Maria Delgado, professor and director of research at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, is reading The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Plays (edited and translated by William Gregory; Oberon Books, 2018). “I am often reminded that less than 1 per cent of the plays that reach the UK stage are translated. Oberon follows its anthologies from France, Brazil and Greece with a volume of important Spanish plays translated by William Gregory – a terrific translator whose taut version of Guillermo Calderón’s B was seen at London’s Royal Court Theatre last year. Borja Ortiz de Gondra’s A Basque History offers an epic journey through four generations of family conflicts, melding the personal and the political, while issues of austerity are amusingly handled in Vanessa Montfort’s The Greyhound. Memory politics are foregrounded in Blanca Doménech’s The Sickness of Stone, and the legacy of colonialism dominates Julio Escalada’s On the Edge and Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez’s Cuzco.”
Carina Buckley, instructional design manager at Solent University, is reading Growing Pains: The Autobiography of Emily Carr (Douglas & McIntyre, 2005). “Emily Carr is probably the most famous Canadian artist few people in the UK have ever heard of. A later associate of the Group of 7, for many years she struggled alone to capture the magnificence of the Canadian West on canvas while battling against at best dismissal and often contempt for her modernist approach. Growing Pains mainly charts her recognition of herself as an artist, and her pursuit of an artist’s education in London and France as a young woman. Her character springs off the page, her prose as well-formed and thoughtful as her art in taking us from birth to – almost – death. One of several books published late in life, it coincided with a resurgence of interest and helped bring her the recognition she so richly deserved."
R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history at the University of Winchester, is reading Margaret Stacey’s Tradition and Change: Study of Banbury (Oxford University Press, 1970). “This book was a product of the new sociology of the 1950s and took its place in a growing gallery of urban studies. Decades later, of course, it can be read as social history, with its rich exploration of population, class, values, work patterns, politics, housing, marriage and family, education, religion and leisure. The dissolving effect of new large-scale industry in Banbury in the 1930s gets pride of place, with its attendant creation of new economic and social structures and the difficult problems of assimilating all the newcomers. ‘Respectability’ looms large as a social force. The presence of long-gone grocery chain stores and Woolworths is taken for granted, while the possession of cars, televisions and telephones is considered noteworthy. ‘Tradition’ and ‘change’ were still struggling to find a comfortable coexistence in this fractured 1950s town.”