I was delighted to be invited to the Faber Spring Launch Party, which was held at a fabulous venue – the crypt on the green of St James Church in Clerkenwell – last night. It was also fantastic to meet up with old friends in Kim, Eric, Simon S and @flossieteacake, and talk to some other lovely people like the ladies from the Sevenoaks Bookshop who shared our table. Faber had laid on twelve authors to talk to us plus nibbles from a thirteenth, chef Oliver Rowe, who let his food do his talking.
Back row, left to right:
- Simon Armitage, who talked and read from Pearl (May) – his new translation of a medieval poem thought to be by the same author as Sir Gawain & the Green Knight – ‘Nothing like medieval poetry to get the party started,’ he quipped. Irresistible!
- Mick Jackson, who read from Yuki Chan in Bronte Country (out today). Yuki is over visiting her sister, but is also retracing her mother’s footsteps from ten years previously. Slightly odd, but I’m keen to read this one.
- Tim Baker – an Australian living in France, who has written a thriller about a kidnapping, the assassination of JFK and a hitman on the trail of a secret cabal. Fever City is out today.
- Francis Spufford – Golden Hill (June) is the first novel from the acclaimed non-fiction writer of The Child that Books Built and Red Plenty. It covers eleven weeks in 18th century New York – when it was just a little town, and he described it as Tom Jones in New York with a bit of Tristram Shandy. Looking forward to this book.
- Francesca Kay – The Long Room (out now) sounds wonderful. Her protagonist is a listener for the secret service. The description of this book reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola’s first film The Conversation with Gene Hackman – but could be entirely different! It’s a spy novel – I want to read it.
- Oliver Rowe – of the delicious nibbles. His book Food for All Seasons is out in June.
- Patrick Kingsley – The New Odyssey – the Story of the European Refugee Crisis (June). Kingsley is the Guardian’s ‘Migration Correspondent’; he travelled following the trails of migrants through 17 countries, trying to find out all about them, how and why they do it, who is involved – powerful reportage.
Front row, left to right:
- Louise Doughty, following on from the huge success of Apple Tree Yard, Black Water (June) is entirely different, but its genesis came in the same way through a powerful image that came to her head which she then had to explain in a story.
- Brix Smith Start – I have to admit shameful ignorance of Manchester band, The Fall, but LA-born Brix was their guitarist and wife of Mark E. Smith for ten years, moving on to shack up with Nige Kennedy and his band for a while, reinventing herself as a fashion stylist (which is where I first encountered her on TV with Gok Wan). This girl has lived rock ‘n’ roll – and I wanna read about it (so does Kim)! The Rise The Fall and the Rise is out in May.
- Alwyn Hamilton – the only author of a YA book there, Alwyn passionately wanted to write an adventure story involving a girl who dressed up as a boy and didn’t play by the rules. Rebel of the Sands sounds fun. Out on Feb 1, it’s the first part of a trilogy.
- Sara Pascoe – you may have seen Sara on Mock the Week – now she’s writing a book. How a Woman is Made is a tour of the female body in all its aspects and glory. She told a funny story about how glow-worms are in danger of extinction as the males are wasting their glow-worm seed on streetlamps… (Coming(!) in May).
- Harry Parker – Anatomy of a Soldier (March).You couldn’t help but do a double-take when Harry gingerly climbed up onto the stage on his two prosthetic legs. His debut novel is about the rehabilitation of a soldier caught in an IED blast, told from the PoV of 45 different narrators – including inanimate objects like his mother’s red handbag and the surgeon’s bone-saw. Sounds like a war classic in the making.
- Luke Harding – A Very Expensive Poison (March). This is one I really want to read (and so does Kim). Harding was the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, and his latest book is billed as the definitive inside story of the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko – including interviews with the suspects, and Litvinenko himself three days before he died.
So many books I want to read from that list. Needless to say, I went home with a bag stuffed full, including several mentioned above and a couple of others. A huge thank you to Faber.