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November 30, 2012

Guardian first book award 2012 goes to Kevin Powers

The Yellow BirdsThe Yellow Birds, a novel based on author’s time as a gunner in Iraq commended for ‘extraordinary promise’.

By Alison Flood

Kevin Powers, whose novel The Yellow Birds takes its title from a US army marching song and has drawn comparisons with Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway, has won this year’s Guardian first book award.

Speaking to the Guardian from Texas in an interview recorded just before the announcement for the Guardian books podcast, he said he was delighted to win the award.

“To have this recognition is really quite incredible,” Powers said, “when I think back to the long hours I spent sitting writing this book by myself wondering if anyone would have any interest in it.”

He began writing as a teenager living in Virginia, he continued, but always thought that “all writers were from New York”.

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Publishers brace for authors to reclaim book rights in 2013

A copyright law that lets authors break contracts after 35 years will start taking effect in January. The law, which is meant to give authors like Stephen King and Judy Blume a “second bite at the apple,” could provide yet another disruption for traditional publishers.

By Jeff John Roberts

The book publishing industry, already facing disruption from Amazon and  e-books, will confront a new form of turbulence in 2013. Starting in January, publishers face the loss of their back lists as authors begin using the Copyright Act to reclaim works they assigned years ago.

These so-called “termination rights,” which let authors break contracts after 35 years, have already made the media thanks to a court squabble between the Village People and music studios. On the book front, publishers  and agents are staying mostly mum even though the bestseller lists from 1978 reveal some very big names eligible to reclaim their work  – Stephen King, Judy Blume, John LeCarre and so on. Here’s a plain English overview of how the law works and why (for now at least) we’re likely to see literary types negotiate rather than litigate.

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Finding True Love, Finding a Literary Agent

By Sarah McCoy

Typing THE END on your first novel is nearly as epic as saying I DO. Similar to an exchange of vows, after the champagne has been chugged and the celebratory cheers have faded, you wake up to a reality loaded with questions. Most notably: Where do I go from here? This isn’t a paper Jenga on my desk. How do I get my book published? These were my questions, at least. My published author friends answered: find a literary agent.

This is no reinvented love story. Many of you are at this juncture now, so we can be honest with one another. When you have your first manuscript in your arms and are querying agents, you aren’t particularly picky. The focus is on the end result — getting the book to a publisher. So you rush the agent “dating” process. I was guilty of that. I viewed finding an agent as yet another hurdle on my way to the printing press.

I welcomed every agent suitor. Sure, I scanned credentials, but querying from El Paso, Texas, everyone in New York City looked flashy and impressive. Every agent had a Bestseller in his or her clientele list. All sounded enthusiastic in email and on the phone. Frankly, I didn’t want to sit around pondering if I emotionally clicked with my agent or not, so long as they took my novel to Publisher’s Row. I was holding my first “book baby” and eager to get it to the next developmental stage.

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Writer Ann Patchett’s bookstore thrives in digital age

By Bob Minzesheimer

When novelist Ann Patchett opened a bookstore here in her hometown a year ago, she wondered if she was “opening an ice shop in the age of Frigidaire.”

One year later, Parnassus Books is thriving in an age of e-books when ordering and reading is a click away and browsing takes on a new digital meaning.

As the store celebrates its first anniversary this month, Patchett says, “People might not use ice to refrigerate anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still want some ice in their scotch and in their tea. There is still a real place for ice. And when the power is out, we are mighty grateful for a bag of the stuff.”

Parnassus doesn’t sell ice. It does sell books, $2 million worth in the past year. Most were the old-fashioned kind, paper and ink.

Ask Patchett, 48, if she’s bucking a trend, and she defiantly says, “We are the trend.”

Until early last year, she had been busy enough just writing novels. Six in all, including her 1992 debut, The Patron Saint of Liars, set at a home for unwed mothers, and Bel Canto starring an American opera singer held hostage by Latin American terrorists, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2001.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey overcomes setbacks for premiere

‘Frame envy’ as Peter Jackson brings first film in latest JRR Tolkien Middle-earth trilogy to screen in Wellington.

By Ben Child

They trooped to Wellington in their tens of thousands, from all over the globe, dressed as dwarves, goblins, hobbits, elves – and other, less easily identifiable Middle-earth creatures.

Almost a decade after Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings triptych of films set the global box office on fire to the tune of $2.9bn (£1.8bn), the director was back in New Zealand to premiere the first part of his wildly (in some quarters) anticipated adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

There was scant wriggle-room on either side of the 500-metre-long red carpet snaking towards the Embassy theatre where the first part of a planned trilogy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was screened for the first time to the public. An Air New Zealand plane decked out in Middle-earth livery flew low overhead, to roars of approval.

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EL James author finds Fifty Shades publicity ‘too exposing’

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:41 am

By Matilda Battersby

Author of the bestselling erotic trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey has said in an interview that she feels “embarrassed” when men read her books and that the publicity surrounding her success “isn’t fun” and is “too exposing”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Will Gompertz EL James said: “[I do find it embarrassing] particularly with men reading them. Because they’re kind of my fantasies and I never for a minute thought that this would happen. So there is embarrassment but you just have to brazen it out,” she said.

She has sold more than 60 million copies and there is a Hollywood film adaptation in the pipeline.

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Former OED editor covertly deleted thousands of words, book claims

Efforts to rewrite the dictionary in the 70s and 80s to omit entries with foreign origins described as ‘really shocking’ by author.

By Alison Flood

An eminent former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins and bizarrely blamed previous editors, according to claims in a book published this week.

Robert Burchfield’s efforts to rewrite the dictionary have been uncovered by Sarah Ogilvie, a linguist, lexicographer and former editor on the OED.

Ogilvie worked for 11 years to research and write Words of the World, published by Cambridge University Press, which challenges the widely held belief that editors of the OED between 1884 and 1933 were Anglocentric Oxford dons obsessed with preserving the Queen’s English, and that it was not until Robert Burchfield’s four supplements, produced between 1972 and 1986, that the dictionary was opened up to the wider world.

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2012 Books: Slate Staff Picks

Filed under: Best Books of the Year — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 6:39 am

  Slate’s editors, designers, and columnists choose their favorite books of 2012.

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Jonathan Swift, Dublin’s Child

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 6:38 am
Jonathan Swift  (1667 - 1745)

Jonathan Swift
(1667 – 1745)

On this day in 1667 Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, the exact location seemingly pregnant with significance: a few blocks from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Swift would be Dean; almost in the backyard of Dublin Castle, representing the Englishness he would both covet and skewer; the specific address, 7 Hoey’s Court, almost perfect for perhaps the most famous scoffer in literature.

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November 29, 2012

Christmas gifts 2012: the best fiction

  Justine Jordan wraps up the year’s novels, short stories and graphic fiction.

As with Wolf Hall three years ago, Christmas novel-wrapping will be dominated by Hilary Mantel’s latest feat of historical imagination. Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate) won its author a second Booker, and continues to build a Tudor world that feels solid enough to touch, bringing Thomas Cromwell’s life into the precarious present tense and the reader to the heart of Henry VIII’s court. This volume focuses on the downfall of Anne Boleyn, the darkening mood of Henry’s reign, and the chilling practicalities of interrogation and torture.

This year’s Booker also gave a welcome boost to some left-field books from small publishers, shortlisting Alison Moore’s immersive tale of a man unable to escape his own family history, The Lighthouse (Salt), and Deborah Levy’s sly melodrama Swimming Home (And Other Stories). Also on the shortlist was Will Self with Umbrella (Bloomsbury), his deepest and most rewarding novel to date. Madness, war, mechanisation; class, feminism and modernity – all these and more are interrogated in a dense slab of prose that spans the 20th century and jumps from one consciousness to another in the high old modernist style. One for the hard-to-buy-for James Joyce fan in your life.

Though you wouldn’t have known it from the Booker lists, all the big names were out this year.

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