Borough Press has partnered with the Evening Standard to launch the newspaper’s first podcast series, with 11 original stories about the London Underground from authors such as Lionel Shriver and Joanna Cannon.
Each story from the series, Underground: Tales for London, will be available to download free from the newspaper's website on a rolling weekly basis, with each story inspired by or set on one of the tube lines by Borough Press authors.
The series launched on Tuesday 13th March with Shriver’s short story – 'The Piccadilly Predicament'– set on the Piccadilly Line, about a woman who “has a spot of bother” on the way to Heathrow Airport. A new story will be available to download each Thursday and will be trailed in the arts and culture section with an excerpt of the story.
The newspaper’s first ever podcast series features 11 original short stories by “London-loving authors from around the world”, themed along the city’s tube lines.
Canadian author Tyler Keevil will take over from Shriver's Piccadilly tale with a story about the Central line, followed by Kate Mahood’s piece about the Bakerloo, weeks after her debut novel Entanglement is released. Kuwait-based author Layla AlAmmar will follow with a story focused around the Jubilee line while Hammersmith & City is tackled by Louisa Young, author of My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You (HarperCollins).
Debut novelist Tamsin Grey has written a story based around the Metropolitan while Cannon has taken on the Circle. Historical novelist and art historian Matthew Plampin has written about the District line with indian poet and writer Janice Pariat inspired by the Victoria. London-writer Kat Gordon has tacked the Northern while Joe Mungo Reed, whose “dazzling” debut was snapped up last month, will complete the series with a story about the Waterloo & City.
Underground: Tales for London will also be published in hardback, e-book and audiobook on 6th September by Borough Press, and will feature an “exclusive” short story by James Smythe, to mark the opening of Transport for London’s new Elizabeth Line.
The collaboration was initiated by Ann Bissell, publicity director for Harper Fiction and commissioning editor for Borough Press. It forms part of the Evening Standard’s revamp this week, masterminded by editor George Osborne which includes dropping ‘London’ from the newspaper’s title and boosting its entertainment coverage. The former chancellor, who is married to author Frances Osborne, took over editorship of the paper 10 months ago.
Bissell revealed she was inspired to commission the collection following a conversation between two Borough writers, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep author Joanna Cannon and debut novelist Katy Mahood, at the Edinburgh Book Festival in the summer. The discussion inspired Bissell to organise a meeting with the ES deputy literary editor, Katie Law.
“Listening to Katy and Joanna discuss their love for the Tube planted a seed, which, following a conversation with Katie at the Evening Standard, soon grew into this wonderful short story collection and podcast series,” Bissell said. “The stories, including one memoir, explore the scope of human experience, from family misadventures to spiritual journeys, from the ends of love affairs to those just beginning. Life and death is made manifest, all on the daily commute.”
Bissell revealed she was “absolutely thrilled” to be collaborating with the ES, “the perfect partner to introduce Borough Press authors to an enormous new audience”.
Law said: “There was a wonderfully serendipitous moment a few months ago when Ann Bissell from Borough Press came into our offices to talk through their new titles, and we told her that, as part of our newspaper relaunch, we were hoping to start some kind of short story series that could run weekly every Thursday. Ann had had a similar idea and has worked incredibly hard to make the dream come true, delivering to us no fewer than 11 original short stories.”
Law said that the first story’s author, Shriver, is one who she has “always hugely admired, both as a novelist and a speaker of the truth”. She described the series as a “great boost for the Evening Standard’s new arts and culture section”.
“Not only does it give more prominence to books, it will also make the daily commute on the tube a little more enjoyable for readers,” said Law.
The podcast series will be available on iTunes, Android podcast apps, and at Standard.co.uk/podcasts.