Thursday, 2 April 2015

4 Questions for Bridget van der Zijpp

Bridget van der Zijpp's second novel, In the Neighbourhood of Fame, will be launched on Wednesday 8 April in Auckland (6.30pm at Portland Public House, Kingsland).

Ahead of her launch we asked her a few questions about her new book.

Bridget van der Zijpp (photo by Jessie Casson)

Your new novel is about fame: the dark side, the trappings, the way in which a famous person becomes public property – what made you want to explore these ideas?
When I first started thinking about this book (a while back) there was a spate of cases with celebrities being accused of various misdemeanours.  Controversially they all received name suppression but there was a lot of gossip about, and there were quite strenuous efforts by some people to find ways to expose them.  I found that rather large and gleeful appetite for the celebrity downfall interesting.  It made me start to think about what it would be like to be the celebrity who has the tide of popularity turn against them.
Also, in the past I’ve worked both within the media and as a publicist, and so I think I’m drawn to ideas about how individuals attract and sometimes manipulate forms of media attention.  And how fame impacts on a person’s sense of self. 
It seems like a lot of people these days want fame, but when it happens it can be a shock and there is definitely a downside to it.  It takes a certain kind of courage to put something out into the public realm –  whether it’s an album of songs, a book, a film, a play, or a performance – and while there are obviously rewards, you also open yourself up to discourse and criticism and it can feel very personal and destructive.   In the book the musician Jed Jordan’s second album has bombed, and he says: “If you do something that you think is really good, and most people don’t get it, then who are you really? Somebody who just happens to be out of step with the world at that moment?  Or is your taste off?  And if you can’t work your head around an answer to that question then it gets harder.”
It is also concerned with rumour over fact, social media replacing reporting and the way in which social media confuses or creates its own reality – is this something you’d been thinking about for a while?
Social media is the contemporary instrument of fame.  It’s evolving very rapidly, changing a lot even in the time I’ve been working on this, and while it offers many new avenues for awareness, it also increases the risk of harm too. 
While personally I’m more a lurker than a participant, I’ve noticed there often seems to be a view in that arena that because celebrities put themselves out there, seeking the limelight, then its open slather on them.  At least in the traditional media there tends to be a general restraint because they are more aware of defamation and damages, but in social media a lot of what is said is unguarded and highly emotive.  Regulation isn’t easy, and truth doesn’t matter half as much as the fun of the take-down.
Fame is actually a bit of an uncontrollable beast, and then there is the matter of the so-called Trolls or as they are described in the book “the puerile imbeciles who are waiting, like a row of nasty gulls on a power line, for something to draw their notice.”
A number of voices tell the story. Did you use the multi-voice narrative as a way to explore the different angles of entry to the story? All the characters have a different version of reality don’t they?
The story in In the Neighbourhood of Fame is essentially about the musician Jed Jordan (who could best be described as once-famous), but he is never heard from directly, only seen through the eyes of three different narrators.  Evie, his childhood friend who recently returned to the neighbourhood with her son, and can’t shake off a sense of admiration for him that started when she was a teenager; Lauren, his wife, who manages a local theatre and is bored with him now, and looking for distractions;  and 15 year old Haley who casually meets him in the dog park and becomes slightly fascinated with him.
Sometimes he is almost a periphery character in their daily lives, but it’s more about how they see him, and how they experience his “fame”, and how they unwittingly impact on it.
In choosing to do this I was playing around with the idea that fame is not really something that you possess yourself, it’s always placed upon you by others, and people come to somebody else’s fame through their own slant. 
There are a number of broken/dysfunctional relationships in the book – between partners, and between parents and their children – a lot of people talking past each other, which seems a continuation of some of the relationships in your first novel Misconduct – is this a theme/idea you feel drawn to as a writer?
I guess the partners, parents and children are the ‘Neighbourhood’ part of the story.
I don’t think I realised there was any similar underlying theme in the two books until I’d almost finished this one.  If there is one, it’s possibly about how much you might forgive a person’s dysfunction if you admire their talent.  The truly creative people I’ve known are often dreamy, and a bit removed, jealous of their time and space, and alternatively inspired and insecure.  Hard to live with, basically.  But if they make some form of incredible art is that so seducing that you can forgive some of their failings?  I think I’m personally quite interested in where that line is.
Also I think that in general I am drawn as a writer to what goes on in the underbelly of relationships – where people don’t quite know themselves, and can’t quite say what they mean.
In the Neighbourhood of Fame is available from our online bookstore and in all good bookstores nationwide from 9 April.
$30, p/b.

April newsletter

Two new titles in April

Vincent O'Sullivan's long writing career includes seventeen collections of poetry which sit alongside his novels, biography, plays and short stories. Being Here: Selected Poems is the first book to survey the entire span of his poetry, from Bearings (1973) to new poems first published in this volume.

Praise for Vincent O'Sullivan:
'You can't ask much more of a poet than wit, profundity and elegance and they're all here in spades.'
– Chris Miller

'There is a kind of luminous spirituality about O'Sullivan's poetry, that long after you have read the poems, continues to reside in the objects or situations the poems describe.'
– Anna Jackson on Lucky Table

Vincent's most recent collection of poetry, Us, Then, won the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry and he is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate.

Being Here is published as a hardback and features a striking Karl Maughan painting on the dust jacket. $60, available online and in all good bookstores from 9 April.

We launch Being Here at 5.30pm on Wednesday 15 April at the National Library (see side panel for details). All welcome.

The trappings of fame, the power of social media and dysfunctional relationships play out in Bridget van der Zjipp’s vivid new novel In the Neighbourhood of Fame.

The novel is centred around rock musician Jed Jordan, whose song ‘Captain of the Rules’ made him famous over ten years ago. Jed’s story is told by three female narrators, each with a different take on his fame: his childhood friend who is caught up in a long-held sense of admiration for him; his theatre manager wife who is frustrated with his drifting; and the 15-year-old who meets him in the dog park and finds that when she talks about him people are interested.

“I was playing around with the idea that fame is not something you possess yourself, it’s always placed upon you by others, and people come to somebody else’s fame through their own slant,” says Bridget.

In the Neighbourhood of Fame is Bridget's second novel. Her first novel, Misconduct, was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Best First Book Prize and for the 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards Best First Book of Fiction. She lives in Auckland.

Published in paperback ($30) and available from our online store and in all good bookstores from 9 April.

We launch the novel in Auckland on Wednesday 8 April, 6.30pm, Portland Public House (see side bar for details). All welcome.

Bridget will also be appearing at the Auckland Writers Festival 2015 at a free reading with Tracy Farr, Laurence Fearnley and Tim Winton.

Gathering Evidence continues to gather prizes

Congratulations to Caoilinn Hughes. Gathering Evidence has been named a finalist in the Royal Society of New Zealand 2015 Science Book Prize. It is one of five titles shortlisted for the prize which is awarded to a title 'which communicates scientific concepts in an interesting and readable way for a general audience.' The prize winner will be announced at the Auckland Writers Festival in May. We were delighted to hear from Caoilinn that Gathering Evidence has also won the Irish Times' Strong/Shine Award for Best First Collection. Gathering Evidence was also a finalist in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Auckland Writers Festival 2015

The international line-up for the AWF15 looks fantastic. We are very pleased that four writers from VUP's stable will be attending. Airini Beautrais, Bridget van der Zijpp, Helena Wisniewska Brow, Stephanie de Montalk and Wystan Curnow will be featured on panels and at reading events. See the full programme of events.

We are delighted to see that the Nigel Cox Unity Books Award is being presented at the AWF15. This award was founded by Unity Books Auckland owner Jo McColl and Susanna Andrew to commemorate Nigel's love of writing and reading. The award is given to a 'New Zealand writer unknowingly selected for the prize based on their "exceptional way with words".'

Keep up with our forthcoming titles

If you want to know what we will be publishing later in the year, you can check out our forthcoming titles webpage which we update throughout the year. As soon as the myriad tasks of publishing are finalised we put them up on this page. We are also now including sample chapters so readers can get a taste of the books to come.

Events in April

Book launch: In the Neighbourhood of Fame
Bridget van der Zijpp's new novel will be launched at 6.30pm on Weds 8 April at The Portland Public House, 463 New North Rd, Kingsland, Auckland.

Poetry event: Being Here Together
Tuesday 14 April, 12.10pm–1.10pm. Six local poets join Poet Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan at National Library, Programme Room, Ground Floor, 70 Molesworth St, Wellington. Poets include: Morgan Bach, Claire Orchard, Lynn Davidson, Harley Bell, Catherine English and Margaret Moores.

Book launch: Being Here, Selected Poems
Vincent O'Sullivan's new Selected Poems will be launched at 5.30pm on Weds 15 April at the National Library, Ground Floor, 70 Molesworth St, Wellington.

This is a double launch with Steele Roberts for Let the Writer Stand: The work of Vincent O’Sullivan, edited by Judith Dell Panny.

Author event
Helen Riddiford, biographer of George Evans (A Blighted Fame) presents a talk about Evans: ‘Nui Nui  Rangatira’:  Dr George Evans, his role in the New Zealand Company and his Relationship with Māori.” At 1pm, Friday 17 April at the Wellington City Library, Ground floor.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Congratulations to Caoilinn Hughes. Gathering Evidence has been named a finalist in the Royal Society of New Zealand 2015 Science Book Prize. It is one of five titles shortlisted for the prize which is awarded to a title 'which communicates scientific concepts in an interesting and readable way for a general audience.' The prize will be announced at the Auckland Writers Festival in May.

We were delighted to hear from Caoilinn that Gathering Evidence has also won the Irish Times' Strong/Shine Award for Best First Collection. Gathering Evidence was a finalist in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

March newsletter

Forthcoming books in 2015

In April we release Bridget van der Zijpp's second novel, In the Neighbourhood of Fame. The trappings of fame, the power of social media and dysfunctional relationships play out in this vivid contemporary story. A launch will be held on Wednesday 8 April at Portland Public House in Kingland, Auckland, 6.30pm on.

We will also launch current Poet Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan's Being Here: Selected Poems at the National Library on Wednesday 15 April, 5.30pm on. Bring Here is the first book to survey O'Sullivan's poetry from 1973 through to new poems first published in this book. The launch at National Library will also include a book of essays about Vincent's work edited by Judith Dell Panny and published by Steele Roberts.

Baxter and Gee

Some of the publishing highlights in 2015 include two mammoth books due out later in the year, Complete Prose: James K Baxter, edited by John Weir, and Rachel Barrowman's biography, Maurice Gee: Life and Work.

Weighing in at over a million words, the Complete Prose will be a the four-volume boxed set. It will include reviews, essays, lectures, stories, interviews, and diary entries and more, and covers Baxter’s entire career. This comprehensive work is a testament to Baxter’s huge contribution to New Zealand culture and society.

Rachel Barrowman has been at work on Maurice Gee: Life and Work for almost ten years and the result is a compelling story which interweaves the literature and life of the much-loved New Zealand writer. Barrowman says that from the start Gee stated that there was no point doing a biography unless it was 'warts and all'. The result is a biography which gives an engaging and sometimes surprising narrative of Gee's life.


A debut novel about the 1928 New Zealand and Australian Ravat-Wonder team in the Tour de France will be released in June. David Coventry's The Invisible Mile is a powerful re-imagining of the tour from inside the peloton.

The current Victoria University/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence, Tim Corballis, will also have a new book out later this year. His two novellas R.H.I are based on events in the lives of Joan Riviere, an early 20th-century psychoanalyst and Herman Henselmann the Chief Architect of the German Democratic Republic. The two novellas are what Corballis describes as 'an accidental history of the 20th-century.'


We also have new poetry this year by David Beach, Roger Horrocks, Morgan Bach, Brian Turner, Joan Fleming, Brent Kininmont and Dinah Hawken.

We update our forthcoming books page regularly with information about the books, their covers and release dates.



TIBE fellows: our wonderful and tireless organiser Yuching Liu,
Robert Watkins of Hachette Australia, FB, Lynette Evans of Scholastic NZ,
Jenny Hellen of Allen & Unwin NZ.


Fergus Barrowman spent a week in at the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) as part of a publisher's fellowship programme. Fergus reports:

"I had a great time in Taipei. My hosts were very welcoming and generous, and the programme of seminars, a guided tour of Taiwanese publishers’ exhibits and visits to publishers’ office was extremely interesting. The parties were good too.

I was struck by some of the similarities in the challenges Taiwanese publishers experience, as a relatively small industry with some very large neighbours, and by the liveliness and confidence of the publishing. I’m always envious of the middle-sized independent publishers who can publish their choice of globally-famous English-language writers in translation, alongside their own writers.

The publishers I met were very interested on a personal level in finding out about New Zealand writers and books, but my feeling was that the major opportunities in that market are for educational and children’s books. But they embraced Eleanor Catton – packed out audiences; intricate and engaged questions through an interpreter; signing lines of well over an hour.

The New Zealand guest of honour programme was slightly surreal at times, perhaps most of all when some of our finest difficult musicians – Greg Malcolm, Jeff Henderson, Campbell Kneale – played to a large mixed audience of wildly enthusiastic hip young Taiwanese, and slightly puzzled New Zealanders."

Yuching got to the Grayhawk Agency party at midnight on a Taipei U-bike  








Information for booksellers

Don't forget that from March 1st all VUP books will be distributed by Upstart Distribution.

Please send orders to,  Ph 09 478 4390 (warehouse), Ph 09 280 3199 (office), Fax 09 281 3090.

Our books will continue to be sold into the trade by Archetype Book Agents, contact, Ph (09) 814 9455, fax (09) 814 9453.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas holiday hours and closure

Victoria University Press will be closed from Friday 19 December at 3pm and will reopen on Monday 5 January at 9am. Final orders will need to be received by this Wednesday 17 December. Any orders received after Wednesday will be processed when we return in January.

Happy reading everyone! And thanks for supporting VUP.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Four questions for Dylan Horrocks

Dylan Horrocks's much anticipated Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is out now. If you're in Wellington he is at Unity Books on this Friday 12 December, 12pm – 12.45pm for an instore reading and signing session. Come along!

Dylan Horrocks photographed by Grant Maiden

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen considers the importance of story and fantasy in our lives – our ability to dream and do crazy stuff in our dreams is what keeps us going – but your protagonist Sam is suffering because he's forgotten how to dream. Was this the germ for starting Sam – the value of dreaming?

When I started thinking about the Magic Pen, I was going through a rough patch in my relationship with fiction and fantasy. I had spent a few years writing monthly comics for a big American publisher, and the relentless routine of churning out scripts non-stop – often telling stories that were a long way from preferred style or content – took its toll. Over time, it's like I lost contact with my own imagination. I was spending so much time in imaginary worlds that had been made up by other people, many of which were (to be frank) pretty horrible places, that simple pleasure of entering a fictional reality stopped being fun and became a chore.

Imaginary worlds had always been a big thing for me. Immersion, exploration, indulgent daydreaming. That's been the wellspring for a lot of my writing, and also for my relaxation and play. I felt like Lucy Pevensie, standing before a locked wardrobe, with no way into Narnia.

So in the end, I did the only thing I could think of: I started dreaming up a story that would allow me to explore the mess I was in. I put Sam Zabel into a similar situation, because Sam's often been my go-to guy for making sense of dilemmas and problems in my own life. He's a different personality in many ways, but he's a useful experimental subject. By watching how he responds to certain conditions and seeing what happens next, I can learn all kinds of things about the questions I'm wrestling with myself. Ultimately, I hoped Sam could lead me back to the wardrobe, and help me unlock the door.

The story also deals with the ways in which females are portrayed in many comics as sex symbols, and it throws up a number of interesting questions about a comic as a place where artists (of both sexes) might play out their fantasies and what responsibilities might go along with that, if any. Are these ideas you've thought a lot about over your years in both the 'industry' and as an independent maker?

When I was writing superhero comics – which often revolved around horrible crimes and the search for justice – I began to wonder about the nature of the fantasies that drove the stories I was telling. Every imaginary scenario carries assumptions about how that world and people within it work. Motivations, social structures, gender relations, the causes of violence, the meaning of justice and the nature of power. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered whether the comics we were making contributed to myths and distortions that permeate our shared conversations about the problems we face. I remember watching Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine on television one night, and when he interviewed a producer on the reality show Cops – challenging him about the way the show repeatedly depicts African American men as violent criminals, and white people as victims, protectors and avengers – I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. It was the way the producer passionately defended his liberal credentials, even as he insisted his show's racial politics were an unavoidable consequence of the need to present "exciting television." I felt uncomfortably close to that producer.

One of my lowest moments was when an issue of Batgirl that I had written arrived from the printers with a recruiting ad for the US Army on the back cover. This was around the time the US Army was dropping white phosphorous bombs on civilians in Fallujah. I worried that the fantasies we were indulging and promoting in that comic were also being played out in the coverage of the war.

So yeah, I was thinking about it a lot. Fantasy no longer seemed harmless. And it wasn't just a matter of avoiding obvious genre stories and committing to 'serious, naturalistic' fiction; the whole enterprise of art - of storytelling - seemed inherently dishonest. Because it's all make-believe, whether we recognise it as such or not, and distortion and delusion creeps in to every story we tell. I thought a lot about Picasso describing art as "a lie that tells the truth." What if it's actually a lie that tells a lie?

At the same time, though, I had spent a lifetime obsessed with the power and potential of fantasy to enlighten, liberate and transform. A friend described what I was going through as a "crisis of faith", which sounded about right. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is partly my attempt to find a way through that crisis and out the other side.

You use two epigraphs which contradict each other, and I found myself agreeing with both of them. The first is Yeats: 'In dreams begins responsibility' and the second is Nina Hartley: 'Desire has no morality.' It doesn't seem to me that this book draws any firm lines anywhere, except for being very opposed to the sexual violence of characters like Akio. I'm interested to know if you have settled somewhere in between Yeats and Hartley – or is this a line that needs to be constantly renegotiated?

I'm so glad you agree with both epigraphs! I used them both because I wanted to set up a discussion – maybe even a debate or argument – right from the very beginning. Because I went into this not knowing how to answer the questions I was wrestling with. And yeah, I agreed with both, too, and I wanted the book to keep the debate going, rather than allowing myself to adopt easy (ultimately dishonest) answers. So every time a character takes a stand or expresses a firm position, something else will undermine or contradict them. I wanted the book to simultaneously question and indulge the pleasures of fantasy (and eroticism), and in places even the drawings and words are working directly in opposition. I don't want to say too much about my own opinions at this point, because I'm more interested in readers entering into an open-minded conversation with the book, themselves and each other. But I will say I still think both epigraphs say something important, wise and true. 

How long has Sam Zabel taken you?

Oh God. 10 years, all up. Although most of it was drawn in the last 12 months. And I wrote and drew plenty of other things in that time too (some of which are in Incomplete Works). Hopefully the next book will be a whole lot faster!

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is out now. You can buy it here on our online bookstore or in great bookshops around the country. p/b $35

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

December newsletter – new releases and forthcoming titles in 2015


Dylan Horrock's long awaited graphic novel is released this month. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is the thoughtful, erotic and funny story of cartoonist Sam Zabel as he struggles with creative block.

Dylan has been working on Sam Zabel for over ten years now and he said that his love of imaginary worlds as well as his struggles writing monthly comics for big publishers found a life in the work.

"Imaginary worlds had always been a big thing for me. Immersion, exploration, indulgent daydreaming. When I started thinking about story, I was going through a rough patch in my relationship with fiction and fantasy. I was spending so much time in imaginary worlds that had been made up by other people, many of which were (to be frank) pretty horrible places, that simple pleasure of entering a fictional reality stopped being fun and became a chore. So in the end, I did the only thing I could think of: I started dreaming up a story that would allow me to explore the mess I was in."

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is available for purchase now at all good bookstores or through our online bookstore. $35, p/b.

Dylan will be reading and signing copies at an in-store session at Unity Books on Friday 12 December, 12pm–12.45pm. All welcome.

Creamy Psychology surveys photographer Yvonne Todd's work, from her earliest work in the late 1990s to her most recent Gilbert Melrose project (reprinting photographs of small town life taken in the 1950s by her second cousin) and her series Ethical Minorities (Vegans). The book features new essays by Todd, Misha Kavka (on Todd and soap operas), Megan Dunn (Todd and anorexia), Robert Leonard (Todd and cults), Claire Regnault (Todd and costume) and Anthony Byrt (Gilbert Melrose).

Creamy Psychology is released the same week as a major exhibition of Todd's work opens at City Gallery, Wellington. Todd will be in conversation with curators this weekend. More information here.

Creamy Psychology can be purchased at all good bookstores and through our online bookstore. $60, h/b.


A preview of two new novels and two new poetry collections due out in early 2015.

New Hokkaido
by James McNaughton,
novel, p/b, $30. February 2015.

It is 1987, forty-five years after Japan conquered New Zealand, and the brutal shackles of the occupation have loosened a little: English can be spoken by natives in the home, and twenty-year-old Business English teacher Chris Ipswitch has a job at the Wellington Language Academy. But even Chris and his famous older brother – the Night Train, a retired Pan-Asian sumo champion – cannot stay out of the conflict between the Imperial Japanese Army and the Free New Zealand movement. When Chris takes it upon himself to investigate a terrible crime, he is drawn into the heart of the struggle for freedom, guided along the way by the mysterious Hitomi Kurosawa and the ghost of Kiwi rock ’n’ roll legend and martyr Johnny Lennon.

New Hokkaido is a fascinating counter-factual history and an adventure that thrills and disquiets at every turn.

Wonky Optics
by Geoff Cochrane
poetry, $25, p/b. February 2015.

Wonky Optics is Geoff Cochrane’s fifteenth collection of poems. He is also the author of two novels, and Astonished Dice: Collected Short Stories (2014). Geoff received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award in 2014.

‘The Cochrane tone is one of the great pleasures in our literature – and somehow sweeter for appearing not to be part of that literature.’ – Damien Wilkins

‘Over the years, Cochrane’s work has been a joy to me, a solace, a proof that art can be made in New Zealand which shows us ourselves in new ways.’ – Pip Adam

Half Dark
by Harry Ricketts
poetry, $25, p/b. February 2015.

In his new collection, Harry Ricketts addresses the people and places that fill a life and the gaps they leave behind. These are poems of friendship, romance, youth, and moments that still glow or ache decades after. Half Dark is tender, funny, sad, and deftly crafted from the splinters and spaces of the past.

In the Neighbourhood of Fame
by Bridget van der Zijpp
novel, $30, p/b. April 2015.

Rock musician Jed Jordan’s former fame means the events in his life have become public property. Years after ‘Captain of the Rules’ made him world famous in New Zealand, Jed is living quietly in an Auckland suburb with his family, growing peppers and recording in his home studio, when some disturbing new attention threatens to tear his world apart.

Also profoundly affected are three women whose lives are closely caught up in Jed’s – his wife; a childhood friend who has returned from Australia for her father’s funeral; and the fifteen-year-old Jed chats to in the local dog park. Vivid and engaging, In the Neighbourhood of Fame shines a light on modern relationship struggles within and between families, and on the unpredictable power of celebrity and social media.




I’m going to read Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World by Mark Miodownik. This won the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books and it looks weirdly enthralling. It’s an exploration of all the materials that shape the modern world. Also, The Great Animal Orchestra by Bernie Krause, which talks about soundscapes in nature (e.g.  glaciers, storms, whales, gorillas). Others clamouring for attention: Colm Toibin, Marilynne Robinson, Anna Jackson, Yiyun Li…but then I also have this strange urge to reread some old favourites, like Vivian Gornick and Diana Athill. Holidays are all about the comfort-reading.

I have a pile of books that have built up steadily over the last few months, the MA deadline was looming! But happily now I can get stuck into – in no particular order – Richard Ford's new Bascombe book Let me Be Frank With You, Colm Toibin's Nora Webster, William Gibson's The Peripheral, the new Ann Leckie Ancillary Sword, Sebastian Faulks' PG Wodehouse tribute book  Jeeves and the Wedding Bells and topping it off with Lila by Marilynne Robinson and Mal Peet's The Murdstone Trilogy.


My reward for finishing reading and commenting on the 2014 MA in creative writing folios (a million words!) is going to be The Murdstone Trilogy, Mal Peet’s send-up of the literary world. I read Hermione Lee’s fabulous biography of Penelope Fitzgerald this year; I’ve been reading/rereading her novels and luckily for me have three or four to go. And there’s the stack of unread new fiction: Ali Smith, Peter Stamm, Jenny Erpenbeck, Patrick Modiano...I’m not afraid of running out.


Lila is waiting for me to finish my rereading of Anna Karenina. She'll have to be patient because AK does go on, in the nicest possible way.


I plan to read Lila by Marilynne Robinson, as she was my favourite character in Gilead and I really want to find out her back story. I also want to read Stephanie de Montalk’s How Does It Hurt?, after the rave reviews everyone in the office has been giving it! Having devoured the first book in the series, my kids will probably be making me read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to them (despite my appalling Scottish accent when reading Hagrid’s lines). And for light relief I’ll be dipping into What If?, by xkcd creator Randall Munroe.


Subscribers to our monthly newsletter are offered a chance to win copies of new releases each month. You can subscribe to our newsletter from our homepage.

Congratulations to Marie Buchler who won a copy of Prendergast: Legal Villain in last month's giveaway.


Our office closes on Friday 19 January and reopens on Monday 5 January.

Happy holidays and thanks for reading!