Arthur C Clarke award goes to ‘classic’ novel exploring the limits of pregnancy

Anne Charnock’s novel Dreams Before the Start of Time, which focuses on changing reproductive science, hailed as ‘rich but unshowy’ by judges

A novel set in a world where infertility has been eradicated and artificial wombs have become the preferred method of gestation has won this year’s Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction.

Beginning in London in 2034, Anne Charnock’s Dreams Before the Start of Time examines the reproductive decisions of several characters in the same group of families, over multiple generations. Two friends, Millie and Toni, bear children who will in turn experience very different methods of birth over the following decades – in one case, adopting an orphan who was left to gestate in an artificial womb; in another, a man who creates a daughter using only his DNA.

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Gareth Southgate prompts new round of an old game: cash-in books

His redemptive World Cup performance has set publishers chasing after a time-honoured goal: getting a hot topic on to shelves while it’s still warm. But can anyone beat a Michael Jackson biography written in 48 hours?

Not content with winning the hearts of a nation, or transforming the humble waistcoat into the coolest thing that’s ever come out of M&S, England’s sweetheart Gareth Southgate has now inspired the country’s publishers. While they chase Southgate, Harry Kane and the rest of the squad to write books after their World Cup success, some are not waiting for their involvement at all. Zero to Hero: The Southgate Story, by sports writer Rob Mason, is set to trace Southgate’s journey from “zero to hero”, from his start at Crystal Palace until this year’s World Cup. The biography, like HarperCollins’s similarly rushed England’s Heroes: A Tribute to Our Young Lions, is due out in just ...

Mike McCormack wins €100,000 International Dublin literary award with one-sentence novel

Solar Bones, the Irish author’s fifth book, is told by a ghost on All Souls’ Day and was turned away by major publishers as too uncommercial

It’s not often that an author described on his own Wikipedia page as “disgracefully neglected” is awarded a €100,000 literary prize. But this is where the Irish author Mike McCormack finds himself, with Wednesday’s announcement that he has won the International Dublin literary award for his novel, Solar Bones. As someone who has hovered close to mainstream success without ever shaking off the slightly damning label of “writer’s writer”, he is unsurprisingly delighted.

“I don’t feel neglected today. I don’t know who put that Wiki page up, but I think whoever did will have to rethink that,” he laughs. “I was shocked. I had completely given up hope that I was going to win it. But I’m over the shock now and enjoying myself ...

Kathy Burke on Grenfell Tower: ‘These people will need help for the rest of our lives’

One year on from the Grenfell Tower disaster, actor Kathy Burke discusses a new collection of short stories that will help to support the victims

Actor and director Kathy Burke will always mark the anniversary of the Grenfell fire, partly through coincidence: 13 June is her birthday. In the very early moments of the 14th last year, as the fire took hold, she was on the other side of London, celebrating with friends. As she got into bed, just after 1am, she checked her phone and saw the first pictures of the blaze that would kill 72 people, then just beginning to creep up from the fourth floor.

“It was just so shocking,” Burke says. “This bloody tower block – it was devastating. We just sat there in the morning, for a good two hours, open-mouthed, watching the news.”

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Judith Kerr: the only exam I’ve ever failed? Book illustration

At Hay literary festival, artist and author, 94, reveals added hurdles she faced as a refugee

Judith Kerr, one of the UK’s most beloved authors and illustrators, has revealed that the only exam she ever failed was for book illustration.

Speaking at the Hay literary festival in Wales, the 94-year-old author of classics including The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Mog series said she failed illustration while enrolled at a London art school after the end of the second world war.

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British ‘linguaphobia’ has deepened since Brexit vote, say experts

New research shows teachers reporting that the vote to leave the EU has hardened monolingual attitudes

Britain faces further isolation after Brexit if it doesn’t adjust its citizens’ attitude towards learning foreign languages, a panel of experts has warned, with Britons becoming increasingly “linguaphobic” in the wake of the EU referendum.

Speaking at the Hay literary festival on Friday, a panel including Cardiff University professor Claire Gorrara and linguist Teresa Tinsley, said that Britons had too long relied on a false belief that English was the world’s lingua franca. Only 6% of the global population are native English speakers, with 75% of the world unable to speak English at all. But three-quarters of UK residents can only speak English.

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Tom Wolfe, journalist and author of Bonfire of the Vanities, dies aged 88

Known for books including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff, the pioneering writer died on Monday after being hospitalised with an infection

Did Tom Wolfe’s bold predictions about human nature come true?

Tom Wolfe, the essayist, journalist and author of bestselling books including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities, has died in New York at the age of 88.

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Ghosts of the Tsunami wins Rathbones Folio prize for deeply felt reportage of 2011 disaster

Richard Lloyd Parry takes £20,000 award for book that brings together six years spent collecting firsthand accounts of the catastrophe’s impact

It knocked the Earth six-and-a-half inches off its axis and moved Japan four metres closer to the US: a “harrowing and inspiring” account of the 2011 tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people in Japan has won the Rathbones Folio prize.

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What will you be reading next year? A roundup of London book fair

A new JRR Tolkien, four Naomi Alderman books and the memoirs of a mole-catcher – a collection of the biggest and most interesting books due to be published in 2019 and 2020

News: Feminist fiction drives big money at London book fair

Every year, after fierce fights between publishers over novels, celebrity memoirs and curveball meditations on nature and life, the dust settles on London book fair and we’re left with a list of titles to look forward to. Here are some of the biggest books coming later this year, and in 2019 and 2020.

The Fall of Gondolin by JRR Tolkien (August 2018)
A “new” novel from the Lord of the Rings author, which has been edited by his son Christopher. The Fall of Gondolin tells the story of Tuor, one of the Noldor elves, who returns to his people’s homeland to attempt to save it from the evil Morgoth.

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What will you be reading next year? A roundup of London book fair

A new JRR Tolkien, four Naomi Alderman books and the memoirs of a mole-catcher – a collection of the biggest and most interesting books due to be published in 2019 and 2020

News: Feminist fiction drives big money at London book fair

Every year, after fierce fights between publishers over novels, celebrity memoirs and curveball meditations on nature and life, the dust settles on London book fair and we’re left with a list of titles to look forward to. Here are some of the biggest books coming later this year, and in 2019 and 2020.

The Fall of Gondolin by JRR Tolkien (August 2018)
A “new” novel from the Lord of the Rings author, which has been edited by his son Christopher. The Fall of Gondolin tells the story of Tuor, one of the Noldor elves, who returns to his people’s homeland to attempt to save it from the evil Morgoth.

Continue reading...

Feminist fiction drives big money at London book fair

Fierce bidding wars between publishers saw several big deals happen for politically charged novels at this year’s fair, as new books from Jeanette Winterson and Caitlin Moran were also revealed

• What will you be reading next year? A roundup of London book fair

From a distance, the only thing that separates Donald Trump from the fake-tan smeared impersonator posing at London book fair is that this one is holding a book. The Trump-a-like has been brought in by Penguin Random House to promote The President Is Missing, a thriller co-written by James Patterson and former US president Bill Clinton. Holding up a fake copy of the book – it isn’t due until June – in the middle of a fake Oval Office (complete with Russian dolls on the table and Diet Coke in the drinks globe), the similarities between Trump and his doppelganger stop at pout and paunch alone; ...

Iraqi Frankenstein story shortlisted for Man Booker international prize

Novels from South Korea, Spain, France, Poland and Hungary also in running for £50,000 prize

An Iraqi first-time author’s “horrific” reimagining of Frankenstein set loose in war-torn Baghdad is up for the Man Booker international prize for fiction in translation, competing against two previous winners, Hungary’s László Krasznahorkai and South Korea’s Han Kang.

Ahmed Saadawi, who won the “Arabic Booker” – the International Prize for Arabic Fiction – in 2014 for his novel Frankenstein in Baghdad, is up for the £50,000 prize, shared equally between author and translator, along with his English translator, Jonathan Wright.

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We’re all ears for audiobooks – and here are some of the best

Sales have doubled in the past five years, with commuters and men aged 25 to 44 accounting for the bulk of purchases. But many of us are unable to finish them – so here are a few you won’t give up on

No longer just the greatest invention for bathtub readers, the audiobook is, according to new data, the surprise saviour for solving one of the world’s greatest problems: getting non-readers to read. Sales of audiobooks have doubled in the past five years, according to Nielsen Bookscan figures revealed at the London Book Fair this week, with commuters and men aged 25 to 44 accounting for the bulk of that rise.

But presumably factors other than fidgety, word-averse men are also at play. Perhaps the astronomic rise of the podcast over the last decade has made everyone more audio-friendly. Since Amazon bought Audible in 2008 for $300m, the retail giant has ...

Sean Penn’s debut novel – repellent and stupid on so many levels

The Oscar-winning actor’s first foray into fiction, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, has met with derision online. But how bad can it be?

Back in the heady days of 2015, it was thought that singer and eternal tester of patience Morrissey had taken the bad celebrity novel to the limit in List of the Lost, when his “bulbous salutation” simultaneously put everyone off both books and sex. But now Morrissey’s debut – a novel in which people didn’t just say things, they “topspin” them (“‘I have erotic curiosities,’ topspins Ezra”) – has a healthy challenger for the most mocked novel by a sleb. Sean Penn’s Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff is a book in which people don’t just have vim or vigour, they have “spizzerinctum to spare”.

Early and bad reviews of Penn’s debut novel ahead of its April release have prompted a lot of joy online. ...

Top authors make mass call on Man Booker to drop American writers

Folio Academy members have overwhelmingly said prize should be closed to US novelists

An overwhelming majority of authors in the Folio Academy, which includes Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan and Zadie Smith among its ranks, have called upon the Man Booker prize to revert to admitting UK, Irish and Commonwealth writers only, over fears of a new American dominance emerging in the prize.

Three years since the Man Booker began allowing any author writing in English and published in the UK to enter, 99% of Folio Academy members who responded to the question have said that the Booker should change its rules again, with most responses citing the new ubiquity of US authors in the prize’s longlists.

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Black Lives Matter novel wins Waterstones children’s book of the year

The Hate U Give, by US author Angie Thomas, has been praised as an extraordinary achievement

A young adult novel inspired by both the Black Lives Matter movement and the rapper Tupac Shakur has won the Waterstones children’s book prize.

Angie Thomas’s debut The Hate U Give won the £5,000 prize, an accolade decided entirely by booksellers, at a ceremony in London on 22 March. Following Starr, a teenage girl split between the poverty of her childhood and the affluent high school she attends, The Hate U Give explores racism and the aftermath of police violence when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of an unarmed friend at the hands of an officer.

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Vice-president Mike Pence disappears down the rabbit hole

Fur is flying in Washington in a literary battle that pits Pence’s pet in one corner, and a John Oliver-endorsed satirical contender in the other

The nicest thing anyone can say about US vice-president Mike Pence – a man who vigorously opposed marriage equality and looks like an Action Man assembled from Play-Doh and cold cuts – is that he knows how to name a pet.

Marlon Bundo is not only the first Botus (Bunny of the United States), but may be the first rabbit to: a) ride in Air Force Two; b) hold an official Instagram account that documents his every bemused lollop across a seemingly endless collection of Persian rugs; and c) have an unofficial Twitter account that reveals a much harder edge. “This is Harley after being swamped by a wave of liberal tears,” Bundo crowed in November, posting a photo of the Pences’ dog looking ...

‘We’re a nation in need of an assassin’: Sean Penn’s debut novel set to take on Trump

Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, out next month, features references to #MeToo, a ‘yellow lives matter’ march and a president called Mr Landlord

Actor Sean Penn’s debut novel, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff – an expanded version of a 2016 audiobook he wrote under the pen name of “sociopath” Pappy Pariah and narrated – will be published in April, featuring references to Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement.

The book details the story of Bob Honey, a “man of many trades – sewage specialist, purveyor of pyrotechnics, contract killer for a mysterious government agency that pays in small bills”. Pursued by an investigative journalist, Honey decides to take action wrest back control of his life from the branch of US intelligence that covertly employs him.

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Forget Frankenstein, what else are snowflake students getting wrong about classic literature?

Two British newspapers are baffled – baffled – that today’s students see Frankenstein’s monster as a victim. So how should we interpret other classic works?

In a fit of thin-skinned, liberal foot-stomping, millennials are, say two UK newspapers, empathising with the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. “The sympathies of today’s millennial students often lie with a mistreated creature whose ambiguous near-human status prefigures today’s interest in animal rights,” says the Times. The Sun, nuanced as ever, says: “Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ — and is in fact a VICTIM.” While the Sun is realising, in its own roundabout way, the point of Frankenstein, here’s a guide to the other books it must imagine that young, idealistic students have been getting wrong:

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Milo Yiannopoulos drops lawsuit over his cancelled book

The rightwing provocateur, who recently attempted to represent himself in court, and his former publisher asked that the case be dismissed ‘without costs or fees to either party’

Rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is dropping a lawsuit against his former publisher Simon & Schuster, after attempting to sue the firm for cancelling his memoir Dangerous.

In papers filed on 20 February in New York state supreme court, Yiannopoulos and the publishing house asked that the case be dismissed “without costs or fees to either party”.

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