This summer is going to be a busy one for our authors, with new novels and other bits and pieces coming out. Here’s a round-up of what to look out for:
Miha Mazzini: Crumbs (Out now)
Slovenian author Miha Mazzini‘s stories have appeared in two of our anthologies: Crying Just Like Anybody and New Ghost Stories. He’s written several novels, although only a few have been translated into English. The German Lottery (published by CB Editions) is well worth a read, and this year Freight Books have published a translation of his debut novel, Crumbs. Here’s the blurb:
The best-ever selling novel from the former Yugoslavia, this is a hilarious, anarchic, irreverent black comedy about national aspirations and wanting things you can’t have, re-published in the year that Scotland votes on independence.
Egon is an amoral but charismatic writer, living on the breadline in a grim, unnamed communist factory town in Slovenia prior to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. With little evidence of his real literary ambitions, he makes ends meet by writing trashy romances under a pseudonym. When not searching out sex with as many women as possible, or slagging off the literary establishment, Egon is full of schemes to feed his pathological need for the ruinously expensive aftershave, Cartier pour L’Homme.
Around him Egon has gathered a motley crew of friends and acquaintances, each of whom also has an equally obsessive, unattainable ambition. Poet is desperate to have his verse published in a leather bound volume, Ibro is in love with Ajsha, a factory girl to whom he cannot utter a single word, while Selim is convinced he’ll marry Nastassja Kinski, the world-famous actress. As Egon’s attempts to secure more perfume become ever more degenerate, his grip on his own identity loosens. The consequences are messy, as grim as they are hilarious, and allude to a nation undergoing radical change.
Crumbs is not only a ribald, dirty realist satire – a modern European classic – but also a fascinating and utterly unique commentary on the pathology of self-determination. It’s publication in the months before Scotland votes on independence lends a surprising, alternative but authoritative perspective on the debate.
James Benmore: Dodger of the Dials (Out now)
This is the second book in James Benmore‘s series of novels revisiting the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist. Written in the Artful’s voice, these novels show off James Benmore’s talents as an impersonator, and the stories feel as much performance as literature. (For the performance of another, very different character, see James Benmore’s story ‘Jaggers & Crown’ in All These Little Worlds. Here’s what publishers Heron have to say:
Two years on from the events of Dodger, Jack Dawkins is back as top-sawyer with his own gang of petty thieves from Seven Dials. But crime in London has become a serious business—and when Jack needs protection he soon finds himself out of his depth and facing the gallows for murder.
The evidence against him seems insurmountable, until a young reporter by the name of Oliver Twist takes up his cause. After freeing Jack from gaol, the pair must bury their past differences and join forces to hunt down the men who framed Jack and stole that which he treasures most.
Charles Lambert: With a Zero at Its Heart (Out now)
This short novel is constructed of 240 paragraphs, each of 120 words, forming a semi-autobiographical narrative. There are always tensions in Charles Lambert‘s writing between structure and emotion, and the personal and political, and I’m particularly excited to see how those tensions resolve themselves in this new book. With a Zero at Its Heart has already been well received by the Guardian. Charles will be launching the book in London next week. Here’s what publisher The Friday Project says:
24 themed chapters.
Each with 10 numbered paragraphs.
Each paragraph with precisely 120 words.
The sum of a life.
In his beautiful and haunting new book, Charles Lambert explores the fragmentary nature of memory, how the piecing together of short recollections can reveal a greater narrative. Through chapters tackling elemental themes such as Sex, Death, and Money, Lambert assembles the narrator’s moving life story. Executed with all the grace and finesse of his previous acclaimed work, this is an incredible artistic achievement, breathtaking in its simplicity yet awe-inspiring in its scope.
With cover and text design by the renowned designer Vaughan Oliver, With a Zero at its Heart is as beautiful to look at as it is to read.
William Thirsk-Gaskill: Escape Kit (Out now)
This is a short novella from William Thirsk-Gaskill, whose story ‘Can We Have You All Sitting Down, Please?’ appeared in Crying Just Like Anybody. It’s available as a limited edition paperback and Kindle ebook. Here’s the blurb from publishers Grist:
Bradley is a fourteen-year-old school boy who escapes his troubled home life to visit his grandparents in Stevenage. On the train there, he is held hostage by a deluded gunman who thinks he is an escaped PoW from WWII and that Bradley is a member of the Hitler Youth. Now Bradley must try and escape using his mobile phone. William Thirsk-Gaskill’s novella is a gripping and beautifully told tale of innocence and experience.
Richard Smyth: Wild Ink (June 2014)
Richard Smyth provided the title story for Crying Just Like Anybody, and a supernatural tale to New Ghost Stories. He’s published several books of non-fiction, but Wild Ink is his first novel. Here’s what the publisher (Dead Ink) says:
Wild Ink is a blackly comic story of friendship and envy, love and memory, booze and uproar, secrets and scandal. Albert Chaliapin is dead – or at least, he feels like he ought to be. He lives in a world occupied only by the ghosts of his former life (and his nurse, who can’t even get his name right). Then, one day, his past – in the form of a drunk cartoonist, a suicidal hack and a corrupt City banker – pays a visit, and Chaliapin is resurrected, whether he likes it or not. He doesn’t, much.
Someone’s sending him some very strange cartoons. Someone’s setting off bombs all over London. Someone’s been up to no good with some very important people. This is no job for a man wearing pyjamas. Will Chaliapin make it out alive? And is being alive, when it comes down to it, really all it’s cracked up to be?
Jo Gatford: White Lies (July 2014)
Jo Gatford, who won our 2014 flash fiction competition, is also celebrating the publication of her debut novel from Legend Press. White Lies takes a look at the way a family’s secrets are exposed when the father develops dementia. Here’s the blurb:
When Matt’s half-brother Alex dies, his father refuses to hold onto the memory of his favourite son’s death. It was hard enough the first time, but breaking his dad’s heart on a weekly basis is more than Matt can bear.
Peter, Matt’s father, is terrified his dementia will let slip the secrets he’s kept for thirty-five years. Unable to distinguish between memory and delusion, he pursues one question through the maze of his mind: Where’s Alex?
Faced with the imminent loss of his father, Matt is running out of time to discover the truth about his family. Tortured by his failing memory, Peter realises that it’s not just the dementia threatening to open his box of secrets, but his conscience, too.