Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist explores loss of innocence and the conflict between self and society

“From a very strong longlist we’ve arrived at a shortlist of three really marvelous novels — each of them an unforgettable picture of a place and a society, peopled by vividly interesting characters.  It’s a pleasure to greet three such gifted, and contrasting, first novelists.”- Chair of judges and author, Alan Hollinghurst

The three novels shortlisted for the 2019 Desmond Elliott Prize, the “UK’s most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (Daily Telegraph), have been announced today (Friday 10th May 2019). Golden Child by Claire Adam, Hold by Michael Donkor and Devoured by Anna Mackmin are all in the running to win the £10,000 Prize and be named the year’s best debut novel.

All three titles explore the theme of how innocence can be lost following the realisation that long-accepted beliefs about the world might not be true.

Claire Adam introduces readers to the colourful, vibrant yet dangerous world of her childhood, Trinidad, in Golden Child. The novel tells the story of a family with twin boys, Peter and Paul, with differing personalities. When the ‘misfit’ twin, Peter, is abducted, their father, Clyde, must race to save the son that he has never really understood. About the novel, Alan Hollinghurst said: “Golden Child is a superbly controlled narrative of a family cracking under unbearable pressures, and a remarkable study in violence, always latent, sometimes horrifically real. It combines the tang of harsh reality with the luminous strangeness of a dream. ”

In Hold, author Michael Donkor explores the conflict between a person’s heritage and the culture in which they grew up taking inspiration from his own childhood experiences of being a London born Ghanaian. When Londoner Amma starts rebelling against her parents, the disciplined ‘house-girl’ Belinda is summoned from Ghana to be a good influence on her. Hollinghurst said:Hold is a captivating study of cultural displacement and generational change, seen, remarkably, entirely through female eyes. In the house-girl Belinda, Michael Donkor has created a memorably funny and poignant portrait of a young woman making sense of a life she is not in charge of.”

Rounding off the shortlist is Devoured by Anna Mackmin, a vivid semi-autobiographical tale of a girl growing up in a commune in Norfolk. The central character, Nearly Thirteen, offers the reader a chance to experience a world that exists on the fringes of society through the eyes of a child with the innocence not to question the unusual behaviour she encounters. The novel comes from Norwich-based independent publisher Propolis, founded by Henry Layte who co-published the 2014 Desmond Elliott Prize-winning A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride. Alan Hollinghurst said:  “An exuberant and technically inventive debut from Anna Mackmin. She shows us the variously pompous, randy and self-deluded adults in a 1970s Norfolk commune through the eyes of drolly observant child on the cusp of puberty.  Devoured is absorbing, unnerving and extremely funny.”

The Chairman of the Prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson said: “The purpose of the Desmond Elliott Prize is to support debut novelists, to raise their profile and provide them with a financial platform from which they can dive into their next novel. It is no easy task for our judges to whittle the longlist down from ten to a shortlist of three and I know every year there is a fierce debate in the judging room. It is with great joy that we present the Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist for 2019.”

The Desmond Elliott Prize has a track record of spotting exceptionally talented novelists at the very beginning of their careers. Last year, the Prize was awarded to Preti Taneja for her debut novel, We That Are Young. Since winning the Desmond Elliott Prize, We That Are Young has been published in the US, Canada, India, Germany and France. The rights have also been acquired for a television adaptation. Other past-winners include Francis Spufford, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride.

Alan Hollinghurst is joined on the judging panel by the literary editor of The Times, Robbie Millen, and managing director of the Booksellers Association, Meryl Halls. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 19th June, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.

For further information please contact Emily Souders at Riot Communications on 

020 3174 0118 / emily@riotcommunications.com

Associate Director Caitlin Allen shares her thoughts on the launch of Moominvalley

As animated TV series Moominvalley came to living rooms across the UK over the Easter weekend, we share how we shaped and executed a B2B and consumer communications strategy for our client Gutsy Animations from concept to transmission…

We’d been working with Moomin Characters for about a year when Marika Makaroff, CEO of Gutsy Animations, got in touch in spring 2017 to ask for our support with a crowdfunding campaign for a new television adaptation of the Moomin stories.

We immediately fell in love with Marika’s vision for a new adaption that was totally loyal to the spirit and values of Tove Jansson’s creation and portrayed the full range of emotions – good and bad – explored within her Moomin stories. We worked with Gutsy and their crowdfunding consultant to secure widespread media coverage and mobilise the Moomin fanbase worldwide, resulting in the campaign securing 127% funding and reaching a total of US$253,230.

On the back of that success, we were thrilled to be appointed by Gutsy to handle consumer and B2B PR throughout the development and production process, helping to attract the attention and interest of buyers around the world.

Our remit included making all major announcements about the production, including our UK voice cast announcement which saw Moominvalley being discussed by presenters on the BBC Breakfast sofa and by Nick Grimshaw on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show as well as news stories on Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Stylist, NME and many more.

At MIPCOM 2017 we organised a beach party with from Rosamund Pike, who voices Moominmamma, to guarantee that buyers would take time out of their hectic schedules to come to our event. We also took the opportunity to arrange a full-page interview with Rosamund for the MIPCOM Daily Paper, ensuring that Gutsy and Moominvalley had high visibility during the market.

We announced various acquisitions, working with broadcast partners worldwide including Yle in Finland, Sky in the UK and NHK in Japan. Further collaborators came on board in the form of Columbia Records, part of Sony Music, who we announced would be partnering with Moominvalley on the soundtrack with Columbia artists including Tom Odell and First Aid Kit writing brand-new feature songs for each episode of the first series.

In the run-up to the animation airing, we identified what needed to be done to supplement the work of Sky’s consumer PR agency in the UK and placed a couple of major features looking at the new animation from a literary point of view. Tove’s original Moomin stories are at the heart of everything that the Moomin brand does so it was important to make sure they featured alongside interviews with the starry cast and team. We invited journalists out to the worldwide premiere in Helsinki, where they were able interview Tove’s niece Sophia plus Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, the lead writers on the series, for spreads on the source material in the Guardian and The i Paper. We also collaborated on some trade media opportunities, telling the story of the production from Gutsy’s perspective with written pieces from Marika and Academy Award-winning director Steve Box.

At the Helsinki premiere, we hosted four members of the UK cast: Rosamund Pike (Moominmamma), Taron Egerton (Moomintroll), Jennifer Saunders (Mymble) and Edvin Endre (Snufkin). Together with Gutsy and Sky’s team we organised an afternoon of international media interviews for the voice talent plus key members from the production team. Later that day we hosted the UK talent at the premiere itself, which included a red carpet moment with photo opps and further interviews, and were the first port of call for talent during their visit to Finland.

Seeing something turn from creative vision into reality is always a magical experience, but it’s even more wonderful when the timing is so right. The world needs the Moomins – and the lessons they can teach us about tolerance, respect and welcoming difference – more than ever right now. It’s been a joy to have played a role in this project right from the beginning. Marika, Steve and the incredibly talented team at Gutsy have done a wonderful job of honouring Tove’s work, presenting it for a contemporary audience in a fresh and cutting-edge way.

Caitlin Allen, associate director

Photo credit: Jussi Nahkuri and Ilmari Fabritius

Recurring Themes of Trauma, Ownership and Abandonment Dominate Desmond Elliott Prize Longlist 2019

  • Four of the 10 debut novels are inspired by real-life happenings in the histories of the authors’ families
  • Indies take on the big publishing houses, with Salt longlisted twice alongside titles from Propolis and New Island Books
  • The list features two (Observer) ‘new faces of fiction’: Michael Donkor and Yara Rodrigues Fowler

The 10-strong longlist for the 12th annual Desmond Elliott Prize, the “UK’s most prestigious award for debut novelists” (Daily Telegraph), has been revealed today (Tuesday 2nd April). The Prize, which is presented in the name of the late, acclaimed literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott, has revealed a longlist that stretches from magical realism to rigorously researched historical novels and whose authors range from playwrights to political activists.

Several of the longlisted authors looked to their own family histories for inspiration. In A Perfect Explanation, Eleanor Anstruther tells the shocking story behind her aristocratic grandmother’s selling of her son (the author’s father) for £500, while Testament was inspired by Kim Sherwood’s grandmother’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Anna Mackmin’s Devoured is influenced by the award-winning theatre director’s own childhood spent in a hippy commune in Norfolk. Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler, who co-created the GE2017 Tinder chat bot to campaign for Labour in the 2017 General Election, examines cultural duality as experienced by the author in her own Brazilian-English household.

Magical realism and the fantastical loom large this year, with The Chameleon by Samuel Fisher, Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson – the youngest ever Man Booker Prize shortlistee – all making the longlist. Elsewhere, Golden Child by Claire Adam, published in the US by Sarah Jessica Parker’s SJP for Hogarth imprint, Hold by Michael Donkor and Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin explore the great themes of love, belief and abandonment within the frame of three uniquely troubled families.

Independent publisher Salt and HarperCollins imprint 4th Estate each have two titles on the list, which sees independents take on the big publishing houses. The longlisted authors include two Observer ‘new faces of fiction’: Michael Donkor and Yara Rodrigues Fowler, who were featured in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The 2019 Desmond Elliott Prize longlist in full (alphabetically by author surname):

  • Golden Child by Claire Adam (Faber & Faber)
  • A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther (Salt)
  • Hold by Michael Donkor (4th Estate)
  • The Chameleon by Samuel Fisher (Salt)
  • Everything Under by Daisy Johnson (Jonathan Cape)
  • Devoured by Anna Mackmin (Propolis Books)
  • Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin (4th Estate)
  • Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford (New Island Books)
  • Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler (Fleet)
  • Testament by Kim Sherwood (riverrun)

The Chairman of the Prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “It is with great pride that we once again present a list that combines dazzling debuts which have already caught the attention of the literary world with a number of titles that have so far flown a little under the radar – undeservedly so. It is our hope that being longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize will help these promising authors receive greater recognition from the media, trade and book-buying public. Our 2018 winner, Preti Taneja, has already achieved wonderful things in the nine months since her win and we wish all the same success to this year’s hopefuls.”

This year’s chair of judges, Man Booker Prize-winning author Alan Hollinghurst, said: “I’m really delighted to have been asked to chair the judging panel for the 2019 Desmond Elliott Prize. It’s a prize that rewards the courage as well as the skill of new writers — the ones who will go on to shape the reading landscape of the future.”

The Desmond Elliott Prize has a track record of spotting exceptionally talented novelists at the very beginning of their careers. Last year, the Prize was awarded to Preti Taneja for her debut novel, We That Are Young. Since winning the Desmond Elliott Prize, We That Are Young has been published in the US, Canada, India, Germany and France. Other past-winners include Francis Spufford, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride.

Alan Hollinghurst is joined on the judging panel by the literary editor of The Times, Robbie Millen, and managing director of the Booksellers Association, Meryl Halls. A shortlist will be announced on 10th May and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 19th June, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.

 

For further information please contact Caitlin Allen at Riot Communications on

020 3174 0118 / caitlin@riotcommunications.com

Talking Politics Reaches 5 Million Downloads

“the country’s cleverest podcast” (The Telegraph) has doubled its audience in the past year and now receives over 70,000 listens per episode

Talking Politics, the political podcast hosted by David Runciman and sponsored by the London Review of Books, has passed the 5 million download milestone just ahead of its 150th instalment.

The hugely popular podcast now averages 70,345 listens per episode and 492,415 listens per month. In 2018, it was listened to in 196 countries. 60% of listeners are in the UK and 10% are in the United States, where the audience is steadily growing.

Recorded weekly at the University of Cambridge, where Runciman is Professor of Politics, Talking Politics combines a regular panel of experts with invited guests. It is usually co-hosted by Professor of Political Economy, Helen Thompson.

The first episode, released in September 2016, featured Israeli historian and author of the bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari. Other popular contributors have included historians Adam Tooze and Jill Lepore, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, authors Oliver Bullough and Pinkaj Mishra, and economist Thomas Piketty.

Recent topics have included surveillance capitalism, Facebook as a threat to democracy, and the place of fear in contemporary politics, alongside the politics of the World Cup, food and Brexit, and whether or not six-year-olds should be able to vote.

David Runciman said: “Keeping on top of the relentlessly breaking political news can feel like an impossible task. What we try to offer is an informative and genuine dialogue, where experts with differing opinions come to explore themes in a collaborative and non-combative way – as opposed to just providing a platform where guests present their views. The result is that you can often hear contributors thinking, changing their minds, or learning from eachother in the course of an episode.”

Talking Politics is produced in partnership with the London Review of Books. Its publisher, Nicholas Spice, commented: “For forty years, the LRB has proved that serious, demanding, intellectually provocative content can attract a large international audience. It’s therefore no surprise to us that Talking Politics, a podcast founded on similar principles, by one of our contributing editors, is achieving these remarkable figures. We’re proud of our relationship with Britain’s best political podcast – and also grateful for its clarity in these challenging times.”

Sophie Herdman, UK content director for Acast, said: “We’re proud to have Talking Politics as part of the Acast family. The show’s appeal lies in its ability to offer timely, nuanced and informed perspectives on current events which are more valuable than ever in the current climate. The show has seen fantastic week-on-week growth in terms of listeners over the last few years and we look forward to seeing it continue to flourish.”

Talking Politics is available via iTunes, Acast, Stitcher or any other podcast app. A new episode is uploaded every Thursday morning and transcripts are made available on talkingpoliticspodcast.com. Follow Talking Politics on Twitter @TPpodcast_

Last week, the London Review of Books launched a new podcast, ‘The State of…’, hosted by LRB editors Joanna Biggs and Tom Crewe – who are joined each month by two guests trying to understand a little better the state of our times. Within 24 hours ‘The State of…’ reached the top ten of the UK Podcasts Chart.

ENDS

For further information please contact Caitlin Allen or Emily Souders on caitlin@riotcommunications.com / emily@riotcommunications.com / 020 3174 0118

 

Notes to editors

About Talking Politics

Talking Politics is the podcast that tries to make sense of the unpredictable, often alarming and always interesting political moment we’re living in. Hosted by David Runciman, with help from a panel of political experts from Cambridge and guests ranging from historians and economists to philosophers and novelists, it offers a historical long-view perspective on current events. Big ideas are explored in a non-combative way. The podcast is totally independent, balanced and offers up a wide range of political views. A large portion of its listeners are in the UK but it also has a sizeable and growing following in the US. A new episode is uploaded every Thursday morning.

About the London Review of Books:

The LRB is Europe’s leading magazine of culture and ideas. Published twice a month, it provides a space for some of the world’s best writers to explore a wide variety of subjects in exhilarating detail – from art and politics to science and technology via history and philosophy, not to mention fiction and poetry. In the age of the long read, the LRB remains the pre-eminent exponent of the intellectual essay, admired around the world for its fearlessness, its range and its elegance.

As well as book reviews and reportage, each issue also contains poems, reviews of exhibitions and movies, ‘short cuts’, letters and a diary, and is available in print, online, and offline via our app. Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to every piece we’ve ever published in our digital archive. Our website also features a regular blog, podcasts and short documentaries, plus video highlights from our events programme on both sides of the Atlantic, and at the London Review Bookshop.

Riot Communications Co-founder and MD Secures Spot in PR Week’s Top 100 for First Time

Preena Gadher, co-founder and MD of Riot Communications has been included in PR Week’s 2019 Power Book, which recognises the top 100 most influential and respected communications professionals in the UK today.

Entering the list for the first time, Gadher is among the 9%* of the entire PR workforce who is from a BME background.

Gadher said: “It’s a huge honour to make PR Week’s Power Book, not least as one of the few BME agency heads. Having taken a slightly unusual path – co-founding an agency without having ever worked in one! – I hope this can, in a small way, help show people who are currently underrepresented in our industry, that PR is a profession for all, no matter what your background or who your connections. All you need is determination and a healthy dose of resilience! We still have a long way to go, but change will come.

“Making it on to a list like this is by no means a solo effort and I’m enormously grateful to everyone who has been on the Riot journey over the past ten years or supported from the side lines.”

–ENDS–

 

*PRCA Census 2018

Lyra Silvertongue Returns as an Adult in The Secret Commonwealth

First look at The Secret Commonwealth, the next volume in Philip Pullman’s bestselling The Book of Dust

Publishing in October 2019 ahead of highly-anticipated BBC One adaptation of Pullman’s seminal His Dark Materialstrilogy, starring Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters and Lin-Manuel Miranda in lead roles

“At the heart of the book are Lyra, the young woman we saw first as a girl of twelve and then as a baby, and Malcolm, whose life as a boy became involved with hers and who now finds their lives helplessly entangled again; and how some emotions can last a lifetime, and others change beyond recognition.” – Philip Pullman

Lyra Silvertongue, one of the world’s favourite heroines, is to return this autumn in The Secret Commonwealth, the second instalment in Philip Pullman’s bestselling The Book of Dust. The book will be published on 3rd October 2019 by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House UK.

Lyra is no longer a child. The Secret Commonwealth is set 20 years after the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded, and seven years after readers left Lyra and Will Parry on a park bench in Oxford’s Botanic Gardens in The Amber Spyglass, the final book in the His Dark Materials series.

Global in scale, The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two sees Lyra, now an independent young woman, forced to navigate a complex and dangerous new world as she ventures far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search of an elusive town said to be haunted by dæmons. As well as taking readers on an exhilarating journey into places that are at once familiar and extraordinary, the book is a timely exploration of what it is to be human, to grow up and make sense of the world around us, from one of the UK’s greatest writers.

Details of the book, released today by Pullman’s publishers, are accompanied by a first look at the beginning of The Secret Commonwealth, showing Lyra at odds with her dæmon, Pantalaimon, after they unwittingly witness a murder.

Philip Pullman says:

“Things have been biding their time, waiting for the right moment to reveal their consequences for Lyra Silvertongue. The Secret Commonwealth tells the continuing story of the impact on Lyra’s life of the search for, and the fear of, Dust. I found it intriguing and deeply exciting to discover how great events can turn on a little moment, and how revenge can be nurtured and fed and watered till it grows beyond control.

“Life is not easy for Lyra. It was enthralling for me to remember how powerfully and passionately our minds and opinions can be turned by reading a particular book at the right time. Lyra, as a student, is finding that out. She is also discovering a new and difficult aspect to her relationship with Pantalaimon, and other things about dæmons that she never suspected.

“But those things are background. At the heart of the book are Lyra, the young woman we saw first as a girl of twelve and then as a baby, and Malcolm, whose life as a boy became involved with hers and who now finds their lives helplessly entangled again; and how some emotions can last a lifetime, and others change beyond recognition. It’s the story of some people we know, and others we’ll meet for the first time. Their journey is going to take them far from their homeland towards a mysterious desert in Central Asia, where they hope to find, at last, the secret of Dust.”

Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK), comments:

“Like the original readers of His Dark Materials, Lyra has grown up. Her concerns are adult ones, and this new perspective – coupled with Philip’s unflinching look at the human condition and his extraordinary storytelling – makes for a breath-taking read.

“In the same way that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go reflect and refract the world around us to devastating effect, The Secret Commonwealth– and its predecessor La Belle Sauvage – shows us a darker parallel world whose troubles echo our own. And then there are the dæmons, and the way the relationship between dæmon and human embodies the very human identity struggle between childhood to adulthood. It is truly a book for our time.”

David Fickling, Publisher and Editor, David Fickling Books, adds:

“I feel as if I know Lyra Silvertongue (and Pantalaimon) so well. The most natural, mischievous and spirited girl you could ever wish to meet, and more than that, a friend. To me, she outstrips all the coming-of-age protagonists of the past 100 years: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen, The Magic Toyshop’s Melanie, On the Road’s Sal Paradise and To Kill a Mockingbird’s ‘Scout’ Finch. Lyra is the one-off original, simply the best.

“When Philip told me that the next volume of The Book of Dust was about Lyra as a student, I was thrilled: not because I expected Lyra to be the same as she was (Philip does not repeat himself), but because I so wanted to meet the young woman she’s become. And now, amazingly, I have and I am not disappointed. She is more real to me than ever. It is not easy for her, that’s true, but somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be. And the story? The story is quite astonishing: without doubt, Philip is one of the most important writers on the planet.”

The Secret Commonwealth publication follows the chart-topping success of the first volume of The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage – in October 2017. It can be read as a standalone, paired with La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, or set alongside Lyra’s adventures in the internationally bestselling His Dark Materials series (Northern LightsThe Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass). Chris Wormell will also return to illustrate the cover and the chapter headings.

Filming of the highly anticipated TV adaptation of His Dark Materials, produced in Wales by Bad Wolf, has now wrapped and a teaser trailer released. Written by playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildThis is England ’88) and directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s SpeechLes Misérables) and Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood [2018], Peaky Blinders), the series will be broadcast by HBO and BBC One in the near future. The stellar cast includes Dafne Keen (Lyra), James McAvoy (Lord Asriel), Ruth Wilson (Mrs Coulter), Anne-Marie Duff (Ma Costa), James Cosmo (Farder Coram), Clarke Peters (Master of Jordan College), Lucian Msamati (John Faa) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby).

The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two will be published in hardback, ebook and audiobook on Thursday 3rd October 2019 by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House in the UK, featuring original new illustrations from Chris Wormell.

*

First look at The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two

‘It used to be you who was impulsive,’ said Pan, ‘and me who kept holding you back. We’re different now.’

She nodded. ‘Well, you know, things change … This isn’t just shoplifting. This is murder.’

‘I know. I saw it.’

‘And maybe by doing this we’d be helping the murderer get away with it. By interfering with the investigation. That can’t be right.’

‘That’s another thing,’ he said.

‘What?’

‘You used to be optimistic. You used to think that whatever we did would turn out well. Even after we came back from the north, you used to think that. Now you’re cautious, you’re anxious … You’re pessimistic.’

She knew he was right, but it wasn’t right that he should speak to her accusingly, as if it was something to blame her for.

‘I used to be young,’ was all she could find to say.

He made no response.

They didn’t speak again till they reached the station. Then she said ‘Pan, come here,’ and he leapt up at once into her hands. She put him on her shoulder and said quietly, ‘You’re going to have to look out behind. Someone might be watching.’

*

For further information or images, please contact Hephzibah Kwakye-Saka at Riot Communications: 02031740118 / hephzibah@riotcommunications.com

*

Praise for La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One

‘Philip Pullman is one of the great storytellers of our time. The way he creates characters is exquisite and I am excited for anyone reading Lyra’s story for the first time; you have the most extraordinary world to discover.’ – Cerys Matthews, musician, author and broadcaster

‘Is there a richer, more complex conceit in modern fiction than Pullman’s daemons – animal companions that are both projections of yourself and a guide, both soul and guardian angel?’ – Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Observer

‘These are dark, uncertain times. Pullman has given them the brilliant, disturbing book they deserve’ – i

***

Notes to Editors:

  • The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two will be published by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House in the UK, priced £20 (hardback, ebook, CD), £14.99 (trade paperback) and £12 (audiobook) on 3 October 2019.
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One is available in hardback and ebook editions (£20), paperback edition (£7.99) and audiobook, narrated by Michael Sheen (£13).
  • His Dark Materials: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife andThe Amber Spyglass are published in hardback and paperback by Scholastic, priced £12.99 and £7.99 respectively, with covers by Chris Wormell, and in ebook by Penguin Random House, priced £4.99.
  • Sir Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, UK, in 1946 and educated in England, Zimbabwe, Australia and Wales. He read English at Exeter College, Oxford.

After graduating, Pullman went into teaching, at various Oxford Middle Schools before moving to Westminster College in 1986 for eight years. He retains a passionate interest in education.

His first children’s book, Count Karlstein, was published in 1982 (later republished in 2002). It was followed by The Ruby in the Smoke (1986), the first in a quartet of books featuring the young Victorian adventurer, Sally Lockhart. He also published a number of shorter stories, which he calls fairy tales, including The Firework-Maker’s DaughterClockworkI Was a Rat! and The Scarecrow and His Servant. To date, he has published 33 books, read by children and adults alike.

His most famous work is the His Dark Materials trilogy: Northern Lights (1995, published as The Golden Compass in the USA); The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). These books have been honoured by several prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Award, and (for The Amber Spyglass) the Whitbread Book of the Year Award – the first time in the history of that prize that it was given to a children’s book. Pullman has received numerous other awards, including: the 2002 Eleanor Farjeon Award for children’s literature, and the 2005 Astrid Lindgren Award, jointly with the Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai. The first volume of The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage – was published in October 2017 to great acclaim, winning the Waterstones Book of the Year in December 2017, securing Pullman ‘Author of the Year’ at both the British Book Awards 2018 and the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018, and the audiobook – narrated by Michael Sheen – ‘Audiobook of the Year’ at the British Book Awards 2018. Pullman was knighted for services to literature in the New Year’s Honours 2019.

Sir Philip Pullman lives in Oxford. Further information can be found at www.philip-pullman.com.

David Fickling Books is an independent publisher of high-quality books with a focus on brilliant storytelling and world-class illustration. They publish picture books and novels for all ages, as well as graphic novels based on the strips in The Phoenix

David Fickling set up David Fickling Books in 1999 as an imprint of Scholastic and then developed the same brand as an imprint of Random House from 2001 until 2013. During this time, he published Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (bestseller and award-winning play), as well as John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Jenny Downham’s Before I Die and Andy Mulligan’s Trash – all international bestsellers and, later, hit Hollywood movies. In 2012, he launched a weekly story comic for children called The Phoenix, which has been rated the second-best comic in the world by TIME magazine. Recent notable publishing successes from DFB include La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman (co-published with Penguin Random House UK) and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, which won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Fiction in 2016.

Penguin Random House is the world’s number one publisher. We champion authors, shaping and sharing writing that sparks thoughts, dreams, conversations and learning. We are a vibrant community of publishing houses, representing distinguished publishing histories marked by unparalleled success. We are a home to all kinds of authors. From the best new fiction or picture book writers, to political commentators, trailblazing entrepreneurs, health experts and bold illustrators, we enable talented people from all walks of life to tell their stories – and we make sure they are heard. We sell and license books in over 120 countries, connecting great books with a growing and global audience. We bring words to life. www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/www.penguin.co.uk/

Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Hires Riot Communications

Riot Communications has been appointed by property company Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts and partner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, and world-class producer, the Royal Exchange Theatre, to help with the strategic positioning and promotion of Europe’s richest prize for playwriting.  

Launched by the two organisations in 2005, the Prize is open to writers of any background or experience and judged anonymously in order to discover new voices and stories for the stage. Through the expertise of the Manchester-based Royal Exchange Theatre, the Prize also champions new playwrights to help develop their craft. Its judging panel is chaired this year by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic. 

Riot Communications MD Preena Gadher said: “What most impresses me about the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is not the reputation it has for consistently finding high-quality plays – which is, in itself, a skill – but the genuine commitment of both Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange Theatre to finding and nurturing brand-new voices and stories. This is something we value at Riot, and when client and agency values align, that’s when you can create truly excellent work.” 

Sally Hill, Social Impact Partnerships Director at Bruntwood said: “The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is one of a number of partnerships we have with ambitious cultural organisations like the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, since we passionately believe that investment in Arts and Culture is a way to help cities thrive. 

“We were really impressed by the approach Riot took to meeting our brief: they really interrogated what we are trying to achieve with the Prize which demonstrated their intelligence, as well as their passion for our mission to help discover new stories.” 

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For more information please contact Katy MacMillan-Scott onkaty@riotcommunications.com / 020 3174 0118 

Notes to editors 

Riot Communications is a PR agency specialising in culture and entertainment. Driven by the belief that culture promotes empathy, creativity, respect for others and joy, the agency works with clients across publishing, TV, theatre, science, museums and heritage organisations, as well as a variety of entertainment brands.   

Bruntwood develop, own, let and manage outstanding buildings and science facilities across the UK but it is much more than a property company. The company has been investing in its communities for over forty years and is deeply connected to the cities it operates in.  As part of this commitment Bruntwood partner with ambitious cultural organisations that are looking to make an impact, tell the stories of our time, and inspire change. That’s why we’re proud to support the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.  Fundamentally what we believe is that cities aren’t structures, cities are people, and we look forward to the stories they can tell us.  

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre Company transforms the way people see theatre, each other and the world around them. The historic building, once the world’s biggest cotton exchange, was taken over by artists in 1976. Today it is an award-winning cultural charity that produces new theatre in-the-round, in communities, on the road and online. 

London Review of Books Hires Riot Communications

The London Review of Books – Europe’s leading magazine of culture and ideas – has hired specialist PR agency Riot Communications to help celebrate the LRB’s 40th anniversary this year.

Published twice monthly, the LRB attracts some of the best writers in the world, musing on a wide range of subjects, in longform, from politics and technology to art and poetry. With the highest circulation of any magazine of its kind in Europe, it is renowned as an exponent of the intellectual essay, admired globally for its fearlessness, its range and its elegance.

Riot Communications MD Preena Gadher said: ‘A reader once described the LRB as “the best thing about being a human” and I know exactly what they mean. The writers that the magazine attracts are outstanding, and whatever mood you are in, there is guaranteed to be something in each issue that resonates. The LRB helps me make sense of the world.

‘It’s also a perfect client for us, because it makes a positive impact in the world, which is one of our key agency values. Forty years is a major milestone, a testimony to the strength of the LRB’s brand. We can’t wait to help them mark this anniversary.’

Nicholas Spice, publisher of the LRB, said: ‘Riot Communications is the most exciting thing to happen to books PR for a long time, so it was only natural that we’d work with them on birthday celebrations that are as much about looking forward as they are about celebrating the past forty years.’

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For more information please contact Caitlin Allen: caitlin@riotcommunications.com / 020 3174 0118

Casting Announced for New BBC One Drama Noughts + Crosses

The much anticipated adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s award-winning young adult book series Noughts + Crosses has begun filming in South Africa for BBC One.

Mammoth Screen is producing this gripping story of first love in a dangerous, alternate world where racism divides society. The six-part series is written by Toby Whithouse (Being Human), Lydia Adetunji (Riviera), Nathaniel Price (Tin Star) and Rachel De-Lahay (Kiri).

Noughts + Crosses follows two young people Sephy and Callum, who are divided by their colour but united by love. Sephy is a ‘Cross’, a member of the black ruling class and daughter of a prominent politician. Callum is a ‘Nought’, a white member of the underclass. The two have been friends since early childhood but their relationship grows ever more complicated as they come of age. It’s the story of two families separated by power and prejudice but forever entwined by fate.

BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders, Born to Kill) will play Callum McGregor and newcomer Masali Baduza has been cast as Sephy Hadley.

Paterson Joseph (Timeless, Peep Show) plays Sephy’s father, the Home Secretary Kamal Hadley, Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) plays her mother Jasmine and her sister Minerva is played by Kike Brimah (Love Type D).

Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Cuckoo) and Ian Hart (The Last Kingdom, The Secret Agent) play Callum’s parents Meggie and Ryan and Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The Little Stranger) will play his older brother Jude.

Shaun Dingwall (Goodbye Christopher Robin, The Long Firm) plays Liberation Militia leader Dorn. The cast also features Jonathan Ajayi and Rakie Ayola (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, No Offence).

Malorie Blackman, author of the Noughts & Crosses novels, says: “I’m thrilled that the TV dramatisation of Noughts & Crosses has such an amazing cast to bring the story to the screen. It will be so exciting to see how the writers and actors open up the world I created, adding new breadth and detail.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama said, “Noughts & Crosses is a novel that leaves an indelible impression on anyone who reads it. It’s fantastic that we have such an electric cast and crew bringing this powerful story to the screen for the first time on BBC One.”

Executive producer Preethi Mavahalli says: “It is an absolute honour to be adapting this treasured novel for television.  We are delighted to have such a phenomenal cast bringing this iconic love story to the screen for both existing fans and a whole new audience.”

The adaptation is based on the first book in the Noughts & Crosses series for young adults, which has won the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Fantastic Fiction Award among other accolades. The author, Malorie Blackman OBE, was the Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015.

Noughts + Crosses is directed by Julian Holmes (Daredevil, Iron Fist) and Koby Adom and produced by Johann Knobel (Shameless). Executive Producers are Toby Whithouse, Kibwe Tavares (Jonah), Patrick Reardon for Roc Nation; Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Miura Kite; Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen and Ben Irving for BBC One. It will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Press contacts:
Katy MacMillan-Scott – katy@riotcommunications.com

Lisa Vanoli – 07899 060230, lisavanolipublicity@gmail.com

About Mammoth Screen

Mammoth Screen is one of the UK’s leading production companies. Current and forthcoming shows include POLDARK series 5,  THE ABC MURDERS, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, WORLD ON FIRE and THE SERPENT for BBC1, Mammoth Screen is an ITV Studios Company.

About Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts & Crosses series, Thief and most recently her science fiction thriller Chasing the Stars. Her work has also been adapted for TV with the 6 part adaptation of Pig-Heart Boy winning a BAFTA. A stage adaptation of Noughts + Crosses was produced by the RSC, with a new production staged by Pilot Theatre running in 2019 under the direction of Sabrina Mahfouz. In 2005, Malorie was given the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the world of children’s books, in 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature and, between 2013 and 2015 she was the Children’s Laureate. Malorie wrote the acclaimed Rosa episode for the new Doctor Who series on BBC One and the fifth novel in her Noughts & Crosses sequence, Crossfire, will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s in summer 2019.

Riot to Work With Royal Institution on Annual Christmas Lectures

Riot Communications has won a three-way pitch to promote the Royal Institution’s annual Christmas Lectures, the  Ri’s biggest  and  most  famous,  demonstration-based  science  event for  young  people.

With the exception of a pause during WWII, the Christmas Lectures have run continuously since 1825 and featured many famous scientists including Nobel  Prize  winners  William  and  Lawrence  Bragg,  Sir  David  Attenborough,  Carl  Sagan  and  Dame  Nancy  Rothwell. This year’s Lecturer will be Professor Alice Roberts, broadcaster and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. Professor Roberts will be exploring the topic of identity in a series of three lectures entitled “Who Am I?”

Robert Davies, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Royal Institution said: “The Christmas Lectures aren’t just about inspiring a love of science, but rather they’re about a critical examination of its place in our lives. In identity, we’ve chosen a topical subject that will resonate with everyone, and Alice will be asking some challenging questions about what identity means in today’s world and what genetic advances in particular might mean for our future. We were really impressed with the way Riot’s pitch went straight to the heart of what we want to achieve through the Christmas Lectures.”

Riot Communications MD Preena Gadher said: “As an agency driven by a desire to work with clients making a positive impact in the world, the Royal Institution is a perfect partner for us; it strives to inspire everyone to think about the role of science in their daily lives and the Christmas Lectures are a crucial platform for that. As the world’s oldest TV science series, the Lectures have become part of the festive tradition in households across the nation for generations. We can’t wait to help spread that magic to even more people.”

The Christmas Lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four between Christmas and New Year.

Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson photography

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For more information contact Emily Souders at Riot Communications: emily@riotcommunications.com / 020 3174 0118

About Riot Communications

Riot Communications is a PR agency specialising in culture and entertainment, because, like our clients, we want to make a positive impact in the world. We passionately believe that culture and entertainment help promote empathy, creativity, respect for others and joy which is why we love what we do.

About  the  Royal  Institution 

The Royal  Institution’s  (Ri)  vision  is  for  a  world  where  everyone  is  inspired  to  think  more  deeply  about  science  and  its  place  in  our  lives.  Home to  eminent  scientists  such  as Michael  Faraday,  Humphry  Davy  and  Kathleen  Lonsdale,  its  discoveries  have  helped  to shape  the  modern  world.  Just  as  importantly  these  scientists  recognised  the  importance  of  sharing  their  work  with  the  wider  public.  Today  it  continues  its  mission  to  build  on  its  heritage  and  create  opportunities  for  everyone  to  discover,  discuss  and  critically  examine  science  and  how  it  shapes  the  world  around  us.  An  independent  registered  charity,  the  Ri  provides  science  education,  public  engagement,  and  heritage  activities  for  people  of  all  ages  and  backgrounds  across  the  UK  and  around  the  world.