'Hope is sometimes just a page away'
Three separate imprints make up the Publishing Project at UEA: Boiler House Press, Strangers Press and Egg Box Publishing. They publish a range of work, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and the annual Creative Writing MA and undergraduate anthologies.
As student Shannon Clinton-Copeland at Strangers Press writes: ‘In the midst of global disturbance, fear, and uncertainty, we have turned in our thousands to artists and writers for comfort and relief. As we begin to navigate this ‘new normal’ and think about life after lockdown, we encourage you to remember reading; to remember that hope is sometimes only a page turn away, and to continue to take messages of renewal and endurance in the face of adversity with you from quarantine and out into a world that needs it now more than ever.’
Here editors suggest reads from their collections to help ease you through the ongoing crisis.
Strangers Press, chosen by Shannon Clinton-Copeland and Amanda Hodes
Time Differences by Yoko Tawada
A fitting quarantine read. Lockdown has us learning to bridge not only our time differences, but also our physical and emotional distances. In Yoko Tawada's story, themes of separation and dislocation are explored to brilliant effect. As Stuart Dybek writes in the book’s foreword: "[W]e inhabit three sensibilities, three teeming modern cities, and a globalized world in which telephones are what connect and extend the few moments of physical intimacy."
Milena, Milena, Ecstatic by Bae Suah.
One of South Korea's most astonishing sui generis authors, Bae Suah mixes the cerebral and the pungently physical, the mundane and the wildly surreal, in a characteristically potent blend. And why is it suitable for now? Because of the way it transcends the quotidian and transports us into the fantastic.
The Transparent Labyrinth by Keiichiro Hirano
This book focuses on the characters Okada and Misa as they attend a party in Budapest. Things take a surprising turn when they find themselves trapped in a penthouse room with ten other guests. The book explores relevant themes of entrapment and memory, and it’s also rife with suspense and sexual tension.
Divorce by Kim Soom
“Poetry. Why do you write it, hmm? Isn’t it to save people’s souls?”
An arresting and mournfully beautiful reflection on separation, the thread that runs through Kim Soom’s Divorce is the silver lining of finding a new normal in the cloud of uncertainty and imbalance. A perfect read for quarantine and for the slow emergence from lockdown, this is a poignant reminder of the enormous strength and resolution we all carry inside.
Left’s Right, Right’s Left by Han Yujoo
In a matter of minutes on a stairwell in Seoul, our narrator faces the confliction of fear, regret, guilt, nostalgia, and determination. Hair in the grip of her partner’s hand, the threat of falling sends her back in time as she remembers the friend whose story she never finished writing, and in her memories of a better past she finds the willpower to stay alive, to start the first sentence. She hasn’t fallen yet, and Left’s Right, Right’s Left will likely make you recall all the things worth living for.
The Girl Who is Getting Married by Aoko Matsuda
If there was ever a reminder that we all feel lost and not in control sometimes, The Girl Who is Getting Married is it. A story that shifts and changes almost imperceptibly at first as the unnamed narrator goes to visit her engaged friend, it is infused with the subjectivity of balance. Quarantine offers so many opportunities for self-reflection and improvement, but The Girl Who is Getting Married is perhaps the memo we need to accept that it’s okay for this period of lockdown to be about finding balance and quiet stability as the structure of everything we know continues to shift.
Boiler House Press, chosen by Philip Langeskov
This Paradise by Ruby Cowling
This is a book to set the mind free - no bad thing in present circumstances. Exquisitely written and audaciously imagined, here are eleven stories that pulse with the particular energies of our time, asking questions about the conditions under which we live and asking us to think about how we might live differently in the future.
Animalia Paradoxa by Henrietta Rose-Innes
Animalia Paradoxa comes to us from a world that, for all its strangeness, once seemed very familiar. It's a world in which people travel back and forth across continents, in which people have intimate encounters, in which lives are freighted with submerged desires and the heavy burden of memory. Henrietta Rose-Innes is one of South Africa's finest contemporary writers; once you've read this, you'll understand why.
Boiler House Press Poetry, chosen Nathan Hamilton
Rabbit by Sophie Robinson
This is the long-awaited third collection from Sophie Robinson - one of the UK’s finest, most virtuosic of modern lyric poets, and one of UEA’s own creative writing academics to boot. These poems will transport the lockdown reader on surprising journeys of healing, hard-won amid personal and social vicissitudes – including triumph over addiction, and alcoholism – and open spaces in which to share in emotional, quasi-spiritual transcendence. Perfect for conquering any isolation blues. It was a stand-out poetry title from 2018 and was chosen for the PBS Wild Card Choice for Winter, 2018.
of sirens, body & faultlines by Nat Raha
This highly experimental book of prophecy against the Brexit era rises from a post-2008 London, where crisis and austerity meet the vanity projects of the super-rich. Committed to the immediacy of a present that is precarious and evermore under surveillance, and attends to queer, transfeminist and people of colour counter-memories and histories. It seeks new expressions of desire and modes of breath, pushing against the gravities that would rather these lives and worlds disappear, all of which will be felt the more keenly in the present and post Covid-19 moment.