Operation Oysterhood: 6 June

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch is on the Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award shortlist! First time ever that Karavan Press titles were in the running and we have had Death and the After Parties by Joanne Hichens on the Non-Fiction Award longlist and Dawn’s novel has made it one step further onto the Fiction shortlist. I am beyond thrilled for these two amazing writers.

I first read a draft of Breaking Milk more than a decade ago and after a rewrite saw it again and completely fell in love with the manuscript, recommending it for publication. The publisher who commissioned me to do the reader’s reports at the time decided not to publish and the manuscript returned to Dawn’s drawer. But I could not forget it – the story and Dawn’s beautiful writing stayed with me. I continued reading her other work, and when Karavan Press became reality, I immediately asked Dawn whether I could read the novel again and consider it for publication. Fortunately for me, she said yes. We published Breaking Milk, Karavan Press’s third book, in 2019. A year later, we published her second poetry collection, Disturbance, together. And the debut collection of Dawn’s short stories is next. The manuscript of Breaking Milk was one of the reasons I wanted to become a publisher. I wanted to share this story with readers. To see it on the shortlist this morning felt more than a dream come true. It was literary magic.

I immediately shared the news with Dawn and my love, and then rushed out to get the Sunday papers. I had a sip of bubbly on an empty stomach to celebrate and then chatted to Mom and Krystian who were also delighted to hear the news. After some food, I enjoyed the rest of the celebratory glass of bubbly.

And there was more good news for Karavan Press today: a great review of An Island by Karen Jennings in Rapport.

Karen Jennings is one of the most exciting contemporary writers. Her brilliance, genre versatility and power of storytelling blows my mind every time I read something by her. A few days ago, I finished reading her next manuscript and I am in awe. Karen is it, a defining voice of her generation (and she is not even forty yet!). I count her among the greats of contemporary literature, and I feel honoured to have An Island on the Karavan Press list.

6 June has special significance for our family history: exactly three decades ago on the 6th, we returned from the States to settle in Europe again; and nineteen years ago on this day, my Mom’s older brother died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease – his was one of only a few cases in Austria at the time. He is the first of our family to be buried in Austria.

Today, new memories have been made: magical – literary and otherwise. At the end of the day, my love roasted a chicken for us and the Furry Ones, and we had a quiet, happy evening at home.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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