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Waterstones 11

Last year, the prophets of Brentford gazed into their crystal balls and selected eleven debut novelists for their inaugural Waterstones 11 list, a list which champions debut authors who are expected to make an impact over the next twelve months.  It proved to be an inspired selection, including the Man Booker-shortlisted Pigeon English and Orange Prize winner The Tiger’s Wife.  Headline’s When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman made up the literary football team, and subsequently scored huge commercial success, winning a Galaxy Book Award and even making the bedside table of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Last week, the Waterstones 11 list for 2012 was unveiled at a swanky bash at their flagship Piccadilly store.  Publishers, booksellers, journalists and authors galore turned out to celebrate the line-up which includes Headline’s own Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child.

Eowyn Ivey

As Eowyn was sunning herself in New Orleans at the Winter Institute bookseller conference, a group from Headline took on the onerous task of sipping champagne, and toasting (repeatedly) to the success of this year’s list.  After an inspiring speech from James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, we mingled with the literary crowd which included a number of the Waterstones 11 authors.

Eowyn was thrilled to make the list, keeping fine company alongside the likes of Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – both debuts I have read and adored.  As well as the fantastic atmosphere (well done team Riot Communications), a number of partygoers had already read The Snow Child, and seemed to have fallen under its spell.

Below is the full line-up. A list of eleven prizewinners and bestsellers, perhaps?

The Waterstones 11

Jenni Fagan – The Panopticon

Patrick Flanery – Absolution

Frances Greenslade – Shelter

Chad Harbach – The Art of Fielding

Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child

Rachel Joyce – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Grace McCleen – The Land of Decoration

Anna Raverat – Signs of Life

Charlotte Rogan – The Lifeboat

Karen Thompson Walker – The Age of Miracles

Will Wiles – Care of Wooden Floors

Find out more about each of the Waterstones 11 titles here: http://waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/pages/waterstones-eleven/2272/

Posted by Sam Eades, Publicity

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A Night Less Ordinary

I went to a do at Soho House this week (and lost any cool factor I might have tried to fake by failing to find the entrance). No, it wasn’t the launch of a new vodka, or a pre-Fashion Week party. It was a book swap.

Admittedly it didn’t have much in common with the book swaps of my experience, in village halls or at school fetes. These events are the brainchild of a new literary project/journal, Tale of Three Cities, and, as befitting a name stocked in the très cool Colette store in Paris, the evening looked at first like a study in ‘geek chic’. There was a cocktail called Huckleberry Gin and great music and plenty of thick-framed vintage specs and ironic knits on show. But, all that besides, it was really just a gathering of people who love books, who wanted to spend the night talking about them, sharing them, and ultimately, to leave with an exciting new read.

The premise of the evening was a fantastic ice-breaker. I went with a friend, but once we were inside we didn’t see each other until it was time to try and catch the last tube home. We were too busy chatting with complete strangers about books.

The swap itself must be handled delicately. I brought When God Was a Rabbit with me, in case there were any uninitiated in its wonders. I could tell that the first person I talked to was pretty keen on my book – but first I needed to find a way of reading the back of hers without giving her false hope.

You also have to avoid the “oversell”, so I placed mine on the bar and watched from a safe distance, leaving it there for punters to admire undisturbed before sidling over when they picked it up and giving my recommendation. Creepy, but it worked – I didn’t manage to hang onto it for very long.

I walked away with a wonderfully antique edition of Don’t Look Now and other stories by Daphne du Maurier, though I made the mistake of starting the titular story before I went to bed (for anyone who hasn’t read it, it’s every bit as creepy as Nicolas Roeg’s film adaptation).

I can’t imagine a better activity for a Monday night – any night, in fact. I suspect that by the end of 2012 my bookshelves will be completely refurnished – an exciting, if somewhat nerve-wracking prospect.

Posted by Lucy Foley, Editorial

Twitter: @lucyfoleytweets

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