Saturday 28 August 2010

The Water Theatre

Simply the most wonderful review of Lindsay Clarke's The Water Theatre (which is out in September) in today's The Times. "A stunning, compelling tale that tackles the biggest theme of all: the existence of evil… The Water Theatre should… re-establish [Lindsay Clarke] as one of our most talented, ambitious and ground-breaking novelists. There is nothing small about this book; it is huge in scope, in energy, in heart." Etc. etc. etc. I am so thrilled for Lindsay, and I am sure there is more to come soon.

Also in today's The Times, entirely by coincidence, there is a piece I have written about the new Lightship literary awards for short stories, poetry and first chapter of a novel. I will write more extensively about this soon, as I am involved as a judge of the First Chapter competition, and Alma is one of the sponsors of this wonderful new initiative created by the novelist Simon C. Kerr (


Tuesday 24 August 2010

Too Fast

It's been a while since my last post – such a long time, in fact, that I struggled to remember how to sign in . . .

What have I been up to? Mainly, I have been busy editing Lampedusa's Letters. I thought it'd take me a day or two – it's taken me ten long days of solid work. I am exhausted – but the book is absolutely fantastic, and I can't wait to see it out.

Social and cultural life has been abuzz too. Among other things – such as a visit to Guildford and to the Imperial War Museum – Elisabetta and I had a lovely dinner with Carole Welch (Sceptre), Pete Ayrton (Serpent's Tail), Christopher Maclehose (Quercus), Bill Swainson (Bloomsbury), Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson. It was a glorious evening, and publishing was not the only subject going round the table with the wine – which was even better.

We have sent to the printers another dozen titles over the past couple of weeks, and have received finished copies of many books including Alberto Manguel's All Men Are Liars, which looks fabulous. We were supposed to go to Edinburgh for Alberto's events but had to cancel because of acute Lampedusitis. Oh well – next year.

A few nice reviews of our books have appeared, including a nice mention in the last Saturday's Times by Scott Pack, who has described Bestseller as "a caustic satire on the publishing world" (thanks Scott, I owe you one!).

The Alma and Oneworld Classics Spring 2011 were signed off today, and should be available for browsing online in the next day or two, so please keep your eyes peeled.

Weather is shitty, as you may have noticed, and is making me suicidal. I miss my kids, who are coming back on 3rd September. I try to console myself with a lot of exercise at the gym – followed by Gargantuan meals at home. And readings of Milton. And blogging. Goodnight.


Wednesday 11 August 2010

Lunch at the Madhouse

The ideal place for publishers' or agents' lunch meetings the Ristorante Manicomio (literally Madhouse Restaurant) gets my thumbs up for a lovely "piazza" atmosphere in the very heart of Chelsea (85 Duke Of York Square, close to the Saatchi Gallery) and deliciously simple food. It's a bit expensive, but I don't think rent comes cheap in that area.

I was there with Melissa of Pushkin Press, just as crazily bent on publishing translated fiction in this country as I am. Two like-minded fools having lunch at the Madhouse. How appropriate to eat there.

One of the waiters was the spitting image of Michael Schmidt of Carcanet, and I was slightly taken aback when he came over to our table with the bill. For a moment I thought that Michael had decided to turn to a much more profitable business, after many years of publishing poetry, often in translation.

But it wasn't him and, to our relief, at the end of the meal we were not taken away in a straitjacket.


Wednesday 4 August 2010


Yesterday evening we went to see Inception. We were very sceptical at first, especially when it started like a film videogame. But as we entered the story we were riveted, and so were the rest of the audience by the look of it. What was amazing, though, is that the book is a complete rip-off of many Yasutaka Tsutsui's novels written between the 1970's and today. Planting ideas in people's minds, sharing and manipulating dreams, dreams within dreams, etc., are all elements you can find in Paprika (which we published in 2008 and was adapted into a spooky but wonderful anime) or The Girl Who Leapt through Time (which we'll publish next spring). The guy who commissions the planting of the idea also looks like he's Japanese, so it's only natural that conspiracy theories are buzzing in my ears. Anyway, the movie is very well done, I must admit, whether they stole the main ideas or not.

For another two alleged rip-offs of books published by Alma, see this bloggerel entry:

and this one:


Sunday 1 August 2010

Alma is also . . .

. . . the African Leaders Malaria Alliance ( of 30 African countries whose primary strategic goal is to eliminate preventable malaria deaths by 2015 by scaling up coverage of all other available interventions. There are 680,000 African children dying each year from malaria – let's try not to forget this.