Independent publishers dominate 2015 Guardian first book award longlist


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




From an eccentric debut novel to a searing portrait of Putin’s Russia, the contenders for this year’s award show the strength and daring of the ‘indies’

From a portrait of a marriage first spotted by Jonathan Franzen to a chilling account of Putin’s Russia, the longlist for the 2015 Guardian first book award is powered by the creativity and verve of independent publishers.

Six out of the 10 books selected for the £10,000 prize, awarded to the year’s best debut in any genre, are published by independent presses, with a further two titles published by major houses in the UK after smaller imprints first picked them up elsewhere.

Continue reading...









George RR Martin: Final Song of Ice and Fire novel will be ‘bittersweet’


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Author says final book in the series on which Game of Thrones is based won’t end in ‘some horrible apocalypse’

George RR Martin has promised that the ending of his bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series will be “bittersweet”, rather than apocalyptic.

A sprawling slice of epic fantasy inspired by the Wars of the Roses, Martin’s series made its debut in 1996. Now adapted into the hit television show A Game of Thrones, it currently stretches to five doorstopper novels that have sold more than 58m copies worldwide, with a further two planned. Martin is currently writing the sixth title, The Winds of Winter; the author has described the wildly anticipated novel as “the son of Kong” – the monkey on his back.

Continue reading...









Haruki Murakami’s agony uncle answers become eight-volume book


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Bestselling Japanese novelist’s responses to readers’ queries published as a lengthy ebook, with an abridged version available in print

Haruki Murakami is riding high in the charts again, after a digital edition of his latest work that stretches to eight volumes has raced up the bestseller lists.

Featuring the Japanese writer’s thoughts on everything from jazz and cats to relationships, the book, which has just been published in Japan, collects Murakami’s answers to the queries he received online from fans earlier this year. The author had set himself up as a kind of literary agony uncle at the Murakami-san no Tokoro (Mr Murakami’s place) website: “After so long, I want to exchange emails with readers,” he said in January.

Continue reading...









Cuts-hit Birmingham libraries ask public to donate books


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Novelists including Jonathan Coe voice alarm at reader services ‘going from bad to worse’

Birmingham’s beleaguered libraries have been reduced to asking the public for book donations following public saving cuts, according to a leaflet obtained by the BBC.

BBC West Midlands posted a picture of the flyer, which cites Birmingham Libraries but bears no city council branding, online on Wednesday, prompting anger from locals. “Books required!” it reads. “Due to public saving cuts we are no longer purchasing any new books or newspapers. Therefore we are looking for any books that have been published in the last 12 months to be donated to the library. All gratefully received.”

Continue reading...









Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time pulled from children’s reading list


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Mark Haddon ‘puzzled’ as Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Florida, withdraws bestseller from school’s reading programme amid concerns over swearing

Author Mark Haddon has said that he is “puzzled and fascinated by the way in which some readers remain untroubled by the content of a novel but deeply offended by the language in which it is described”, after his award-winning book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was pulled from a summer reading list at a Florida school over parental concerns about swearing.

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year which is now also a prize-winning play, The Curious Incident is narrated by a 15-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome, as he embarks on an investigation into the death of his neighbour’s dog. It had been given as a summer reading assignment to students at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Florida. But according to local paper the Tallahassee ...

JRR Tolkien’s first fantasy story to be published this month


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Story of Kullervo, written in 1915, was inspired by 19th-century Finnish poem, and influenced his later novel The Silmarillion

The teenage JRR Tolkien’s dark retelling of a Finnish epic poem, which features a young man sold into slavery who unknowingly seduces his sister before killing himself, is to be published later this month for the first time.

The Story of Kullervo was written in 1915, while Tolkien was at Oxford. Thought to be his first work of prose fantasy, it sees the young writer who would go on to pen The Lord of the Rings retell part of the 19th-century Finnish poem the Kalevala. The author himself described it as “the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own”. The unfinished manuscript, which lies in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, has previously only appeared in an academic paper by US Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger, with its ...

Enid Blyton: Five favourites, famous and otherwise


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For her 118th anniversary, I’ve picked a handful of stories that mean a lot to me, but given that there are more than 750 others to choose between, presumably you can add more we should remember

Enid Blyton: we all know there are issues, whether it’s those of race or class, or because she was “a tenacious second-rater”, as the BBC put it when keeping her off the air for 30 years. But she’s still hugely popular, so in honour of what would have been her 118th birthday, here are my top five Blytons.

Continue reading...









Harper Lee and Truman Capote’s friendship fictionalised in YA novel


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The story of the two children from a small town in Alabama who later became celebrated authors has been written by G Neri

Truman Capote and Harper Lee are cast as misfit children solving an increasingly dangerous mystery in a forthcoming children’s novel out next year.

The young adult writer G Neri’s Tru and Nelle, due in March from Harcourt in the US, is the first time the childhood friendship between Lee and Capote has been written about in depth, the author believes. “I couldn’t believe no one had taken it on,” Neri told the New York Times on Monday. “Both she and Truman used their real lives as fodder for their fiction, and I figured if they did it, maybe I could do it too.”

Continue reading...









Salman Rushdie cheers release of Mazen Darwish from jail in Syria


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Author pays tribute to writer imprisoned for championing free expression, and to the PEN campaign to free him

Salman Rushdie has welcomed the release of the Syrian activist Mazen Darwish from prison after almost three-and-a-half years.

Darwish, founder of the Damascus-based Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression, had been detained in February 2012 following a raid by Syrian Air Force Intelligence of his offices, according to English PEN. Along with colleagues Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir, he was imprisoned on charges of “publicising terrorist acts” and reportedly subjected to torture, said PEN.

Continue reading...









Tickets for release of Terry Pratchett’s final Discworld novel snapped up


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Shepherd’s Crown, the 41st in the late author’s Discworld series, to be launched with a midnight reading on 26 August

Terry Pratchett’s legions of fans took just minutes to snap up tickets to a midnight bookshop opening in London that will mark the official release of the late author’s final Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown.

Related: Terry Pratchett's daughter declares The Shepherd's Crown will be the last Discworld novel

Continue reading...









When a Jew loves a Nazi: Holocaust romance’s award listings cause outrage


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Kate Breslin’s romance For Such a Time – an ‘offensive and upsetting’ novel about an SS Kommandant and a concentration camp prisoner – is shortlisted for Christian book prizes

A romantic novel in which a “blonde and blue-eyed Jewess” falls in love with an SS-Kommandant in Theresienstadt concentration camp has caused outrage and offence in the romance writing community after it was shortlisted for two top awards.

Kate Breslin’s For Such a Time is a riff on the Old Testament’s Book of Esther, in which the Jewish girl Hadassah, known as Esther, marries the Persian king Ahasuerus, and saves her people from a genocide. In Breslin’s version, Hadassah hides behind the identity of Stella Muller while working as a secretary for SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt. She “finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy”, as she tries to save ...

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell review – a subversive take on kidnap-lit


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The survivors of a mysterious childhood abduction struggle with their memories in Maggie Mitchell’s teasing, many-storied debut

Ever since Emma Donoghue, inspired by the Josef Fritzl case, impressed and horrified in equal measure with Room, there has been a slowly growing trend for thrillers about abducted children. Maggie Mitchell’s debut, Pretty Is, joins a phalanx of fellow kidnap-lit novels out in recent months – The Girl in the Red Coat, How I Lost You, The Boy That Never Was – but stands out for its slick, subversive take on a trope that is showing no signs of going away.

Lois and Carly May, spelling bee champion and beauty pageant queen, are 12 when they are abducted by a man they come to know as Zed. He keeps them in a cabin in the middle of the woods for six weeks before their ordeal ...

Are Americans falling in love with censorship?


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Freedom of speech campaigners hit back as a recent poll reveals an increasing appetite among US adults for banning books and restricting children’s access to ‘inappropriate’ library books

Classifying books according to their suitability for different age ranges would be “ill-advised”, “unworkable” and would “raise serious concerns about censorship”, American free-speech campaigners have said, in the wake of a poll claiming that more than seven in 10 US adults believe a rating system similar to that used for films should be applied to books.

The Harris poll of 2,244 US adults was released in July, revealing that, in the space of four years, the percentage of Americans believing that some books should be completely banned has increased by more than half. In 2011, 18% of those surveyed wanted some books banned; in 2015, 28% agreed with the assertion. Just under a half, 48%, said that no books should be banned, ...

Rediscovered Dr Seuss pet book breaking sales records


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




What Pet Should I Get? is publisher’s fastest-selling picture book yet

Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is not the only recently discovered work to be breaking records this summer. Dr Seuss’s long-forgotten manuscript What Pet Should I Get? has sold 200,000 copies in just a week, its American publisher has announced.

The rhyming guide to choosing an animal companion has some way before it matches the 1.1m sales Lee notched up in the first week after publication, but, according to Random House Children’s Books, the latest addition to the Seuss canon is the fastest-selling picture book in its history.

Continue reading...









Sara Baume is readers’ nominee for Guardian first book award 2015


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Spill Simmer Falter Wither, a novel ‘bursting with brio’ in which an Irish loner pours his heart out to a dog, is the first book on the longlist for this year’s Guardian first book award

Irish writer Sara Baume’s debut novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither, which is narrated by a lonely 57-year-old man to his misfit of a dog, is the first title to make it onto the longlist for the Guardian first book award after being nominated as a contender by readers.

Nine of the 10 titles in contention for the £10,000 prize, which has been previously won by major names from Zadie Smith to Robert Macfarlane and which is open to first books in any genre, are selected each year from publishers’ submissions. But the first slot on the longlist has been drawn from reader suggestions since 2011. Titles readers put forward this year included James Rebanks’s memoir ...

‘Don’t be a prima donna, Doris’ … and other advice. UEA opens writers’ letters


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The University of East Anglia is publishing archived private correspondence from novelists such as Doris Lessing, JD Salinger and WG Sebald to inspire today’s students of creative writing

“Don’t,” a young Doris Lessing is advised as she tries to find a publisher for her first novel, The Grass is Singing, “be a prima donna till you are one.”

The previously unseen letter from literary agent Margaret Macpherson in which this advice appears dates from 1949, almost 60 years before Lessing went on to win the Nobel prize for literature. Lessing had told Macpherson she had been asked to alter the theme of her debut, but the agent said she couldn’t agree.

Continue reading...









Sexism in publishing: ‘My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me, Catherine’


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Author reveals that submitting her manuscript to agents under a male pseudonym brought more than eight times the number of responses

Almost 20 years after Francine Prose investigated whether “women writers are really inferior” in her explosive essay Scent of a Woman’s Ink, the author Catherine Nichols has found that submitting her manuscript under a male pseudonym brought her more than eight times the number of responses she had received under her own name.

In an essay for Jezebel, Nichols reveals how after she sent out her novel to 50 agents, she received just two manuscript requests. But when she set up a new email address under a male name, and submitted the same covering letter and pages to 50 agents, it was requested 17 times.

Continue reading...









Kindle turns five: independent women thrive in ebook bestseller charts


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




EL James and Rachel Abbott take the ebook top spots as self-published success spreads on Amazon’s e-reader

Related: Rachel Abbott: 'Self-publishing means the success of my books is entirely down to me'

Five years ago, Rachel Abbott was retired. Today, she has been named the most popular self-published Kindle author in the UK by Amazon, thanks to the dark psychological thrillers she started writing to pass the time, and decided she “might as well” self-publish.

Continue reading...









US bookshop offering refunds for Go Set a Watchman


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Brilliant Books in Michigan says customers are owed apologies for portrayal of Harper Lee’s long-lost manuscript as a ‘nice summer novel’ rather than an academic curiosity

A US independent bookshop is offering refunds to its Go Set a Watchman customers, claiming that the work should be viewed as an “academic insight” into Harper Lee’s development as an author, rather than as a “nice summer novel”.

Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan, has said that its “dozens” of customers for Go Set a Watchman are owed “refunds and apologies” over the way the novel has been presented. “It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as ‘Harper Lee’s New Novel’,” the bookseller writes on its website. “This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic (which we hope has not been irrevocably tainted). We therefore encourage you to view Go ...