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May 15, 2013

Comma strikes twice on Edge Hill shortlist

thestonethrower| Joshua Farrington

Small independent publisher Comma Press has had two titles shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

The books, by Adam Marek and Jane Rogers, are shortlisted alongside titles from Jonathan Cape, Pan Macmillan and Bloomsbury, which also has two nominations.

The award, now in its seventh year, is given for a published collection of short stories by a single author. The winner will be announced in a ceremony at Waterstones Piccadilly on 4th July.

Judges for this year’s prize are last year’s winner Sarah Hall, author Lesley McDowell and Waterstones regional buyer Jim Lee.

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December 3, 2012

Emma Donoghue: Going Astray

Filed under: Interviews — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:00 pm

By Paige Cohen

Emma-Donoghue“I like the oddness of historical events; they’re messier and therefore more startling than whatever I would invent.”

Emma Donoghue is an award-winning and best-selling author of seven novels, five short story collections, and three literary history books, as well as two anthologies of literature ranging from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries.

Her most recent book, Astray (Little, Brown and Company), is a stunning collection of short stories that explores the journeys of characters who “cross countless borders”: overseas, on new lands, and even within their own homes. Spanning four centuries and over ten different settings (“from Puritan Massachusetts to antebellum Louisiana”) these stories celebrate the strange, navigate the unfamiliar, and delve into the complexities of gender, race, love, and law—each through its own unique voice.

Donoghue was born in Dublin in 1969 and is an Irish emigrant herself—first leaving for Cambridge to pursue her PhD, and then later settling in London, Ontario with her partner and their two children. This past week, the celebrated author spoke with the Lambda Literary Review about her new collection, her personal writing process, and how her own travel experiences have affected her most recent work.

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April 2, 2012

Barry wins Sunday Times Short Story Award

| By Lisa Campbell

Kevin Barry’s story about a group of middle-aged men and their passion for authentic beer has been awarded the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award for 2012.

The Irish author was presented with a £30,000 cheque by author Joanna Trollope at a ceremony at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival on Friday (30th March).

Seeing off competition from Orange-prize listed The Sealed Letter author Emma Donoghue, Jean Kwok, Tom Lee, Robert Minhinnick and Linda Oatman High, Barry’s tale was described by judge Melvyn Bragg as a story which “takes a disregarded and often scorned stratum of male pals and finds wit, pathos and great energy.”

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March 8, 2012

Orange prize for fiction longlist shows diversity of historical novels

Madeline Miller, a teacher of Latin and Ancient Greek, took 10 years to write her debut, The Song of Achilles, which is longlisted for the Orange prize. Photograph: Nina Subin

Five debut novelists among 20 vying for prize for women writers.

By Mark Brown

Historical fiction – from love among heroes in ancient Greece to bickering jazz musicians in Nazi-occupied Paris – forms a significant chunk of this year’s Orange prize longlist, which has been revealed to coincide with International Women’s Day. Twenty novels made the list for Britain’s only annual prize for fiction written by women, including books by Emma Donoghue, Anne Enright, AL Kennedy and Ali Smith.

There were five books by debut novelists and four from writers with their “tricky” second novel. Joanna Trollope, the chair of judges, said the breadth of subject matter was particularly striking.

“It is the diversity that really characterises this longlist,” she said. “Yes, there are a fair number of historical novels, but they vary hugely from a gay cabaret artist in Berlin in the second world war to a preacher going off to deal with lost souls on a Hebridean island in the 1830s.”

A total of 143 novels were submitted for the prize, many dealing with historical subjects and many set during the second world war, said Trollope. “It is because, I think, it is just so unresolved. Writers inevitably go back to unfinished business and try and work it out somehow, so it is a very natural topic.”

Many serious subjects had been tackled, she said, which was a good thing. “There’s an extraordinarily unafraid quality in women when it comes to both emotions and writing. Fiction is a way into life’s great dilemmas and it is more than justified that serious stuff gets aired in fiction – quite apart from the fact that comic fiction is unbelievably hard to write.”

The list for this year’s prize, the 17th, consists of eight British writers, seven American, three Irish, one Swedish and one Canadian author.

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February 4, 2012

LURID: Crazy, in Love.

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:24 am

LURID: vivid in shocking detail; sensational, horrible in savagery or violence, or, a twice-monthly guide to the merits of the kind of Bad Books you never want your co-workers to know you're reading.

By Karina Wilson

It’s February, and, as restaurants, florists and card-shops build up to their most lucrative day of the year, I have to ask, who’ll be your 2012 Valentine?

Do you have a soul mate, a perfectly balanced relationship in which they love you as much as you love them?  Are you completely reasonable in all your dealings with your lover?  Is every interaction logical and even-tempered? Do you feel calm and in control when you’re together? Do you feel entirely sane in their presence?  Do they feel the same way?

Or do you think either one of you might be the tiniest bit crazy, in love?

Love and insanity have always been equated in literature.  People fall madly in love, go insane with desire, are absolutely nuts about one another.  That’s meant to be a positive part of the experience. Nonetheless, writers over the centuries have recognized that love is an aberrant state of mind.  In As You Like It, Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede) informs Orlando that  “Love is merely a madness, and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do”  – before offering to cure him of his lunacy.  Charlotte Bronte waxes lyrical on madness and love in Jane Eyre; passion for Mr. Rochester condemns Bertha to the attic and causes Jane to lament “I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.”  In the 1970s, Marilyn French identifies love as “…Insanity. The ancient Greeks knew that. It is the taking over of a rational and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power over yourself, you can’t even think straight.”

In the twenty-first century, fMRI scans have shown that the first flush of love is, indeed, akin to temporary madness, and stimulates the same zones of the brain as gambling, drugs and violence – those associated with addiction, and lack of control.  Finally, science and poetry are on the same page.

While there’s plenty of overlap between the general symptoms of love and other psychological conditions (substance dependence, mood disorders, narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personalities, borderline personality disorders, dependent disorders, histrionic personality disorders and schizophrenia), there’s one syndrome that stands out from any other kind of fatal attraction: erotomania.  This is the delusional belief that another person – usually of a higher social status – is in love with you and is sending you secret, coded messages to that effect.  You flirt with them.  You think they’re flirting back.  They have no idea you exist.

This Valentine’s Day, go on, ask yourself, is this love that you’re feeling?  Is this the one that you’ve been waiting for?  Or are you suffering from the syndrome De Clérambault defined in 1921 as “psychose passionelle”?  Given that regular love is crazy and stupid at the best of times, how can you tell if you’ve crossed the line?

Thankfully, there are a number of Bad Books out there that deal with erotomania and – as when identifying psychopaths – serve as handy field guides.  Unlike movies, novels have the power to take us inside the protagonist’s mind, exploring their particular psychosis through the rhythms of their internal and external speech.  In the modern era, no one has nailed erotomaniac obsession quite like John Fowles in The Collector (1963).  This Bad Book is both a page-turner and a case-study.  When you finally put it down, you’ll know if you need to seek help, shoot yourself, or if you’re just suffering from the usual lunacy of love.

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November 8, 2011

Room leads longlist for Impac Dublin award

Emma Donoghue. Photograph: Andrew Bainbridge

Emma Donoghue’s novel receives most nominations in 147-strong field for €100,000 prize

By Alison Flood

Emma Donoghue’s disturbing tale of an imprisoned boy, Room, is at the forefront of the 147 titles competing for one of the world’s most lucrative literary prizes, the €100,000 (£85,000) Impac Dublin literary award.

With novels nominated by libraries around the world, this year’s award pits some of the biggest names in international fiction against each other, from the UK’s Howard Jacobson, picked for his Booker-winning novel The Finkler Question, to American novelist Jennifer Egan and her Pulitzer-winning A Visit From the Goon Squad and Israeli author David Grossman’s To the End of the Land.

Chilean-American novelist Isabel Allende, Germany’s Bernhard Schlink and Norway’s Per Petterson are also competing for this year’s Impac, with a host of different genres also represented on the longlist, from South African author Lauren Beukes’s Arthur C Clarke award-winning science fiction novel Zoo City to Suzanne Collins’s dystopian young adult novel Mocking Jay, Justin Cronin’s vampire blockbuster The Passage and Irish author Tana French’s thriller Faithful Place.

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August 14, 2011

Video trailers sell literature to the Internet generation

By Trish Crawford

A proper Edwardian miss grows increasingly irritated with her swain’s inability to come out with a proposal of marriage.

The reason he’s stammering soon rears its ugly tentacles and drags him into a lake where he’s quickly dispatched.

This is the popular video trailer for the romance/horror mashup novel Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which has more than 310,000 hits on YouTube, plus multiple links to blogs and Facebook pages. The book, which came out in the fall of 2009, has sold more than 225,000 copies.

Book publishers launching their fall seasons this month are madly producing trailers in the hopes they’ll get a similar response, creating advance buzz in an ever-enlarging market hooked up to the Internet.

“YouTube is the first stop,” says Rob Firing, head of public relations for HarperCollins Canada, which put out its first video trailer in 2006. They’ve increased in complexity since then, says Firing, “You have to do more to stand out and they have to be good to be effective.”

This fall, they’ll disseminate videos on two books: The Book of Better by Chuck Eichten, about how to handle diabetes, and This Dark Endeavour by Ken Oppel, about a young Frankenstein and his brother.

For the second project, HarperCollins is working with ad agency Dentsu using a new technology that allows people to interact with the “trailer” on smart phones and PCs or Macs.

What makes a book trailer different than a movie trailer is that the images are not ready-made and must spring from the publisher’s creative team.

Last year’s award-winning bestseller Room, by Emma Donoghue, presented difficulties in both subject matter (mother and child incarcerated) and presentation: what could they show? In the end, Firing was thrilled with the video created by Cory Beatty, associate director of digital media and online strategy.

Beatty says they decided to tell the story through the eyes of “a small boy untouched by the horribleness around him,” using crayons and school paper to create images a young child might draw with a voice-over provided by a staffer’s kid. There is some animation in the quietly beautiful video as the child talks about his pictures and what they mean.

Nominated for a Moby award — the publishing awards for trailers created in 2010 by Melville Publishing in the U.S. — the trailer also pleased Donoghue.

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April 21, 2011

Room top pick in spring TV Book Club

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:53 pm

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 | By Katie Allen

Emma Donoghue’s Room (Picador) has added another accolade to its Man Booker shortlisting and Orange-longlisting after receiving the vote of “TV Book Club” viewers as their favourite spring read of the 10 titles.

The second most popular title was Daisy Goodwin¹s My Last Duchess (Headline Review), and in third was Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna (Phoenix).

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March 18, 2011

Orange prize longlist tackles difficult subjects – and alligators

The 20 novels on the longlist for this year’s Orange prize for fiction deal with challenging issues ‘with incredible sensitivity’, say judges.

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By Mark Brown

Debut novelists will make up nearly half of the Orange prize for fiction longlist, which this year tackles strikingly difficult subjects: incest, sadistic cruelty, polygamy, child bereavement, hermaphroditism and mental illness. There is, though, also alligator wrestling in the 20-strong list, and Susanna Reid, the BBC Breakfast news presenter and judge for this year’s prize, insisted there was much joy to be derived from the books.

“There are difficult subjects tackled with incredible sensitivity,” she said, “but there are also unexpected moments of pleasure and joy and humour and intimacy. They’re found in the least expected places. Even though some of the subjects are difficult, they are handled in such a way that makes the books extremely readable and unexpectedly pleasurable.”                                                                                          …read more

March 1, 2011

Inspiring reads

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:54 pm


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Mike Grady

Emma Donoghue, author of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted Room, talks through the books that inspire her as an author.

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