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December 6, 2018

A.M. Heath Team Christmas Reads 2018

If there is one cruelty of work at a literary agency, it might be the shortness of time and the hugeness of choice on what to read. Too many recommendations, too many proofs begged from publishers, too many shiny new covers that would look great on our shelves at home.

Thankfully, Christmas will soon be upon us, meaning it’s almost the perfect time of year for eschewing all social obligations and curling up with a good book. Or six.

This is what our office will be reading for pleasure over the winter break – the books that have been just beyond arm’s reach all year, be they new releases, rereads of classics, trusted recommendations, or forgotten gifts from last Christmas that Aunt Susan is definitely going to ask after.

Happy holidays and happy reading!

Victoria Hobbs

I could just call up my Christmas reading from last year and pop it in for 2018, given that I have failed to read half of what I confidently predicted I would be reading. I won’t, though, because I really want to finish reading Anna Burns’ Milkman, which I started, was loving and then had to put to one side for a quieter moment. I also have Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy waiting for a quieter moment. It is one of those events which loomed so large but about which I know very little. I am looking forward to remedying that. Well-read colleagues have insisted I read David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide, so I shall. There are laughs to be had in the Anna Burns, I think, but otherwise laughs in short supply. So I may supplement the above with one of my regular returns to Nancy Mitford. I have just re-read The Pursuit of Love, so will probably go for Don’t Tell Alfred. Happy days.

Mairi Friesen-Escandell

Somehow Christmas always feels to me like the right time to hunker down with the classics, so this year I’ll be reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier and Middlemarch by George Eliot. This selection will no doubt stretch people’s eyes and lead to various exclamations of “I can’t BELIEVE you’ve not read this before!” but I feel no shame, only delight at the prospect of finally getting to so many beloved gems. I’ll also be dipping into Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey which I was given recently, whilst eyeing up other people’s piles of Christmas books.

Alexandra McNicoll

I am always wildly overambitious when it comes to how many books I can read in a holiday, but I have a couple of long train journeys this year – so I’m feeling optimistic. First on my list is Michelle Obama’s Becoming; I was disappointed not to get a ticket for her event with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but can’t wait to read nevertheless. Several bookish friends have (passionately) recommended Tana French to me, and I’ve been told to start with The Secret Place, so that is what I plan to do. This is technically work reading, but I have been saving A Place of Greater Safety for a quiet week by the fire – so I am hoping for extensive snowfall (or even rain, sorry everyone) to make that possible. Heaven. I’m keen to read The State of Affairs by Esther Perel (I love her podcast), and I’m also intrigued by Sue Prideaux’s I am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche which I hear is excellent. Realistically, it also seems unlikely that I’ll be able to resist rereading The Pursuit of Love and possibly a Harry Potter book, or two…

Oli Munson

One tradition I have over Christmas is to read the year’s Booker winner and I’ve got my copy of Anna Burns’ Milkman ready to go. There’s obviously been a lot of talk about it so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

Zoë King

I love everything about Christmas, not least the joy of all that guilt-free reading time by the fire with the possibility of a snooze between chapters. My holiday reading this year is a pick-a-mix of: The Ethical Carnivore by Louise Gray prompted by her fascinating interview on Jess Fostekew’s brilliant Hoovering podcast, Letting Go by David Hawkins (according to my cousin ‘Everyone in Somerset is reading this. It will change your life.’ Who can resist such a promise?);  Barkskins by the mighty Annie Proulx – a literary epic links the making of early America to its mass deforestation and, finally, Coming Up Trumps by Baroness Trumpington (because obviously). Of course I won’t finish all these but there is nothing more comforting and delightful than a stack of books by your bedside, is there?

Rebecca Ritchie

First up will be Sally Rooney’s Normal People, which I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet given all the hype and prizes it’s won. Conversations with Friends sparked much debate in the AM Heath offices so I’m looking forward to coming back in January ready to discuss Normal People with my colleagues. I’m also looking forward to reading The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman and Educated by Tara Westover, which have been sitting on my shelves for some time – two very different memoirs but which both prove the power that books can hold. And finally, if I have time, I want to plough through the remaining Liane Moriarty novels I’ve not yet read: compelling writing and brilliant entertainment, I’m such a fan.

Florence Rees

I’m going to Cornwall for Christmas; lots of walks are planned so inevitably it will rain the entire time. At least that means lots of reading time. I plan to read Truth & Beauty: A Friendship and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I read Commonwealth last year and absolutely loved it. I also want to read the third Wayfarers: Record of a Spaceborn Few. I like intelligent (but not overwhelmingly science-y) sci-fi. Victoria recommended The Weather in the Streets to me recently which sounds wonderful. Finally, the novel to get me in the Christmas spirit will be One Day in December. Bring on the holidays!

Prema Raj

First up on my list is The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. I loved The Secret History and The Goldfinch, so I’m hoping this one won’t disappoint. I’ve also been meaning to read Elif Bautman’s The Idiot for a while now, which I’ve heard so many good things about. And, working my way through the Women’s Prize shortlist, I’m expecting to receive Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing this Christmas, after some not-so-subtle hints to my mum. Finally, it’s the perfect time of year to settle down with an old favourite, so I will be rereading Steinbeck’s brilliant East of Eden, with a glass of mulled wine.

Jo Thompson

I recently made a discovery even better than a fiver in an old pair of jeans – a £30 book token from last Christmas, that I’ve apparently been saving for a rainy day these whole past twelve months. The first item on my shopping list will be, I think, Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It’s been beautifully published in the UK by Granta and I’ve had my eye on it for a while now. Then, I think for company on all my (many) train journeys of December I’ll turn to Barbara Trapido’s oeuvre. Brother of the More Famous Jack pulled me out of a little reading slump lately, and numerous trustworthy sources have sworn that she’s one of those writers who brings joy on every page of every book – exactly what I’m after at the moment. I’ve also been planning to read Emma Healey’s second novel, Whistle in the Dark, and Daisy Johnson’s Booker-shortlisted and gorgeously jacketed Everything Under. The last planned endeavour, apparently featuring twice on this company round-up, is Steinbeck’s East of Eden. A friend read it recently, adored it, and has since been rabbiting on about how I’m only hurting myself not giving it a go. Time to see what I’m missing.

October 29, 2018

Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE takes off

Shirley Jackson published her Gothic horror novel THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE in 1959. The novel was a finalist for the National Book of the Year Award that year, and has since been made into two feature films.

In October 2018, a ten-part series adaptation hit Netflix and has been called the platform’s first great horror series. 

Watch the trailer here. 

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE has been published broadly around the world and is now available in twenty-two territories, nine of which have been sold since 2017.

On her process of writing the supernatural in this novel, Jackson commented: ‘No one can get into a novel about a haunted house without hitting the subject of reality head-on; either I have to believe in ghosts, which I do, or I have to write another kind of novel altogether.’

The opening paragraph of the novel features – chillingly – towards the end of the Netflix series:

Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

August 31, 2018

Internship opportunity: Translation Rights at A.M. Heath

We are currently offering a three-month, paid internship in our Translation Rights department.

The ideal candidate will have strong administrative skills, a genuine enthusiasm for books and international publishing, and enjoy working as part of a friendly, close-knit team. The role involves administrative work supporting the Rights team – logging submissions, organising paperwork, co-ordinating materials with publishers and authors – with a focus on preparing for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Experience within publishing and/or knowledge of another language would be welcome, but this is by no means necessary.

We are looking for someone to start immediately and work with us until late November. The internship is full-time; hours are 9:30 to 5:30 with an hour for lunch. The salary will be the London living wage.

We welcome applications from any individual regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation, or age. All applications will be considered on merit

To apply, please send an introductory email explaining why you are interested in working with us, and an attached CV, to Jo: jo.thompson@amheath.com. The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 7 September 2018.

June 19, 2018

Maggie O’Farrell on PEN Ackerley Prize Shortlist.

Maggie’s memoir I AM, I AM, I AM has been shortlisted for the prestigious PEN Ackerley Prize 2018.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 10 July.

June 7, 2018

Kamila Shamsie wins Women’s Prize 2018

Kamila Shamsie has won the 2018 Women’s Prize for fiction with her novel Home Fire. Published by Bloomsbury in 2017, Home Fire was also shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. It is Kamila’s seventh novel, and her first win of the Women’s Prize, having been shortlisted twice before.

Home Fire is a story which Sarah Sands, the Chair of the Women’s Prize judges, praised for its ‘astonishing prescience’ and ‘the breadth of its ambition’. On picking it as the winner, Sands said: ‘It was extremely difficult, because of the richness and variety of the shortlist… But when we set out to decide what felt like the story of our times, [Home Fire] was the right choice.’

A reworking of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire tells the story of three siblings in a British Muslim family and what happens when one member joins the media arm of Isis.

In praise of Home Fire, Sands said: ‘Shamsie is funny and exact about the Muslim experience, what it means to be challenged on your identity, what it means choosing between public and private… Her nuance, her sympathies, really make you challenge your own lazy thinking on all this,’ she said. ‘The different characters were all so well-realised that you have sympathy for all of them – even the brother, that was the extraordinary thing. There’s no question what he did was wrong, but you feel sympathy, that it was a terrible misjudgment, that there’s no going back.

‘To humanise a political story in that way really does show what literature can do, that it can tackle a hard subject that otherwise would never have that sense of layered sympathy and understanding. It really advanced our understanding of the whole issue of identity.’

The novel should also be considered ‘a really good page-turner’, said Sands.

‘It is very readable, it’s extremely well written, it’s well plotted, it’s something that could easily be a brilliant television series or film. It’s not that you’re thinking, ‘This is a novel about politics, I need to plough through’,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t feel as if she is straining to recreate Antigone – you could read it without thinking about Sophocles at all. In a way, that just gives it a resonance.’

See a clip of Kamila’s announcement and speech here.