Are My Roots Showing? on sale at POSK bookshop

POSK reception

Are My Roots Showing? now in POSK Bookshop

I’m delighted to announce that my Warsaw-based novel Are My Roots Showing? is now on sale at POSK bookshop in London.

Weeks ago, hundreds if not thousands of people expressed dismay when POSK, the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, had racist graffiti daubed across its front doors after the EU Referendum. For many days, flowers of consolation adorned the entrance to the centre, founded in the sixties.

I have been to POSK many times myself over the years, to Cafe Maja for golabki and coffee, to see art exhibitions, to listen to live jazz and I’ve been to the more formal restaurant there too. There’s also a cinema in POSK, a library and a theatre – and the excellent bookshop I’m now proud to be in.

To follow POSK bookshop on Twitter see @KsiegarniaPMS or you can ring them on 0208 748 5522. To follow POSK London see here.

POSK bookshop in Hammersmith London

The sign for the bookshop inside POSK

For those of you who don’t live in London or can’t make it to the bookshop, you can also buy the book online here. And if you’ve read it and enjoyed it, please review it for me. Simply log in to your Amazon account, go the book purchase page, scroll to the bottom and hit the button that says ‘write review’. You can also review it on Goodreads. Thanks!

POSK is at 236-238 King St, Hammersmith area, London. The nearest tube is Ravenscourt Park but Hammersmith is not too far away.

So very special: Are My Roots Showing? launch

Are My Roots Showing? officially launched

It’s a special special thing, having a book out. You don’t think that as you toil over it, staring at the words on your screen (thinking what on earth do I write next – or – delete delete delete!)

The launch of Are My Roots Showing? has taken place (Thursday 7 July) and it was such a great evening, so touching and memorable. Hot, summery, with cold white wine and family and friends.

Although you’d be forgiven for thinking differently, we weren’t in a ‘globe shop’ (we meaning my literary agent Geraldine Cooke and myself), we were in Stanford’s travel bookshop in Long Acre, Covent Garden, London. So wonderfully apt for a novel set in Warsaw. If you’d have said to me ten years ago, ‘Karola you will be launching your novel at one of London’s most unique bookshops,’ I would never have believed you.

Meeting the audience

Karola Gajda

Stanford’s launch of Are My Roots Showing?

I read out a section of the novel, signed copies and enjoyed every minute. Someone who was off to Poland to have some dental work done said he was taking his copy to read out there with him and could I also write a note to his dentist to do a good job? (I did).

Thank you to…

Thank you again to Geraldine for making it all happen, to Stanford’s for hosting us and looking after us so well, to Head Design for the cover – it was great to finally meet Tim Peters who worked on it so hard with Clare Stacey –  to agent Lisa Everleigh for her consultancy, to Amy and Kelly at Amazon White Glove, to Janice Brent for copy-editing tirelessly and thank you to everyone who came to support us.

Below is a picture of Geraldine and myself. I brought in a galareta (which my Polish parents loved and which featured in the extract I read out) to show to people what it really is (meat in aspic – believe me, it tastes much nicer than it looks!)

Galareta galore

Geraldine Cooke and Karola Gajda brandishing galareta and the novel at the launch of Are My Roots Showing?

…and of course, Malwina

Also, a massive duże thank you to someone who kickstarted the whole thing off – Polish agent Malwina Świerczynska Skupień. Malwina came to see my theatre show about my Polish Yorkshire upbringing all those years ago at the Arts Theatre nearby – and she introduced me to Geraldine. Malwina, back in Poland, couldn’t make the launch, but Malwina – we drank to your very good health!

And finally….

Last but not least, I am also a Christian – so thanks be to God for getting me here!

This Thursday, 7 July: ‘Are My Roots Showing?’ launch at Stanford’s Bookshop

Wonderful Stanford's

Stanford’s Bookshop – one of a kind

I’m delighted to announce the launch of my Warsaw-based novel ‘Are My Roots Showing?‘ will be taking place at the wonderful Stanford’s bookshop in Long Acre, Covent Garden, London this Thursday, 7 July at 6.30pm-8pm.

When I used to live in London, I remember coming to Stanford’s and browsing through all the wonderful travel books – and also, one day, buying a huge map of the world for my wall at home (they do amazing maps).

Store History

The store was established in 1853 by Edward Stanford – however its doors in Long Acre first opened in January 1901. Now, there’s a branch in Bristol too and a special mapping division in Manchester.

Book launch

I’m going to be reading a short piece from my novel, which is about British born Pole Magda, who leaves her job in London to explore her Polish roots in Warsaw. It takes a look at certain periods of Polish history, namely the Siberian deportations and the Warsaw Uprising – and at how Poland has changed over the years. It also covers some of the more amusing aspects of being a Polish Yorkshire hybrid.

Fear not if you don’t see us in there as you pass by – I’m going to be in the marvellous ‘globe section’ downstairs where some of the unique floor has a map printed on it (naturally!)

I’m going to pick a funny section of the book where Magda’s mother thinks the only reason Magda wants to go to Poland is to find herself a Polish husband (“The best kind… the only kind!”)

Guests

Geraldine Cooke, my unswerving, highly gifted agent, is going to be there plus many others who have worked on the book too – from some of the cover’s designers at Head Design (David Grogan, Tim Peters and Clare Stacey) and, I hope, my eagle-eyed copy editor Janice Brent. I just wish agent Malwina Świerczyńska-Skupień, who saw my theatre show ‘My Polish Roots Roots and other Vegetables’ all those years ago and who kick-started the whole process, could make it too, but if you read this Malwina, we will toast you!

Drop in!

So… if you’re passing Stanford’s bookshop this Thursday, please pop in – there’ll be copies of the book on sale that I can sign – but only if you haven’t bought one already!

The Yorkshire Post: ‘hugely entertaining and funny and a heart-warming and often moving read’.

Yorkshire Post loves ‘Are My Roots Showing?’

Book review of Are My Roots Showing?

Great news in the Yorkshire Post!

The Yorkshire Post has reviewed my novel, ‘Are My Roots Showing?’

I’m delighted to say they really like it!

As a writer, you know that reviews can go either way, so this article is wonderful news.

Yorkshire Post arts journalist Yvette Huddleston says in today’s Culture section:

“It is a hugely entertaining, funny, heart-warming and often moving read”

and….

“Gajda touches on the changes that have taken place in Warsaw – emerging from the grim Communist era into a stylish modern city – from her own experiences of travelling there while growing up. And Gajda’s stand-up roots are certainly showing – there is some fine comic observation of human foibles and she is particularly astute on the complexity of family relationships.”

Review of Are My Roots Showing? by Karola Gajda

Migrant Literature

The review also sees the novel as part of the developing genre of migrant literature. This is because it touches on the themes of migration and deportation during and after World War II.

‘Are My Roots Showing?’ is a romantic comedy about British-born Pole Magda who leaves the UK to go to work in Warsaw – and is full of funny observations about being a migrant.

However, it also touches on Poland’s tragic past, including the mass deportations to Siberia by Stalin in the 1940s. Also, displaced Poles migrating after the war ended.

A Personal Angle

This side of the story is particularly important to me because my late Polish mum was deported to Siberia during World War II. Also, my late Polish dad migrated to Yorkshire from Germany as a displaced person as he had nowhere safe to go. I wanted to weave their stories into the book, so that a record of what happened to them would stay alive. I’m always struck by how few people know about those terrible deportations east. In this information-heavy age, important historical events can become buried or side-lined.

I’m so glad Yvette Huddleston tuned into the comedy and the tragedy in the book. Isn’t life just that – a mixture of tragedy and comedy? My mum could be so hilarious at times. Sometimes I think it was not despite her tragic start in life, but because of it.

Available on Amazon 25 May

‘Are My Roots Showing?’ is available through Cirrus Publishing on Amazon on 25 May. Why not subscribe to my site for a reminder?

Are my Roots Showing?

By Head Design

Cover by Head Design

My book comes out on 25 May 2016

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