MSt alumnus Patrick Toland shortlisted for 2020 Hippocrates Poetry Prize

MSt alumnus Patrick Toland’s poem “By Virtue of the Merits of her Son” has been shortlisted for 2020 FPM-Hippocrates Health Professional Poetry award. The winners in the 2020 Hippocrates will be announced by the judges during the second Poems to Live for live-streamed Zoom session which will start at 8pm UK time on Friday 15th May. Click on the link to learn more and join.

MSt alumna Jing-Jing Lee’s “How We Disappeared” longlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction

MSt alumna Jing-Jing Lee’s novel How We Disappeared has been longlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. The twelve books on the longlist are:

THE NARROW LAND by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Atlantic)

THE PARISIAN by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape)

HOW WE DISAPPEARED by Jing-Jing Lee (OneWorld)

TO CALAIS, IN ORDINARY TIME by James Meek (Canongate)

THE OFFING by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury)

THE WARLOW EXPERIMENT by Alix Nathan (Serpent’s Tail)

SHADOWPLAY by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker)

THE REDEEMED by Tim Pears (Bloomsbury)

A SIN OF OMISSION by Marguerite Poland (Penguin South Africa)

ONCE UPON A RIVER by Diane Setterfield (Doubleday)

THIS IS HAPPINESS by Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)

THE HIDING GAME by Naomi Wood  (Picador)

From the announcement:

“The judges said:

“In its eleventh year, with more submissions than ever before, the 2020 Walter Scott Prize longlist reflects the energy and dynamism of modern historical fiction, a genre presenting authors with very particular challenges and delights. As always with our longlist, readers will find themselves in all kinds of places in all kinds of centuries, both in the company of familiar authors and hearing newer voices. It’s a privilege to bring these books to wider attention through the prize. So much to savour, so much to think about and, most importantly, so much to enjoy.”

You can read more about the books and the prize here.

MSt alumna Jing-Jing Lee’s “How We Disappeared” longlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction

MSt alumna Jing-Jing Lee’s How We Disappeared has been longlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The shortlist will be announced on 22nd April and the winner on 3rd June The longlist is (links to Guardian reviews):

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Actress by Anne Enright
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
Girl by Edna O’Brien
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Weather by Jenny Offill
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson





MSt alumna Sophy Roberts interviewed about her book, “The Lost Pianos of Siberia” on Music Matters on Radio Three

MSt alumna Sophy Roberts was interviewed about her book The Lost Pianos of Siberia on Music Matters on BBC Radio Three. The Lost Pianos of Siberia is published by Doubleday in the UK (February 2020), and Grove Press in the US (June 2020).

About the BBC programme, which you can listen to here.
‘Kate also catches-up with the author Sophy Roberts to learn about her travels across Siberia in search of the backstories of keyboards scattered across an eleventh of the world’s landmass. From clavichords transported by governors on sledge, through pianos which have weathered the region’s furtive cold, to a keyboard hacked out of a Gulag bunkbed frame, Kate hears how these instruments embody the soul of Siberia.”

Praise for The Lost Pianos of Siberia

“Stunningly written … This is a wonderful book.” Sunday Times

“An absorbing history illuminates a bleak landscape.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Hugely compelling … Roberts is a wonderfully lyrical writer.” — The Observer

“A quixotic quest, a picaresque travel adventure and a strange forgotten story all wrapped into this one fascinating book.” — Simon Sebag-Montefiore

“What shines through in this book is Roberts’s genuine, humane affection for and fascination with the people she meets in Siberia.” Literary Review

“An exploration of tragic echoes, harmonious transience and persistent mysteries at the edges of the world.” The Times Literary Supplement

“The book’s richness is in its tangents… [a] wonderful book.” — The Financial Times

“A masterpiece of modern travel literature with words that sing from its pages.” — Levison Wood

“An amazing tour-de-force… it touches your soul.” — Radio New Zealand

“A thrilling expedition … a richly observed cultural history.” New Statesman

“[A] quest for the perfect instrument deftly tinkles the ivories of history… Roberts’ writing is beguiling.” — Scotland on Sunday

“A sense of the extraordinary marks every page.” History Today

“Roberts’s mix of colorful history, rich reportage, and lyrical prose makes for a beguiling narrative.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“A wonderfully intimate journey… Sophy Roberts writes so beautifully, even her author’s note — describing her train journey from Moscow to the Urals — hooks you in from the start.” — The Times 

“A masterful example of modern historical travel writing.” — The Independent

“Beautifully constructed, clear-eyed and generous-spirited.” — William Atkins, The Immeasurable World

“An extraordinary book which will overturn the common perception of Siberia as a place only of exile.” — The Bookseller

“Richly asborbing … The Lost Pianos of Siberia is as much elegy as detective story.” The Guardian

“Absolutely intoxicating. Such vivid detail, rich atmosphere, heartbreak, and elegance.” — Jonathan C. Slaght, Owls of the Eastern Ice

“From Pushkin to ‘Pianopolis’, this history hits the right notes… With a lover’s passion for a subject and territory that she has made hers.” — The Telegraph

“Roberts’s writing is beguiling… The resulting book is as wide-ranging as Siberia is vast.” i (newspaper)

“The poetic idea of finding exquisite old pianos in an otherwise elemental wilderness is only one of many fascinating strands.” — Sydney Morning Herald

“An adventurous, moving and revealing exploration of landscape and often dark history — but above all, of humanity, music and memories.” — Geographical

“This book is a triumph, every chapter an adventure and a revelation.” — The Saturday Paper (Australia)

“One of those magical books that captures the imagination and draws you into the beauty and majesty of Siberia. A book to savour and remember.” — Helen Rappaport, The Last Days of the Romanovs 

“An excellent debut book.” — New Zealand Listener

“Courage, patience, erudition and a sympathetic imagination … A travel book of rare quality.” — Dervla Murphy, Full Tilt

“The pianos are an excuse to travel to far-off places, indulge oneself in history, meet interesting people and tell stories, all of which Roberts does with abandon.” — Asian Review of Books

“Utterly absorbing. Roberts displays an empathy and understanding worthy of this deeply haunted, strangely fascinating land.” — Benedict Allen

“Roberts’s research, storytelling and descriptions of the landscape will leave you spellbound. And the quiet but beautiful fortitude of Siberia lingers long after the final page.” — The Irish News

“A modern-day Freya Stark” — Tatler

“A thrilling adventure to the ends of the earth … Pack your suitcase for Siberia. Sophy Roberts’ gorgeous prose will summon you there like a spell.” — Cal Flynn, Thicker Than Water

“An original new voice in travel writing… Her closing pages are as moving an expression of the power of emotional absorption into Russian stories as I remember in a long time.” — The Arts Desk

“You don’t need to love Siberia or pianos to enjoy this book. Brilliance illuminates each page.” — The Press Association

“A history of the place and its people that would otherwise be forgotten.” — Travel & Leisure, Southeast Asia


MSt alumna Stephanie Scott’s novel “What’s Left Of Me Is Yours” to be published on 21st April, and listed in The Observer

MSt alumna Stephanie Scott’s novel What’s Left Of Me Is Yours will be published on 21st April, simultaneously in the USA, Canada, UK & Commonwealth. Stephanie has also been named one of The Observer’s ‘Ten Best Debut Novelists for 2020’ .

About the novel (from the publication announcement)

“A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, for readers of Everything I Never Told You and The Perfect Nanny, What’s Left of Me Is Yours charts a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life–and her murder.

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.

Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.”


MSt alumna Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s novel “The Mercies” published in the UK & the US.

MSt alumna Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s novel The Mercies has been published in the UK & the US. From the UK announcement (Picador):

“The Sunday Times Bestseller
‘A gripping novel . . . Beautiful and chilling’ – Madeline Miller, author of Circe

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm of 1617, The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves – the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.

Vardø is now a place of women.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place flooded with a terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs . . .

BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick 2020

A gripping novel inspired by a real-life witch hunt. Hargrave’s prose is visceral and immersive; the muddy, cold life and politics of a fishing village leap to vivid life. But her most vital insights are about the human heart: how terrifyingly quickly prejudices can turn into murder, and how desperately we need love and courage to oppose it. Beautiful and chilling

Madeline Miller, author of Circe

This is a powerful story that gathers ever more momentum as it moves towards its conclusion

Sunday Times

A book for our times . . . Millwood Hargrave is a whirlwind, storm-building talent

Daisy Johnson, Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of Everything Under”

MSt alumna Majella Kelly’s “City Poems” out on 20th, 21st Feb 2020

Announcement from the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre and ignition Press:

“The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is delighted to announce the publication of three new ignitionpress poetry pamphlets:

City Poems by Mia KangHush by Majella KellyHinge by Alycia Pirmohamed
We will be launching them next week at the Poetry Cafe in London on Thursday 20 February from 7pm and on Friday 21 February at Waterstones Oxford from 6.30pm. Mia will be appearing via video link, but Alycia and Majella will be there in person! You will also be able to find us at the Poetry Book Fair in London on Saturday 22 February.
We’d love to see you at one of these launches! Please sign up for free tickets via Eventbrite here.

You can read samples of their work on the Poetry Centre website and hear them read from their pamphlets here. They will be available to buy online from the Brookes Shop this Friday.

Majella Kelly is an Irish writer from Tuam, Co. Galway who won the 2019 Strokestown International Poetry Competition. Last year she was also shortlisted for the inaugural Brotherton Prize at Leeds University and her poems will be published by Carcanet in a Brotherton anthology. Her poetry and short fiction has been published in such places as The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Southword, Ambit and Best New British & Irish Poets 2017. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.”

MSt alumni Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Daisy Johnson in conversation, Blackwells, Oxford, 8th Feb 2020

MSt alumna Kiran Millwood Hargrave will be in conversation with fellow alumna Daisy Johnson at Blackwells in Oxford, 8th Feb 2020. They will be talking about Kiran’s new novel, The Mercies.

From the announcement:

“‘A gripping novel inspired by a real-life witch hunt . . . Beautiful and chilling’ Madeline Miller, author of Circe

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.

Now the women must fend for themselves.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist. Her bestselling works for children include The Girl of Ink & Stars, and have won numerous awards including, the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, and the Blackwell’s Children’s Book of the Year, and been shortlisted for prizes such as the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Best Story Award. The Mercies is her first novel for adults. Kiran lives by the river in Oxford, with her husband, artist Tom de Freston, and their rescue cat, Luna.

Daisy Johnson’s debut short-story collection, Fen, was published in 2016. In 2018 she became the youngest author ever to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize with her debut novel Everything Under which was also the Blackwell’s Book of the Year. She is the winner of the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize, the A. M. Heath Prize and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She currently lives in Oxford by the river and once worked as a Bookseller at Blackwell’s.

This is a free event, but please do register if you plan on attending. Please be aware that this event will take place in the Philosophy Department, which is accessible by a small flight of stairs. Seating is unallocated. For more information, please call our Customer Service Department on 01865 333 623 or email events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk.”

Booking and further information here.


MSt alumnus Arthur Allen’s verse novel “The Nurseryman” published by Kernpunkt Press

MSt alumnus Arthur Allen’s verse novel The Nurseryman has been published by Kernpunkt Press.
From the announcement:

The Nurseryman is a verse novel told in polyphony as the collected account of a 17th Century voyage to Meta Incognita – the absolutely unknown ice-land at the top of the world. A composite of original sources and collected accounts of medieval voyages, The Nurseryman is a postmodern travel compendium that explores the hidden, magical worlds within our own.”

An extraordinary debut that combines the awed wonder of early seafarers with a freshness and buoyancy that is essentially 21st century. Alternating between the late sixteenth century ‘FRAGMENTARY records of a Roote Gatherer, practiced of alchemical craft & in the spiritual use of fruit trees…’, lyrical meditations on the beauty of nature, and notes on rsome of the marvels encountered during the voyage (such as how female whales are snared by their protectiveness towards their offspring), The Nurseryman takes us on a startlingly original odyssey that is at once an homage to the past as well as being a prescient ‘fable for the present.
– Jenny Lewis, author of Gilgamesh Retold

For more information, and to order The Nurseryman, visit Kernpunkt Press.