Colm Tóibín says church lacks ‘moral authority’ to oppose gay marriage vote

Novelist tells Channel 4 news he is confident of victory in Friday’s referendum and looks forward to ‘wonderful day for Ireland’

Award-winning Irish author Colm Tóibín believes that Irish society “has had the imagination to change” and will vote yes in Friday’s referendum on legalising gay marriage.

As Ireland’s airwaves imposed a broadcasting embargo on the topic of same sex marriage – and as Ireland’s taoiseach Enda Kenny urged the country to vote yes because “there is nothing to fear for voting for love and equality” – Tóibín told Channel 4 News that he was confident of victory. Polls have suggested that 58% of the electorate will vote yes.

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Man Booker International prize 2015 won by ‘visionary’ László Krasznahorkai

£60,000 award for writer of global standing goes to Hungarian author of ‘extraordinary intensity’


The Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai, whose sentences roll out over paragraphs in what his translator George Szirtes has called a “slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type”, has won the Man Booker International prize for his “achievement in fiction on the world stage”.

Related: Man Booker International prize 2015: the finalists speak

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Ondaatje prize goes to ‘beautiful and disquieting’ history of Baghdad

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

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Alexander McCall Smith wins Wodehouse prize for comic fiction

Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party takes honour - and prize pig – for ‘superbly irreverent’ novel

The best comic writing is incidental rather than deliberate, according to Alexander McCall Smith, whose tale of a rotund American’s trip of a lifetime to Ireland, Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party, has just won the UK’s top award for humorous fiction.

McCall Smith’s story of how Cornelius P “Fatty” O’Leary’s wife plans their visit to Ireland, and of how things quickly go wrong for the kindly couple, beat titles by authors including Caitlin Moran, Irvine Welsh and Joseph O’Neill to be judged the winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction.

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Kim Kardashian’s Selfish book snapped up by thousands

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 ...

Astrid Lindgren’s second world war diaries published in Sweden

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 ...

Paul Kingsnorth’s crowdfunded novel bags book of the year award

The Wake wins honour from the Bookseller magazine, recognising both the book and its innovative publisher Unbound

Paul Kingsnorth’s crowdfunded novel The Wake, which the author wrote in an invented form of Old English and originally envisaged self-publishing, has won the inaugural book of the year prize at the Bookseller industry awards.

The prize is intended to recognise the publisher as well as the book, and goes to both Kingsnorth and Unbound, the crowdfunding publisher which released The Wake last year after raising money from readers. The novel is set in 1066, and tells the story of guerrilla fighters who take up arms against the Norman invaders in the Lincolnshire fens. It is written in a reimagined version of Old English after Kingsnorth found that modern English “didn’t fit” the world he was creating.

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Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others wins Encore prize

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 ...

Pleasantville review – Attica Locke’s dazzlingly good third novel

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 ...

Simon Armitage joins field for Oxford professor of poetry

Bestselling ‘self-schooled’ poet nominated alongside Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and three others for prestigious position

Simon Armitage has thrown his hat into the ring to be the next professor of poetry at Oxford University, a prestigious position that was first established in the early 18th century and whose previous incumbents include Robert Graves to WH Auden.

The bestselling poet will be up against Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka for the five-year role, which is voted for by Oxford graduates and seen as the UK’s second most important poetry position, behind that of poet laureate. Three more candidates are also in the running, with the poet AE Stallings also entering the race late last week alongside the poet, novelist and critic Ian Gregson, professor of creative writing at Bangor University, and the poet, publisher and psychotherapist Seán Haldane.

Related: Wole Soyinka leads candidates for Oxford professor of poetry

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Invented language lessons from George RR Martin and other writers

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 ...

Archive find shows medieval mystic Margery Kempe’s autobiography ‘doesn’t lie’

Academic says letter written for her son shows that account of pilgrimages and religious visions is better anchored in history than many think

A 15th-century letter found in an archive in Gdansk and believed to have been prepared for the son of Margery Kempe, who dictated the earliest surviving autobiography written in English, may shed fresh light on the medieval mystic’s remarkable account of her visions and pilgrimages 600 years ago.

Only one copy of the manuscript of The Book of Margery Kempe survives today, found in 1934. The extraordinary text tells of the religious visions Kempe experienced after the birth of the first of her 14 children, her failings in business and callings to the spiritual life, and how she persuaded her husband to join her in a vow of chastity before embarking on a series of pilgrimages.

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Post-apocalyse picks: your favourite end-of-the-world reading

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 ...

JK Rowling responds to ‘Death-Eatery’ Twitter attacks

Harry Potter author reveals aggressive tweets condemning her support for keeping Scotland in UK

JK Rowling has said that she was called a “traitor”, a “whore” and a “bitch” and “lambasted for taking Scottish benefits” following her decision to support the campaign to keep Scotland a part of the UK last year.

The Harry Potter author entered into a vigorous debate on Twitter on Monday over her “no” vote in last year’s Scottish referendum, retweeting aggressive comments which had been made about her to her more than four million followers. One, she showed, called her “an arch-unionist propagandist, feeding a river of hatred which runs deep these days”, another accused her of “spew[ing] venom”.

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Neil Gaiman leads authors stepping in to back Charlie Hebdo PEN award

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.

Related: ...

Lena Dunham apologises after critics accuse her of sexually molesting sister

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.

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Lois Lane to star in young adult novel

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, ...