Memories by Naim Attallah
This engaging and illuminating potpourri of vignettes selected from Naim Attallah’s fifteen books of memoirs and interviews, along with a sprinkling of blog posts, gives a taste of late 20th century London culture and entertainingly evokes the shifting fortunes of publishing life over the past forty years. In Memories, Attallah not only writes about his contemporaries at length, but is also written about by them and he is never shy in expressing the highs and lows of his different relationships with a catalogue of cultural luminaries, many of whom are still close friends of his to this day. These range from violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin to the late Christina Foyle, owner of Foyles; jeweller Tomasz Starzewski to artist Emma Sergeant and the former chairman of Conde Nast Britain, Nicholas Coleridge. As the chairman of Quartet and former owner of the Women’s Press, Naim has published a diverse roll call of notable literary names throughout the years, including Angela Carter, Leni Riefenstahl, Annie Ernaux, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Thomas Bernhard, to name but a few. Attallah was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to literature and the arts.
Many would not know the name of Naim Attallah, but in the publishing world he is an iconic figure. Naim is the chairman of Quartet Books and his rise from Immigrant to his role today really is inspirational. In 2017 he was awarded the CBE in the New Year’s Honours. I was delighted to have been sent a copy of what his latest addition to his autobiographies entitled Memories (Quartet Books) which was released in April.
Naim Attallah formerly funded both the Literary Review and the Oldie magazines. (two magazines I read regularly). Naim took over Quartet Books in 1976 and Memories is his sixteenth book.
I never write in books unlike Charles Dickens used to do when researching his novels but my copy of Memories does has Post It notes on many pages with remarks I have made. It is a sign of a book that really has so much life and is high praise.
In Memories Naim Attallah looks back at his time and talks about those who he has come to know but also recollections of his life in London. After arriving in London he had to start somewhere and here Naim talks about his early days. Then talks about those with whom he has come to know. It really become a who’s who of the friends he has made. Names such as: John Le Carré and Auberon Waugh to name just two. The list of names that appear in the book, the Bee Gees, Billy Connolly and Dame Margot Fonteyn, Yehudi Menuhin and the late Christina Foyle owner of Foyles bookshop.
There are poems that have been written for Naim Attallah from past year that appear through the book which says a lot about the man. A look back at the social life and the times of a remarkable man who legendary launch parties for the books he published were by a man who was fearless and noticeable as his was his blue Rolls Royce.
Thank you to Quartet Books for the review copy of Memories by Naim Attallah
Memories by Naim Attallah was published by Quartet Books on 16th April 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.