Waterstones Piccadilly could offer standing room only for lovers of books, music and Iraq as Paul MacAlindin launched UPBEAT: the Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq in London on Thursday 25th August.
Partly thanks to the book's rave reviews in the national press, but also in no small part to Alya Al-Sultani and her musicians, moderated by the book's publicist, Ruth Killick, the hour of songs, prose and discussion brought everyone closer to the true heart of of Iraq; its people.
Representatives of organisations such as the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, who funded the orchestra and the book's production, celebrated the heroism and heartbreak of the orchestra's story side by side with members of London’s Iraqi community.
A lasting testament to the will of young Iraqis to break through their chains and embrace the wider world with love, intelligence and outrageous talent, this quality hardback with glorious colour pictures is a runaway success, with 1500 sales in the first two weeks alone.
Featured on Radio 4 Book of the Week, UPBEAT has been roundly hailed as a triumph of good news about the decent young people who will build Iraq's future, and has received full-on praise:
'An amazing and deeply inspiring story.' -The Bookseller, Book of the Month, August.
'Upbeat is an eloquently-written, moving and sometimes funny book. Its title, taken from the gesture that conductors make to indicate the beat that leads into a new bar of music, is symbolic of change and progress. It also describes the mindset that was often required of MacAlindin and his team in testing circumstances.'-The National(UAE)
'Fragile, precarious, quixotic and almost insanely heroic.' -BBC Music Magazine ...one of the most unlikely, and genuinely heroic, stories you re ever likely to read.'-The Spectator
'Even if it doesn t reform, the orchestra was a victory for art and light in the face of darkness. And in the year of Chilcot, Mr MacAlindin s Upbeat seems a timely homage to this fragile but beautiful thing created by an inspirational Scot and the bravery and dedication of the musicians.' -The Herald
'Upbeat serves as an inspiring and insightful guide towards understanding a land too long dominated by war and violence.' --The Express
UPBEAT can be ordered through your nearest bookshop or through Amazon.