Amazing Authors, Prize Shortlists, Grants and Testing Democracy

Posted in Neem Tree Blog on November 28, 2020

We’ve been mesmerized by the incredulous twists and turns in the 2020 US presidential election saga. It made us appreciate the strength of the US judiciary and brought home how precious democracy is and that it should never be taken for granted.

London is still under lockdown. With darkness setting in close to 5p.m. and with just a few restaurants open for takeout or delivery, the streets are eerily quiet where normally you’d expect a bustling crowd. Weekends still see a huge number of cyclists in the streets due to the relative paucity of cars, one good thing to have come out of the Covid crisis. The recent vaccine announcements are certainly welcome and provide some illumination on the horizon and hopefully, a pathway to normality. As the UK contemplates cutting it’s overseas aid budget, and with economic pressure on all world economies, we wonder what the employment situation will be like in Spring and beyond.

Among all this though, we have a lot to be grateful for. We have been so much in awe of many of our hard-working authors. Phil Bowne has been tireless in seeking out avenues to promote Cows Can’t Jump. His enthusiasm and drive has lead to some wonderful reviews and opportunities for publicity. The book trailer is really quite marvellous Cows Can’t Jump Book Trailer and his podcast on BBC Radio Gloucestershire has landed him a four hour slot on their evening show! The reviews have been wonderful, from Tripfiction “We read a huge number of books throughout the year. Sometimes we get a debut author with a stand out talent and I think this is one such example”; from The Express UK  “A fabulous debut steeped in the wit and prose of a bullish veteran…almost impossible to put down” and many Goodreads reviews note the perfect balance between humour and tragedy, the poignancy in the novel and almost universal connection with the protagonist. As a Waterstones reviewer summed it up, “At times witty and at times profound, at times outright kooky, I’d recommend this to all book lovers.” Phil is already working on this second book.

Hafsa Lodi, author of Modesty: A Fashion Paradox, tireless, steady and always willing to engage with podcasters, reviewers, press. She has systematically continued to promote the book while of course continuing her work as a journalist and being a mother to a high-energy little one. Her IG live interview with @summaiyyabooks was wonderful. Take a listen. Hafsa Lodi’s Interview with IG @sumaiyyabooks

We are also thrilled about our translators Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp and Sue Copeland’s addition to the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize shortlist for their wonderful translation of Ahlam Bsharat’s Trees for the Absentees. For a (very) small press, to sit next to books by university presses and large publishers, is very exciting indeed! The Banipal Translation Prize 2020 Shortlist And Ahlam is also running a creative writing workshop at the now online inaugural Ahlam Bsharat – Palestine Writes Festival!

Paula Darwish, translator from the Turkish of Children of War by Ahmet Yorulmaz, did a fabulous review with Intralingo on YouTube:  Intralingo Interview  and the interview also features on the Intralingo World Lit Podcast. Of course, the ramifications of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the Treaty of Sèvres, the resolution of territorial divides post WW1 with the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, as well treaties in place after WW2 still keep this history very much in the news. And, of course, a different refugee crisis now rages in the region.

We also know that Keith Carter, author of The Umbrella Men, is hard at work on his second novel and we can’t wait to see the first draft!

And we are really excited to have just learnt that we’ve secured a translation grant from the Romanian Cultural Institute for our translation of The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti! This is such a magical and atmospheric book and we can’t wait to publish it in our Autumn list next year!