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March 14, 2014

Folio Prize: George Saunders wins with short story collection

Tenth of December - George Saunders

Tenth of December – George Saunders

American writer George Saunders has won the inaugural Folio Prize for his “darkly playful” short story collection, Tenth of December.

The new prize, open to English-language writers from around the world, pre-empts the Man Booker Prize, which this year expands to a global level.

Saunders picked up his £40,000 cheque at a ceremony in central London on Monday night.

The eight-strong shortlist had been dominated by American authors.

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June 17, 2013

Dan Brown on ‘hurtful’ reviews and saving the world

Filed under: Authors, Interviews — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:23 am

InfernoBy Ian Youngs

The latest thriller from The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown is expected to be the best-selling book of the year. But that has not stopped literary critics from gleefully tearing Inferno apart.

Brown discusses his “hurtful” reviews, taking inspiration from Dante and why he thinks readers should worry about the novel’s central theme of global overpopulation.

“Bilge”, “noxious malarkey” and “entertaining twaddle” are just some of the choice phrases that have been picked to describe Dan Brown’s Inferno in the press.

It is no surprise that Inferno has been met with such a reception. Since The Da Vinci Code was published a decade ago, Brown has been the author that the literati love to hate.

But nor is it a surprise that Inferno immediately shot to the top of best-seller lists, had the highest number of pre-orders since JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and is odds-on favourite to be 2013’s biggest-selling book.

Brown’s enthralling yarns, which intertwine plausible-sounding conspiracy theories with life-or-death treasure hunts and the resonating weight of art history, are incredibly popular. Before Inferno, Brown’s five novels had sold 190 million copies.

Of anywhere in the world, he says his books get the worst reviews in the UK, where it “seems to be sport to kick me around a bit”.

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February 8, 2013

Pride and Prejudice retold from servants’ viewpoint

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:26 pm


A new novel that retells the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of its servants has been sold around the world.

Longbourn, by Jo Baker, was snapped up by US and UK publishers last week.

“Jane Austen was my first experience of grown-up literature,” said Baker.

“But as I read and re-read her books, I began to become aware that if I’d been living at the time, I wouldn’t have got to go to the ball; I would have been stuck at home with the sewing.”

The 39-year-old British author said she drew her inspiration from her family’s years in service.

“Aware of that English class thing, Pride and Prejudice begins to read a little differently,” she explained.

Longbourn follows a romance between a newly arrived footman and a housemaid in the Bennet household that runs parallel to the love story between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

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November 30, 2012

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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November 27, 2012

New chapter for mystery book sculptures

The first of the new sculptures was found by Emma Lister, a teaching assistant at Glasgow School of Art

The anonymous artist behind a series of intricate book sculptures which mysteriously appeared across Edinburgh last year has produced five new works.

The 10 original sculptures became a social media sensation and the artist was described as a “literary Banksy”.

The artist, whose identity is still being kept secret, has produced the new works as part of Book Week Scotland.

The new sculptures, inspired by classic Scottish stories, have been hidden at secret locations across the country.

Clues released online each day this week will help literary fans to track them down and win their own sculptures.

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November 23, 2012

Australian author Bryce Courtenay dies

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:12 am

Australian author Bryce Courtenay has died at the age of 79, his family say.

The South African-born writer, who shot to fame with his first novel, The Power of One, had been suffering from stomach cancer.

Courtenay, who only began writing in his 50s, went on to pen 21 books, selling more than 20 million copies globally.

He died at his home in Canberra on Thursday. His publisher described him as a “born story-teller”.

Born in Limpopo province, South Africa, Courtenay studied journalism in London and then moved to Australia in the 1950s.

Turning to writing after three decades in advertising, his first novel told of a boy growing up under apartheid in South Africa. It sold more than eight million copies and was subsequently turned into a film.

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July 31, 2012

Author Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:46 pm

Binchy had sold more than 40 million books worldwide

Best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy has died aged 72 after a short illness.

Binchy, born in Dalkey, Co Dublin, has sold more than 40 million books. Her works were often set in Ireland and have been translated into 37 languages.

They include The Lilac Bus as well as Tara Road and Circle of Friends, which were both adapted for screen.

Binchy trained as a teacher before moving into journalism and writing, publishing her first novel – Light a Penny Candle – in 1982.

She had written the novel in her spare time from her day job as a journalist at The Irish Times.

Fellow novelist Jilly Cooper paid tribute, saying Binchy was “a natural storyteller”.

“She was a darling – I’m very, very sad,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“She was so kind and funny and captivating, and was a brilliant writer.”

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February 9, 2012

Adam Mars-Jones wins Hatchet Job prize for book review

Filed under: Awards — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:02 am

Michael Cunningham won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1998 novel The Hours

Critic Adam Mars-Jones has won the inaugural Hatchet Job of the Year award for his scathing review of Michael Cunningham’s latest work, By Nightfall.

The award is given for the “angriest, funniest, most trenchant” book review published in the last year.

Mars-Jones accepted his prize of a year’s supply of potted shrimp at a ceremony in a London pub.

The award aims to raise the profile of critics and to “promote integrity and wit in literary journalism”.

The critic demolished Pulitzer Prize-winner Cunningham’s book about a middle-aged gallery owner attracted to his young brother-in-law in a 1,000-word review in the Observer last January.

Mars-Jones attacked Cunningham’s prolific use of literary references, noting each quote used from classic novels.


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January 31, 2012

The Help triumphs at SAG film awards

Filed under: film adaptations — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 3:29 pm

The Help takes top honours at the Screen Actors Guild awards

Civil rights drama The Help has won three prizes at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, including best cast and best actress for Viola Davis.

Another of the film’s stars, Octavia Spencer, was named best supporting actress.

“Dream big and dream fierce,” Davis told the audience at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium on Sunday.

Silent movie The Artist, tipped for Oscar glory, could only manage one win, a best actor prize for Jean Dujardin.

The SAG awards are seen as a key indicator of which films and stars may come out on top at the Oscars.

Actors make up the biggest voting group in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which picks the Oscar recipients.

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December 16, 2011

Author Russell Hoban dies aged 86

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:53 am

Russell Hoban's last title, Angelica Lost and Found, was published last year

Cult author Russell Hoban, who was best known for writing the science fiction novel Riddley Walker, has died aged 86, his publisher has announced.

A Bloomsbury spokeswoman said: “We are very saddened by the news that this much-loved and hugely treasured author has died.”

Hoban was also known for children’s books including The Mouse and His Child and the Frances The Badger series.

“Writing was my father’s life,” Phoebe Hoban told the New York Times.

He began writing children’s books in the late 1950s, with his first title, What Does it Do and How Does it Work, published in 1959.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1925, he eventually moved to London, where he remained for more than 30 years.

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