Sixty Somethings

This week we’re publishing Sixty Somethings by Nicola Madge and Paul Hoggart which is a fascinating collection of testimonies from a unique generation of women. I’m delighted to say it is ‘Pick of the Month’ in this month’s issue of The Lady. You can read the review here:

Sixty Somethings: The Lives of Women who remember the Sixties by Nicola Madge & Paul Hoggart, with illustrations by Geo Parkin, published in paperback by Quartet Books, on 3rd September 2020, priced at £12.

In the ‘Swinging Sixties’ change was in the air. This lively and entertaining account looks back over the lives of 67 middle-class sixty something women who lived through this tumultuous decade and explores what it was really like and what they are doing now.

‘This book takes you on an entertaining trip to a kaleidoscopic world

From convent girl Julie Walters who gave up nursing to become an actress and bawdy comedienne and Maggie who set up a wholefood shop, to Lissa who worked in fashion in Carnaby Street and modelled part-time to Zena who acquired the Beatles’ autographs. Hippy Theresa wore loons, bell-bottom jeans, beads and Jesus sandals while Jenny went on the 1968 Grosvenor Square protest against the Vietnam war and lost a shoe.

Born shortly after the end of the Second World War, a time of optimism 
and baby boom, all these women worked and managed their own finances 
after they married and had children, unlike most of their mothers, 
giving them more independence.

Most of the women didn’t like to think of themselves as “old” stressing that “this was not how they felt.” Today’s 65-year-olds are healthier, more mentally agile and more independent than in the past. Half the women interviewed said they were ‘fighting fit’, ‘independent’ most ‘homeowners’ and working part-time, with disposable income, a lively social life and numerous interests.

Even if, like me, you weren’t quite old enough to have lived through the sixties, this well-researched book takes you on an entertaining trip to a kaleidoscopic world of Beatlemania, fun fashions by Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and Twiggy,  and catchy music – Sergeant Pepper, Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Vidal Sassoon haircuts, hippies, the pill, protests. Unputdownable, baby!

Rebecca Wallersteiner

I’d give it 4 ½ stars

You can get your copy of Sixty Somethings by Nicola Madge and Paul 
Hoggart here: https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/sixty-somethings/

Naim Attallah maintains that the versatility of Quartet is unique. Find out for yourselves by reading this amazing book.

Marked Cards

‘I’m delighted to announce that we published Marked Cards by Emmanuel Olympitis this week. Marked Cards is a live-wire account that features three decades of life in the fast lane, charting the ascent of a youthful financier who was simultaneously a fixture in London’s social scene. Manoli and his memoir have hit the press. Manoli wrote a piece called ‘At 70, I may have grown up’ for Book Brunch which you can read here: 
https://www.bookbrunch.co.uk/page/free-article/at-70-i-may-have-grown-up/ and there’s a brilliant interview in this issue of Tatler (out today!) and posted below…

Playing his cards right

Manoli Olympitis has courted great beauties, gambled fortunes and had friends in the most dazzling (and murkiest) of places. Now he’s spilling the beans on a life of high jinks and high society
By DAVID JENKINS
Photographed by KATE MARTIN

IT WOULD BE ALL TOO easy to detest Emmanuel ‘Manoli’ Olympitis. The 71-year-old banker, gambler and outright charmer is (and always has been) ridiculously handsome – according to his first wife, the American heiress Jan Cushing, her friend Truman Capote couldn’t bear to look at Olympitis, so beautiful was he. At ‘23 or so’, Olympitis says, as he sits in a cane chair in my back garden, he had ‘a young man’s awakening’ in the form of a year-long, high-octane affair with Nan Kempner, the then fortyish and ever-glamorous New York fashion maven and socialite.
When that was over, he fell in love with that ‘famous beauty’ Princess Ira von Fürstenberg, who’s still a friend and ‘an amazing person, never snobbish’. He was at the time earning what he thought was a lot of money, ‘but of course, pathetic by her standards’, so it was no real surprise that she turned down his offer of marriage. Even so, he says, ‘I was rather upset when she left me for her ski instructor!’ But surely that ski instructor cannot have been more elegantly turned out than Olym-pitis is now, his dark blue Ralph Lauren jacket setting off a lighter blue shirt, his Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch gleaming on his wrist, his loafers a perfect shade of dark brown.
Now, he’s very happily married to his second wife, the interior designer Emily Todhunter, with whom he shares a ravishing house near Marlborough and a flat in Knightsbridge. They have a daughter, Olympia, 23, and 18-year-old identical twin sons, Mikey and Aleko. He has, he says, ‘finally found peace and a soulmate’. All in all, then, a lucky man who has just published a very entertaining memoir, Marked Cards.
But it hasn’t all been a serene and amusing voyage through life. Yes, he came from a well-off London Greek family that had prospered from the lucrative sponge trade on Kalymnos. Yes, he had a good time at The King’s School, Canterbury, fencing to Olympic squad standard, and an even better time at UCL, partying at Tramp and Annabel’s and revelling in the freedoms of the 1960s. And yes, his brother-in-law was David Cameron’s best man, he and Emily for years shared a holiday cottage with George Osborne, and he threw a party in America for his pal Edward Heath, so he’s in with serious folk, too.
His first marriage, in 1981, to the much-wed Cushing, was a glamorous one: she was rich, beautiful and a famous hostess. But it was a bitter experience, though brightened by the birth of a son, John, now 39. When Olympitis left Cushing, he received, as he half-expected to, a phone call from one of Cushing’s closest friends, Sidney Korshak, famous both as the Mafia’s US lawyer and as one of the most frighteningly powerful men in America – a man able to make anything happen, even very unpleasant things indeed.
‘Go home,’ said Korshak. ‘Go back to New York. Go back to your son, your wife, your family. They need you. That’s where you belong. You understand me?’ It was, one might think, an offer it would be unwise to refuse. But Olympitis says he had his answer ready: ‘Sidney,’ he said, ‘it’s kind of you to call, but I can’t. Ever. I know, of course, that something could happen to me. But if my son becomes an orphan, would it help him? I don’t think so. Anyway, ]
[I’ll just have to risk it, there’s nothing else I can do.’ A long silence followed, and then Korshak’s response: ‘I guess not. Nothing you can do at all… but I guess you’ll be OK, kid. Go carefully.’ Phew! Olympitis had appealed to the Family’s code – and it had worked.
It probably helped that he and Korshak got along. They once, he says, had lunch at New York’s renowned La Grenouille, when the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the gangster-embracing head of the Teamsters Union, was in the news – Korshak, naturally, was the Teamsters’ lawyer. A couple of drinks in, Olympitis asked Korshak what had happened to Hoffa. ‘You like the food?’ growled the bear-like Korshak, unhelpfully. ‘Eat your lunch.’ Another two drinks in, Olympitis couldn’t restrain himself: ‘Come on, Sidney: Jimmy Hoffa – what happened?’ Korshak, Olympitis recalls, ‘looked at me, piercingly, and said, “Did you shower this morning, kid?” Yes.
“And did you use soap?” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “Finish your goddamn lunch.”’ Which he thinks was Korshak’s way of saying Hoffa had been turned into soap.
Bold, that, to quiz Korshak so defiantly. But Olympitis is bold, once facing down a press tycoon by telling him that if he printed an anti-Manoli story, he’d effectively be an accessory to murder. Bold at cards, too, playing for ‘much more than I could afford – it’s no fun gambling at stakes you can afford’. There were dicey times: he lost so badly one night, he phoned Gamblers Anonymous at 3am, got a voice message saying they were only open from 9am to 5pm, headed back to the tables – and came out £55,000 to the good.
He has given up, as of about 15 years ago. ‘Your nerves go at around 55 to 60. But when you’re young, you have extraordinary nerves about making a bet you can’t afford without blinking.’ It is, he says, just like running a public company, something he did from his mid-30s on and would love still to be doing. But, as with gambling, ‘Your nerve goes, your concentration goes, your stamina goes, you can’t keep it up.’
It’s amazing he did keep it up, back in the late 1980s, when he was CEO of Aitken Hume, the controversial merchant bank co-founded by the former cabinet minister and convict Jonathan Aitken. ‘What can I say about Jonathan? I liked Jonathan, but if you’re chief executive and you walk into a board meeting, you’ve got to feel your chairman is behind you. And the one thing you could rely on Jonathan for was that he would always let you down.’
Another thing Olympitis could rely upon was that board members of his various companies would be upset about his all-too-frequent appearances in gossip columns, squiring Princess Ira or romancing the actress Valerie Perrine; publishing a best-selling (‘in London’) novel and hanging out with Norman Mailer; giving parties atwhich Mick Jagger and David Bowie performed
Dancing in the Street together; unintentionally being the main character in a Harpers & Queen story about the ‘Return of the Playboy’; and generally having a frolicsome time.
Because, until he met Emily, ‘the last thing I wanted was to get married. I said to myself, I’ve got my son and I love living alone. I’m having this wonderful life because I was earning quite a lot of money. I had lots of girlfriends, but I wouldn’t commit to any of them. I was very happy and I didn’t want a [second] wife and more children. But now I’ve got them, and I’m thrilled it worked out that way. Because had I gone the other way, I’d probably be dead.’ He pauses, smiles. ‘Just burning too many candles at both ends.’
Which is exactly, and very winningly, what his book describes, in spades. Go on: read all about it. (
Marked Cards by Emmanuel
Olympitis (Quartet, £16) is out now

I’ve known Manoli for most of my working life, says Naim Attallah. I hope this latest book will be his crowning glory. He truly deserves it. Bravo for his outstanding effort.

Memories

Susannah Tarbush reviews my recent publication Memories for the latest
issue of BANIPAL magazine. You can read the full review below…
Memories: The charms and follies of a lifetime’s publishing by Naim Attallah
Quartet Books, London,

April 2020
ISBN: 9780704374799
PbK, 278, £15.00

 

“ Hallowed be thy Naim ”

The Palestine-born publisher and businessman Naim Attallah, long-time chairman of Quartet Books, has had an extraordinary career since arriving in Britain in 1948 from Haifa, where he was born in 1931. In his early years in the UK he worked as a fitter in an electrical components factory, a steeplejack, a hospital porter and a nightclub bouncer.

He then entered the world of banking and business and prospered. In 1976 he bought Quartet Books from its founders. Later,he added feminist publisher The Women’s Press to his Namara Group. He also expanded into magazine publishing, owning Literary Review, The Oldie and the jazz and contemporary music magazine The Wire.

His talents as a cultural entrepreneur took him into film, theatre and TV production. In addition, he was for some years the chief executive of Asprey, the luxury goods business based around the iconic Bond Street store.

Attallah became known as one of the most colourful characters on the British publishing and literary scene, known for his lavish publishing parties, and the succession of beautiful young women, widely known as ‘Naim’s harem’, who worked at Quartet and in other parts of his empire headquartered at 27/29 Goodge Street, in the Fitzrovia area of central London.

Attallah’s publishing parties were star- studded extravagant affairs.
When he decided to become a perfumier in 1985, the party to launch his perfumes Avant l’Amour and Après l’Amour featured girls from Quartet in rubber dresses.

In the mid-1980s, Attallah started writing books based on extensive interviews, with the 1115 – page tome Women – for which he interviewed around 300 women – appearing in 1987. This was followed by Singular Encounters for which he interviewed some 25 men.

In all, Attallah has 17 books to his name.They include four volumes of autobiography, starting with the charming novella The Old Ladies of Nazareth (2004), followed by The Boy in England (2005), In Touch with his Roots (2006) and Fulfilment and Betrayal 1975-95 (2007). On top of his published books,he is an avid blogger through his lively blog Naim Attallah Online.

Attallah has succeeded in keeping Quartet Books as an independent publisher of notable titles at a time when conglomerates have gobbled up many other publishers. His lifetime of achievement received official recognition when he was made a CBE ( Commander of The Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire) in the 2017 New Year Honour List, for services to literature and the arts.

Now,as Attallah approaches his ninth decade, Quartet has published his new book Memories: The charms and follies of a lifetime’s publishing. Attallah writes in the foreword: “ What follows is a pot-pourri of vignettes selected from those books and blogs which convey the varied and many moments in my life which both amuse and console in my old age. Hopefully they may also amuse and interest my readers.”

The pages of Memories teem with personalities from Attallah’s life -friends, authors,interviewees and the occasional adversary. He was particularly close to the gifted and notorious comic writer Auberon Waugh, whom he appointed as editor of the Literary Review in 1986. In 1993, the magazine launched the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the worst description of a sex scene in a novel.

Attallah was hit hard by the death Waugh in 2001 at the age of 61. Last year Quartet published, to critical acclaim, A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh, edited by Attallah.

Memories includes reminiscences of Attallah by people who worked for him, including former members of his ‘harem’, many whom have become prominent in the fields of literature, journalism and academia. Among them is the Syrian scholar and author Rana Kabbani who was headhunted by Attallah after he heard of her abilities and beauty. She amusingly describes like in the Goodge Street offices: “ The buildings were Dickensian in their ramshackle mess; everyone working there looked like a character from a novel – lush,mad,exotic and highly strung, with a hilarious sense of humour.”

In section of Memories headed “ Why I publish what I publish”, Attallah writes: “ One of my initial objectives in becoming a publisher was to publish books of Middle Eastern interest, covering not only the Palestinian conflict and the suffering of the Palestinian people – which we did comprehensively – but also promote Arab culture that had been so long ignored in the West.

“ While Zelfa Hourani took charge of the Arab fiction list and developed it to great effect, I reminded in direct control of what we published under the headings of non-fiction and politics.”

Quartet became a pioneer in the publication of works of fiction by Arab writers in English translation, many of which have been reviewed or excerpted in Banipal. In the second issue, published in June 1998, editor Margaret Obank interviewed Zelfa Hounari. The headline was “ Short stories by men a kiss of death”, reflecting Hourani’s observation that it was mainly women who were being published “ because that is what the market wants at this moment”, particularly in the US.

Quartet’s Arab authors include Hanan al- Shaykh, Fadia Faquir, Edward al- Kharrat, Amin Maalouf, Ahmed Fagih,,Aicha Lemsine, Leila Marouane, Latifa al-Zayyat, Zakaria Tamer, Rashid al-Daif, Jad El Hage, Sabiha al-Khemir, Khalid Kishtainy and Riad Nourallah.

Attalah was courageous in publishing books related to Palestine at a time when the Palestine- Israel issue was little understood in the UK. The book The Palestinians by the distinguished journalist Jonathan Dimbleby, published by Quartet in 1979, has pictures by ace war photographer Don McCullin. It gave an all-too-rare human dimension to the Palestinians and their predicament.

Memories opens with Attallah’s eulogy for the fascinating Princess Dina Abdul-Hamid. who died last August aged 91. Princess Dina was briefly married to King Hussein of Jordan. Her second husband was PLO spokesman Asad Sulayman Abd al-Qadir, known by the nom de guerre Salah Ta’ amari. He was captured during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and her attempts to free him opened the way for the release of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese in exchange for six captured Israeli soldiers. She recorded the saga in her book Duet for Freedom (Quartet,1988) which has an introduction by John Le Carre.

Another Quartet author to whom Attallah pays tributes is the journalist and author Said K. Aburish, who died in August 2018. Quartet published his book The Forgotten Faithful in 1993: Attallah describes him as “ a true Palestinian patriot”.

A particularly controversial episode in Quartet’s history came when it published God Cried, a book on the 1982 Israeli siege of Beirut by war reporter Tony Clifton, with photographs by Catharine Leroy. Attallah suggested that the famous author Roald Dahl review the book for the Literary Review. When he read the review before publication, he realised it “ would send the influential pro-Zionist lobby into a frenzy of rage”. He and the editor of the Literary Review consulted the company’s lawyer, who was himself Jewish. He approved it for publication, with the omission of “ a few of the more intemperate expressions”.

The reaction to the review “ was far more extreme than we had anticipated”, Attallah recalls. “ Apart from the overreaction of the Jewish lobby, the friends of Israel in the media became virulent in their onslaught on Dahl, myself and the Literary Review.”

Memories is full of interesting characters and incidents and provides a vivid and absorbing overview of Attallah’s long and varied career.
With its evocation of an earlier era, it was particularly nostalgic to read it during the Covid-19 lockdown. However, it has neither a table of contents nor an index, making navigation through the author’s intoxicating “potpourri” somewhat tricky.

To read more, get a copy of Memories here today:

https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/memories/

The Making of an Immigration Judge (New Revelations)

Quartet author James Hanratty R.D. sat on the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. In today’s Express, he writes about the Windrush scandal and the shame this has brought on our immigration and legal system. We published the Revised Edition of Hanratty’s memoir The Making of an Immigration Judge in May, which includes new chapters on Windrush and his role in the Hong Kong handover of 1997. You can read the full
piece below and get your copy of this edition here:
https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/the-making-of-an-immigration-judge-revised-edition/

The Making of an Immigration Judge front cover

 

The Windrush Scandal Must Never Be Repeated

Sitting as an immigration judge for 16 years I thought I had seen it all.

On the one hand were Nigerians pretending to be from the Ivory Coast,
Kenyans who claimed they were from Rwanda and Pakistanis masquerading
as Afghanis.

On the other were frightened and tortured people seeking asylum on
religious and political grounds from, among others, Sri Lanka, Eritrea
and Middle Eastern countries.

An Iranian who had converted from Islam to Christianity faced a death
sentence on their return and I was the first judge to rule that a
terrified child about to be sent abroad to undergo female genital
mutilation was entitled to refugee status.

The Home Office tried valiantly to sort out truth from myth while
applying insanely complex immigration rules.
Meanwhile, legal advisers to genuine claimants were hampered in some
cases by the withdrawal of legal aid and the removal of the right of
appeal.
Yet all this paled into insignificance alongside the Windrush scandal,
which became a long-running sore on our immigration and legal system
after coming to light in 2018.
In a nutshell, British subjects, many members of the Windrush
generation, were wrongly detained, threatened with deportation and, in
more than 80 cases, actually deported.

The Home Office destroyed landing cards of the Windrush generation in
2010 and, while the Immigration Act 1971 provided for those born in
the UK before 1973 to have right of abode, the Home Office required
documentation going back 14 years. How many of us can produce a gas
bill that far back?
The Home Office presumed lack of documentation equalled illegality and
members of the Windrush generation and their children were cruelly
targeted. Others who had visited the West Indies were not allowed back
into the UK, notwithstanding the fact they had been resident and
paying taxes for, in some cases, decades.

Those affected lost jobs, housing, benefits and effectively became
homeless. I was privileged to be part of the official review of the
shameful affair.

While lessons have been learned and a compensation scheme established,
the coronavirus pandemic has deflected attention from the plight of so
many innocent, dignified and loyal citizens.
As a nation, we must be ashamed such governmental action was taken in
our name. It’s incumbent upon all of us in this great nation to ensure
such a scandal is never repeated.
James Hanratty
Former President of The Council of Immigration Judges and author of
The Making of an Immigration Judge: Revised Edition (Quartet Books, £15)

Buy this amazing book, if only for the valuable information it contains.

Memories

Lindsay Duguid has reviewed my new book Memories in this issue of The  TLS. I’ve posted the review below… If you like the sound of it, you  can buy a copy of the book here:
https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/memories/

MEMORIES
The charms and follies of a lifetime’s publishing 278pp. Quartet. Paperback, £11.99.
Naim Atallah

 

Memories by Naim Attallah | Waterstones

Memories, Naim Atallah’s sixteenth book, is his most recent volume of  memoirs. It is a record, or a flow, of jottings and thoughts, a “pot  pourri of vignettes”, set down in allusive rather than chronological  order in support of the author’s belief that “It’s lovely to evoke  childhood memories later on in adulthood”. Recollections of his early  life and of his adventures as a bouncer and bodyguard in Soho come  late in the book, as do his melancholy teenage poems and his  evocations of married life in a small flat in Holland Park. The latter  include his morning task of carrying a half-naked girl from her  mattress on the kitchen floor to sleep in the empty marital bed after  he had left for work. As a story it is characteristic of the author in  being of its time and challenging to propriety, while also having a  sympathetic element.

The girl on the mattress is one of many young women he recalls. All  young, some titled, many “sultry”. Characterized by old-fashioned  expressions such as “buxom blonde” or “impish teenager”, they are  signed up and put to work in the office or at launch parties and  publicity events where they appear wearing rubber dresses or pvc  skirts. Their warm and grateful letters are reprinted here. Here too  are fond recollections of “dear friends”: John le Carré, Harold Acton,  Lord Lambton, Quentin Crewe, Auberon Waugh.

A picture of 1980s London, pulsating with opportunities in celebrity  publishing, plays and films, is summoned up through parties at  Langan’s and West End first nights. Slightly hazy anecdotes are backed  up by press cuttings of reviews, gossip columns, malicious newspaper  articles and his own dignified letters to editors responding to
criticisms of his publications and anti-Palestinian slurs. The idea  that notoriety brings success, though never stated, lurks behind many  of his projects from the 1984 hotel guide the Dirty Weekend Book to  the controversial Women interviews of 1987; from Melissa Sadoff’s  Woman as Chameleon: Or how to be an ideal woman of 1988 to Elizabeth  Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation of 1994. All reliably created a storm of
disapproval and personal invective.

The solid achievements of his publishing firms Quartet – especially  its Encounters series of novels in translation – and the Women’s  Press, his support of the Literary Review and the Oldie and even his  success in bringing new designs to Asprey’s, of which he was managing  director, are there to be admired, alongside the blue Rolls-Royce he
bought on impulse, the bright silk ties he favoured, his  diamond-studded Rolex and the tiger skin rugs in his office. (Oddly  for such a name-dropping book the names are sometimes garbled: Salmon  Rushdie, Lucien Freud and the Cray Twins.)

David Elliott of Quartet Books comments are as follow:

Nice though it is to see an agreeable review in this week’s TLS for Memories by Naim Attallah, the final sniffy comment on misspelt surnames might have had more impact had they spelt Attallah correctly. Glasshouses and stones come to mind.”

Waugh on Wine

We published a new edition of Waugh on Wine in 2019. As it’s English Wine Week, I thought I’d post the Wine Spectator’s review of Waugh on Wine…

Waugh on Wine: Bad Wine Hosts Should Be ‘Exposed, Ridiculed and Humiliated’

English provocateur Auberon Waugh’s wine—and weed—witticisms have been republished in a new volume. Plus, legal blues for blue wine

Waugh on Wine: Bad Wine Hosts Should Be 'Exposed, Ridiculed and Humiliated'
The cover of the new edition of Waugh on Wine (left), and one of the whimsical illustrations by Willie Rushton that depict a cartoon Waugh beset by wine. (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

 

Aug 8, 2019

Auberon Waugh, the late English writer and wit, famously hated many things—but few more than bad wine and bad hosts. The bon vivant and troublemaker once described a wine as “a collapsed marquee fallen into a rotting silage pit” and wrote that “hosts who skimp on their wine should be exposed, ridiculed and humiliated.” These and other withering critiques, pensees, bon mots and general tidbits of advice appear in the classic collection of the author’s writings Waugh on Wine, republished last month by Quartet Books after decades out of print.

Waugh, son of the novelist Evelyn, went by “Bron,” but unlike the other wine-loving, trash-talking Bron, had a less-than-auspicious early career. Rusticated (a fancy word for expelled) by his professors at Oxford University, he joined the national service, where, upon becoming annoyed by his faulty machine gun, he shook the barrel and accidentally fired several bullets into his chest. He lost his spleen, one lung, several ribs, and a finger.

Waugh on Wine

Humorist and illustrator Willie Rushton was a longtime friend and collaborator of Waugh. (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

That put him in a permanent mood to pen such pronouncements as “bad Spanish wine furs the tongue, turns the breath sour, upsets the stomach and produces a murderous hangover” and “it has been said that if you leave an Italian with a butt of rainwater, four mail-bags of mislaid holiday postcards and a hundredweight of banana skins, he will produce twenty cases of vino di tavola within a fortnight” (not necessarily an insult!). Naim Attallah, who owns Quartet and was good friends with Waugh, told Unfiltered via email, “I decided to republish this book simply because Bron was funny, contrary and entertaining.”

Waugh on Wine

Riesling with weed was a Waugh pairing rule. (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

Some of Waugh’s wine wisdom is dated, of course—the original volume was published in 1987 and Waugh died in 2001—but he was ahead of his time on the wine and weed trend, advising that kabinett and spätlese Rieslings are “the only wines I have discovered which go well with pot, having a soothing and fragrant influence.”

Waugh on Wine

Old World through and through, Waugh nevertheless admitted, “There can be no doubt that the Californians, for all their psychobabble and personal hygiene, are producing some very good red wines indeed.” (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

In the new intro, Attallah praises his chum’s “unsnobbish approach to wine” and remembers Waugh’s reaction when he gifted him a 1947 Cheval-Blanc on his birthday: “The joy on his face as he held the bottle in his hand … is still etched in my memory.” Some classics can please even the greatest contrarians.

Bron’s work lives on forever. God bless him.

Waugh on Wine is an essential read for all wine lovers and you can get a copy here: https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/waugh-on-wine/


Memories

David Platzer is a critic and writer who reviews books for The Catholic Herald and The New Criterion. He reviewed  No Longer with Us for The Catholic Herald. The book was of particular interest to him as it contained an interview with Sir Harold Acton and David is writing a biography on Sir Acton. When Memories arrived  from the printers, our publicity manager sent a copy to David. A few weeks later, he sent us the following review…

 

Memories: The Charms and Follies of a Lifetime’s Publishing
Quartet
278 pp, £15

Describing Naim Attallah remarkable is an understatement. Born in Haifa then under the British Mandate in 1931, he came to England as a student. His formal studies ending, prematurely, when he could no longer get money from home, he worked various jobs as a steeplejack, a bouncer in a Soho jazz club (recounted here in an entertaining chapter) and a banker. In time he became Asprey’s CEO. A lifelong constant reader who dreamt in childhood of being a writer, he rescued in 1976 Quartet Books, founded four years earlier, and turned into a vital presence in the publishing world. This new book is a self-portrait with added fond memories from people who have worked with Attallah over the years in his many endeavours that also touched the theatre, cinema and fashion worlds.

See the source image

At Quartet, Attallah has taken risks on authors other publishers have shied away, some obscure, others household names including Brian Sewell and Lord Lambton, neither of whom averse to controversy. Quartet’s ‘Encounters’ imprint directed by Stephen Pickles was a pioneer in the English-speaking field in publishing translations from modern European authors. Quartet soon added two other imprints, Robin Clark, specialising in such interesting reprints including Auberon Waugh’s entertaining novels, and The Women’s Press to its stable and the book includes a memoir by Rebecca Fraser who directed Robin Clark.

In the midst of all this activity. Attallah made his dream of being a writer come true. He is the most accomplished interviewer of our time and many of interviews are now available in two volumes featuring persons No Longer With Us. Attallah’s interviews are always penetrating, often delving into his subjects’ thoughts about sex and religion, without becoming impertinent. An Attallah interview is indispensable to anyone interested in its subject. Not all of the eminences he approached were inclined to cooperate. Lord Goodman, the establishment’s beetle-browed “universal fixer” didn’t wish to be in the same book as Private Eue.s Richard Ingrams but relented, the supremely self-assured J.K. Galbraith, a leading mandarin of America;s ‘”liberal” left was trying . I wonder if William F. Buckley, who took the opposite view of Galbraith in almost everything though the two remained the best of friends, was difficult as Galbraith.. One hopes for more revelations behind the scenes of his interviews in a future volume. I have a personal interest in Harold Acton, who features in a book I am writing, and Attallah “found him easy-going and charm itself.” Harold responded to Attallah’s questions as to whether he had ever slept with a woman in a characteristically playful way, speaking “with relish” of an encounter with a young Chinese girl with exquisite skin in his 1930s sojourn in Peking. Interviewing the late Duke of Devonshire, Attallah found “the kind of humility normally associated with great sages,”

Anecdotes galore, many of them glamourous, sparkle throughout the book. A satisfied reader can only pray for more Memories.

 

The Old Ladies Of Nazareth

You can read about and get a copy of the English edition of The Old
Ladies of Nazareth here:
https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/the-old-ladies-of-nazareth/

The Portuguese edition of The Old Ladies of Nazareth, recently
published in Brazil by Matrix, is now receiving great reviews. One of
the reviews has been translated into English for the benefit of our
readers in the United Kingdom who might like to acquaint themselves
with the English edition, which is still in circulation…

 

The Old Ladies of Nazareth: Amazon.co.uk: Naim Attallah ...

As senhoras de Nazaré - Comprar em Matrix Editora

 

 

Here how it goes:

In a work of less than eighty pages, Naim Attallah has written an absorbing narrative which I read avidly. His sparse, clear prose, still rich in detail, is skilfully rendered in a style reminiscent of the stories written by Rubem Braga, a rare achievement indeed.
By recreating this tale of childhood in the fraught land of Palestine before the second world war, Attallah has allowed the reader to better understand the bitter consequences of the absence of a mature Palestinian state in that troubled land.

José Geraldo Gomes Barbosa

Beyond Black There Is No Colour

Here’s a brilliant review of Maryam Diener’s book on the Historical
Novel Society:

 

Beyond Black There Is No Colour: The Story of Forough Farrokhzad

Written by Maryam DIENER
Review by Julia Stoneham

In the last century, three major women poets died in their prime. Two, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, took their own lives. Forough Farrokhzad died in a car accident after numerous suicide attempts. All three were beautiful and held in high regard by their peers. All three had passionate relationships with eminent men who loved and admired them, and this included the husbands of their children. But all three suffered from levels of depression which, from childhood and despite dizzying heights of elation, laid them low enough to overpower them.

Arguably, Forough Farrokhzad, born and raised in Tehran and consequently subject to the rigid dictates of Iranian law and religious restrictions, which inflamed her feelings of repression and lack of freedom to express herself as she wished, had more intolerance and disapproval to contend with than did either Sexton or Plath, each in her own Western environment.

Maryam Diener aptly describes her book as “a work of imaginative fiction” in which she has successfully contrived to give us her subject with precisely the right amount of sensitivity and compassion without, for one moment, descending into sentimentality. Her feeling for both time and place is relaxed and evocative, while her crystalline prose is a pleasure to read, as she moves her subject through the trajectory of her life with a rare assurance and skill.

This book will encourage readers who may be unfamiliar with Forough Farokhzad’s work to discover her for themselves and be the richer for it. This is one to relish and cherish.

Buy copies of this amazing book and defy this present financial crisis. You will not regret it. Go ahead and show us the colour of your money. Your help will be much appreciated.

‘Beyond Black There Is No Colour’ by Maryam Diener launched at Thomas Heneage Art Books

 

Memories

Jane Shilling has included Memories in her list of ‘Must Reads’ for the Daily Mail, out today. The review is posted below…

Memories by Naim Attallah ( Quartet £15, 278pp)

From a reluctant young apprentice in bleak postwar England to publisher, author, impresario, boulevardier and giver of parties at which his well-bred, young female employees wafted around in rubber dresses – Naim Attallah’s career has been the stuff of legend.
Now, he writes, ‘I’ve almost reached my ninth decade, and it is tough going.’
To celebrate the ‘charms and follies’ of his heyday, he’s compiled a memoir: Attallah met everyone from Dame Margot Fonteyn to Paula Yates, and has relished almost every encounter.
Alongside the fizzy social life, this memoir reminds us that as a publisher, Attallah was a fearless supporter of high-minded literature. And while his protegees may have been posh and pretty, they responded with flair to what one, the author Rebecca Fraser, remembers as his ‘wonderful ability to give responsibility to the young.’

Naim says: Buy the book now and be the first to enjoy his Memories.

Memories