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May 22, 2013

Harry Potter first edition featuring JK Rowling drawings sells for £150,000

PotterAuction of tomes scribbled upon and annotated by their authors raises total of £440,000 for English Pen writers’ association.

By Ben Quinn

A first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with author JK Rowling’s notes and original illustrations, was sold for £150,000 at auction in London.

The book, which was auctioned by Sotheby’s at a charity sale in aid of the English Pen writers’ association, was purchased by an anonymous bidder by telephone.

The annotations by Rowling include comments on the process of writing and a section from an early draft of the novel, along with a number of illustrations drawn by her and a note on how she came to invent Quidditch, a sport played by characters in the books.

She and others had been asked to “scribble second thoughts, marginalia or drawings” on a first edition copy of one of their books for the event, which raised £439,200 in total.

A copy of Roald Dahl’s bestselling children’s book Matilda, containing new drawings by illustrator Quentin Blake, fetched £30,000, while an annotated copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Remains of the Day went for £18,000.

In other lots, a copy of Julian Barnes’s Metroland sold for £14,000, a copy of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader fetched £11,000 and a copy of Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist was bought for £17,000. A copy of Colm Tóibín’s The Heather Blazing was sold for £15,500.

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November 10, 2012

Philip Roth: ‘To tell you the truth, I’m done’

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:55 am

American novelist announced his retirement in October in little-noticed interview with French magazine.

By Ben Quinn

Philip Roth, the US novelist widely regarded as America’s best hope of ending a 20 year drought without a winner of the Nobel prize for literature, has said that he is calling it a day.

The writer announced his retirement in a little-noticed interview with a French magazine and said that Nemesis, which was published in 2010, would be his last book.

“To tell you the truth, I’m done,” Roth told Les Inrocks last month, adding that he had not written anything for the past three years.

Having reached the age of 79, he realised that he was running out of years and had chosen to reread his favourite novels, as well as his own books.

“I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said, according to a translation from the French by Salon.

“And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.”

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March 12, 2012

British author’s ‘mommy porn’ becomes US bestseller

EL James, the British author who is becoming successful in the US writing so-called 'mommy porn'.

EL James is the toast of literary circles, where she is credited with introducing ‘graphic, heavy-breathing erotica’

By Ben Quinn

With her debut novel at the top of the New York Times bestseller list and the subject of a bidding war over film rights, EL James is suddenly the toast of US literary circles, where she is credited with introducing “graphic, heavy-breathing erotica” to a mass of female readers never previously likely to have turned to the genre.

Yet at home in Britain, where she left her job as a TV production executive in January to concentrate full-time on her writing career, the mother of two still remains a virtual unknown.

It’s a state of affairs that’s unlikely to last for long, however, with plans for a British edition of the book and what James’ agent describes as an ongoing “bombardment” of interest from US film studios vying for the rights to her novel, the tale of a submissive-dominant relationship between a shy female college student and a successful male entrepreneur.

James, who lives in west London and is remaining coy for now about her full name, is leaving interviews for now to her agent, Valerie Hoskins, who said that the success of the book was due in large part to it simply being a “gripping read”.

“In many ways it’s a classic romance. It’s beauty and the beast, a wish-fulfilment story, and of course there are significant erotic passages in the relationship between the two principal characters, which I think is unique in mainstream commercial fiction,” said Hoskins, who also highlighted the way in which Kindles and iPads have brought a degree of anonymity for readers who would in the past have balked at being seen fingering a book identifiable as erotic fiction.

“It is benefiting from word of mouth among women who may previously have bought erotic fiction, and of course nobody can see what you are reading on your screen. A Kindle or an iPad looks like everyone else’s.”

“There is definitely a viral factor about it among groups of women who are talking about it where they meet at school runs, playgrounds, the hairdressers, exercise class.”

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June 16, 2011

New Che Guevara diary published

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:14 am


Che Guevara in 1958, during the period covered by Diary of a Combatant. Photograph: Cap. Antonio Nunez Jimenez/AFP/Getty Images

Diary of a Combatant covers revolutionary’s arrival in Cuba in 1956 with Fidel and Raúl Castro through to late 1958.

By Ben Quinn

A previously unpublished diary kept by Ernesto “Che” Guevara during the guerilla campaign he fought alongside Fidel Castro has been released in Cuba.

Diary of a Combatant covers the period from 1956 until late 1958, beginning with Guevara’s arrival in Cuba aboard the yacht Granma with Fidel and Raúl Castro and going on to cover his march from the east of the island to Havana.

The book was unveiled in the Cuban capital on Tuesday on what would have been the Argentine-born revolutionary’s 83rd birthday. His widow, Aleida March, was on hand with one of his daughters to sign copies and said that the purpose of publishing the diary was “to acknowledge his thoughts, life and work”.

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February 8, 2011

Jules Verne, French science fiction pioneer, marked with Google doodle

Jules Verne, author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days, celebrated with logo that mimics submarine portholes.

Ben Quinn

Jules Verne's Google doodle may induce sea sickness. Photograph: Google

Fondly regarded as the father of science fiction, who foresaw a range of technological innovations long before their arrival, Jules Verne can probably be forgiven for failing to predict the internet.

Or, for that matter, that his life would one day be honoured by Google’s latest doodle, which went live on Tuesday to mark the French author’s 183rd birthday.

In honour of Verne’s most famous novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the new doodle takes the form of the portholes of a submarine.

A lever on one side can be manipulated to plunge the submarine deeper into the sea, which appears to be populated by various forms of sea life.   …read more

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