Last Thursday evening we crammed into a hot, sweaty gallery in Camden for the launch of Miriam Elia’s new Dung Beetle books. You probably know Miriam from We Go to the Gallery, the original (and obviously best) Ladybird parody, in which Mummy takes John and Susan to an art gallery to teach them about the middle-class self-hatred in contemporary art. If you’ve been keeping your eye on book news recently, you might know the story behind that book, that Penguin initially tried to sue Elia for copyright infringement but when they saw how popular We Go to the Gallery actually was, they ripped of her idea and churned out a load of Ladybird parodies of their own. (I’ll let you make your own mind up about which you think is best, but I doubt you’ll be team Penguin once you’ve read them).
If Penguin’s aim was to intimidate Miriam, it didn’t work out. The two new books, which she again wrote with her brother Ezra, are really f***ing funny. In We Learn At Home, Mummy takes John and Susan out of school to be re-educated at home. Their young minds are introduced to an alternative, feelings-based world-view, free of actual facts or skills.
In We Go Out, Mummy takes John and Susan for a daytrip around London to show them the varying types of oppression that exist in everyday life. If you live in London, reading We Go Out is a bit like playing I-spy. Plus it’s horribly, hilariously on-point.
Last week’s launch was a small indication of how highly anticipated these new books are. Miriam’s spectacular artwork (did I mention she’s a hugely talented painter?) was exhibited, and the gallery space was full of very amused, very hot humans drinking gin. The people I spoke to all gave the new books two resounding thumbs up. It was a great atmosphere, and it was awesome to meet others as enthusiastic about Dung Beetle as we lot are here at Turnaround.
Keep your eyes peeled over the coming weeks to see more buzz surrounding the new books. The Sunday Times ran a great feature recently, and there’s loads more press due ahead of publication on the 22nd. Mostly though, just make sure you grab copies when the books land in stores.
9780992834982/9780992834999, hardback, £7.99
We Go to the Gallery is also available from Turnaround
9780992834913, hardback, £8.99