Readersforum's Blog

May 19, 2011

Independent Booksellers Book Prize shortlists unveiled

19.05.11 | Lisa Campbell

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Readers are being called to cast their vote for the Independent Booksellers’ Book Prize winner, after the shortlist was announced today (19th May).

The annual award, which recognises works of fiction for adults and children, requires members of the public to choose which one of 10 adult and 12 children’s titles they think deserves to be crowned.

Titles were selected by a judging panel of independent booksellers from nominations put forward by publishers. Shortlisted adult titles include Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes (Vintage) and Helen Dunmore’s The Betrayal (Fig Tree). Nominations in the children’s category include The Dead by Charlie Higson (Puffin) and The 13 Secrets by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster).

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Judge withdraws over Philip Roth’s Booker win

'Emperor's clothes' ... Philip Roth (left), in the opinion of Carmen Callil (right). Photograph: Reuters/Rex

Carmen Callil retires from panel after decision to give award to writer whose work she considers a case of ‘Emperor’s clothes’.

By Alison Flood

Author and publisher Carmen Callil has withdrawn from the judging panel of the Man Booker International prize over its decision to honour Philip Roth with the £60,000 award. Dismissing the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Callil said that “he goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe”.

One of three judges on the panel for the literary award, alongside rare book dealer and author Rick Gekoski, who acted as chair, and novelist Justin Cartwright, this morning Callil revealed that, after the decision was made to give the prize to Roth from a shortlist which also featured Philip Pullman, Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson, she decided to retire from the panel.

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George Orwell casts long shadow over prize

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Displaying Orwellian attributes aplenty Tom Bingham’s The Rule of Law and Afsaneh Moqadam’s Death to the Dictator! were my top picks when judging this year’s Orwell book prize.

By Will Skidelsky

How much of an influence does George Orwell have on books being written today? Over the last few months, while judging this year’s Orwell book prize, I’ve found myself repeatedly asking this question. While the prize doesn’t require writers to slavishly imitate Orwell, it does stipulate that successful entries must display a number of Orwellian attributes, such as “clarity”, “intellectual courage” and “critical thought”. Above all, works should aspire to Orwell’s ambition of “turning political writing into an art”. So the question of Orwell’s continuing influence, rather than idle speculation, was integral to the judging process. We were being asked to hold today’s political writing up to an Orwellian standard, and assess it accordingly.

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May 17, 2011

Gary Shteyngart ‘Super Sad’ about future of books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 1:55 pm

By Joshua Walovitch

Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story,” just out in paperback, takes place in a future where sexuality trumps human intellect and Americans are inseparable from their smartphones.

Sound familiar?

Shteyngart reads excerpts from his blackly comic novel Wednesday at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge.

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The Russia-born author’s combination of storytelling, satire and humor landed him on The New Yorker’s “20 under 40” list of best fiction writers. “Super Sad True Love Story” was named one of 2010’s 10 best books by The New York Times [NYT] Book Review and Time magazine.

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Lionel Shriver talks about Kevin

How does it feel to have your widely rejected manuscript become a best-selling, prize-winning novel, then a book-club favourite and now the toast of the Cannes film festival? The author of We Need to Talk About Kevin explains :

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It has now entered the cultural canon that, on completion in 2001, the manuscript of Lionel Shriver’s seventh novel was widely rejected by publishers and literary agents alike. In retrospect, this incidental fact being widely known is alone a little weird. After all, every day writers numbly receive curt, dismissive rejections of work they’ve slaved over for years. Writers should have some grasp of publishing’s brutality, and this morose process of having your beloved creations stepped on and pissed over comes with the territory. Hence people in my occupation are routinely expected, as Kevin would say, to suck it up.

Sorry, did I say “Kevin”? That’s what’s truly weird: the large number of fiction readers who know exactly who Kevin is, and that number is set to swell once a cinema audience joins the mix. Yet “Kevin Katchadourian” is just a name I picked after combing through the phonebook on an ordinary afternoon.

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Quercus publisher of the year at The Bookseller Industry Awards

Filed under: Awards — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:16 pm

17.05.11 | Lisa Campbell

Quercus has been crowned 2011’s best publisher at The Bookseller Industry Awards, as Sainsbury’s scooped the Bookseller of the Year award.

Quercus was presented with the Bonnier Publishing Publisher of the Year Award at the black-tie event attended by around 600 people in London’s Park Lane Hilton yesterday evening (16th May) after experiencing 100% growth in the past 12 months to become the 11th largest publishing house in the UK. One judge said: “They’ve got the numbers, the people and the energy. I admire them, and their achievements.”

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May 16, 2011

The world’s most inspiring bookstores

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 6:18 pm

From Gothic cathedrals to revamped factories, these spaces will make you rethink your Kindle.

By Megan Cytron, Trazzler

W. Somerset Maugham called books “a refuge from almost all the miseries of life” — and as fun as travel can be, being far from home can also be exhausting, hectic and fraught with flashes of sweet misery. For literate travelers, a good bookstore is a sanctuary.

What makes a bookstore beautiful? As their numbers dwindle in so many places, just having the doors open may qualify. Many of the shops in this slide show took over repurposed buildings whose previous tenants were once important local institutions like glove factories, theaters, friaries and grist mills. All of them are brimming over with beauty of one kind or another.

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The Demographics of Social Media

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:12 pm

Ad Age Looks at the Users of the Major Social Sites.

Matt Carmichael

 In this week’s Ad Age, we collected a lot of social media demographics based on actual user profiles, not just Web traffic. But knowing how you love to pass around your #infographics we thought we’d pull it all into one handy file for you. And also knowing how you like deep-dive data, here’s a more detailed table of the age breakdowns of Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

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Ten make Authors’ Club travel longlist

|By  Katie Allen

Titles on Russian history, the populace of Germany and a spiritual travelogue have been longlisted for the 2011 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year.

Molotov’s Magic Lantern by Rachel Polonski (Faber), Germania by Simon Winder (Picador) and All Kinds of Magic by Piers Moore Ede (Bloomsbury) have all made the 10-strong list.

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May 15, 2011

David Foster Wallace’s Unfinished Novel — and Life

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 2:55 pm

Every writer dies, probably, still intending to write something. It’s a basic fact of (to put it slightly trivially) scheduling: the time lines of mortality and ambition rarely coincide. Thomas Aquinas finished only the first two sections of his “Summa Theologica” — a work that would loom over philosophical thought for centuries — before (according to some biographers) he hit his head on a branch while riding a donkey and plunged into his final illness. Walter Benjamin worked for 13 years on his magisterial “Arcades Project” but left it unfinished when he committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Nazis. The list could go on almost indefinitely, with works snuffed out by illness (Flaubert’s “Bouvard and Pécuchet”) and genocide (Némirovsky’s “Suite Francaise”) and alcoholic dissipation (Flann O’Brien’s “Slattery’s Sago Saga”). The loss is particularly hard when an author seems to have been really humming along — when the last big thing was a masterpiece and the next one promised to be another. “Dostoyevsky,” the novelist Norman Rush has said, “died still intending to write another volume of ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’ It’s like a knife in my heart that he didn’t.”

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