Nuance matters

From The Bookseller:

It’s not often that a book is simultaneously described as a ‘madcap adventure’ and an exploration of race in the countryside, but Wanderland: A Search for Magic in the Landscape, my first non-fiction narrative published in April managed the feat. I don’t think either description is accurate but what do I know? I’m just the author. ‘Cross-genre’, and ‘cross-cultural anomaly’ – these are phrases that have begun to trip off my tongue. The book straddles nature writing, memoir, travel and spirituality, and I was born in London, raised in Montreal, Canada to Indian parents who themselves were born and grew up in South Africa. Neither I nor my book fit into any neat boxes.

This has proved to be both a blessing and, if not a curse, then at times, a cause of frustration. In the months before publication I worked with my tireless book publicist at Bloomsbury on the campaign. I was keen to reach readers who might be a fan of any one of the above genres, and equally those who, like myself, come from multi-cultural backgrounds, and are Black, Asian or from another under-represented group, and who have rarely seen themselves mirrored in this kind of literature (or been marketed to.) It’s been a rocky road, but since the book launched at the end of April, at the height of the Covid crisis, I think we fared brilliantly.

My launch day, happened on Twitter: an outpouring of support which I hadn’t anticipated but which kept me buoyant, and washed away the disappointment of a cancelled launch party, and the closure of bookshops. The press reviews and features generated were plentiful and generous. That a book not easy to pin down was reviewed at all felt nothing short of miraculous. In lockdown, a number of independent booksellers across the country helped to spread the word. I found their kindness and thoughtfulness at such a difficult time touching.

Like every other author, I’ve learned hard and fast that when a book leaves you and goes into the world, it becomes the property of others. How any one person might perceive my book would depend on their filter. Some authors of more traditional nature writing were keen to dispel the notion that I might be a nature writer at all. Others called it ‘new’ nature writing. Some saw it as a quirky UK travel memoir, while the more spiritually inclined seemed to enjoy the fact that such a theme had even made it into the mainstream.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG suspects that he is not alone in having experienced a substantial lack of nuance over the past months.

Three cheers for Nuance! May it survive 2020!

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