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April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

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Chaucer’s Pilgrims

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:22 am


Geoffrey Chaucer    (? - 1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer
(? – 1400)

By Steve King

On this day (or possibly the next) in 1394, Geoffrey Chaucer’s twenty-nine pilgrims met at the Tabard Inn in Southwark to prepare for their departure to Canterbury. Chaucer’s intention was to have his pilgrims arrive on Easter morning, after a fifty-five-mile hike through a pleasant English springtime; the pilgrims never made it, though the poetry endures.

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April 15, 2014

American Library Association releases its 10 most challenged books of 2013

BraveAs a fresh controversy arises in Delaware over whether parents should censor school reading lists, Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series tops the list of books which received the most complaints.

By Alison Flood.

As debate rages in Delaware over whether parents should be able to screen school reading lists for “obscene content”, the latest list of the books most frequently challenged in US libraries shows it is not only classics that are being challenged.

Books from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Hunger Games have all drawn protests over the last year, with librarians reporting over 300 requests to remove books from shelves or exclude them from school curriculums.

According to local press, a board meeting in the Cape Henlopen school district in Delaware grew heated when two board members started speaking out against Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic, Brave New World, and calling for parents to be warned before children begin studying it.

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Sue Townsend – obituary

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 8:11 am

townsend_book_2879360cSue Townsend was the writer whose diaries of spotty teenager Adrian Mole became a publishing sensation.

Sue Townsend, who has died aged 68, was the creator of Adrian Mole, the spotty, lovestruck teenager from Ashby-de-la-Zouch whose comic chronicles of myriad anxieties – political, intellectual, social, sexual – proved the publishing phenomenon of the 1980s and were turned into successful television series, starring Gian Sammarco as the title character.

Including various omnibuses, there were eventually nine volumes of Mole’s diaries; the last – The Prostate Years, published in 2009 – documented him battling cancer as a middle-aged man who runs a bookshop. But it was the early books that particularly gripped the reading public, selling millions of copies and transforming Sue Townsend, a self-confessed “Old Labour type”, from a poverty-stricken single mother-of-three into a rich woman.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, as the first volume was titled on publication in 1982, unveiled a boy clear-eyed enough to assess the world around him but powerless to shape his own fate. His pursuit of the treacle-haired, middle-class Pandora is defeated by acne, and his self-declared intellectual inclinations by the fact that “I am not very clever”. His slight teenaged frame carried a large dollop of guilt about the state of the nation itself.

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Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests

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The 13 Best John Steinbeck Books

A Very Rare Book Opens 6 Different Ways, Reveals 6 Different Books

Friday 01.24.2014 , Posted by


A Very Rare Book Opens 6 Different Ways, Reveals 6 Different Books

Friday 01.24.2014 , Posted by


A Very Rare Book Opens 6 Different Ways, Reveals 6 Different Books

Friday 01.24.2014 , Posted by


John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

By Susan Shillinglaw.

Susan Shillinglaw’s new book On Reading “The Grapes of Wrath” provides readers with a new appreciation for the American classic and John Steinbeck’s craft, and it’s just in time for the book’s 75th anniversary. Shillinglaw, former director of the SJSU Steinbeck Center and author of Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage, shares with us her favorite Steinbeck books.

Where I live, Monterey County California, Steinbeck also lived, so interest runs high. After twenty eight years traveling long and well with this rumpled, engaging writer, I know first hand that Steinbeck’s appeal extends far beyond his home turf–that his voice roars beyond boundaries of place, time and class. Why this might be so is a question to ask in this 75th anniversary year of The Grapes of Wrath.

Reasons for his popularity abound. His prose is supple–muscular and melodic. Early on, he fixed his gaze on the marginalized and dispossessed, conveying a palpable empathy for ordinary folk who speak a robust and earthy American idiom. Throughout his nearly forty-year writing career, he remained an astute observer of American life—he was “basically, intrinsically and irresistibly a Democrat,” as he said of himself. (He wrote speeches for Adlai Stevenson, drafted some for Lyndon Johnson and was asked by Jackie Kennedy to write a biography of her husband.) Friendship was his great, equalizing subject. He noted the ethnic diversity of California: Chinese Lee in East of Eden, for example, at the helm of the Trask family’s listing vessel. He was an environmentalist, knowing from a young age that humans must share landscapes with other species, not blindly dominate them. And his books are both winsome and wise; he was a writer unafraid to experiment with slight and weighty volumes, as well as work in a variety of genres–filmscripts and journalism and dramas and short stories, travel narratives and novels.

I’ve arranged my favorites into sets with Steinbeck as the common ancestor. Any number of people I’ve met read one Steinbeck novel and then gobble them all. A reader seated at the feast might switch metaphors and consider the branching and “comfortable” Steinbeck oak, the sets as limbs:

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2014 Pulitzer Prize goes to ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel “The Goldfinch,” published by Little, Brown, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction Monday. On Twitter, the Columbia University School of Journalism, which announces the awards, had a slip of the finger in its announcement, at first tweeting that the winner was “The Goldfish.”

In their citation, the judges described “The Goldfinch” as a “beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters that follows a grieving boy’s entanglement with a small famous painting that has eluded destruction, a book that stimulates the mind and touches the heart.”

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Johnson’s Dictionary

Samuel Johnson    (1709 - 1784)

Samuel Johnson
(1709 – 1784)

By Steve King.

On this day in 1755 Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was published. Johnson’s dictionary is considered the first significant work of its kind in English, most notable for the precision of its definitions and the inclusion of exemplary quotations; it is also prized as a reflection of Johnson’s legendary wit and quirky personality.

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April 9, 2014

Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction: the shortlist

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of 'Americanah'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of ‘Americanah’

Six authors from across the globe unveiled on the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, as judges promise they will change the way readers view of the world.

By Hannah Furness.

Readers no longer care where in the world their books are set, insiders have said, as not a single author with full British citizenship features on the Baileys Women’s Prize shortlist for the first time since 1998.

This year’s shortlist features six female writers from across the globe, including novels from US writer Donna Tart, Irish Eimear McBride, and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Their works will go up against novels from Australian Hannah Kent, Irish Audrey Magee and Jhumpa Lahiri, who holds dual US and British citizenship after being born in London but moving to America aged just two.

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Paddington Bear returns in new book

Filed under: Children's books — Tags: , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 8:49 am

Michael Bond will publish Love From Paddington 56 years after releasing his first story about the little brown bear

Michael Bond will publish Love From Paddington 56 years after releasing his first story about the little brown bear

Michael Bond, the 88-year-old creator of Paddington, has written a new book about the bear from Darkest Peru

By Anita Singh.

Paddington Bear is returning in a new book after the 88-year-old author Michael Bond decided to give him another outing.

Love From Paddington takes the form of a series of letters from the little brown bear to his Aunt Lucy in Darkest Peru.

“It isn’t generally known, but bears are very good at writing letters,” Bond said.

The book will be published by HarperCollins in November, shortly before the Paddington Bear film arrives in cinemas.

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