May 18, 2021
Fundraiser running until 21 May also includes chances to consult with star agent Jonny Geller and have a character named after you in a Sarah Pinborough novel
A literary auction raising money to help vaccinate the world against coronavirus has made more than £23,000 so far, as book lovers bid to win signed novels by authors including Hilary Mantel, as well as mentoring sessions from star publishers and agents.
Bidding at Books for Vaccines for a personal consultation with literary agent Jonny Geller has reached £1,000, while a signed box set of the Wolf Hall trilogy, with handwritten first sentences from Mantel, has topped £600. The auction is running until 21 May, with other lots including the chance to have a character named after you in the next novel by Sarah Pinborough, author of the Netflix hit Behind Her Eyes, a signed copy of Marian Keyes’s novel Grown Ups, and the chance to write the dedication at the front of Jill Mansell’s new novel. Continue reading...
May 18, 2021
US politician Stacey Abrams triumphs with a conspiracy in Washington, plus a Du Maurier-esque chiller and the dark world of a life coach
Stacey Abrams Continue reading...
HarperCollins, £14.99, pp400
May 17, 2021
Blake Bailey’s life of Roth to be republished by Skyhorse Publishing, home to Woody Allen and Roger Stone, next month
A biography of the late novelist Philip Roth that was dropped by its original publisher after sexual abuse claims against its author Blake Bailey has found a new home.
Originally released in April in the US by WW Norton, Bailey’s book had been much-heralded: he had been appointed to the role by Roth, having been the biographer of writers including John Cheever and Richard Yates. But that same month, multiple women came forward to allege that Bailey had sexually harassed and abused them when they were in their late teens and early 20s, and that he had spent years grooming them while he was their teacher at Lusher Middle School in New Orleans in the 1990s. A week later, WW Norton pulled the book and cut its ties with the author. Continue reading...
May 16, 2021
The ‘household book’ of Martha Lloyd, who lived with the Austens, contains recipes giving an authentic flavour of the writer’s life
“Grate the Cheese & add to it one egg, & a teaspoonful of Mustard, & a little Butter,” advises Martha Lloyd, a close friend of Jane Austen, in her recipe for one of the author’s favourite meals, “Toasted Cheese”. “Send it up on a toast or in paper Trays.”
This recipe is part of the “household book” written between 1798 and 1830 by Lloyd, who lived with Austen, her sister Cassandra and their mother (also called Cassandra) for years. The four women lived together in a cottage in Chawton, Hampshire, where Jane wrote, revised and had published all of her novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Continue reading...
May 14, 2021
Air Miles has been illustrated by his wife Helen Oxenbury and finished by Bill Salaman, friend of the author who died in 2019
The final picture book from the late, much-loved children’s author John Burningham – in which “difficult dog” Miles goes on one final journey – has been completed by his friend Bill Salaman and illustrated by his wife, Helen Oxenbury.
Burningham, who died in 2019 at the age of 82, wrote and illustrated some of the 20th century’s most treasured picture books, from Mr Gumpy’s Outing to Granpa. He was married for more than 50 years to Oxenbury, whose illustrations adorn picture books including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Oxenbury said that when Burningham became ill, he asked her to finish the book he was working on, Air Miles, for him. Continue reading...
May 14, 2021
Swedish Academy documents reveal debate over naming the dissident writer the 1970 literature laureate, four years before his exile from the Soviet Union
Newly opened archives at the Swedish Academy have revealed the depth of concern among Nobel judges for the consequences awaiting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn if the dissident Soviet writer were awarded the prize for literature in 1970.
The author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, who revealed the horrors of Stalin’s gulags in his writings and was eventually exiled by the Soviet Union, was named the Nobel laureate that year, lauded by the committee for “the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”. Continue reading...
May 13, 2021
US author wins £20,000 award for writers under 39 – the age Thomas died – for her debut about a black woman who starts dating an older white man in an open marriage
The American novelist Raven Leilani has won the £20,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas prize, with her “fearless” debut Luster, about a young black woman who begins dating a white man in an open marriage.
The award is given to a work by an author aged 39 or under, in honour of the Welsh poet Thomas, who died when he was 39. Leilani, 30, has won for her first novel, which follows Edie, who is working a depressing job in publishing when she begins seeing Eric, 23 years her senior. She is subsequently drawn into the lives of Rebecca, Eric’s wife, and their adopted black daughter Akila. Continue reading...
May 12, 2021
French artist Xavier Marabout wins case and €10,000 in damages after Moulinsart contacted galleries displaying his art
The French artist who was sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs over his paintings that place the boy adventurer in romantic encounters has won his case after a court deemed them parodies.
Xavier Marabout’s dreamy artworks imagine Tintin into the landscapes of Edward Hopper, including a take on Queensborough Bridge, 1913, or talking with a less-clothed version of Hopper’s Chop Suey. Continue reading...
May 11, 2021
Ruth Gilligan’s thriller about eight men who cull cattle in rural Ireland wins £10,000 for books that ‘best evoke the spirit of a place’
Ruth Gilligan’s literary thriller The Butchers, set in the Irish borderlands during the BSE crisis, has won the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize for books that “best evoke the spirit of a place”.
Gilligan’s novel beat titles including James Rebanks’ memoir of his family farm, English Pastoral, and Nina Mingya Powles’ poetry collection Magnolia, 木蘭 to the £10,000 prize. The Butchers opens with an ancient curse that decrees that eight men must touch every cow in Ireland as it dies, and follows a group of eight men as they roam rural Ireland in the 1990s, slaughtering the cows of those who still believe in the old ways. The novel unpicks the mysterious death of one of the Butchers, whose corpse is found suspended from a meat hook. Continue reading...
May 04, 2021
Gordon McCulloch’s 101 Poems becomes a hit on Amazon after his granddaughter asked her followers to take a look at the book
A self-published poetry anthology by a 92-year-old Scottish grandfather was outselling Amanda Gorman and Rupi Kaur on Amazon in the UK last week, after his granddaughter appealed to readers for reviews.
Gordon McCulloch self-published his collection, 101 Poems, on 24 March. Covering “a wide range of topics such as love, romance, relationships, religion, prayers, the meaning of life, death and our relationship with God”, it has become a surprise bestseller, last week topping the poetry anthology charts for Amazon in the UK, where it has received more than 1,000 five-star reviews. At time of publication, it is sitting at No 14 on Amazon’s UK poetry charts and No 8 in the US. Continue reading...
May 03, 2021
TJ Newman dreamt up her terror-in-the-skies novel Falling while guarding the cockpit as the pilots took a toilet break. She reveals how she kept going through furlough and 41 rejections
Flight attendant Torri Newman was working on the red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New York when the idea for her debut novel came to her. To be precise, she was blocking access to the cockpit, a security procedure required when pilots take a toilet break. “I was standing at the front of the airplane,” she says, “looking out at the passengers. It was dark and they were all asleep. And I had this thought, ‘All of their lives, our lives, are in the hands of the pilots.’ That’s not exactly new – but the flipside of that also came to mind. With that much power and responsibility, how vulnerable does that make a commercial pilot?”
Newman, speaking via Zoom from her home in Phoenix, Arizona, was rattled. “I just couldn’t shake the thought. A few days later, I was working a different trip with a different set of pilots, and I said to the captain, ‘Hey, what would you do if your family was taken, and you were told that if you didn’t crash the plane, they would be killed?” What was his reaction? “He had no clue what he would do – the thought terrified him.” Continue reading...
May 02, 2021
Exclusive: Watchmen and V for Vendetta writer lands six-figure deal for fantasy quintet Long London and short story collection
Two years after announcing that he had retired from comics, Alan Moore, the illustrious author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has signed a six-figure deal for a “groundbreaking” five-volume fantasy series as well as a “momentous” collection of short stories.
Bloomsbury, home to the Harry Potter novels, acquired what it described as two “major” projects from the 67-year-old. The first, Illuminations, is a short story collection which will be published in autumn 2022 and which moves from the four horsemen of the apocalypse to the “Boltzmann brains” fashioning the universe. Bloomsbury said it was “dazzlingly original and brimming with energy”, promising a series of “beguiling and elegantly crafted tales that reveal the full power of imagination and magic”. Continue reading...
Apr 29, 2021
Report on reading habits of more than one million children also finds they read longer books, particularly during school closures
Children read longer books of greater difficulty during lockdown periods last year, and reported that reading made them feel better while isolated from the wider world, according to new research.
The annual What Kids Are Reading report from Renaissance Learning, which studies the reading habits of more than one million pupils in the UK and Ireland, found that while the number of books read overall dropped 17% in the year to July 2020, compared with the previous year, children read more during lockdowns and school closures. The data showed that the books read during lockdowns were more challenging, with primary school children and those in year seven reading more demanding texts in particular. Continue reading...
Apr 28, 2021
Susanna Clarke, Yaa Gyasi and Patricia Lockwood among the six authors up for the £30,000 award
This year’s shortlist for the Women’s prize for fiction is made up of authors who have never been nominated for the award before, with Yaa Gyasi, Susanna Clarke and Patricia Lockwood among those competing for £30,000.
The annual award for an “outstanding, ambitious, original” novel by a woman features several stories about “lives you haven’t read about before”, said chair of judges Bernardine Evaristo, the Booker prize-winning novelist. These include Claire Fuller’s fourth novel Unsettled Ground, about middle-aged twins who have grown up in isolation in rural Wiltshire, and Cherie Jones’ debut How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, a story of murder, abuse and violence that takes place in a community on Barbados. These sit beside Gyasi’s second novel Transcendent Kingdom, following a family of Ghanaian immigrants living in the American south. Continue reading...
Apr 28, 2021
Coalition of author groups call for Disney to pay outstanding royalties owed to writers of novels and comics including Star Wars, Alien and Buffy the Vampire Slayer series it now owns
A task force made up of science fiction and fantasy, romance, crime and horror authors has been formed in an attempt to persuade Disney into paying authors outstanding royalties for novelisations and comics relating to their properties, including Star Wars, Alien and Indiana Jones.
The so-called DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force includes major writers Neil Gaiman, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Robinette Kowal and Chuck Wendig among its members. It has been formed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in partnership with the Author’s Guild, Horror Writers Association, National Writers Union, Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Continue reading...
Apr 27, 2021
Petition signed by more than 200 Simon & Schuster employees delivered to publishing house also calls for end to deals with members of Trump administration
More than 200 members of staff at Simon & Schuster have signed a petition calling for the publishing house to cancel its seven-figure book deal with former vice-president Mike Pence and commit to not signing any more book deals with members of Donald Trump’s administration.
The petition was delivered to the publisher on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported. It was signed by 216 S&S employees – about 14% of the publisher’s staff –and backed by more than 3,500 supporters outside the company, including authors such as the National Book Award-winning writer Jesmyn Ward. Continue reading...
Apr 26, 2021
New figures from the Publishers Association show fiction and audiobooks did particularly well, with value of consumer sales up 7% on 2019 despite bookshop closures
Fiction sales in 2020 soared by more than £100m for UK publishers, as readers locked down at home made their escape into books, with audiobook sales also climbing by more than a third.
New figures from the Publishers Association show that fiction sales for UK publishers rose by 16% from £571m to £688m in 2020, with key titles cited for the rise including Maggie O’Farrell’s Women’s prize-winner Hamnet, Douglas Stuart’s Booker-winner Shuggie Bain, Richard Osman’s cosy crime novel The Thursday Murder Club, Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, and Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing. The bestselling title of last year was Charlie Mackesy’s philosophical picture book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Continue reading...
Apr 22, 2021
Writers including Maria Stepanova and Éric Vuillard are up for the £50,000 prize, with the judges swaying for essays and autofiction over ‘good, straightforward, old-fashioned novels’
From Maria Stepanova’s family memoir to a historical essay by Éric Vuillard, this year’s shortlist for the International Booker prize for translated fiction is highlighting works that “are really pushing the boundaries” of fiction and nonfiction.
The International Booker goes to “the finest fiction from around the world” that has been translated into English. Six books are now in the running for the £50,000 award, which is split equally between author and translator, all of them displaying “an extraordinary amount of ingenuity and originality”, said chair of judges Lucy Hughes-Hallett. Continue reading...
Apr 21, 2021
Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp says seven-figure book deal will go ahead, after open letter from employees accuses publisher of being ‘on the wrong side of justice’
Simon & Schuster has said it will not pull out of a seven-figure book deal with Mike Pence after some of its employees called for the contract to be scrapped, stating that “we come to work each day to publish, not cancel”.
An open letter circulated by staff at S&S said that the publisher had “chosen complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Pence”, in a two-book deal struck earlier this month and reported to be worth $3-4m (£2.1-2.8m). The letter, which did not reveal how many members of staff had signed, said that the former vice-president had “made a career out of discriminating against marginalised groups and denying resources to BIPOC and LGBTQA+ communities”, and demanded his book deal be cancelled. Continue reading...
Apr 21, 2021
Jane Austen’s House says decision to update displays with information on slavery links have been ‘misrepresented’, including tea detail that was reported as ‘woke madness’
Staff at the museum Jane Austen’s House are reassuring fans of the Pride and Prejudice author that they have never and will never “interrogate Jane Austen, her characters or her readers for drinking tea”.
The museum issued the statement on Tuesday, after the Telegraph reported that Austen’s tea drinking would “face ‘historical interrogation’” by the museum over the author’s family’s links to slavery. The Express and Daily Mail reported on it as “woke madness”, “a revisionist attack” and “Black Lives Matter-inspired”. Continue reading...
Apr 20, 2021
Written while he was a teenager, published when he was 23 and rewritten when he was 43, The Carpet People is being honoured with an anniversary edition
In November 1971, a debut novel from a young author was published, to a small but not insignificant splash. Set in a world of tiny people who live in a carpet, it was described by the book trade journal Smith’s Trade News as “one of the most original tots’ tomes to hit the bookshops for many a decade”, while Teachers’ News called it a story of “quite extraordinary quality”.
The unknown author was Terry Pratchett, and the book was The Carpet People. This week, publisher Penguin Random House Children’s is releasing a 50th-anniversary edition, with Doctor Who and Good Omens star David Tennant reading the new audiobook. Continue reading...
Apr 20, 2021
From small-town America to ancient Rome, there’s plenty of dark drama in this month’s pick of crime fiction
Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, pp400 Continue reading...
Apr 08, 2021
A scientific journal covering a Hungarian doctor’s discovery is up for sale, alongside a letter from Edward Jenner, apologising for a delay in vaccine supply
After the last year, handwashing is anything but a novelty. But a 19th-century Hungarian doctor’s “epoch-making” – and controversial – announcement on the importance of clean hands is going up for auction.
Ignaz Semmelweis was a young house officer at the first obstetrical clinic of the Vienna General Hospital’s teaching unit. In 1847, he spotted that there was an extremely high rate of maternal and neonatal mortality in one of the hospital’s maternity wards – around 13% – while in the others the death rate was only 2%. The first clinic was used as a teaching facility for medical students, while the second was used to teach midwives. Semmelweis concluded that the medical students were carrying infections from the autopsy dissection rooms into the delivery rooms, and instigated a policy of strict handwashing using chlorinated limewater. The mortality rate subsequently dropped dramatically, to around 1%. Continue reading...
Apr 07, 2021
Clues in The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale could lead readers in the UK and France to a historic treasure presented by Britain to the French president in 1903
For all the armchair puzzlers for whom sudokus and crosswords have palled over the long months of lockdown, a fiendish new literary conundrum is about to slide on to bookshelves – with a rather lucrative and unusual reward.
Artist Michel Becker tracked down and bought the golden casket given to France by England ahead of the signing of the entente cordiale on 8 April 1904, which attempted to end centuries of antagonism between the two countries. Presented to French president Émile Loubet in July 1903, the casket was wrought by Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company in London and contained a scroll celebrating friendship between the two countries. Valued at €750,000 (£646,000), the intricately decorated box is now the prize for whoever solves the clues in Becker’s forthcoming treasure hunt book, The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale. Continue reading...