities. I’m not sure if now is the right time to go, again there’s a lot of upheaval and violence, but I do hope one day I will. My mother’s generation, her siblings, would say, what would we go back for? We were thrown out, we were ethnically cleansed from that country. The older ones who are no longer with us would say, ‘Well we enjoyed the good times, we got on with our neighbours and everything.’ A friend of my mother has gone back, and actually purchased a house in Erbil in Kurdistan. It’s more of a symbolic thing, but he travels quite a lot from here to Iraq. So I don’t know, time will tell on that one.”

Read the full interview HERE. Carol’s graphic memoir, The Wolf of Baghad, is out now.

'Sarah, Sarah, come out of the shadows', Kalina Kupzynska for Closure Journal

Kalina Kupczynska shares a detailed look at The Book of Sarah by Sarah Lightman in Closure, a German literary journal.

‘(Sarah Lightman) shares a sensitivity to the potential of the hybrid medium of comics for narrating mental states with comic book autobiographers such as Dominique Goblet, Birgit Weyhe and Regina Hofer; this sensitivity is what places The Book of Sarah alongside Goblet’s Faire semblant c’est mentir or Weyhe’s Ich weiss.

One can recognize leaps in time in the iridescent style of the drawings in The Book of Sarah; self-portraits mark the passing of time, where the text only vaguely indicates the temporal orientation. Text and image, although clearly related to each other, remain separate, panels and speech bubbles are not to be found. The pencil drawings, whose at times sketchy, at times extremely elaborate rugged materiality dominates the book, play a strong narrative role – they bear witness to stages in Sarah’s artistic development, marking the first-person perspective on relatives, books, places, herself. The handwritten reflections in first-person form bear witness to the search for self-knowledge, but this is only individualised by the tension created by the reference to drawings.

Graphic Memoir’ is an obvious genre ascription, especially because of Lightman’s recourse to the practice of diary writing. With its relentless introspection – intimate fears, longings, self-doubt are an integral part of the narrative – The Book of Sarah inscribes itself into the autobiographical strand of confessional writing.’

Read the article in full HERE.

Lizzie Ridout on Brighton Book Club Podcast

Have you listened to Brighton Book Club yet? The podcast delves into all things literary and it’s an absolute treat. Listen in as authors to share their favourite books, discuss their work and explore current goings-on within the publishing industry.

Poet Lizzie Ridout features on the inaugural episode alongside author Emma Jane Unsworth. Lizzie’s debut poetry collection, Summon, is out now.

Listen to Brighton Book Club Episode One HERE.

The Women's Atlas: For the Stats Nerd

Reading Women chose The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager as the best book to gift stats nerds…

The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager is the PERFECT gift for anyone in your life that loves all things stats, charts, and graphs. Each page features information on women from all across the world, formatted in a way that’s easy to understand. As a huge stats/graphs nerd myself (but who is also not scientifically inclined), I enjoyed looking through this book and sharing endless “Did you knows?” with my friends and family.’

Best of the Year 2019 according to Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon, reviewer extraordinaire, has selected Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth and Billionaires by Darryl Cunningham as two of the best books of 2019 for Woolamaloo Gazette.

On Billionaires: “Essential reading for our modern world, delivered in Darryl’s usual exemplary style which makes even the most complex ideas comprehensible. ”

On Sensible Footwear: “This is just a wonderfully warm graphic memoir, beautifully drawn, emotionally rich and left me with a huge smile on my face after I’d finished reading it. ”

Don’t miss the full list up on Woolamaloo Gazette.

We are Made of Earth: Greece’s leading novelist explores refugee crisis

Panos Karnezis is possibly the leading Greek novelist of his generation, and one of Europe’s most distinguished storytellers.

In We are Made of Earth… he takes us, perhaps irresistibly, to the current refugee crisis and, although his location is dystopian, it can be readily imagined as a remote Greek island on which both the tragedy and the comedy of human weakness are acted out.’

Richard Pine reviews We are Made of Earth by Panos Karnezis for The Irish Times.

Cinnamon Literature Prize 2019

Jacqueline Haskell made the 2019 Cinnamon Literature Prize shortlist, with a sequence of poems from a collection she’s currently working on, entitled The Short Shelf Life of Hearts. This January we publish Jacqueline’s poetry collection, Stroking Cerberus: Poems from the Afterlife, as part of the Spotlight Books series.

 Through the prism of Haskell’s identity as a deaf poet come the themes of communication—or miscommunication—across worlds, languages and between the living and the dead.

Mythical dogs, the dead who mourn the living, and the sorrow of those reincarnated, join hands around Jacqueline Haskell’s unique and very personal poetic Ouija board to resonate with the living, the dead and all those in-between. As forcible as they are humorous, these are poignant and thought-provoking poems.

Buy your copy now.

'Annunciations and Pedalos', Studies in the Maternal Journal

Studies in the Maternal, an online literary journal, have published a piece by Sarah Lightman, titled Annunciations and Pedalos. Sarah describes a curated selection of drawings, and how having a child has changed her art.

‘In the painting, the Virgin Mary is happily reading but is then interrupted by the arrival of the Archangel Gabriel, who announces her pregnancy to her. Duccio frames Mary in this protected, quiet and calm space just as her world is about to be transformed. I wanted to focus on this moment of interruption, at a time when I was beginning to carve out a space for myself as an artist again. In my experience, maternal interruption was not just a momentary pause in autonomy, lasting the duration of pregnancy. For me, the interruption lasted about 3 years. I wanted to warn Mary that she might not have that quiet time again and that it might take years until she could read a book of her choice. Perhaps, like me, Mary’s only reading materials and reading time during this period might be the Thomas The Tank Engine series.’

See Sarah’s artwork and read the rest of her essay on the journal website HERE.

Broken Frontier: Exploring Sensible Footwear with Kate Charlesworth

Jenny Robins interviews Kate Charlesworth, comic artist behind the LGBTQIA+ must-read of 2019, Sensible Footwear.

BF: As someone that’s lived in London, grew up somewhat north of the capital and has also been long based in Scotland, how do the comic (and queer) scenes compare?

CHARLESWORTH: To be honest, a combination of decades working more or less in isolation, plus that generational thing hasn’t left me in the best place to properly comment. As a freelance cartoonist (and illustrator) I was on the indie fringes for years, and my involvement in comics has only increased over the last couple of decades. I know there’s a flourishing zine and comics scene here in Scotland, so I presume the same for London. And there’s LDComics, who are terrific, not women-only, and not just London-centric.

I was in Finland a few weeks ago at the Helsinki Comics Festival with Myriad’s Corinne Pearlman.  We loved it, but we were both blown away by the vibrancy and quality of the indie zine scene there. So many young women involved, too.

FULL INTERVIEW

BBC Radio 5 Live: Top Five Nonfiction Books

Bookstagrammer and judge of the recent Portico Prize, Simon Savidge shares his top five nonfiction reads with BBC Radio 5 Live, including Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth.

‘As well as being a memoir of her life, the book is also a document of what has happened in queer history. One little tidbit I got from the book was that Calamity Jane was an undercover queer classic! The book makes you think of things much more politically. I, as a member of the queer community, had forgotten just how recent all the changes are, good and bad, and it was really good to be reminded of that in a non-preachy way.’

FULL LIST

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2019 awarded to Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison, Jamaican poet laureate and author of Redemption Ground, is the 2019 recipient of The Queen’s Medal for Poetry, following in the footsteps of Simon Armitage, John Betjeman and W H Auden.

“I am honoured and deeply grateful. As one of a generation of Commonwealth writers whose engagement with poetry began with a need to write ourselves and our people into English Literature, I feel blessed. And as a Jamaican poet who has always felt that my ancestors too are deserving of odes and praise songs, and who did not see them in what I was given to read, I am glad that I set out to write these poems.

“Love and justice, hope and possibility, healing and redemption are the themes I’ve always turned to, and that this enterprise has led to my being placed in the company of the memorable poets who have been awarded this medal before me is truly humbling.” Lorna Goodison

You can read Lorna’s essays and poems in her latest collection, Redemption Ground.

Best Books of 2019 by Bookish Beck

Bookish Beck touts The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams as one of the Best Books of 2019.

‘Dr. Lois Pritchard works at a medical practice in small-town Wales and treats embarrassing ailments at a local genitourinary medicine clinic. The tone is wonderfully balanced: there are plenty of hilarious, somewhat raunchy scenes, but also a lot of heartfelt moments. The drawing style recalls Alison Bechdel’s.’

SEE FULL LIST

LoveReading's Debut of the Month

LoveReading chose The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew as Debut of the Month. ‘Author Elaine Chiew was born in Malaysia, graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a lawyer in New York before studying in London. She now lives in Singapore. Her writing ranges from thoughtful to provocative, pithy and vibrant observations bring these short stories to life. She has the ability to transfer emotions from the page, straight into my heart and mind.’

You can read their review of Elaine’s short story collection over on the LoveReading website. FULL REVIEW

Are polyamorous relationships the new dating norm in 2019? Lucy Fry for Stylist magazine

‘Can you be in love with more than one person at once? Polyamorous relationships are becoming the norm, with ‘thruple’ relationships showcased everywhere from 2017 hit film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women to Netflix’s The PoliticianBut what is it really like being polyamorous – and are there any pitfalls?’

Lucy Fry, author of Easier Ways to Say I Love You, investigates for Stylist magazine. Read in full HERE.

The Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award

Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award
Applications are now open for the the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award. It will pay for the recipient’s tuition fees and accommodation in central London, plus a food scholarship at International Student House. Applications must be in before 20 February 2020. A huge thank you to New Daughters of Africa contributors, SOAS and International Student House for making this possible.

Read more about the award and support with a donation HERE.

Lisa Blower talks to Robin Ince on Book Shambles

Lisa Blower had a chat with comedian and author, Robin Ince on his legendary podcast, Book Shambles. They discuss It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s, Roald Dahl and how the political influences choosing what story to tell.

‘I shy away (from books about writing). I think they’re aids, but they’re not going to make you the writer you want to be, only you can be the writer you want to be. If you start thinking there are rules and boundaries, and that this idea is going to work, then this genesis is going to work, then you’re erring on the side of writing formulaically rather than listening to the writer inside of you.’

Listen again HERE.

Brave New Words and Blake Morrison in New Internationalist

‘‘Call yourself  English?’ Yes and no. It’s the country to which I’m most attached, but at some point I dropped ‘English’ for the more inclusive ‘British’. Now it too is tainted, through adoption by the Far Right. I’d not go so far as to call myself Irish, though I do now have an Irish passport. I’m tempted to call myself ‘European’ but that only invites the response ‘Where in Europe?’ It’s natural to wonder where people come from but to ask is a loaded question. There are people living in the UK who fear they’ll be discriminated against if they admit to having begun life elsewhere, just as there are countries where – because of Empire, or complicity with the US, or bombs that have been dropped – it pays not to say you’re British.’

Blake Morrison’s essay from Brave New Words features in the Sept/Oct issue of New Internationalist. Read the full essay HERE.

The Pod Delusion

Darryl Cunningham was invited to talk about his latest publication, Billionaires, on The Pod Delusion.

‘Jeff Bezos is worth $108 billion dollars. Imagine owning a billion. Imagine being able to buy central London and not scratch your fortune. Can they relate to us? The answer is no – how can they? Sealed off on their private islands and estates and massive New York penthouses… they don’t come into contact with us very much and their lives reflect that.’ 

Listen again HERE.

Brave New Words featured in The Irish Times

Susheila Nasta’s introduction to Brave New Words ran in The Irish Times, alongside a feature on the recent British Library festival; An Island Full of Voices: Writing Britain Now.

‘Today, the role of writers and of literature in asking questions and creating dialogues across often impassable barriers of prejudice and thought is not only vital but perhaps more urgent than ever. As wordsmiths, whose craft uses the very same instruments through which political power is most commonly exercised, writers and politicians may well as Salman Rushdie once put it be, “natural rivals”. Not only do they “create fictions” but also they make the world as they want to see it. As their words frequently complicate, challenge or deny “official” versions of truth, giving the lie to “official facts”, they are often, as Rushdie himself knew well, on dangerous ground.’

Read in full HERE.

BBC Radio 4 Open Book with Susheila Nasta

Listen again to Susheila Nasta on BBC Radio 4 Open Book with Mariella Frostrup, as they discuss Brave New Words; fifteen essays exploring literature.

There’s an element of transience with the world wide web… Marina Warner [in her Brave New Words essay] calls the web a ‘loom’, connecting cultures, but I think the material object is really important. Even the ads you might have in your pages, who’s reviewing who… when you see the whole thing rather than one bit you download, then you see a whole community and a collective of people who are reading, writing and speaking together.’

Ambitious about Autism and Charlotte Amelia Poe

Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism. The team attended the launch for How To Be Autistic and were also able to interview Charlotte. Here’s an extract:

What is the one thing that you wish neurotypicals knew about autism?

I just wish they understood that we’re people, not stereotypes. I worry neurotypicals will read my book and think ‘ah, this is what an autistic person is like’, when in fact we are all so unique and individual – that’s what makes diagnosing autism so difficult, if we were all the same, people wouldn’t slip through the net so often! So, to summarise, I wish neurotypicals know about our individuality, and also our ability to, in the right circumstances, thrive and create great and exciting things.

Do you think the representation of autistic people in the media has gotten better or worse?

I worry, with the anti-vax movement ramping up lately, that we are still seen as an unfortunate side effect, and I still don’t see autistic characters that I can relate to personally. I was lucky enough to help out as script consultant on a short film which has just been entered into the BFI film festival called ‘Our Sister’, which features an autistic character, but her autism is not the overlying theme of the film, rather, she is autistic, and she is in the film. And the character is played by an actually autistic actress, which I think is brilliant. So, I think it’s a mixed bag. We need to break away from the stereotypical ‘all autistic people are young white boys’ narrative and start including people from all walks of life, because that’s what autism is, it doesn’t discriminate, and it can be anybody. And I’d really like to see that more often.

Read the interview in full on the Ambitious about Autism website.

Spectrum of Light - Charlotte Amelia Poe in the Big Issue North

If you recently bought a copy of the Big Issue North, you would have read Saskia Murphy’s article, Spectrum of Light, which featured Charlotte Amelia Poe and their nonfiction memoir, How To Be Autistic.

‘Charlotte Amelia Poe believes the stereotype of autism being typically associated with males may have prevented them from getting the support she needed.

“There’s a term called masking which is quite common in girls and people who are assigned female at birth, which means that with autism we are much better at blending into society because a quiet girl is not seen as something which is different or in any way remarkable, and a lot of our behaviours, such as being shy or bullied, can be seen as being difficult or being awkward. I just don’t think it’s looked for, and especially when I was at school it wasn’t really seen as a condition that all genders can have.”

Now, Poe is committed to challenging unhelpful stereotypes about autism and paving the way for autistic people to find and use their voice creatively.

“Autism can affect anyone, and I think we need more representation. I’d like to see more autistic characters in books, TV and film, but I want them to be written by autistic writers as well. A lot of people think they know what autism is like, so they don’t do the research and that’s where you get the stereotypes.”’

READ THE ARTICLE ONLINE

Intriguing The Guardian

Richard Brooks shares news of The Portico Prize longlist in The Guardian opinion section, along with his intrigue for one title in particular; Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth.

‘The Portico prize for literature, named after the 200-year-old subscription library in Manchester, has been awarded every other year since 1985, for books and/or authors that embody “the spirit of the North”. It’s back this year… and the judges have chosen a delightfully eclectic longlist. I am most intrigued by Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide. A book on sturdy shoes to counter that harsh northern weather? No, it’s a very personal story by Kate Charlesworth of LGBTQ history since the 1950s, and was recently reviewed by this paper as its graphic novel of the month.’

Sharing Black Stories to Celebrate Black History Month

‘As a black woman trying to find my own voice, [Margaret Busby] has been endlessly interested, supportive and enthusiastic about helping a generation like me find our place and our ability to make change through writing.’

To celebrate Black History Month, people used social media to those they felt deserved recognition. Writer Afua Hirsch also got involved with the campaign, choosing to champion Margaret Busby (editor of Daughters of Africa and, more recently, New Daughters of Africa, to which Afua contributed).

Read the full article in the Metro.

Bernardine Evaristo: 'These are unprecedented times for black female writers'

An extract of Bernardine Evaristo‘s essay from Brave New Words featured in The Guardian Review this weekend, claiming main spot. The essay queries what it means to be a black writer in this current period of ‘woke’ness, mentioning The Slumflour, Black Girl Festival, Gal-Dem, Jackie Kay, Chidera Eggerue and Otegha Uwagba, amongst many others.

‘The ripple effects of 2013’s #BlackLivesMatter moment, and the movement that followed, saw renewed interest in writings about race in the US, which spilled over into the UK. We are used to the spotlight on racism being beamed across the Atlantic while little attention is paid to the perniciousness of systemic racism in Britain, about which there is much denial.’ Read the full essay in Brave New Words, available now.

Bernardine is joint-winner of the Booker Prize for her novel Girl, Woman, Other. She also features in Margaret Busby’s anthology of Black women writers, New Daughters of Africa.

LoveReading Star Books

The Bead Collector by Sefi Atta was chosen by LoveReading as one of their 2019 Star Books.

‘Witty, profound and illuminating, this will surely see its acclaimed author receive many more accolades. This immersive novel serves up many insights into Lagos life and politics, and Remi is a riveting narrator.  I came away feeling enlightened, and entertained by Remi’s wit.’ Joanna Owen for LoveReading.

Have a look at the other titles chosen HERE.

Turnaround Blog - What did you read during Black History Month?

What did you read to celebrate Black History Month? Turnaround featured a fantastic selection of books for those needing inspiration, including Margaret Busby’s New Daughters of Africa. Black History Month might now be drawing to a close, but that’s no reason not to keep reading diverse and diasporic texts.

‘Following up her ground-breaking 1992 anthology that collected standout work from more than 200 women from the African Diaspora, Margaret Busby’s New Daughters of Africa seeks to showcase the work of writers of African descent for a new generation. Bringing together voices around the world both new and historical, including Roxane Gay, Zadie Smith and Diane Abbott, it’s a mammoth tome containing fiction, poetry, essays, speeches and more. Each piece of writing speaks to black women’s experiences, exploring sisterhood, tradition, romance, race and identity. For a celebration of Black history and Black excellence not just this month but all year round, pick this one up.’ Read in full HERE.

Eithne Farry on short stories, Daily Mail

‘The characters in these beautifully crafted stories often find themselves out on a limb, heading into or out of situations that make them feel isolated or alone.’

Eithne Farry includes the atmospheric To The Volcano by Elleke Boehmer in a review of short story collections for the Daily Mail. Read the article in full HERE.

Jackie Kay selects Britain's 10 best BAME writers

The future is complex; the future is hybrid. These 10 voices make me feel hopeful about our future and give me back some of my past.’ Jackie Kay selects Britain’s 10 best BAME writers for The Guardian. The 10th spot goes to Olumide Popoola, contributor to both New Daughters of Africa and Brave New Words.

Olumide Popoola’s elegant and lyrical prose is instantly engaging. Her complex work captures the atmosphere and the tempo of the racial tension in King’s Cross. She is fascinated with the spaces in between culture and form, and she is adept at moving between Nigeria, Germany and the UK.’

Read the list in full HERE.

Bernardine Evaristo is joint-winner of the Booker Prize

Bernardine Evaristo, contributor to New Daughters of Africa and Brave New Words, is joint-winner of the Booker Prize with her novel Girl, Woman, Other.

Bernardine shares the win with Margaret Atwood. When receiving the award, said she hoped her win will bring about change, with more black writers winning the award in the future.

“It’s so incredible to share this with Margaret Atwood, who’s such a legend and so generous,” she said.

“A lot of people say, ‘I never thought it would happen to me’, and I will say I am the first black woman to win this prize, and I hope that honour doesn’t last too long. I hope other people come forward now.”

Read about the prize over on the BBC website. You can buy copies of New Daughters of Africa and Brave New Words on the Myriad website now.

Myriad's Short Story Literary Salon, featuring Lisa Blower and Hannah Vincent

Our September Myriad Literary Salon focused on the short story and featured Lisa Blower, author of It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s, and Hannah Vincent, author of Alarm Girl and soon-to-be-published short story collection, She-Clown.

New Writing South spoke about their recent LGBTQIA+ festival, The Coast is Queer, and invited emerging author Danny Brunton to read an extract from his memoir.  Publicist Emma Dowson also attended, sharing useful insights into promoting your work.

The salon was photographed by Lisa Lee. To see more pictures, head to our Facebook page.

Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb

Deborah Kalb interviews Peter Adamson about his latest novel, The Kennedy Moment.

Q: How did your own background at UNICEF affect the writing of the novel? Did you need to do any additional research?

A: I drew heavily on my years working with UNICEF. But I also did a great deal of additional research, particularly on the possibilities and the dangers of a return of smallpox – the biggest killer disease in history and still today the most dangerous bio-terrorism threat that could possibly be imagined.

Several senior colleagues in the medical world warned me to be careful researching into this topic because security services around the world would be monitoring on-line research on the smallpox threat as a possible indication of bio-terrorist activity. So far so good. No drones have appeared and I don’t think I’m being followed.

Read in full HERE.

How The Stories Of Black Women In The UK Are Being Reclaimed by Paula Akpan

‘Looking to the future, Busby believes that not only is it important to have black women writing corrective histories but also to have them in positions where they’re able to publish said histories. “I’m often in spaces where people think it’s more important to be a writer over a publisher but who is going to tell these stories? Who is going to make these stories and histories a priority if we’re relying on white gatekeepers to let them through the door? We need writers, publishers, editors and more. We need to participate in every sphere and be part of the process in every sense so that we can enable other people to pass on those histories.”‘

Paula Akpan, columnist and co-founder of Black Girls Fest quotes Margaret Busby in an article on the stories and experiences of black women in the UK for Refinery29. Read in full HERE.

Houston Jaipur Literature Festival, Tribune India

The Tribune India on Houston and Colorado Jaipur Literature Festivals. Both festivals featured author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, Sohaila Abdulali, as guest speaker.

“JLF brings together speakers from the Occident and the Orient. We discuss and debate issues that may emerge from the primary theme of the book and place these issues within the context of local, national, and international perspectives,” Sanjoy Roy, festival producer.

Both U.S. Jaipur Literature Festivals follow the main literary event which took part this January in India, at which Sohaila also spoke.

The Journey of Lucy Fry with Residence 11

Lucy Fry talks to  Residence 11 about her upcoming memoir, Easier Ways To Love You, in which she openly discusses the affair she embarked on while her partner was pregnant with their first child.

‘I just wish that I’d had someone I could speak to, to give me a realistic view of what life for the long term partner is like, and how difficult it can be.

Early on in our relationship, we talked about separating for a bit so that I could have a chance to explore my sexuality—having only ever been with one woman really. I was too frightened of losing B. and all her support and all her love to do that.

I wish that we’d had the courage to do that before we have a child. I wish that we had been slower on the relationship escalator—to trust that we would have been okay.’

Read the interview in full HERE.

Autistic Insights with The Autism Page

‘One thing I wish neurotypical parents of autistic children knew is that you are your child’s first and most important ally. It’s going to be really hard at times, and you’ll have to fight tooth and nail, and sometimes you’ll work so hard to get help and end up back where you started, but if you keep fighting (and it can be a lifelong fight), your child will always view you as the person they can trust the most, the person who stood up for them when nobody else did. ‘

Charlotte Amelia Poe, author of How To Be Autistic was asked for advice to share with parents of autistic children. The Autism Page asked several autistic authors and bloggers to take part – the insights offered are varied and incredibly supportive. To read them, click HERE.

We are Made of Earth on Bookanista

‘The boy was not heavy but it was still hard to swim with the extra weight. He let go of him again and tried to climb on to the upturned dinghy, but he could not; nor did he manage to push the boy on it.’

A mesmerising extract from We are Made of Earth, the latest novel by Panos Karnezis, featured recently on Bookanista. Click HERE to read.

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Elaine Chiew

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

My short story collection, The Heartsick Diaspora, draws upon my experiences of being part of the Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese diasporas in the cities I’ve lived in,  mainly New York City, London, Singapore. Even saying this, frankly, stumps me with an oceanic wave of imposter syndrome. I feel I know Malaysia less than Singapore, and Singapore less than the U.K.

Read Kitaab’s interview with Elaine Chiew HERE.

'I'm autistic, but I'm not an inspiration — I still struggle with everything'

Charlotte Amelia Poe, author of the wonderfully honest and enlightening memoir, How To Be Autistic, is interviewed by Luke Blackall for the Independent.

‘This is a tale both powerful and enraging: the pain and confusion of school followed by a listless, isolated twenties. Poe lives at home with her parents and her sister’s family, and describes her young nephew and niece as her best friends. Her parents and siblings – particularly her mother Philippa, who spent years searching for answers about her daughter – emerge from the book as quiet heroes. Poe wasn’t diagnosed with autism until she was 21, long after a diagnosis might have helped her through the education system. The condition is traditionally perceived as affecting males, but diagnoses among women and girls are rising. The National Autistic Society estimates the present ratio of men to women with autism is 3:1.’

Charlotte Amelia Poe book launch

We are so thrilled to be publishing  How To Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe. At their book launch, Charlotte gave a powerful speech which we’d like to share with you here.
‘Writing allows a level of bravery that you don’t find in the spoken word. There’s a freedom to it. You don’t really believe anybody’s going to read it, do you?’
‘When I wrote the book, I thought, if I can change just one person’s life with this, it’ll be worth it. And yes, it’s been worth it.’
‘My world, once a small room with a laptop and a bundle of jumbled-up ideas in my head, has become infinitely bigger. So, my – not last, because I believe I will continue to evolve just as How To Be Autistic evolves, but at this point – my final experience of How To Be Autistic is of solidarity.’
How To Be Autistic is just one small book, but for me, it feels like a beginning.’

Charlotte Amelia Poe - Turnaround Interview

Charlotte Amelia Poe was interviewed by Turnaround to celebrate the release of their nonfiction account of autism; How To Be Autistic.

If there’s one thing you could have readers take away from this book, what would it be?

I think empathy, and the ability to understand autism more complexly. There’s no one way to be autistic, and the title kind of plays on that, it’s not a how-to guide, because there is no how-to guide. I wanted to explain that autistic people are just like ‘everyone else’, we’re utterly unique and often the only thing we have in common is our autism, oh, and the trauma we experience as a result of that, at times.

Read the full interview.

New Daughters of Africa at Somerset House Exhibition

Somerset House invited contributors to the New Daughters of Africa anthology to their current exhibition celebrating the past 50 years of Black creativity; Get Up, Stand Up Now!  The evening featured Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Yemisi Aribisala, Yaba Badoe, Jacqueline Bishop, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Anni Domingo, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Bridget Minamore and Margaret Busby in conversation and reading from their own work, as well as the work of others in the anthology.

Picture taken by Lisa Lee.

New Daughters of Africa at Edinburgh International Book Festival

Margaret Busby, editor of New Daughters of Africa, was invited to Edinburgh International Book Festival, alongside authors Namwali Serpell, Leila Aboulela, Candice Carty-Williams and Bernardine Evaristo, to discuss and read from the anthology. The women paid tribute to author Toni Morrison, who contributed to the first Daughters of Africa anthology, twenty five years ago. The event was part of the Telling Her Story series of events, celebrating ‘bold, defiant, revolutionary women’.

Brave New Words: The Bookseller Previews

Brave New Words, edited by Susheila Nasta, features in The Bookseller previews for August 2019. ‘The impressive roster of contributors, including Bernardine Evaristo, James Kelman and Romesh Gunesekera, explore the role of “brave new words” in the battle against limitations in the fundamental rights of citizens, the closure of borders, fake news, and an increasing reluctance to engage with critical democratic debate. Bravo.’

The Observer Graphic Novel of the Month

Rachel Cooke reviews Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth for The Observer. 

‘Though Charlesworth seemingly leaves no stone unturned, from Tom Robinson to Brookside, from the Lesbian Avengers to Douglas Byng (whom she draws on an old cigarette card), her capacious book never feels wearying; it is an amazing, joyous panorama to which I could never do justice in a short review. Let me, then, just say this. Sensible Footwear is an instant classic: up there with Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland when it comes to pageant, and with Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home when it comes to pathos.’

 

New Daughters of Africa launches in Johannesburg

New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby and featuring over 200 women writers in Africa and its diaspora previously launched in the U.K. in March and at the Uganda International Writers Conference in May. This month, a particularly apt one as August in South Africa is designated as “Women’s Month,” the anthology launched in Johannesburg. James Murua shares photographs from the launch on his literature blog, which you can see HERE.

Reporting, Illustrated

‘Despite the immediacy of its impact, comics journalism is a slow form. Immensely labour-intensive, it demands of its practitioners extended attention and a careful eye. In this way, it offers an antidote to the churn of the news cycle, inviting us to take a closer look at the pressing matters of our time.’ Laura Thorne looks at graphic reportage for Columbia Journalism Review, including Olivier Kugler (author of Escaping Wars and Waves) in her list of contemporary graphic reporters.

Toni Morrison

Nobel-prize winning author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88. She was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, awarded in 1993. Margaret Busby talks to ITV news about the writer, who paved the way for women writers everywhere. Watch HERE.

Kate Charlesworth's new graphic memoir in Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2019

Page 45 herald Sensible Footwear Kate Charlesworth an absolute hit. “FEMINISM IS THE RADICAL IDEA THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE”

What a superbly structured, brilliant but biting history and vital entertainment this is!

Shoes! Shoes! Sensible shoes!

You are hereby ever so warmly invited to walk a mile or twenty-six in somebody else’s – Kate Charlesworth’s and the growing LGBT+ community’s – in a personal insight, education and entertainment spanning 70 years from the 1950s onwards!

All education should be an entertainment and this one comes vibrant in colour, comedy and variety without a po face in sight:

Yes, Cinders!” it proudly proclaims on its title page, “You shall go to the Rugmunchers’ Ball!”

It is laugh! It’s a riot! It is a genuine milestone. Read the full write-up HERE.

Daughters of Toni: A Remembrance by Zadie Smith for Pen America

Author Zadie Smith, contributor to New Daughters of Africa, reflects on the life and influence of Toni Morrison as part of PEN America’s tribute to the late Nobel laureate.

‘In 1992, my mother’s close friend, the Ghanaian born, legendary Black-British publisher Margaret Busby, published the first volume of Daughters of Africa, in which Morrison was of course included, alongside more than two hundred contributors. Its title came from the words of Maria W. Stewart, the first African-American woman to give public lectures: “O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties.” A year after that, Morrison won the Nobel Prize. A year after that, I went to university to embark on a course of English Literature which included not a single daughter of Africa nor any sons either. Change was a long time coming, but Morrison stayed out front, leading us into the future, like a pilot light.’

Read in full HERE.

 

The Artful: Queer Rights and Kate Charlesworth

‘Kate Charlesworth’s new book, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, has become “urgent”, as the prologue explains, because of the current rise of intolerance that is threatening the civil and human rights of historically marginalised groups. Charlesworth’s ethos is that we all deserve to know our history, and that without that knowledge we remain vulnerable to such histories repeating themselves.’

Brought to you via the team behind Ink Mag, The Artful #1: New Beginnings issue features an interview with Kate as well as an essay on queer rights, using Sensible Footwear as a jumping board into a discussion about sexuality, gender and injustice.

To receive The Artful newsletters, head to their website.

Cartoonist Kate Charlesworth on gay and lesbian life since the 1950's

Kate Charlesworth is one of the nation’s finest cartoonists. Over the years she has created comic strips for everyone from City Limits to Gay News, the Pink Paper to the Guardian and New Scientist. She has also spent the last four years working on her latest book, Sensible Footwear, a wonderfully colourful and candid book, full of Charlesworth’s crisp, clean, simple lines and her nuanced vision of human complexity.’ Teddy Jamieson interviews Kate for the Herald Scotland. Read the article in full HERE.

Kate Charlesworth in DIVA Magazine

‘Not since Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home has there been such an important graphic memoir. A striking achievement in comic form, Sensible Footwear should be on everyone’s bookshelves’.

DIVA, Europe’s leading magazine for lesbian and bi women, dedicates three pages of their August 2019 issue to comic artist Kate Charlesworth and her newly-published graphic history of LGBTQI+ life from the 1950’s to the present day. Sensible Footwear also receives huge praise in a review by Erica Gillingham (pg 50). Buy the August issue NOW.

Highly Commended—BMA Medical Book Awards

Olivier Kugler’s graphic nonfiction account of Syrian Refugees, Escaping Wars and Waves, has highly commended by the BMA Medical Awards in the Health and Social Care category.  The book, made to show an honest and unbiased account of refugee camps and the families living with in them, has already been shortlisted for the AOI World Illustration Awards 2019 and the Broken Frontier Best Nonfiction Graphic Novel Award 2018 and won the Jury Prize for the Europen Design Awards 2018, the Coup de Coeur Médecins Sans Frontières prize and the Prix du Carnet de Voyage International. Congratulations, Olivier!

Dazed Digital with Catriona Morton

 Sohaila Abdulali was recently invited to discuss sexual assault with Catriona Morton, writer and sexual assault survivor, on BBC Radio 5. In this article, Dazed the value of creating platforms which support survivors, offering safe and encouraging spaces to talk about sexual abuse and how Catriona’s new podcast, After: Surviving Sexual Assault has created just that. The article highlights Sohaila’s book, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape to underline the value of conversation.

Elaine Chiew discussing Urban Collages at STPI Gallery

In conjunction with Manuel Ocampo’s “Ideological Mash-Up/Remix”, STPI Gallery held a panel discussion  involving Fyerool Darma, Vikas Kailankaje; author Elaine Chiew. The dialogue was moderated by Melanie Pocock, Assistant Curator, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICA), LASALLE College of the Arts. Listen to the entire discussion HERE.

Sohaila Abdulali and Cynthia Enloe on BBC Radio 5

Authors Sohaila Abdulali, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, and Cynthia Enloe, The Big Push, are joined by Jane Thurlow and Catriona Morton to discuss sexual assault on BBC Radio 5. Listen HERE.

‘Rather than focussing on making women more brave to speak out we need to focus on what the rest of us are doing to make it so difficult to speak out. The moment a woman speaks out about being raped, or a man or a boy, the focus is on them and half the time you forget to talk about the fact that there’s a criminal out there who did this.’ Sohaila Abdulali

‘It’s not only the assaulters who should be accountable. Complicit are all the enablers: people who make it hard to report, people who give a culture of disbelief to prosecutors who only want to win their cases they don’t want to actually believe victims unless they think they can win the case.’ Cynthia Enloe

‘Sohaila’s book is absolutely amazing, unlike anything I’ve ever read before… I would urge everybody to read it. It’s about feminism and women’s place in society, not only about rape.’ Jane Thurlow

Africa Writes at the British Library

The Africa Writes inaugural Lifetime Achievement in African Literature award was presented to Margaret Busby. The award was presented to Busby by writer Ade Solanke and Diane Abbott MP as part of the festival headline event celebrating the anthology New Daughters of Africa. (Image of author and New Daughters of Africa contributor Bernardine Evaristo with Margaret Busby at Africa Writes, British Library).

Pronatalism and (M)otherhood in Paula Knight's The Facts of Life

The Facts of Life by Paula Knight is the focus of this paper by Sathyaraj Venkatesan and Chinmay Murali for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. The paper discusses how the pluripotent space of the comics medium allows the author to arraign the ideology of pronatalism as an oppressive force that mediates her lived experience of infertility. It also examines the socially constructed and gendered nature of motherhood as it unfolds in Knight’s narrative. Buy and read online HERE.

Reading Matters with Sue Grant Marshall

Sue Grant Marshall reviews North Facing by Tony Peake on Radio Today. ‘This is the power of Tony Peake’s writing… it’s just heartbreaking… it’s so shocking… when the book ends you’re absolutely hanging on every word on the last pages. You don’t want it to end.’ Listen to the full show HERE (35.40 mins in).

Comics Beat Interview: Graphic Medicine gets a clean bill of health from founder Ian Williams

Doctor and graphic novelist Ian Williams talks to Comics Beat about Graphic Medicine, the upcoming conference in Brighton and why comics are such a vital tool in supporting new ways of learning. Read the full interview HERE.

Do you have any sense of why the combination of medical topics and comics work so well together and why people appreciate it so much?

I guess loads of people like comics and you could argue that culture in general is becoming more visual and with comics having become a more respected form of art and literature over the last 20 years, I guess people are starting to look in that direction. And maybe because they’ve read comics when they were younger, it gives them a thrill to rediscover comics. People seem to just get really excited about the idea of using comics in healthcare or using comics as a therapeutic intervention.

As we’ve gained ground and it’s been taken up at an institutional level people have suddenly started to take it seriously. And thank god, graphic medicine has become a thing. Now you get loads of people saying, “oh, this is cool, I’ve just written a paper about something and I’d like to turn it into a comic book,” a lot of, which is really not suitable but people like the idea, they see it as being cool, I suppose. Also at the same time, big institutions like the Wellcome Trust in the UK and big research institutions have used comics in public engagement. So people see that and start to get it.

Myriad authors awarded at the Royal Society of Literature summer party

The Royal Society of Literature elected 45 new Fellows and Honorary Fellows last week at the annual RSL summer party.

New Daughters of Africa contributors Catherine Johnson and Dorothea Smartt were elected as Fellows alongside To The Volcano author Elleke Boehmer, while New Daughters of Africa contributor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey and Brave New Words editor Susheila Nasta were elected as Honorary Fellows.

Susheila was also awarded the prestigious Benson Medal, for exceptional contributions to the advancement of literature.

Click HERE to read The Bookseller’s write up of the event.

 

 

Royal Society of Literature Award for Susheila Nasta

Professor Susheila Nasta from Queen Mary University of London and editor of Brave New Words has been awarded the Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) for her services to literature. She received the medal from President, Marina Warner, at a special award ceremony held in London.

The Benson Medal was founded in 1916 by A.C. Benson, scholar, author and RSL Fellow, ‘in respect of meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles lettres’. The medal honours a whole career rather than a single work, has been awarded several times to writers in other languages, and is often awarded those who are not writers, but who have done conspicuous service to literature.

In addition to being the sole recipient of the 2019 Benson Medal, Professor Nasta was also elected as an Honorary Fellow at the Royal Society of Literature (RSL).

“I am so proud to have been selected as the recipient of the Medal and as an Honorary Fellow. Both are huge honours, especially as this recognition comes from my peers,” said Professor Nasta.

“I am delighted too that over the past 35 years Wasafiri has been able to build an international community and nourish the work of so many distinguished writers from around the world,” she added.

Lavender Menace Returns at Lighthouse, Edinburgh's Radical Bookshop

As part of Pride Week celebrations, Kate Charlesworth visited Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s radical bookshop to celebrate their Lavender Menace pop-up. Kate shared her soon-to-be-published memoir, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guidethe first graphic history documenting lesbian life from 20150 to the present day. The event sold out and the bookshop was packed to the rafters. To see where Kate will be taking Sensible Footwear next, head to our events page.

Get Up, Stand Up Now Podcast by Somerset House

Margaret Busby takes part in the Get Up, Stand Up Now podcast by Somerset House, a ‘crafted sound odyssey over five episodes, guided by the voices of Black creative pioneers’, part of the Get Up, Stand Up Now exhibition at Somerset House.

The exhibition will run from 12th June – 15th September, you can book tickets HERE.

New Daughters at Bernie Grant Arts Centre

We had another fabulous New Daughters of Africa event, this time at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre where contributor Hannah Poole is the new artistic director.

The event was part of BGAC’s Windrush festival and the contributors joining Margaret Busby on stage all shared a Caribbean heritage: Candice Carty-Williams, Dorothea Smartt, Zadie Smith and Andrea Stuart. The chair was contributor Adeola Solanke.

On stage from L to R:
Hannah Azieb Pool, Adeola Solanke, MB, Candice Carty-Williams, Bridget Minamore, Dorothea Smartt, Yvonne Bailey-Smith, Zadie Smith, Andrea Stuart