Earlier this month Owen Martell, Jon Ronson, John Harrison, Rebecca F John, Ian Sinclair and Joe Dunthorne fled the British rain and joined a group of UK writers taken to the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico by the British Council.
The UK literary scene was the focus of this year’s Fair, one of the largest book fairs in the world, second only to Frankfurt with a million visitors passing through the doors this year. The writers introduced their work to publishers, ambassadors, critics, academics and school children and now we’d like to introduce a couple of them to you.
Three of the books by the multi-award-winning travel writer John Harrison are set in South America. His latest, 1519: A Journey to the End of Time (Parthian Books, 2015) engages directly with Mexican culture, following Hernán Cortés' travels as he met the Mayans, Aztecs and other cultures of the gold coast of Mexico in 1519. Described as ‘…a brave and beautifully written book…’ by The Telegraph, 1519 also reflects on the Harrison’s own mortality as, halfway through researching the title he had a scan which told him he would not live to write it; he was seeing out his own days.
No stranger to awards Harrison has won the Alexander Cordell Prize twice, the 2011 Wales Book of the Year and the 2013 Wales Book of the Year Non-Fiction Award. He is also the winner of the British Guild of Travel Writers Best Narrative Award 2014. Why not follow in his footsteps to far off lands from your cosy seat by the fire this winter?
The youngest of the six, 29-year-old Rebecca F. John has recently won the PEN International New Voices Award 2015 for her story ‘Moon Dog’, and was also shortlisted in the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2015 for ‘The Glove Maker’s Numbers’. Both of these stories alongside others broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4Extra feature in her dazzling, ambitious debut collection Clown’s Shoes (Parthian Books, 2015).
These critically acclaimed stories dip into the shadows and spotlights of life. From the pale waking hours to the darkling places, Clown’s Shoes introduces a cast of lost characters trying to find their way, and asking whether everyone really does come 'salting home' in the end? A reflective collection perfect to read at the turn of the year.
Susie Wild is a writer and the publishing editor at Parthian Books. She also attended FIL Guadalajara on a Welsh Government Trade Mission.