Friday 14 December 2007

Coverage Building Up For Arthur's Round

It has been many years in preparation and the biography of Arthur Guinness, Arthur's Round by his direct descendent, Patrick, is certainly making a stir. We had a launch for the Irish publication in Dublin in November (see the author, with his daughter, Jasmine, at the fabulous Guinness Storehouse in the pic above) and today's Irish Independent has a splendid review here. There should be some more coverage coming soon too...

Thursday 15 November 2007

New Review for In Love

Another review for In Love! Last week The Times put out a review for our newly published book, Alfred Hayes's In Love. In other news, Boy In Darkness will be previewed shortly in two literary papers. On 11th December, The Lady will be interviewing Sebastian Peake, son of Mervyn, about the new collection while the Literary Review will extract one of the stories and print some of the illustrations in their December/January issue.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Guardian Review for In Love

Saturday's Guardian carried a review for Alfred Hayes's In Love which has just been published. There wasn't room to mention that this new paperback edition carries with it a foreword by Frederic Raphael, who has the sequel to his seventies classic The Glittering Prizes, Fame and Fortune dramatized on Radio 4. Our thanks to him for one of the best forewords so far in our Modern Classics series

Thursday 11 October 2007

Literature in Translation event at Waterstone's Hampstead 24.10.07

Visitors to our website with a special interest in foreign translation may like to know that Waterstone's in Hampstead are arranging a special event on 24th October which we are also pleased to be attending. Check in with Waterstones for more details and see you there. Our most recent translated fiction titl, which you'll hopefully see there too (!) is Enormity of the Tragedy and check out the new books or modern classics pagefor more

Tuesday 2 October 2007

New Web reviews for Ice and Gulty

We were very pleased to meet Niall Harrison at our Kavan evening back in July (see below). He runs a website that specialises in science fiction titles, in the main, and one of his contributors has provided a perceptive study on Ice and Guilty right here

Friday 28 September 2007

Forewords! A Go-Go...

Since we re-launched the Modern Classics a couple of years ago, we have had some success in getting some pretty famous (and very talented) people to contribute thoughtful and illuminating companion pieces to key texts: from Graham Coxon on Narcissus and Goldmund to Martin Scorsese on Silence and more, the track record has been good. This week, we were pleased to announce another coup as Joanne Harris of Chocolat fame writes on Boy In Darkness. We've had a sneak preview of it in this office and it's a wonderful piece of writing. But this is the first in a series of announcements: there will be a two or three more equally illustrious names to be revealed shortly...

Friday 21 September 2007

A Review in a Thousand

We've had a barren spell in terms of reviews recently - in terms of new books anyway. But in today's Independent there is one well worth waiting for in praise of Enormity of the Tragedy -
see it here

As the review says, author Quim Monzó has been translated into many languages and we had a feeling that we might have stumbled on to something when we found that after nearly 20 years there STILL wasn't a book of his in English. Well, blimey, according to reviewer Michael Eaude he is one of the world's great short-story writers too but have a look at the review which takes in another Catalan work and gives you an insight into the vibrant literary scene in Catalonia...

And Saludos to Quim Monzó and translator Peter Bush!

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Guardian Review

We were very pleased to see a review of Ryunosuke Akutagawa in the Guardian this past weekend. The article includes a nice bio as well as discusses his works, especially Kappa. Akutagawa is best known for the acclaimed film Rashomon which was based off a short story of his.

Friday 7 September 2007

Alfred Douglas Review in the Wildean

One of our best-selling books at the moment is Caspar Wintermans' Lord Alfred Douglas . It's already had substantial reviews in the Telegraph and the Irish Times and, now, no less an authority than The Wildean gives it a good hearing. You can read both parts of the review above

Friday 31 August 2007

Independent Review

The other day we sent a request to the Independent to see if there was any prospect for a review of The Enormity of the Tragedy . We didn't hear back on that one yet - but they were nice enough to put in a fantastic review of The Lady and The Little Fox Fur which can be seen here!

Friday 24 August 2007

Journey In Blue shortlisted

Peter Owen are v proud to announce that Journey in Blue by Stig Dalager has been shortlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award for 2008. Dalager's book on Han Andresen is one we are very proud of here and Journey In Blue joins the list with nine other books. The prize is awarded to a book of high literary merit, seen to have enriched world literature. Past winners have included Colm Tóibín and Orhan Pamuk. We will have more news on the website relating to the Nobel Prize winner and Peter Owen v soon, but for now congratulation and fingers crossed for Stig Dalager....

Thursday 2 August 2007

Kavan Evening - Pictures

As promised, more on the Kavan evening on 3rd July at the London Review Bookshop. Here are a few photos taken at the talk, the full recording is coming soon....

The full panel for the evening. From left to right: Brian Aldiss, Virginia Ironside, Doris Lessing and Christopher Priest

Brian Aldiss in thoughtful mode as Virginia Ironside looks on

One of the highpoints of the evening was Doris Lessing's plea for Kavan's The Parson to be recognised as a Kavan classic along with Ice and Guilty. Here she is brandishing it for greater effect!

Friday 27 July 2007

Kavan Evening - 3rd July

Just to let people know (including the devastated James below) that we are working – with the help of our friends at the London Review Bookshop – on getting together a full profile of the Kavan evening. This will include a full recording of the evening and pictures of all those gathered. Please bear with us

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Cendrars again

Just when we were complaining the other day about the fact that Blaise Cendrars is underexposed, along comes the excellent Lee Rourke on the Guardian literary blog. A perfect introduction to one of European literature's wildest and miraculous talents...
Lee Rourke on Blaise Cendrars

Monday 23 July 2007

Times Guilty Review & A Look Back At Cendrars by Cunningham

Over the weekend, Kate Sauders at the Times offered a brief, but positive view of Anna Kavan's Guilty – Guilty Times Review – and it helps the Kavan name out there. Meanwhile, in the Financial Times, another needlessly underexposed Peter Owen author, Blaise Cendrars, was namechecked along with our most celebrated designer Keith Cunningham. Kit Maude, himself a former Peter Owen stalwart, provided a perceptive look at Cunningham's art which is still influential for book designers today - FT Astonished Man. For those with an interest, check out the page on Cunningham on this site via the link above: and our redesigned Modern Classics also display the continued influence of Cunningham, in the eye-catching designs from Alex Parsonage - he is another part of the Peter Owen 'massive'. We may be a small independent but, you see, creative individuals has been the bedrock of the business and we like to give the impression that we're coming at you from all sides. Take a bow, everyone.

Wednesday 4 July 2007

Actually, That Was Two Big Nights, Not One

We also should have mentioned that it was Ken Russell's birthday yesterday and Proud Gallery had a birthday party for him, doubling up as a launch for his new photographic exhibition. Proud Galleries are showing his Lost London Rediscovered 1951-1957 and we do recommend that you go and visit - you can also have a look at his Great Composers books published by us while you're there...

Elgar: The Erotic Variations
Beethoven Confidential

As for the party, our emissary from Peter Owen Publishers reported that it was a pretty full-on party, with the unheard-of (though not unimaginative) combination of beer and grapefruit juice on offer. But, as he did on Big Brother, Ken managed to find a good supply of champagne...

Ken Russell's Lost London Rediscovered

Meanwhile, a slightly different kind of evening took place at the London Review Bookshop. Our thanks goes not only to the bookshop itself, but also Doris Lessing, Virginia Ironside, Brian Aldiss and Christopher Priest (as well as compere Kit Maude) and all the guests who made sparkling and thought-provoking contributions to an evening celebrating the work of Anna Kavan. It was gratifying for us as publishers of Kavan's works - for decades now - to see so many admirers of the great lady there. The recent Guardian review did suggest that there is some kind of Kavan revival afoot and the sold-out notice was a sign of that: what was most interesting to us was the range of interest in Kavan's work. The general consensus was that Ice is the masterwork (though Doris Lessing holds The Parson in perhaps even greater esteem) but there was little doubt that the newly-published Guilty ranks with some of the best of her work. Interest in Kavan's short stories and early work was also high and we should point out to any of the people who attended last night reading our blog (or anyone interested in Kavan) that we do have some exclusive stock of her rarer items, so please get in touch if there is a particular title that you're looking for - we may well have a copy or two here. Furthermore, Peter Owen have been faithful to Kavan for many years, and are committed to keeping her works in print - till that Kavan revival really snowballs and she gets the recognition she deserves

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Big night tonight!

The Kavan event is sold out tonight. All very exciting.
For those who can't make it we'll try and put some kind of recording (that's all a 'podcast' is you know) up on the website. There was also a review in the Guardian on Saturday.

On a sadder note this will be the last post from this Peter Owen blogger who's moving on. Bring on the replacement!

Thursday 28 June 2007

More on Anna Kavan

This time from Lee Rourke on the Guardian book blog. We see that they've chosen to use the self portrait as illustration. It never fails, when people ask for a picture of Kavan we always send a selection and they always go for the self portrait. 'spose paintings have a bit more colour . . .
This is an under used photo:

Tuesday 26 June 2007


It was a morning going through submissions today. I mention this because there's been some controversy in the blogosphere over some delightfully honest remarks from Scott Pack backed up quickly by Susan Hill and Snow Books and probably others. It's not an easy job going through the submissions pile, not so much because the choices are difficult but because there are so many people who say that they are aware how hard it is to publish a book successfully and yet somehow think that this rule doesn't apply in their case. So many perfectly well written memoirs, fascinating to one's close family but not so much to everyone else and more enthusiastic novels that have obviously not come close to a second draft. Let alone the dozens that every book should go through before it sees the light of day.

It's sad but over the last year we've had at least five hundred unsolicited submissions and asked to see maybe five in their entirety. We have published two.

Monday 25 June 2007

Russell reviewed and Miller interviewed

A nice piece in the Spectator about our Ken Russell books . It's been a while since we mentioned Ken, it's good to have him glowering up there again.

Miranda Miller has done an interview for The Book Depository . We really should be doing some more of that kind of thing.

Thursday 21 June 2007


Been awfully quiet over the past week for which apologies.

Our Anna Kavan event has been included into the Londonlitplus programme. This is a wonderful idea, I especially like their map of the alternative literary festival. We wonder whether an intrepid blogger might keep something like this up all year round? It could become quite a Scene (a favourite Peter Owen word).

We have a new cover for our latest Modern Classic, I Live Under a Black Sun :

The interesting thing about publishing this one was that we ddin't know whether we would make it a moderen classic or no – not because of the quality: it's a remarkable piece of work but because we weren't sure whether we had published it before. A book can't be a P.O.M.C. without our having published it previously. Peter was adamant that he had but he couldn't remember whether it was under the P.O. imprint or whether he had just bought copies from John Lehmann. When we found a finished copy from ABE books (see posts passim) it presented quite a conundrum: The cover was P.O. and the imprint pages were P.O. but the binding was John Lehmann. A free copy of the new edition to anyone who can explain how that happened . . .

P.S. Looks like we're going to publish a new collection of short stories by Mervyn Peake.

Friday 15 June 2007


That bastion of American printed lit crit, Bookforum is now also a bastion of American pixelated lit crit, being now published on the internet. This new edition has a piece on Anna Kavan .

Tuesday 12 June 2007

Damian Flanagan on Natsume Soseki

The lucky folk of Manchester will be able to celebrate Bastille day with an afternoon of Japanese literature. The Japan Society North West have organized for Natsume Soseki expert and champion Damian Flanagan to give a talk on Soseki at the Manchester Art Gallery .

In other news the dovegreyreader has done a review of Who Are You? by Anna Kavan. We have one satisfied reviewer there, I'd say.

Thursday 7 June 2007

The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

The Dovegreyreader has also discovered The Ice Palace and her reaction has been the same as everyone into whose hot little hands this superlative novel has been placed. At Shakespeare and Company there's been a guy who for the last couple of years has apparently made it his personal mission to get this book on every shelf in the known world. And good luck to him. We are absolutely certain that if only we could get it onto enough shopfloors in the UK then Tarjei Vesaas would finally get the posthumous renown that he so richly deserves.

Tuesday 5 June 2007

A wander round the blogosphere

A quick peek at Britlitblogs revealed a post today by Fictionbitch: The Comedy of Tragedy and the Tragedy of Comedy which immediately reminds one of our very own The Enormity of the Tragedy and upon reading it, even more so. It concerns an article by Julian Gough (there are grammar/presentation issues with these links. ed.) about the way that western thought has progressively discounted the comic in favour of the tragic and links this to the rise of monotheism, Vale of Tears thoughts and such. Fictionbitch also points to critique by The Reading Experience which, while not necessarily disagreeing with the argument, points out that American writers have been being both important and funny for quite some time. The striking thing (for us! ed.) about Julian Gough's article is that it begins with the example of Aristophanes - as does The Enormity . . . :

MAGISTRATE: Why are you twisting around like that? And draping your cloak over your front? Did your travels give you a hernia in the crotch?
HERALD: The fellow’s gone crazy, I swear to Castor!
MAGISTRATE (pulling his cloak to one side): Hey, that’s a hell of a hard-on, you filthy beast!
HERALD: No, I swear to Zeus, it isn’t! Enough of such nonsense!
MAGISTRATE (pointing): What do you call that then?
HERALD: A snake from Sparta.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 986–91

The point being that Quim Monzó is a fine example of an author who is both important and funny. Others from our list might include The Year of the Hare and Angels on the Head of a Pin and further afield Nabokov, Kafka, Garcia Marquez, Murakami, and so, so many more writers in translation who so often seem to be missing similar debates in English literary circles.

Irish Times review

Another Alfred Douglas review is up on the web page, this time in the Irish Times. Its particular emphasis is on Caspar's engagement with Wilde's De Profundis - a document that might be considered one of the founding myths of the Twentieth Century. It also rightly signals the following as one of the most interesting, written on Wilde's death but before Douglas knew about De Profundis:

'I dreamed of him last night, I saw his face
All radiant and unshadowed of distress,
And as of old, in music measureless,
I heard his golden voice and marked him trace
Under the common thing the hidden grace,
And conjure wonder out of emptiness,
Till mean things put on beauty like a dress
And all the world was an enchanted place.'

Monday 4 June 2007

Surrealism in in the air

and the water and especially the print media. As promised the Times review of Hidden Faces came out and made all the rushing around London worthwhile. This is, of course, timed to coincide with the Dali and Film exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Friday 1 June 2007

The weekend spilleth over

with reviews . . .
The Wheel of Fortune is named as one of things that Emma Thompson should do this week in the Evening Standard magazine. The reviewer told us over the phone that the film is fantastic.

The TLS's review of the Alfred Douglas biography is very good and will appear on the website shortly.

Transmission , an excellent literary magazine has done a piece on Hermann Hesse the last paragraph running thus:

'There is a peculiar sensation that results from reading Hesse, a feeling that somehow one is being presented with one's deepest thoughts stated with sublime simplicity. I have many times experienced sentences in Hesse that have caused me to stop reading and to seek out, in a state of head-shaking wonder, someone to read the line to. Today, Hesse slips through the cracks. That he achieves this is a testament to the incongruity his work has with our fucked culture. There can be no higher recommendation.' This is next to the picture reproduced above.

Furthermore The Times will do a review of Hidden Faces tomorrow, partly the fruit of a mad dash on the part of Blogger no1 who had to buy the LAST REMAINING COPY OF THE PREVIOUS EDITION IN ALL OF LONDON at Waterstones in Hampstead (very nice people there, there are now some P.O.P. bookmarks to be had there) before going on to deliver said copy to the reviewer in Mile End (also very nice). All very exhausting.

AND a very large (according to the lit. ed.) review of the Alfred Douglas biography in the Irish Times , also tomorrow.

Thursday 31 May 2007

Night Mail

Apparently, at some point last night after all the regular Peter Owen bloggers had left the office a long awaited delivery snuck in through the letter box. This is the first P.O.P. edition of I Live Under A Black Sun by Edith Sitwell. We had been waiting for it for over a month and imagined that it had been eaten by the voracious bookmunchingmonster that apparently lives in our local sorting office but were relieved to find that in truth, as befits a book written by Dame Sitwell, it was merely planning on making an entrance.

This is a cover from the very first wave of Peter Owen covers - with watercolours and drawings, very fifties in style, rather marvelous in their way. This period was then followed by the sharp graphic designs of Keith Cunningham , then they rather lost way during the eighties and nineties before computers started making everything easier - we think that some of our current book covers are beginning to match the tradition started by books like these. Indeed, there is much wistful talk in the office of going back to the good ol' days of small, beautiful hardbacks but there's plenty of market research to be done.

To get back to I Live Under a Black Sun (The web page seems to have disappeared: a job for tomorrow) the strange ambition of the book is summed up in the foreword by E.S.:

'This novel is founded on the story of Johnathan Swift, Stella and Vanessa. But not only have the details of that story, but also the frame-work (sic), have been changed. I have drawn copiously upon the letters of Jonathan Swift; in some cases the language of the latter has been modernised. The story of the dream in Chapter IX, Part III, was suggested by John Aubrey's tale T.M., Esq.'

What hope for a contemporary writer pitching a novel like this? 'Right, what I've done is written a novel about the love life of Johnathan Swift, right, BUT I've set it during the First World War, right, and it's not really very accurate' But the result is magnificent: dark, brooding and beautiful.

In other news, The Dovegreyreader has discovered joys and pains of Anna Kavan and there is a review of Alfred Douglas in this week's TLS. Which I'll try and put up tomorrow.

Friday 25 May 2007

A Reviewer Reviewed

We've recently been named one of the five best publishing blogs by the incomparable Mark Thwaite at The Book Depository. Probably because of all the photos. Not only that but thanks must go to Martin Huddersfield who took the time to photocopy some more Kavan pics as well as some of her short stories published in the London Magazine in the 60s. To answer your question Martin ( no return address) I think that you're right in saying that Red Dogs was never republished. Unless perhaps in Julia and the Bazooka (A fine name for a book, that) whose contents list I can't put my hands on at the moment.

But on to non Kavan related topics. A couple of weeks ago, the Telegraph printed a review of Alfred Douglas: the Man and His Art by Jane Stevenson. Ms. Stevenson professed herself less than convinced by Caspar's arguments for Bosie's rehabilitation. At the behest of the aforementioned incomparable we asked Caspar to come up with a riposte. And here it is:


Although December is still far away, I was reminded of a phrase in one of Bosie’s Christmas sonnets—‘the dark battalions of the unreconciled’—when reading Jane Stevenson’s review of my biography of Lord Alfred Douglas. She belongs to a group of critics who find it utterly impossible to say anything in favour of the poet who was loved by Oscar Wilde.
The phenomenon of this antipathy is not new. Why, Reginald Turner, writing to Bosie in the late 1920s, pointed out that he (Turner) had had to endure much criticism for breaking a lance for his Lordship. Turner is one of my witnesses for the defence of the poet. I was happy to unearth, in the course of my research which incidentally extended over a period of some eighteen years, his testimony that ‘the only real money of any amount that Oscar got [after his release from prison] was provided, and provided lavishly, by Bosie Douglas.’ I hoped that the evidence of Bosie’s loyalty to his incarcerated friend, of his courage in openly pleading for a humane treatment of gays, and of the support he gave to Wilde at the final stage of the latter’s chequered career, would have resulted into a somewhat more balanced picture of the man. It pleases me to say that I have been contacted by some of my readers who told me as much. But Jane Stevenson has joined the band of Bosie-bashers and shows dismay even at the fact that he failed to get a degree! No doubt she would also lecture Messrs Richard Barnfield, Shelley and Swinburne, for they, too, did not gain academic laurels; but I may point out to her that Bosie, while at Oxford, read a tremendous amount of literature; that he was, in fact, a highly-cultured man as is evinced by his poetry as well as by his contributions on literary subjects which appeared in The Academy under his editorship. I refer Ms Stevenson to my bibliography of Bosie’s articles.
The reviewer of the Telegraph raises her hands in horror at Bosie’s ‘irresponsible behaviour’ and cites two instances: (1) that he carried a loaded revolver with him which accidentally went off making a hole in the ceiling of a hotel and (2) that he eloped with Olive Custance without having a fixed idea of how the two of them were going to make a living.
True, Bosie did carry a gun in the months before Wilde’s incarceration, but it would have been helpful to her readers if Ms Stevenson had told them why the young aristocrat had armed himself. He had done so in view of the fact that his father, the Marquess of Queensberry, objected to his relationship with Oscar Wilde and had threatened to use physical violence if he met the couple at, say, a public restaurant. Considering that the Marquess had previously been trying to horsewhip the Foreign Secretary, one can understand that Bosie acquired a weapon to defend himself from someone who was notoriously bellicose.
As regards Bosie’s subsequent runaway match, I may remind Ms Stevenson of the words of Pascal: Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas. Olive and Bosie were very much in love, you see. They acted impulsively, irresponsibly if you will; yet they have my sympathy for following the dictates of their hearts rather than listening to the sober voice of reason. But them I’m a romantic.
In my biography I have quoted the testimony of many who knew Douglas and who had warm words for him, such as Rupert Croft-Cooke, John Betjeman, Alice Head and Bosie’s niece Violet (whom he adopted), to name but a few. Ms Stevenson refers to none of these testimonies as it would rather spoil her caricature of Douglas who, she claims, ‘as his beauty faded turned more solipsistic, litigious and liable to violent reverses of opinion. He blasphemed most of his gods at one time or another, including Wilde and pederasty.’ The comment on Bosie’s ‘fading beauty’ is intensely typical and interesting from a psychological point of view. Bosie-bashers always refer with glee to the transience of his good looks. I don’t know if the physical appearance of these critics is likely to appeal more to abstract rather than figurative painters and sculptors, but few things seem to cause more irritation in some quarters than beauty and charm. Jealousy, as Bosie himself wrote in one of his letters, is, indeed, ‘the most terrible of all sufferings.’ Now Jane Stevenson mentions Bosie’s efforts at one time in his stormy life to distance himself from the deceased Wilde, without, typically, telling her readers why he did so and without telling them that he happily reconciled himself to the memory both of the writer whom he had revered and of Robert Ross who had done his utmost to traduce him (Bosie). The reviewer is wrong, then, when she states that Bosie’s sonnet to Churchill, acknowledging he had misjudged the politician, constitutes ‘perhaps the only occasion on which Douglas, a good hater, made such a concession.’ She is wrong when she claims that Bosie kidnapped his son, Raymond (it was his grandfather who did this), and when she remarks that ‘the most depressing thing about the early poems is the desire they show for the consumption of boys as commodities,’ she is really entering the realms of silliness. In fact (to quote Rupert Croft-Cooke’s comment on a colleague of Ms Stevenson who, writing about Oscar, had made an equally silly remark), this judgment ‘can only be answered by a plural monosyllable which Wilde would never have used.’ Bosie’s gay poems number a mere six or seven, so to suggest, as does Jane Stevenson, that ‘these set the whole tone,’ seems odd to me.
The reviewer does not hold Bosie’s poetry in high regard. Well, each to his taste. I venture to think that Bosie was a great poet, and find myself as regards this in the company of someone whom Jane Stevenson does respect, if only (as she points out) because he got a double first at Oxford; a man of letters who, writing in 1897, described Bosie as ‘a most delicate and exquisite poet—far the finest of all the young poets in England.’ It was Oscar Wilde who wrote this, and I fondly hope that my edition of Bosie’s poems may enable new generations of unprejudiced readers to experience in his lyrics the same thrill of beauty and wonder which for years has delighted

Caspar Wintermans
The Hague, The Netherlands

Thursday 17 May 2007

More Kavan pics and a review

In spite of my telling Jenny Sturm to hold on to her Kavan pics, that they'd make a great book some day, she's only gone and sent some more, Above is Kavan without her otherworldly hairnet. Below are some shots of Charles Fuller - who I believe was one of Kavan's disastrous beaus?. He is undoutedly a handsome swine.

There is another Alfred Douglas review from the remarkable Dovegreyreader. Given the volume of books she's currently getting sent we're amazed and very grateful that went through all 400 pages, going even further than the poetry and into the notes. Although doing so apparently gave her a piquante dinner story.

Wednesday 16 May 2007

Wish you were here?

Kavan's featuring heavily on the blog these days but we're all of a flutter about her at the moment. This snap of Kavan in Bali was sent by the very learned Kavanophile Jenny Sturm (Who writes the foreword for Guilty) ALL THE WAY FROM NEW ZEALAND BY ELECTRONIC MAIL - not quite so impressive these days I know. I know. Much more impressive, and probably immensely wrenching, was Kavan's trip from New Zealand to uk in a freighter in 1942 accompanied by nobody but twelve paratroopers. A wrench not just because the high seas weren't exactly safe in 1942 but because she was leaving behind her partner, a conscientous objector under threat of prison. It's exactly these kinds of experiences that inform her powerful, lonely prose.

And wouldn't you know it. Advance copies of Guilty came in just now.

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Anna Kavan Event

A very brief phone call from one of the most distinguished of contemporary British authors means that we can finally announce some exciting news:

On the third of July, to mark the publication of Guilty we are going to hold an Anna Kavan evening at the London Review Bookshop. Brain Aldiss, Doris Lessing Virginia Ironside and Christopher Priest will be holding a panel discussion about Kavan's life and work amidst a few brief readings - all will be very welcome.

The heartening thing about this event was how willing all these writers were to promote Kavan's work. It was just a case of a round of 'can you do this date, this one? etc.

Monday 14 May 2007

Alfred Douglas Review

Saturday brought a piece by Jane Stevenson in the Telegraph:

It seems that she doesn't quite agree with Caspar's opinion of Bosie. Interestingly, it's not so much that she disagrees with the biographical evidence but with the interpretation of said evidence - Bosie's still on trial after all these years.

Tuesday 8 May 2007

One thing that the Bookfair

brings home is that publishing is a small old world - however big the Transworld stand is. BNO1 did not quite was unaware quite how small until his hobby (Reading and translating contemporary Argentine literature - BNO1 needs some friends) suddenly came into contact with his work life. Having read the Spanish translation of The Enormity of the Tragedy he noticed that the translator was the author of one of the books he was currently reading ( Los Acuaticos, very much to be recommended by what's been read so far) so he sent out a speculative email and got this as a reply - a fascinating insight into a translator's job and also the standing of Quim Monzo on the continent:

'For many reasons, not least that Quim Monzo is a
dear friend of mine, it was a wonderful surprise to receive your message. But
first of all, please excuse my dreadful English. It wouldn't seem kind to me
to write you in Spanish, but I'm only a translator, that is to say that I
can read and translate reasonably well even William Burroughs --indeed I
have done it-- but my fluency is... well, you see.
I did the work maybe more than fifteen years ago, then I returned in Argentina --after
living 20 years in Barcelona-- and I have but a blurred memory of my
intentions and about how I thought then my work had to be done. I guess I can only
help you telling these things:
- As I say, Monzó and I were very close friends; in fact he
gave me lessons of Catalan.
- In very brief terms, he was the first postmodernist, as it
were, not only in Catalan but in Spanish narrative.
- Critics and inteligent readers use to say that, appart from his
subject and contemporary/semi surreal plots, one of the charms of
his books was that they were written in a wonderfully economic, very simple,
almost inmaculate but sparkling and ironic prose.
- I tried to keep those characteristics, but spare Spanish
needs to be a bit less spare than spara catalan if it doesn't want to look
awkward or inexpresive; so maybe I took some slight liberties.
- Quim himself told many times, even in public, that he felt
very well represented by my translations. But, you see, we were friends, so
- True, I felt very comfortable translating his books. I
cannot assure you that I couldn't have felt too comfortable every now and then.
But, also true, as a rule I do my best to preserve the literal sense and the
general mood of the author's writing.
And if you have a momento when you finish, tell me how did you
like "Acuáticos".
[Sincronicity: just in this moment I am translating Hawthorne for
Acantilado, the independent publishing house that has Quaderns
Crema and publishes Monzó in catalan.]
Best wishes,
Marcelo Cohen.'

Wednesday 2 May 2007

Loving Mephistopheles on The Book Depository

The Book Depository - undoubtedly one of the best conceived post-Amazon bookselling projects (It'll be a genre) has an excellent review of Loving Mephistopheles.
Thank you to them and also to the always excellent DoveGreyReader.

A chance encounter with Doris Lessing at the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (A prize which we're pulling out all the stops for next year) last night means that avid Kavan fans won't have to wait too long for exciting news. Never has BNO1 felt more proud than when helping the great writer into a taxi.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Locus Magazine
A welcome envelope from the States in the post today - the eminent Locus magazine has done a review of Mervyn Peake: the Man and His Art:

'It's always interesting to glimpse the roots of an artist's vision, to see the first stirrings of inspiration and inclination. Mervyn Peake, known primarily as the author of the Gormenghast novels, was an artist first. His early work (at the age of ten) depicted the exotic environs of China, where he was born and lived with his British missionary parents before the family returned to England. An argument could be made that China provided the underpinnings of his unique artistic sensibility, and support for that view can be found in Mervyn Peake: The Man and His Art.
This new book by his son, Sebastian Peake, in collaboration with Alison Eldred, edited by G. Peter Winnington [A long winded list of credits, the result of much amicable discussion. P.O.P.] (author of an acclaimed Peake biography), functions as both a memoir and artistic retrospective. Its premise is that Peake was first and foremost an artist who created thousands of witty expresive drawings, sketches and paintings, and whose service as a war artist during WW2 not only provided a valuable record of the horrors of the concentration camps but personally affected him deeply and permanently. During his lifetime his artistic ability was widely acknowledged. However, after his death, Gormenghast became the lens through which Peake was viewed.
Mervyn Peake . . . should help correct that view. It's packed with artwork, offering a marvelous selection of early sketches, notebook pages, book illustrations, photographs letters, and paintings. Among the illustrations provided are samples for his workfor Treasure Island, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Bleak House and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Even in Peake's earliest sketches, dating from his childhood in China, his skill with line is evident. At age 16 he illustrated a series of Walter De la Mare poems for his own pleasure. The sketches show just how confident and expressive his early work really was. This expressiveness would become a hallmark of his later artwork. In particular, his mature drawings and paintings reveal the artist's skill and humor, frequently verging on caricature and cartoon. In his own advice to young artists in The Craft of the Lead Pencil, Peake writes: 'Do not be afraid to exaggerate in order to convey the real intention of your drawing,'

Handsome, respectful and well organized, this book presents its complex subject in a forthright, affectionate manner, detailing Peake's childhood; his development as an artist, illustrator and writer; his domestic life; his service during WW2; the writing of many works, including the Gormenghast trilogy, followed by his tragic illness - later diagnosed as Parkinson's disease - and, after much suffering, his early death. Peake's unrestrained imagination has influenced a generation of writers. Perhaps with this book, his influence on artists will become equally profound.'

What a corking piece - and one can but share the final sentiment. For a start there's nothing in Children's book sections these days to touch Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor.

Monday 30 April 2007

It's always tempting in the first post of the week . . .

to reference the fact that it's Monday. But not this time.

If anyone is anywhere near a Borders or Books Etc. over the next month they might want to have a look at their Best of the Independents where Narcissus and Goldmund has a decent spot. One of our editors was talking to an accountant (or was it an estate agent?) the other day who'd just bought the new edition and recognized the P.O.P. name because of it- first time we'd heard that happen with a Bona Fide Member of the General Public.

Also, if anyone is in India they might want to look out for our books there - we've just started exporting properly over there.

There's a nice note about us, and more specifically, Anna Kavan from a fellow publisher's blog today. The uber-impressive indie: Salt .

And for the many (perhaps increasing?) Kavan fans out there there will be some exciting news. Can't say more for fear of causing confusion.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

A silent blog is rather like an untended garden

Rather silent over the past couple of weeks, the LBF excuse must be beginning wear thin. Piece on that coming soon.

Couple of things
Two weeks ago the Big Issue came out with a well written piece on Loving Mephistopheles

And yesterday in the Guardian, one Michele Hanson said at the bottom of a piece calling for garden thieves to be clamped in the stocks (mixed metaphor?) that she read The Man Who Planted Trees

'This week Michele read The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono: "A solitary French peasant planted thousands of acorns, grew a forest and revived a great tract of France, all by himself. Inspiring. If he can do it, so can we."',,2064233,00.html

Tuesday 17 April 2007

London Book Fair

'tis the London Book Fair which means lots of standing around, talking to important people for too short a time and getting lost in that way only possible in a large open plan hall full of signs, maps and people offering directions.

Somewhere in there they were announcing a new book promotion to be placed in the Guardian: 50 books that defined decades. We had a very enjoyable time in the office discussing which of our books we could offer to the judging panel - unfortunately for us it would seem that they were going for a more British/American angle, there being two books in translation on the entire list, whereas almost all of our nominations were translated. A good list nevertheless.

Friday 13 April 2007


A great first feature on Alfred Douglas in the Daily Express today.

Also, for those who dabble in the art of the lead pencil, there's a lovely piece on Mervyn Peake by his son Sebastian in the monthly magazine for illustrators - intuitively named 'Illustration'.

There's always somthing in the Bookseller to rant about

A very successful publisher talking about his new crime list:

'If Dickens were alive today, he'd be a crime writer'


Thursday 12 April 2007

A shiny new arrival

Shiny being the salient detail, a fine and rather luminous shade of green for our new edition of Confessions of a Mask. The box they arrived in suspiciously resembling plutonium before revealing its more benign contents. We're getting incresingly proud of our new styled modern classics series, they look fantastic together on a bookshelf. Not to mention being great great reads of course.

This new edition contains an original foreword from Paul Binding who sets the book nicely in context before revealing his personal connection to the work. Advance orders are great for it so we'll cross our fingers.

An interesting review of a new book by Richard Bradford who has writtne biographies of Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis for P.O.P. and has some more exciting projects for us up his sleeve.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Happy Easter

We hope that everyone had a good Easter break and have returned renovated and renewed. BNO1 spent his reading From Winchester to This by Willie Donaldson, a tranche of irreverance only balanced out by a revisiting of Silence by Shusaku Endo, because 'twas the season.
This week will be spent preparing for the London Book Fair where everyone who's anyone in books is going to be. Fortunately, due to the proximity of our office, we'll be able to run in and out, advise on reataurants and pubs and generally strut around with the confidence of locals. If anyone is there and wants to meet up, drop us a line!


We ackowledge the very generous grant from the Institut Ramon Llull for the translation of The Enormity of the Tragedy by Quim Monzó

Ken Russell's latest column, plugging his composer's books and revealing how his interest in classical music begun (invloves a Bakerlite bicycle pump)

Wednesday 4 April 2007

This is how it went

'Good Morning/Afternoon,

'I'm calling from Peter Owen Publishers',

'Yes?'/ 'Oh hello!'/hmmm . . .

' aaaand we've got a new catalogue coming out and was wondering who I could address it to?'

'Ah, yes, you can send it to insertnamehere'/'oh just send it to everyone'/ 'you do know we're second hand bookshop don't you?'

'Just out of interest, have you heard of us?'

'Yes! Of course!'/ 'Nooo, I don't think we have'

It was the dichotomy of the last assertion that was most interesting from our point of view, either strongly aware of Peter Owen or completely (Blissfully? ed.) unaware.

not for long . . .

and long live the indies

With the London Bookfair looming large we're all hands at the pump to get our new catalogue out - should be here in plenty of time . . .

and part of the marketing job is of course to find people to send it to. Which would be easy one would have thought, because we keep a list of all the previous mailings and have been adding to them over the years. Especially given that that extra special modern classics catalogue we did last time only came out six months ago. Everything would have to be up to date, no?

No. Seems a couple of files have disappeared, important ones. So we're starting again from scratch. Which is fun, actually, as it means that we get to look for bookshops all over the country once again, and heartening because there are so many of them. Small independent bookshops - they were supposed to be as out of fashion as the Net Book Agreement. It's great to hear that they're not - and as Scott Pack (ex big buyer of Waterstones now at a fascinating new publishing project ) pointed out in his blog recently, increasing their market share.

Doubly heartening becuase of all the doom and gloom we're hearing about chain bookshops recently. Now, large branded bookshops will always be the lifeblood of publishers, especially smaller ones, because of the incredible service that they provide. There is no other high street store that can offer such wealth of choice and potentially different experience after the point of puchase. (does that make sense? Why are you writing like a business student? ed.) A good independent bookshop should be looking to provide (If it hadn't been for me you'd have used the word 'provide' three times by now, buy a thesaurus! ed.) a slightly different service - one tailored to suit the tastes of the owner and needs of their customers. A really good deli rather than a supermaket, I think most people are happy to shop at both?

Anyway,it's a lot of fun phoning all these shops, is the point.

Monday 2 April 2007

Alfred Douglas launch

Thursday the 29th March saw the presentation of our most recent non-fiction title: Alfred Douglas: A Poet's Life and His Finest Work by Caspar Wintermans at a venue that could hardly have been more appropriate.

The Phoenix Arts Club, tucked snugly underneath the Phoenix Theatre is a haven for many from the hustle and bustle of Charing Cross Road and its environs and with good reason. Once inside one is enveloped by the sort of comforting atmosphere that can only be found in a place with a good line in velvet curtains and low lighting. Caspar, whose sense of excitement had been tangible from as far away as the Hague, was charm personified when we met him (for the first time) at the office, and of course later on. He later explained in his short but excellent speech that this publication was the culmination of twenty years work and was extremely special for him.

The general feel of the evening was that of a strange kind of reunion, many of the invitees were people who had helped Caspar with his research over the years - but had never met in person. It was a procession of well dressed Wildeans, and indeed Bosieites wandering into the back room and looking around hopefully before being grabbed by the improbably youthful Caspar and engaged in energetic talk about all things Wilde/Douglas. Special mention should also go to the excellent Blackwells staff who, by virtue of The Phoenix being a regular Blackwells watering hole, were co-opted at the last minute into being the official booksellers of the evening, a role they played with skill and patience.

So, a success all round then! I leave the final words to Caspar himself (from his speech):

'God save our queens'

Friday 30 March 2007


This morning brings with it a nice little review of Kokoro in the Independent:

'Natsume Soseki, one of Japan's leading novelists, lived in Camberwell between 1900 and 1902. But since his death at the age of 49, only a dozen or so of his novels have appeared in English. His masterpiece, Kokoro, once more sees the light of day with a limpid new translation by Edwin McClellen. In the story of an intense friendship between a young student and a man he calls Sensei, Soseki writes about changing Japanese attitudes to honour, love and duty. The circumstances of Sensei's mysterious life only become apparent at the moment of his death, in a brilliant study of self-hatred and guilt.'

Anyone interested in in Soseki's stay in Camberwell might like to take a look at The Tower of London, his brilliant account of said time in London:

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Waterstones Event: Ken Russell on the Great Composers

On the 15th of this month, we were delighted to be hosting, with Waterstones' Gower St, the legendary Ken Russell in person. Ken was talking about his two new books published by us, comprising four novellas in total: Elgar: The Erotic Variations; Delius: A Moment With Venus; Beethoven Confidential and Brahms Gets Laid. Our thanks must go, first of all, to Waterstones for their events management skills but also to Ken for a memorable evening indeed.

In fact, Ken had already turned in a barnstorming performance that afternoon, appearing on the Robert Elms show on BBC London. The redoubtable Mr Elms is a fluent, confident performer on the radio and if he wasn't overawed, he certainly met his match in Ken - or so Ken said later on that evening. Their hilarious, good-humoured banter ranged over his films, love of music, Celebrity Big Brother (he called Jade and her mother 'the terrorists') and, of course, the books, where Ken showed not only the fun that he likes to have with these august figures, but his deep knowledge of and abiding love of their music.

And it was more of the same at Waterstones' where the assembled crowd included Loving Mephistopheles author Miranda Miller and two people who have kindly provided us with brilliantly-written and illuminating forewords for titles in our Modern Classics series: Graham Coxon (Narcissus and Goldmund) and Christopher Priest (Ice). Thanks also to all those gathered there on the evening. This is not to say, however, that Ken has finished his unique PR drive - look out for mooted appearances on Classic FM and The Wright Stuff. And, of course, look out for the books themselves which are hitting the bookshops now.

Muses as Heroes

Not another book on Oscar Wilde then..not Wilde but the beautiful Bosie is the star of the show this time. Up until now cast as that demon personified in Wildes life, the muse and destroyer, who with his careless actions brought ruin and betrayal. Caspar Wintermans has recreated Bosie in a more complex and fairer light, fleshing out the Jude Law portrayal of a flouncing, pouting spoilt boy and instead championing his devotion to Wilde, the societies he was part of, the impressions he made on others around him, his passions and loyalties. This biography fits nicely with the ever-growing recent interest in biographiess of muses, wives, lovers, the people surrounding and supporting the 'geniuses' and the extroverts about whom we already know so much.
Lord Alfred Douglas, a lot younger than Wilde, a lot more frivolous perhaps, was not only the inspiration behind some of Wildes thoughts and creations but also an inspired poet himself, the composite of which is contained, with notes, in this biography. The whole fascinating literary and artistic scene, the world in which Bosie and Wilde circulated and flourished is lovingly courted and chronicled by Wintermans, who spent 18 years researching and writing the book.
The launch and a chance to meet this expert on all things Wilde and Bosie-ish commences at 6.30 tomorrow at The Phoenix Arts Club, Charing Cross come along dears, sip a glass of wine, lounge in a corner and quote Wilde, hey, even buy a book. Why? As Oscar says

I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy

Grand. We shall see you there then, we remain your most humble book-servants,
All at Peter Owen Publishers

Monday 26 March 2007

Probably a little big for the tube

and certainly your pocket is Alfred Douglas: A Poet's Life and Finest Work - an entire year later than advertised. No-one's fault (except perhaps an over optimistic sales crew , ahem) just if you want something done properly . . . etc. But it's in now and your first chance to see the book and meet the author (A man who signs himself 'Believe me, yours truly) will be on the 29th March at the Phoenix Arts Club from seven O'clock or so.

so five P.O.P. books to read on the tube:

Gold, - to make you laugh

Year of the Hare - also with the laughter - it's good for you

Lady and the Little Fox Fur, to make you laugh nervously dwindling into a rictus and eventually a little cry

The Ice Palace - to make you cry

The Journey to the East - Because if I see another person reading Paulo Coelho I'm going to . . .

On a sunny day and delayed tube

BNO1 is moved to ask why so many people read Jodi Picoult on the train? Three different Picoult books on the same carriage. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just wondering what the secret to getting one's books read on the tube is? I always read the book that we've most recently published very prominently, but so far no-one has stopped me: 'excuse me but what is that you're reading?' they would say, and I'd turn and smile and . . . well, that's how it goes.

An Argentinian writer, Olivero Girondo, once wrote a book 'poems to be read on the tram' , perhaps it's time to compile a list of P.O.P. books to be read on the tube. This ties in rather well with a debate currently bouncing around in the office and indeed between us and friendly booksellers (all booksellers are, of course, friendly) - what size in which to publish our fiction? Now we've traditionally been a hardback publisher, we'd publish the hardback and then give the paperback rights to a paperback publisher. Of course, those days are over and since we moved into publishing primarily paperbacks we've tended to publish original fiction in a large paperback format. Recently it's been pointed out to us that this may not be the best way to go, for a reader's point of view a large paperback WILL NOT FIT INTO YOUR POCKET and from a bookselling point of view WON'T FIT ON A TABLE or occasionally, a shelf. So we're looking at doing all new fiction in a smaller size. But then we worry that they're less likely to be reviewed. The results of the debate will become clear fairly soon.

Friday 23 March 2007


The V&A, the Tate Modern, Saatchi gallery everyone is going surrealism nuts this summer. Something that we've been for years. BNO1 went to the Tate Modern the other day and realized that his boss had known personally two of the painters exhibited in the first room he entered ; Salavdor Dalí is of course well known and Peter's famous trip to buy the rights to his book well documented but I wonder how many people know of the second, Ithell Colqhoun? Her painting Scylla now currently hangs on the left hand wall of the first room of the Poetry and Dream collection on the third floor, somewhere at the bottom. Her book, The Goose of Hermogenes, the result I believe of a chance encounter with Peter at the French House in Soho is wonderful and weird, should have been filmed by Louis Bunuel and should still be filmed by David Lynch. Maybe I'll write a letter.

Also of interest to those of a suurealist nature is all writing by Blaise Cendrars, about whom I think it's time to do an author page, Hebdemeros by Giorgio de Chirico currently OP, and if you want to wander in to the next room in the Tate Modern, My Life by Marc Chagall

Thursday 22 March 2007

Lack of imagination?

Apologies for the past few days silence from the blog, bloggers have been away or very busy.

Catching up with some news; another excellent and thoughtful review from the dovegreyreader, this time for loving Mephistopheles:

A book that heartily disproves the theory that female writers today are lacking in imagination. If you have a read of this article in the Independent

then go out and buy Loving Mephistopheles, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Monday 19 March 2007

Willie Donaldson

After the TLS, nothing much on the review front this weekend - except for a large number of mentions of a previous book of ours in the epically named Willie Donaldson bio:
You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life & Times of Willie Donaldson by Terence Blacker. The book talks about P.O.P. a little and especially one of our staff - described as having 'the patience of a saint'. And you know what? he does. Well done that man.

The book mentioned is From Winchester to This and was Donaldson's own memoir. It's a great, funny and rather sad read by all accounts. Anyone who likes the biog should take a look:

(Amazon again - before this website's time)

Apologies to the Grumpy Old Bookman, apparently he has been inadvertently defamed over the past month or so ( missed out the 'book' part)

We did of course have our Ken Russell launch on Thursday night, more on that later.

Thursday 15 March 2007

Loud whooping in the office . . .

from BNO1 as there is another review of Bless 'em All, this time from Johnathan Keates in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS to you):

'Allen Saddler’s Bless ’Em All is subtitled A Blitz novel. Its emphasis is on the eternally absorbing paradox, in Second World War London, of ordinary lives pursuing their respective courses against a background of communal loss and annihilation. Booksellers Bernard and Maurice Green; their invoice clerk Rosa Tcherny, “a bit of all right”; perky Jimmy
the office boy, with his taste for pork-dripping and the Gem magazine; Bunty, on the game up West; and Gloria, the resting actress whose dramatic quietus owes nothing to the Luftwaffe: none of them is conspicuous for courage or glamour. What matters to them all is being “free to act natural”, as Jimmy puts it, even if, like the hotel porter Bert Penrose, they should end up minus a spouse and a leg.

Allen Saddler carefully avoids any hint of “London can take it” Cockney-sparrer sentimentality. The baldness of his characters’ conversational exchanges is as convincing as the unemotional narrative, pared down to the sinew of an existence suddenly robbed of anything like certainty or expectation: “Edie kept coming, day after day, but she didn’t bring any joy”. Even while it saves them, the mood of resignation which forms an essential ingredient of such lives has its own dangerous powers of

Tuesday 13 March 2007

Peter Haining

Amidst the great and the good of the publishing world, there are none so important nor as unassuming as those who make their living by producing good books for good publishers. These as distinct from writers, although they may indeed be talented writers, because rather than starting out from their own peculiar interests, they start out looking for a book that a publisher will want to sell, and that readers will want to read.

For very many years now we have had one of the best of these noble souls as a regular collaborator - Peter Haining. His speciality is fascinating collections of short prose - either little known pieces by famous writers or collections based around a theme. So we get:

Hunted Down: Detective Fiction by Charles Dickens
(The Web page seems to have disappeared for this one, back up soon but in the meantime here's the amazon page)

The Ghost Feeler and The Demanding Dead by Edith Wharton

Supernatural Tales by Vernon Lee

Sensation Stories by Wilkie Collins

The Adventures of Hunter Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard


The Hashish Club volumes one and two - various authors write about drugs
(Sadly out of print)

A Thousand Afternoons – An anthology on bullfighting


Lassie - the extraordinary story of Eric Knight and the world's favourite dog
(Bizarrely this one has disappeared too.)

A Cat compendium, – the world of Louis Wain

More often than not with an excellent introduction or more by the man himself. I imagine him sitting in a remote cottage somewhere with wild hair, a comfortable armchair, obscure but comprehensive encyclopedia and a gigantic blackboard marked 'ideas!'

Monday 12 March 2007

Another Bless 'em All review

Another Allen Saddler review to add to the collection. This time from the Western Morning News:

‘This riotous wartime tale of prostitution, romance, murder and the old-fashioned business of selling books comes from a Devon author with excellent credentials in journalism and writing for radio and television. In a portrait of a cross-section of London society during the Blitz, revealing that they were not heroic in the conventional sense and that most of them regarded the bombing as an intrusion, a nuisance to be endured. With its wealth of quirky characters, this highly entertaining novel exposes the misplaced optimism, naked opportunism and matrimonial misdemeanours in a comic tour de force of considerable verve, perceptiveness and period authority.’

We're still waiting on some more, but so far I believe that no-one had a bad word to say and many many good ones. Congrats must go to Allen.

Friday 9 March 2007

A Bookseller disclaimer

The Bookseller (A trade weekly) mentions us twice this week - one all about our new fiction programme the other about Blogger No. 1 (BNO1)'s current reading habits.

The first piece, although good and long and accurate quotes BNO1 as saying that the new fiction imprint will be called POP fiction. It won't and it was BNO1's mistake to have mentioned such a silly name at all. Apologies for any confusion caused.

Also BNO1's name has again been confused. So far in his short publishing career he has been called 'Miss.', 'Peter Owen' and now apparently been inducted into the Owen family.

Thursday 8 March 2007

International Woman's Day

So both women and books have been reduced to Clinton's status.

Top ten P.O.P. in print books written by women:

1. Two Serious Ladies, Jane Bowles

2.Lady and the Little Fox Fur, Violette Leduc

3. Ladders to Fire/Children of the Albatross/Four chambered heart, Anais Nin

4. Alberta trilogy, Cora Sandel

5. The Butcher's Wife, Li Ang

6. Reteat From Love/Duo et Le Toutonier, Colette

7. In The Shadow of Islam, Isabelle Eberhardt

8. Ice/Asylum Piece/The Parson, Anna Kavan

9. Paris France/ Look At Me Now and Here I Am, Gertrude Stein

10. Loving Mephistopheles, Miranda Miller

We've also published Shere Hite, Monique Wittig, Uno Chiyo, Edith Wharton, Johanna Sinisalo, Anita Desai . . .

Ken Russell's P.A.

Publishing, as may have come across in these posts, is a fairly schizophrenic tranquil/harassed kind of business. At P.O.P. when one first comes in to the company they tend to be surprised at how quiet things seem. Certainly appeared so for me (Blogger no.1 in case you're wondering) right up until the first evening when I got home exhausted - but not entirely sure why. After a bit of time here it becomes apparent that the dichotomy springs from the fact that the hard work is most often self generated. 'tis you personally who decides that they must do that extra bit of editing, designing, laying out, phoning, emailing reading reading reading etc. whereas in most jobs the hard stuff is a reaction to others - got to get a report in on time, deal with this complaint, put the doll's head on the doll on the conveyer belt etc.

But over the last few days it's been rather different: with the imminence of the forthcoming books by Ken Russell it's all been stuff from outside - 'can he do this interview, that one, well if that program is going to do it then we couldn't possibly, won't he do ours instead? (How is that our problem?). when are the books coming out? Can you send proofs? Yes I'm coming to the party when is it? how do i get there? You will remember to send review copies? NO MAIL WON'T DO, I NEED TO KNOW TODAY!!'

And then there's Ken himself phoning up half an hour before the books go to print saying 'I just found two important errors' . . . nick of time doesn't do it justice.

Still, we're ecstatic that so many people are interested in Ken - he truly deserves the recognition.

Wednesday 7 March 2007

Hasta la Revolucion Siempre

Gabriel Garcia Marquez turned 80 yesterday - funny to think he's almost exactly the same age as Peter. He chose to spend it in Cuba (Garcia Marquez, not Peter), which seems a very sensible place to spend one's birthday. Anyway, Feliz Cumpleaños to one of the truly great modern writers.

It's funny, we published Miguel Angel Asturias just before he won the Nobel Prize (Peter's still upset about the day Asturias won, something to do with not being offered any champagne), they are writers of comparable quality and subject matter but one reprints in millions whilst one hasn't made nearly as much of an impact. It'll be fun trying to change that . . .

Looking back through the mists it seems that we also published a book about the Cuban revolution written by a disgruntled ex Cuban ambassador to Britain. He wasn't in favour.

Then there's a book called 'What's Left?' by a fellow named David Powell. It seems that Nick Cohen stole our pun.

More oddities from the past:

'You Can Upholster!' from the seventies, exclamation mark and all.

'Beer is Best' I think this was by a Theakston or someone.

'A Dictionary of Satanism'

'A Dictionary of Graphology' various editions of that one.

Tuesday 6 March 2007

Michael Moorcock

G. Peter Winnington (Author of Vast Alchemies, a biography of Mervyn Peake and editor of Mervyn Peake: The Man and his Art)
writes to me this morning:

'We have a staunch supporter in Mike Moorcock: he wrote recently

'I was in a bookshop a couple of days ago and the assistant told me he
was reading /Vast Alchemies/. I told him to read no other book; that
yours was the only one worth reading. He said how he was enjoying it.

Why don't you print a short letter from me [in Peake Studies]
suggesting that all readers ask their public libraries to order /MP
Man and Art/ ? That would be a start. /You /can't suggest it, of
course, but /I/ could.''

A fine idea that might be applied more widely?

Monday 5 March 2007

Calming down

Apologies for the bile in the previous post. Blogger no.2 just had a rant about music journalists. It must be a Monday thing.

If you'd like to judge for yourselves the page for In the Shadow of Islam is

I've calmed myself down by beginning a pet project of mine - making our website more author focussed. I've created author pages for Tarjei Vesaas, Anna Kavan and Anais Nin:

Which I hope will eventually become link based resources for fans of many of our fantastic authors. Annoyingly I could find very little in English for Tarjei Vesaas on the internet. If anyone can find anything - biogs, appreciations, essays etc. I'd be much obliged.

Also you can now see and hear Miranda Miller talking about Loving Mephistopheles on You Tube at this address:

Something that we will be doing with more authors I hope.

And finally, I got a very nice phone call from the publicist at the excellent quarterly journal Slightly Foxed - a publication to which everyone should be subscribed.

In the shadow of apathy?

A great previous post by blogger number 3 (!) a recent but temporary addition to our staff from Shakespeare and Company Paris. Isabelle Eberhardt, the writer she mentions has been on our list a while. A couple of years ago the people at P.O.P. added her first volume, In the Shadow of Islam, to our Modern Classics series fully intending to bring out the next two volumes in the trilogy a few months down the line after the obvious success of the first. It had everything: a great piece of writing (which should be all that matters) AND one that ticked all the boxes imaginable for those who like their boxes ticked, very independent woman, clash between Islam and the West, love, travel, there was even a TV documentary starring a journalist following in Eberhardt's footsteps. And? nothing, nope, nada or as Eberhardt would have said; 'rien'. Those that like our books ( < enough) stocked it, those that don't seem to (> > > many) didn't. We're still struggling to bring out the sequel. There are far far too many great and importantauthors in the same leaky boat.

A comment in the Bookseller two weeks ago by an editor being interviewed for her editorial success in bringing out the Peter Kay autobiography.

'Books are important, but not that important. It sounds quite wanky to say that, but it keeps you in check'

It WOULD be difficult not to get 'out of check' musing on the importance of Peter Kay's middle aged ramblings. Or the thoughts of Chantelle. For which said editor was also responsible.

Or take the person who decides what books go on Richard and Judy (For which a publisher must commit to spending thousands pounds even to be considered) who says that she 'hates the word literary' it 'puts people off' apparently.

I saw the best minds of my generation etc.

Friday 2 March 2007

Isabelle Eberhardt

"For those who know the value of and exquisite taste of solitary freedom (for one is only free when alone), the act of leaving is the bravest and most beautiful of all."

“Last year I left this place to the gusts of winter” The opening to Eberhardts first volume of autobiographical writings ‘In the Shadow of Islam’.
Isabelle Eberhardt, after narrowly escaping assasination and having been banished from French Algeria and imprisoned several times, lived only to the fragile age of 27. Defeated finally in 1904 by Malaria and swept away in a terrible flood she was found surrounded by the muddy pages of her manuscript. Pieced together by an anarchist editor friend, her remaining works were collected into 3 volumes of passionate poetical travel writing. Winding, desert, travellers tales of passion and nihilism. Rebel, adventurer, kif-smoking Isabelle travelled under the firm belief that everything that happened happened for a reason and that her life was dependent on chance. She was and is a true feminist hero, a radical of her time; “ women cannot understand me,” she opines “ they see me as a freak”. Dressing as a man, speaking many languages and riding horses from the encouragements of her father she was able to travel freely and wildly and where chance took her. She was known to hang out with local young vagabonds, wrestling with soldiers in the barracks or found sleeping in the local kif-joints.
Her writing is sensual and descriptive in her search for dirt, freedom, expression and moments of glorious sensation, of sunlight, food, love, religious musings and the people and places she visited are all wound together.
Ah Isabelle, a new heroine then? Time to seek her out…

Blogger no. 3

Wonderful web reviewers

Another thoughtful and beautifully written review from the Dove Grey Reader, this time on Kokoro:

This even though she missed our launch - we'll have to see what we can cook up in Devon!

And a very amusing column on our loving mephs launch from Duncan Fallowell

Sociopaths? Nous?

Frightening adverts

The Bookseller magazine carries two dark boxes in its classified section this week:

CALDER BOOKSHOP seeks successor

CALDER PUBLISHING seeks successor

Scary stuff.

The Guardian mentions our forthcoming Ken Russells in one of its gossip columns today:

'Ken Russell has written a BOGOF book. The veteran film director always had a pretty cavalier approach to mere facts in his films, and has now written waht he calls 'novel biographies' of the composers Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius. And best of all, Elgar: The Erotic Variations and Delius: A Moment with Venus, come bound together as one chunky volume: 'Two Novels in one book!' as the publisher chirps.'

The problem with attempting irony is that you're never sure who is being it when. Also no mention of us and no mention of the other book - Maev Kennedy (who wrote the article) might have said 'a BOGOF of BOGOFs from Ken Russell - famous of course for Quadrophenia'

I'm not sure that makes sense.

Thursday 1 March 2007

Every day is a book day

So books have been relegated to Clintons status have they?

Ten P.O.P. books that no one should be without:

1. The Ice Palace, Tarjei Vesaas

2. Silence/Scandal Shusaku Endo (I prefer the latter, everyone else the former)

3. Narcissus and Goldmund, Hermann Hesse

4. Ice, Anna Kavan

5. Two Serious Ladies, Jane Bowles

6. Three Cornered World, Natsume Soseki

7. Secret Protocols, Peter Vansittart

8. Year of the Hare, Arto Paasilinna

9. The Man Who Planted Trees, Jean Giono

10. Confessions of a Mask, Yukio Mishima

Wednesday 28 February 2007

Peter's interview

Also an interesting profile of Martin Scorsese where Silence is again mentioned as an imminent movie

Tuesday 27 February 2007

The reason that we've been so insanely busy over the past few days


Peter Owen Translated Fiction, 2007–2008

In recent years, Peter Owen have published such important contemporary novels in translation as Arto Päasilinna’s The Year of the Hare, recently filmed in Canada, and Angels on the Head of a Pin by Yuri Druznhikov, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2001. Already planned for publication in 2007 is a novel in Catalan, La Magnitud de la Tragedia by Quim Monzo, who worked on the highly successful arthouse movie, Jamon Jamon.

In 2007/2008, Peter Owen is setting up a brand new programme of translated fiction and with the help of funding bodies such as Euclid, Insitut Ramon Llul and others, hopes to produce its most ambitious series of translated fiction in years. Here are the highlights.

Two Days in July (To dage i juli) by Stig Dalager (Denmark)
A literary thriller about the 1944 plot to kill Hitler by one of Denmark’s foremost authors of novels, poems and short stories. This book and its subject is already generating considerable interest among film agents.

The Glass Eye (Lasisilmä) by Johanna Sinisalo (Finland)
Johanna Sinisalo is a rising star of the international literary scene. Her previous work of literary fantasy Not Before Sundown, was critically acclaimed, and this ingenious thriller is a chilling and timely exposé of the dark side of TV culture.

The Seven Churches (Sedmikostelí) by Milos Urban (Czech Republic)
Milos Urban made a huge impact on Czech literature with his second novel Sedmikostelí (The Seven Churches). A unique mixture of Gothic horror and crime noir, it has achieved cult status and is already a best-seller in Spain and Latin America.

Of Dolls and Angels (Des Poupeés et des Anges) by Nora Hamdi (France)
Nora Hamdi is an exciting young French writer of Algerian descent. Her first novel, Des Poupées et des Anges, received spectacularly good reviews and won the Yves Navarre literary award. Of Dolls and Angels deals with the problems of a young girl of Algerian descent growing up as a second-generation immigrant in the Parisian suburbs at a time of social unrest.

For further information on this programme contact Kit Maude or Michael O’Connell
at Peter Owen Publishers, or visit our website