Peter Leggatt's Doll shortlisted for prize

Peter Leggatt’s provocative and challenging debut novel, Doll, has been shortlisted for the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2018, judged by agent Madeleine Milburn and author Fiona Mitchell (The Maid’s Room). ‘Your writing is outstanding and we loved the detail and mastery of your language,’ were among the comments made - couldn’t agree more.

Oh come all ye faithful!

That’s right, it’s that time of year when the reviewers round up their top choices for the year, and when it comes to gift-buying, cookery comes high on the list. So it was wonderful to see Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings up on Bee Wilson’s Sunday Times list for this year - an honour indeed coming from a highly thoughtful and respected food writer.

And even if your gift recipient’s bookshelves are heaving too much to take any more, polymath Anja Dunk has got you covered in the art department, with her limited edition lino cuts flying off the shelves at Honey & Co - even more so since being featured in the Observer Food Monthly’s gift guide.

A different look at the Armistice

With the centenary of the Armistice having taken place on Sunday, there has been much to reflect on in relation to conflicts both past and present over the last few days. Offering an alternative to the more common narrative, Glenn Skwerer’s piece in the US edition of the Spectator set out a fascinating examination of the galvanising effect of that historic moment on the young Adolf Hitler, and the resultant devastation it brought about.

Top marks from Diana Henry

Having steadily established herself as one of the country’s foremost cookery writers, Diana Henry’s endorsements and recommendations are not to be sniffed at, so it was a great joy to see not just one but two books making the cut for her Telegraph roundup of autumn’s 20 best new titles. Warm and hugely deserved congratulations to both Anja Dunk and Joe Trivelli for this early recognition of their brilliant work!

African in New York

Coming soon to Ealing’s own Questors Theatre is Njambi McGrath’s one-woman show, ‘African in New York’, as premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. Playing for one-night only, the show has been described as ‘The most unique show at the Edinburgh Festival’ (The List) , and Njambi as ‘Sharp, edgy…an excellent comedian’. A confessional comedian, Njambi’s performance work takes as its inspiration many of the events and observations of her written work, to be published in her forthcoming memoir Through the Leopard’s Gaze.

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Difficult dictators

Glenn Skwerer, author of The Tristan Chord, always knew he had a tricky book on his hands - as John Boyne wrote in last week’s Guardian: ‘How does one write about Adolf Hitler without descending into cliche or caricature?’ Well, to judge from the reviews so far he has succeeded extraordinarily. ‘A remarkable first novel,’ writes Hugh Macdonald in the Herald; an ‘intelligent and engrossing account of Hitler’s youth in early 20th century Austria’, according to Alexander Larman in the Observer; and ‘fascinating…never less than engaging…a vivid depiction of incipient madness’, according to Boyne himself.

Rewarding words indeed for a book that took a long time to find a confident publisher.

Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings

The publication of Anja Dunk’s debut Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings has seen Anja taking the food world by storm. With back-to-back extracts in the Observer two weeks running (here and here), a Twitter recommendation from Nigella, and further extracts in Stella and others to come, it’s not going to be long until German cuisine becomes the new thing everyone is cooking…

Heads up on hair

Thursday last week saw the launch of Hair! Human Stories, an exhibition curated by Emma Tarlo which takes us on an intriguing journey into the world of hair. From intimate personal stories to unexpectedly global tales about hair’s circulation around the world, Hair! Human Stories explores our curious relationship to hair.

What do we feel about our hair?

How do we view it differently when cut from the head?

Encounter strange art works made from hair, see images of hair harvests and wig manufacture past and present, learn about hair’s recycling possibilities. This exhibition invites you to confront hair – the original human fibre.

See the Financial Times review here.

Stylist Woman of the Week

How wonderful to see Jessica Hepburn featured as Stylist magazine's Woman of the Week - a celebration of women who are making a difference to society. During a busy week building up to the launch of Fertility Fest on Tuesday 8th May, Jessica also appeared on the BBC Breakfast sofa to discuss the importance of having difficult conversations on the subject of fertility and parenthood.

London Oyster Week

London's first ever oyster festival, organised by Katy Davidson, took place this week. With participants including a number of high profile restaurants such Bentley's, Noble Rot and Wright Brothers, it's been a week of masterclasses and celebrations of one of the world's most ancient and nourishing foods, all kicking off with a Sunday Brunch appearance by Katy in which Sting pronounced her oyster ice cream absolutely delicious! Prepare to be converted...

Just peachy

Could there be a better collaboration than Alex Jackson cooking Diana Henry's food as part of a joint Grande Bouffe at Sardine, Alex's London restaurant? The menu from last night, celebrating Diana's latest book, How to Eat a Peach, featured such delights as Courgette, Ricotta and Pecorino Fritters, Roast Chicken with Lemon, and Loquat Tart - just about as springlike a menu as one could hope for, with some proper weather to boot!

New year, new ski chalet...?

Well, not exactly, but defying the dark, cold, drink-free theme of most January evenings, friends and fans of Fliss Chester turned out in force to celebrate publication day in the newly converted barn which will become the new shop face of Taurus, the wine company she and her husband run. With an apres-ski dress code, French fizz and fluffy white snowballs adorning the barn/chalet, it was the perfect launch for the clever, saucy fun that is Snowballsand Fliss's trademark.

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Saturday Kitchen special

A real treat to see Katy Davidson presenting a segment on oysters for this weekend's Saturday Kitchen (iPlayer link here valid until 26/11/17), explaining why there are so many more reasons for eating oysters other than the fact that they taste great. Katy is currently busy organising the first London Oyster Week, which will take place in April 2018 - more to follow on that soon...

Time for a prize!

In an otherwise quiet August came the wonderful news that Emma Tarlo's Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair had been selected as the winner of this year's Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing. Writing with the news, chair Karen Richman stated that: 'The committee members were most impressed by your originality, innovative methods, experience-near approach, quality of writing, presentation and engagement with anthropological literature and theory... We found your book to be an exemplar of the best ethnographic writing and an important contribution to humanistic anthropology and the field in general.' Congratulations Emma! 

Top of the chops

Ever celebratory of its county's delights, the Yorkshire Post gave over its magazine front cover to Paul Robinson this weekend, with an interview plus review of Paul's hugely popular Fire and Dine event, which runs regularly at Swillington Organic Farm. Diners huddle round a beautifully laid wooden table, swaddled in blankets (not always necessary!), watching as carefully selected local ingredients are prepared and cooked in front of them over nothing more sophisticated than a carefully constructed fire. See the link for news of further events.

Red Trees to Cannes

Red Trees, for which Leena Télen co-wrote the script, will be screened at this year's Cannes Marche du Film. In Red Trees, award-winning filmmaker Marina Willer retraces her father’s family journey as one of only twelve Jewish families to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II. Photographed by Academy Award® nominee César Charlone (City of God), the film travels from war-torn Eastern Europe to the colour and light of South America, and is told through the voice of Willer’s father Alfred (as narrated by Tim Pigott Smith), who witnessed bureaucratic nightmares, transportations and suicides but survived to build a post-war life as an architect in Brazil. As the world struggles with the current refugee crisis, Red Trees is a timely look at a family besieged by war who finds peace across an ocean.

Back to the source

Teaming up with her olds pals at the place where her appreciation of quality food began, Shu Han Lee and London Farmers' Markets are running a cookbook giveaway - see Shu's latest blog post and mummyicancook for further details, and meanwhile, you might just want to try out her claypot mushroom recipe while you're there...

The knot thickens

Entanglement continues to pique the public interest, with Emma receiving requests for radio interviews from Texas and Ireland among others, and pieces in the Big Issue and the Smithsonian magazine. Elsewhere the book has been picked up by US Elle magazine and Flavorwire as one of their top books of November, and in the Literary Review Wendy Moore writes that 'Entanglement unravels a story that is by turns surprising, unsettling and disturbing, but never anything less than absorbing.'