Discoverability Challenge

Last year I attempted the Discoverability Challenge as prompted by fellow Bristol writer Jo Hall

I failed. Miserably.

I read 15 books by women last year, but most of them weren’t new to me. And as a percent of total books read it was a miserable 16%

So this year I’ve decided to repeat the challenge, and at the same time at least double the % of books I read by women to boot.

To fully qualify the writer must be a woman, I must have never read their work before and they should be both alive and still writing to benefit from a review.

Some people may think this smacks of ‘positive discrimination’ which makes them uncomfortable, but it is merely a recognition that I need to make a special effort to read contemporary women writers because left to my own devices I tend not to do that.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

The first book that qualifies, and is therefore my January Discoverability read is Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither by Sara Baume.

The book is told as an ongoing ‘conversation’ between a man and his dog One eye.

You find me on a Tuesday, on my Tuesday trip to town. A note sellotaped to the inside of the jumble-shop window: COMPASSIONATE & TOLERANT OWNER. A PERSON WITHOUT OTHER PETS & WITHOUT CHILDREN UNDER FOUR.

The book explores the friendship of man and beast, with both being outcasts and misfits. It is often lyrical and beautifully developed. It is literary but not self-consciously though, I’ve read reviews that say it is plotless, which is a little unfair. There is a sense of forlorn loneliness that runs through the novel and it could have been maudlin if mishandled. But Baume has a deft touch and it is therefore touchingly melancholic. But it is still a pleasurable read as Baume’s imagery and poetic prose is a delight.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I’d get on with the style but I soon settled into Baume’s rhythm and couldn’t wait to get back to the book on the few occasions I had to put it down.

I’d highly recommend this book


Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

3 thoughts on “Discoverability Challenge

  1. Pete, it looks as if you may have repeated yourself in your review – I’d say as an editing mistake, whereby you move something about and forget to remove the original version because somebody disturbs you – happens to me all the time!

    So pleased to hear how you’re doing, I’ve been following you for about a year now, though offhand I can’t remember if I followed you on Twitter or Facebook originally.


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