Andrea Levy had to fight for a recognition she truly deserved | Gary Younge


This post is by Gary Younge from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The author whose politics were rooted in anti-racism defined achievement on her own terms

One of the last times I visited Andrea Levy, who died on Thursday evening, she chuckled with some mischief while describing the coffin of banana leaf and bamboo she had just picked out for herself.

Andrea had been living with cancer for some time and for the past few years had accepted it would claim her life eventually. She talked about her impending death in a matter-of-fact way, right down to parking arrangements for the funeral. She had processed it and, with characteristic fortitude, decided she would rather live with what was coming than die from what she had. “We’re all going to die,” she told me. “It’s just that I’ve got a pretty good idea when I’m going to die and you don’t.”

Continue reading...

Historians warn against soundbite verdicts on Winston Churchill


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Following consternation over shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s judgment, experts have appealed for less simplistic appraisal

The political fallout over John McDonnell’s characterisation of Winston Churchill as a villain continued on Thursday, with Boris Johnson suggesting that the shadow chancellor “should be utterly ashamed of his remarks”. But historians have poured scorn on the idea that Churchill’s legacy can be reduced to one word, arguing that history “should never be reduced to soundbites”.

The row began after McDonnell was asked at an event organised by Politico to answer in one word whether Britain’s wartime prime minister was a hero or a villain. The shadow chancellor replied: “Villain – Tonypandy.” This was a reference to an incident in the south Wales town in 1910, when riots erupted after police attempted to break the miners’ picket line. The then home secretary Churchill sent 200 officers of the Metropolitan police and a detachment ...

Billy Bragg writes first in series of political pamphlets by musicians


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Three Dimensions of Freedom, a polemic about accountability by the singer-songwriter, will launch line of similar works from Faber

Singer-songwriter and leftwing activist Billy Bragg is spearheading the launch of a new line of political pamphlets in the tradition of Thomas Paine, taking on the crisis of accountability in western democracies.

Running to 15,000 words, Bragg’s polemic, The Three Dimensions of Freedom, will be published in May and will tackle the battleground that free speech has become. Bragg argues, said publisher Faber & Faber, “that to protect ourselves from encroaching tyranny, we must look beyond this one-dimensional notion of what it means to be free and, by reconnecting liberty to equality and accountability, restore the individual agency engendered by the three dimensions of freedom”.

Continue reading...

Archive shows medieval nun faked her own death to escape convent


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Archbishop’s register reveals how Joan of Leeds crafted a dummy of her body that was buried, while she pursued ‘the way of carnal lust’

A team of medieval historians working in the archives at the University of York has found evidence that a nun in the 14th century faked her own death and crafted a dummy “in the likeness of her body” in order to escape her convent and pursue – in the words of the archbishop of the time – “the way of carnal lust”.

A marginal note written in Latin and buried deep within one of the 16 heavy registers used by to record the business of the archbishops of York between 1304 and 1405 first alerted archivists to the adventures of the runaway nun. “To warn Joan of Leeds, lately nun of the house of St Clement by York, that she should return to her house,” runs ...

George Orwell: British Council apologises for rejecting food essay


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The author was commissioned to write about British food for an overseas audience in 1946, but piece was spiked amid anxiety about postwar austerity

More than 70 years after the event, the British Council has apologised to George Orwell for commissioning and then rejecting an essay about British food.

The author of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm was, the body has revealed, commissioned to write British Cookery in 1946, as part of the organisation’s efforts to promote British culture overseas. But a discovery in the British Council’s archives has revealed that after commissioning the essay, it declined to publish it, telling Orwell that it was problematic to write about food in a time of strict rationing.

Continue reading...

Rosamunde Pilcher, author of The Shell Seekers, dies aged 94


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The British author, who produced numerous bestsellers after her 1987 breakthrough, died after having a stroke

Rosamunde Pilcher, author of the sweeping, bestselling family saga The Shell Seekers, has died at the age of 94.

Her son, author Robin Pilcher, confirmed the news to the Guardian on Thursday. “She had been in great form up until Christmas, then suffered from bronchitis in the new year, but was always expected to bounce back as before. However, she suffered a stroke on Sunday night and never regained consciousness,” said Robin.

Continue reading...

Swansea University announces ‘decolonised’ English course


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In tune with calls to study fewer dead white males, university announces new module focused on ‘hyper-contemporary’ International Dylan Thomas prize

Swansea University has responded to calls for the English literature curriculum to be “decolonised” by launching a new module focusing on “hyper-contemporary” works of fiction.

The module, which will focus on books longlisted each year for the International Dylan Thomas prize for writers under the age of 39, is the UK’s first course based on a contemporary book award. It follows demands from students at universities including Cambridge for courses to be “decolonised”, and more black and ethnic writers to be included in the canon instead of more white, male authors.

Continue reading...

Karl Marx’s London grave vandalised in suspected hammer attack


This post is by Matthew Weaver from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Friends of Highgate Cemetery calls attack a ‘particularly inarticulate form of political comment’

The tomb of Karl Marx at London’s Highgate cemetery has been vandalised in a targeted attack that means the Grade I-listed monument will “never be the same again”.

The suspected vandal damaged a marble plaque which was taken from Marx’s original 1883 gravestone and incorporated into the 1954 monument.

Continue reading...

British Library’s collection of obscene writing goes online


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




‘Private Case’ of sexually explicit books dating back to 1658 ranges from the hijinks of Roger Pheuquewell to pioneering gay porn in the 19th century

The sniggeringly pseudonymous Roger Pheuquewell’s contribution to a series of 18th-century erotic novels imagining the female body as land needing to be “ploughed” is among a collection of books from the British Library’s “Private Case” – a collection of obscene titles kept locked away for more than a century that are finally being shared with a wider audience.

First published in the 1740s, the Merryland books were written by different authors, all describing the female anatomy metaphorically as land ripe for exploration. Thomas Stretzer, who died in 1738, was the then-anonymous author of A New Description of Merryland, credited in a 1741 edition to one Roger Pheuquewell. In it, the author describes his “instrument” as “of a large radius … inferior to none”, writing of ...

Afraid of public speaking? This is what the experts say


This post is by Sam Leith from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




From ‘pitch coaches’ to TED talkers, there’s an industry of self-help books about public speaking. What can we learn from the professionals?

You’ll probably remember reading somewhere that the deepest human fear – more profound even than death or waking up in bed with the 45th president of the United States of America – is the fear of public speaking. That’s nonsense, of course, to be bracketed with other factoids such as the seven spiders we’re all supposed to eat in our sleep, or the impossibility of bumblebee flight. The most recent Chapman University Survey on American Fears last year found public speaking at No 52, well behind sharks (41), death (48) and Obamacare (33). That’s the science.

But there’s no question that for most of us, public speaking is a fear. A big one. It’s one that may not loom front and centre in our lives, since we will ...

‘Identity is a pain in the arse’: Zadie Smith on political correctness


This post is by Claire Armitstead from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




At Hay Cartagena festival author questions role of social media in policing personal development

The writer Zadie Smith laid into identity politics in a headline session at the 14th Hay Cartagena festival, insisting novelists had not only a right, but a duty to be free.

Asked how she felt about cultural appropriation, she told an audience of nearly 2,000 at the festival in Colombia on Friday: “If someone says to me: ‘A black girl would never say that,’ I’m saying: ‘How can you possibly know?’ The problem with that argument is it assumes the possibility of total knowledge of humans. The only thing that identifies people in their entirety is their name: I’m a Zadie.”

Continue reading...

The Border by Diarmaid Ferriter review – before the backstop


This post is by Christopher Kissane from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




With the Irish border central to Brexit, this is a timely survey of a question always vexed but often wished away in Westminster

The Labour MP Nye Bevan, fed up with the “old-fashioned arguments” and “vested interests” of Northern Irish unionist MPs, told the House of Commons in 1954 that “we ought no longer to be oppressed by their presence and have our legislative process interfered with by their votes”. More than 60 years on, the survival of Theresa May’s government and the future of Brexit lie in the hands of such hardline unionists. The Irish border backstop required by the EU is now at the heart of parliamentary wrangling. That border, created to take “the Irish question” out of British politics, remains one of its deepest and least understood problems, so there could hardly be a more opportune time for Diarmaid Ferriter, one of Ireland’s leading historians, to ...

Know a ‘gomer’ from a ‘DSTO’? Oxford Dictionary appeals for work slang


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Reference book calls for public’s help to source fresh specialist vernacular from across working life

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is launching a public appeal to help illuminate the sometimes impenetrable terminology used by different professions, from healthcare workers’ calling difficult patients “gomers” (an acronym for Get Out of My Emergency Room) to what exactly builders are up to when they “dob and dab”.

On Thursday, the dictionary called on doctors, firefighters, builders, shopkeepers, teachers, plumbers, marketers and other workers to send in the words and expressions they use at work. “The OED already includes many terms from all kinds of trades and professions but there are many more that have not yet come to our attention – and that’s why we’re asking for your help,” it said.

Continue reading...

Dylan Thomas prize: teacher and nurse among ‘starburst’ of young talent


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Sally Rooney, Sarah Perry and Michael Donkor among those longlisted for £30,000 prize for books by writers aged 39 or under

From the critically acclaimed debut of Emma Glass, a 31-year-old still working as a nurse, to the first book by 33-year-old Michael Donkor, who currently teaches English in a London secondary school, a “starburst of young literary talent” makes up the longlist for the largest prize in the world for young authors.

Given to the best literary work in English by an author aged 39 or under, the £30,000 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas prize is named after the beloved Welsh poet, who died at the age of 39. It is intended to “invoke his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow”.

Continue reading...

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es wins Costa book of the year


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Book’s subject, Lien de Jong, 85, who survived second world war ordeal, attends ceremony

The 85-year-old woman whose harrowing story is at the heart of Bart van Es’s The Cut Out Girl was in attendance to watch him win the £30,000 Costa book of the year award for the biography, which judges called “extraordinary”.

Van Es and Lien de Jong embraced on stage in front of a packed room after he was announced as winner at the awards on Tuesday night. “Without family you don’t have a story. Now I have a story … Bart has reopened the channels of family,” she said.

The Cut Out Girl beat Sally Rooney’s widely praised novel Normal People, Stuart Turton’s debut novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, JO Morgan’s poetry collection Assurances and Hilary McKay’s children’s book The Skylarks’ War to the award for the year’s “most enjoyable” book. ...

Jacaranda reveals plans to publish 20 black British writers in 2020


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Indie publisher says its #Twentyin2020 initiative will cover fiction, non-fiction and poetry and help ‘normalise’ diverse readers

A group of unnamed individuals has donated £25,000 towards an independent publisher’s initiative to publish 20 black British writers in 2020, in the hope it will “normalise” black writing and authors in the UK.

London independent publisher Jacaranda set out to find 20 black British writers in 2018, going through more than 100 submissions to pin down a list that spans from DD Armstrong’s reworking of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which relocates the story of brotherhood and betrayal to modern inner-city London, to Tolu Agbelusi’s poetry collection Locating Strong Women. Jacaranda founder Valerie Brandes described the list as “a fine mix of established, recognised names and brand new voices delivering brilliant fiction, non-fiction and poetry”.

Continue reading...

No more Americans? What a new sponsor could mean for the Man Booker prize


This post is by Alison Flood and Sian Cain from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hedge fund’s departure as £1.6m backer of the UK’s leading fiction award has prompted feverish speculation about the prize’s future

Previous Man Booker prize winners are among those keenly awaiting the announcement of the new sponsor of the prestigious literary award, after the prize’s sponsor of almost two decades, Man Group, became the latest in a wave of companies pulling out of backing book prizes.

The hedge fund, which has sponsored the £50,000 literary award since 2002, announced on Sunday that it would end its association with the prize after 2019, which cost them £1.6m a year. On Sunday, the Booker Prize Foundation said that its trustees are already in discussions with a new sponsor “and are confident that new funding will be in place for 2020”.

Continue reading...

Booker prize trustees search for new sponsor after Man Group exit


This post is by Caroline Davies from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hedge fund firm says it plans to focus its resources instead on its diversity campaign

The Man Booker prize is searching for a new sponsor after the hedge fund company Man Group announced it was ending its 18-year relationship with Britain’s most prestigious literary award.

The Booker Prize Foundation said its trustees were already in discussion with a new sponsor, “and are confident that new funding will be in place for 2020”. It added: “In the meantime the two prizes will run as usual this year.”

Continue reading...

Booker prize trustees search for new sponsor after Man Group exit


This post is by Caroline Davies from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hedge fund firm says it plans to focus its resources instead on its diversity campaign

The Man Booker prize is searching for a new sponsor after the hedge fund company Man Group announced it was ending its 18-year relationship with Britain’s most prestigious literary award.

The Booker Prize Foundation said its trustees were already in discussion with a new sponsor, “and are confident that new funding will be in place for 2020”. It added: “In the meantime the two prizes will run as usual this year.”

Continue reading...

Diana Athill’s story was remarkable, and its end serene | Ian Jack


This post is by Ian Jack from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I worked with the editor and writer, enjoyed her late success and became a friend. This week, I saw a long life draw to a close

Diana Athill had lots of confidence. She understood the social class she came from and could stand outside it, looking in, whenever she chose. As she wrote in Stet, her memoir of her years in the publishing trade, she was a member of a caste: “one of the London-dwelling, university-educated, upper-middle-class English people who took over publishing towards the end of the 19th century from the booksellers who used to run it”. But she was also a white woman who had several black lovers in an age when that kind of relationship could be seen as a political statement; and she despised the “self-consciously beautiful writing” of the “quintessentially caste writer” Virginia Woolf. To her, “caste standards – it ought not to need ...