Advanced Search

Add Best Comp

Add comparable title

Remove comparable title

Biblioasis Fall 2022

Try Not to Be Strange
The Curious History of the Kingdom of Redonda
By (author): Michael Hingston
Michael Hingston





Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Sep 13, 2022
$24.95 CAD


8.5in x 5.5 x 1.5 in | 440 gr

Page Count:

302 pages
History of the Americas|Biography: writers|Memoirs|Literature: history and criticism|History|Humour|Travel and holiday

On his fifteenth birthday, in the summer of 1880, future science-fiction writer M.P. Shiel sailed with his father and the local bishop from their home in the Caribbean out to the nearby island of Redonda—where, with pomp and circumstance, he was declared the island’s king. A few years later, when Shiel set sail for a new life in London, his father gave him some advice: Try not to be strange. It was almost as if the elder Shiel knew what was coming.

Try Not to Be Strange: The Curious History of the Kingdom of Redonda tells, for the first time, the complete history of Redonda’s transformation from an uninhabited, guano-encrusted island into a fantastical and international kingdom of writers. With a cast of characters including forgotten sci-fi novelists, alcoholic poets, vegetarian publishers, Nobel Prize frontrunners, and the bartenders who kept them all lubricated while angling for the throne themselves, Michael Hingston details the friendships, feuds, and fantasies that fueled the creation of one of the oddest and most enduring micronations ever dreamt into being. Part literary history, part travelogue, part quest narrative, this cautionary tale about what happens when bibliomania escapes the shelves and stacks is as charming as it is peculiar—and blurs the line between reality and fantasy so thoroughly that it may never be entirely restored.

Key selling points

  • The first complete history of Redonda, a century-old literary fantasy world and actual island/former guano mine. Hybrid genres: part history, part travelogue, part literary investigation, and part memoir, The Kingdom of Redonda is a contemporary survey of (and interviews with) the many people who, today, believe themselves to be the island’s “true” king/queen.
  • Backstory: Hingston had searched for a comprehensive history of Redonda ever since he read Javier Marias’s All Souls in 2013, and discovered the legend. By 2017, he realized no one else would write, so he decided to pursue his obsession.
  • Editorial comps include David Grann's Lost City of Z is another historical work that pivots into a first-person quest narrative; Nicholson Baker's U and I, an unpredictable literary study in which the narrator becomes quickly, inexorably tangled up in his subject; Adam Levin Becker's Many Subtle Channels, about the Oulipo, an engaging overview of an odd corner of literature that many casual readers may not be familiar with.
  • Includes images, both the author's travel photos and reproductions of historical documents.
  • Hingston's journalism has appeared in National Geographic, Wired, Washington Post, and elsewhere. He is co-publisher at Hingston & Olsen Publishing, a micropress known for its beautifully designed and produced limited editions, e.g. the Short Story Advent Calendar.

Michael Hingston is a writer and publisher in Edmonton, Alberta. He is the author of the books Let’s Go Exploring and The Dilettantes, as well as the co-author of Harnarayan Singh’s memoir One Game at a Time. Hingston’s writing has appeared in Wired, National Geographic, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post. He is also one of the co-founders of Hingston & Olsen Publishing, makers of the Short Story Advent Calendar and other literary experiments.


  • Print run: 5,000 copies
  • Co-op available
  • Advance reader copies
  • Edelweiss digital review copies
  • National TV & radio campaign
  • National print media campaign
  • Online and social media campaign
  • E-book available at same time as print edition
  • Virtual launch and festival appearances
  • Excerpts in Lit Hub, Electric Lit

For more information contact
[email protected]

Praise for Try Not to Be Strange

"This combination literary history, travelogue and cautionary tale tells the history of the formerly uninhabited Caribbean island of Redonda and its development into a 'micronation' ruled by writers, beginning with the science fiction author M.P. Shiel in 1880."—New York Times

"That spirit, the tongue-in-cheek mock seriousness of the whole endeavour, and the playfulness of its participants, is a keen factor in Try Not to Be Strange. The book is a delightful reading experience, utterly unexpected and unlike anything you are likely to read this year."—Toronto Star

"Combining travelogue, memoir, and literary history, Hingston has crafted a fascinating tale full of eccentric characters. Editions of all sizes play a role in the drama, and bibliophiles will also relish the author’s auction experience."—Fine Books and Collections Magazine

"Try Not to Be Strange is a passionate and skillfully written exploration of an extraordinary world and those who search for such places to get to the heart of what stories really mean. Hingston’s thirst for deeper knowledge is palpable, and it illuminates what the kingdom might really stand for."—Quill & Quire

"Full of colorful personalities, exotic locales, and unexpected twists, this is a jaunty historical footnote."Publishers Weekly

Praise for Michael Hingston

"[Hingston] does it all with a delicious sense of humour."Quill & Quire (starred review)

"Wise and love-driven ... full of observations, analysis, and well-researched history."Edmonton Journal

“A fresh take on the campus novel, Michael Hingston’s debut is a droll, incisive dissection of the terrible, terribly exciting years known as post-adolescence.”—Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

"This book captures the joy and excitement at first discovering Calvin and Hobbes, and the wistful sadness that it is no more."—Patton Oswalt

"The Dilettantes is a whip-smart and very funny literary portrait of the post-ironic generation. Don't miss this."—Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People

"His insights are rich and concise, but he never commandeers the work, as is the habit with writing about pop culture. As a critic, Hingston uses light touches of salt to bring out the flavours already in the work... A fine companion to a comic about a kid without much interest in companionship."—Bookshelf News

of 17

Forgotten Password

Please enter your email address and click submit. An email with instructions on resetting your password will be sent to you.

Forgotten Password

An email has been sent out with instructions for resetting your password.