Readersforum's Blog

January 27, 2013

Sunday Times short story award longlist announced

sundaytimesshortstory | By Charlotte Williams

Booker Prize-winning Graham Swift and Orange Prize-winning Helen Dunmore are among the 16 writers to be longlisted for the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

Ali Smith, Toby Litt, Mark Haddon and Adam Foulds are also among the longlisted names, with 12 of the 16 stories coming from UK-based authors.

Among the international authors on the longlist are American Claire Vaye Watkins and Philomena Kearney Byrne, as well as Belinda McKeon from Ireland and Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz.

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September 3, 2011

The book is not dead: but long live the book

   Submitted by Philip Jones

The Guardian has of late taken a peculiarly hostile approach to book publishers. Two recent blogs (here and here) have asked the question whether the professions of writing and publishing can survive the transition to digital, an argument which seems to emulate the views of the author Graham Swift, who told Radio 4 that he too feared for the future of professional writing as the industry shifts to digital.

At times it seems that every journalist or news editor want to break the news that the “book is dead”, rather than reporting on the slightly more complicated reality that the book is evolving. That reading is in rude health, but the supply chain from author to reader is being disrupted by, as you’d expect, the growth in a new medium.

In his book Start It Up maverick investor Luke Johnson argues that these views reflect the world of journalists themselves who are becoming increasingly gloomy as a result of their own trade being threatened by the internet.

There is clearly some truth in that, but as Joe Esposito writes in his blog published on The Scholary Kitchen website, the doom-mongers have always been with us. “Eschatology is the defining meme of this industry wherever it is practiced. Gloom and doom, gloom and doom: it is the prevailing narrative, and it has been at least since I got into this business 30 years ago.” He is right – the death of the mid-list, the decline in author advances, the demise of independent bookshops are stories that keep on giving. But they rarely tell the full truth about an industry that ironically cannot be painted in black and white.

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September 1, 2011

Back to work: The books you, er, read

Of course, you'll have read the latest novel by Alan Hollinghurst.

You’ve been away but never quite got round to reading those Booker short listed novels? Here’s a quick guide to make you appear supremely well-read

By John Crace

The biggest news over the summer was the publication of the Man Booker prize long list of 13 novels. While no one will get too excited about the Booker until the short list is announced next Tuesday, the long list does tell you which fancied books are out of the running. Philip Hensher’s King of the Badgers, Graham Swift’s Wish You Were Here and Edward St Aubyn’s At Last, all either a past winner or short listed for previous books, were non-starters. St Aubyn’s non-appearance was a particular surprise as almost every reviewer had suggested he was a short list certainty for the fifth volume of his Melrose saga of aristocratic angst and abuse.

There are three big names still in the running: Sebastian Barry‘s On Cannaan’s Side; Alan Hollinghurst‘s The Stranger’s Child; and Julian Barnes‘s The Sense of an Ending, all of which are worth a read.

But if you took them to the beach and never quite made it past the opening paragraph, here’s what to say:

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January 9, 2011

Wallander’s last stand: Katy Guest’s essential literary look-ahead

Henning Mankell wraps up the detective’s final case, plus new work from Ali Smith, Graham Swift, Joyce Carol Oates and a host of others looks set to make this a thrilling year for readers.

Tour de force: Kenneth Branagh as Wallander in the BBC's adaptation of the Swedish novels

Could 2011 be the year in which digital books finally take off? Waterstone’s MD Dominic Myers thinks it might be: in December, after blaming the weather for a worrying drop in pre-Christmas sales of what we must now call “paper books”, he unveiled, apparently without irony, the retailer’s new “cloud-based” solution, which will enable e-books to be accessed across different devices. He expected a spike in digital-book sales from Christmas morning, when eager young futurists opened the e-readers in their stockings. Rumours that Father Christmas is backing digital-book technology (thousands of pages in a device the weight of a reindeer sneeze) are unconfirmed….read more

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