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April 27, 2012

The 10 Grumpiest Living Writers

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:36 pm

Harlan Ellison

By Emily Temple

This week saw the release of Farther Away, Jonathan Franzen’s newest collection of essays and speeches, covering the last five years of his non-fiction output. Well, in those last five years, he has become increasingly grumpy, griping about things like Twitter and ebooks, and building a reputation as an unrepentantly prickly author with a constant bone to pick. To celebrate the release of another book filled with Franzen’s complaints, we’ve put together a list of the ten grumpiest, crankiest and most cantankerous authors still living today.

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Orwell Prize 2012 shortlist: about the books

Among the shortlisted nominees is a sharp but sympathetic portrait of modern India by Siddhartha Deb

The judges on the panel for the Orwell Prize for political writing deliver their verdict on the six books shortlisted for this year’s prize.

By Orwell Prize judges

Hood Rat: First-time author Gavin Knight immersed himself in the gang cultures of Manchester, Glasgow and London and those who seek to combat them, and produced a tremendous book, written with unobtrusive intelligence, vividness and clarity.

It was the best writing we came across to illuminate some of the issues thrown up by the riots of summer 2011. An impressive debut which was initially published with very little conviction and deserves a wider audience.

The Opium War: Julia Lovell’s book has the sweep of a epic. It scrapes back the barnacles and encrustations of two competing historiographies – Chinese and British – to tell how a small, chaotic, ugly and often absurd war in 1839 became the foundation of Western mistrust of Asian ‘inscrutability’ and hysterical fears of ‘Yellow Peril’, and in China became the founding myth of the modern state – one that conjures passionate resonances even today.

Lovell wears her deep knowledge, especially of China, with great lightness. Terrific: witty, stylish and authoritative.

Dark Market: Misha Glenny brings committed and exhaustive journalistic investigation to the murky world of cybercrime and its potential to create chaos. He has penetrated deeper than any other writer.

This is a unique book which explains and dramatises this secret and confusing arena, shining light into the shadowy corners where hackers are – with creepy ease – stealing from our banks, from us, and threatening the internet systems on which we have all become dependent.

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Emerson at the End

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 3:56 pm

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

On this day in 1882 Ralph Waldo Emerson died at the age of seventy-eight. Although Emerson’s last decade was one of increasing debility it was also one of international accolade and local adulation. When the Sage of Concord returned from his last trip abroad he found the band playing, the schoolchildren singing and his burned home rebuilt by the community.

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April 23, 2012

Just How Much Does a Pulitzer Prize Help a Book’s Sales?

By Gabe Habash

Part of the outcry over the lack of a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction selection this year relates to the sales increase that each year’s winner inevitably receives, and how that windfall will be absent in 2012. But just how big of a sales increase does a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel experience? Using Nielsen BookScan, PW took a look at the last five winners of the fiction prize—A Visit from the Goon Squad, Tinkers, Olive Kitteridge, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Road—and the effects the win had on sales.

The trade paperback for Jennifer Egan’s Goon Squad (Random House) was released just four weeks before its Pulitzer victory in April 2011. Weekly sales of the book immediately tripled following the announcement—in the week leading up to the announcement, the book sold 3,800 copies; the next week, after the announcement, the book sold 9,578 at the outlets tracked by BookScan (about 70% of print sales). Sales then hovered around 10,000 copies per week until June, and the book finally dipped under 5,000 copies per week in the week ending September 11, 2011. On average, following the Pulitzer, Goon Squad’s weekly sales for a three month period were triple what they were before the prize. To date, the book has sold 280,000 copies in trade paperback at outlets followed by BookScan. It should be noted that none of these figures includes e-book sales, which would’ve likely figured into Egan’s novel’s sales most prominently out of all the past winners.
Paul Harding’s Tinkers perhaps benefitted the most from winning the Pulitzer. Published in early January 2010 by Bellevue Literary Press, the book had only sold 1,120 copies at BookScan-tracked outlets before the Pulitzer announcement. To date, it has now sold 360,000 trade paperback copies in outlets followed by BookScan. The weekly spike is also astounding: in the week before the announcement, Tinkers sold only 40 copies. The next week, immediately following its Pulitzer victory, it sold 1,042 copies, doubling its total sales in a seven-day span. The following week, sales continued to climb, reaching 6,131 copies, and weekly sales remained steady around 5,000 until January 2011, 10 months after it won the Pulitzer.

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April 21, 2012

Nearly 80k volunteers sign up for WBN

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 11:47 am

 |By  Katie Allen

World Book Night has attracted nearly 80,000 givers to distribute 2.5million books on the night, 23rd April.

Over 78,000 givers are to take part across the US, UK and Germany, including places such as the Shetland Islands, Jersey, Alaska, Florida and Berchtesgarden in Bavaria.

Founder Jamie Byng said: “We always hoped that World Book Night would become a global initiative that truly lived up to its name. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our international partners; the number of givers signed up and the sheer volume of books being given away across Germany, the USA and the UK is truly astounding and the prospect of so many great books being read and shared all over the world on April 23rd is very exciting.”

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What book would you share?

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 11:39 am

John Connolly

On Monday, to mark World Book Night, publishers will give away a million books by big-name authors. DECLAN BURKE asks some writers to give us their pick of recent books that slipped under the radar

THE BEST THINGS in life are free . . . books. On Monday – the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death – World Book Night will be celebrated in the US, UK, Germany and Ireland, with publishers giving away a total of a million of them. Half will be donated to hospitals, prisons and charities; the other half go to volunteers who in turn distribute them in their communities.

The 25 titles to be given away include some by household names such as Cormac McCarthy, Maggie O’Farrell, Mark Billingham, Bill Bryson, Sophie Kinsella, Emma Donoghue, Stephen King, Jane Austen, Martina Cole, Paulo Coelho, Roald Dahl, Kazuo Ishiguro and David Peace.

But what of our lesser-known names, and of books that fly below the radar? We asked a selection of writers to nominate their own World Book Night book: a contemporary classic that has been published in the past few years but unfairly neglected by critics and readers.

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Shaw, Arms and the Man

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 11:15 am

George Bernard Shaw

On this day in 1894 George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man opened. It was one of his earliest plays and the first commercial success in a sixty-five play, half-century career. On the strength of it Shaw was able to give up being a music critic and, at the age of forty, become a full-time playwright.

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April 20, 2012

​Author faces civil suit over ‘Three Cups of Tea’



Regardless of whether claims are true that author Greg Mortenson fabricated portions of “Three Cups of Tea,” neither he nor his publisher can be held liable because the First Amendment protects exaggerations or lies in memoirs, his publisher’s attorney said Wednesday.

Penguin Group (USA) attorney Jonathan Herman and attorneys for Mortenson, co-author David Oliver Relin and Mortenson’s charity, the Central Asia Institute, asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by four people who bought Mortenson’s bestselling books.

The lawsuit was filed after “60 Minutes” and author Jon Krakauer published reports last year that Mortenson fabricated parts of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools,” which recount his efforts to build schools in Central Asia.

The suit claims Mortenson and the others committed fraud, deceit and were involved in a racketeering conspiracy in publishing lies.

Mortenson headed the conspiracy to set himself up as a false hero so that he could sell millions of books and raise tens of millions of dollars for his charity, the plaintiffs’ attorney Zander Blewett said.

“Mortenson obviously is the main, main liar,” he said. “He has just drafted himself a web of deception … and used it to raise $62 million.”

In arguing to reject the case, neither Herman nor Mortenson attorney John Kauffman addressed the specific fabrication claims.

Herman said the proper place for someone to object to the books is in the sphere of public debate, not in a courtroom to be prosecuted by self-appointed “truth police.” ”The First Amendment permits someone who writes an autobiography to exaggerate or even lie,” Herman said.

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Stoker, Irving & Count Vlad

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: — Bookblurb @ 6:34 am
On this day in 1912 Bram Stoker died. The author of some twenty books, Stoker is known almost exclusively for Dracula, published in 1897. The novel brought little fame or fortune in Stoker’s lifetime — so little that he had to ask for charity at the end of his career. More surprisingly, Dracula raised few eyebrows, though modern critics find it a “veritable sexual lexicon of Victorian taboos.”

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April 19, 2012

Can you guess your favourite novel from these sounds?

Now that the ebook of Andrew Motion’s sequel to Treasure Island is to benefit from sound effects, can you identify these four novels rendered in sound?

By Stephen Moss

The ebook of Andrew Motion’s recently published sequel to Treasure Island is to have sound effects – wasps buzzing, leaves rustling, the odd parrot squawking. This will surely be the template for all ebooks henceforth. Here are four novels rendered in sound; your job is to identify them

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