‘One of the funniest books of the year’ – Paul Ross, talkRADIO
WARNING: CONTAINS AN UNLIKELY IMMIGRANT, AN UNSUNG COUNTRY, A BUMPY ROMANCE, SEVERAL SHATTERED PRECONCEPTIONS, TRACES OF INSIGHT, A DOZEN NUNS AND A REFERENDUM.
Not many Brits move to Poland to work in a fish and chip shop.
Fewer still come back wanting to be a Member of the European Parliament.
In 2016 Ben Aitken moved to Poland while he still could. It wasn’t love that took him but curiosity: he wanted to know what the Poles in the UK had left behind. He flew to a place he’d never heard of and then accepted a job in a chip shop on the minimum wage.
When he wasn’t peeling potatoes he was on the road scratching the country’s surface: he milked cows with a Eurosceptic farmer; missed the bus to Auschwitz; spent Christmas with complete strangers and went to Gdansk to learn how communism got the chop. By the year’s end he had a better sense of what the Poles had turned their backs on – southern mountains, northern beaches, dumplings! – and an uncanny ability to bone cod.
This is a candid, funny and offbeat tale of a year as an unlikely immigrant.
‘I cannot help but see the bodies of my near ancestors in the current caravans of desperate souls fleeing from place to place, chased by famine, war and toxins. Ideas honed in slavery – of the otherness, the boorishness, the inferiority of thy neighbour – have continued to travel through American society.’
How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered – an icon and idol – alongside your own? Jenn Shapland’s celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love.
With the death of her aunt, Maria Stepanova is left to sift through an apartment full of faded photographs, old postcards, diaries, and heaps of souvenirs: a withered repository of a century of life in Russia. Carefully reassembled, these shards tell the story of how a seemingly ordinary Jewish family managed to survive the twentieth century.
‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ Elizabeth Barrett Browning has come down to us as a romantic heroine. But behind the melodrama lies a thoroughly modern figure, whose extraordinary life is a study in self-invention. Born into an age when women could neither vote nor own property once married, Barrett Browning seized control of her private income, overcame long term illness and disability, eloped to revolutionary Italy with Robert Browning – and achieved lasting fame as a poet. Feminist icon, political activist and international literary superstar, she inspired writers as diverse as Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf. This book holds up a mirror to the woman, her art, and the art of biography itself.