June 2020

Lockdown diaries: the deputy MD

I have a clear memory of the day that Covid-19 became a reality to me. My daughter, Matilda, was five months old, and Katie Espiner, MD of Orion, had just told me two things: that Hachette were planning to trial a full company work from home day, and that Italian book sales had dropped dramatically during their lockdown. The reality hit suddenly home. Bookshops would have to close; people were panic buying pasta, not paperbacks.

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Comedy in a crisis

How good it was to be forced to read some funny novels in the early days of the virus crisis. A judge’s lot in the Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction - for which the shortlist was announced last week - is usually a happy one. True, it is also a reminder that humour on the page needs delicate handling, or it turns to dust, but after 20 years the prize has shown that there’s still a rich seam of comic writing in which any reader will be able to find something, somewhere that’s funny.

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