Wonderfully exciting news to share: we’re delighted to hear that Holland House Books title An Island, by Karen Jennings, has been longlisted for the Booker Prize.
Always exhilarating, perhaps particularly so for any independent publisher: competition is tough from the start. And of course, a huge huge congratulation to an excellent author!
Where to begin? Let’s start with the banner:
Followed by the cover ….
… which was designed by the excellent Ken Dawson (website: ccovers.co.uk.)
The image is of an island, which the artist has cunningly re-modelled to resemble the profile of a man’s head. This immediately invites speculation, and adds an edgy sense of mystery, even menace, to an otherwise tranquil setting.
Next the blurb:
Samuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude…
A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by no one but Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history. In this new man’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?
A novel about guilt and fear, friendship and rejection; about the meaning of home.Holland House Books
…and something about the author:
KAREN JENNINGS is a South African author. Her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. Her memoir, Travels with my Father, was published in 2016, and in 2018 she released her debut poetry collection, Space Inhabited by Echoes.
Currently living in Brazil, last year Karen completed post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Goiás on the historical relationship between science and literature, with a focus on eusocial insects.
You can read more about Karen on the Authors Page of the Holland House Books site
What others have been saying:
Karen Jennings “deftly constructs a moving, transfixing novel of loss, political upheaval, history and identity, all rendered in majestic and extraordinary prose”.Booker Prize Judges’ Comment , 2021 Booker Prize Longlist Reader
The far southern extremities of our planet produce remarkable, distilled, and ravaged tales. An Island has to be counted as among the most remarkable of these. Karen Jennings offers a chilling, immersive portrait of Samuel, a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the African continent. He is a man at the edge of history, until the arrival of a refugee stranger returns him to everything he most needs to forget. A gripping, terrifying and unforgettable story.”— Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature, Oxford
And an Instareel (because we like that here….):