A dark, funny and clever novel about being a woman in contemporary society. Mary is estranged from her parents, broke and suffering from chronic pain. She signs up for a well-paid job of being the 'emotional girlfriend' to a famous actor alongside a cast of other girlfriends to suit his different needs and a team of researchers behind the scenes who feed her lines. As Mary and the other girls play out their roles, the experiment begins to unravel as connections form and all is not what it seems. An exploration of intimacy, the concept of emotional labour and the many ways in which women can subtly be subjugated.
We’re thrilled to introduce new author and Hackney resident Kate Murray-Browne to Pages to discuss her debut novel, The Upstairs Room. The discussion will be chaired by Sarah Savitt, publisher at Virago.
Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.
Kate Murray-Browne was born and lives in London. She studied English at Cambridge University and worked in publishing for ten years, previously at Faber & Faber, before becoming a freelance editor. She is also a visual artist and has exhibited work in a number of different galleries. The Upstairs Room is her first novel.
Sarah Savitt is currently Deputy Publisher at Virago and previously worked at Headline, Faber and David Godwin Associates. Authors she has published include Kate Hamer, Louise Doughty, Sara Pascoe, Karen Rose and Hanif Kureishi.
“A very impressive debut. The story is played out in an unsettling narrative that makes you want to read on to the end.”
“An incredible read. Clever, chilling, I couldn’t put it down”
Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep.
“A gripping and impressive story of mounting terror. Spellbinding”
“The Upstairs Room is the real thing. Frightening and clever and full of atmosphere.”
Susan Hill, author of The Woman In Black
Throughout August we'll once again be highlighting translated fiction by women as part of #WITmonth. Having maintained a permanent Women in Translation shelf since last August, we'll be featuring a revolving selection of great titles over the next few weeks, so check back frequently!
From Women in Translation:
Only a tiny fraction of fiction published in English is translated, and only about a quarter of that translated fiction was originally written by women. For some reason, fiction in translation by women remains as rare as black diamonds. And yet there are so many amazing women-authored books out there in the world – books we’re missing out on.
Women in Translation or WiT, is a global collaborative project to help remedy the discrepancy between the amount of works by women published in English translation, and how they are critically received. We think the publishing and reading community would benefit from translating more women. Remember what sparked the current boom in translated fiction? It was crime writing. Scandinavian detective stories made many readers overcome their reluctance to reach for anything genuinely foreign. Scandicrime broadened the audience for translated fiction. And now translated fiction written by women is poised to do the same. And not just Elena Ferrante – who has gathered a fan base of readers addicted to her stories of female friendship, as translated by Ann Goldstein. But also translated genre fiction of all kinds. Last February, the number 1 on Amazon’s US list of bestselling historical romance books was German novelist Corina Bomann’s The Moonlit Garden (trans. Alison Layland). That certainly suggests a lot of potential readers for translated fiction.
From literary fiction like Japanese-German Yoko Tawada’s new novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear (trans. Susan Bernofsky) to non-fiction like Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s Second-hand Time (trans. Bela Sheyavich) or graphic novels like Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling Persepolis (trans. Blake Ferris and Mattias Ripa), or genre writing like that of Argentinian writer Angélica Gorodischer (trans. Ursula K. LeGuin, Amalia Gladhart and Sue Burke), women writers in translation are primed to impress and enthrall readers of all kinds of books… WiT is all about making them more visible, and more plentiful in turn…
AUGUST IS WOMEN IN TRANSLATION MONTH!