When is the right time to tell a story? In compiling these previews, I think about this question often, and not just when a twenty-something celebrity releases an autobiography. I find it astonishing that more than 75 years after the end of the Second World War, extraordinary untold stories of courage are still emerging, like that of Chaim Herzsman, whose derring-do in fleeing Nazi terror is related by his son John Carr in Escape From the Ghetto. And other remarkable stories merit telling more than once, like that of Beryl Gilroy, one of Britain’s “most significant post-war Caribbean migrants”, whose book Black Teacher, first published in 1976, makes for a timely reissue this month.
These new old stories from the past make me wonder how long it will take us to tell the story of Covid-19 and of its long-term effects on people’s lives. In publishing terms, of course, the process is already well underway, with one of the biggest stories of the pandemic set to be told this July: that of the vaccine that so many of us have now gladly queued up to receive. In Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford Vaccine and the Race Against the Virus, Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green explain the cutting-edge science behind it.
Then again, some stories are timeless. Step forward my Book of the Month: the riveting Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn, which investigates an eternal and never-ending saga: that of the human quest for love.