March 1, 2018
Tim Pears longlisted for Walter Scott Prize
We are delighted that Tim Pears’ novel The Horseman has been longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. One of the most prestigious literary prizes available, the Walter Scott celebrates writing of exceptional quality where the majority of the story is set at least 60 years ago. Tim’s novel The Horseman is a ‘magically immediate’ story set in 1911 Devon. It introduces Leo, a quiet, watchful boy with a masterful way with horses, and Charlotte, the Master’s daughter, who on horseback in britches can pass for a boy, and whom he befriends.
The Horseman is the first in the West Country trilogy, published by Bloomsbury. The second instalment, The Wanderers, was published January 2018. The shortlist for the Walter Scott Prize will be announced in April.
‘To speak bluntly, The Horseman is a magnificent novel. In spare yet elegant precise prose Tim Pears offers entrance into a place and characters otherwise lost to time. This evocation appears effortless, yet all of the characters are imbued with humanity and grace, in lives that otherwise might appear brutal and horrific to modern eyes. Leo Sercombe is one of the most engaging creations to come along in fiction in a long time and I eagerly look forward to following his life in future tellings. Tim Pears is a novelist of the first rank and I can’t recommend The Horseman more highly.’
‘The end of the book [is] so gripping that devouring volume two the second it comes out is a foregone conclusion. Apart from the pacey finale, The Horseman is a slow, but satisfying burn… It is rare for a novel to be genuinely educational, but this is a work of fiction that could actually keep you alive after the zombie apocalypse. The Horseman is his best work in many years. As a testament to a forgotten generation of countrymen it is unsurpassed and it goes very nicely indeed with a dark night, rain on the windowpane and a cosy armchair.’
February 16, 2018
Deviant Minds: our new crime and thriller competition
A.M. Heath has teamed up with publisher Corvus to launch a new competition for unpublished writers.
Deviant Minds is a writing prize open to unagented authors with an unpublished adult crime novel or thriller. The author must be born or resident in the UK or Ireland. The lucky winner will be offered representation by our agency, along with an offer of digital publication from Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books, with possible print publication to follow.
Entrants should submit the first 10,000 words of their novel, plus a synopsis of not more than 300 words, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for entries is midnight GMT on 27 April. Five entries will be shortlisted, and those writers will be asked to submit their completed novel. The winner will be announced on 9 July 2018.
The judges are A.M. Heath agents Euan Thorneycroft and Oli Munson, and Corvus Editorial Director Sara O’Keeffe and Editor Susannah Hamilton.
A.M. Heath says, ‘A.M. Heath is always on the lookout for new voices and new talent, so we’re thrilled to be launching a prize that welcomes and gives opportunities to unpublished writers. We know there are great undiscovered crime and thriller writers out there – and we’re excited to read many of them over the coming months!’
Sara O’Keeffe says, ‘We are delighted to launch the Deviant Minds crime and thriller prize in conjunction with A.M. Heath and look forward to reading a vast array of stories. We hope that from Deviant Minds will spring some devilishly good fiction.’
All details and Terms and Conditions can be found on the Atlantic Books website:
The full timeline is as follows:
- Submissions open: 19 February 2018
- Submission deadline: 00:00 GMT on 27 April 2018
- Shortlist announced: 18 May 2018
- Completed novels to be submitted: 11 June 2018
- Winner announced: 9 July 2018.
February 8, 2018
Maggie O’Farrell longlisted for Wellcome Book Prize 2018
We are enormously proud to see Maggie O’Farrell’s breath-taking memoir I AM, I AM, I AM picked out for the Wellcome Book Prize longlist.
The prize celebrates new books – both fiction and nonfiction – with a connection to medicine, health, or illness. The varied longlist includes literary fiction, popular science, lyrical meditation, memoir, and medical history. Maggie’s I AM, I AM, I AM, which was a Sunday Times number one bestseller, is introduced by the Prize as ‘a tenaciously powerful account of what it means to be alive.’
The Prize wrote further: ‘this is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Insightful, inspirational, intelligent, it’s a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.’
The shortlist will be announced 20 March 2018, and the winner at an evening ceremony on 30 April 2018.
January 25, 2018
Penguin Women Writers series
2018 marks the centenary of the first British women receiving the right to vote, an event which Penguin are celebrating with the launch of their Women Writers series: four classic titles – authored by women – which ‘deserve to be better known’ in the UK.
A.M. Heath is delighted that our author Kamila Shamsie, a Royal Society of Literature fellow whose latest novel Home Fire was this year Man Booker longlisted, was chosen to curate two titles in the series.
We are equally proud that Mary McCarthy’s Birds of America – the story of a young American fleeing the draft for the Vietnam War – was selected as one of the books by co-curator Penelope Lively. Lively describes the novel as ‘crisp and clever’, and writes in her introduction: ‘Fiercely intelligent, insatiably combative, McCarthy’s novels invite controversy.’
Kamila’s choices, for which she has written introductions, are Sara Suleri’s Meatless Days – a ‘stunning’ memoir of female experience in post-colonial Pakistan – and Ismat Chughtai’s Lifting the Veil, a collection of stories Kamila calls ‘wickedly funny and provocative.’
‘In the life of every writer, there comes those moments when you’re asked to recommend books that are meaningful or important to you in some way. It’s always a source of great desolation to know that some of those books are out of print or – worse – were never published in the UK to begin with. Having a chance to right that wrong, and bring a couple of writers who I love into the lives of readers who didn’t know them before, was something that was impossible to pass up on.’
Kamila Shamsie on curating the Penguin Women Writers series
The series will be published in all its glory 1st February 2018.
December 4, 2017
AMH Christmas Reads
December is upon us, which means it’s no longer permissible to complain about Christmas adverts, or carols being played in shops, or the sudden reappearance of Michael Bublé, or any other artefacts of pure joy. With this in mind and holidays decidedly around the corner, we polled the full AM Heath team for the books we’re most looking forward to reading over Christmas. Amongst them are the new releases we’re itching to read and the books that have been tantalizingly close to the top of the TBR pile all year. Happy holidays!
As a newbie at A M Heath I have got a list as long as Santa’s of wonderful books by agency clients to read, but outside of ‘work’ reading my choice is Autumn by Ali Smith. Heading towards the new year is always a time to take stock of the year gone by and globally and politically the last few years have been bizarre and somewhat terrifying. Although Autumn was published last year I am expecting the observations on Brexit Britain will be no less pertinent now as we hurtle headlong into the unknown. Also in my pile is Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, which is my book group’s Christmas choice!
I loved Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and this Christmas I’ll be reading her latest book, Hunger. It’s been so well reviewed and sounds honest, interesting and a little uncomfortable, about the author’s relationship with food and her body. For fiction, it will be Lincoln in the Bardo. I tried reading it a few months ago, but it’s experimental on the page which threw me and I didn’t get far. Since then so many of my clients have told me it’s hilarious and riveting so I’ll be settling down with it again over the holidays.
The top of my Christmas reading pile is Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, which I’ve never read, despite committing myself to the same trek that causes him such trouble and hilarity. For a more serious take on the same subject, I’m also looking forward to Robert Moor’s On Trails, another Appalachian thru-hiker whose goal ‘to live in a prolonged state of freedom’ is totally inspiring. I’m getting off the trail when it comes to fiction, lining up Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, which has been strongly recommended by some of the Nobel-winner’s most admiring fans, and Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, who has been compared to some of my favourite writers, including William Faulkner and Toni Morrison, but who I expect has a voice entirely her own.
I will be reading/weeping over We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
To cheer myself up I’ll re-read Seasonal Suicide Notes by Roger Lewis.
I just made the mistake of picking up Steve Cavanagh’s debut crime novel The Defence and now I can’t put it down. So I’ll be reading everything else he’s ever written.
Hoping to catch up on an enormous amount of reading, starting with Lincoln in the Bardo, plus some classy thrillers for the beach (ahem) and at least one classic.
We are lucky enough to have a beautifully curated Blackwell’s bookshop just by the AM Heath offices. The staff picks are always interesting and unexpected and I usually walk out with at least three books I hadn’t planned on buying, one of which recently was Muriel Spark’s The Ballad of Peckham Rye. Another slim volume lined up for Christmas is The Story of a Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam. The story of two young people in the final days of the Sri Lankan civil war. It is not going to be a cheerful read but I have been told that it is an extraordinary piece of writing. Similarly, Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go Went Gone comes highly recommended. Clearly now is the moment to be reading a great European writer on the subject of race and nationality. Plus (my husband does all the cooking so I will have time for all these books), I have just roared through the first three Jackson Lamb novels, by Mick Herron, and am delighted to have numbers 4 and 5 ahead of me. Reserve titles: everything my colleagues have suggested because they tend to be right thinking people with excellent taste, plus Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story and Paul Beatty, The Sellout. Enough.
Holiday HA! HA! HA! by Joanna Nadin. Oh Ho Ho Yes, my place will be very busy this Christmas, full of kids, full of food, presents, sweets so I will read all over again: Nicholas Allan, Pip Jones (The Chocolate Monster for sure as there will be few monsters around the house), Julia Donaldson, Amy Sparks and Holly Webb. And once everyone is fast asleep I will sneak out into my secret place to read: Steve Cavanagh’s The Liar – once you start reading one of his books you won’t stop until you finish them all; Lesley Downer’s The Shogun Queen, Tim Shipman’s All Out War and then 2018 I will start with… Conn Iggulden.
Traditionally I read the Booker Prize winner over Christmas but this year, thanks to a five month old baby, I’m not sure I’ll get much reading done at all. But we do have a couple of long drives planned which are perfect for audiobooks. I tend to listen to non-fiction rather than fiction and I’ve really been looking forward to getting into The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. I was intrigued by the reviews and have heard nothing but good things about it. And as a devotee of Serial and other true crime podcasts, this first hand investigation into death row convict Ricky Langley sounds right up my street. Perhaps not the most Christmassy pick but anything to avoid hearing Driving Home for Christmas for the millionth time…
I can’t wait to read Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach this Christmas. I loved A Visit from the Goon Squad and Look at Me – her writing is always so unexpected and brilliant, and I’m eager to see how she handles historical fiction. A recent trip to Spain also inspired me to pick up Gabriel García Márquez’s slim volume Chronicle of a Death Foretold, which comes highly recommended by a friend and will hopefully make up for the fact that I’ve never got round to reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Also on my list this year is Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, which I started back in September but had to abandon in the midst of the Frankfurt Book Fair frenzy. So I’m looking forward to settling back down with that over the break.
I’ve always loved series; I find the thought of knowing exactly what I’ll be reading next surprisingly comforting. That’s why this Christmas I’ll (finally) be reading the much recommended Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. If I somehow manage to finish five books in 12 days then I’ll go back to my historical roots and start Simon Sebag Montefiore’s captivating and apparently quite salacious The Romanovs.
I’ve neglected my non-fiction reading this year so over Christmas I’m going to treat myself to comedian Adam Kay’s memoir This is Going to Hurt, about his life as a junior doctor. I love anything medical and this is meant to be hilarious, heartbreaking and humbling and I’ve been saving it up so I don’t have to read it on my commute. And in fiction I’m going to read Rosamunde Pilcher’s classic Coming Home, which I embarrassingly have to admit to never having read even though a wartime weepy is one of my all time favourite things.
I’ve been itching to read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng for a while now, having seen a lot of hype and a lot of claims that it deserves the hype. Celeste is one of those smart, funny writers I admire from afar on Twitter but have never read, so I’m especially intrigued to find out what she’s like on the page. The other thing I badly want to read in front of a fire with a glass of something is Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey. I’ll admit this one’s slightly time-indulgent, but it’s being touted as the first complete translation into English by a woman, and the few snippets I’ve read have felt completely contemporary and gorgeous and clever. The last big ticket item is Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage. I wept my way through His Dark Materials last month and I’ve been biding my time for the prequel. May this be the first hint to my mum that I would really like the hardback for Christmas…
It may not exactly be full of festive cheer, but at least I’ll be ready for the robot apocalypse! I’ll be reading Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark. On the fiction front, I’d like to read He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly about which I’ve heard great things and Tom Lee’s debut, The Alarming Palsy of James Orr.
I will be reading Maus by Art Spiegelman because nothing says Christmas like the remembrances of a Holocaust survivor presented in graphic novel form….it won a Pulitzer. That said, I feel people might think I will be spending Christmas immersed in one of humanity’s greatest tragedies so can I add I will also be reading A Canticle For Liebowitz by Walter M Miller, which is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a collection of monks attempt to preserve what remains of the world’s scientific knowledge. A lot more Christmassy, don’t you think?