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Spotlight On: Galley Beggar Press

By Mollie Gregory-Clark and Isobel Jones

Founded in 2012 by Sam Jordison and Eloise Millar, Galley Beggar Press publishes innovative fiction and non-fiction works, penned by authors with a unique capacity for storytelling. Uncompromisingly committed to championing writing of quality, this small indie press refuses to yield to constraints laid out by commercial literary trends and chooses instead to champion risk-taking writers who experiment with form and language. In just over a decade, Galley Beggar Press has built up a portfolio of world-class authors whose books have been longlisted, shortlisted and the winners of over twenty of the industry’s most highly regarded literary awards, such as the Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize, to name just a few.

The press has also been praised within the bookselling community for speaking out about the precarious nature of running a business in the shadow of commercial giants like Amazon, who, in continuing to lower the price of books, make it increasingly challenging for indie publishers and writers to make a living. You can support the wonderful work that Galley Beggar Press does by subscribing to their “Galley Buddy” service, through which you’ll gain access to beautiful limited editions, exclusive events and a discount in their online shop!

Notable Releases

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

Undoubtedly intriguing and strangely complex, Ducks, Newburyport tells the story of a middle-aged ex-teacher living in Ohio. After recovering from cancer, she has retreated to baking in her kitchen, contemplating her life – regrets and all – alongside her children, her dead parents, African elephants and weapons of mass destruction. This novel is truly unique, taking on a structure that is essentially one long sentence, scattered with the phrase “the fact that,” making it the winner of the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize and the 2020 James Tait Black Prize for Fiction. For those who can enjoy a less conventional style of writing, Ducks, Newburyport cannot be missed.

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is the multi-prize winning experimental debut novel of Eimear McBride, telling the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the aftermath of his childhood brain tumour. Accompanied by her ranting catholic mother and a pervert for an uncle, we follow the narrator’s stream of consciousness, navigating a ruthless and trying world from birth to adulthood. Lyrical, passionate and brutally brilliant, the novel has already been praised as an instant classic account of Irish girlhood. Now adapted for the stage after years of struggling to find a publisher, the story has proven itself as an astonishing tale and account of growing up.

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja

Winner of the 2018 Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the debut novel of Preti Taneja, a human rights advocate and literary academic, takes inspiration directly from Taneja’s interests a re-telling of King Lear set in 2010s India against the background of anti-corruption protests. When a billionaire and political operator sets his three daughters against one another, the clash to gain superiority begins, bringing up familiar themes of power, status, youth and age, within writing that paints a stunning and evocative picture of India. Gripping and finely crafted, We That Are Young stands strong as a tragedy of the modern age.

New & Upcoming Releases

Beasts of England by Adam Biles

Set for release in September 2023, Adam Biles’ anticipated second novel, Beasts of England, is a contemporary revision of George Orwell’s satirical classic Animal Farm (1945). Packed with the irreverence and incisive wit of Biles’ debut, Beasts of England explores the political landscape of 21st century Britain through the tale of Manor Farm – a working smallholding turned high-end petting zoo in the South of England. On this farm, equality (or at least a version of it) appears to be the order of the day – humans and animals alike are permitted entry to the farm to play with, and take rides on, its residents. But all is not as it seems. With a mysterious illness decimating the animal population and corrupt leaders pulling rank behind the scenes, the very tenets of modern democracy begin to crumble. Topical and darkly comic, Beasts of England is a must-read political fiction for our times.

The Book of Desire, introduced and translated by Meena Kandasamy

Heralded as “a revolution 2000 years in the making,” The Book of Desire (Kāmattu-p-pāl) is a translation taken from part of Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar’s ancient text on ethics and morality, the Thirukkural – widely considered as one of the most significant works in Tamil culture. Over the centuries, this section of the Kural, which reads as a lyrical celebration of female sexuality, has been subject to heavy censorship and has only been translated by a woman once in the two millennia since it was written. Through her decolonial feminist translation, writer, activist and academic Meena Kandasamy has re-harnessed the beauty, power and joy at the heart of The Book of Desire, imbuing the text with new vitality and female agency. Kandasamy’s translation is accompanied by a thoughtfully written introduction which contextualises the original work and its author, and raises discerning questions regarding the marginalisation of women in literature – and in life.


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