New Welsh Writing Awards 2017 longlist dominated by women

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New Welsh Review, in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, has announced the longlists for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

Now in its third year, the Awards were set up to champion the best short-form writing in English and has previously run non-fiction categories with the WWF Cymru Prize for Writing on Nature, won by Eluned Gramich in 2015 and the University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing, won by Mandy Sutter in 2016. The Awards 2017 opened up entries from the US and Canada for the first time in the Novella category.

Both new and established writers based in Wales, England and the US are in the running for the top prize, including a joint memoir by a husband and wife. The longlist is dominated by women with 8 out of 9 women contending for the Memoir Prize and 6 out of 9 women in the running for the Novella Prize.

The memoir list includes true stories of a Canadian hobo; anorexia; a daughter’s American road-trip made to help reconcile her father and grandmother; an all-boys care-home in South Africa whose residents include a baboon; being the daughter of a Rhyl beauty competition judge, and backpacking behind the iron curtain.

Among the novellas, sexual abuse or the threat of it are among the themes; as well as homosexuality in a Welsh monastery; the meanings and mystery of treasures old and new; escaping the shadow of a father figure, and the enduring healing and destructive powers of archetypes and idylls.

Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir Longlist

Maria Apichella (Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk)                                    The Red Circle

Caroline Greville (Eythorne, Nr. Dover, Kent)                                    Badger Contact

Catherine Haines (Charing, Kent)                                                            My Oxford

Liz Jones (Aberystwyth, Wales)                                                              On Shifting Sands

Sarah Leavesley (Droitwich, Worcestershire)                                  The Myopic of Me

Mary Oliver (Newlyn, Cornwall)                                                             The Case

Amanda and Robert Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire)             Boystown S.A.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths (Wrexham)                                                         Painting the Beauty                                                                                                                                      Queens Orange

Adam Somerset (Aberaeron, Wales)                                                     People, Places, Things: A                                                                                                                                Life with the Cold War

 

AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella Longlist

 

Cath Barton (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales)                    The Plankton Collector

Rebecca Casson (Holywell, Flintshire, Wales)                                   Infirmarian

Barbara de la Cuesta (Seaside Heights, New Jersey, US)                Exiles

Nicola Daly (Chester, Cheshire)                                                            The Night Where                                                                                                                                                      you no Longer Live

Olivia Gwyne (Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland)            The Seal

Atar Hadari (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire)                                  Burning Poets

Joao Morais (Cardiff, Wales)                                                                     Smugglers’ Tunnel

Veronica Popp (Chicago, US)                                                                    Sick

Mike Tuohy (Jefferson, Georgia, US)                                                     Double Nickel Jackpot

 

Commended

Amanda Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire)                                     Carving Strangers

For further information about the award and the longlisted writers, visit www.newwelshwritingawards.com

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‘Haikus for the NHS’: NITRB announces winners

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Somerset-based poet and musician John Blackmore has been announced as the winner of Nothing in the Rulebook‘s inaugural poetry competition, ‘Haikus for the NHS‘.

The project was launched early in 2017 to use the power of poetry as protest – specifically, the power of haikus as protest – in support of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

Blackmore’s poem was chosen from a shortlist of haikus by the poets Eva Reed, Juliet Staveley and Sarah Purvis. These haikus will be printed and distributed liberally during the national demonstration to support the NHS on Saturday 4 March.

“Against a backdrop of gross underfunding, continued cuts and closures of NHS services, and the increasing trend towards marketization and privatisation, the Conservative party are destroying one of the greatest achievements of working class people in Britain,” the founders of Nothing in the Rulebook said in a joint statement. “We are looking to use the power of poetry as protest to spread messages of support for the NHS and what it stands for.”

“We have been blown away by how popular our project proved – we received almost 200 haiku submissions, so many of which were of an incredibly high quality. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank each and every person who submitted haikus – especially those we received from international writers and poets. We had entries from Australia and the USA, with people getting in touch to say they want to lend a hand in whatever way possible to support an institution that is treasured not just in the UK but across the world,” they added.

“It demonstrates, really, both what makes the NHS so important; as well as the power of poetry as protest. It was fascinating to see how many haikus captured a powerful yet meditative sense of emotion that stays with you for days after reading what is, lest we forget, such a short-hand form of poetry.”

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John Blackmore’s winning haiku. Nothing in the Rulebook will also publish all winning and long-listed haikus online.

About John Blackmore

John Blackmore is a singer, songwriter, poet and English teacher based in Somerset. Much of his music (listen on Soundcloud) and writing draws on his experiences of, and interactions with, the people and places of his native west country. In 2011, John was a semi-finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and, in 2014, he contributed music and literary comment to a BBC Radio 4 documentary concerning the Victorian Dorset Dialect poet William Barnes. He is part of the Poetry Society’s ‘Young Poets Network’ (read his prize-winning poems here).

 

The NITRB internship

Nothing in the Rulebook – a literary and new writing blog dedicated to new ideas – is looking for an enthusiastic and passionate individual to join our team as our creative intern.

We are a collective of creatives bound by a single motto: ‘there’s nothing in the rulebook that says a giraffe can’t play football!’ Our news, opinion and interviews are read around the world and attract on average 20,000 unique views a month. We’ve featured writers and artists such as Iain Maloney, Julia Bell, Paul M.M. Cooper, Russ Litten, Asher Jay, Tim Leach, Rishi Dastidar, Eric Akoto, David Greaves, Charlotte Salter and many more.

We are looking for people who think just because there’s one way to do things, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way. We are looking for creative writing and journalism students or bloggers to help us run our project. This means maintaining our social media presence, writing articles for our blog and commissioning and reviewing new work.

Nothing in the Rulebook was established by Warwick University creative writing alumni with over ten years’ experience in journalism, marketing and communications. We’ve won awards for short fiction, poetry and writing and our work has been published in national newspapers, literary anthologies and magazines.

This is a great opportunity to build connections with publishers, literary agents, writers, artists and photographers while learning how literary journalism works from the inside. You’ll gain hands on experience in marketing, social media management, copy-editing and commissioning.

If you’re interested, read some of the stories and articles on Nothing in the Rulebook and pitch us five articles you’d like to write. Send us an example of writing of no more than 500 words to nothingintherulebook@gmail.com. Don’t forget a brief cover letter and your CV.

You don’t have to be Kurt Vonnegut – what’s most important to us is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

We look forward to receiving your applications!

Travel writer John Harrison among longlist of nine for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing

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‘Standing Between Giants’. Photography by Kristofer Williams. Via Creative Commons/Compfight. 

New Welsh Review, in association with the University of South Wales and CADCentre, has announced the longlist of nine travel nonfiction essays for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing. Both new and established writers based in Wales, England and Ireland are in the running for the top prize, including the award-winning travel writer John Harrison.

The Prize celebrates the best short form travel writing (5,000-30,000 words) from emerging and established writers based in the UK and Ireland plus those who have been educated in Wales. The judges are New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies and award-winning travel writer Rory MacLean.

The longlist of writers is here below (author name, location, title of work):

 

Virginia Astley (Dorchester, England)  –  Keeping the River

Evan Costigan (Kildare, Ireland)  – West Under a Blue Sky

Hannah Garrard (Norwich, England)  – No Situation is Permanent

John Harrison (London, England) –  The Rains of Titikaka

Gerald Hewitson (Holyhead, Wales)  –  Oh my America

Julie Owen Moylan (Cardiff, Wales)  – Anxiety and Wet Wipes on Train Number Four

Nathan Llywelyn Munday (Cardiff, Wales)  –  Seven Days: A Pyrenean Trek

Karen Phillips (Pembrokeshire, Wales)       –    Stranger Shores

Mandy Sutter (Ilkley, England)       –      Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me

 

 

Gwen Davies, editor of New Welsh Review said: ‘This prize has gone from strength to strength in its second year, with an increased number of entries and an excellent standard of writing. Branching out from our previous theme of nature, this year’s longlist of travel nonfiction sees a move towards the political.’

Davies continues: ‘Such essays follow the progress of a pioneering school from its refugee-camp origins in Ghana; a Nigerian domestic scene where subtle and interdependent racial and class issues are seething under a tight lid; the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia and the underground (and underwater) currents of Mayan culture in the Yucatan, Mexico. In gentler pastures, meanwhile, language, geography, history, culture, religion and philosophy are given room to reflect in pieces that champion the humble Thames-side lock-keeper, the etiquette of the Trans-Siberian station pitstop; silence and spirituality on a Pennsylvanian Quaker residency, and the highs and lows of the grand narrative on trek through the Pyrenees.’

For more information about the long listed writers please visit the New Welsh Review website.

The shortlist will be announced at an event at Hay Festival on 1 June 2016 (3-4pm) and the winner at a ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on 7 July 2016 (6-8pm).

First prize is £1,000 cash, e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint in 2016, a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME, as well as lunch with her in London. Second prize is a weeklong residential course in 2016 of the winner’s choice at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales. Third prize is a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales. All three winners will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine. In addition New Welsh Review will consider the highly commended and shortlisted nominees for publication in a forthcoming edition of its creative magazine New Welsh Reader with an associated standard fee.

New Welsh Review have also launched their Best Travel Book Poll inviting readers around the world to vote for their favourite all time travel book in the English language. A longlist of 20 titles have been selected by co-judges Gwen Davies and Rory MacLean with nominations from the students of the University of South Wales and librarians across Wales. The public can now vote for the shortlist and winner which will be revealed on 1 June and 7 July respectively. For more information visit http://www.newwelshwritingawards.com/best-travel-book-poll/

Government plans to introduce new book-based currency

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The Government have announced an audacious plan to replace the British Pound with a new book-based currency.

The shock announcement came just weeks after Chancellor George Osborne’s most recent shambolic budget. After taking the United Kingdom to the brink of economic catastrophe through a series of ill-thought out neoliberal measures of privatisation, tax cuts for international conglomerate corporations and attacks on middle and low-income households, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has released a statement explaining that he sees books and literature as the only way to save the failing UK state.

“The British people have had to put up with a lot these past six years,” the Chancellor wrote. “And although I would say I have taken substantive action to make things easier for people, I am starting to recognise that we now need – more than ever before – new, innovative, some may even say drastic, measures and ideas to ‘stop the rot’ and make Britain great again.”

“As such, in order to ensure the British economy continues to grow and create jobs, and after consulting with various leading economists, we have decided to forge ahead with a new, literary-based currency,” Osborne continued. “Britain, after all, has given the world so many priceless works of literature – from Shakespeare through to J.K Rowling. It’s time we recognised that money, in its current form, isn’t serving the needs of the people, and replaced it with something that will enrichen the lives of everyone: books.”

The full details of what the new British currency will look like, or how it will function in practical terms, has yet to be revealed. One inside source close to the Cabinet told Nothing in the Rulebook they expect to see a quasi-bartering system introduced, while taking aspects of free-market economics and adapting them into something more cultural.

“Nobody likes money anyway,” our source said. “It’s boring and can get a bit of a weird smell. I’m sure people would be much happier to fill their wallets with book, script and poetry extracts rather than tiny bits of paper with pictures of old people on them.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said he welcomed the change in British currency.

“Forever more, the date of this announcement – April 1st – will be known as a great day in British history,” the Prime Minister said. “Introducing a literary-based economy, built on the shoulders of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Golding, Orwell, Woolf and Hardy and so on, will help us pear down the deficit and support British workers.”

Some financial analysts, however, have voiced quiet concern over the plans.

“Replacing The Pound with a heap of books? Are they totally bonkers?” An incredulous colleague of economist Simon Wren Lewis said in response to the announcement. “First they ignore all rules of basic economics with their stubborn-minded pursuit of austerity, then they attack the incomes of the British people while giving tax cuts to a handful of their billionaire donors, and now this. I’ve never heard of a developed country using a book-based currency before, and quite frankly I am in no doubt that this will be yet another unmitigated disaster caused by the Conservative party.”

George Osborne dismissed criticisms of his plans as “the usual left-wing loonies getting on their high horse about what will be seen, in years to come, as the most financially astute idea in the history of economics.”

Analysis

Professor Wu says: “We have long agitated for the Conservative administration to recognise the value of books and literature, yet today’s announcement goes far beyond what we ever expected to achieve. We were originally just hoping that Osborne and co would stop slashing budgets for local libraries and start to invest in our culture, and schemes that promote the countless wonderful attributes of books and writing. But to have an entirely book-based economy? I personally can’t wait to use my first edition copy of Ulysses to pay down the mortgage on my flat. As David Cameron said, April 1st, 2016 will be a day long remembered in the history of this country.”

Writing when you’re broke: authors’ incomes collapse to “abject” levels

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Shocking new statistics show that the number of authors able to make a living from their writing has plummeted dramatically over the last eight years, with the average professional author now making well below the salary required to achieve the minimum living standard in the UK.

According to a survey commissioned by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the median income of the professional author has fallen to just £11,000 – a drop of 29% since 2005 when the figure was £12,330 (or £15,450 if adjusted for inflation). This figure is well below the £16,850 figure the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says is needed to achieve a minimum standard of living.

The survey of almost 2500 working writers – the first comprehensive study of author earnings in the UK since 2005 – was carried out by Queen Mary, University of London. It also found that the typical median income of all writers (not just professional authors) was a miniscule £4000 – compared to £8810 in 2000.

The study also found that in 2013, just 11.5% of professional authors (defined as being those who dedicate a majority of their time to writing) earned their incomes solely from writing – with a vast majority of writers supplementing their writing income with earnings from other sources. Again, this figure has declined sharply since 2005, when 40% of authors said they did so.

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Will Self, who has previously written that “the literary novel as an art work and a narrative art form central to our culture is indeed dying before our eyes”, the statistics from the survey were unsurprising. He said: “My own royalty income has fallen dramatically over the last decade. You’ve always been able to comfortably house the British literary writers who can earn all their living from books in a single room – that room used to be a reception one, now it’s a back bedroom.”

Children’s author, Mal Peet, echoed Will Self’s words in The Guardian – pointing out that his own income from his books had “dwindled really significantly” from receiving around £30,000 every six months to just £3000 for the first six months of 2013.

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“My direct income from sales is abject – literally abject. There’s been an absolutely radical decline in my income over recent years,” said Peet. “I do live by writing, but that’s because I have got a backlist of educational books which keeps on selling, and I have a pension, and I have to go on the road. Because I’ve a certain reputation, I can ask for a £25,000 advance, but then you spend a year writing the book, and £25,000 is a loan against sales and you can easily spend five years earning out. So that’s £25,000 for six years.”

Author James Smythe also said in the Guardian that he would never “earn out” an income from his writing. “Being a writer can’t be treated like it’s a job. It maybe was once, but no writer can treat it as such nowadays. There’s no ground beneath your feet in terms of income, and you can’t rely on money to come when you need it,” he said.

“I know very few writers who earn above the Minimum Income Standard, and that means that they need second jobs,” Smythe added. “Awards and critical acclaim used to be enough, in the heady days of 1970s publishing. It’s simply not, now.”

The ALCS described the new figures as “shocking”. “These are concerning times for writers,” said chief executive Owen Atkinson. “This rapid decline in both author incomes and in the numbers of those writing full-time could have serious implications for the economic success of the creative industries in the UK.”

For those writers who see self-publishing as a realistic means of earning an income from their writing, it also appears as though such hope remains just that – hope. Smythe pointed out that “self-publishing is even less of a way of earning money from your writing if you’re any good than conventional publishing.”

According to Smythe, “the industry works the way that it always has, just with tightened coffers”. So “if you sell, you’ll get more money next time around. If you don’t, then you’ll earn less. In most jobs, you work hard, and you deliver results. Unfortunately – and this is out of everybody’s hands – working hard in publishing guarantees no such results. You could write the best book in the world, and it could still sell dismally. My publishers are great, in that they believe I’ll write something that pays off. So I get to keep doing this. But one day, if I fail to deliver results, that will change. Why would you keep paying somebody money for no gain?”

Of the 2454 writers who took part in the ALCS survey, 56% were men and 44% women. 17% were under the age of 44, with 54% aged 45-65 and 29% 69 years old or over.

Poet Wendy Cope said that the findings of the survey may come as a surprise for many people.

“Most people know that a few writers make a lot of money. This survey tells us about the vast majority of writers, who don’t,” said Cope. “It’s important that the public should understand this – and why it is so important for authors to be paid fairly for their work.”

Professional writers to become “an endangered species”

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Author of the best-selling His Dark Materials books, Philip Pullman, has warned that unless publishing houses make “serious” changes, the professional author “will become an endangered species.”

Pullman is heading a new charge from writers demanding to be rewarded fairly for their work, as the Society of Authors points to a recent survey that found the median income of a professional author is now just £11,000, with only 11.5% of UK writers able to make a living purely from writing.

The Society of Authors points out that “authors remain the only essential part of the creation of a book and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure they can make a living.”

“Unfair contract terms, including reduced royalty rates, are a major part of the problem”, the Society adds.

Pullman said that the case for fair terms for writers was “overwhelming”.

“From our positions as individual creators, whether of fiction or non-fiction, we authors see a landscape occupied by several large interests, some of them gathering profits in the billions, some of them displaying a questionable attitude to paying tax, some of them colonising the internet with projects whose reach is limitless and whose attitude to creators’ rights is roughly that of the steamroller to the ant,” Pullman, the current president of the Society, said.

“It’s a daunting landscape, far more savage and hostile to the author than any we’ve seen before. But one thing hasn’t changed, which is the ignored, unacknowledged, but complete dependence of those great interests on us and on our talents and on the work we do in the quiet of our solitude. They have enormous financial and political power, but no creative power whatsoever. Whether we’re poets, historians, writers of cookery books, novelists, travel writers, that comes from us alone. We originate the material they exploit,” he added.

A key change necessary to improve the lot of professional writers comes in regard to revenue from ebooks, with the Society of Authors arguing authors should receive at least 50% of revenue from these digital sales, rather than 25%.

The society also asked publishers to stop discriminating against writers “who don’t have powerful agents”.

“Some publishers are excellent but we see many inequitable contracts. Without serious contract reform, the professional author will become an endangered species and publishers – as well as society at large – will be left with less and less quality content,” the letter, sent by Society of Authors’ chief executive Nicola Solomon, reads. “Unless publishers treat their authors more equitably the decline in the number of full-time writers could have serious implications for the breadth and quality of content that drives the economic success and cultural reputation of our creative industries in the UK.”

Analysis

Professor Wu says: “Established and aspiring authors already know only too well how difficult the challenge of earning a living through writing can be – and it is a challenge made all the more difficult by current practices within the publishing industry. Authors and writers play a crucial role in our society, and in our culture, and there needs to be recognition of this.”

“Of course, we understand that the book business is facing a number of challenges, and it’s important that we see publishers do well – for the same reasons that it’s important to see writers do well. However, we must be careful not to fall into a situation where only the already-wealthy can afford to be writers. How many voices are being denied a deserved platform because of current financial restrictions? How many great novels are we not getting, because fantastic writers aren’t able to afford the costs of writing their magnum opuses? And what degrading impact is that having on wider society? What new ideas are we not hearing? What new ways of looking at the world are we failing to see? It’s time for a change – it’s time for authors and writers to unite; after all, we have nothing to lose but our draconian publishing contracts.”

Ebooks blamed as Penguin cuts jobs

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Book publisher Penguin Random House has blamed ebooks for 225 potential job losses at its warehouse in Rugby, Warwickshire.

The publisher pointed to figures from the Publishers Association, which show that UK digital book sales rose 11% last year, while print copies fell 5%.

“The revolution in reading habits, with ebooks becoming more popular, has put these 225 jobs at risk,” said Unite regional officer Peter Coulson. “It is a worrying time for employees and their families, especially in the run-up to Christmas, and is a real blow to the local economy.”

The Warwickshire distribution centre is bookmarked for closure by 2019, with redundancies beginning in May 2017. Penguin Random House said distribution from the site would be moved to one of its remaining warehouses at Frating, near Colchester.

“Proposing to part company with colleagues is never easy,” said the publisher’s chief executive, Tom Weldon.

Staff are to be offered redundancy packages that Penguin Random House claim will be significantly higher than the statutory minimum – and the company have also intimated they will provide support to staff in finding new jobs.

Unite is to meet company managers to discuss the business case for closing the site and to discern whether there is any chance for it to remain open.

Print sales of books continue to decline as ereaders such as the Kindle – provided by tax-dodging company, Amazon – and its rivals Kobo and Nook prove increasingly popular. Ebooks now make up 25% of the market, just eight years after the launch of the Kindle in 2007.

Earlier this year, NielsenBookScan released figures showing physical sales of adult fiction had declined by more than £150 million in just five years.

There have been some anomalies in this general trend. For instance, Waterstones boss James Daunt ended Kindle sales after saying ebook revenues “had disappeared to all intents and purposes”.

Analysis

Professor Wu says: “The changing face of the literary marketplace will continue to strain tensions between Penguin Random House and Amazon over the price of ebooks; and will likely lead to many more passionate arguments between defenders of the printed page and advocates of digital technology.”

“One might point out that, as technology goes, printed books are actually pretty wonderful. You can spill water on them and they will still work. They have working lifespans of decades, perhaps centuries, rather than a couple of years. They provide a sense of permanence, which might be why capitalists hate them.”

Explosion in sales of left-wing literature accompanies Corbyn’s rise

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The winds of change are turning through the publishing industry, as bookstores across the UK report huge spikes in the sales of socialist and left-wing literature.

It is believed the increase in sales is linked to the rise of Jeremy Corbyn – the left-wing leader of the UK’s opposition Labour Party.

Books like Karl Marx’s Capital used to be the preserve of politics students, political theorists and veteran activists; but not anymore. Andrea Butcher, of Bookmarks, a socialist bookshop at the heart of Bloomsbury, central London, said: “We’re already out of Capital, Volume I, because people have been buying it so much. For other people, it’s books like The little rebel’s guide to Marx – which we’re having to reprint because we’re almost out of it.”

And Ms Butcher is clear that she believes the rise in sales is linked to Jeremy Corbyn’s ascent to leader of the UK’s main opposition party.

“I think one of the things that the Jeremy Corbyn victory has done is that it’s given people a shot in the arm; it’s building up confidence and people are now looking to the books that can help them in the fights they are facing,” she said.

“Those fights could be around housing, or increased private debt due to government austerity measures – and we have books on housing and austerity that are flying off the shelves,” she added.

But it’s not just niche bookstores registering a spike in sales of Marxist and other left-wing literature.

Vivian Archer, manager of Newham Bookshop, which stocks a wide variety of literature, says that interest from consumers has clearly shifted to the left.

“Basic things like the Communist Manifesto have been the biggest sellers,” Ms Archer said. “It’s people trying to find out about the history of the Labour movement; the trade union movement; and there are also a lot of new books on the NHS and the NHS has been a major issue. And, of course, anything on austerity.”

The publishing industry at large has clearly recognised the shift toward left-wing ideals, too, and bookstores across the UK are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of a much-anticipated Jeremy Corbyn-themed Adult Colouring Book.

The book, the creation of illustrator James Nunn, features images of Jeremy Corbyn sitting down for tea with the queen, and squaring off with David Cameron in the boxing ring.

On his creation, Nunn says he came up with the idea based on the fact that “Corbyn is a massive part of our cultural consciousness at the moment.”

“I’m trying to reach out to everyone across the political spectrum,” Nunn added. “So if you want to pick one up and draw horns on Jeremy, that’s fine; but there’s this centre-right zeitgeist that is currently trundling on that has not previously been checked with proper opposition, and I think it’s important to have a voice on the left that Jeremy provides that can hold these right-wing ideas to account. I think these differences of opinions are good.”

Nunn also admitted that Corbyn was an illustrator’s “dream” to draw, noting that “his eyes hold you, and he has these great laughter lines. The beard helps you shape things […] he’s so much easier to draw than David Cameron with his big dough face who has no markings, no sign of life on his face.”

“Of course I’m a fan of Corbyn,” Nunn said. “He’s been making people’s lives better for 40 years rather than being an overprivileged ball of dough.”

And it’s not just people over voting age getting caught up in the literary Corbynmania: sales of left-wing children’s books, like Click Clack Moo are also on the rise. These books include cows going on strike when the farmer refuses to improve working conditions, with support from the chickens, who get involved with secondary picketing.

Analysis

Professor Wu says: “At a time when the mainstream media is continually trying to paint Corbyn in a negative light – as Paul Myerscough excellently details here – it’s great to see this isn’t impacting real public perception of a man who inspired hundreds of thousands of people over the summer with his honesty, his integrity, and his popular policies, such as support for the arts and creative industries, and his resistance to austerity – which has been shown time and time again to be, simply, the worst way to deal with an economic crisis caused by an over-reliance on an unregulated financial sector.”

“Just because many bookshelves of bookstores are now dominated by the latest memoir of your premier league footballer, or other minor celebrity, doesn’t mean that British readers don’t still demand – and in fact actively crave – intellectual literature. The ideas of Marx and other left-wing philosophers haven’t disappeared, and are actually perhaps more relevant today than they have ever been. As we wrote in a recent article, books have the capacity to break down walls and help us better understand the world around us – and so this explosion in sales of left-wing books is testament to the innate human curiosity in ideas, and an intrinsic willingness to learn about life and question the authority of those in power, who, because of self-interest, would rather we didn’t have exposure to any alternative ideas, and seek to suppress creativity and original thought with every attempt.”

“It was the printing press that first helped spread the ideas of Marx and other left-wing philosophers, so it is fitting that the new revolution will not be televised; but will be printed on the page.”

River of Ink – A portrait of a reluctant revolutionary

River of Ink

River of Ink, the debut novel from Paul M. M. Cooper, is set to be published by Bloomsbury on 28th January 2016 – and we here at Nothing in the Rulebook are already excited about it.

Combining the intrigue of Wolf Hall, the drama of Game of Thrones and the elegance of My Name is Red, the novel promises to be one of the most thrilling new novels published in recent times.

Madeline Miller, Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles, says: “Potent, beautiful and wholly absorbing, Cooper’s  portrait of a reluctant revolutionary had me in thrall from its first chapter. A wonderful, memorable debut.”

True power lies in the tip of a pen

All Asanka knows is poetry. From his humble village beginnings in the great island kingdom of Lanka, he has risen to the prestigious position of court poet. When Kalinga Magha, a ruthless prince with a formidable army, arrives upon Lanka’s shores, Asanka’s world is changed beyond imagining. Violent, hubristic and unpredictable, Magha usurps the throne, laying waste to all who stand in his way.

To Asanka’s horror, Magha tasks him with the translation of an epic Sanskrit poem, The Shishupala Vadha, a tale of Gods and nobles, love and revenge, which the king believes will have a civilising effect on his subjects.  Asanka has always believed that poetry makes nothing happen, but, inspired by his love for the beguiling servant girl, Sarasi, as each new chapter he writes is disseminated through the land, Asanka inadvertently finds himself at the heart of an insurgency.

True power, Asanka discovers, lies not at the point of a sword, but in the tip of a pen.

About the author

Paul M. M. Cooper was born in south London and grew up in Cardiff, Wales. He was educated at the University of Warwick and UEA, and after graduating he left for Sri Lanka to work as an English teacher.  There he returned again and again to the ruins of Polonnaruwa, learnt to speak Sinhala and to read Tamil. About River of Ink, Paul has said:

‘I was inspired by the life of Thomas Wyatt and how he used his translations of Petrarch to vent anger at Henry VIII, due to his rumoured romantic relationship with Anne Boleyn. I loved the idea of the poet using translation’s slipperiness to hide his sedition but wanted to set the story elsewhere.’

Analysis

Professor Wu says: “All of us here at Nothing in the Rulebook are eagerly anticipating the release of what appears to be a stunning debut novel from a really exciting young writer. It’s so important that, in this day and age, we continue to invest in and support aspiring writers – because it is through them that our literary canon can be expanded and taken in new and exciting directions.”

“Once again, it looks as though the University of Warwick writing programme has given us yet another fantastic novelist. Paul clearly has a fantastic literary career ahead of him. We’ll be sure to bring you a detailed interview with the author, along with a detailed book review. So watch this space, comrades!”