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Spotlight On: Bluemoose Books

By Elizabeth Haslam, Priyanka Joshi, Hannah Emery and William Swift

Founded in 2006 by Hetha and Kevin Duffy, Bluemoose Books is a small, independent publisher with an impressive number of awards to its name. The books published by Bluemoose range from gritty non-fiction that discusses the state of modern society, to powerful and witty novels with moving and thought-provoking prose.

In contrast to the corporate and conglomerate nature of publishing today, Bluemoose publishes stories that engage and inspire, rather than books that rely on celebrity names to attract readers.

Despite the small size of their annual lists, Bluemoose Books has produced an impressive number of award-winning authors and was awarded the Small Press of the Year Award (North England) at the 2023 British Book Awards. This small, family-style West Yorkshire press has a wide reach, publishing books as far as America, Australia and Russia.

Notable Releases

Ghost Signs – Poverty and the Pandemic by Stu Hennigan

Ghost Signs, published in June 2022, is a harrowing and eye-opening account of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on those living in poverty in Leeds, England. The book follows Hennigan – a librarian who volunteers to deliver food parcels and medicines to vulnerable individuals during the first lockdown – as he witnesses, firsthand, the devastating effects of the pandemic on communities that were already struggling. But this book is not just about the pandemic; it is also a stark indictment of the long-term impacts of austerity measures that have eroded social safety nets and exacerbated poverty. Hennigan presents an image of a city that is split, with a gulf between the affluent and the impoverished. He questions the government's priorities and calls for a more equitable society that prioritises the wellbeing of its most vulnerable citizens. Ghost Signs has been shortlisted for multiple awards and should be read by everyone who cares about social justice and the detrimental impact of poverty on individuals and communities.

I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam

Published in March 2023, I Am Not Your Eve is a historical novel that delves into the complex and often fraught relationship between the renowned French painter Paul Gauguin and his young muse, Teha'amana. Set against the backdrop of Colonial Tahiti in the late 19th century, the story unfolds from Teha'amana's perspective, giving voice to a Tahitian woman who has long been overshadowed by the narrative of Gauguin's artistic genius. Teha'amana – at the tender age of thirteen – becomes Gauguin's companion and subject, her beauty and innocence inspiring his most celebrated works. However, their relationship is fraught with power imbalances, cultural clashes and the weight of colonialism as she navigates this complex world, yearning for freedom and self-expression whilst grappling with the expectations placed upon her. Ponnambalam's prose is rich and evocative, weaving together the protagonist's experiences with the myths and legends of Tahiti to create a mesmerising tapestry of storytelling.

Recent Releases

Sports and Social by Kevin Boniface

Sports and Social is a collection of short stories published in September 2023, which explores the unexpected and peculiar moments in the lives of everyday people. The narrative follows the quirky happenings surrounding a struggling nightclub's unconventional attempt to attract customers, the prospect of starting a new job under the lingering mystery of a disappearance and the revelations that unfold at a local shooting club. Set against the backdrop of ordinary events, the stories capture the charm and intrigue of everyday life whilst offering a delightful glimpse into what can happen when people come together.

Twelve Words by Carmen Jones, Catherine Proctor and Anthea Cribbin

Published in June 2023, Twelve Words is a raw and moving depiction of the lives of three women from Moss Side and inner-city Manchester. This book weaves together stories marked by pain, anger and violence, off-setting them with moments of joy, laughter and Mancunian humour. While the book holds relevance for those with academic disciplines such as Cultural Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Criminology and Creative Writing, its primary aim is to resonate with girls and young women facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. Ultimately, it serves as a testament and source of inspiration for those navigating difficult circumstances.

Breaking Kayfabe by Wes Brown

In Breaking Kayfabe, Wes Brown traces his journey from a council house in Leeds to the realisation of his childhood dream – becoming a ‘real’ man like the mythical figures from his ex-pro-wrestler father's captivating tales. However, his dad never disclosed that those stories were mere fabrications. Consequently, this book is a contemporary ‘Pinocchio story’ that sees Wes – who is yearning for authenticity – follow in his father's footsteps with the hope of coming to terms with the fiction of what makes a ‘true’ man. As he navigates the world of heroes, villains, gods and monsters, Wes grapples with the truths and fiction that shape our modern perception of masculinity. This book, published in May 2023, serves as a poignant exploration of identity and self-discovery.


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