Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Last night we had a rare thing - a dinner party. But it was a dinner party with a mission - to test out some of the Chocolate & Zucchini recipes. Chocolate & Zucchini is a book we will be publishing next May, by Clotilde Dusoulier. Her web site has wonderful comment on French life (yes, markets and old Le Creuset cooking pots, all mixed together with wry comment, and absolutely no berets or strings of onions).

But as the book will be coming out in America first, we had to convert the cups to grams, and some of the ingredients are pretty different. So, I baked a 'cake' with chorizo, pistachio nuts and sun dried tomatoes - perfect for picnics or to eat warm on a chilly October night, cumin gruyere choux pastry puffs, and a huge chicken udon noodle dish - enough for eight hungry people. But the piece de resistance was the wine - a bottle we had owned since 1996 - covered in cob webs, unreadable label, tasting of black currant, full of broken cork which Rhidian Brook carefully sieved out, and dark, dark red. Our other guests were Alev Adil and Barbaros Altos, who have helped us with all things Turkish. Hope they were impressed. Of course, we do this every week in London....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Independent publishing is all about choices, and choices mean risk. Sometimes, the risk it too great, and we take a back seat on a book, and then watch its progress. One such choice was WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen. Published in the USA by Algonquin, I have watched it become a Book Sense pick, and slowly, a Barnes & Noble bestseller.

We were offered this book, but felt the advance they wanted was too great - we would have had to sell at least 10,000 copies in one season, and that's a rare achievement for us.

Instead, Hodder in the UK bought the rights as an extension of the Australian rights, and I believe the hardback has been published. But I have not seen any reviews yet, for this October 5th title.

We thought it had similarities to another title we passed on, Gaetan Soucy's VAUDEVILLE. But Sara Gruen's book has a tight plot and some very telling characters, as the circus weaves its way across America, with one elephant on board (lazy, no tricks except eating and defecating), various horses who end up being fed to the big cats, and lots of crazy performers.

Will our recommendation on this blog get this book moving? Will Hodder enter it for the Orange Prize next year? I hope so. And why am I in love with Turkish literature? Perhaps it is because no one can accuse us of aping American sentimentalities. We have a new novel by Latife Tekin for next Spring, Swords of Ice. When I first read Elif Shafak's The Flea Palace, I came to it having published two books by Latife, so I was familiar with the Turkish syntax and drawing of characters. It's so different to anything else. You should try The Flea Palace or The Gaze by Elif Shafak, or Latife Tekin's Berji Kristin: Tales from the Garbage Hills. Yes, Turkish fiction is risking it - but the risk seemed so great that it was worth taking. Not sure if even I can work that one out.