Elly’s been helping me draft this newsletter, because it’s so bumper and contains so much BIG NEWS. Here’s what she suggests for a first line: “Blah blah blah sorry etc.”
“Blah”, I guess, because as regular readers know, that’s what you get in my letters. “Sorry” because we haven't sent a letter for a while and now we're going to send an absurdly large one. But! I hope you can indulge us, because we have quite a few bits of huge news.
First up, the two big bits:
I’m guessing many people reading this letter will already know that Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. But even so: Whooppeee! We’re overjoyed - and will share about more than that very shortly.
This is also a huge month for us, because our new book, Patience by Toby Litt, is on the way.
Patience is going to be released on 19th September - and true to its title, it’s had to wait a little while. We originally scheduled it for August, but there was so much happening in the summer that we wanted to give it a little more space to breathe. Not least because it’s so delicate and special and beautiful.
I’m happy to say that this delay seems to have paid dividends. We’re expecting quite a few reviews over the next few weeks and the first ones have started to come in. I’m even happier to say that people are connecting with the book in just the way we we’ve hoped. Which is to say: they love it.
Here’s a quick sample:
“Fresh, unusual and completely charming… By giving voice to the kind of character often assumed to have nothing to say, Litt reminds us to slow down, be patient, remain curious, and enjoy the little things in life.” (The Irish Times)
“In Patience, Toby Litt has shaped a powerful narrative tempered by moments of hope, sadness and joy.” (The London Magazine)
“Incredibly moving… Utterly believable… The epithet ‘stunning’ gets tossed around too much on blurbs, so I retract it. Supply your own favourite synonym for excellent. Trust me, it will be appropriate.” (Bookmunch)
There’s also a fascinating podcast with Toby over at the Mechanics Institute: MIROnline on Twitter.
Toby was recently longlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Prize for a story – ‘(Im)patience’ – connected with the novel, and he has written a little about the genesis and writing of Patience here.
Anyway. Obviously, we think you should buy this book. But it's more than that. We also really hope you will fall in love with it. And I know the word ‘love’ is hopelessly overused (probably quite often, around these parts) but there’s no other way to describe the feeling that Toby’s characters create. Elly and I fell in so deep with Elliott that working on the novel became an oddly emotional experience: he is a boy that you care for, and don’t to hurt or harm in any way. He is also one of the most extraordinarily, and deftly, rendered characters we've ever met. We adore him, and also Toby for the care that he’s lavished on him.
(But to prove that I'm not just a big sop, here’s the hard sell too. Patience feels to me and to Elly like another future classic. It’s at the printers right now. There's going to be a decent run of paperbacks, which will be readily available in all good bookshops - as well as our own web-store. But, there will only be limited editions, too - but only 500 - and a lot of those are set aside already, for Galley Buddies. So if you want one, please go to our online store now to avoid disappointment. They're available here.)
Yes, that photo on the right is Lucy Ellmann - and yes! Yes! She’s only just gone and been shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize. The BOOKER PRIZE!
Well! What can we say?
We’re so happy for Lucy and this wonderful novel. We’ve told you quite a bit about Ducks, Newburyport already, so I won’t retread a synopsis here - but let’s just say that with the news last week, it’s taken a big step on its march to immortality. And over the past two months, it’s been a joy to see it finding the readers it deserves. And changing their lives for the better.
... And ours! We continue to be astonished by Ducks, Newburyport and the magic it contains. The recent UK press has only increased this feeling. There have been some really delicate insights into the political dimensions of the novel coming through this week – from Alex Clark in the Guardian (“A feat of simultaneous compression and expansion… Among many other things, [Ducks, Newburyport] is a rebuke to the frequent downgrading of the ‘domestic’ in literature”) to David Collard in the Literary Review (“Is it any good? Oh my word, yes. Reading it at this point feels like an act of human solidarity, a commitment to a world of truth and reason”).
And with the launch of our friends at Biblioasis’s very fine US edition, notices have started to come in from over the Atlantic, as well. And how. There's already been a huge review in the New York Times (“What sorcery is this?” Parul Sehgul, the reviewer, tweeted, along with a link to her rave notice). Also - hold me, for I am falling, my legs have gone and oh my god - the New Yorker:
“The time and care [Ellmann] lavishes on her narrator seem like their own form of political speculation—that every individual is owed an unending devotion, and that such devotion, applied universally, might change the fate of the world."
Yes, that's right: "Change the fate of the world." And you know what? It might just...
Another quick word on our limited editions. Those of you who are familiar with Galley Beggar will know that we always release two versions of our books: a ‘mass-market’ (and very nice!) paperback edition, and also – in addition to this – a one-time-only, special limited edition of 500 copies.
Around half of these go out automatically to our subscribers. The rest are sold direct on a first come, first serve basis… And frequently sell out.
Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning this is because we’ve had A LOT of requests for the Ducks, Newburyport limited editions over the past month – alas, too late!*
So a gentle word here: If the limited editions take your fancy, the very best thing to do (and a great thing for us, too: our subscribers are essential to what we do) is sign up to become a Galley Buddy, which will guarantee you a copy. Or, if you don’t want to do that (or can’t), pre-order the titles individually, and as soon as you can. (As I've mentioned, there are still a few copies available of Toby Litt’s Patience. But they won't be around for long.)
(That said, something pretty wonderful happened a few weeks ago. I found some extra boxes of Alex Pheby’s Republic of Consciousness Prize-winning Lucia. And Alex came round and signed them. This book, in my profoundly un-humble opinion, is a classic. Yes, I know I’ve used that word - or a close relative - about Ducks, Newburyport and Patience, too. What can I say?! It's true! And trust me: Alex is a genius. And when he picks up his Nobel Prize in 2070 and you have one of those beautiful limited editions, you won't be sorry.)
*Which is not to say that you shouldn't pick up a very lovely paperback edition - of course you should! - available right here.
The Galley Beggar Press 2019/20 Short Story Prize
Talking of prizes. Our short story prize is nearing deadline time. Now in its fifth year, it remains an ongoing source of inspiration for us, a great way to hear from new writers and to read some fantastic work.
Our judges for 2019/20 are Arifa Akbar, Toby Litt and Todd McEwen. In other words, this is a chance to have your writing read by three truly brilliant people.
There’s a first prize of £2000, and additional prizes for the shortlist and longlist writers.
The deadline: 29th September, midnight.
There is a submission fee of £10 – we couldn’t run it otherwise – but every year we also offer 70 free entries to low-earners. Most of these are used up but one or two are still available, so do get in touch if you need a place* (*and don’t worry about explaining your situation: we trust you! And firmly feel that people should not have to justify hardship). ... For anyone who is feeling a little more flush and would like to help: We also offer a scheme whereby you can donate an entry – all you have to do is head here, and write a short note with your donation. For every entry donated, we will match it.
♫ Happy birthday to us! ♫
While we were away in the USA and Canada recently meeting some of our fellow publishers, Galley Beggar turned seven. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime since we published Simon Gough’s The White Goddess: An Encounter. And some wonderful, fortunate things have happened to us since. In those seven years, we’ve published 17 books, by 14 fabulous writers; we’ve seen those books reviewed, praised, loved by readers, translated into numerous languages and republished around the world (from French to Spanish, German to Italian, Turkish to Hebrew)… We travelled to Jaipur with Preti Taneja. We went over to Paris for Adam Biles’ launch of Feeding Time. We’re just back from North America. We've been treated like citizens of the world - and that’s a huge honour.
We’ve also been honoured to be associated with so many fine writers. To give you a flavour of the things our authors have achieved: they’ve been nominated, longlisted, shortlisted, and the winners of over 20 of the world’s greatest literary awards. … And this has been right from the get-go, from our second ever author – Eimear McBride’s – taking home of both the Goldsmiths and the Women’s Prize in 2013 and 2014, to numerous listings through the years on the magnificent Desmond Elliot First Novel Prize (Anthony Trevelyan, Jonathan Gibbs, Paul Stanbridge, Preti Taneja – and Eimear, again), to appearances on the Republic of Consciousness Prize, Wellcome Book Prize, Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, and others – too many to list. This year alone, Alex Pheby won the Republic of Consciousness Prize (alongside the brilliant Will eaves) and Lucy Ellmann is shortlisted on this year’s Booker Prize.
OK, I'm banging on. But you know, we are proud of our writers. And before we sign off, I hope you can indulge us for just as few moments more, and take a look back over a chronological list of our books and writers, and the wonderful things they've accomplished.
Thank you, readers and writers, for a tremendous seven years.
The White Goddess, by Simon Gough
“Gorgeous, preposterous, and captivating – Gough is Thomas Mann-like in his ability to pull you in.” The TLS
A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing, by Eimear McBride
“Eimear McBride is that old-fashioned thing, a genius, in that she writes truth-spilling, uncompromising and brilliant prose.” The Guardian
Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize, Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, Desmond Elliott Prize, and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction
Everlasting Lane, by Andrew Lovett
“Beautifully written, as charming as it is dark.” Kirkus Reviews
(NB! Paper copies have sold out - but you can still get ebooks on Kobo, Nook and elsewhere. It's a treasure.)
Randall, by Jonathan Gibbs
“A closely observed tale of youthful zeal… This Portrait of the Artist as a Deceased Man is vibrantly assured.” The Independent
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author, by Paul Ewen
“A modern comic masterpiece.” New Statesman
Winner of the McKitterick Award and longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize
Wrote for Luck, by D.J. Taylor
“Closely observed, gently fraught… There is an almost Chekovian undertow to this rewarding and impressive collection.” Literary Review
Longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize
The Weightless World, by Anthony Trevelyan
“A literary, speculative, to-hell-with-pigeonholes piece of fiction.” Bookmuse
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
Playthings, by Alex Pheby
“If Playthings is a neuronovel, then it’s arguably the best neuronovel ever written… But it transcends any such category and is simply a superb novel tout court, Kafkaesque in its nightmarish fluency.” Literary Review
Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize
Feeding Time, by Adam Biles
“A megawatt talent.” The Guardian
Forbidden Line, by Paul Stanbridge
“Hefty, highly entertaining… This is a novel that bursts with invention.” The TLS
Longlisted for the Desmond Eliott Prize and winner of the Republic of Consciousness First Novel Award
We that are young, by Preti Taneja
“Revelatory… urgent and irresistible… One of the most exquisite novels of the year.” The Sunday Times
Longlisted for the Jhalak Prize and Folio Prize, shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness and Jan Michalski Prize, winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize
We Are The End, by Gonzalo Garcia
“Wry… Consistently funny… An unexpectedly sympathetic debut about urban dislocation…” The Guardian
Tinderbox, by Megan Dunn
“A wonderful, restless, formally daring first book… Tinderbox is genuinely dazzling.” Review 31
Wrestliana, by Toby Litt
“A disarmingly honest and extremely powerful work of memoir.” New Statesman
Lucia, by Alex Pheby
“An emotionally powerful and consistently questioning novel… [Pheby] sets the standard for literary biography.” The Irish Times
Joint winner of the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses
Francis Plug: Writer in residence, by Paul Ewen
“Glorious… Outstandingly funny… Like its predecessors, this book is pure delight.” The Guardian
Shortlisted for the Bollinger P.G. Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction
Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellmann
“Extraordinary… astounding… amazing… One of the outstanding books of the century.” The Irish Times
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
And then, please also, make sure you have Patience in your life... You'll need it.
Right! That's enough blowing our own trumpet. If the noise hasn't offended you too much, I hope you'll follow some of the links and connect with those books. We love them all. And yes, we love you too: our readers, the reason we exist.
PS If you are thinking of shopping with us, or signing up to our subscription scheme, now would be a wonderful time. We've got some quite big print bills to pay soon. This is a very good thing, don't worry. We've been very fortunate and things are going well. But it's in nature's way that bills tend to arrive before payments. Anything that takes the sting out of the initial debts will really help. And help keep us sustainable for the next few years.
PPS I know I normally give music recommendations at this point in the letter.This one only partially fits the bill. But it makes up for it in beauty and soul. It's Judith Kerr (the author The Tiger Who Came To Tea and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit) speaking on Desert Island Discs when she was 80. I just listened to it, and it's so special I have to share it. She speaks with clarity, eloquence, force - and wonderful, kindly wisdom. There is a moment that is so powerful that it caused to make a weird barky sobbing sound. And it is all incredibly moving. Her discussion of the children the Nazis killed, and who were unable to have such a fortunate life as her will break your heart. She is wonderful. (The music is lovely too.)