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November Review Round-up

November Review Round-up

We take a look at some of the high praise being dished out to our Parthian titles this month.


This autumn we launched Natalie Ann Holborow’s much-anticipated second poetry collection Small - and readers were not disappointed! In November the collection was reviewed by Nathan Munday for Wales Arts Review:

“Magic, folklore, witchcraft and mystery – perhaps the most important element bottled in poetry – are unashamedly interwoven with the empirical. The speaker is not afraid to question and wonder. The poems are as colourful and complex as those labyrinthine streets that shore the Ganga of her India poems. Holborow leads us through the alleyways, giving us access to the dark corners of diabetes (something unfamiliar to most) before re-visiting the ‘sudden art’ of the incarnation in the more familiar Nativity poems.”

You can read the rest of Munday’s gorgeous review here, and you can order your own copy of Small here.


This year we’ve also published a selection of exciting new translations, three of which were reviewed by Wales Book of the Year winner Niall Griffiths in the anniversary issue of Planet Magazine: Hana by Alena Mornštajnová (translated from Czech by Julia and Peter Sherwood), Insomnia by Alberts Bels (translated from Latvian by Jayde Will) and Exiles by Dónall Mac Amhlaigh (translated from Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha).

Describing Hana as "a shattering book", Niall Griffiths goes on: "Mornštajnová knows how to highlight the specific details in which the Devil lurks: the pride in the neatness with which yellow stars are stitched to lapels is truly heartbreaking..."

Turning to Insomnia, Griffiths dissects the power of the imagination and fantasy to counteract the realities of living a subjugated life: "The psychopomp of the fertile imagination will not defeat persecution or exploitation or usufruct ... but it can offer respite and a vault for a piece of the ineradicable self." He concludes: "And now you can hold the physical artefact of this fine novel in your hands. Which is some kind of triumph."

The visceral, physical imagery in Exiles is brought out neatly: "Both London and Ireland, in this book, reek and reel and stink and stew; the writing works on the skin."

In conclusion, Griffiths writes:

"The appearance of these three fascinating and marginalised books could not be more timely or necessary."

If you want to read the full reviews, as well as lots of other fascinating content, head over to Planet's website to check out their subscription deals.

We also saw high praise for Hana from the European Literature Network...

“The book is structured in a very effective way, with great rhythm and with distinct, differing, pitch-perfect voices. It is also expertly translated by the wife-and-husband duo, Julia and Peter Sherwood.”

...As well as further enthusiasm for Exiles in the latest Museum of Hidden Histories Journal, which is freely available to read here.


This November saw the bustling release of Gary Raymond’s festive, comic title How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) which was reviewed in a double page feature by Jenny White for The Western Mail. And on 26th November, an epic blog tour of the book began which is continuing to produce showers of praise from both lovers and haters of the classic Christmas film.
“Raymond perfectly skewers each scene with wit and razor-sharp observation.” - @thequickandtheread
"This book may be small but oh my goodness, it is utterly mighty… definitely the perfect gift for a Christmas stocking!!!" @ClareJanetMason

Check out our Twitter page, or the hashtag #HowLoveActuallyRuinedChristmas, to see all the blog reviews.


Parthian also joined the ranks of online press and reviewing platform NetGalley this month - and saw a flurry of positive response to the last-minute addition to our catalogue Ward Nine: Coronavirus, a short hospital memoir from Covid-19 survivor Alys Morgan. Here are just a few snippets of what readers are saying:

“A truly excellent and very moving first hand account of the coronavirus.”
“A real eye opener that all should read, especially the ones who haven’t taken the virus seriously and continue to misuse the tireless NHS.”
“…every page packs a punch.”
“I feel this book is going to be a time stamp in our history.”


Wales Arts Review also published a sharp and reflective analysis of Lewis Davies’ Work, Sex & Rugby - Parthian’s first publication back in the 90s, which was reissued as part of the new Parthian Modern series this month. Huw Laurence hails the book as “the last working-class novel”

“The truth is that the world of this book has been overtaken by worsening times. All the more reason to reprint it, then, a marker identifying a spreading social quicksand caused by political failure to address people’s basic needs. Let it also be an appeal to other writers that it’s time to speak out.”

You can read the full article here, and order the new edition here


In print, we saw two of our summer releases attentively reviewed for Issue 65 of The Welsh Agenda, with Shaheen Sutton responding to every essay of the Just So You Know anthology, and Rachel Trezise reflecting on the latest work of Dai Smith, The Crossing.

"Just So You Know is an emblematic book that has unearthed uncut gems... compelling reading for those with a genuine interest towards building a truly inclusive Wales." - Shaheen Sutton
"Dai Smith manages to shrewdly tuck the past into the present, like an antique handkerchief in the breast pocket of a fashionable dinner jacket." - Rachel Trezise 


And finally, as eager discussion of Richard Owain Robert’s experimental novel, winner of the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize, continues to simmer, BBC Radio Wales’ Review Show sat down to have their say on the book. The verdict - a huge achievement for Roberts, and an important moment for the modern Welsh novel. Listen to the full conversation here.

That’s all for this jam-packed month - keep an eye out for our Winter newsletter hitting inboxes soon with more bookish news!