1. Moving tribute to Peter Matthiessen from James Salter in the New Yorker.


  2. It’s great to see Sun-mi Hwang, author of The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, as the author of the day at the London Book Fair today!


  3. A few photos from the launch party for Sun-mi Hwang’s beautiful fable, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly.

  4. Peter Matthiessen Award-winning Author Dies

    Peter Matthiessen
    Image credit: Linda Girvin

    Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than thirty books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died at 5:15 pm on 5th April 2014, after an illness of some months. He was eighty-six years old.

    Matthiessen is the only writer to win the National Book Award more than once – in fact three times, twice in two non-fiction categories for The Snow Leopard, published in 1978, and in fiction three decades later for Shadow Country. His final book, In Paradise, is scheduled to be published by Oneworld Publications on 24th April, 2014 and Riverhead Books on the 8th April . A novel inspired by a profound experience Matthiessen underwent as a participant in a Zen meditation retreat at Auschwitz in the 1990s, In Paradise is a powerful and uncompromising exploration of the legacy of evil and our unquenchable, imperfect desire to wrest good from it.

    His British publisher Juliet Mabey writes: ‘We feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to publish Peter Matthiessen’s final novel, In Paradise, a very bold and deeply moving meditation on the legacy of the holocaust. It will prove a fitting tribute to a man who set himself extraordinarily high standards in life and in his writing.’

    ‘We are deeply honored to be custodians of Peter’s final, characteristically bold work of art,’ says Riverhead Books publisher Geoff Kloske, noting that the publication reunited Matthiessen with editorial director Rebecca Saletan, who had worked with him on several books since the early 1980s, initially under the auspices of Random House editorial director Jason Epstein. In a recent essay in The New York Review of Books, Tim Parks writes, ‘Matthiessen’s work has always carried a powerful moral message.…  In Paradise is a logical conclusion to a long writing career.’

    He is survived by his wife, the former Maria Eckhart, four children and two stepchildren.


  5. Blunders Wins the Practical Book of the Year Award

    Congratulations to Anthony King, and Ivor Crewe, whose bestselling book The Blunders of Our Governments has just won the Political Book Awards Practical Politics Book of the Year Award. The Paddy Power Political Book Awards in association with Politicos.co.uk seeks to recognise the very best in political writing and publishing. Winners across nine categories are chosen by our panels of political celebrity judges with prizes kindly donated by Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC.

    The Practical Politics Book of the Year Award is given to the author(s) of a book which has analysed, explained and made accessible the structures and processes of politics, either current or past. It must be well written, clear, analytical, contextual, timely and thoroughly researched, drawing on a number of sources, and have brought the finer details of the political process to wider attention and shown an enthusiasm for its subject, striking a balance between informing, analysing and sustaining a line of argument. Which we think describers Blunders perfectly!

    Here are what a few other people have been saying about the book:

    An entertaining journey through the cock-ups of governments.’ A 50 Best Winter Read recommendation.
    The Independent

    ‘This is a very apposite book and should be read by ministers, shadow ministers, parliamentarians and civil servants.’
    Total Politics

    'Fascinating and zeitgeisty.'
    The Times

     ’Compelling… David Cameron is said to have read about Winston Churchill’s early warmongering during his summer holidays. It would have been much better for all of us if he had read this.’
    Independent on Sunday

    'Grimly entertaining… This book should be a compulsory text for every would-be minister and permanent secretary.'
    Financial Times

    'This is an astonishing achievement – that very rare thing, a genuinely original book and an immediately essential guide to the failures of British politics. King and Crewe go deep, without a shred of pomposity or a phrase of false rhetoric. From now on, every political journalist, civil servant and would-be minister needs to start here.'
    Andrew Marr

    'This book will make you gasp in disbelief and stamp your feet in rage, and quite frequently reduce you to helpless laughter… it is hard to overpraise.'

    'A powerful new book.'
    Daily Mail

    'From two of our most brilliant political analysts… [a] thoroughly entertaining and erudite history of great British debacles.'


  6. Have we forgotten how to celebrate birth and new mothers? On Becoming a Mother prompts Milli Hill to ask: why don’t we treat birth and motherhood as sacred?

  7. Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist

    Deborah Kay Davies’ nervy, lyrical novel Reasons She Goes to the Woods has been long-listed for this year’s Bailerys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Davies joins the likes of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Eleanor Catton, Jhumpa Lahiri and Donna Tartt on a 20-strong longlist. One of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction – previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction – celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.

    The judges must now whittle these 20 books to six, before choosing an overall winner to be announced on 4th June 2014.


  8. Ig Nobel Tour 2014

    To celebrate the publication of his new book, This is Improbable Too, Marc Abrahams' famed Ig Nobel Tour will be taking place between 14 March and 2 April.It’s all about research that makes people laugh, then think. This will be the eleventh annual tour, in conjunction with National Science & Engineering Week.

    The shows feature Marc Abrahams, organizer of the Ig Nobel Prizes, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, and Guardian columnist, together with a gaggle of Ig Nobel Prize winners and other improbable researchers. The Imperial College London show will include the world premiere performance of “The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera” by Daniel Gillingwater, with a cameo appearance by Kees Moeliker, the Ig Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck. The Dramatic-Improbable-Readings feature an entire gang of all-star performers. The performers each do dramatic, two-minute readings from bizarre, genuine studies collected by the Annals of Improbable Research. Each performer will be unfamiliar with the study she or he is reading aloud, aside from skimming through it immediately before the show begins. The performers will also entertain entertaining questions from the audience.

    14th March – Imperial College London


    • Marc Abrahams
    • Mason Porter (Bipolar patients as oscillators)
    • Sue Gibson and The QI Elves (performing Dramatic Improbable Readings from bizarre, genuine research reports)
    • Andrew George reciting the entire works of the bad poet McGonagall, or a portion thereof
    • Ig Nobel Prize winner Kees Moeliker (homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck, and additional research TBA)
    • Daniel Gillingwater and Sarah Redmond (and Kees Moeliker) in the world premiere of “The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera“

    Book tickets

    17th March – University of Warwick

    Book tickets

    18th March – Conway Hall, London

    Marc Abrahams and a gaggle of celebrated persons performing Dramatic Improbable Readings from bizarre, genuine research reports.

    Book tickets

    20th March – University of Leeds


    • Marc Abrahams
    • David Schultz (Does it rain more on weekends?)
    • PLUS a gaggle of celebrated persons performing Dramatic Improbable Readings from bizarre, genuine research reports.

    Book tickets

    2nd April – University of Portsmouth


    • Marc Abrahams
    • Ig Nobel Prize winner Ilja van Beest (roller coaster rides as a treatment for asthma)
    • Ig Nobel Prize winner Richard Stephens (swearing as a response to pain)
    • Alex Ford (Prozac and the happiness of clams)

    Book tickets


  9. No Place to Call Home shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award

    Congratulations to Katharine Quarmby, whose recent book No Place to Call Home, has been shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing! Now in its third year, the Bread & Roses Awards seeks to celebrate excellence in the field of radical political non-fiction. Judged by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, the award looks for the following criteria:

    • being informed by radical political concerns and traditions, such as socialism, anarchism, environmentalism, feminism or anti-racism
    • inspiring, supporting or reporting on political and/or personal change
    • being accessible to the interested reader
    • making an important contribution to contemporary academic debate
    • relating to global, national, local or specialist areas of interest

    The winner will be announced by guest judges Jess McCabe, Nina Power, and Seamus Milne at a ceremony at the London Radical Bookfair on Saturday 10th May at the Bishopsgate Institute.

    About the book:

    They are reviled. For centuries the Roma have wandered Europe; during the Holocaust half a million were killed. After World War II and during the Troubles, a wave of Irish Travellers moved to England to make a better, safer life. They found places to settle down – but then, as Occupy was taking over Wall Street and London, the vocal Dale Farm community in Essex was evicted from their land. Many did not leave quietly; they put up a legal and at times physical fight.

    Award-winning journalist Katharine Quarmby takes us into the heat of the battle, following the Sheridan, McCarthy, Burton and Townsley families before and after the eviction, from Dale Farm to Meriden and other trouble spots. Based on exclusive access over the course of seven years and rich historical research, No Place to Call Home is a stunning narrative of long-sought justice.

    What people are saying about the book: 

    'With a keen sense of compassion and unwavering frankness, Katharine Quarmby breaks through rigid stereotypes and leads us into the communities that have remained for so long without a voice of their own.'
    Oksana Marafioti, author of American Gypsy: A Memoir

    'Fuelled by righteous fury… whole-hearted… As an exposure of the modern troubles of these unique tight-knit communities of Travellers, it sets you travelling on the right road.'
    The Guardian

    'The great strength of this book lies in the access Quarmby had to those who stories she seeks to tell… most important is the human face the book gives to people often deprived of one… [No Place to Call Home] raises bigger issues about socially isolated and alienated groups everywhere.’
    New Statesman

    'Katharine Quarmby has gone where most journalists never dare to tread… excellent.'
    Traveller Times

    'Wise… measured and insightful.'

    'The eviction of gypsies from Dale Farm forms the focus of a fascinating look at the interplay across decades of anti-gypsy sentiment with issues of poverty, immigration, and countercultural groups as they influence local and national politics.'


  10. Good discussion in the Daily Telegraph with Brigid McConville and Milli Hill, author and contributor to the beautiful new book On Becoming a Mother.