Jan 25, 2022
This year’s Newbery medal goes to story of the only girl who can remember the Earth after it is destroyed by a comet
Donna Barba Higuera has won the US’s top children’s book award, the Newbery medal, for her story of an Earth destroyed by a comet, and the girl who is the only one who remembers it.
Higuera’s The Last Cuentista, which blends Mexican folklore with science fiction, was named winner on Monday. The prize, which is named after John Newbery, the 18th-century English publisher who was one of the first people to publish books exclusively for children, has been running for 100 years. It has been won in the past by some of the most enduring classics of American children’s literature, from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Continue reading...
Jan 25, 2022
A police officer takes pity on a child murderer, a poor mother has real money troubles and Sophie Hannah’s detectives fail to get away from it all
Jacqueline Roy Continue reading...
Simon & Schuster, £14.99, pp400
Jan 24, 2022
The award-winning writer takes over the role intended to encourage engagement with high quality fiction
Colm Tóibín has been named as the new laureate for Irish fiction, taking over from Sebastian Barry.
The three-year role is intended to “acknowledge the contribution of fiction writers to Irish artistic and cultural life”, as well as to encourage new writers, and engagement with “high quality Irish fiction”. Continue reading...
Jan 21, 2022
Daguerreotype profile shows an unfamiliar face to modern readers but delighted the author, who found the whiskers ‘charming, charming’
Summon up an image of Charles Dickens, and his luxuriant “doorknocker” beard will be one of the first things to come to mind. But an “extremely rare” portrait of the author, depicting the “glorious” moustache he sported for few years only, is set to show his more dapper side.
Dickens is thought to have first experimented with a moustache in 1844, and seems to have been immensely pleased with the new look. “The moustaches are glorious, glorious. I have cut them shorter, and trimmed them a little at the ends to improve their shape,” he wrote to his friend, the artist Daniel Maclise. “They are charming, charming. Without them, life would be a blank.” Continue reading...
Jan 20, 2022
Judges of the £10,000 northern writing award said Sally J Morgan’s novel ‘vividly evokes a time when women lived in mortal fear’
Sally J Morgan has won the Portico prize for her debut novel, which was inspired by her experience of being offered a lift by the serial killers Fred and Rosemary West.
Morgan’s Toto Among the Murderers, set in Leeds and Sheffield in the 1970s, follows the lives of Jude – known to her friends as Toto – and other women as violence moves closer, and the Wests stalk the country. It beat titles including Andrew O’Hagan’s Mayflies and Jenn Ashworth’s Ghosted to the £10,000 Portico prize, which goes to outstanding writing “that best evokes the spirit of the north of England”. Continue reading...
Jan 20, 2022
More than 100 writers, artists, comedians and musicians will voice James Joyce’s seminal novel in celebration of its publication a century ago
One hundred years ago, in February 1922, Sylvia Beach, owner of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company, published James Joyce’s Ulysses, in full, for the first time. Now to mark the centenary of the seminal novel’s publication, the publisher and bookseller she ran is set to release an ensemble recording of its complete text, featuring major names ranging from Eddie Izzard to Margaret Atwood.
More than 100 writers, artists, comedians and musicians are coming together to read a section from Ulysses for Shakespeare and Company, including Will Self, Jeanette Winterson, Ben Okri and Meena Kandasamy. The recordings will be released as a free podcast, starting on 2 February and ending on 16 June, the date also known as Bloomsday in honour of the day in 1904 when Leopold Bloom wanders the streets in Ulysses. Continue reading...
Jan 19, 2022
The Booker prize-winning author’s new novel Lessons is ‘a powerful meditation on history and humanity told through the prism of one man’s lifetime’
Ian McEwan’s “most epic book to date”, moving from the end of the second world war to the current pandemic and exploring the impact of childhood trauma, will be published this autumn.
The Booker prize-winning author of Amsterdam, Atonement, and most recently Brexit satire The Cockroach, will release his new novel Lessons this September. McEwan’s publisher Jonathan Cape described it as “a powerful meditation on history and humanity told through the prism of one man’s lifetime”. Continue reading...
Jan 19, 2022
Intellectual property rule changes were mooted in the wake of Brexit but have been shelved after warnings about how this could hit writers’ incomes
After authors including Kate Mosse and Philip Pullman warned that proposals to change the UK’s copyright laws could be “devastating” for writers, the government has paused its plans.
The Intellectual Property Office launched a consultation last summer into UK copyright after Brexit. Writers and publishers had feared that if the “copyright exhaustion” rule were changed, governing when the control of a rights holder over the distribution of their property expires, it could lead to a flood of cheap international editions of books. Continue reading...
Jan 18, 2022
In the second pandemic year, this was the top choice of more than 8,000 children asked for the words they would use to discuss health and wellbeing
“Anxiety” has been chosen by children as their word of the year for 2021, according to new research from Oxford University Press – but teachers have plumped for “resilience”.
OUP’s academics have analysed the evolution of children’s language, and how they use it to reflect their emotions and experiences, for more than a decade. They draw from the largest children’s English language corpus in the world, the Oxford Children’s Corpus. This year, they chose to focus on wellbeing as their research focus, given the impact of Covid-19 on education, and concerns about children’s mental health. Continue reading...
Jan 17, 2022
The author of bestseller The Appeal returns with a complex thriller that includes brilliant pastiches of Enid Blyton
Janice Hallett topped charts last year with her debut, The Appeal, a thriller about a murder in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood told entirely in a mix of texts, emails and documents. Hallett’s second novel, The Twyford Code, is innovative in a different way: it is a transcription of 200 audio files that have been found on the iPhone 4 of missing ex-convict Steven Smith.
Steven, the reader discovers, has recently been released after more than a decade in prison. Rejected by the son who never knew him, lonely and at a loose end, he becomes increasingly obsessed with how his former teacher Miss Iles vanished while on a class field trip 40 years earlier and decides to investigate. The audio files are his record of the inquiry, as he looks up the former friends who were with him on that long-ago outing to the coast and digs into Miss Iles’s own obsessions. She believed that Edith Twyford, a “twee and much-maligned children’s author” who is a shameless (and brilliant) pastiche of Enid Blyton, put coded secrets in her books during the second world war, and was investigating this when she disappeared. Steven becomes equally fixated, working with a helpful librarian, Lucy, to decipher a code in Twyford’s books, which he comes to believe will lead to hidden treasure. Continue reading...
Jan 11, 2022
Booming appetites for crime, sci-fi and romance drive fiction sales 20% higher than in 2019, with Richard Osman the year’s bestselling author
Book sales continued to climb last year despite lockdowns, with more than 212m print books sold in 2021 – the highest figure of the last decade.
Driven by booming appetites for crime novels, sci-fi, fantasy, romance and personal development titles, sales last year showed an increase of 5% on 2020. The sales were worth £1.82bn – a 3% increase on 2020, and the first year on record that sales have topped £1.8bn. The figures were released on Tuesday by Nielsen BookScan, which was forced to fill in lockdown data gaps with estimates based on its monthly consumer surveys, which collect data from around 3,000 book buyers each month. Bookshops across the UK were shut for over three months at the start of 2021.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Penguin £8.99)
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Ebury £16.99)
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate £8.99)
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (Penguin £18.99)
Pinch of Nom: Quick and Easy by Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson (Pan Macmillan £20)
Guinness World Records 2022 (Guinness World Records £20)
And Away … by Bob Mortimer (Simon & Schuster £20)
Megamonster by David Walliams (HarperCollins £14.99)
Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly (John Murray Press £25)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Little, Brown £8.99) Continue reading...
Jan 11, 2022
I was spellbound by these stories as a girl, and they have gone on to enchant my children. Who better to renew the magic for a fresh generation?
I am a veteran reader of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books. I read them first growing up, and revelled in the thought of the different magical lands that could be reached at the top of an enormous tree – the Land of Take-What-You-Want! the Land of Goodies! Imagine being able to ask for an ice cream of any flavour, and going for sardine, as Connie did. Or flying on a dandelion seed in the Land of Giants. I dreamed of using a Slippery-Slip – the huge slide which goes down the centre of the tree. I imagined biting into a Hot Cold Goodie, or sucking a toffee shock. I wanted to creep past the Angry Pixie, watch Dame Washalot empty her buckets of water over Mr Watzisname (how much washing did she really need to do?), and make friends with Silky and Moonface.
Then I read the books to my eldest child – and found myself not as charmed as I’d hoped. The Saucepan Man in particular was a little creepy and as ever with Blyton, there’s editorialising to be done while reading out loud, if you don’t want the girls to be told to stand aside for the boys. Continue reading...
Jan 11, 2022
US treasury secretary says the writer and civil rights campaigner’s appearance on the coin represents ‘what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society’
Maya Angelou has become the first Black woman ever to appear on a US quarter, after a coin featuring the late poet and activist’s image went into circulation on Monday.
The quarter features an image of Angelou with her arms uplifted, a bird in flight and a rising sun behind her, with a portrait of George Washington on the “heads” side. The US Mint said the image of Angelou was “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived”. Continue reading...
Jan 10, 2022
Judges praise the former UK slam champion’s ‘vivid’ collection, exploring author’s experience of being a butch lesbian
Joelle Taylor has won the TS Eliot poetry prize for her look at butch lesbian counterculture in the 1990s, C+nto & Othered Poems, praised by judges as “a blazing book of rage and light”.
A mix of memoir and conjecture, the collection, Taylor’s fourth, reveals the underground communities forged by women where they could reclaim their bodies as their own. It was announced on Monday night in London that C+nto had beaten collections by major names including Raymond Antrobus, Selima Hill and Michael Symmons Roberts to the £25,000 prize. The TS Eliot award is one of the most prestigious prizes in British poetry and has been won in the past by Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and, last year, Bhanu Kapil. Continue reading...
Jan 10, 2022
The term for a violent attempt to overthrow a government beat ‘vax/vaxx’ to the top spot, while ‘yassify’ won informal word of the year and ‘Fauci ouchie’ the most creative
“Fauci ouchie”, the rhyming phrase for a Covid-19 vaccine dreamed up in honour of Dr Anthony Fauci, has been named the “most creative word or phrase of the year” by the American Dialect Society.
Founded in 1889, the society is made up of linguists, lexicographers, etymologists and scholars dedicated to the study of the English language in North America. More than 300 members took part in this year’s annual meeting, at which “Fauci ouchie” beat “chin diaper” – defined as a “face mask worn below the chin instead of properly covering the nose and mouth” – to the accolade. Continue reading...
Jan 07, 2022
Independent sellers have battled lockdowns, supply-chains issues and Amazon to reclaim their place in the industry. We speak to the people who opened their own
Michelle Jay was running an events business, but when the pandemic put paid to gatherings she decided to fulfil a long-held dream and open her own bookshop. The Reading Tree started out in May 2020 as online only, but in April 2021, when lockdown restrictions eased, Jay opened to the public.
“The response from the local community has been absolutely incredible, they have really embraced us,” said Jay. “We are in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside in the small village of Weedon, so the location has minimal footfall and we are completely dependent on the local community.” Continue reading...
Jan 05, 2022
As well as revealing the full shortlist, newly opened archives show that the 1971 judging panel were concerned the Chilean winner’s politics were ‘incompatible with the purpose of the prize’
Pablo Neruda may have won the Nobel prize for literature in 1971, but newly opened archives in Stockholm reveal the judging panel’s concerns about the Chilean poet’s “communist tendencies”.
The list of writers in the running for the Nobel prize, and the deliberations of the secretive members of the judging panel at the Swedish Academy, are kept confidential for 50 years. But the newly opened archives show that, although 1971’s winner Neruda was praised by the prize-givers for “a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”, behind the scenes some members of the Swedish Academy were hesitant. Continue reading...
Jan 05, 2022
Random House has not dropped a collection of essays by the late writer as reports have suggested – the publisher declined to make an offer on the book in the first instance
Norman Mailer’s son has denied reports that the late writer has been “cancelled” over his controversialist views.
Earlier this week, the journalist Michael Wolff, author of the Trump White House exposé Fire and Fury, claimed in an article for The Ankler that a planned collection of Mailer’s political writings to mark the centennial of his birth next year had been cancelled by Random House. According to Wolff, one of the reasons for the cancellation was “a junior staffer’s objection to the title of Mailer’s 1957 essay, The White Negro”. Continue reading...
Jan 04, 2022
Judges praise ‘searingly intimate’ debut, while Claire Fuller wins best novel and John Preston takes biography prize
Caleb Azumah Nelson was working part-time in the Apple Store in London when he decided to “take a gamble” on himself and try to write his first novel. On Tuesday evening, his debut, Open Water, was named winner of the Costa first novel award, praised by judges as “deeply moving, searingly intimate and just so now”.
Open Water follows the lives of two young Black British artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – as they start to fall in love after meeting in a south-east London pub. It beat titles including AK Blakemore’s The Manningtree Witches and Kate Sawyer’s The Stranding to win the £5,000 Costa prize. “We all loved this contemporary portrait of masculinity – it’s like nothing else we’ve ever read,” said judges. Continue reading...
Jan 04, 2022
The near-mint condition copy of the first Hulk story, in which the hero is depicted as grey not green, is the most expensive ever sold
A 60-year-old comic featuring the Incredible Hulk – in which the superhero is depicted in his original grey, rather than his signature green – has been sold for almost half a million dollars.
The rare copy of Incredible Hulk #1, which was published in 1962, was bought by a private collector for $490,000 (£360,000). Comic Connect, an auction site which handled the sale, said it was the most expensive copy of the first Hulk story ever sold. Continue reading...
Dec 24, 2021
Our readers pick the presents that changed their lives, from Roald Dahl box sets to tales of Sydney street gangs
• Alison Flood on Like This Poem: ‘This genius anthology probably set the course of my life’
• David Barnett on Usborne’s The World of the Unknown: ‘Even the cover was terrifying’
• Rebecca Liu on Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus: ‘An emotional bootcamp of sorts’
• Sam Jordison on The Colour of Magic: ‘I was swept up in the misadventures of Rincewind’
What a festive joy it has been to read about the books you remember getting for Christmas – and also to see how many of you, like me, adored Kaye Webb’s I Like This Poem. Whether it was the Rupert annuals received yearly by LancsLionheart, or the boxed set of Roald Dahl’s children’s books which auspom started on Christmas Day and worked through over the rest of the holidays, it just goes to show that there’s nothing better to find under the tree than a book.
For LawrenceWindrush, a 14-year-old in 1980, it was his sister who gave him Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World. “During the Christmas week I was lost in the world of crystal skulls, the Yeti and UFOs. The world seemed magical and exciting – anything was possible among all the wrapping paper, turkey sandwiches and nuts. Exciting times.” Continue reading...
Dec 22, 2021
The playwright’s annual diary excerpt criticises the prime minister and Donald Trump and recalls an encounter with Philip Roth
Alan Bennett’s yearly diary excerpt sees the playwright dedicating Rudyard Kipling’s poem A Dead Statesman, in which the narrator proclaims that “all my lies are proved untrue / And I must face the men I slew”, to Boris Johnson.
Bennett’s annual chronicling of his life, published on Wednesday by the London Review of Books, moves from his problems getting a haircut in February – his partner Rupert Thomas takes on the task in lockdown and “manages to make me look like a blond Hitler” – to politics. Continue reading...
Dec 21, 2021
The food bloggers’ fourth book Comfort Food outsold Osman’s second cosy crime novel by just over 1,000 copies
The fourth Pinch of Nom cookbook, a collection of slimming comfort food recipes, has narrowly pipped Richard Osman to the top of the book charts this Christmas.
Sales figures from industry analysts Nielsen Book reveal that the race to be Christmas No 1 was unusually close this year. While Pinch of Nom: Comfort Food by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone sold 56,367 copies in the week ending 18 December, Osman’s second cosy crime novel, The Man Who Died Twice, was just 1,107 copies behind in second place. According to Nielsen, the only time the festive battle was closer was in 2001, when Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days With the Naked Chef beat Delia Smith’s How to Cook: Book Three by just 326 copies. Continue reading...
Dec 20, 2021
In a short series for the festive season, Guardian writers reveal the most memorable books they have been given for Christmas. Alison Flood kicks off, revealing how Kaye Webb’s I Like This Poem introduced her to the joys of poetry
- Please share your most memorable gift books below and we will publish a selection later this week
I can’t remember if I was six or seven years old when my grandma gave me a book for Christmas which, I now realise, probably set the course for my life – an English literature degree, a job in literary journalism. The book was I Like This Poem, edited by the legendary Kaye Webb of Puffin, and it absolutely, entirely delighted me.
The genius of this poetry anthology for children – along with Webb’s incomparably appealing selection of poems – is the way it is divided into ages, starting with six and seven-year-olds, and the way each poem comes with an explanation from a real child about why they love it. Continue reading...
Dec 16, 2021
The Honresfield library, including manuscripts by the Brontës, Jane Austen and Walter Scott, had been at risk of falling into private hands
It is an unprecedented treasure trove of the UK’s literary heritage, from a letter in which Jane Austen anticipates the end of a love affair, to a handwritten manuscript of Emily Brontë’s poems that was once believed lost. Now the Honresfield library has been saved for the nation after a charity raised more than £15m in just five months to acquire it.
Half the amount was donated by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, with a further £4m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). The remainder was raised through donations from organisations including the TS Eliot and the Foyle foundations, another £2.5m from museums and libraries, and “thousands” of individual donations, which raised just under £150,000 from people around the world. Continue reading...