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.

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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, ...

Ancient Viking code deciphered for the first time

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.

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Cooking with Poo wins oddest book title prize

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 ...

Dan Brown tops Oxfam’s chart of most-donated books

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.

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