“Loners are the opposition. Pensive, thoughtful & furious, marooned with stories that need to be spoken out loud and no one to listen, curries to be cooked & no one to taste, days & days of traffic signals to be manoeuvred & no one to congratulate except other loners: they find each other because like all good maps there are familiar signs that lead the way. The loner who both observes & creates worlds necessarily speaks with many tongues. It is with these tongues that she explores the contours of the centre & the margins, the signs for somewhere & elsewhere & here & now.”

Like her namesake Jack Kerouac, J.K. is always on the road, travelling Europe with her typewriter in a pillowcase. From … More

The dark, doomy humour of Care of Wooden Floors mixed with the fantastical, anarchic sense of possibility of The Way Inn, brought together in a fast moving story set in contemporary London. Jack Bick is an interview journalist at a glossy lifestyle magazine. From his office window he can see a black column of smoke in the sky, the result of an industrial accident on the edge of the city.

When Bick goes from being a high-functioning alcoholic to being a non-functioning alcoholic, his life goes into freefall, the smoke … More

First published OTD in 1949, George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. The title of the novel, its themes, the Newspeak language and the author’s surname are often invoked against control and intrusion by the state, and the adjective Orwellian describes a totalitarian dystopia that is characterised by government control and subjugation of the people.

Orwell’s invented language, Newspeak, satirises hypocrisy and evasion by the state: the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) oversees torture and brainwashing, … More

I want to find out how they behave when they’re free. Len Howard was forty years old when she decided to leave her London life and loves behind, retire to the English countryside and devote the rest of her days to her one true passion: birds. Moving to a small cottage in Sussex, she wrote two bestselling books, astonishing the world with her observations on the tits, robins, sparrows and other birds that lived nearby, flew freely in and out of her windows, and would even perch on her shoulder as she typed.

This moving novel imagines the story of this remarkable woman’s decision to defy society’s expectations, and the joy she drew … More

‘You leave your mother and your brother too, You leave the pretty wife you’re never faithful to, You cross the sea to find those streets that’s paved with gold, And all you find is Brixton cell that’s oh! so cold.’ London, 1957. Victoria Station is awash with boat trains discharging hopeful black immigrants into a cold and alien land. Liberal England is about to discover the legacy of Empire.

And when Montgomery Pew, a newly appointed assistant welfare officer in the Colonial Department, meets Johnny Fortune, recently arrived from … More

Born OTD in 1923, Trinidad-born writer, Samuel ‘Sam’ Selvon. At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry ‘Sir Galahad’ Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo?

But the irrepressible newcomer cannot be cast down. He and all the other lonely new Londoners – from shiftless Cap … More

Happy Birthday to local Young Adult writer and screenwriter, Catherine Johnson. A forensic crime thriller set in Revolutionary Paris. Young surgeon Ezra McAdam must hasten to Paris to rescue his friend Loveday Finch and her charge Mahmoud, the Ottoman prince, who have been caught up in the Revolution. On the way, Ezra experiences the war first hand on the battlefields of Northern France, where his surgical skills are in high demand by the beleaguered French army. Meanwhile, in Paris, the guillotine is busy, and the medical world is finding the surfeit of bodies useful to its research into the seat of life.

Ezra is not persuaded by the controversial theories of his French colleagues, but his mind is on other matters. Finding … More

First published OTD in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. Dorothy thinks she is lost forever when a terrifying tornado crashes through Kansas and whisks her and her dog, Toto, far away to the magical land of Oz. To get home Dorothy must follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City and find the wonderfully mysterious Wizard of Oz. Together with her companions the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion whom she meets on the way, Dorothy embarks on a strange and enchanting adventure.

Baum did not offer any conclusive proof that he intended his novel to be a political allegory. Historian Ranjit S. … More

Born OTD in 1961, English music journalist, witer, radio and screen writer and critic, David Quantick. ‘All My Colors’ is a darkly comic novel about a man who remembers a book that may not exist, with dire consequences. A bizarre, mind-bending story at the intersection of Richard Bachman, Charlie Kaufman and Franz Kafka..

It is March 1979 in DeKalb Illinois. Todd Milstead is a wannabe writer, a serial adulterer, and a jerk, only … More

Born OTD in 1943, English writer & novelist who has won many awards for her fiction, which centres on themes of memory, trauma, survival & recovery, Pat Barker. “When the Greek Queen Helen is kidnapped by Trojans, the Greeks sail in pursuit, besieging the city of Troy. Trapped in the Greek soldiers’ camp is another captured queen, Briseis. Condemned to be bed-slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her family, she becomes a pawn in a menacing game between bored and frustrated warriors.”

“In the centuries after this most famous war, history will write her off, a footnote in a bloody story scripted … More