Publisher Spotlight: And Other Stories

3rd Jun 2014

We love And Other Stories' commitment to producing exciting, challenging contemporary fiction by women writers and their focus on high-quality translations; introducing readers to captivating stories unearthed through their foreign language reading groups (Arabic, Polish, Portuguese, just to name a few!) We're also giving away some of their best titles to three lucky For Books' Sake readers!

Find out more about And Other Stories on their website or check out their Twitter (@andothertweets) and Facebook to keep up to date with the new releases. Keep scrolling to enter our fantastic competition to win some of their best titles!

Black Vodka by Deborah Levy

We’re huge Deborah Levy fans at For Books’ Sake and we’ve been enamoured with her since her novel Swimming Home made it onto the Man Booker short-list in 2012 but did you know it was also one of the first books published by And Other Stories?

Black Vodka, Levy’s follow-up collection of ten short stories, explores big existential questions of love and our modern day lives through emotionally complex characters (including one or two fierce femme fatales!) and the lucid writing style we love her for.

“Kissing you is like new paint and old pain. It is like coffee and car alarms and a dim stairway and a stain and it’s like smoke.” – from Placing a Call

Also, open your diaries gang as Levy’s latest work An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell will be published by And Other Stories on October 2014.

It’s a ‘dystopian philosophical poem about individual freedom and the search for the good life’ between She an angel and He an accountant. Described as ‘if Patti Smith and Philip Larkin had written a duet with Laurel and Hardy as backing band’ – we’re already intrigued!


Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt

‘If you like your social commentary with bite and balls (pun fully intended) Helen DeWitt is the woman for you’ said Ana from And Other Stories who clearly knew our kinda book when she recommended Lightning Rods!

Helen DeWitt takes an unflinching satirical journey through the topics of sexism, corporate life and the American dream. We’re not quite sure what to make of leading character Joe, a failing vacuum salesman whose get-rich-quick, Dragon’s Den-style business plan consists of sex-on-demand with obscured female volunteers (‘Lightning Rods’) as a way to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace.

“A man who is producing results in today’s competitive marketplace has a right to be protected from potential undesirable side effects of the physical constitution which enables him to make a valued contribution to the company.”

Whilst our skin is crawling and our feminist minds begins to chew on this rather dark business venture, we love DeWitt’s dry humour and bravery at tackling our instant gratification culture through one of the most morally repugnant characters since Nick Cave’s Bunny Munro!


Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones (translated by Clarissa Botsford)

Okay so when we first read about Sworn Virgins we got very, very excited. The book is based on a documentary  Dones produced for Swiss TV about the phenomenon of the Burrnesha’s of Albania – also known as the Sworn Virgins.

These are women who have elected to take on the role of Patriarch in their families if there are no males left (quite common in the rural hill towns of Albania where blood feuds and illness can leave families devoid of any males.) They do not have to have a sex-change but in every other way they must become men, in that they dress like men, behave like men, take on all the man’s jobs such as hunting, fixing things on the farm and around the house. In return, they get the absolute freedom that men in fiercely Patriarchal societies enjoy.

Dones style is pared back and clean, letting the emotional honesty at the heart of our protagonists’ story shine through. She tackles issues of culture and gender roles through the character of a Hana/Mark Doda who becomes a Sworn Virgin and fifteen years later is given the opportunity to emigrate to the US and begin afresh, but now she must learn to live as a woman again.

At the end of the feature we're giving three lucky readers the chance to win some of And Other Stories' best titles from Deborah Levy, Helen DeWitt and Elvira Dones!

Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni (forthcoming March 2015)

Esperanza Street tells the story of the radical changes that take place over a period of six months in the early eighties in Puerto, a small port town in the Philippines.

The story is seen through the eyes of fifteen-year-old houseboy Joseph Santos, who is forced to grow up more quickly than expected as the changes begin to affect everyone in his community.

This is Niyati Keni’s first novel, it’s ‘a taut, moving bildungsroman constructed with the meticulous care befitting of someone who is a writer by night and practising doctor by day’.  A well-travelled practising physician and mother, we’re really looking forward to discovering Keni’s writing style and she’s already got a second novel in the works!


Don’t Try this at Home by Angela Readman (forthcoming May 2015)

We’re keeping a beady eye on Angela Readman, a Newcastle-based writer (okay, as both Features Ed’s are fellow Geordies, we’re slightly biased) whose poetry won the Mslexia Poetry Competition in 2013 and whose short stories have been short-listed (Don’t Try this as Home, 2012) and won (The Keeper of the Jackalopes, 2013) the Costa Short Story Award.

‘We’d agreed to publish her debut collection of short stories just a couple of months earlier, and the prize confirmed what we already knew: that Readman has something very special.’ said Ana from And Other Stories.

The stories offer sometimes-surreal, occasionally twisted versions of our daily lives (think Angela Carter meets David Lynch) and we can’t wait to read and review the collection in the Spring next year!



Competition Time!

We’ve got the following prizes to give away to three lucky For Books’ Sake readers:

1st PrizeAll three of Deborah Levy’s books: Swimming Home, Black Vodka and An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell 

2nd Prize: Black Vodka by Deborah Levy and Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones

3rd Prize: Black Vodka by Deborah Levy  and 1 x Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt.

To enter, simply email your name and address to hello@forbookssake.net with the email header ‘And Other Stories’ and we’ll pick three winners at random. Competition ends at midnight on June 22nd 2014. Best of luck!


With thanks to Nicci and Ana from And Other Stories for their generous prizes and giving us the inside scoop on their forthcoming titles!


  • Lara says:

    Are postal addresses outside of the UK eligible for the giveaway?

    • Marie-Claire Conlin says:

      Hi Lara! Yes we welcome entries from outside the UK. Best of luck 🙂 – Marie-Claire