A red-letter day


During last year’s epic adventure to read a book from every country in the world, there were a number of pinch-me moments. Sitting in CNN’s London studios waiting to do an interview that would be broadcast around the planet was one. Receiving a flood of messages from Portuguese speakers and translators volunteering their time and talents to enable me to read a book from Sao Tome & Principe was another. And I’ll never forget the evening I got home to find a package of postcards from Honduran writer Guillermo Yuscarán, or the extraordinary afternoon I spent with Jens Nielsen, the former partner of Swiss author Aglaja Veteranyi, after I wrote about her book.

Today brings another hard-to-believe moment and it has to do with that building pictured above. For years, travelling into London every Sunday morning for my weekly singing job – the only regular income I had when I started out as a freelance writer – I would pass the offices of Random House on Vauxhall Bridge Road and stare up at the windows wondering what it would be like to be an author with a book deal there. It seemed another world.

This morning, I am going into that building for my first session with my editors Michal Shavit and Gemma Wain at Harvill Secker on the manuscript of my book, Reading the World: Postcards from my Bookshelf, the story of last year’s quest. There will be a lot of work to do and I’m daunted, as well as intrigued, to hear what Michal and Gemma made of the first draft. But mostly, as I wriggle into my coat and head off down the hill to catch the bus that will take me down that familiar road once more, I’ll be excited.

Thanks again to all of you for helping me get to this point. Wish me luck!

Picture by chrisjohnbeckett

49 responses

  1. I am so pleased for you, congratulations! I think it’s such an important project, not only to show how much worthwhile literature is being produced in non-English-speaking countries but also to highlight the importance of continuing to translate things.

  2. This is great news, and really testament a well thought out and developed project, done for all the right reasons. It’s good to see that this kind of individualistic effort is recognised by so many people, and now by even more.

    I really enjoyed following the blog, and will look out for this.


  3. Truly enjoyed your blog and the very original project behind it. It just made me boil inside, living in a Third World country, not to have easy access to the books reviewed.
    Best of luck with the book!

  4. So well deserved and good on you for just getting on with the project and doing something you loved, all those vibes you sent out passing by on the bus were building up to this moment and I am sure it will all go well for you, I can’t wait to read your book at leisure and what a wonderful gift you are providing to all those writers you have featured.

    I very much enjoyed the blog and the recommendations and your wonderful writing. Bonne continuation!

  5. I endorse all the congratulations here – very very well done. I want almost all the books, have enjoyed some so far and just ordered the Kuwaiti one. I’ve been out of the loop this year mainly travelling & with family issues but am loving catching up and looking forward to the printed edition. I tried to pre-order it from Amazon but nothing doing there yet.

    • Many thanks Carol. I hope you enjoy Dathra – certainly an unusual read! It will be a while before mine’s available to order. I’m still in the thick of the writing process! All the best

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