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March 2018

On Memory and Forgetting
22nd March 2018 - David Whitehouse

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On Memory and Forgetting

The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse


The Long Forgotten is a poignant novel about identity, memory and love. Its author, David Whitehouse, talks to us about his inspiration, why he's written about living with someone else's memories, and whether he's ever met Hugh Jackman.



I forgot that I spoke to Hugh Jackman.


Hugh Jackman is on the television. He seems like an affable kind of guy. Perhaps the most affable guy in Hollywood. But really, what do we know? We know nothing. That doesn’t stop me, though.

‘Hugh Jackman seems very affable,’ I say.

‘You’ve spoken to him,’ my friend says. That’s when I remember. I have. I have spoken to Hugh Jackman, two years before, on the telephone, for fifteen minutes, when I interviewed him about a film he was in. He was affable.


My memories are disappearing. Not just when it comes to Hugh Jackman, either. The fuse has been lit at one end of my life, and the spark is eating up any recollection I have of the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, the rights, wrongs, triumphs and regrets. It happens to lots of people, but it is happening quickly to me. It’s happening so quickly that I can feel it happening. The heat of the flame getting closer. Now my mind is finding ways to overcompensate.


I am telling a story to a friend, Mark, about something funny that happened to me.


I was at Tufnell Park tube station waiting for an elevator to ground level. Beside me is a young woman. When the doors open, two nuns run out, eager to make the train that is just arriving at the platform. The young woman looks at me, and I at her. There is a strange silence before I say, ‘nuns on the run.’ She stares at me, blankly, like she has no idea what I am talking about.


That didn’t happen,’ Mark says. ‘That’s my story’. I can see that he is both cross and confused, but not as confused as me, because I am realising he’s right. It is his story. I wasn’t at Tufnell Park tube station. I didn’t see any nuns. I didn’t turn to a young woman beside me and say ‘nuns on the run.’ Mark did. And he told me this story six months ago.


It’s an honest but embarrassing mistake. Because my memory is poor, my subconscious had tried to fill the holes in it with the experiences of others. If I’d had any say in this process, I’d have chosen to believe I’d done something a bit more meaningful and impressive than making a joke about nuns. I’d like to think I wrote Hamilton, for instance. Or made Jaws. Or I was that guy who saw Boris Johnson on his bike that time and had the presence of mind to stick his middle finger up, unaware a photographer was on hand close by. I love that guy.


But we’re all filling the holes in our minds with the memories of others. That’s what social media is. Other people’s holidays, other people’s weddings, other people’s dates, other people’s meals, other people’s highs, lows, joy, sadness… other people’s time on earth. And they affect us. They make us happy, or jealous, or miserable, or angry. We now spend more time with the memories of others than we do with our own.


So that’s kind of what I wrote a novel about. What would it be like to have somebody else’s memories? I’d very much like Hugh Jackman to publicly endorse it so that I experience the resultant uplift in sales. However, I can’t remember if we were ever married, and whether the divorce was acrimonious.


David Whitehouse, TheLongForgotten Author Portrait-  (c) Ollie Harrop.jpg

David Whitehouse is an award-winning author and journalist. His first novel, Bed, won the Betty Trask Award and was longlisted for The Desmond Elliot Prize. His second novel, The Mobile Library, won the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. His journalism has won awards from The Times, the Evening Standard, the PTA and the PTC. 





The End of the F***ing World creator, Charles Forsman, picks his favourite coming of age books
15th March 2018 - Charles Forsman

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The End of the F***ing World creator, Charles Forsman, picks his favourite coming of age books


The End of the F***ing World by Charles Forsman


Charles Forsman's UK debut graphic novel is the inspiration behind Netflix's recent series of the same name. Told aternately by the two main charcters, James and Alyssa, it's a coming of age road trip of a tale with a twist of nihilism. Below, Charles shares some of the books that inspired and influenced him.



The following is list of comics and novels that are either just good teen/coming of age stories or books that directly influenced The End of the F***ing World. There are mountains of coming-of-age stories but these are ones that have particularly affected me. I guess if I had to say what ties all of these together, with the possible exception of The Chocolate War, is that these are not books aimed at a specific audience. These are just human stories. They aren't YA or Teen books. And I think that is a powerful fact. In my experience young people can smell that coming. They are smarter than we give them credit for. I hope that TEOTFW reflects that type of story and that it comes off as an authentic teenage experience without that intention being explicit and marketed as such. With that, I hope if you are reading this and you are of the teenage sort, then I implore you to try some of these out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


The Chocolate War by Robert CormierMy Fault by Billy ChildishNicolas by Pascal Giroud


The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

I can't remember whether my first exposure to this story was the book or the movie but it holds a special place in my heart. A kid feeling like the world is against him while living with his widowed father is right in my wheelhouse.


My Fault by Billy Childish

I found Billy Childish through his garage music but this memoir of his is a harrowing recounting of his childhood and the abuses he suffered. Refusing to be copy-edited, the text is presented inChildish's complete dyslexic glory.


Nicolas by Pascal Girard

The shortest book on this list but the one that is guaranteed to make you cry. Girard is a perfect cartoonist. He only gives you what you need.


The Death-Ray by Daniel ClowesMoose by Max de RadiguesRule of the Bone by Russell BanksAmerican Rust by Philipp Meyer


The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes

This is the book that got me back into comics after not reading them for a few years. A teen superhero story inspired by Steve Ditko comics that only Clowes could do.


Moose by Max de Radigues

The original zine version of this story is the comic that inspired me to make TEOTFW. Max is a dear friend and mentor. He taught me how to be a hard-working cartoonist and not belabor my pages.


Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks

A coming of age story filled with drugs and lots of horrible stuff. This is a must read, especially if you've never read any Russell Banks.


American Rust by Philipp Meyer

This book provided me with the inspiration to write TEOTFW using dual narratives. This is a great book that really places you in America's deteriorating rust belt. 


Charles Forsman (1982) is a graduate of The Center for Cartoon Studies. He is a three-time Ignatz Award-winner for his self-published mini comic Snake Oil. He went on to run a small press called Oily Comics where he published many up and coming cartoonists. Since then he has focused on his own work creating comics including Revenger, Slasher, and I Am Not Okay With This. He lives in Western Massachusetts.



#FoylesFive: Annihilation
12th March 2018

#FoylesFive Annihilation blog

#FoylesFive: Annihilation

With the release of Annihilation on Netflix today, now is the perfect time to catch up with the book that starts Jeff VanderMeer's unsettling Southern Reach trilogy. We've five persuasive reviews below to tempt you into Area X.


Four unnamed women enter the 'pristine wilderness', Area X. They are referred to only as the biologist, anthropologist, surveyor and psychologist, and together they form the 12th expedition to explore what lies beyond the border. What they discover is haunting, confusing and utterly life changing. I inhaled this book, staying up late into the night, only putting it down when all was said and done. The secrets of Area X drew me in and I can't wait to see it visualised on screen.

Jenny, Design Team


A dark exploration of human nature, ambition and the secrets and fears we all try to hide. While exploring Area X, a familiar yet utterly alien environment, the unreliable protagonist of this tale questions what it means to be human, and the motives and sanity of both herself and her companions, as she moves towards her inevitable destiny. VanderMeer imagines an environment that engulfs both characters and reader in this sparse yet utterly gripping masterpiece of modern science fiction.

Adrian, Stock Team


This book is by far one of the best ones I've read this year. Soon to be released as a film, this book offers a dystopian vision of a world divided between Area X (a pristine wilderness) and a slightly foggier version of the world as we know it. Told as a series of journal entries by an unnamed biologist, the book charts her journey into Area X, and the mysterious tower that lies at it's centre. Annihilation is a fascinating, addictive book which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Becky, Design Team


A rich yet spartan account of a troubled expedition into a clandestine wilderness known as 'Area X', narrated by an anonymous 'Biologist' who spins an eerie tale of mystery, mutation and madness. Seemingly influenced in equal measure by the Strugatsky brothers' seminal 'Roadside Picnic' and the weird fiction of Lovecraft and his ilk, VanderMeer carves out an uncanny experience, throwing the reader in at the deep end with scant backstory and then employing insinuation, speculation and half-glimpsed horror to build a sense of dread and allowing one's imagination to fill in the gaps, some of which are plugged in the succeeding books of the Southern Reach trilogy, Authority and Acceptance.

Mark, Despatch Team


Area X: a place all but empty, a warped shade upon the earth, where only the foolishly inquisitive would dare to venture. Full of questions, four women enter Area X hoping to find the truth of what lies within this desolate sphere and hoping that they will return. A world full of malice and dread, brought to life by a fevered imagination that conjures a world both unsettling and captivating. 

Matt, Web Team





#FoylesFave: Frankenstein in Baghdad
9th March 2018 - Judy Barber

#FoylesFave: Frankenstein in Baghdad

Judy, our Middle Eastern Languages expert, shares her thoughts on the newly translated Frankenstein in Baghdad.


With its publication almost coinciding with the two-hundred-year anniversary of Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein, this deeply strange and darkly funny novel is destined to become a classic of modern Arabic fiction. Set in the aftermath of the US invasion, it tells the story of a middle-aged, heavy-drinking junk dealer who, driven by grief for a friend killed by a car bomb, decides to build a complete human figure from the scattered body parts of people ripped apart by the explosions on the streets of Baghdad.


The hybrid creature lurches into life and embarks on its own grisly mission which is described in the manner of a good old-fashioned and genuinely shocking horror story. However, one of the most affecting aspects of the novel is the way the supernatural storyline gradually gives way to the everyday (and much more terrifying) horrors of life in Baghdad in 2005 where ‘the demons had broken out of their dungeons and come to the surface all at once’. Saadawi’s portrayal of a city dominated by opportunistic criminals and mini-dictators where death and abduction are routine realities is the perfect setting for this surreal and often hilarious tale of justice, revenge and survival.


Judy, Langauages Department, Charing Cross Road





#FoylesFave: Brazen
7th March 2018 - Matt Blackstock

#FoylesFave: Brazen


BrazenThis is an amazing graphic novel, full to the brim with bold, creative history-making women. Spanning most of human history, this delighful and witty book will fill hearts and minds with a rebellious buzz.


Brazen is a book that shouts about all the astonishing and rule breaking women throughout history, and the influence they have had on future generations. From warrior queen Nzinga, to the inspiring Leymann Gbowee and, my favourite, astronaught Mae Jenson. Told in a bold and brilliant comic strip style, Brazen is a remarkable book for any future revolutionary.


Matt, Web Team








Read an extract from Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
7th March 2018 - Reni Eddo-Lodge


An extract from Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge


Based on a 2014 blog post of the same name, Reni Eddo-Lodge's book Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race exploded onto our shelves last year with its eloquent, frank survey of structural racism in the UK.

A book that has legitimately changed the landscape of contemporary discourse around race, it was also voted our Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2017. Below, in an extract from early on in the book, Eddo-Lodge writes about her own awakening to the often-overlooked history of slavery in Britain and its legacy today.



"To me, this didn’t seem like information you could opt out from learning."


IT WASN'T until my second year of university that I started to think about black British history. I must have been about nineteen or twenty, and I had made a new friend. We were studying the same course, and we were hanging around together because of proximity and a fear of loneliness, rather than any particular shared interests. Ticking class boxes for an upcoming term found us both opting to take a module on the transatlantic slave trade. Neither of us knew quite what to expect. I’d only ever encountered black history through American-centric educational displays and lesson plans in primary and secondary school. With a heavy focus on Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad and Martin Luther King, Jr, the household names of America’s civil rights movement felt important to me, but also a million miles away from my life as a young black girl growing up in north London.

But this short university module changed my perspective completely. It dragged Britain’s colonial history and slave-trading past incredibly close to home. During the course, I learnt that it was possible to jump on a train and visit a former slave port in three hours. And I did just that, taking a trip to Liverpool. Liverpool had been Britain’s biggest slave port. One and a half million African people had passed through the city’s ports. The Albert Dock opened four decades after Britain’s final slave ship, the Kitty’s Amelia, set sail from the city, but it was the closest I could get to staring out at the sea and imagining Britain’s complicity in the slave trade. Standing on the edge of the dock, I felt despair. Walking past the city’s oldest buildings, I felt sick. Everywhere I looked, I could see slavery’s legacy.

At university, things were starting to slot into place for me. In a tutorial, I distinctly remember a debate about whether racism was simply discrimination, or discrimination plus power. Thinking about power made me realise that racism was about so much more than personal prejudice. It was about being in the position to negatively affect other people’s life chances. My outlook began to change drastically. My friend, on the other hand, stuck around for a couple of tutorials before dropping out of the class altogether. ‘It’s just not for me,’ she said.

Her words didn’t sit well with me. Now I understand why. I resented the fact that she seemed to feel that this section of British history was in no way relevant to her. She was indifferent to the facts. Perhaps to her, the accounts didn’t seem real or urgent or pertinent to the way we live now. I don’t know what she thought, because I didn’t have the vocabulary to raise it with her at the time. But I know now that I was resentful of her because I felt that her whiteness allowed her to be disinterested in Britain’s violent history, to close her eyes and walk away. To me, this didn’t seem like information you could opt out from learning.


With the rapid advancement in technology transforming how we live – leaps and bounds being taken in just decades rather than centuries – the past has never felt so distant. In this context, it’s easy to view slavery as something Terrible, that happened A Very Long Time Ago. It’s easy to convince yourself that the past has no bearing on how we live today. But the Abolition of Slavery Act was introduced in the British Empire in 1833, less than two hundred years ago. Given that the British began trading in African slaves in 1562, slavery as a British institution existed for much longer than it has currently been abolished – over 270 years. Generation after generation of black lives stolen, families torn apart, communities split. Thousands of people being born into slavery and dying enslaved, never knowing what it might mean to be free. Entire lives sustaining constant brutality and violence, living in never-ending fear. Generation after generation of white wealth amassed from the profits of slavery, compounded, seeping into the fabric of British society.

Slavery was an international trade. White Europeans, including the British, bartered with African elites, exchanging products and goods for African people, what some white slave traders called ‘black cattle’. Over the course of the slave trade, an estimated 11,000,000 black African people were transported across the Atlantic Ocean to work unpaid on sugar and cotton plantations in the Americas and West Indies.


"But the recipients of the compensation for the dissolution of a significant money-making industry were not those who had been enslaved. Instead it was the 46,000 British slave-owning citizens who received cheques for their financial losses."

The records kept were not dissimilar to the accounts of a modern-day business, as they documented profit and loss, and itemised lists of black people purchased and sold. This human livestock – these ‘black cattle’ – was the ideal commodity.  Slaves were lucrative stock. Black women’s reproductive systems were industrialised. Children born into slavery were the default property of slave owners, and this meant limitless labour at no extra cost. That reproduction was made all the easier by the routine rape of African women slaves by white slave owners.

Profit and loss also meant documenting the deaths of ‘black cattle’, because it was bad for business. The vast slave ships that transported African people across the Atlantic were severely cramped. The journey could take up to three months. The space around each slave was coffin-like, consigning them to live among filth and bodily fluids. The dead and dying were thrown overboard for cash-flow reasons: insurance money could be collected for those slaves that died at sea.

The image of the slave ship Brooks, first published in 1788 by abolitionist William Elford, depicted typical conditions. It shows a well-packed slave ship: bodies are lined up one by one, horizontally in four rows (with three short extra rows at the back of the ship), illustrating the callous efficiency used to transport a cargo of African people. The Brooks was owned by a Liverpudlian merchant named Joseph Brooks.

But slavery wasn’t just happening in Liverpool. Bristol, too, had a slave port, as well as Lancaster, Exeter, Plymouth, Bridport, Chester, Lancashire’s Poulton-le-Fylde and, of course, London. Although enslaved African people moved through British shores regularly, the plantations they toiled on were not in Britain, but rather in Britain’s colonies. The majority were in the Caribbean, so, unlike the situation in America, most British people saw the money without the blood. Some British people owned plantations that ran almost entirely on slave labour. Others bought just a handful of plantation slaves, with the intention of getting a return on their investment. Many Scottish men went to work as slave drivers in Jamaica, and some brought their slaves with them when they moved back to Britain. Slaves, like any other personal property, could be inherited, and many Brits lived comfortably off the toil of enslaved black people without being directly involved in the transaction.

The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which was founded in London in 1787, was the idea of civil servant Granville Sharp and campaigner Thomas Clarkson. Sharp and Clarkson formed the society with ten other men, most of whom were Quakers. They campaigned for forty-seven years, generating broad-based support and attracting high-profile leadership from Members of Parliament – the most famous being abolitionist William Wilberforce. The public pressure of the campaign was successful, and an Act of Parliament declared slavery abolished in the British Empire in 1833. But the recipients of the compensation for the dissolution of a significant money-making industry were not those who had been enslaved. Instead it was the 46,000 British slave-owning citizens who received cheques for their financial losses. Such one-sided compensation seemed to be the logical conclusion for a country that had traded in human flesh.

Despite abolition, an Act of Parliament was not going to change the perception overnight of enslaved African people from quasi-animal to human. Less than two hundred years later, that damage is still to be undone.



Author Biography

Reni Eddo-Lodge is a London-based, award-winning journalist. She has written for the New York Times, the Voice, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Stylist, Inside Housing, the Pool, Dazed and Confused, and the New Humanist.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is her first book. 



Latest Blog
On Memory and Forgetting

David Whitehouse talks to us about memory and forgetting, and how his personal experience influenced his new novel, The Long Forgotten.

The End of the F***ing World creator, Charles Forsman, picks his favourite coming of age books

The End of the F***ing World creator, Charles Forsman, picks his favourite coming of age books.

#FoylesFive: Annihilation

With the release of Annihilation on Netflix it's the perfect time to catch up with the book that starts Jeff VanderMeer's unsettling Southern Reach trilogy.

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