New books, eye-catching art and unmissable events to watch out for in 2020 – from leading North West independent publishers, to a public library near you.
New Words is an innovative public library and small press partnership from Time to Read. The North West’s independent publishing scene is thriving and in 2020, New Words presents books and special events from five North West independent publishing houses in public libraries across twenty two North West library authorities from Cheshire to Cumbria, including all of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire. You’ll also find bold new artwork, commissioned for the project from Oldham artist and designer, Kim Hubball, all with support from Arts Council England.
New Words encompasses five North West independent publishers: Manchester’s Carcanet and Comma Press, Liverpool’s Dead Ink, Salford’s Saraband and Newton Le Willow’s Knives Forks and Spoons. This is your chance to discover new writers, pick up some great reads and take part in some unmissable events.
Books from the five publishers hit library shelves from March. Then get ready for more than twenty events between April and September, including writing and publishing workshops, author talks and panel discussions.
Take a look at the New Words book collection below to see what exciting new reads you’ll be able to borrow from libraries.
“It is impossible to imagine literary life in Britain without Carcanet.” William Boyd
Now We Can Talk Openly About Men by Martina Evans
Martina Evans’s Now We Can Talk Openly about Men is a pair of dramatic monologues, snapshots of the lives of two women in 1920s Ireland. The first, Kitty Donovan, is a dressmaker in the time of the Irish War of Independence. The second, Babe Cronin, is set in 1924, shortly after the Irish Civil War. Kitty is a dressmaker with a taste for laudanum. Babe is a stenographer who has fallen in love with a young revolutionary. Through their separate, overlapping stories, Evans colours an era and a culture seldom voiced in verse.
Girl by Rebecca Goss
In Girl, Rebecca Goss considers the emotional and physical connections women make to the world around them. The poems interrogate and celebrate female identity and experience, and the dynamics of family and friendship. From a woman struck by lightning to a baby who understands shadows, Goss navigates the real and the imagined with equal flair.
Comma Press is a founding member of the Northern Fiction Alliance, a radical publishing collective devised to showcase the creativity, diversity and outward-looking agenda that sets publishers in the North of England apart. Comma Press also works as a writer development agency, delivering short story courses throughout the year, and hosting the annual National Creative Writing Industry Day.
Protest: Stories of Resistance edited by Ra Page
Whatever happened to British protest? For a nation that brought the world Chartism, the Suffragettes, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and so many other grassroots social movements, Britain rarely celebrates its long, great tradition of people power. In this timely and evocative collection, twenty authors have assembled to re-imagine key moments of British protest, from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003.
Letters Home by Martyn Bedford
Many of the characters in Martyn Bedford’s stories find themselves at a point of redefinition, trading in their old identity for something new. Whether it is an act of retreat or escape fantasising about storming out of a thankless job, or just avoiding a bad-tempered husband for a few moments on Christmas day they each understand the first step in changing a reality, is to reconstruct it.
Dead Ink Books
Dead Ink Books are based in Liverpool and are focussed on developing the careers of new and emerging authors. Dead Ink books have three times made the shortlist for The Saboteur Awards, the longlists for both The Guardian’s First Book Award and Not the Booker Prize, and the longlist for the Edge Hill Short Story Award.
Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy
The heatwave of 1976. Following the accidental drowning of her sister, sixteen-year-old Nif and her family move to a small village on the Welsh borders to escape their grief. But rural seclusion doesnt bring any relief. As her family unravels, Nif begins to put together her own form of witchcraft collecting talismans from the sun-starved land. That is, until she meets Mally, a teen boy who takes a keen interest in her, and has his own secret rites to divulge. Reminiscent of the suspense of Shirley Jackson and soaked in the folkhorror of English heritage, Water Shall Refuse Them is an atmospheric coming-of-age novel and a thrilling debut.
Please Read This Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havlin
Written in first person and following a reverse chronology which subverts the typical illness story, Please Read This Leaflet Carefully follows Laura Fjellstad in her struggles to live a normal life. Having been diagnosed with severe endometriosis in her twenties, she believes that the only way to survive her painful and debilitating illness is to be completely self-reliant. In between doctors’ appointments and in and out of hospitals, Laura confronts single parenting after her divorce, leading a life her own teenage self would be in awe of.
Knives, Forks and Spoons
Knives, Forks and Spoons Press was established by Alec Newman in April 2010. An independent publishing house based in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, the press publishes avant-garde and experimental poetry, full collections, pamphlets and anthologies.
“One of the most prolific and intelligent small poetry presses.” Ian Brinton Tears in the Fence
KFS started out as a publisher of poetry pamphlets in 2010. In 2012, KFS started publishing full collections of poetry. In 2013, Robert Hampson’s Reworked Disasters received a Highly Commended in the Forward Prize For Poetry. In 2014, KFS was awarded Arts Council Funding to publish and promote 10 poets. The press’s output has diversified to cover a wider range of experimental styles.
Many Red Fish by Steve Spence
Many Red Fish is a kind of absurd diary, a contemplation of the world out there and the world in here, produced through a mixing of word association, montage techniques and strange juxtapositions. Extreme weather, food – whether gathered from bins or prepared in restaurants – art, the city and the country, music, colour and the human body are all subjects which are brought together and reconsidered in this new poetry collection.
Riverrun by Alan Baker
Poets have their rivers – Charlotte Smith has the Arun, Michael Drayton the Ankor – and like these precursors, Alan Baker has picked the sonnet as the vehicle to translate the ever-changing fluvial reality of water at its riverrine transformations into a stop-go sequence, that changes perspective with each fresh look, each new thought.
Saraband publish engaging non-fiction across a range of memoir, history, nature and environment titles. Authors celebrate extraordinary human achievement, explore cultural traditions and champion planet Earth and its diverse species. Saraband also publish literary and historical fiction from all corners of the UK and from overseas, sometimes in translation. Under their sister imprint, Contraband, they publish fiction exploring the darker side of human experience: crime, mystery, dystopia and transgressive voices, including Man Booker-shortlisted Graeme Macrae Burnet. Saraband books are available from your local independent bookshop, so please support them by ordering books there.
Anne Bronte Reimagined: A View from the Twenty-first Century by Adelle Hay
Anne: the boring Bronte? Or talented author, feminist, pioneer? Anne’s writing has often been compared harshly with that of Charlotte and Emily – used as a measure of her sisters’ genius. But her literary and personal reputations have changed drastically since she was first published in 1846.
Incandescent by Anna Levin
We need to talk about light. Light is changing, dramatically. Our world is getting brighter – you can see it from space. But is brighter always better? Artificial light is voracious and spreading. Vanquishing precious darkness across the planet, when we are supposed to be using less energy. The quality of light has altered as well. Technology and legislation have crushed warm incandescent lighting in favour of harsher, often glaring alternatives.