I went to The Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace last night to hear readings from three authors, hosted by writer in residence Karen McLeod. It was a lovely event with free wine and, that most elusive of literary night treats, free beer. They even served pretzels. More importantly, the readings were good. There was also a chance to chat with the authors after the readings. I ended up buying a book from each of them.
A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is the first novel by Suzanne Joinson.
The book had a brilliant review in The NYT in June. It is 1923 and Evangeline English, keen lady cyclist, arrives with her sister Lizzie at the ancient Silk Route city of Kashgar to help establish a Christian mission. Lizzie is in thrall to their forceful and unyielding leader Millicent, but Eva's motivations for leaving her bourgeois life back at home are less clear-cut. As they attempt to navigate their new home and are met with resistance and calamity, Eva commences work on her book, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar...In present-day London another story is beginning. Frieda, a young woman adrift in her own life, opens her front door one night to find a man sleeping on the landing. In the morning he is gone, leaving on the wall an exquisite drawing of a long-tailed bird and a line of Arabic script. Tayeb, who has fled to England from Yemen, has arrived on Frieda's doorstep just as she learns that she is the next-of-kin to a dead woman she has never heard of: a woman whose abandoned flat contains many surprises - among them an ill-tempered owl. The two wanderers begin an unlikely friendship as their worlds collide, and they embark on a journey that is as great, and as unexpected, as Eva's.
If This Is Home is Stuart Evers' first novel. He is the author of the acclaimed Ten Stories About Smoking. Mark Wilkinson has three names. He left his own behind in the rainy north of England. American immigration knows him as Joe Novak. And at the Valhalla, the mysterious complex where he sells lofty ambition and dark desires, he goes by Mr Jones. Since he was eighteen, Mark has been running away. Running from his small town, his vanished mother, his broken father. But one night in Las Vegas, shocked by violence and ambushed by memories, he is propelled back to his real name and his real past. Back to Bethany Wilder: carnival queen, partner in dreams, and tragic ghost.
Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Before He Stole My Ma is Kerry Hudson's first novel. When Janie Ryan is born, she's just the latest in a long line of Ryan women, Aberdeen fishwives to the marrow, always ready to fight. Her violet-eyed Grandma had predicted she'd be sly, while blowing Benson and Hedges smoke rings over her Ma's swollen belly. In the hospital, her family approached her suspiciously, so close she could smell whether they'd had booze or food for breakfast. It was mostly booze.
You can order signed copies of these books and many others from The Bookseller Crow. They are one of the few bookshops in the UK that specialise in selling American imports. If you can't visit the shop you can buy from them online. Check out their Flight Club, too. You get a specially-selected book a month delivered to you post free. Some of the books will be signed by the author.