Sep 12, 2022
Simon Armitage’s poem, which spells out the late monarch’s name acrostically, pays homage to ‘a promise made and kept for life’
The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has released a poem to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Floral Tribute, which has been distributed by Armitage’s publisher, Faber, is a double acrostic, with two verses consisting of nine lines, the first letters of which spell Elizabeth, a nod perhaps to funeral floral arrangements that spell out the deceased person’s name.
The poet directly references himself in the first verse: “I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks.” Armitage thanks the Queen for her gift of “a promise made and kept for life” and offers his poem as “a gift in return”.
Wisdom who, with power infinite, Continue reading...
Utterest death to every creature born,
Grant to us now the mercy of Thy light,
With comfort to beloved Queens who mourn.
Sep 01, 2022
She might be better known as the creator of the Moomins but the Finnish author’s tender hymn to nature and tolerance is as relevant today as it was a half-century ago
There’s a line in The Summer Book by Tove Jansson where the narrator describes the fragility of moss. Residents of the tiny Finnish island where the novel is set are careful to avoid treading on the plant, and it is “only farmers and summer guests” who walk on it.
This is because (“and it cannot be repeated too often”) moss is “terribly frail”. “Step on it once and it rises the next time it rains. The second time, it doesn’t rise back up. And the third time you step on moss, it dies.” Continue reading...
Aug 17, 2022
The writers’ union has clarified its position on free speech following accusations that the Chocolat author made a ‘sideswipe’ at JK Rowling
The UK’s largest trade union for writers, illustrators and translators has defended its position on free speech, in light of calls for Joanne Harris to step down as the chair of its management committee.
This comes after the Chocolat author was criticised for launching a Twitter poll in the wake of the attack on Salman Rushdie and following a death threat to JK Rowling, who had expressed solidarity with Rushdie. Continue reading...
Aug 02, 2022
Educational publisher’s move into non-fungible tokens is intended to claw back some of the income lost to secondhand sales
Textbook publisher Pearson plans to profit from secondhand sales by turning its titles into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), its chief executive has said.
Educational books are often sold more than once, since students sell study resources they no longer require. Publishers have not previously been able to make any money from secondhand sales, but the rise of digital textbooks has created an opportunity for companies to benefit. Continue reading...
Jul 12, 2022
The Bridgerton actor, Doctor Who writer and I May Destroy You creator are among 60 new fellows appointed to the UK’s charity for the advancement of literature
Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh, I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel, Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies and poet Lemn Sissay are among the new fellows elected to the Royal Society of Literature (RSL).
The RSL, the UK’s charity for the advancement of literature, announced 60 new appointments at an event held at Battersea Arts Centre in London. Continue reading...
Jul 08, 2022
The recently found notebook of fragments and finished work has been described as the poet’s ‘most direct’ response to the suicide of his partner and daughter in 1969
A series of deeply personal unpublished poems by Ted Hughes has been discovered and will be auctioned at Sotheby’s next week.
The previously unseen poems were written shortly after the poet’s partner, Assia Wevill, killed herself and their daughter, Shura, in 1969, six years after the suicide of Hughes’s first wife Sylvia Plath.
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.or Continue reading...
Jun 13, 2022
The 10,000-word story about a blind young king and his valet will be released this autumn along with an audio version read by Jarman
An unpublished short story by the late artist and film-maker Derek Jarman will be available to buy for the first time later this year.
Jarman, who is best known for his films Sebastiane, Caravaggio and Blue, wrote Through the Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping, his only piece of narrative fiction, in 1971. More than 50 years later, and marking the year its author would have been 80, the story will finally become available in a special edition book to be published in November by House Sparrow Press, an imprint of independent house Prototype. Continue reading...
Jun 06, 2022
Who can write about whom was a running question, tackled by writers from Rose Tremain to Damon Galgut
“Authenticity” is a word that gets bandied about in the cultural sphere quite a lot just at the moment, so it’s perhaps no surprise that discussions around how “authentic” a work of literature should be were something of a theme at this year’s Hay festival.
When it comes to fiction, according to Julian Barnes, there is kind of a grey area, with it being “a strange mixture of something that is very personal, and also something very objective”. Is it a novelist’s job to imagine characters from all walks of life? Or should autofiction become the only option? Continue reading...
Jun 04, 2022
Author cites Brexit and the climate crisis as examples of previous generations ‘breaking’ their future
The author Elif Shafak has said she thinks “there’s a scream building up” inside many young people, because they feel their future “is being shaped by older generations”.
“It’s difficult to be young, in this age in particular,” the Turkish-British novelist told the Hay festival. “It’s their future that’s been broken by previous generations,” she said, citing Brexit and the climate emergency. Continue reading...
May 30, 2022
The Chocolat author was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and has shared her experiences on social media
The Chocolat author Joanne Harris has said that she thought of her cancer as a fictional “monster” while she was having treatment, so that she “could destroy him”.
The writer, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, shared her experiences with her followers on social media, dubbing her illness “Mr C”. Continue reading...
May 27, 2022
Author who has previously called himself a Conservative tells Hay festival he ‘can’t understand’ the government’s actions
The writer Anthony Horowitz has said he is “still waiting to see the benefit” of Brexit and criticised Boris Johnson’s government, despite having previously called himself a Conservative.
Speaking at the Hay festival, the author of the Alex Rider novels said he had been “already moving more to the left” before the 2016 referendum, but that Britain’s decision to leave the EU made him “very personally upset”. Continue reading...
May 19, 2022
The columnist and podcaster’s How to Live When You Could Be Dead is out in August heads the bestsellers list
Pre-orders of Deborah James’s second book have soared within days of it becoming available. The podcast host’s memoir-cum-self-help volume is topping the Amazon UK bestsellers list, ahead of Richard Osman’s popular crime novel The Man Who Died Twice.
The publication of How to Live When You Could Be Dead was brought forward this week, after the news that the author hasn’t long to live. It will now come out in August, rather than January next year, as first planned. Continue reading...
May 10, 2022
Surrender, which will ‘draw in detail’ what he had previously only sketched in songs, will contain 40 chapters, each named after a U2 song, and include 40 original drawings by the singer
The first memoir by Bono will be released this year, publisher Penguin Random House has announced.
While the U2 frontman’s career has been written about extensively, this will mark the first time Bono has written about it himself. Titled Surrender, the autobiography will span the singer’s early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was 14, the success of U2 and his activist work fighting against Aids and poverty.
Surrender is due to be published on 1 November. Continue reading...
May 06, 2022
The writer calls the planned destruction of copies of five titles – by Bernardine Evaristo, Alison Bechdel, Imbolo Mbue and Stephen Chbosky as well as his own – ‘an unconscionable horror’
Dave Eggers, author of dystopian satire The Circle, has said he will provide free copies of his novel to schools in South Dakota, as well as copies of four other books that have been banned in the district’s schools.
School administrators in Rapid City thought The Circle, along with How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Booker prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, inappropriate for pupils. The district’s schools’ copies have been marked as surplus and are due to be destroyed. Continue reading...
May 05, 2022
The author of the acclaimed The Secret Life of Church Ladies on the Black American Christian community, sexual shame and coming to terms with her queerness
When asked to choose their favourite story in The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw’s acclaimed debut collection, most people, the author tells me, say Peach Cobbler. This simultaneously funny and punch-in-the-guts-devastating tale focuses on Olivia, a young girl in the American south who believes the local pastor to be God, because when he visits she overhears her mother screaming “Oh, God!” from the bedroom.
Central to the story is the “best cobbler in the world” – a fruit pie that Olivia’s mother bakes for her lover each week, but which Olivia is forbidden from tasting. Philyaw set out, she tells me from her home in Pennsylvania, to write about “the Blackest dessert”, and peach cobbler came to mind. “In fact, the Blackest dessert is not peach cobbler, it’s pound cake,” she remarks in retrospect. “But I think my brain knew that there was more to peach cobbler than just the Blackness – there’s the textures, the sweetness, the sensuality of it.” Continue reading...
May 02, 2022
CEO-director of Compton Verney Art Gallery replaces Peter Florence after ‘an extensive nationwide recruitment process’
Julie Finch has been appointed CEO of the Hay festival and will succeed founder and former director Peter Florence, who resigned from his role after a bullying claim was upheld last year.
The prestigious literary festival, now in its 35th year, selected the former CEO of the Cheltenham Trust for the role after “an extensive nationwide recruitment process”. Continue reading...
Apr 27, 2022
Louise Erdrich, Elif Shafak and debut novelist Lisa Allen-Agostini are among the contenders offering an ‘escape’ from global crises
Six countries are represented on this year’s Women’s prize for fiction shortlist, with Meg Mason and Elif Shafak among those in the running for the £30,000 prize. The New Zealander and the Turkish-British author are up against two Americans, one American-Canadian and a Trinidadian debut novelist.
The annual prize aims to honour “outstanding, ambitious, original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world”, and this year’s chair of judges, Mary Ann Sieghart, was pleased by how “wonderfully diverse” the shortlist has turned out to be. But there were no tick-box exercises in the judging meetings, she stressed: “They were the books we most loved. It really is as simple as that.” Continue reading...
Apr 22, 2022
The former health secretary will look back at how he and his fellow ministers handled the coronavirus outbreak
Matt Hancock’s “inside story of the pandemic” will be published later this year, he has announced.
During an interview on GB News on Wednesday night, the former health secretary said he would be releasing a book about his experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, with royalties to be donated to NHS charities. Continue reading...
Apr 19, 2022
The former US senator will be in conversation with lawyer Helena Kennedy on 2 June as part of the literary festival’s Women & Power series
Hillary Rodham Clinton will appear at this year’s Hay festival, the organisers have said. The former New York senator and secretary of state is a late addition to the literary festival’s lineup, which was announced at the beginning of April.
She will be in conversation with lawyer Helena Kennedy on 2 June as part of the festival’s “Women & Power” series, which also includes events with Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour MP Jess Phillips and former president of the supreme court Lady Hale. Continue reading...
Apr 07, 2022
Author and illustrator of the children’s books including Elmer, Mr Benn and Not Now, Bernard has died following a short illness
• Elmer author David McKee: ‘I’ve never been a prize winner’
David McKee, the author and illustrator of the iconic children’s books Elmer, Not Now, Bernard and Mr Benn, has died aged 87, his publisher has said.
The author and illustrator died surrounded by family in the south of France following a short illness. After a lifetime of travelling the world, he and his partner Bakhta, a French-Algerian art dealer, had been dividing their time between London and Provence in recent years. Continue reading...
Apr 07, 2022
The final contenders for the £50,000 prize for translated fiction – five out of six by women – could see Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk win a second time
From Olga Tokarczuk’s epic about a man who claimed to be the messiah to Geetanjali Shree’s tale of a widow finding a new lease of life, female writers take the majority of places on this year’s International Booker prize shortlist.
Of the six books now in contention for the prestigious translated fiction award, five were written by women, with three translated by women too. The International Booker goes to “the finest fiction from around the world” that has been translated into English, awarding a cash prize of £50,000, which is split equally between author and translator. Continue reading...
Apr 05, 2022
Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, Bernardine Evaristo, Elif Shafak and Benedict Cumberbatch are among those taking part in the 11-day gathering in Welsh border town
After two years online, the Hay festival has announced the full programme for its first in-person spring literary festival since 2019.
This year the gathering that Bill Clinton once called “the Woodstock of the mind” will have more than 500 live events, welcoming Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and lockdown sensation Joe Wicks to its tents in the Welsh border town Hay-on-Wye. Continue reading...
Mar 31, 2022
‘Triumphant debut’ with environmental theme, illustrated by Levi Pinfold, is awarded £5,000 prize by the chain’s booksellers
A timely adventure story that tackles environmental themes has been named winner of this year’s Waterstones children’s book prize.
The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold, follows April, the daughter of an Arctic researcher, as she befriends a lone polar bear. Continue reading...
Mar 31, 2022
The Climate Book will include contributions from scientist Katharine Hayhoe, economist Thomas Piketty and novelist Margaret Atwood
Greta Thunberg is releasing a new book this autumn, which aims to offer a “global overview of how the planet’s many crises connect”.
“I have decided to use my platform to create a book based on the current best available science – a book that covers the climate, ecological and sustainability crises holistically”, Thunberg said in a statement. “Because the climate crisis is, of course, only a symptom of a much larger sustainability crisis. My hope is that this book might be some kind of go-to source for understanding these different, closely interconnected crises.” Continue reading...
Mar 29, 2022
Dangarembga, American writer Margo Jefferson and British playwright Winsome Pinnock are among eight recipients of the $165,000 grants, as the award marks its 10th anniversary
Pulitzer prizewinning Margo Jefferson, playwright Winsome Pinnock and acclaimed novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga are among this year’s recipients of the $165,000 (£120,000) Windham-Campbell prizes.
The award, which is one of the world’s richest, is now in its 10th year. For the past decade it has celebrated eight writers each year for their achievements in fiction, non fiction, poetry and drama. The large grants given to winners are intended “to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns”. Continue reading...