Continuing its packed events programme, Blackwell’s Bookshop on University Green is hosting the launch of Lara Williams’ second novel The Odyssey, described as “a wickedly funny and slyly poignant satire on modern life”. As well as reading from the new book, Lara will be in conversation with fellow author Naomi Booth.
“Lara Williams is the queen of smart modern satire. Sharp and evocative, funny and dark, The Odyssey captures the joy and the weirdness of work, travel, ambition, and being a human woman who wants things.”
About the book: “Meet Ingrid. She works on a gargantuan luxury cruise liner, where she spends her days reorganising the merchandise and waiting for long-term guests to drop dead in the changing rooms. On her days off, she disembarks from the ship and gets blind drunk on whatever the local alcohol is. It’s not a bad life. And it distracts her from thinking about the other life she left behind five years ago. Until one day she is selected for the employee mentorship scheme – an initiative run by the ship’s mysterious captain and self-anointed lifestyle guru, Keith, who pushes Ingrid further than she thought possible. But sooner or later, she will have to ask herself: how far is too far? Utterly original, mischievous and thought-provoking, The Odyssey is a merciless takedown of consumer capitalism and our anxious, ill-fated quests for something to believe in. And as its title suggests, it is a voyage that will eventually lead its unlikely heroine all the way home. Though she’d do almost anything to avoid getting there…”
Emma Jane Unsworth, author of Animals and Adults, says: “Lara Williams is the queen of smart modern satire. Sharp and evocative, funny and dark, The Odyssey captures the joy and the weirdness of work, travel, ambition, and being a human woman who wants things. I could read her all day.”
Lara Williams teaches creative writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and in 2021 she was longlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. Her debut short story collection, Treats (in the US, A Selfie as Big as the Ritz), was published in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Edinburgh First Book Award and the Saboteur Awards, and longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. Her much anticipated debut novel, Supper Club, was published to rave reviews in spring 2019 by Hamish Hamilton and has been translated into six languages, won the Guardian Not The Booker Prize and was listed as a Book of the Year 2019 by TIME, Vogue and elsewhere. She has a piece in Comma Press anthology The New Abject and she features in Best British Short Stories 2017. She has written for The Guardian, The Independent, Times Literary Supplement, Dazed and McSweeney’s, among other places, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Naomi Booth’s most recent novel, Exit Management, was published by Liverpool’s Dead Ink Books in September 2020 and was a Guardian Best Fiction Book of 2020. Her first novel, Sealed, was shortlisted for the Not The Booker Award 2018 and followed 2015’s The Lost Art of Sinking, selected for New Writing North’s Read Regional campaign 2017 and winner of the Saboteur Award for Best Novella 2016. Her stories have been long-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize, and anthologised in Best British Short Stories 2019. She has recently re-written the Yorkshire folktale of the boggart for the Audible Original and Virago collection Hag.