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May 31, 2012

Madeline Miller’s Achilles novel wins Orange prize

Author Madeline Miller holds her statuette after winning the Orange Prize for Fiction Award for her novel The Song of Achilles at the Royal Festival Hall, London 30 May 2012.
Photograph by: Neil Hall , REUTERS

By Paul Casciato

U.S. author Madeline Miller won the Orange Prize for fiction on Wednesday for her debut novel The Song of Achilles, a Homeric tale of love and friendship.

Miller’s novel tells the story of Patroclus, an awkward young prince in exile whose friendship with ancient Greek hero Achilles grows into something far deeper. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little realising what awaits.

“This is a more than worthy winner – original, passionate, inventive and uplifting,” Orange Prize panel chair Joanna Trollope said in a statement. “Homer would be proud of her.”

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25 Awesome Minimalist Book Covers

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:29 am

By Emily Temple.

Here at Flavorpill, we’re pretty much suckers for any kind of minimalist design — minimalist representations of your favorite children’s stories, minimalist posters for iconic TV shows, or minimalist memes. So when Abe Books created a gallery of modern minimalist book covers they liked, we were inspired to put together one of our own. There’s something so satisfying about the minimalist style — modern design is often hectic and showy, and while that can be beautiful, we tend to agree with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who said “A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

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May 29, 2012

Bhattacharya wins RSL Ondaatje Prize

The Sly Company of People Who Care

| By Katie Allen

Delhi-based novelist Rahul Bhattacharya has won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize with his debut novel.

The Sly Company of People Who Care, published by Picador, took the £10,000 prize, and was described by judge Michele Roberts as “one of the most exhilarating novels I have read for years”.

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Tom Phillips and A Humument: how a novel became an oracle

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:27 am


Tom Phillips’s A Humument app, which can show a random pairing of two pages, a facility that delights the author.

New print and digital editions of the painter Tom Phillips’s extraordinary work mark the artist’s 75th birthday.

 By James Bridle

Thursday marks the 75th birthday of the artist Tom Phillips and much celebration is in order. He is best known for his ongoing project A Humument, new editions of which, in print and digital, coincide with this anniversary.

A Humument is an altered novel, begun in 1966 and first published in 1970. Phillips paints, draws and collages over the pages of an obscure 1892 novel – WH Mallock’s A Human Document – leaving gaps for the original but transformed text to show through. Phillips has worked over the novel continuously through the decades: this year’s edition will be the fifth. In 2010 A Humument appeared in digital form, as an app for iPhone and iPad. The technology suits it well: the brightly lit screen displays the pages at their best, as Phillips himself notes, “in colours more glowing than my pens and paints could achieve, almost like church windows at times”.

What’s really interesting about A Humument‘s digital counterpart is that it’s not just a facsimile edition of the print version. Instead, Phillips implements something he’s wanted to be possible all along: the ability to select two pages at random and gain an insight from the juxtaposition, in the tradition of such divination books as the I Ching.

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Century snaps up two from South African author

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 9:49 am

Charlie Human

| By Charlotte Williams

Century has pre-empted two books by South African author Charlie Human, likening his writing to Neil Gaiman, China Mieville and Terry Pratchett.

Editorial director Jack Fogg bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Apocalypse Now Now and as yet untitled second book from John Berlyne at the Zeno agency. Random House Struik bought South African rights in a separate deal.

Apocalypse Now Now tells the story of 16-year-old Baxter Zevcenko who runs a schoolyard gang at his Cape Town high school. When his girlfriend, Esme, gets kidnapped, he is launched into the world of the Cape Town supernatural underworld.

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Ebooks: winners in the generation game

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:50 am

Ebook consumption among older age groups continues to grow. Photograph: dbphots/Alamy/Alamy

The growth of e-reading among older age groups shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

By Anna Baddeley

New technology, like pop music or radical politics, is something you’re expected to lose touch with as you get older. This idea is encouraged by the young, who would rather their elders gracefully embraced luddism than try to befriend them on Facebook. What’s refreshing about e-reading is that it’s not just popular with traditional early adopters; their parents are getting in on the act too.

According to market researcher Bowker, while younger people’s ebook consumption is plateauing, in older age groups it continues to grow: more than a quarter of 45- to 55-year-olds and a fifth of over-55s bought an ebook in the six months to March 2012, up from 17% and 15% last November. A OnePoll survey last year found the over-55s were more likely to own an e-reader than 18- to 24-year-olds.

We shouldn’t be too surprised: older people tend to be heavier book-buyers and baby-boomers keen technophiles. But e-readers have qualities that could make them indispensable to an ageing population.

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May 28, 2012

Digested read: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 11:14 am

Cromwell finds maintaining this self-effacing Stephen Fry shtick annoying.

In which I, Thomas Cromwell, return with my exhausting present tense to dissolve the monasteries. Silly old me!.

 By John Crace

“It is a great honour to receive you here at Wolf Hall, your majesty,” says old Sir John Seymour, fresh from tupping his daughter-in-law’s quinny. “Though I had rather been expecting you some three years ago, when the first book came out.”
Thomas Cromwell observes Henry’s eyes lingering on Jane Seymour’s heaving, virginal bosom. “The King is tiring of Anne and there is no male successor,” he thinks to himself. “A wise Master Secretary would do well to prepare the way for a third marriage –”
“A wiser Master Secretary would do better to ruminate for a while on the death of his wife and daughters, and conduct imaginary conversations with Sir Thomas More in which he expresses regret that the former Lord Chancellor refused to swear the oath of succession and thus condemned himself to the block,” Hilary interrupts urgently.
“And why should I want to do that?’ Cromwell snaps, his mind already on how much money he can make from the dissolution of the monasteries.
“Because I’m trying to rewrite you as Mr Nice Guy, you moron,” Hilary says. “Instead of the hard bastard you undoubtedly are.”

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John Cheever: Master of the short story

John Cheever, the American writer called ‘the Chekhov of the suburbs’

By Martin Chilton

John Cheever’s centenary is being celebrated in America today with the publication of a new edition of his collected stories.

Cheever, who was born on May 27th in Quincy, Massachusetts, was one of the greatest short story writers of the 20th century and was described by Elmore Leonard as “the Chekhov of the suburbs.”

Cheever was the son of a failed shoe salesman – the writer’s mother ran a “cluttered gift shop” – and he understood the ambition and inferiority complexes of post-war American life. He could be funny about the “crushing boredom” of life in the suburbs with the “stupid, depressed and uncreative” people who populated their tidy houses but he was more than just an angry critic of torpid rural life. As his contemporaryJohn Updike put it: “John Cheever was often labelled as a writer about suburbia; but many people have written about suburbia. Only Cheever was able to make an archetypal place out of it.”

Cheever deftly captured seething middle-class envy and his observations are as relevant as ever. In his story The Housebreaker of Shady Hill, for example, a man eaten up with jealousy about his ostentatious neighbours sneaks at night into the bedroom of a sleeping couple and steals cash from the husband’s wallet.

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Crimefest award-winners, CWA shortlists announced

Filed under: Awards — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:27 am

| By Katie Allen

Susan Hill, Belinda Bauer and Peter May are among the shortlistees for the Crime Writers Association’s Dagger in the Library award, while Jo Nesbo, Misha Glenny and debut author Jon Breakfield are all up for prizes.

Also in the running for the Dagger in the Library prize, sponsored by Random House, are Steve Mosby, Imogen Robertson and S J Bolton. The award is nominated by library users and chosen by a panel of librarians, celebrating an author’s body of work.

CWA chair Peter James said: “The Crime Writers’ Association Daggers are the most coveted of all awards in the UK crime writing calendar and this year’s shortlist entries have all been of an exceptionally high standard. I’m delighted to see that the world of quality crime writing is thriving in our new electronic age.”

The winners of the awards will be annouced at the CWA Awards on 5th July, alongside the longlists for the Gold, Steel and John Creasey categories. Frederick Forsyth will be awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger.

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10 of the Weirdest Children’s Book Authors of All Time

Bruce Coville

By Emily Temple

We don’t know about you, but here at Flavorpill, we were pretty weird kids — and now that the truth has come out, and we know that you really are what you read, we’re starting to wonder whether that wasn’t because of the books we were reading. Not that we’re sorry, or anything. Weird people are the best. One of the authors influencing our childhood strangeness was prolific children’s book and YA author Bruce Coville, who turned 62 this week, so to celebrate his birthday, we’ve put together a list of the all-time weirdest authors of children’s and YA fiction — in our own estimation, of course.

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