Upcoming Events

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Joanna Quinn The Whalebone Theatre

A reading, Q&A and signing event

Friday 7th October at BA Church Hall, 7pm
Tickets: £5       Ticket + Hardback Book: £17.99

A brilliant, beguiling story of inheritance, imagination, courage and loss; and of an irrepressible girl from a gloriously dysfunctional home who fights to carve out her own story.

Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor. But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.
 
 With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie, their maid.
 
But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story…

‘A novel to match the Cazalet saga … Here is the world, Quinn seems to say, in all its glory and misery, its tiny little joys and its great dollops of pain — all of it valuable and there for the taking … She is one of those writers who has her finger on humanity’s pulse. An absolute treat of a book, to be read and reread.’
INDIA KNIGHT, SUNDAY TIMES

‘Like Red Bull, The Whalebone Theatre gives you wings . . . a lush, roving, William Boyd-style novel . . . How on earth is [Quinn] this good? You know what? Who cares. Just dive in and slurp it up.’
THE TIMES

‘Destined to become a classic . . . Quinn’s debut is a wonder.’
DAILY MAIL

‘This is a book that will be loved unreasonably and life-long, I believe, like I Capture the Castle.’
Francis Spufford

Joanna Quinn was born in London and grew up in Dorset, in the South West of England, where her debut novel The Whalebone Theatre is set. Joanna has worked in journalism and the charity sector, and spent a number of years working at the Bristol Post. She is also a short story writer, published by The White Review and Comma Press among others, and was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2017. She teaches creative writing and lives in a village near the sea in Dorset.

The event will be chaired by Dr Sanjida O’Connell. She has a PhD in zoology and psychology and is the author of eight novels and four non-fiction books. She’s also contributed to two encyclopaedias and had poetry and short stories published in anthologies. Sanjida previously worked as a wildlife presenter for the BBC and an environmental  features writer and columnist for national newspapers and magazines, including BBC Wildlife Magazine. Sanjida has been shortlisted for the BBC Asia Awards, the Betty Trask Award for Romantic Fiction, the Daily Telegraph Science Writer’s Award, Asian Woman of the Year, and was highly commended in BBC Wildlife Magazine‘s Award for Nature Writing. Currently Sanjida writes psychological thrillers under the pen name of Sanjida Kay, and is working on another thriller and a book about rewilding.

This event will be taking place at the BA church hall on Gloucester Road, about 100 meters down the hill from the shop, on the same side of the road. The talk will start at 7.00pm. Copies of The Whalebone Theatre will be available to purchase on the night, or can be purchased with a ticket for a slightly reduced price.

Joanna Quinn, author photograph ©Nancy Turner
Joanna Quinn
Chair: Sanjida O’Connell

Adam Alexander The Seed Detective: Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables

A reading, Q&A and signing event

Tuesday 11th October at Sidney & Eden, 7pm
Tickets: £5       Ticket + Hardback Book: £21.99

Adam Alexander is a consummate storyteller thanks to forty years as an award-winning film and television producer, but his true passion is collecting rare, endangered but, above all, delicious vegetables from around the world. He is author of the new book The Seed Detective: Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables, and lectures widely on his work discovering and conserving rare, endangered garden crops. He is a board member of the national charity Garden Organic, and his knowledge and expertise on growing out vegetables for seed is highly valued by the Heritage Seed Library, for which he is a seed guardian. Adam shares seeds with other growers and gene banks in the USA, Canada and the EU, and he is currently growing out seed of heritage Syrian vegetables to be returned to the Middle East as part of a programme to revive traditional horticulture. He has appeared on Gardeners’ World and the Great British Food Revival, CNN’s Going Green and Radio New Zealand.

Our chair for the event will be Sara Venn. Sara is a horticulturalist, garden historian, food and land activist and communicator. In 2014 she founded Edible Bristol, an organisation that supports sustainable community growing and food justice in the city.

This event will be taking place at Sidney & Eden, 198 Gloucester Road, about 30 meters up the road from the shop, on the same side of the road. The talk will start at 7.00pm. Copies of Eve Bites Back will be available to purchase on the night, or can be purchased with a ticket for a slightly reduced price.

Adam Alexander
Chair: Sara Venn

Anna Beer Eve Bites Back

A talk, Q&A and signing event

Tuesday 18th October at Sidney & Eden, 7pm
Tickets: £5       Ticket + Hardback Book: £23

Warned not to write – and certainly not to bite – these women put pen to paper anyway and wrote themselves into history. From the fourteenth century through to the present day, women who write have been understood as mad, undisciplined or dangerous. Female writers have always had to find ways to overcome or challenge these beliefs. Some were cautious and discreet, some didn’t give a damn, but all lived complex, eventful and often controversial lives. Eve Bites Back places the female contemporaries of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton centre stage in the history of literature in English, uncovering stories of dangerous liaisons and daring adventures. From Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Aemilia Lanyer and Anne Bradstreet, to Aphra Behn, Mary Wortley Montagu, Jane Austen and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, these are the women who dared to write.

Anna Beer is a cultural historian and biographer. She is author of Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music and Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Raleigh, as well as biographies of Bess Throckmorton, William Shakespeare and John Milton. She is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

The event will be chaired by Helen Taylor, Emeritus Professor of English at University of Exeter. She is an Honorary Fellow of the British Association of American Studies and a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow. She has taught English and American literature at the Universities of Bristol, West of England, Warwick and Exeter, where she was Head of the School of English. She has published and lectured widely on the literature and culture of the American South, as well as women’s writing. Her books include Scarlett’s Women: Gone with the Wind and its Female Fans (1989, repr. 2014), Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens (2001), The Daphne du Maurier Companion (2007) and Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives (2019). Curator, Chair and participant in many literature festivals, she was the first Director of the Liverpool Literary Festival, 2016 and 2018.

This event will be taking place at Sidney & Eden, 198 Gloucester Road, about 30 meters up the road from the shop, on the same side of the road. The talk will start at 7.00pm. Copies of Eve Bites Back will be available to purchase on the night, or can be purchased with a ticket for a slightly reduced price.

Anna Beer
©lovis ostenrik
Chair: Helen Taylor

Chris Floyd Not Just Pictures

A Q&A and signing event
Tickets: £5       Ticket + Hardback Book: £51.00

Saturday 12th November at BA Church Hall, 2.15pm

This is an amazing chance to to hear a Q&A with photographer Chris Floyd.

Photographer Chris Floyd rose to fame during the heights of Britpop and has since become one of the most in-demand celebrity portrait photographers in the world. Not Just Pictures, published by Reel Art Press in October 2022, is the first monograph dedicated to Floyd’s 30-year career. A visual memoir, Floyd’s selected career highlights are accompanied by his incisive, insightful recollections, first hand accounts of, in his words, ‘unique encounters on the confrontation and collaboration line’. Floyd’s subjects include Paul McCartney, Tina Fey, Yoko Ono, David Bowie, Bill Murray, Vivienne Westwood, Iggy Pop, David Attenborough, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Reeve, David Bailey, Paul Weller, Pet Shop Boys, David Cameron, Greta Gerwig and Marcus Rashford.

A highly unusual celebrity photographer, both meticulous and spontaneous, Floyd’s wit and vulnerability is present in every anecdote. Not Just Pictures is all about stories, from getting his first camera to getting mugged to believing one of his heroes would only want to buy the rights because “he disliked them enough to want them removed from the public domain”. As the world seeks to sanitise its visual history, in the age of Google’s Magic Eraser, Chris Floyd’s Not Just Pictures is a permanent reminder of what real photography is all about.

Chairing the event will be Barbara Evripidou, an award-winning photographer with three decades of experience. As a former press photographer, her images have been published in all the UK’s national newspapers, and she has worked all over the world. The highlight of her career was working with the British Army in Bosnia, covering the efforts to rebuild the country.

These days she focuses on PR, portrait and commercial work. Her book, 111 Places In Bristol That You Shouldn’t Miss – a local’s guide to this vibrant city – sold out in 9 days when it was launched in September 2020 and is now in it’s 3rd edition. When she’s not got a camera in her hand you can find her at a metal gig, at the cinema or exploring Bristol, where she lives with her children.
Find out more at firstavenuephotography.com

The event will be held on Saturday 12th November at 2.15pm at BA Church Hall, 160a Gloucester Road, about 100 metres down the hill from the shop, on the same side of the road.

Event chair: Barbara Evripidou

Past Events

Anil Seth Being You

A talk, Q&A and signing event with the leading neuroscientist
chaired by Prof. James Ladyman

Wednesday 21st September at BA Church Hall

Being You is not as simple as it sounds. Somehow, within each of our brains, billions of neurons work to create our conscious experience.
How does this happen? Why do we experience life in the first person? After over twenty years researching the brain, world-renowned neuroscientist Anil Seth puts forward a radical new theory of consciousness and self. His unique theory of what it means to ‘be you’ challenges our understanding of perception and reality and it turns what you thought you knew about yourself on its head.

“Anil Seth thinks clearly and sharply on one of the hardest problems of science and philosophy, cutting through weeds with a scientist’s mind and a storyteller’s skill.”

~ Adam Rutherford, geneticist, author and BBC radio presenter

Anil Seth is a leading British researcher in the field of consciousness science. He is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Program on Brain, Mind and Consciousness, and a European Research Council Advanced Investigator. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, New Scientist, Scientific American and Granta, and his 2017 TED talk has been viewed nearly 13 million times.

James Ladyman is professor of philosophy at the University of Bristol and editor in chief of Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. He has been assistant, deputy and co-editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and was honorary secretary and is President Elect of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science. He has published many articles in philosophy of science and is the author of Understanding Philosophy of Science, and (with Don Ross) Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalised. He founded the University of Bristol’s Centre for Science and Philosophy. He has spoken to committees of both houses of Parliament about HE policy matters. He is on the executive committee of the Council for the Defence of British Universities.

©lovis ostenrik

Mona Arshi and Preti Taneja in Conversation

Friday 15th July, 18:30 at BA Church Hall, 160a Gloucester Road (50 metres from the shop)

We are absolutely delighted to welcome Mona Arshi & Preti Taneja to Bristol to discuss their work with writer and academic, Noreen Masud. These two authors have produced writing that is richly imagined, beautiful and urgent. Somebody Loves You was one of our favourite books of 2021, and Aftermath is one of the most extraordinary books we’ve read so far this year.

Mona Arshi was born in West London, where she still lives. She worked as a human-rights lawyer with the NGO Liberty for a decade before receiving a Master’s in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. Her debut poetry collection Small Hands was published in 2015, winning the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Mona Arshi regularly appears on BBC Radio 4. Her poems have been published in The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Times of India and most recently the London Underground.

Preti Taneja is a writer and activist. Her first novel, We That Are Young, won the Desmond Elliott Prize for the UK’s best debut of the year and was listed for international awards, including the Folio Prize, the Prix Jan Michalski, and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. It has been translated into several languages. Taneja lectures in creative writing at Newcastle University and broadcasts on world literature and culture for the BBC.

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Noreen Masud is a Lecturer in Twentieth Century English Literature at the University of Bristol, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker. Her book on aphorism and Stevie Smith will be out with OUP in 2022; her memoir-travelogue A Flat Place will be published by Penguin in 2023.

Praise for Somebody Loves You

Plangent, deft, and sparkling with wry humour, Somebody Loves You is a moving exploration of how we choose or refuse to tell the stories that shape us.

‘A teacher asked me a question, and I opened my mouth as a sort of formality but closed it softly, knowing with perfect certainty that nothing would ever come out again.’

Ruby gives up talking at a young age. Her mother isn’t always there to notice; she comes and goes and goes and comes, until, one day, she doesn’t. Silence becomes Ruby’s refuge, sheltering her from the weather of her mother’s mental illness and a pressurized suburban atmosphere.

Praise for Aftermath

Usman Khan was convicted of terrorism-related offences at age 20, and sent to high-security prison. He was released eight years later, and allowed to travel to London for one day, to attend an event marking the fifth anniversary of a prison education programme he participated in. On 29 November 2019, he sat with others at Fishmongers’ Hall, some of whom he knew. Then he went to the bathroom to retrieve the things he had hidden there: a fake bomb vest and two knives, which he taped to his wrists. That day, he killed two people: Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt.

Preti Taneja taught fiction writing in prison for three years. Merritt oversaw her program; Khan was one of her students. ‘It is the immediate aftermath,’ Taneja writes. ‘“I am living at the centre of a wound still fresh.” The I is not only mine. It belongs to many.’

In this searching lament by the award-winning author of We That Are Young, Taneja interrogates the language of terror, trauma and grief; the fictions we believe and the voices we exclude. Contending with the pain of unspeakable loss set against public tragedy, she draws on history, memory, and powerful poetic predecessors to reckon with the systemic nature of atrocity. Blurring genre and form, Aftermath is a profound attempt to regain trust after violence and to recapture a politics of hope through a determined dream of abolition.

Sandor Katz on Fermentation – Talk & Demo!

Friday 23rd June at BA Church Hall

Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist. A self-taught experimentalist who lives in rural Tennessee, his explorations in fermentation developed out of his overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition, and gardening. He is the author of five books: Wild Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, The Art of Fermentation (which won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2013), Fermentation as Metaphor and most recently Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys. The hundreds of fermentation workshops he has taught around the world have helped catalyze a broad revival of the fermentation arts. The New York Times calls Sandor ‘one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene.’ More information is available about Sandor at: http://www.wildfermentation.com

For the past twenty years, Sandor Katz has traveled the world, learning, teaching and sharing his knowledge of fermentation, discovering fascinating techniques for creating fermented foods. Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys is the long-awaited follow up to the James Beard Award Winning The Art of Fermentation, where Sandor shares the recipes, processes, cultural traditions and stories from around the globe that have inspired his life’s work. This new cookbook explores the transformative process of fermentation through local customs and ceremonies along with detailed descriptions of traditional fermentation techniques. Katz profiles farmers, makers, and experimenters who he has met on his lifelong culinary journeys, and shares their important stories and connections to truly extraordinary fermented foods.

This event will be taking place at the BA church hall on Gloucester Road, about 50 meters down the hill from the shop. Doors will open at 18:30 and the talk will start at 19:00. Copies of Sandor’s books will be available to purchase on the night.

Lily Dunn and Clover Stroud in Conversation about Memoir

Tuesday 17th May at Sidney & Eden

Join Sunday Times Bestseller, Clover Stroud and Lily Dunn who will be discussing their recently published literary memoirs, The Red of My Blood, and Sins of My Father: A Daughter, A Cult, A Wild Unravelling with Tom from Gloucester Road Books. The Red of My Blood, is an ‘outstanding’ and ‘beautiful addition to the literature of loss’, about Clover’s grief over her sister, Nell’s sudden death. Sins Of My Father, ‘an astonishing and valuable memoir’ captures the enduring love Lily felt for a delinquent father, a sex addict, disciple of the Rajneesh cult, and eventual alcoholic. Clover and Lily will be discussing their books, but also the challenges of writing memoir, for themselves and those they love.

Books will be on sale on the night & the authors will be signing copies after their talk.

This event is held at Sidney & Eden on Gloucester Road, just a few doors down from Gloucester Road Books.