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July 30, 2013

From Young Adult to New Adult: Books for the inbetweeners


Losing ItAfter the boom in Young Adult fiction,  publishers are on the hunt for the next hit genre. Have they found it in the swearing and sex of New Adult fiction?

By John Walsh

Does the book world need a new genre? The “Young Adult” demographic began in living memory and dealt with parents, teachers, good friends, treacherous friends, crushes, body-consciousness, social diseases, moral issues and lots of snogs. Then it splintered into sub-genres of teen vampires and playground werewolves, school gangs and school romance. Teenage readers were spoilt for choice, provided they had a ceaseless appetite for pubertal trauma and pustule management.

Stand by, then, for the newest genre on  the block: “New Adult.” Although the term was coined in 2009 by Dan Weiss (who masterminded the Sweet Valley High series of mild school romances for 12-year-olds), it’s only recently acquired credibility among major publishers. NA novels are written about (and often by)  18 to 25-year-olds, charting the lives of post-school, university-age friends as they encounter the world of work, offices, money, identity, rented flats and dates with people they’ve met online.


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February 22, 2013

Amazon ‘used neo-Nazi guards to keep immigrant workforce under control’ in Germany

amazon-warehousev2Internet giant investigates abuse claims by foreign workers in its German warehouses

By Tony Paterson

Amazon is at the centre of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.

Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations in a documentary about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe to work at its German packing and distribution centres.

The film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the programme-makers said.

The documentary provided photographic evidence showing that guards regularly searched the bedrooms and kitchens of foreign staff.

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February 9, 2013

The medicinal power of literature: Books on prescription to be introduced

v2-medicinal-literature1‘Mood boosting’ poetry and novels to be recommended by GPs

By Nick Clark

People consulting their local GP over mental health issues may find they are written a surprising prescription, one redeemed at the local library rather than a pharmacy.

The “big guns” of the library and medical worlds have joined for an initiative to help treat those with mild to moderate mental health problems.

Patients could be recommended anything from one of 30 medical volumes dealing with specific conditions to “mood boosting books” – novels and poetry – from writers including Jo Brand, Bill Bryson and Terry Jones.

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January 28, 2013

A S Byatt’s ‘bruising’ feud with Margaret Drabble is a ‘tragedy’, says Michael Holroyd

Margaret Drabble is the author of 'A Summer Bird Cage'

Margaret Drabble is the author of ‘A Summer Bird Cage’

Michael Holroyd, the biographer, says his wife Margaret Drabble’s ongoing feud with her sister A S Byatt is a ‘tragedy’.

By Tim Walker. Edited by Richard Eden

Margaret Drabble and A S Byatt are the contemporary literary world’s most prominent sisters. Their ongoing feud is, however, the cause of much sadness for Drabble’s husband, the distinguished biographer Sir Michael Holroyd.

“They had a very difficult upbringing with their mother,” he tells Mandrake. “They cannot help that. It is a fact. They’ve had two extraordinary careers and are not dependent on any shadow that their mother laid on both of them to achieve. She had her reasons; she was not at all well. It’s a sort of tragedy.”

Dame Margaret, 73, has been estranged from her elder sister, Dame Antonia Duffy, who writes as A S Byatt, since they were children. “There was too much competition,” Byatt has said of the cause; their upbringing made it that way.

Drabble’s novels include A Summer Bird Cage and The Witch of Exmoor, while Byatt, 76, won the Booker Prize with her 1990 book Possession.

In 2011, Drabble said of the dispute: “It’s irresoluble now. It’s sad, but beyond repair, and I don’t think about it much any more.”

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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 5, 2012

Back to Blood, By Tom Wolfe

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:40 am

Now into his ninth decade, the turbo-charged chronicler of America can’t slow down.

By Tim Walker

There comes a moment, some 570 pages into Tom Wolfe’s latest 700-plus-paged novel, when two characters find themselves at the mercy of a reality TV camera crew. One of the production team, they learn to their puzzlement, is a writer. On television, they’re told, “you have to create a hyper-reality before it will come across to the viewer as plain reality.” The screenwriter gives narrative structure to the unwieldy facts. So too does Wolfe, whose fiction often has the feel of hyper-real journalism, just as the New Journalism that he named and pioneered famously employs the devices of great fiction.

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October 10, 2012

Want to be a writer? Have a literary parent

No, it’s not just nepotism. Scientists confirm there is an inherited element to creativity.
By Roger Dobson
According to Ernest Hemingway, there were only five rules to writing well, and one of those was to have more than four rules. So he might be pleased to add to his list: make sure mum or dad is a bestselling author. New research, prompted by the relatively high number of literary families, shows that there may be an inherited element to writing good fiction.Researchers from Yale in the US and Moscow State University in Russia launched the study to see whether there was a scientific reason why well-known writers have produced other writers. There are four generations of Waugh novelists – Arthur, sons Alec and Evelyn, Evelyn’s son Auberon, and Auberon’s daughter Daisy; Kingsley Amis and his son Martin; H G Wells and Rebecca West, and their son Anthony West.

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August 14, 2012

Banville revives detective Philip Marlowe

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 12:15 pm

By Robert Dex

One of fiction’s most famous private detectives is being brought back in a new novel by Booker Prize winner John Banville.

The Irish novelist, who writes crime fiction under the name Benjamin Black, will write a novel featuring Raymond Chandler’s creation Philip Marlowe.

The novel, which will be set in the 1940s in the fictional Californian setting of Bay City, will be published next year.


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July 19, 2012

Oh Mr Darcy! Pride and Prejudice among classic novels to receive erotic makeover

By Sherna Noah

A publisher of adult fiction is giving literary classics such as Jane Eyre and Pride And Prejudice an erotic makeover.

The company said that it was “100% convinced” that there was a market for the racy versions of the 19th century novels by authors Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen and that the spicing up of the much-loved books will introduce the classics to “a new generation of readers”.

Other titles to be published under the Clandestine Classics collection include Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories featuring Sherlock Holmes.

The announcement comes following the phenomenal success of EL James’s “mummy porn” title Fifty Shades Of Grey, which is said to be the fastest-selling book of the year.

Some original fans of Jane Eyre might be unhappy to discover that the female protagonist has “explosive sex with Mr Rochester” in the publisher’s erotic edition.

In Wuthering Heights, heroine Catherine Earnshaw “enjoys bondage sessions” with Heathcliff while sleuth Sherlock Holmes has a sexual relationship with his sidekick Dr Watson in the new e-book.

Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, which is releasing the titles from July 30 in digital format, said: “We’re not rewriting the classics. We’re keeping the original prose and the author’s voice. We’re not changing any of that.

“But we want to enhance the novels by adding the ‘missing’ scenes for readers to enjoy.

“People are going to either love it or hate it. But we’re 100% convinced that there’s a market there.

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March 1, 2012

The Banksy of public poetry

  By Christopher King

On days when the unending visual onslaught of urban life begins to feel overwhelming, some of us (we are probably all artists or designers) bemoan the state of our culture or wish to live in a place like São Paulo, where nearly all public signage and advertising was banned a few years ago. Others among us choose to take matters into their own hands.

That’s just what the Scottish street artist Robert Montgomery has done in a series of pieces which replace advertising billboards with poetry. He calls the project “Words in the City at Night,” and as he explained in a recent interview with The Independent, nobody seems to mind vandalism when it comes in the form of free verse:


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