Archive February 2012

Guest blogger: Lucy Zilberkweit, Press Officer,

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid, Two Roads Book Club, Will SchwalbeOn the sixth meeting of our Two Roads Book Club, not only did we have a book that had been on many of our ‘to read’ piles for years, but we FINALLY had the inspiration behind our book club, Will Schwalbe, in the room with us. After months of emails back and forth about our reading list, we were able to celebrate in style with the man himself. We met in the Library at the Hospital Club and settled down to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

For those who haven’t read this, it’s a novel set in the years following 9/11, and tackles, through the engaging, articulate words of its narrator Changez, what it is to be a Pakistani living in the suspicious, terrorism-altered Western world. The novel is brief, and the narration takes place during the course of one long evening in a Lahore café. The reader, addressed as ‘you’, takes on the persona of an American businessman or CIA agent – the exact occupation and reason for his presence in Lahore is never made clear – and is approached by a bearded young gentleman, who invites himself to join ‘you’ at ‘your’ table. Over the course of cups of tea, snacks and a delicious evening meal, the stranger, who introduces himself as Changez, describes his life during the years he lived in America, interspersed with snapshots of Lahore life. continue reading »

Tehran comes to the Lake District if you will…

The New Bookshop Cockermouth

The New Bookshop in Cockermouth (brewery round the corner!)


Cockermouth is in the North Lakes and is most famous for being the birthplace of the Wordsworths and, more recently, the terrible floods of 2009 which destroyed the High Street and with it The New Bookshop. Thankfully, all has been restored and replaced and very pretty it is too, although high water markers along the high street are a grim (if incredible) reminder.

Both Ashley & I have spoken at a lot of book groups in the last nine months, but it’s rare for us to do a double act as editor and author.

Farangi Girl bookgroup, The New Bookshop, Cockermouth, Travelling Editor

Watching her present her book is always fascinating, not least because she gives a detailed history of Iran and the West, the politics, double-dealings, the working of the ‘puppet’ Shah and the complexity of the region which forms the backdrop to her memoir. It is the stuff

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of spy novels and actually little enough known. She had also brought some wonderful photographs with her of the family which enrich her story still further.

Farangi Girl bookgroup, The New Bookshop, Cockermouth, Travelling Editor

Ashley, Gillian and Catherine at The New Bookshop

But, as often happens, of equally great interest was the process of writing and editing and how it works. Why, in fact, did Ashley decide to write the book in the first place? I’m attaching a link to an earlier blog of Ashley’s which answer some of those questions.

continue reading »

let there be tinsel - there was cake, but we ate it ...

It’s our birthday today and so time for a little moment of reflection.  So, in the last twelve months we’ve published some great books, acquired more for this year, had some bestsellers and are on the way to establishing ourselves a little more each day.

I’ve also done a lot  of travelling.  Last summer, I thought it’d be a good idea to get out of the office and meet readers and booksellers and attend a few book groups.  Since last July I’ve notched up about 7000 miles, attended book groups across the country and spoken to hundreds of readers.  And fabulous it has been too.   All book groups are different yet united in their desire for a great story that challenges, entertains and, to a degree, educates.  It’s been lively, to say the least.  But most of all it’s been heart-warming and reassuring that, no matter how tough ‘the market’ seems, there are readers out there just waiting for great stories.


So, partly in tribute to the book groups, which are Two Roads core market, we made this birthday film, which celebrates some of the joy of books.  Do let us know what you think…



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