It’s Jubilee weekend so what better way to celebrate than with Issue 47 of LeftLion which is rammed to the hilt with literature. The WriteLion page features nine book reviews, three celebrating the third anniversary of Angry Robot Books (Zoo City Lauren Beukes, Embedded Dan Abnett, Empire State Adam Christopher) and the six shortlisted books for this year’s East Midlands Book Award (The Whispers of Nemesis Anne Zouroudi, The Truth about Celia Frost Paula Rawsthorne, The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch Laura Owen, Pao Kerry Young, An Ordinary Dog Gregory Woods, Ours are the Streets Sunjeev Sahota) As per last year, there are interviews with all of the authors online.
I reviewed three of the books which went against my policy of trying to get a different reviewer for each title. The reason for this was simple. Some publishers were so late sending stuff out that it was too late to get them to reviewers and so I had to lock myself away for a couple of days and read until my eyes started to bleed. This meant I got to read and interview the winner of the East Midlands Book Award, Anne Zouroudi. Her publisher, Bloomsbury, are forgiven for sending the book so late as it came with all of her previous titles in the Greek Detective series. So, a holiday in Greece is called for so that they can be read in their natural habitat.
With PRIDE soon upon us I interviewed Jim Read, the author of a new biography on Justin Fashanu. Fashanu is one of the most fascinating players to grace the game and quite remarkably, the only openly gay football player in the history of the British game. Fashanu was a complex and contradictory character; Christian, rampant fantasist, charismatic playboy, scorer of that goal, victim of homophobic bullying from that manager, adopted, and perhaps most bizarrely, Bet Lynch’s ex – if we are to take his word. His story – which ended tragically in suicide – has been handled superbly by Jim Read and has a good chance of making it on to the Whitbread Sports Book of the Year and hopefully will go some way in encouraging gay players out there to come out.
But the big celebration in this issue was the two page interview with Derrick Buttress who was the first commissioned writer on the Sillitoe: Then and Now project I’m doing for The Space. Nothing has given me more pleasure in all of the articles I’ve written for LeftLion over the last six years than featuring an eighty-year-old writer. Derrick is Nottingham born and bred and had his first short story collection published this year. I can think of no better inspiration to writers out there than sharing his story.
And to cap it all off my partner on the Sillitoe project, Paul Fillingham designed the front cover. Paul is an absolute wizard on the computer and has produced some stunning visuals for the project, blending old and new photographs together to perfectly capture the essence of the project. Now, time for a well deserved drink.