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May 2016

Read an Extract from Neil Gaiman's The View from the Cheap Seats
31st May 2016

Neil Gaiman is the author of over thirty acclaimed books and graphic novels for adults and children, including American Gods, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and his most recent bestselling novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which won several awards, including being voted Book of the Year in the National Book Awards 2013. Neil Gaiman's work has been adapted for film, television and radio. He has written scripts for Doctor Who and collaborated with authors and illustrators including Terry Pratchett, Dave McKean and Chris Riddell.

His new book, The View from the Cheap Seats, draws together myriad non-fiction writing from 'Make Good Art' - the speech that went viral - to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett and Lou Reed, offering a glimpse inside the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

You can read an extract from the collection, 'All Books Have Genders', here.

 

#FoylesFive: Pride
26th May 2016 - Andi Yates

Andi, from our Birmingham shop, selects some of her favourite LGBTQ titles to celebrate Birmingham Pride. Look out for Andi in Saturday's parade, when she'll be handing out Foyles goodies!

 

May is an important part of the Birmingham LGBTQ community. It's the 20th Anniversary for Pride and everybody is celebrating - including us, with a great selection of LGBTQ books for everyone. Here are my top 5 LGBTQ books for children, young adults and adults.

 

For children:

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

This is a true story about a male penguin couple who try to hatch a rock, so the zookeeper switches it for a real egg. A lovely story for young children.

 

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer 

Stella's class is having a Mother's Day celebration and she's worried because she doesn't have a mother. She has a daddy and a papa. So she brings them and the rest of her family to the celebration instead. A lovely book about having same sex parents with lots of diverse illustrations with different types of families.

 

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

This is Jazz's own story, simplified for younger children, showing how she was born in the wrong body. It tells how her family and friends accepted that she's a girl and how she became Jazz.

 

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

This story is about acceptance and being yourself. Princess Boy loves to play with girls toys and dress up in girls clothes. This picture book shows there's nothing wrong with being yourself, and that you shouldn't tease anyone for being different

 

Who's in My Family (All About Our Families) by Robbie H. Harris

This lovely picture book shows us all different types of families. A picture book full of diversity and the perfect story that shows every family is different, and all families are normal.

 

For young adults:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

A superb book about first love, friendship, acceptance and coming of age in a town where being gay is accepted.

 

Other Bound by Corinne Duyvis

This Bisexual Book Award winner is a science fiction novel about a girl who is connected to a boy from another world. To be free of each other they must work together to survive.

 

Quick Silver by RJ Anderson

Technically a sequel to Ultraviolet, but perfectly fine to read as a standalone. Ali is in a mental institution for killing the most popular girl at school—but there is no body. Although not about sexuality, Ali is asexual.

 

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

A diverse and thought provoking book about two Iranian girls whose friendship turns into something more; but if they want to stay together Sahar can only think of one way for their culture to accept them.

 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Written by a transwoman, this is a fictional story about a transgirl called Amanda who moves to a new school after she was attacked, and her inner struggle to let her new friends, and more importantly, new boyfriend know who she used to be. Beautifully and sensitively written.

 

For adults:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Simply amazing. A rich beautifully written story that spans generations of one family to tell the story of Calliope as she becomes Cal. There aren't enough words to say how brilliant this book is.

 

A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

This book hits you right in the heart. Bobby and Jonathan are bestfriends and lovers, and Clare makes three. The trio try to make a life for themselves, but nothing is ever easy. The book is set during the period when AIDs was just making itself known.

 

Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault

A fictional account of Alexander the Great's life. This is the first in a trilogy and concentrates on Alexander's childhood and teenage years as he and his best friend, Hephaistion, become more than friends.

 

Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

Set in an American college and about a group of misfits, this novel is like no other. Paul loves Sean, but Sean wants Lauren and Lauren is still in love with Victor—who doesn't even remember who she is...messed up and totally addictive.

 

Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

This is something a little different: a vampire novel at its best. Twisted, dark and gritty. Jason aka Nothing, leaves home and finds more than he's looking for in Missing Mile. There's the two-man-band, Steve and Ghost, whose friendship borders on something more. Then there is Molochai, Twig and the very seductive Zillah with the piercing green eyes...

 

#FoylesFive

 

 

 

Read an Extract from Helen Callaghan's novel, Dear Amy
20th May 2016

Helen Callaghan was born in California to British parents and her early years were spent in both the US and UK. After several early false starts as barmaid, drama student, and nurse, she settled into bookselling, working as a fiction specialist and buyer over the next eight years before studying for her A-levels at night school, and then going on to read Archaeology at Cambridge University as a mature student. In her debut Dear Amy, Margot Lewis, agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner, receives a letter from someone purporting to be, Bethan Avery, who has been missing for years. As more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything.

Read an extract here.

 

Douglas Cowie on Imagining the Spaces Between the Facts
20th May 2016

Douglas Cowie was born in Chicago and has lived in England and Berlin since 1999. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. His first novel was Owen Noone and the Marauder, and he has published two linked novellas, Sing for Life: Tin Pan Alley and Sing for Life: Away, You Rolling River. His new novel, Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago, is a fictional reimagining of the turbulent relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and cult American writer, Nelson Algren, asking what it means to love and be loved by the right person at the wrong time. 

Below, exclusively for Foyles, Douglas talks about writing fiction in the gaps between known facts, and the responsibility of writing about real people. Below that, you can watch a video of Douglas talking about his book.

 

 

 

The Corners of Attachment - Imagining the Spaces between the Facts

I’ve never been particularly interested in reading fiction based on the lives and activities of real people, and I definitely never intended to write a novel about real people.  I’d rather read — and write — made-up things about made-up people. Fiction bears a relationship to real life, as Virginia Woolf describes it, 'like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.' I like to think about those corners of attachment, and I like to think about how lightly or heavily the web sits across the face of life.  When a novel is about the real things that real people did in their really lived real lives, that heaviness becomes, it seems to me, unbearable and distracting, or even a trap: I’m the hapless fly, stuck in the web, struggling until I’m wrapped up tight by the author. 

But eventually I ended up writing a novel, Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago, based on the real-life 18-year relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Nelson Algren.  Several years ago, after reading Algren’s second novel, Never Come Morning, I started researching his life and work. It seemed impossible to me that a writer from my hometown of Chicago, whose name I’d known growing up, whose work was this powerful, could be so little known. Reading Bettina Drew’s excellent biography of Algren, Nelson Algren: A Life on the Wild Side, I was stunned to learn he’d been, off and on for the better part of eighteen years, in a romantic relationship with Simone de Beauvoir, and that this relationship had been important to them both, though it ended because, in a line of reasoning I would read in several places over the years, she wouldn’t leave Paris, and he wouldn’t leave Chicago. Nonetheless, despite the fact that he’d refused to have anything to do with her after the English-language publication of the second volume of her memoir, Force of Circumstance, and despite the fact that each of them was publicly dismissive of the other, and of their relationship, Beauvoir was buried wearing a silver ring Algren had bought for her in the first months of their relationship.

My research into Algren led to an outline for a nonfiction book project, including, among various biographical and literary analyses, a chapter on the relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.  Eventually I wrote (and published as an essay) one chapter on Algren’s writing technique, but abandoned the rest of the project as I started work on the project that became my two Sing for Life novellas.  Algren’s relationship with Beauvoir kept bothering me, however; or more accurately, the factual accounts and analyses of Algren’s relationship with Beauvoir kept bothering me: it just didn’t add up that this relationship, which existed in a kind of long-distance way for eighteen years, would end abruptly, be explained away relatively straightforwardly, and yet Beauvoir would continue to wear the ring as a momento, and be buried, next to Sartre, her famous lover/partner, wearing the ring from this other man. Eventually I succumbed to the persistence of this nagging gap, as well as the persistent nagging of a friend who more or less demanded I write the story as a novel, and began planning a fictional imagining of eighteen years of these two peoples’ lives.

I spent a few years researching and planning the novel before I started writing the first draft, and that time allowed me to develop some rules about how to approach the fictional imagining of the factual material. I say rules; excuses might be a better term. I probably made up more rules and excuses as I went along — any author’s account of the process of writing is inevitably a mixture of half-truths, misremembered-truths and flat-out lies — but the main rules of approach were:

  1. You can’t say they were someplace they weren’t. If they were in Chicago in 1947, you can’t say they were in Paris, or Mexico or Toronto or Nepal, etc.
  2. This is a novel about people living their lives, not a novel about writers or intellectuals writing and thinking deep thoughts. In fact, the main character isn’t either of those two people, it’s the relationship.
  3. It’s not a biography. You don’t have to say everything about everything that happened in a given day, week, month, year, life.  Following this rule meant cutting thousands of words from the manuscript.

My job, then, was to take a structure based on facts I gathered from a variety of sources — they travelled here, they disagreed about that — and, using these rules or excuses as guiding principles, imagine the spaces in between those facts. In Poetics, Aristotle writes that the difference between history and poetry is that while history tells what did happen, poetry tells 'the kind of thing that could happen'.  This relatively simple statement has become a kind of mantra with ever-expanding meaning to me as I’ve worked on Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago. On the one hand, it frees the author from facts that might otherwise become shackles: okay, they travelled to Mexico, but what could have happened while they were, and how do I imagine those possibilities into dramatic scenes?  On the other hand, Aristotle’s statement also sounds a warning: could this happen? Does what I’m imagining here fit within my understanding — or an understanding — of who Nelson Algren was, and who Simone de Beauvoir was? The warning becomes a kind of ethical tether that keeps me from straying, albeit within an understanding that is my own invention, no matter how many facts I can point back to as starting points to that imagined understanding.

The point of writing a novel with characters who are based on real people is not to recreate the lives that were lived, but to imagine the gaps between the available facts in order to create an imaginative whole that becomes a kind of understanding.  Is my version of Simone de Beauvoir and Nelson Algren the thing that happened? No, of course it isn’t; but it is the kind of thing that could happen, and in that potential lies the value of fiction: what I learn as the writer of the novel, and what I hope you learn as the reader of the novel, is not the facts of Algren or Beauvoir or Algren and Beauvoir — though some of those get learned, incidentally, as we go along.  Rather, what I learn as the writer of a fiction based on a part of the lives of real people, and what you learn as the reader of that fiction, is an interpretation: not the facts lined up with a neat explanation, but an imagined and imaginary complement to those facts, which both enlivens and extends what is known.

The corners of the web of fiction are attached not only to the lives of these characters, but to the lives of the writer and reader as well: the act of imagining through writing, reading and telling stories becomes in and of itself a means of understanding not only some otherwise inexplicable idea or truth about Simone de Beauvoir and Nelson Algren, but also, some equally inexplicable idea or truth about ourselves. I hope, too, though, that Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago will lead readers back to my own starting point, and the works of imagination and intellect that Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir themselves produced as they sought to understand and extend their own lives, and the lives of those around them.

 

Watch a video of Douglas talking about his book:

 

#FoylesFave: Seeing Red by Lina Meruane
17th May 2016 - Gary Perry

Frequent shoppers at our flagship shop on London's Charing Cross Road will know that I'm a huge fan of the Dallas-based press Deep Vellum. The obsession started with Deep Vellum's maiden title, Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, and has only grown with each subsequent publication.

 

And so we come to my favourite Deep Vellum title yet - Lina Meruane's Seeing Red. An autobiographical novel unlike any other, it's testament to Megan McDowell's masterly translation that the poetry of Meruane's prose comes through, to astonishing and unforgettable effect. An account of the author-narrator's sudden partial blindness, the sentences surge with incomprehension, terror, humour and a visceral rage. With certain chapters addressed to Lina's partner, it  is also a love story.  Few novels attain this level of immediacy or handle our relationship with the body so forcefully, and with emotion rather than sentiment.

 

From Knausgaard's My Struggle and Lerner's 10:04 to Do No Harm by Henry Marsh and On Immunity by Eula Biss, literary explorations of the body and of illness are being widely read, helping us to question how we deal with the vulnerability of our bodies and, by extension, our mortality. Meruane's novel is a vital contribution to this debate and I want as many people as possible to read it. It's one to discuss and I'm pretty sure we'll be talking about it for years to come.

 

 

 

#FoylesFive: Haruki Murakami
12th May 2016 - Matt Blackstock

This week, Matt from our Birmingham shop talks about why he loves Haruki Murakami and recommends five books he'd add to our To Be Read piles!

 

A friend of mine told me about Murakami and suggested I read his work. I took her advice... about two years later. I really wish it had been sooner because once I jumped into the world of Murakami there was no escape! Norwegian Wood was my first read, then straight into The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Both are completely different and both are brilliant beyond words.  Murakami can write about anything, he makes the mundane magical, the world around us a much stranger place. Once you read one you'll want much more Murakami in your life.

 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Murakami will stun you with this magical novel, taking you from a missing cat, to strange phone calls and a well. This spiralling tale of mystery from the master of the written word in modern fiction will leave you wanting more.


Wind/Pinball
Murakami's first two books are available in a single edition in English for the first time. Discover this amazing writer’s initial jaunt into the world of fiction and all the astonishing tales he brings with him.


Kafka on the Shore
This twisting tale shifts between a runaway boy and a man who works as a cat finder, as he can communicate with cats. Music is also a strong theme in this novel expertly knitted together by an author whose use of language is beyond reproach.


Norwegian Wood
A piece of music takes our protagonist back to his student days, his love of American novels and all the things and people he has loved and lost throughout his life.


Wild Sheep Chase
A nameless man is given an offer he cannot refuse - to search for a sheep. But this is no ordinary sheep; it is one that holds the key to a great mystical power. This is a perfect book to start off with if you have never had the adventure of reading a Murakami before.

#FoylesFive

 

Tracey Thorn on Judging the Baileys Prize
9th May 2016 - Tracey Thorn

Tracey Thorn was a singer and songwriter with Everything But the Girl from 1982-2000. At that point she semi-retired from the music business to bring up her children. She has since recorded three solo albums, Out of the Woods, Love and Its Opposite and Tinsel and Lights, and published her autobiography, Bedsit Disco Queen. She lives in London with her husband Ben Watt and their three children.

Below, exclusively for Foyles, Tracey writes about her experience of judging the Baileys Womens Prize for Fiction, re-learning how to concentrate and the difficulty of letting a book go. The six-strong shortlist was announced recently and the winner will be declared on 8th June.

 

Below: Tracey and fellow judges, Margaret Mountford, Laurie Penny, Elif Shafak and Naga Munchetty.

 

 

 

 

On Judging the Baileys Prize

Judging the Baileys Prize has been a fantastic experience. I came to it eager but terrified, full of wide-eyed enthusiasm tempered by the fear that I wouldn’t be sure which books to choose, wouldn’t trust my own judgement. I was wrong about that. The very intensity of the process nourished my confidence, and also reminded me how to read. Like many people, I’d got into the habit of taking novels to bed, leafing drowsily through a few pages per night, losing the thread, flicking back each night for reminders. It’s no way to pay attention to a book. They deserve better. I made a rule to do all my Baileys reading in the daytime, and gradually I re-learned  how to concentrate, and from that I came to recognise what I was looking for in a book. Which amounted, in simple terms, to some kind of energy - not necessarily in the sense of plot, or action, or noisiness - but an intensity of purpose, the feeling that a book was alive. And that intensity could be found in wildly differing books, from the quietly minimalist My Name is Lucy Barton, through the earthily poetic The Glorious Heresies, to the epically heartfelt A Little Life, all of which were longlisted .

 

So the actual reading was easy - what was hard was having to let a book go. I still haven’t quite recovered from the shocking experience of loving one book so much I thought it might win, and then being unable to persuade my fellow judges that it even belonged on the longlist. To counter that I had the opposite and delightful experience of hearing fellow judges articulately explain why they had loved a book I hadn’t rated, and then seeing it afresh, through different eyes. I learned to recognise my own style of reading, my own inevitable preferences, my blind spots.

 

This push and pull between the judges - the respectful listening to each other, the opposing passions - made our meetings argumentative, but surprising and fun. I understand that it’s not always like this; people who’ve judged other prizes tell me horror stories of hostility and intransigence, of domineering characters who take over the process, and an eventual glum compromise that pleases no-one.

 

We had none of that, we just had differing tastes. And so we had to make a decision, at both longlist and shortlist - did we aim for consensus, or try to reflect the variety of our opinions? What we most wanted to avoid was a list of books that none of us much minded - novels we all felt were sort of fine, which no-one either loved or hated. Instead, we opted for passion. Every book here has inspired real love in some of us, along with the agreement and understanding of the rest of the panel. Each of us is thrilled by something on the list, and we’re all thrilled that the list so vividly represents the five of us.

 

Now all we have to do is agree on a winner. 

 

 

Zola and the Victorians: a Fascinating Footnote
6th May 2016 - Eileen Horne

Eileen Horne was born in California and has lived in Italy and London for 35 years. She spent two decades as a television producer in the UK, founding her own production company in 1997 and making more than 100 hours of drama, among them two projects inspired by Zola's novels. She now combines writing, including adapatations for radio and television, with teaching and editing.

Zola and the Victorians is an exploration of the consequences of translation and censorship that tells the true story of the English publisher who dared to bring the works of Emile Zola to a Victorian audience, and paid a heavy price.

Below, exclusively for Foyles, Eileen recounts how she came to write about the trial of Zola’s British publisher Vizetelly, its connection with D H Lawrence and how Zola became the poster boy for all that 'virtuous Victorians' loathed and feared about 'realistic' novels and the 'filthy French'.

* You can hear the next instalment of a dramatisation of  Emile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels, the publication of which led to the downfall of Zola’s British publisher, each afternoon on BBC Radio 4 from Saturday 7th May until Sunday 15th May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZOLA AND THE VICTORIANS: A fascinating footnote

 

Why did I choose this story? It began with a love of footnotes. I’m sure some of you may be among that number who turn to the back of a novel to read the ending first, but my guilty pleasure is to flip to the back of the book - or the bottom of a page - to study the lines of dense explanation that didn’t make it into the main text. That doesn’t mean I enjoy writing footnotes, I hasten to add, and my book, although categorised as non-fiction and built on a bibliography of over eighty sources, does not include a single one. As a writer, I am determined to keep the flow of the story uninterrupted by those little numbers that perch on the shoulders of prose lines and proper names like pirates’ parrots. But as a reader, I love to discover what became of the third daughter of the King’s second son, or the last boat in the Armada that never made land.

It was just such a footnote that gave rise to my book’s subject a few years ago, while I was reading an article about D.H. Lawrence. The trial of Zola’s British publisher Vizetelly is connected to Lawrence by a long filament stretching across seven decades to a well-known prosecution by the Crown: Regina v Penguin Books Ltd, the landmark censorship case of 1961 centred on Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In that case, the novel a gentleman 'should not wish his wife or servants to read' (according to the prosecution lawyer) was approved for publication in Britain due to a recently revised obscenity law which finally allowed for the publication of literature in Britain of “redeeming social merit.” The defence called two hundred witnesses to attest to the merit of Lawrence’s book and won, and transformed the literary landscape in Britain, heralding a new freedom of speech and artistic expression.

Sadly, this defence was not available in 1888. Henry Vizetelly and his small family publishing firm were ruined when he became the target of a group of right-thinking 'moral vigilantes' with friends in high places both in government and the press. He, and the 'realistic' novels he dared to publish, were put on trial at the Old Bailey for obscene libel. According to the Obscene Publications Act, this entailed 'the exposure for sale' of publications that could 'deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication such as this might fall.'  I had to find out more.

I soon discovered that no complete account of Vizetelly’s ordeal had yet been written, although it was cited in numerous law books and academic articles. I dug deeper and found that his was a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A conservative backlash in Parliament and the popular press against the era’s sweeping social reforms combined with the rise of a newly literate working class resulted in Zola becoming the poster boy for all that 'virtuous Victorians' loathed and feared about 'realistic' novels and the 'filthy French'.

Henry was himself an author of several books, as well as being a skilled illustrator, journalist and publisher, and I immersed myself in his writing in order to get to know him. I liked what I found – he was a witty, passionate man with flair and courage and a love of the tangential anecdote. One of my favourites of these saw him trapped in Paris during the siege of 1871, working as a war correspondent for a London paper. He sent his dispatches home by hot air balloon and drove himself around the war-torn city in a carriage, dodging bullets and sourcing stories with his teenage son Ernest at his side – who dutifully translated when Henry’s rudimentary French failed him. His eccentric panache was borne out by the portrait I sourced at the National Portrait Gallery’s online archive – a heliogravure (a word that cries out for a footnote, I know) of an elegant man in his forties. Peering closely at his handsome face and pointed beard, natty frock coat and well-shined shoes, right hand clasped around a fat book like a talisman, I could swear I saw a twinkle in his eyes.

His trial was momentous not only for the Vizetelly family and their small publishing firm, both ruined by the experience. The result led to a measurable degree of self-censorship among English authors, among them Hardy, Gissing and Moore, and heralded a further seventy years of the imposition of hypocritical Victorian value judgements on literature. As a direct result of Vizetelly’s sentence and subsequent rulings against other 'pernicious literature', some of the twentieth century’s finest fiction was relegated to the status of pornography in Britain for decades, including the novels of Joyce, Radclyffe Hall, Camus, Henry Miller and Nabokov.

My book is a tribute to Henry Vizetelly as well as to the author he championed. Zola is currently enjoying a British renaissance on BBC Radio 4, with the first ever dramatic adaptation of his epic family saga, Les Rougon Macquart – which in these un-Victorian times, the producers have retitled ‘Blood ,Sex and Money’.

My book is not a biography and covers only the period of the obscenity trial(s – there were two) and the aftermath, cutting between the experience of the Vizetelly family in London and Zola in Paris. It is my attempt to bring to life and elevate a footnote in history to the higher status it richly deserves. Neither is it a history lesson, because it remains current today. By giving Vizetelly’s forgotten sacrifice the airing it demands, I also intended to shine a light on the fact that even in this seemingly all-permissive age, social conservatives and religious reactionaries both here and abroad continue to ban and burn books; sadly, the story continues.

On a happier note - which could be a footnote, if I were so inclined – the best review I’ve ever had has come from Vizetelly’s descendants. Shortly after publication, I was surprised and delighted to be showered with thanks and praise by Henry’s great-grandson, Captain Glen Vizetelly James, and his offspring. Several family members kindly told me that I had enlightened them about their ancestors and in some sense 'healed the past' by writing this book. I like to think that Zola, whose stated mission as an author was ever to illuminate and heal with words, would heartily approve.

 

#FoylesFive: May the Fourth Be With You!
4th May 2016 - Matt Blackstock


It's Star Wars day! Why rebel? Join the empire of fans around the world celebrating all things Star Wars. Get involved with all the fun and adventure across the galaxy, be a real Bothan and study all the details of every ship and creature, or enjoy the nostalgia of a time far far away. Whether you’re a new fan or have always had an alliance with Star Wars, this is the day for you. And I'm sure these are the books you're looking for!

 

Star Wars: Lando by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev
Join the coolest man in the galaxy, (yes he is cooler than Han...he has a cape) before he joined the rebellion. Lando swindles his way across the galaxy, in the only manner he knows how: charmingly. Will he succeed in stealing a very special ship he has his eye on?

 

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
A fantastic story from The Clone Wars. When the Jedi target Count Dooku, all hell breaks loose. This is a thrilling tale of secrets and betrayal that could rip apart both the Sith and Jedis. A must for any Younglings out there!

 

The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary
I've a secret... I'm a massive nerd! Oh, you are too? Brilliant, then you will love this superbly nerdy volume giving you all the information you could need about the latest Star Wars film. Be it Lightsabers, BB-8, Happabores or X-Wings this fact and photo-packed book has it covered.

 

Vader Down by Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen
The darkest of all the Sith Lords finds himself alone after crash landing on a planet. Will the Rebels strike and defeat their greatest enemy or will Vader rise and show them the true nature of the Dark Side?

 

Star Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series
Sit back with a nice cuppa and soak up the infinite geeky bliss of this nostalgia packed book. This volume compiles hundreds of the original Topps trading cards in all their gorgeous glory. It’s a real treat for all those young enough to remember the original release of the greatest sci-fi trilogy in history.

#FoylesFive

 

Don't forget you can join us instore today for a fun-packed Star Wars themed day!

Find out more about our Birmingham shop here.

 

Read a Recipe from Persiana author Sabrina Ghayour's new book, Sirocco
3rd May 2016

Cookbook Confidential is an ongoing series of events celebrating the best of food and drink writing, in association with Octopus Publishing Group and delicious.magazine. We are delighted to be welcoming Sabrina Ghayour to Foyles on 4th May, Cyrus Todiwala and Chetna Makan on 1st June, Eleonora Galasso, Olia Hercules and Eric Lanlard on 13th July and Diana Henry on 7th September. To celebrate, we'll be running a series of blogs, including recipes from the authors' new books, starting with Sabrina Ghayour.

 

Named The Golden Girl of Persian Cookery by the Observer, and one of  the 1000 Most Influential People in London by the Evening Standard, Sabrina is an Iranian-born self-taught cook, author, food writer and host of the hugely popular Sabrina’s Kitchen Supper Club in London. Her debut cookbook Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond topped the bestseller lists, received The Observer Food Monthly’s Best New Cookbook 2014 award and won Food and Travel Magazine's Best Cookbook of the Year 2015.

In her eagerly awaited follow-up to Persiana, Sirocco brings the tastes of the East to Western-style dishes in a collection of 100 delicious and accessible recipes. With an emphasis on simple ingredients and strong flavours, Ghayour lends her modern inspirational touch to a variety of dishes ranging from classics and comfort food to spectacular salads and sweet treats.

Below, we share Sabrina's recipe for Citrus and Za'atar Chicken, one of many versatile and flavoursome dishes in her new book.

 

 

 

Citrus & Za’atar Chicken


Roast chicken is the ultimate comfort food, and I have been known to conjure up many different versions over the years. While I love a classic salt-and-pepper seasoned bird, I’m pretty adventurous and unafraid of throwing the contents of my spice racks and store cupboards at a chicken to liven it up when the mood suits. Za’atar is a staple spice blend in my house – it’s so versatile, it goes with everything, and the fragrance of citrus zest really lifts this flavoursome dish. Try it: it’s a winner. And don’t waste the leftover fruits – juice them and add water and sugar to sweeten for a refreshing drink.

 

Serves 3 –4

 

free-range chicken, about 1.5–1.75kg

3–4 tablespoons olive oil

2 heaped tablespoons za’atar

finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed oranges

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, crushed

freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 220C, Gas Mark 7. Line a roasting tin with baking paper. Place the trussed bird into the prepared roasting tin.

 

Put the olive oil in a small bowl, add the za’atar, citrus zests, turmeric, coriander, salt and a generous seasoning of black pepper and mix to make an evenly combined paste.

 

Work the paste on to the chicken, rubbing it in all over it and between the breast and leg joints. Roast the chicken for 1 ½  hours or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer.

 

Leave to rest for 10 minutes, then serve.

 

 

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