Called in to a bookshop in town today and checked the travel section. Yes, two copies of my book about Syria shelved under R, in alphabetical order.Surreptitiously, I pulled out one copy and left it in a more prominent position. I suppose the long-suffering staff are used to this ploy.I noticed that the spine carries my name and the title ( My Home is Your Home) but not the sub-title ( A Journey Round Syria) which means anyone browsing for a travel book about Syria may not come across it.Should have thought of that when designing the cover. Checked out Syria section and only one guide – the excellent Bradt one. Its focus is the Romans and the Christian pilgrim route so places like Maloula, Saint Simeon and Palmyra etc are marked on the map but not distant places like Deir ez Zour or al Raqqa and certainly not Abu Kamal. All well worth a visit. I had great hospitality on Abu Kamal.
Then downstairs to buy a book or two. Wanted the Costa winner, Pure, but, understandably, they were sold out. Torn between A Visit from the Goon Squad ( “ It’s a great read,” said the shop person) and All Names Have Been Changed, by Claire Kilroy. I’ve read her Tenderwire, a sort of literary thriller and not usually my type of book but it was good. Maybe the last few chapters were thrown away as if the writer had got tired of it herself. Have read the first chapter of All Names and like it. She uses words intelligently. Imagine having to remark on that but that’s how it is.
Bought both so tonight will light the upstairs fire and settle in for an evening’s read. It’s bitterly cold outside but I’ll be warm as toast.
All Names Have Been Changed. Claire Kilroy. Faber. pp 269. 6.99 e Fiction
A Visit from the Goon Squad. Jennifer Egan. Corsair.pp 348 8 .99e Fiction. Winner Pullitzer 2011
My Home is Your Home A Journey Round Syria. Mary Russell. Bullstake Press. pp 311 13e Travel