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The Book Queue

May 5, 2015

When manning our stall on Portobello market, people ask you the oddest questions. Take this one: “Are you the green party”? Well, some of the covers of our books are green or greenish, but that’s about it. Our novels, for example, The Stray American or Hold Still don’t touch on any green issue. So I just put it down to election fever.

Another question I get more often is: “Have you written them all yourself”? It’s a nice enough assumption to think I have written that many books, but why would I use all these different names?

This one makes me laugh: “Have you read any of them”? My answer always is: “Yes, I have, otherwise I couldn’t have published them.” Actually, I haven’t just read them once but many times, checked them, tweeted about them, blogged about them, talked about them, sold them, carried them and even sheltered them from the rain.

Actually I’m continuously looking out for new manuscripts to turn into books. I’m especially looking for new authors who have their own distinctive voice. Although I receive many manuscripts, finding something which fits these criteria and is of very high quality is rather rare, so the frequency of their appearance is rather haphazard.

That’s why I’m so delighted to find myself quite inundated with wonderful books at the moment. I’ve already blogged about 100 Dutch-Language Poems ‘ from the Medieval Period to the Present Day,  but we have also at least two more books lined up for a busy autumn.

Winegarden by Anthony Ferner is literature operating at the elusive boundary between physics and metaphysics. It’s a debut novella and a fictional experiment: the use of deadpan humour to deal with grief.

Anthony Ferner, author of Winegarden, photo: Jason Senior

When I opened Winegarden after it arrived in my inbox, I was immediately taken by it. Written in a fast-moving style, there is not a wasted word, it tells the story of Jacob Winegarden in a number of episodes, going backward and forward in time. This gnostic Jewish professor of theoretical physics uses his speciality ‘thought experimentation’ to deal with what lives throws at him. From his infatuation with his enigmatic wife, Miriam, she keeps him down to earth, to his struggle to deal with a devastating loss, and the meaning of being Jewish.

Well, I can’t do Winegarden justice by just talking about it, once it is published you have to read the book and let your friends know.

As if one debut novel is not enough we have a second one which makes an autumn appearance. This time the debut novelist is a Dutch author Jeroen Blokhuis who has conjured up a world seen through the eyes of a certain Dutch Painter called Vincent Van Gogh during the time he was living in Arles.

We will publish this book in Dutch in 2015, followed by an English translation in 2016.

Well, that’s all I have time for now. I think I have just spotted another manuscript I need to check out first.