Royal Society of Literature’s £10,000 award won by Justin Marozzi’s book, which spans centuries of city’s turbulent history
A history of Baghdad that ranges from its 15th-century sacking by Tamerlane to the invasion by American troops in 2003 has won the Royal Society of Literature’s £10,000 Ondaatje prize, praised by judges as a “truly monumental achievement”.
Justin Marozzi’s Baghdad was named winner of the prize, which goes to the book – fiction, non-fiction or poetry – that best evokes the “spirit of a place”. The former foreign correspondent beat titles by authors including Elif Shafak, Helen Dunmore and Rana Dasgupta with a book that judge Fiona Sampson described as “moving, passionate and erudite about the repeated tragedy, and the recurring renaissance, that mark the city”.
Related: Baghdad by Justin Marozzi – review Continue reading...
Collected selfies from reality star hailed both as ‘Catcher in the Rye of the Instagram generation’ and ‘an anthology of what is wrong with American culture’
Whether it is “a nail in the coffin for artistic photography” or “strangely liberating”, Kim Kardashian’s collection of hundreds of selfies, Selfish, has climbed in to the bestseller charts on both sides of the Atlantic after just five days on sale.
The title, which runs to more than 350 pages of images of the American celebrity, famous for her reality television show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, was released on 5 May by leading art publisher Rizzoli. It sold 1,940 copies in the UK in the week to 9 May, according to book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan, putting it in seventh place in the hardback non-fiction charts and outselling new novels by major writers including James Patterson, Mark Billingham, David ...
The Pippi Longstocking author’s personal account of the years 1939-45 acclaimed as a ‘shocking history lesson’
Years before her stories of the red-braided Pippi Longstocking would make her famous, Astrid Lindgren was a 32-year-old mother in Stockholm with two small children, recording the nightmares of the second world war in 17 volumes of diaries which have just been published in Scandinavia for the first time.
Documenting the progress of war and how it affected her family life, the diaries run from 1 September 1939 until the end of hostilities in 1945 – the year that publication of Pippi Longstocking would change the Swedish author’s life for good. It took a team led by Lindgren’s granddaughter Annika Lindgren two years to turn the 17 handwritten volumes into the just-published Krigsdagböcker (War Diaries). The book includes facsimile images of the pages, which Lindgren peppered with press cuttings, as well as unpublished family ...
The ‘ambition and depth’ of the Booker-shortlisted novel secures £10,000 award for the best second novel of the year
Neel Mukherjee’s story of a young man who is drawn into into extreme political activism in 1960s Calcutta, The Lives of Others, has won him the £10,000 Encore award for the year’s best second novel.
Already shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, where it missed out to Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and the Costa, Mukherjee’s novel “immensely impressed” judges with its “ambition and depth”, said chair of the panel Alex Clark. It beat second novels by authors including Will Wiles, Deborah Kay Davies and Amanda Coe to win the Encore, an award which was founded by Lucy Astor 25 years ago, and which has been won in the past by major names including Ali Smith, Anne Enright and Colm Tóibín.
Related: 25 years of the ...
The Black Water Rising writer returns with a vivid, detailed tale of a dirty mayoral race and a killer on the loose
It is election night in Houston, Texas, in 1996, and the residents of black neighbourhood Pleasantville are watching the numbers come in, “on the verge... of realising the dream of their lifetime, the ripe fruit of decades of labour and struggle”. Because Axel Hathorne, former chief of police and one of their own, has taken a step closer to becoming the city’s first black mayor next month.
Alicia Nowell has been campaigning, and is waiting for a bus to take her home, when she notices the sound of an engine idling down the deserted, dark street. “She couldn’t tell the make or model of the vehicle, but it was the height and width of a van, or a truck of some sort. Run. Just run. It was a whisper ...
Dothraki, the tongue devised for A Game of Thrones, is now being learned by fans. But the new invention joins a well-established tradition
When a Dothraki girl first wondered about her chieftain Drogo, remarking to herself “what a handsome man the khal was” in the opening scenes of George RR Martin’s novel A Game of Thrones, the author had no idea his imagined language would stretch to a vocabulary of 4,000 words, studied by legions of ardent fans.
But today, over at the Tongues of Ice and Fire site, dedicated fans of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels are contemplating the various linguistic puzzlers thrown up by Dothraki, the fictional language spoken by a nomadic, warlike race in the bestselling fantasy series. One reflects on forms of the present participle, while another wants to know the Dothraki for “poop” – apparently it’s “graddakh”.
“the night was clere though ...
Some days, stories about the bleakest possible futures are strangely appealing. I’m in the mood for Raymond Briggs and Stephen King – how about you?
Sometimes when the unexpected happens, you have to turn to fiction. The only thing bringing me even brief consolation just now is picking through some of my favourite fictional apocalypses. Since my discovery of John Wyndham as a child – when Sophie’s six-toed footprint from The Chrysalids first burned itself into my mind – it has been (probably, I don’t really want to have to choose anything at this point) my favourite genre. Here are five that have perked me up just a little – let me know where else I should be looking.
Flood by Stephen Baxter
One of my other top images in fiction: Mount Everest vanishing beneath the waves after seismic activity breaks open underground reservoirs and floods the world. My ...
Fantasy novelist to act as a host at PEN gala along with Alison Bechdel and Art Spiegelman, following boycott by writers including Peter Carey
Neil Gaiman, Alison Bechdel and Art Spiegelman have stepped forward to host tables at Tuesday’s PEN gala in New York honouring the work of Charlie Hebdo, after writers including Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje withdrew last week in protest.
Carey, Ondaatje and the authors Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi last week made public their concerns over PEN American Center’s decision to present the French satirical magazine with a “Freedom of Expression Courage award”. They had been set to host tables at tonight’s ceremony – which is also due to honour jailed Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova with a Freedom to Write award – but pulled out, later adding their names to a letter now signed by more than 204 writers.
Girls creator says she is ‘dismayed’ by interpretation of childhood behaviour, described in her memoir, as abuse
Lena Dunham, the creator of the hit television series Girls, has issued an apology after being attacked in the US for passages in her recently released memoir which critics have said amount to the sexual abuse of her younger sister.
Dunham, 28, who this week cancelled a planned appearance at book events in Antwerp and Berlin, initially struck a defiant tone after parts of the book, Not That Kind of Girl, were highlighted by the right-wing press. Continue reading...
Fallout by Gwenda Bond, due next May, will put Superman's sidekick 'front and centre' as the story's hero
Superman's sidekick Lois Lane is set to star in her very own story: a young adult novel in which a high school version of the ace reporter begins a new life in Metropolis.
By the young adult novelist Gwenda Bond, Fallout will be published next May, and will see "army brat" Lois taking on a group of teenagers who are bullying another girl at her new school. "They're messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play," runs the description from publisher Switch Press. "Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it's all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, ...
Author recalls dinner party contretemps with Charles over death threats to Satanic Verses author
Martin Amis "had an argument" with Prince Charles over his refusal to support Salman Rushdie after a fatwa was issued against him, the author has said. Continue reading...
Runologist cracks the mysterious jötunvillur code – and discovers medieval 'text messages'
An ancient Norse code which has been puzzling experts for years has been cracked by a Norwegian runologist - to discover the Viking equivalent of playful text messages.
The mysterious jötunvillur code, which dates to 12th or 13th-century Scandinavia, has been unravelled by K Jonas Nordby from the University of Oslo, after he studied a 13th-century stick on which two men, Sigurd and Lavrans, had carved their name in both code and in standard runes. The jötunvillur code is found on only nine inscriptions, from different parts of Scandinavia, and has never been interpreted before. Continue reading...
Recipe book derives its title from community chef and author Saiyuud Diwong's nickname, which is Thai for crab
If 30-minute meals with Jamie or domestic goddessdom with Nigella fail to tempt this evening then it might be worth considering the latest big thing in home cuisine, Cooking with Poo, which has just won the Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year.
The 114-page cookbook derives its unsanitary title from author Saiyuud Diwong's nickname, Poo, which is Thai for crab. Diwong lives in Bangkok's Klong Toey slum, where she runs a community cookery school. Her book was crowned winner of the Diagram prize following a public vote, beating an array of oddments including Mr Andoh's Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge; The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria; and Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World, to ...
Bestselling author is also the most frequently given away to charity shops
Dan Brown might be one of the world's bestselling authors but it turns out that readers aren't too keen on keeping his special blend of religious conspiracy and scholarly derring-do on their shelves once they've bought it.
Brown, who has sold more than 81m copies of The Da Vinci Code worldwide, has been revealed as the most donated author to Oxfam's 700 high street shops. With just four books to his name – although his long-awaited fifth The Lost Symbol is published next month – Brown did well to see off competition from John Grisham, author of more than 20 and the second-most likely writer to be ditched in a charity shop by readers. Continue reading...