Ten Sheffield authors share their stories for a new book about the city

Catherine Taylor, editor of The Book of SheffieldCatherine Taylor, editor of The Book of Sheffield
Catherine Taylor, editor of The Book of Sheffield
An author who has just won a prize for his writing is among the Sheffield authors who have put pen to paper for a new book.

Together, they have produced The Book of Sheffield, a collection of 10 short stories about the city.

Those who have contributed include Tim Etchells, who just won the Manchester Writing Prize.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Other top local literary names who each shared their tales for the book are Margaret Drabble, Naomi Frisby, Philip Hensher, Helen Mort, Geoff Nicholson, Gregory Norminton, Johny Pitts, Désirée Reynolds and Karl Riordan.

The Book of SheffieldThe Book of Sheffield
The Book of Sheffield

Helen is also the author of a novel called Black Car Burning, which also set in Sheffield.

From the aspirations of young creatives who ultimately driven to leave, to the more immediate demands of refugees, scrap metal collectors, and student radicals, these stories offer 10 different views of Sheffield.

The stories are set in the recent past, present and future and explore and explore various themes including class division, black history erasure and the post-child birth body.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gregory Norminton, one of the authors, said: “I moved here five years ago and as a Sheffield incomer I felt I could not write a story that feigned deep experience of the city.

“So, it made sense for me to write from the point of view of another incomer. My story is narrated by a refugee from a Middle Eastern war, and I set it in the near-future, extrapolating from political and social conditions today.

“My story, called How to Love What Dies is about the experience of seeking to belong to a place. My narrator is won over by the warmth of the citizens and the beauty of Sheffield's topography.

“But, he finds, as I fear many people migrating to Britain will find in the years to come, that such welcome has its limits. I hope this will never be true for my adopted hometown.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Johny Pitts, another one of the authors, said: “I was born and raised in Firth Park, so it was important for me to write a story involving a protagonist that wasn’t from the centre or south of the city, the areas Sheffield usually exports when it writes about itself.

“In fact my piece is about the very tension between the figurative and literal centre and periphery. It is also a retrospective tale about class in Tony Blair’s Britain and an attempt to mythologise a lost night-world - Berlins, Empire Bar, Club Wow - that I was desperate to escape and yet also grateful for, estranged as I was from Ecclesall Road wines bars, NUS only music gigs and the ‘cultural industries’.”

Philip Hensher said: “My extract is from my new novel, ‘A Small Revolution in Germany’. It comes from my memory, in the early 1980s, of the radical leftist groups that flourished in Sheffield, often selling newspapers on the steps of the Central Library.

“Some of the conversations I had with people in those groups stayed with me for decades, and I often wondered what happened to them. Then recently I met one of them; he still thought exactly what he thought then.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I looked at him, fascinated. What I wanted to do was to catch that electric moment when an idea and a place and a time and a man and a kiss all happen at once, and it seems quite plausible that the world can change.”

The book, published by Coma Press, has been edited by Catherine Taylor, another person who calls Sheffield home.

Catherine grew up in Sheffield and is now a freelance writer, editor and critic. She is also currently writing a cultural memoir of Sheffield called The Stirrings.

She said: “I grew up in 1970s and ’80s Sheffield; my mother ran a popular independent bookshop in Broomhill.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’m now a journalist and editor and had been a fan of Comma Press for ages so I approached them about including a Book of Sheffield in their Reading the City series.

“I was always aware that there was a rich hinterland of Sheffield literary talent - and that writing set in South Yorkshire isn’t just about Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for a Knave, although it remains one of my favourite books.

“The remit I was given to commission these stories was broad, which is why I think the ten pieces in the book reveal so many facets of the city - using different genres, time periods, auto-fiction, experimental fiction - and topics which are so relevant to Sheffield today: ecology, migration, contemporary motherhood, as well as the radical Sheffield of the past, present and future.”

The Book of Sheffield is a new addition to Comma Press’ award-winning Reading the City series, which has returned to the North of England after 10 years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Zoe Turner, of Comma Press, said: “Comma Press’ ‘Reading the City’ series has been traversing the globe since 2006, from the Book of Tbilisi to the Book of Tokyo, and now to The Book of Sheffield.

“Bringing together new short stories from some of the city’s most celebrated writers, ‘The Book of Sheffield traces the contours of this complex landscape from both sides of the economic dividing line.”

The Book of Sheffield is available to buy now.

Related topics: