By My Hands: A Potter’s Apprenticeship
A discussion and signing event
7pm Monday 25th September at
CentreSpace Studios, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol BS1 1EA
Florian Gadsby has devoted his life to pottery, refining his technique towards the point of perfection – and as his skill has grown, so has his social media following, which today numbers in the millions. Based at a studio in North London, he releases three new collections per year, characterized by simple forms and sharp edges, which sell out in a matter of minutes.
In By My Hands, Florian tells the story of his artistic awakening, his education in England, Ireland and Japan, and of the sheer discipline which has led him to become the cultural sensation he is today. Arguing for the value in dedicating yourself to a craft, Florian weaves anecdotes about particular pots and processes into the narrative of his life, exploring what he has learnt from specific pieces he was taught to throw during his apprenticeships and how they have informed his philosophy and approach to his work.
By My Hands is an ode to the beauty of small things, such as a simple handthrown mug or bowl, which can brighten life’s daily rituals and make them more meaningful – as well as an inspiring testament to the power of perseverance.
Praise for Florian Gadsby:
By My Hands is a fascinating and insightful book, written with the same quiet dedication to detail Florian puts into his calm and beautiful ceramics. Every page made me wish I was a potter. ~ Nigel Slater
Florian Gadsby’s ability to describe tactile, subtle, physical acts is remarkable, as is his ability to imbue them with emotional meaning. I loved reading this book, and whether pottery is a passion for you, or a curiosity to be discovered, you will love reading this book too. ~ Seth Rogen
Event Now Sold Out
As the Eagle Flies
Nolwenn Le Blevennec
and translator Madeleine Rogers
An interview, Q&A and signing event
7pm Tuesday 3rd October at
Gloucester Road Books, 184 Gloucester Road, Bristol
We are thrilled to be welcoming French author, journalist and editor, Nolwenn Le Blevennec to the shop to discuss her brilliant debut novel, As the Eagle Flies, with the book’s translator, Madeleine Rogers.
Published for the first time in English by dynamic indie publisher, Pereine Press, As the Eagle Flies is a witty and fully charged novel from an outstanding writer. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear from both the writer and translator of this scintillating debut.
This is the story of an affair, or two. The narrator of As the Eagle Flies has been with Igor for seven years, and has two children with him – when she meets Joseph. Before long, they are deeply entangled with each other and she must decide between the life she knows with Igor and this unpredictable, and potentially destructive, affair. She is willing to start again with Joseph, but at what cost? And, does he feel the same way? With a sharp wit and a refreshing honesty, Nolwenn Le Blevennec uses literature, psychology, and popular culture to get to the heart of questions about love, family and identity. This is a book about getting lost in other people, and the lengths we go to to find ourselves again.
Praise for Nolwenn Le Blevennec:
‘A subtle, singular novel of profound insight, delivered in a voice so hilarious, intimate and frank, it was as if I suddenly had a zany French genius for my best friend. I enjoyed this book so much it felt illicit.’ Isobel Wohl, author of Cold New Climate
‘An incisive and exhilarating debut.’ Le Monde
‘Woody Allen meets Annie Ernaux.’ Page des Libraires
‘A debut novel that is original, funny, invigorating and full of self-deprecation.’ La Libération
Nolwenn Le Blevennec is a journalist and writer. She is editor-in-chief at L’Obs and lives in Paris. As The Eagle Flies is her first novel.
Madeleine Rogers is a translator from French and Italian, and has worked in publishing since 2019. She studied Modern Languages at the University of Oxford and Translation Studies at UCL. She lives in London.
The Awakening of Indian Women
A Launch event with Maya Caspari and Aparna Mahiyaria, celebrating the reissue of Kamaladevi Chattophadyay’s seminal work
Launch, discussion and Q&A
6.30pm Thursday 12th October at
Gloucester Road Books, 184 Gloucester Road, Bristol
Join us for a very special event to mark the launch of Bristol-based Lurid Editions republication of the early anti-imperial feminist classic, The Awakening of Indian Women.
Writers, researchers and academics, Maya Caspari and Aparna Mahiyaria, will be in conversation to celebrate this landmark 20th century text which was first published on the eve of the Second World War and, until now, buried in the archives. This unique document from the first global feminist movement is testimony to the deep historical roots of revolutionary feminist thought and action.
For Amia Srinivasan, Kamaladevi’s The Awakening of Indian Women is “radical and visionary” and “deserves a place on feminist reading lists and in the wider transnationalist feminist imagination. Among other things, it is a potent reminder that feminism is not an invention or prerogative of the West.”
Told by a vibrant cast of activists at the centre of feminist and anti-imperial struggles, The Awakening of Indian Women includes a historical account of the Indian feminist movement written by Irish suffrage activist and anti-colonial agitator Margaret Cousins.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (3 April 1903–29 October 1988) was an artist, activist and a central figure in the inter-war Indian feminist movement. A twentieth century Indian feminist icon, after independence she is celebrated for leading the revival of Indian handicrafts, handlooms, and theatre after independence.
Maya Caspari is writer, curator and researcher and currently works as a lecturer in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York. Her book Reading Frictions: Memory, Violence and The Politics of Touch in Contemporary World Literature is forthcoming. Maya curated Forms, Voices, Networks: Feminism and the Media—an online exhibition for the German Historical Institute London. Her poetry has appeared in The Poetry Review and Ambit, and was highly commended in the 2022 Forward Prizes.
Aparna Mahiyaria is Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter whose work is grounded in Marxist-Feminist praxis, and engages with the intersections of performance and politics, particularly in the context of South Asia. She is interested in how performance practices emerge from and intervene in their political contexts, challenge colonial histories as well as contemporary imperialist-Hindutva epistemological onslaughts.
Lurid editions are based in Bristol and publish ‘lurid writing from the 20th century and beyond.’ @lurid_editions
An interview, Q&A and signing event
Tuesday 19th September at
Gloucester Road Books
We were delighted to welcome one of the recently selected Best of Young British Novelists, Thomas Morris to Bristol.
The award-winning author and editor discussed his new short story collection, Open Up with writer and academic, Constantine Blintzios.
Everything felt familiar and nostalgic. It was the joy and blood-thrill of being understood, of being ready to give himself entirely to another.
From a child attending his first football match, buoyed by secret magic, and a wincingly humane portrait of adolescence, to the perplexity of grief and loss through the eyes of a seahorse, Thomas Morris seeks to find grace, hope and benevolence in the churning tumult of self-discovery.
Philosophically acute and strikingly original, this outstanding suite of stories is bursting with a bracing emotional depth. Open Up cracks the heart as it expands the short story form.
Praise for Thomas Morris:
‘Heart-hurtingly acute, laugh-out-loud funny, and one of the most satisfying collections I’ve read for years.’ Ali Smith
‘That tonic gift, the sense of truth – the sense of transparency that permits us to see imaginary lives more clearly than we see our own. The tonic comes in large doses in Thomas Morris’s debut short-story collection.’ Irish Times
‘Morris’s fresh, direct writing style feels brand new.’ Metro
Thomas Morris is from Caerphilly, South Wales. He was educated solely through the Welsh language until the age of eighteen and, in his teens, trialled at Cardiff City and played Welsh League football. He studied English and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. Dubliners 100, a short story anthology he devised and edited, was published in 2014. He is the author of the short story collection, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, and was recently named as one of Granta’s prestigious Best of Young British Novelists. He lives in Dublin, where he is the editor of the very influential magazine, The Stinging Fly.
An event chaired by Madhu Krishnan
7pm Thursday 7th September at
The Victoria Rooms, 88 Queens Road
Bristol BS8 1SA
We were overwhelmed with delirious excitement to welcome to Bristol one of the 21st century’s most acclaimed, discussed and celebrated writers.
Zadie Smith joined us to discuss The Fraud, her first novel for 7 years in one of only five UK events.
The talk was held in The Victoria Rooms – the city’s quintessential 19th Century arena, which we think is the perfect setting for a novel set in the Victorian era.
The Fraud, which has as its centrepiece the infamous Tichborne Trial of 1873, is a broad sweep of a novel which lays bare the deluded pretence of Victorian England.
Truth and fiction. Jamaica and Britain. Who deserves to tell their story? Zadie Smith returns with her first historical novel.
Kilburn, 1873. The ‘Tichborne Trial’ has captivated the widowed Scottish housekeeper Mrs Eliza Touchet and all of England. Readers are at odds over whether the defendant is who he claims to be – or an imposter.
Mrs Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her novelist cousin and his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects England of being a land of façades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.
Andrew Bogle meanwhile finds himself the star witness, his future depending on telling the right story. Growing up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica, he knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realise.
Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about how in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what’s true can prove a complicated task.
Praise for Zadie Smith:
‘Our most beguiling and original prose-wizard.’ Independent on Sunday
‘Extraordinary, truly marvellous.’ Observer
‘Astonishing, dazzling… Zadie Smith is a genius.’ A.N. Wilson
‘She’s one of the brightest minds in English literature today.’ NPR
‘A preturnaturally gifted writer with a voice that’s street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time.’ The New York Times
‘She’s up there with the best around.’ Evening Standard
This is an unmissable opportunity to hear from one of the great writers of our time. We cannot wait!
Zadie Smith is the acclaimed author of six novels, three books of essays, a short story collection and the play The Wife of Willesden. She has won and been nominated for numerous awards including the Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Whitbread Prize.
Madhu Krishnan is Professor of African, World and Comparative Literatures at the University of Bristol and Director of the Centre for Black Humanities. Since 2020 she has served as co-lead for the Research and Civic Engagement workstream of the University’s Anti-Racism Steering Group and is also on the board of the Bristol Poetry Institute, Bristol Ideas, Bibliothèque 1949 (Abidjan), and a trustee for Literature Works. She is author of: Contemporary African Literature in English: Global Locations, Postcolonial Identifications (2014), Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel (2018); and Contingent Canons: African Literature and the Politics of Location (2018). She is currently directing a five-year project on literary activism.
The Secret Hours
An interview, Q&A and signing event
Wednesday 6th September
Bristol Central Library, College Green
We were extremely excited to welcome bestselling thriller writer, and creator of the Slough House series, Mick Herron, to Bristol.
The award-winning author discussed his latest novel, The Secret Hours with the acclaimed writer, Charlotte Philby, whose novels include Edith and Kim, The Second Woman and A Double Life.
Published by Bristol-based imprint, Baskerville, The Secret Hours is a standalone spy thriller with a disastrous MI5 mission in Cold War Berlin at its heart.
It was a wonderful chance to spend time in the company of the writer Val McDermid calls “the John le Carré of our generation.”
Two years ago, the Monochrome inquiry was set up to investigate the British secret service. Monochrome’s mission was to ferret out misconduct, allowing the civil servants seconded to the inquiry, Griselda Fleet and Malcolm Kyle, unfettered access to confidential information in the service archives.
But with progress blocked at every turn, Monochrome is circling the drain … Until the OTIS file appears out of nowhere.
What classified secrets does OTIS hold that see a long-redundant spy being chased through Devon’s green lanes in the dark? What happened in a newly reunified Berlin that someone is desperate to keep under wraps? And who will win the battle for the soul of the secret service – or was that decided a long time ago?
Spies and pen-pushers, politicians and PAs, high-flyers, time-servers and burn-outs . . . They all have jobs to do in the daylight. But what they do in the secret hours reveals who they really are.
Praise for Mick Herron:
“I doubt I’ll read a more enjoyable novel all year. The Secret Hours has it all: thrilling action scenes, crackling dialogue, characters to infuriate and beguile, and a neatly intricate plot. And through it all cuts Herron’s acerbic wit, its effect heightened by the glimpses he allows us, from time to time, from his world to ours.” Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
“Great Britain has a long, rich history of how-it-really-works espionage fiction, and Mick Herron – stealthy as a secret agent – has written himself to the very top of the list. If you haven’t already been recruited, start with The Secret Hours – all Herron’s trademark strengths are here: tension, intrigue, observation, humour, absurdity . . . and pitch-perfect prose.” Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels.
“The Secret Hours is wonderful. Mick Herron at his best.” Michael Connelly, author of Desert Star
“Mick Herron is one of the best writers of spy fiction working today.” Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park
“Herron is at the summit of a new golden age of spy fiction.” Sunday Times
“Mick Herron is an incredible writer and if you haven’t read him yet, you NEED to. I read the Jackson Lamb books one after the other and am already desperate for the next one. They are smart, darkly comic and hugely addictive.” Mark Billingham
Mick Herron is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Slough House thrillers, which have won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award, two CWA Daggers, been published in 20 languages, and are the basis of a major TV series starring Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb. He is also the author of the Zoë Boehm series, and the standalone novels Reconstruction and This is What Happened. Mick was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now lives in Oxford.
Charlotte Philby is the author of four novels, the latest of which, Edith and Kim, was a best book of 2022 in The Times, The Sunday Times, New Statesman, Literary Review, and elsewhere. Since leaving the Independent in 2014 she has worked as a contributing editor at Marie Claire, and written freelance for publications including New Statesman, Tatler, and the Guardian. Charlotte lives in Bristol.
An interview, Q&A and signing event
Tuesday 8th August at
Gloucester Road Books
We were delighted to welcome Michael Winkler to Bristol to discuss with us his novel, Grimmish.
I read Grimmish earlier this year and found it to be a wildly inventive, thoroughly enjoyable book, with perhaps unexpectedly deep reserves of humanity. The book wears its oddness on its sleeve (quite literally, in the form of a quote from J. M. Coetzee, who declared it ‘The strangest book you are likely to read this year’) and while it fulfils on that peculiar promise, it is also a hugely affecting book. If it is strange, it is because we humans are unendingly so.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely hearing Michael’s thoughts about the novel and the man behind his extraordinary character, Joe Grim.
Pain was Joe Grim’s self-expression, his livelihood and reason for being. A superstar boxer who rarely won a fight, Grim distinguished himself for his extraordinary ability to withstand physical punishment.
In this wild and expansive novel, Michael Winkler moves between the present day and Grim’s 1908–09 tour of Australia, bending genres and histories into a kaleidoscopic investigation of pain, masculinity and narrative.
Pain is often said to defy the limits of language. And yet Grimmish suggests that pain – physical and mental – is also the most familiar and universal human condition; and, perhaps, the secret source of our impulse to tell stories.
Praise for Grimmish
‘A powerful blast of literary ingenuity and originality.’ – Lloyd Jones
‘I lurched between fits of wild laughter, shudders of horror, and gasps of awe at Winkler’s verbal command: the freshness and muscle of his verbs, the unstoppable slow of his images, the bizarre with of the language of pugilism – and all the while, a moving subterranean glint of strange masculine tenderness.’ – Helen Garner
‘All the makings of a cult classic. It’s grotesque and gorgeous, smart and searching.’ – The Guardian
Michael Winkler is a writer from Melbourne, Australia, living on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. He is the author, co-author and editor of numerous books, and won the Calibre Essay Prize for ‘The GreatRed Whale’. His journalism, shortfiction, reviews and essays have been widely published and anthologised.
All the Houses I’ve
Ever Lived In
An interview, Q&A and signing event
7pm Tuesday 18th July at
Gloucester Road Books, 184 Gloucester Road
The celebrated journalist and broadcaster, Kieran Yates is coming to Gloucester Road to talk about her essential new book, All the Houses I’ve Ever Lived In with Bristol24/7’s Mia Vines Booth.
We’ve all had our share of dodgy landlords, mould and awkward house shares. But journalist Kieran Yates has had more than most: by the age of twenty-five she’d lived in twenty different houses across the country, from council estates in London to car showrooms in rural Wales.
In prose that sparkles with humour and warmth, Yates charts the heartbreaks and joys of a life spent navigating the chaos of the housing system. Drawing on interviews with marginalised tenants across the country and the stories behind our interiors, she explores the unexpected ways we can fight back – finding beauty in the wreckage of a broken system, friendships in cramped housing conditions, and home even in the most fragile circumstances.
All the Houses I’ve Ever Lived In is at once a rallying cry for change, a gorgeous coming-of-age story and a love letter to home in all its forms.
Praise for All the Houses I’ve Ever Lived In
‘I tore through the pages. A book I’ll read over and over again’ CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS, author of Queenie
‘I read this in two sittings . . . so incisive it’s hard to put down’ PANDORA SYKES
‘A beautiful exposition of home and what it means. Stunning’ BOLU BABALOLA, author of Honey & Spice
‘Has taught me ten million things while also making me fall in love with Kieran and her family . . . gorgeous’ IONE GAMBLE, author of Poor Little Sick Girls
‘So relatable . . . injects a glorious dose of love and joy and hope’ BIG ISSUE
Kieran Yates is a London-based journalist, broadcaster and editor who has been writing about culture, technology and politics for over 10 years. She’s written everywhere from the Guardian, FADER, The Independent and beyond, had an acclaimed monthly column at VICE titled ‘British Values’, was nominated for Culture Writer of the Year in 2016 and regularly hosts events and panels discussing issues across music, politics and news.
Kieran contributed to the award-winning book of essays, The Good Immigrant in 2017 about immigrant stories in the UK, where she wrote about ‘Going Home’. In 2015 she started a fanzine called ‘British Values’, a political satire and culture magazine that celebrates immigrant communities in the UK. She is the co-author of Generation Vexed: What the English Riots Didn’t Tell Us About Your Nation’s Youth.
Mia Vines Booth is an Editorial Assistant at Bristol24/7 where she is also undertaking an NCTJ reporter apprenticeship. She studied History at the University of Bristol, where she wrote one of the best undergraduate dissertations of 2021.
When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth
Reading and signing for 3-6 years
with author Sean Taylor
9am on Saturday July 8th at
Gloucester Road Books
We hard a RWARsome time welcoming young dinosaur fans to join Sean Taylor for a lively session of riddles, rhymes and picture book fun featuring his latest book: WHEN DINOSAURS WALKED THE EARTH! We may even have joined in with a sing-song about being eaten by a Gigantosaurus!
After the event, Sean signed copies of WHEN DINOSAURS WALKED THE EARTH!
Sean Taylor is the award-winning author of over 60 books for young readers. These include picture books such as Hoot Owl Master of Disguise, How to Be Cooler Than Cool, Monster! Hungry! Phone! and his collection of poems for bedtime, The Dream Train.
Zehra Hicks is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator whose books have been translated in over 20 languages around the world. Zehra has been highly commended for the Macmillan Prize for Illustration, winner of the Heart of Hawick Award, named Lovereading4Kids Debut of the Year in 2011, shortlisted for the Read It Again! Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award and nominated for the Kate Greenaway Prize.
Nazaré: Life and Death with the Big Wave Surfers
A talk, Q&A and signing event
Wednesday 21st June at
Gloucester Road Books
Renowned sports journalist Matt Majendie joined us to introduce his fascinating new book, Nazaré, which recounts his time spent with the world’s most daring surfers as they attempt to ride the world’s most fearsome waves. Matt discussed his book and experiences with James Cook, a senior executive in BBC Audio who works in podcasting across sport, popular entertainment and true crime.
In a small fishing village on Portugal’s Silver Coast (Costa de Prata), a select band of surfers take unimaginable risks, pushing the boundaries of their death-defying sport as they seek to go bigger than ever before.
Their goal? To ride the Everest of the ocean – the 100-foot wave.
Sports journalist Matt Majendie is welcomed into the inner circle of Nazaré’s tight community of big-wave surfers and extreme thrill-seekers, living among them for a season as he chronicles their incredible highs and terrifying lows.
Follow the endeavours of Britain’s leading big-wave surfer, a former plumber from Devon, Andrew Cotton; trailblazing Brazilian female surfer Maya Gabeira; current World Record holder German Sebastian Steudtner; Portuguese Nic von Rupp and jet-ski driver Sérgio Cosme, nicknamed ‘the Guardian Angel of Nazaré’ for his daring rescues, in this gripping read.
Matt Majendie is the Evening Standard’s sports correspondent, having previously worked at The Independent. He hosts the podcast series Sporting Misadventures.
The Private Lives of Trees
interviewed by translator Megan McDowell
An interview, Q&A and signing event
7pm Monday 12th June at
Gloucester Road Books, 184 Gloucester Road
We were hugely excited to welcome the multi award-winning Chilean writer, Alejandro Zambra to Gloucester Road to talk about his latest novel, The Private Lives of Trees, alongside the celebrated translator of the novel, Megan McDowell.
The Private Lives of Trees is Alejandro Zambra’s second novel, published in the UK for the first time earlier this year in a revised translation by McDowell. It overflows with his signature wit and his gift for crafting short novels that manage to contain whole worlds.
Alejandro Zambra was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1975. He is the author of Chilean Poet, Multiple Choice, Not to Read, My Documents, Ways of Going Home, The Private Lives of Trees and Bonsai. In Chile, among other honours, he has won the National Book Council Award for best novel three times. In English, he has won the English PEN Award and the PEN/O. Henry Prize and was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He has also won the Prince Claus Award (Holland) and received a Cullman Center Fellowship from the New York Public Library. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his stories have been published in the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s and Harper’s, among other publications. He has taught creative writing and Hispanic literature for fifteen years and currently lives in Mexico City.
Megan McDowell is an award-winning Spanish-language translator. She has translated books by Alejandro Zambra, Samanta Schweblin, Mariana Enríquez and Lina Meruane, among others, and her short story translations have appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Harper’s and The White Review. She lives in Santiago, Chile.
The Observant Walker: Wild Food, Nature and Hidden Treasures on the Pathways of Britain
An illustrated talk, Q&A and signing event
7pm Wednesday 24th May at
Future Leap Event Space
The bestselling author of The Forager’s Calendar and A Spotter’s Guide to the Countryside, John Wright, joined us to talk about his new book, The Observant Walker; a guide to the food, nature and history to be found all around us when we walk.
John is an expert in the natural world and has been leading forays around Britain for decades. As an expert forager, he shows people how to identify the edible species that abound – but he also reveals the natural history, stories and science behind our surroundings. In The Observant Walker, he takes us with him on eight walks: from verdant forests to wild coastlines, via city pavements, fields and rolling hills, he illuminates what can be found on a walk across any British terrain, and how we might observe and truly understand them, for ourselves.
When we go for a walk, whether in the countryside or city, we pass through landscapes full of natural beauty and curiosities both visible and invisible – but though we might admire the view, or wonder idly about the name of a flower, we rarely have the knowledge to fully engage with what we see. When we do, our sense of place is expanded, our understanding deepened and we can discover richness in even the most everyday stroll.
Warm, wise and endlessly informative, with helpful illustrations and suggested routes, The Observant Walker will help you to see the world around you with new eyes: no walk will be the same again.
“John Wright writes as though he is talking directly to you, a good friend in the same room. His harvest of fascinating information is worn lightly, with funny, whimsical observations.” BBC Countryfile
“This illustrated survey (The Forager’s Calendar) is historically detailed, enriched by the author’s deep knowledge of British landscapes and natural history.” Guardian
John Wright is a naturalist and one of Great Britain’s leading experts on fungi. His most recent books include A Spotter’s Guide to the Countryside and The Forager’s Calendar. He lives in Dorset, where he regularly leads forays into nature and goes on long walks across all terrains. The Forager’s Calendar won the 2020 Guild of Food Writers Award and the 2020 Woodland Book of the Year
The Way the Day Breaks
An informal event celebrating the launch of his debut novel
Friday 12th May, Gloucester Road Books
184 Gloucester Road
Set in Yorkshire in the 1980s, The Way the Day Breaks is a novel about family, love, memory and mental illness.
We follow one family, mostly in car trips across the dales, as they discuss nature, speculate on the future, dream up get-rich schemes, laugh, quarrel and try to hold together.
But there is a darker current running beneath this family’s shared life. The father, Sinclair, is approaching a manic episode, and life in the family becomes strained. The impact of his breakdown is heartbreaking and felt through the children down the years, especially by the youngest son, Michael.
As formally inventive as it is narratively rich, the story unfolds in two modes, through dialogue and through the poetic reflections of Michael, some years later.
The Way the Day Breaks is one of the most moving, honest accounts of the way mental illness vibrates through the life of a family.
David Roberts is a Sheffield-based writer. The Way the Day Breaks is his first novel.
The Meaning of Geese
A Reading, Q&A and signing event
7pm Tuesday 18th April at Sidney & Eden, 198 Gloucester Road
We were delighted to welcome Nick Acheson to talk about his first book, The Meaning of Geese: A Thousand Miles in Search of Home, in conversation with environmentalist Mary Colwell.
The Meaning of Geese is a beautiful tribute to the wild geese and their great athletic migrations – an expertly detailed account of how their sound and spectacle shape our winter landscape and what it might mean to lose them forever.
During a time when many of us faced the prospect of little work or human contact, renowned naturalist and conservationist Nick Acheson found a sense of peace and purpose in his pursuit of the wild geese that filled his beloved Norfolk skies, on their seasonal visits from Iceland and Siberia.
In The Meaning of Geese Nick recounts these adventures, starting with the dramatic arrival of the pinkfeet and brent geese as they land in the thousands in North Norfolk each autumn.
While following their flocks on his old red bicycle, Nick encounters rarer geese, including Russian white-fronts, barnacle geese and an extremely unusual grey-bellied brant, a bird he had dreamt of seeing since thumbing his mother’s copy of Peter Scott’s field guide as a child.
Over the course of seven months Nick keeps a diary of his sightings as well as the stories he discovered through the community of people, past and present, who loved them too. Over seven months he cycles 1,200 miles – the exact length of the pinkfeet’s migration to Iceland.
Yet, with the impacts of climate change the geese’s future migrations are no longer a given, and as spring arrives and Nick says goodbye to the last of the geese, the question of whether they will return the following seasons hangs in the air. He writes: ‘I meant to bid them fortune on their journey; to thank them for their winter company; to pray their tundra will persist a few years more, despite our ravaging of the climate.’
The Meaning of Geese is a book of thrilling encounters with wildlife, of tired legs, punctured tyres and inhospitable weather. Above all, it is the moving account of Nick Acheson’s love for Norfolk’s ancient landscape – the land the wild geese call home each winter.
Nick Acheson grew up in North Norfolk. Since early childhood he has been fascinated by nature, a fascination which grew through his youth to become a consuming interest and a commitment to wildlife conservation. In adulthood this has developed into advocacy for the environment and for a sustainable future. For the past fifteen years, Nick has worked for conservation NGOs in the UK, most notably Norfolk Wildlife Trust. He is an ambassador for both Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Pensthorpe, a trustee of Felbeck Trust and a recent president of the historic Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society. Nick is a regular guest on BBC Radio 4, Channel 4, ITV Anglia, BBC Radio Norfolk among other outlets. He has written for three of the Seasons anthologies, Red Sixty Seven, Low-Carbon Birding, British Birds, British Wildlife and BBC Wildlife. This is his first book.
Mary Colwell is an award-winning author, producer and campaigner for nature. She won a Sony Radio Academy Gold award, and has been awarded the BTO Dilys Breese Medal, the David Bellamy Award from the Gamekeepers Organisation, the WWT Marsh Award for Conservation and the RSPB Medal. She spearheaded the successful establishment of a GCSE in Natural History. Mary is Chair of the Curlew Recovery Partnership England and set up the charity Curlew Action in 2020.
One Small Voice
A Reading, Q&A and signing event
Friday 10th March at Gloucester Road Books, 7pm
We were thrilled to welcome Santanu Bhattacharya and his wonderful debut novel, One Small Voice to the shop on March 10th.
Santanu was in conversation with writer, editor and creative producer at Words of Colour, Heather Marks.
Selected as an Observer Best Debut Novel for 2023, One Small Voice portrays a turbulent modern India as it moves from the 20th to the 21st century, through the life of Shubhankar Trivedi.
India, 1992. The country is ablaze with riots. In Lucknow, ten-year-old Shubhankar witnesses a terrible act of mob violence in which his family are complicit: an act that will alter the course of his life.
In the two decades that follow, Shabby must wrestle with the ghosts of his past, the expectations of his family, and the seismic shifts taking place around him as the country enters the new millennium. As an adult in Mumbai, he encounters Syed and Shruti, who, like him, are seeking the freedom to rewrite their stories while navigating the contradictions of modern India. As the rising tide of nationalism sweeps across the country, their friendship becomes a rock they all cling to.
Until one day, Shabby makes a split-second decision that will change everything…
Praise for One Small Voice has been pouring in. Nikesh Shukla calls the novel “Devastating and intimate, and political and radical all at the same time.” And goes on to say that “Bhattacharya’s storytelling talents are limitless.”
Max Porter says it is “A joy to read, a full universe of feeling, an effortless page-turner by a born storyteller.”
Santanu Bhattacharya grew up in India and studied at the University of Oxford and the National University of Singapore. He is the winner of the 2021 Mo Siewcharran Prize, Life Writing Prize and London Writers’ Awards. His works have been nominated for the 4thWrite Prize, the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award, and the Pontas/JJ Bola Emerging Writers’ Prize, and have appeared in Commonwealth Writers’ adda. He now lives in London. One Small Voice is his first novel.
Heather Marks is a creative producer, editor, and writer. She is part of the immersive change agency Words of Colour, and works with universities, publishers and literature organisations to create meaningful opportunities for writers of colour. From 2019 – 2022, she had the pleasure of working at the ‘tiny but mighty’ independent press and publishing studio No Bindings. She is co-editor of The Book of Bristol (Comma Press) and writes historical fiction for young adults.
Dizz Tate’s Brutes
A Reading, Q&A and signing event
Friday 10th February at Gloucester Road Books, 7pm
We were delighted to welcome Dizz Tate for our opening event of 2023.
Dizz discussed her striking coming-of-age new novel, Brutes, one of the most anticipated debuts of the year, launching our brand new series of events which will highlight brilliant debuts and little-known writers we’re very excited about!
Dizz was in conversation with our own Joe Melia – bookseller, literary events organiser and co-ordinator of the Bristol Short Story Prize.
In Falls Landing, Florida—a place built of theme parks, swampy lakes, and scorched bougainvillea flowers—something sinister lurks in the deep. A gang of thirteen-year-old girls obsessively orbit around the local preacher’s daughter, Sammy. She is mesmerizing, older, and in love with Eddie. But suddenly, Sammy goes missing. Where is she? Watching from a distance, they edge ever closer to discovering a dark secret about their fame-hungry town and the cruel cost of a ticket out. What they uncover will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Through a darkly beautiful and brutally compelling lens, Dizz Tate captures the violence, horrors, and manic joys of girlhood. Brutes is a novel about the seemingly unbreakable bonds in the ‘we’ of young friendship, and the moment it is broken forever.
Brutes has received amazing pre-publication reception. Mariana Enriquez, prizewinning author of Things We Lost in the Fire, says: “The mystery and the danger of being a girl, of feeling crazy and vulnerable and wild, wanting to run away and be someone—anyone—is captured here across a landscape of nail polish and fire and sex, a sinister lake and the pink sky of Florida. Brutes is a beautiful and deeply strange novel, full of dread and longing. I loved it.”
While Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure calls it: “Polyphonically technicolour and lushly textured, Brutes is a defiant elegy to the myth of girlhood innocence. Dizz Tate’s talent is brazen – and brilliant.”
Dizz Tate is a London-based writer who grew up in Orlando, Florida. Her debut novel, Brutes, was sold in a heated five-way auction. Her fiction has been previously published in The Stinging Fly, Five Dials, The Tangerine, Prism International, 3:am magazine, No Tokens Journal, and Corda amongst others. She won the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2018. Her pamphlet of short stories Nowhere To Go But Back Again was published by Goldsmiths Press in 2018.
Lia Leendertz in conversation about The Almanac 2023
A Reading, Q&A and signing event
Friday 18th November 2022 at Gloucester Road Books, 7pm
Lia Leendertz is an award winning writer and author of The Almanac, her reinvention of the rural almanac, now in its sixth year and an annual bestseller. She has also written several gardening and cookery books and writes for the Guardian, the Telegraph and for gardening magazines. She lives in Bristol with her husband, two teenagers and two dogs.
Reconnect with the seasons in Britain and Ireland with this month-by-month guide to the world around us — including key dates, tide tables and garden tasks; constellations and moon phases; sunrises, folk songs, seasonal recipes plus a ‘bun of the month’; and — because 2023 will be a good year for planet spotting — the solar system and the zodiac. The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 gives you the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark and appreciate each month of the year in your own particular way. Divided into the 12 months, a set of tables each month gives it the feel and weight of a traditional almanac, providing practical information that gives access to the outdoors and the seasons, perfect for expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays.
There are also features on each month’s unique nature, with this instalment following the swirling micro world of the garden pond through the year. You will find yourself referring to The Almanac all year long, revisiting it again and again, and looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close. This year’s edition is illustrated by artist Whooli Chen.
Chris Floyd Not Just Pictures
Saturday 12th November 2022 at BA Church Hall, 2.15pm
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 was 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
Anna Beer Eve Bites Back
A talk, Q&A and signing event
Tuesday 18th October 2022 at Sidney & Eden, 7pm
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 was 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.
Joanna Quinn The Whalebone Theatre
A reading, Q&A and signing event
Friday 7th October 2022 at BA Church Hall, 7pm
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.’
‘Destined to become a classic . . . Quinn’s debut is a wonder.’
‘This is a book that will be loved unreasonably and life-long, I believe, like I Capture the Castle.’
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 was 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.
Anil Seth Being You
A talk, Q&A and signing event with the leading neuroscientist
chaired by Prof. James Ladyman
Wednesday 21st September 2022 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.
Sandor Katz on Fermentation – Talk & Demo!
Friday 23rd June 2022 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.
Lily Dunn and Clover Stroud in Conversation about Memoir
Tuesday 17th May 2022 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.